The National Health Emergency Bill, 2020, does not make vaccination compulsory.
The sponsor of the bill, Chukwuka Utazi, disclosed this to journalists after plenary on Tuesday.
He, however, said the proposed legislation seeks to amend the Quarantine Act and “to take care of all the issues that have to with the management of pandemic.”
The bill, which scaled first reading at the Senate, was presumed to be a Senate version of the controversial Control of Infectious Disease Bill – which scaled first and second reading at the House of Representatives last Tuesday.
The House bill had triggered outrage among Nigerians not only because of the provisions of the bill but also the speedy consideration and passage by members of the House.
PREMIUM TIMES Sunday reported the details of the bill.
One major aspect of the bill causing controversy is the power it gives a Health Officer, to carry out vaccination on a person leaving or coming into the country, if he thinks fit.
Mr Utazi, however, said his bill does not demand for such.
“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,” he said.
Speaking on the similarity with the House’ bill, he said he is yet to read that of the House but is sure they aim at addressing health issues.
“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.”
While he noted that there are 102 co-sponsors of the bill, he said lawmakers are making efforts to ensure that there is a law guiding how such issues are handled.
“There are so many things that are not covered under the Quarantine Act. These are the thing that are troubling the country today.
“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.”
Details of the bill will be discussed on another legislative day, he said.
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