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Senate’ll address grey areas in public health emergency bill — YIAGA Africa

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The Coordinator, YIAGA Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement, Dr. Ernest Ereke, has assured Nigerians that the Senate will address grey areas in the provisions of Quarantine Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill, being considered by the legislative body.

Ereke spoke at the one-day public hearing on the ‘Bill for an act CAP Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Enact the public Health Emergency Act 2020 and for other related matters 2021’.

Alleged infractions on extant laws by some provisions of the bill came to the fore at the hearing held by the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases at the National Assembly in Abuja on Friday.

Specifically, Minister of Health, Dr. Emmanuel Ehanire, had faulted some provisions of the bill, which he said would overlap with functions already being performed by NCDC.

Aligning his position with that of the minister, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said what constitute public health emergency must be clearly defined so as to avoid operational clashes between the proposed task force and NCDC.

The coordinator in his response said it is the real essence having the public hearing and engagement with lawmakers so that the grey areas can be streamlined.
YIAGA Africa, a non- governmental organisation, had earlier sought for protection of citizens’ right in the proposed legislation.

According to Ereke, the lawmakers eventually will retreat after the public hearing and take a look at all the extent laws as far as health emergencies and disease control in the country are concerned, so all views that have been expressed by both the health ministry and NCDC will be taken into account. He said the position of YIAGA is that they have made known to the National Assembly that it must not deviate from citizens right.

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