The Lagos State House of Assembly has organised a public hearing on a bill to establish an organ harvest transplantation department in the state Ministry of Health.
The Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, Mr Hakeem Sokunle, made the disclosure at one-day public hearing on Organ Harvest and Transplantation Bill on Wednesday in Lagos.
Sokunle explained that the department was to advise the state government on all matters relating to organ harvest, transplantation and preservation.
The lawmaker said the department would also formulate and develop state strategies, guidelines and protocols for medical transplant and harvest in the state.
He said: “The bill when passed into law will formulate and develop state strategies, guidelines and protocols for medical transplants and harvest in the state.”
Sokunle said the bill was long overdue due to the sales in human organ by unscrupulous elements.
He added that it was meant to regulate the harvest of human organs and to ensure adherence to the right process.
State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said the demand for organ transplantation was rising because of improved use of technology, adding that there was a need for the government to regulate the practice so as to prevent quackery.
The commissioner said the state would not be doing things below the global standard either on the side of the donor or the recipient.
The Majority Leader of the House, Mr Sanai Agunbiade, said that it was not all hospitals that would have the privilege to remove or transplant organs.
Agunbiade, however, said before transplanting was done, the organ must have been harvested.
“There are penals 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.
Contributing, a member of the Editorial Board, Thisday Newspaper, Mr Sanni Ekpowusi, advised for a specific definition of the organs to be captured, while alleging that some female students of the University of Lagos market their embryos.
Ekpowusi, who is a lawyer, also suggested that members of the authorisation committee should include Imams, clergies, psychologists, medical doctors and lawyers.
He noted that any organ that could lead to the death of the donor should not be allowed for transplantation or harvesting.
Also speaking, Dr Amisu Mumuni, Chairman of Medical Consultants Association of Nigeria, LASUTH, said that members of the authorising committee should be professionals.
Mumuni said they had been working with the Ministry of Justice on the issue for a long time, adding that the law would regulate organ harvesting and transplanting in the state.
“It is a step in the right direction. A regulatory body is being set up for the first time to regulate organ harvesting and transplantation in the country.
“None had existed in Nigeria in the past and it has provided a gap to many things. It is a good starting point for regulating transplantation.
“But I want to advise that the department should be independent. The membership of the committee should be increased,” Mumuni said.
Dr Bodunrin Oshunkomaiya, a blood transfusion consultant, said that it was important to indicate the organs that were being discussed.
Oshunkomaiya said bone marrow transplant should be included as well as ovaries and embryos.
She added that the authorisation committee should be very dynamic, and that there should be a member that knows about a particular transplant in the committee.
According to her, private hospitals should be included in the transplant as there are facilities for bio-bank in some private hospitals.
Mrs Titi Ekosa from 24 Centre, an non-governmental organisation, said that there was no space for community participation in the bill.
Ekosa stressed that community people had a lot of information about organ harvesting and should be accommodated in the authorisation committee.
Dr Ajibola Keshinro, a Psychiatrist and Medical Director, General Hospital, Apapa, said that the topic should be changed because there were so many things involved in the bill.
Keshinro said that people with mental health issue should also be considered in the whole process, stressing the need to include a psychiatrist in the authorisation committee.
Earlier in his keynote address, the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, urged the people to make their input on organ harvest and transplant.
Obasa, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, said the objective of the bill was to ensure there was no illegal organ transplant or harvest in the state.
“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.