Quarantine Act may usurp NCDC’s role, Health Minister alerts Senate

Minister of Health, Dr Emmanuel Ehanire has faulted certain provisions of the Quarantine Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill, being considered by the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases, says it may usurp NCDC’s role

He made the submission on Friday while speaking at a one-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases.

The Health Minister said some of the provisions in the proposed Public Health Emergency Bill were in conflict with the statutory functions of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

He said, ” It is important to draw the attention of this Committee to the fact that the provision for the proposed Public Health Emergency bill, are already contained in other enactments of this National Assembly such as the Nigeria Center For Disease Control Act of 2018.

“To be specific, sections 1 and 3 of the proposed Amendment bill, portend potential conflict with existing Act the NCDC as far as a task force for formulation and implementation of emergency measures are concerned.

“The powers being sought for the Task Force in the Amendment bill is already saddled with the NCDC and may therefore be deleted.”

The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made a similar observation as he noted that overlap of functions could lead to operational clashes.

He said, “what constitutes 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 the 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.”

In his presentation, the Coordinator of YIAGA Africa, Dr Ernest Ereke, said Nigerians must not in any way be subjected to dehumanising statutes as contained in provisions of the Amendment bill as far as Quarantine laws are concerned.

“Our position which we have made known to the National Assembly is that it must not derogate from citizens rights as earlier drafted”.

“We owe it to the citizenry and to the Country to ensure that whatever legislation that is passed or enacted by the parliament, is in conformity with the wishes and aspirations as well as desires of Nigerians and that such legislation must not trample or derogate from the rights that the constitution already guarantees for Nigerian citizens.”

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