The bill to create a department of organ harvest and transplantation in the Lagos State Ministry of Health went through public hearing on Wednesday at the state House of Assembly.
This bill is titled: “Lagos State Organ Harvest And Transplantation Bill.”
Overviewing the bill, the Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, said the bill makes provisions for the establishment of a department in the Ministry of Health to be known as the Organ Harvest and Transplantion Department.
Agunbiade added that the department is to advise the state government on all matters relating to organ harvest, transplantation and preservation.
“The department will also formulate and develop state strategies, guidelines and protocols for medical transplant and harvest in the state.
“However, before transplanting is done, the organ must have been harvested.
“There are penalties for doing anything that is inconsistent with the provisions of the bill. Whoever has organ failure will have access to where they are available. We want to make Lagos State, where conducts of human beings are regulated with laws,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, Hon. Olusola Sokunle said that the bill was long overdue due to sales of human organs by unscrupulous elements.
Sokunle said that it is meant to regulate the harvest of human organs and to ensure that the proper process is followed in transplanting human organs.
Also, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, speaking with journalists at the event, said that the demand for organ transplantation was rising because of improved use of advanced technology, adding that there is need for the government to regulate the practice so as to prevent quackery.
“Increase in demand for organ transplantation makes the government to put in place regulatory measures. We will not be doing things that is below the global standard either on the side of the donor or the recipient,” he said.
Earlier in his keynote address, the Speaker of the House, Rt. (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni urged the people to make their input on organ harvest and transplant.
Obasa said that the objective of the bill is to make sure that there is no illegal organ transplant or harvest.
“We also want to make sure that organs are available to those who need them and ensure that the best practice is observed in organ transplant in Lagos State. We are gathered here to deliberate and meditate on the bill before the House. The bill seeks to create a department on transplanting and harvesting of human organs in the state ministry of health. It will create a system to stop the bad practices on organ transplant and harvest. It is meant to criminalise unethical malpractices and stop the practice of transplanting human organs illegally,” said Obasa.
Contributing to the bill, a member of the editorial board of Thisday Newspaper, who is also a lawyer, Mr. Sanni Ekpowusi advised that there should be a specific definition of the organs to be captured, while alleging that some female students of the University of Lagos market their embryo eggs.
Ekpowusi also suggested that members of the authorisation committee should include Imams, clergies, psychologists, medical doctors and lawyers.
He stated that any organ that can lead to the death of the donor should not be allowed for transplantation or harvesting, adding that members of the authorisation committee could be taken to court, while people might decline to donate or receive organs on grounds of religion and culture.
Also speaking, Dr. Amisu Mumuni, Chairman of Medical Consultants Association of Nigeria, LASUTH said that members of the authorising committee should be professionals.
Dr. Ajibola Keshinro, a psychiatrist and medical director of the General Hospital, Apapa said that the topic should be changed because there are so many things involved.
Keshinro said that the bill should talk about cells too and that it is not only the organs that are transplanted.
He said that people having mental health should also be considered in the whole process and adding that there is need to include a psychiatrist in the authorisation committee.
“The House of Representatives once came up with a bill to prevent illegal sales of human organs,” he said.
He however said that the need of human organs for medical purposes is sacrosanct and that the bill will introduce structural practices in the profession.
“We need to propagate safe medical practice. The bill is credibly designed such that it has been divided into seven parts. It is very germane and the quality of the law will depend on your contributions through oral addresses and memoranda,” Keshinro said.