The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called for the amendment of the proposed Infectious Diseases Control Bill 2020.
The Secretary General of the association, Dr Philips Ekpe, made the call yesterday during an interview with Daily Trust in Abuja.
Dr Ekpe said contrarily to some media reports that the association did not support the bill, it actually supports the bill but wants an amendment to certain provisions in it.
He said some of the grey areas that should be amended include compulsory vaccination and quarantine and leaving all powers to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“The federal, state and local governments should be involved as well as NMA and other relevant organisations, and not just leaving it all to only an agency, the NCDC,” he said.
Dr Ekpe said compulsory vaccination violates the fundamental human rights of people and is also against ethics of the profession.
He said the stipulation that the NCDC could close premises, force people to comply with its directives, arrest and prosecute those who violate its provisions is wrong because the NCDC is not a regulatory agency but an advisory agency.
“They should leave regulation and enforcement to regulatory agencies”, he said.
The NMA secretary General said there was need for state governments to review their Infectious Diseases Bills too in collaboration with their Houses of Assembly.
In a related development, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) said they would mobilize a nationwide protest over the infectious diseases bill, saying if it is resisted by most Nigerians, it should be discontinued.
Speaking with newsmen in Jos, the Director of North Central CLOs, Comrade Steve Aluko, said they were worried that at this critical moment of COVID-19 pandemic period, the National Assembly was in a hurry to organize public hearings and pass the bill without giving room for robust public participation.
“If we don’t stop this bill, it may just be a landmark of precedence to further legislative impunity in the nearest future. The question is why the rush to passing this bill, if there isn’t another motive?
“So, we are rejecting the bill in its entirety. We are not even asking for an amendment to the bill, what we are saying is that it should be suspended for now until the pandemic is over. This is so that Nigerians can altogether make inputs to it,” he said.
The Country Director of Equity International Initiative (EII), Chris Iyama, said if they decide to force the bill down the throats of Nigerians, they also have the right to protest on the streets against it.