Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu says the Infectious Disease Control Bill will give much powers on the agency.
Ihekweazu made the observation at a public hearing on the bill, organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committees on Health Services, Health Institutions and Justice in Abuja.
“The bill as drafted, gives excessive powers to the director general of the NCDC, it should be clearly evaluated for the future of our country,” he said.
According to the NCDC boss, the bill should recognise other competent authorities involved in the management of public heath emergencies such as NAFDAC and other relevant government agencies.
He said that there was a need to legislate on the coordination of federal, state and local government areas to recognise the capacity of the NCDC to discharge its roles effectively across the various tiers of government.
Ihekweazu said that the NCDC was being held accountable for failures across the various tiers of governments and took unnecessary responsibility for things that normally was the responsibility of states and local government areas.
According to him, the bill should recognise the one health strategy we have adopted in Nigeria to promote further integration and coordination across all levels of government, especially with the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment.
“In order for the NCDC to effectively carry out its responsibilities, it is pertinent for a legal framework on managing infectious diseases, that specifically empowers the NCDC to obtain the relevant data from the states.
“The management of an outbreak has to be quick, therefore the access to funds required for NCDC to maintain laboratories, procure equipment, development and disseminate information is critical.
“It is therefore critical to establish a fund for this purpose and clearly stipulates how it will be financed or else history will repeat itself.
“The bill as it is currently, does not adequately safeguard human right; the emphasis on the use of force to achieve the objectives may exacerbate the existing challenges, generate public resistance and undermine the efforts of NCDC and other competent authorities to manage outbreak of infectious diseases,” he said. (NAN)