By Francis Etuko, Abuja.
A bill seeking to establish the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has scaled Second Reading on the floor of the Senate.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Theodore Orji, says the proposed legislation will strengthen the centre, which has been operating administratively since 2001.
NCDC coordinates and facilitates the prevention, detection and control of communicable and non- communicable diseases in the country.
It focuses attention on infectious diseases, food borne pathogens; environmental health and occupational safety; and plays an active role in promotion of health, injury prevention and educational activities designed to improve the health of Nigerians.
During debate on the bill on Tuesday, senators stressed the need for the centre to have international acceptance, and commenting on the work done over the years by the NCDC, recognized the important role the centre played during the outbreak of Ebola Disease in Nigeria.
Senator Joshua Lidani pointed out that one of the challenges faced by the Centre because it had no legal backing was that “some International organizations find it difficult to deal with the centre…”
Senator Ajayi Borofice observed that most of the diseases the NCDC deals with are global in nature and there was need for the centre to interact with institutions like the World Health Organization, WHO, from a valid legal position.
Senator Mathew Orogide stressed the need not to further delay putting in place the necessary framework to enable the NCDC work optimally.
‘‘ What we need to do now is to put in place the legal framework, a centre like this will enable us properly coordinate the various aspects of our primary and secondary health care system and help achieve our set objectives’’ he said.
Senator Theodore Orji informed his colleagues that the outstanding feature of the legal backing being sought by the NCDC is that no financial compendium is needed as the Centre has already been enjoying Federal governments funding
‘‘The NCDC has been operating administratively for several years, with the required personnel in place. It has its operational office in Abuja and has received a fair share of the annual budget as appropriated by the National Assembly for several years. There will not be any new financial requirements arising from this legislation’’
Some of the functions of the centre includes:
– Overseeing the implementation of International Health regulations and coordinating local compliance, including liaising with relevant established partners, within and outside Nigeria in pursuance of the functions of the centre.
– Provide technical support to states and Local Governments in the planning, implementation and management of disease control and preventing communicable and non-communicable diseases.
– Network public health activities targeted at mitigating epidemic disease impact, including facilitation of eradication of targeted diseases.
– Support the operationalisation of International Health Regulation (IHR) including trans-border disease surveillance and control activities.
– Provide communication to the public on diseases particularly emerging and re-emerging ones.