Governors, Labour, Doctors Reject Infectious Disease Bill

 Governors, Labour, Doctors Reject Infectious Disease Bill

The Control of Infectious Disease Bill has been rejected by Governors, Doctors and Labour during a public hearing on Wednesday.

The Bill seeks to repeal the Quarantine Act of 1926, the Nigeria National Health Act (2004), National Programme on Immunisation Act (2004) and the Environmental Health Officers (Registration ETC) of 2002.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) opposed the bill, which passed second reading on April 28.

The NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi said the NGF believes the bill is undemocratic as it conflicts with the Constitution and l gives governors scant operational space to manoeuvre.

“This Bill takes away the only authority the governors have to take specific steps and measures in their domains during an outbreak of infectious disease,”

“The public should have an opportunity to participate in the formulation of policies and laws and implementation should be open and clear to promote public trust which is crucial for preventing infection spread.’’ he said.

He further argued that the NGF is concerned that the governors were not consulted before putting the Bill together.

 “Any intervention seeking to provide a comprehensive legal and policy framework to ensure the effective management of cases involving infectious diseases…must be conducted within the context of the federation, carrying every stakeholder along and holding extensive consultations.’’

“The NGF is concerned that the governors were not consulted in putting the Bill together, neither was any role created for them, in utter disregard for their constitutional functions,” Fayemi said.

Likewise, the NMA disagreed with many aspects of the Bill, such as compulsory invasive medical examination.

Through its President, Prof. Innocent Ujah, the association faulted the provision for compulsory treatment or vaccination, saying it is against the ethics of the profession.

Also, Wabba  who represented the Organised Labour, said the bill could be turned into  a tool of oppression and disregard of the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

“Having read through the Bill, the only reinforcing and overwhelming voice is that of dictatorship.’’

“In presenting this memorandum, we choose to uphold our concern that the claim of commitment to the protection of public health and safety does not turn out to be an excuse for the provision of a tool in the hand of an autocrat, empowered to ride roughshod over the fundamental rights of the Nigerian People,” he said.

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