By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) - Nigeria's House of Representatives on Tuesday voted down proposed legislation that seeks to ban public officials from seeking medical care abroad.
Lawmakers said the bill breaches the fundamental rights of public officials and discriminates against them, overwhelmingly blocking it at the third reading stage.
The bill was titled “Bill for an Act to amend the National Health Act 2014 to regulate international trips for medical treatment by public officers to strengthen the health institutions for efficient service delivery”.
The bill had been sponsored by lawmaker Sergius Ogun who once called for banning children of public officials from getting education offshore.
Deputy speaker Lasun Yusuf said the bill restricts his right to seek medical care anywhere of his choice and should be rejected.
"There are two fundamental wrongs in this bill, it is against human rights and it is discriminatory," Yusuf said.
Lawmakers said the right step would be to commit more resources to local health facilities, and not bar anyone from seeking medical care outside of Nigeria.
The rejection is a major setback for people who said the country's increasingly bad health care system will improve if officials are barred from seeking medical care abroad.
Nigerian officials are notorious for seeking medical treatment abroad. Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari faces similar criticism despite his lean lifestyle.