The Nigerian Medical Association says it has sent the controversial ‘Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020’ to the medical legislation for proper scrutiny.
The bill, sponsored by Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and two other lawmakers — Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu — aimed to fortify the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to become formidable and proactive in the face of an outbreak.
Aside protests by some lawmakers who claimed that they were not served copies of the bill before it hurriedly passed first and second readings on the same day, several Nigerians and health bodies also have reacted to the development.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, president of the NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile, said the association was carefully studying the bill and would speak when the time is right.
“Although we have heard a lot of stories about this so-called bill, all I can tell you is that we are still studying it. In fact, the NMA has referred it to the Chairman of Medical Legislation and have not heard from him yet,” he said.
He wondered why such a bill would be brought up at a period when the nation is still grappling with the novel coronavirus.
“Containing COVID-19 should be our priority for now. We have a big problem on our hand. Kano is erupting at the moment, just as Lagos’ cases are increasing.
“Don’t forget these are the two biggest mega cities in this country. Yet, the manner we are going about this COVID-19 issue is baffling.
“The virus only needs to get to the grassroots level in those two states before we understand the gravity of what we are dealing with.
“When we initially warned about the need to shut down our airports and land borders, they called us alarmists.
“We also advised they ramp up diagnosis of the virus quickly, using the rapid test kits, they claimed that they are waiting for WHO directive.