OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has resurrected and hurriedly approved the controversial infectious diseases bill.
The contentious bill was passed for third reading by the lawmakers on Tuesday after chairman of the committee on health services, Mr. Tanko Sununu, presented a report on the proposed law during plenary.
The bill seeks to “Repeal the Quarantine Act and Enact the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, make Provisions Relating to Quarantine and make Regulations for Preventing the Introduction into and Spread in Nigeria of Dangerous Infectious Diseases; and for Related Matters”.
Sununu, in his presentation, stated that, “the Committee had extensively deliberated on the referral and conducted a public hearing with the relevant stakeholders where further deliberations were held. He urged members to support the approval of the report as it was done with the good health of Nigerians in mind”.
He further pointed that the bill, which has 6 parts and 81 sections, is geared at addressing the country’s public health challenges caused by infectious chemicals, radiations and other agents.
According to him, “the committee deliberated severally and conducted a well-attended public hearing and organized a report drafting section to all members of the committee to produce the report as presented. After a diligent consideration, I wish to seek the leave of the chairman for the report to be considered by the committee of the whole. The bill has the capacity to improve the health system in Nigeria.”
He explained that the bill is poised to prevent, combat and eradicate the transmission of declared infectious diseases; and address public health emergency; mobilise available skilled manpower and resources towards combating public health emergency; ensure effective coordination and management among the three tiers of governments, as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“It provides that the provisions of the bill shall become effective sequel to the declaration of public health emergency by the President, as well as establish the Task Force on public health emergency which shall be responsible for the administration of this bill,” the lawmaker said, adding that it will also “provide appropriate framework for effective interaction among Federal, State and Local Governments during public health emergency.
“As provided in section 3 of the bill, the dangerous infectious disease means cholera, plague, yellow fever, smallpox and typhoid, and includes any disease of an infectious or contagious nature which the President may, by notice, declare to be a dangerous infectious disease within the meaning of this Act.”
The bill, sponsored by Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, was severely criticized by stakeholders, many of whom described it as draconian and a circumscription of citizens’ rights.