President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the bill establishing the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The agency, which has been in charge of disease surveillance, preparedness and control in Nigeria, was established in 2011 and has been in existence without any legislative backing.
The status quo however changed on Tuesday when the president appended his signature to the bill and empowered the agency to carry out its mandate in disease control.
The executive director of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, in a press statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, said the new Act which will establish NCDC as a full-fledged parastatal and will also ensure that its valuable work is sustained and supported.
Mr Ihekweazu, who expressed his appreciation to the president for his support in the passage of the Executive Bill, said the Bill will provide Nigerians with an institute that has the capacity to ensure the country’s health security.
“We are also grateful to the Minister and Minister of State for Health for their support and the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases led by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa,” he said.
Mr Ihekweazu said with the passage of the Bill establishing Nigeria’s national public health institute, the Federal Government of Nigeria has shown its commitment in ensuring Nigerians are well protected from the public health threat of global emerging infectious diseases.
NCDC was established in 2011 prior to the Ebola outbreak to respond to the challenges of public health emergencies and to enhance Nigeria’s preparedness and response to epidemics through prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases.
However, the Ebola outbreak in 2014 was the first experience in leading response to major outbreaks. Since then, the agency has been at the forefront of in leading responses to diseases outbreaks such as Lassa Fever, Monkey Pox, Cholera, Meningitis among others in the country.
NDCD has a core mandate to detect, investigate, prevent and control diseases of national and international public health importance.
The chairman, senate committee on Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases, Mao Ohuabuna, has been a great supporter of the agency having a legal backing and had promised at the public hearing of the Bill in January that the senate is keen on passing the bill to give the health agency a legislative backing.
Mr Ohuabuna disclosed that they senate has come to realise that giving the agency legislative backing is one way to achieving Universal Health Coverage in the country.
He said the goal of the bill is to provide control, prevention, coordination and also facilitate the detection of outbreaks and the effective management of communicable diseases in Nigeria.