NCDC boss disowns Gbajabiamila’s Infectious Diseases Bill

NCDC boss disowns Gbajabiamila’s Infectious Diseases Bill

Thursday, April 30, 2020 10:44 pm

Ihekwazu, NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)   says it is not aware of the Control  of Infectious Disease Bill, but seeks to  work with the House of Representative on that. 

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, said this during the daily Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19, on Thursday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that  a Bill for an Act to repeal the Quarantine Act, and enact  the Control of Infectious Diseases Act, has passed a second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill which was sponsored by the Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, sought  to empower NCDC and make it more proactive.

Leading the debate, Gbajabiamila said that the NCDC had very little powers to carry out its mandate  though it had  great professionals.

Gbajabiamila said the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill sought to empower the NCDC and make it more proactive and not just reactive.

Ihekweazu said: “ I saw the bill like you all did on social media. I think the House of Representative members are doing their  best to come up with solutions – new laws;  so, I take it positively.

“Of course, the bill requires more consultation. I am personally not in favour of drafting a bill in the middle of a crisis.

“Let’s get out of crisis  and then use the momentum to engage all stakeholders to come up with a bill that will serve us now and for the future,” he advised.

On molecular laboratories, he said  that the NCDC’s goal was to have such  a  laboratory operating in the 36 states of the federation.

He said that the NCDC approach was that of a hub-and-spoke that would  have a national reference laboratory  in Abuja as the hub – organising the supply chain, data, information technology  support –  connected to all the other laboratories in the country.

Ihekweazu said that the agency wanted  each molecular laboratory in Nigeria to be able to diagnose any significant infectious disease.

“Nigeria now has 3,500 bed spaces for COVID-19 across the country, but in Lagos, we are already struggling.

“We are going to work with them to make more spaces available. We may also have to start considering home care in certain circumstances,” he said.

 Ihekweazu said that NCDC’s response strategy was adaptive  to local contexts in each state and  each community of the country.

He said that it had become clear that there was  community transmission in Lagos, Kano and  Abuja.

He gave the assurance that the agency  was adapting its response to the reality.

“This is why we are taking testing to communities and health facilities in these places,” he said.

He said that  the NCDC team was  responding  in Kano to improve on the fight against the  pandemic.

“ We now have two laboratories functioning, and a third one is in the pipeline,” he said.

He said that Nigerians needed  to support health workers and not stigmatising the  communities where they worked.

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