Ibrahim Oloriegbe, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, expressed optimism regarding the potential assent of the Public Health Emergency Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari prior to his departure from office on May 29th.
During a media roundtable in Abuja on Tuesday, Mr Oloriegbe, along with other legislators, expressed their commitment to pushing for the assent of the bill by the President in the ninth assembly.
According to Mr Oloriegbe, a legislator who represents Kwara Central Senatorial District, the Public Health Emergency Bill, upon ratification, will nullify the Quarantine Act, which has been in effect for 96 years, and create a structure for handling public health crises that have national and international implications.
The individual observed that the bill, which was approved by the Senate in January of 2022, is slated to undergo harmonization with the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill that was introduced by the House of Representatives.
During the period of COVID-19, the Quarantine Act was in effect. A discourse ensued which resulted in the revocation of the Quarantine Act and the establishment of fresh legislation pertaining to public health. The speaker stated that a variant of the aforementioned legislation was approved by the House, while another was ratified by the Senate.
Currently, we have reached the phase of harmonization. As the chair of a Senate committee, I intend to convene a joint meeting to deliberate and ratify a mutually agreed upon version, which will be jointly proposed.
According to his statement, in the event that the bill is not granted assent, the 10th Assembly will undertake measures to pursue its eventual triumph.
The Nigeria Health Watch and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator jointly organized a roundtable discussion with the theme “Strengthening Health Security in Nigeria through Public Health Legislation.”
The legislative proposal entitled “A Bill for an Act to Provide for an Effective National Framework for the Control of Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases and Other Events Endangering Public Health and Requiring Public Health Emergency Measures and For Other Related Matters (SB. 413)” was initially presented to the Senate in the year 2020.
The proposed bill, which aims to revoke the Quarantine Act that has been in place for 96 years, is being advocated by Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North).
If enacted, the proposed legislation would establish a comprehensive legal and administrative framework for managing outbreaks of infectious and contagious diseases that pose a significant risk to public health safety within Nigeria or have the potential to spread into or beyond Nigerian borders.
The Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu, stated that public health emergencies can result in catastrophic outcomes for individuals, communities, and entire nations, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Ms Ihekweazu, it is imperative that all stakeholders collaborate to ensure that the nation is adequately equipped to handle potential health crises in the future.
The individual observed that the media roundtable presents a distinctive occasion for specialists to exchange their perspectives regarding the suggested public health legislation.
According to her statement, the bills carry noteworthy ramifications for the public health of the nation and necessitate comprehensive scrutiny and deliberation by principal stakeholders in the healthcare industry.
During his speech, Tanko Sununu, the Chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, emphasized the significance of public health law and policy as essential instruments for safeguarding the Nigerian population against health hazards, averting illnesses, and fostering healthy communities.
According to Mr Sununu, the provision of timely and sufficient medical care, as well as the monitoring, tracking, and control of disease outbreaks, renders public health a crucial component of national security.
According to the speaker, expediting the passage and execution of the bills would serve as a manifestation of the government’s dedication to safeguarding the physical and mental welfare of Nigerian citizens, as well as enhancing the nation’s preparedness to tackle any forthcoming public health crises.
According to his statement, the National Assembly has played a noteworthy role in addressing the occurrence of infectious disease outbreaks within the nation.