Edozie Udeojo , Abuja
The Senate has said on Tuesday that there are no controversial issues with the Senate health emergency bill. It said that the bill is designed to address the issues that pose public health emergencies around the world.
The Senate however declined to clarify if the new Senate bill was the same with the controversial House of Representatives Infectious disease bill.
The Senate made this known through its Senate Committee Chairman on Primary Health care and Communicable diseases and the Sponsor of the National Health Emergency Bill, Chukwuka Utazi.
The Enugu North Senator also dismissed fears that the bill makes vaccination compulsory for Nigerians.
The bill which was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday raised concerns that it has similarities with the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill in the House of Representatives which scaled the first and second reading on April 26, 2020.
Speaking with journalists after plenary, Senator Utazi explained the purpose of the bill.
In his words “I don’t see any controversy about the bill that 102 members of the Senate sponsored. The bill is to address the issue that’s posing public health emergency around the world.
In Nigeria, we are making efforts to ensure that we have a law that will guide how we handle the issue.
There are so many things that are not covered under the Quarantine Act. These are the thing that are troubling the country today.
The bill is to amend the Quarantine Act and to take care of all the issues that have to with the management of pandemic.
In doing that, we want to ensure that instead of having firebrigade approach of solving the problem of this nature, we have a law that can handle all that. We want to put everything under a law to address health issues.
When asked if the bill was synonymous to the House of Representatives’ bill, he said:
“I have not read the House bill, but what I know is that we have a bill that will address the health issues connected with COVID-19 and beyond, so that such issues, whenever they occur in the future, we have a law to address them.
What we have in the Quarantine Act doesn’t cover all the protocols that we supposed to follow. If they were there, the Presidency and the PTF will not be coming up with one guideline or the other. We want to harmonize the approach on how to face the issue.”
On compulsory vaccination
He said “The bill does not make vaccination compulsory. When we have yellow fever, and if you want to travel outside the country, they will demand for yellow fever vaccination certificate at the airport. If you don’t have it, you will be vaccinated there.”