House of Rep Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, tackled the NCDC boss, Chikwe Ihekweazu, asking him to explain his criticism of the controversial Quarantine Act (Repeal and Enactment) Bill 2020, popularly referred to as ‘NCDC Bill.’
The speaker, who urged the lawmakers to allow him to pose the first “burning questions” to the NCDC boss.
He said, “You also purportedly said that no one consulted you. I will like a clarification on those two statements.”
Gbajabiamila made reference to the points made by PTF President, Boss Mustapha in his earlier speech that the parliament was needed to review the Quarantine Act and create legal frameworks for disease control and management.
Responding, NCDC boss, Ihekweazu admitted that he said he was not consulted on the bill, adding that he was looking forward to a new infectious disease bill
“I think that I speak for the PTF, my honourable minister and every member of our team – that we look forward to a new infectious disease bill, in fact a new public health bill that brings together the functions of all the agencies.”
Not satisfied with the response, Gbajabiamila asked if the amendments should be done after the pandemic. The NCDC boss said, “It is not a question that I can answer right now.”
The Minister of Health, Ehanire, while responding to a question on clinical trial of drugs and vaccines, said the government had already begun application of drugs in the treatment of patients in Lagos and Abuja.
He said, “Yes, we are participating in clinical trials and these trials involve pharmaceuticals. In Lagos and Abuja, we are using things, which the WHO set up, a system called solidaity, to study the efficacy of certain drugs in treating COVID-19. Among them are hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which were said to have been successful in some countries, though we didn’t see the impact. Chloroquine and artemether, I’m sure, will be among them.
“We are not doing vaccine tests. We are not enrolled in any vaccine trials because the processes have not been developed enough for them to be safe. Once they are developed well enough, we may consider taking part.”
The health minister also noted that some of the patients kept in isolation centres did not require medications.
Ehanire also said the government had not ruled out the possibility of using local herbs to fight the disease. He, however, stated that the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development must first certify the efficacy of such local drugs.
He said while government was not ruling out the possibility of using local herbs for the disease, those who claim to have found cures should subject their drugs to test by the NIPRD.