By Sunday Isuwa, Abuja
The Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have disagreed on some of the provisions of the Quarantine Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill being considered by the Senate committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases.
This came just as Yiaga Africa, a non- governmental organisation, sought protection of citizens’ rights in the proposed legislation.
Alleged infractions on extant laws by some provisions of the bill came to the fore at the one day public hearing held on it by the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases at the National Assembly in Abuja on Friday.
Minister of Health Dr Emmanuel Ehanire in his submission at the hearing session said though the amendment bill was a welcome development as far as public health emergency laws were concerned, some provisions were overlapping with functions already being performed by NCDC.
He said those functions must be removed.
Making a similar observation, the director general of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu in his presentation, said: “What constitute public health emergency must be clearly defined in avoiding operational clashes between the proposed task force and NCDC or delete the provisions, proposing the task force.
“The powers vested on the task force as stated are similar to those vested in NCDC it may amount to duplicity of functions, so we recommend a careful review of the functions of those of NCDC as stated in the current mandate signed into law by the president,” he said.
In his own contribution, the coordinator of Yiaga Africa, Dr Ernest Ereke, said Nigerians must not in any way be derogated by any of the provisions of the amendment bill as far as quarantine laws are concerned.
But the chairman of the committee, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North), allayed the fears of the YIAGA Africa coordinator by declaring that the bill had been redrafted and cleaned up, devoid of those draconian provisions that the people earlier kicked against.