Young couples expecting twins have two times the delight of having a child. Eyo Etim Okon, a 39-year-old principal, is an exception. His wife had complications giving birth to twin boys, and eight days later she passed away. As a result, baby Asher, one of the twins, was in dire need of oxygen to treat his respiratory distress.
His breathing got difficult. I was concerned because I wondered what would happen to him if the oxygen ran out. All I can say is how happy I am that Calabar’s University Teaching Hospital has oxygen, added Eyo.
According to Dr. Glory Bassey, the Consultant Pediatrician at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, “The availability of oxygen itself is important first. Oxygen is life. The availability of oxygen itself is a challenge presently in this center. Parents buy oxygen but thank God for the intervention that is ongoing with the construction of the oxygen plant in this hospital. It is a welcome development.
Medical oxygen is a necessary and life-saving drug. It is essential for the treatment of critical respiratory and life-threatening illnesses such as severe pneumonia, severe malaria, sepsis (caused by bacteria and viruses), COVID-19, trauma, and difficulties during childbirth or pregnancy. It can be utilized at all levels of the healthcare system, and safe surgical, emergency, and critical care services must be provided.
The management of pneumonia and hypoxemia was taught to a few health professionals in Cross River to enhance the skills required for oxygen therapy in young children, especially newborns. The workshop aimed to scale back training in pediatric hypoxemia care and inpatient management of community-acquired pneumonia.
One of the health professionals who benefited from the step-down training was Esther Ese Onah, a pediatric nurse in charge of the Neonatal unit and the nurse in charge of baby Asher. According to Esther, the training has enabled her to successfully manage newborns who are experiencing respiratory distress. “The training has assisted me in detecting early a baby needing oxygen therapy, and I’m able to initiate treatment promptly utilizing an oxygen concentrator to help the child to breathe.”
“From the onset of admission, the baby (Asher) was monitored hourly, then every two hours. At this stage, we are happy with his respiratory rate. We check him every four hours. Hopefully, he will be discharged next week as his breathing improves,” added Esther.
Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, the Cross Rivers State Commissioner for Health, asserts that the significance of oxygen cannot be overstated. “You will agree with me that the high mortality rate globally or even in Nigeria is a result of poor oxygen or non-availability of oxygen. I tell you most of the deaths would have been prevented if all facilities had oxygen,” she said.
“We are happy to have a newly constructed oxygen plant in Cross Rivers. It will serve all the primary and secondary facilities in the state. We are committed to ensuring we have the human resources needed and electricity to keep the plant functioning,” Dr. Ekpenyong added.
Increases in oxygen access and supply can only be achieved by a large and well-coordinated effort. As a result, UNICEF, the Government of Canada, and IHS Nigeria have come together to construct an oxygen plant in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, in the southern part of Nigeria, in an effort to find adequate, long-term solutions.
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions to essential health service delivery, it also highlighted weaknesses in access to medical oxygen and provided opportunities for governments and health system actors to address these gaps. However, strengthening the medical oxygen system is relatively new for program managers, which is why it is critical for UNICEF to continue to strengthen capacity and provide tools such as the Oxygen System Planning Tool to promote a systematic approach to planning, budgeting, implementing, and monitoring progress. This will ensure that adequate and sustainable oxygen supply is available to health facilities, particularly in low-resource settings, to improve patient outcomes and reduce mortality rates associated with critical respiratory and life-threatening illnesses.
In response to the large increase in diphtheria cases documented in Nigeria since the beginning of 2023, the European Union has provided €150,000 (N75 million) in humanitarian funds to halt the disease’s spread and support the most afflicted communities in Kano, Katsina, Lagos, and Osun.
This EU funding will allow the Nigerian Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to affected and at-risk communities by reducing the impact of diphtheria through risk communication, outbreak control activities, surveillance, patient referral and hygiene promotion, and early case detection in affected areas.
Humanitarian assistance will be provided directly and indirectly to about 1,585,080 persons, with a particular emphasis on vulnerable people at risk of diphtheria, those living in sheltered communities or hard-to-reach locations.
This funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
On 20 January 2023, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) officially declared an outbreak of diphtheria in Kano and Lagos states after several suspected cases appeared a month earlier. The disease then spread rapidly to other states. From 136 cases in the first week of 2023, the country now records a total of 733 suspected cases,and deplores89 fatalities.
The outbreak is described as one of the most serious occurrences in Nigeria in recent years. Children aged between 5 and 18 years are the most vulnerable group.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection transmitted between humans. It causes an infection of the upper respiratory tract, which can lead to breathing difficulties and suffocation. Those most at risk are children and people who have not been fully vaccinated against the disease.
The European Union, together with its Member States, is the leading donor of humanitarian aid in the world. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent, and alleviate human suffering and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.
The European Union through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department helps millions of victims of conflicts and disasters every year. Through its headquarters in Brussels and its global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people based on humanitarian need alone. The European Commission has signed a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), to support the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to ‘small-scale’ disasters, those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.
The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF. For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can be replenished by the donors. The delegation agreement between the IFRC and ECHO enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (within its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million.
The National Population Commission’s (NPC) Nasir Isa Kwarra has urged social media influencers and bloggers to mobilize the youth population in order to encourage them to actively participate in the population and housing census in 2023.
In Abuja on Saturday, Kwarra made this statement during a one-day interactive workshop for social media influencers and bloggers that was organized by the National Population Commission in conjunction with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in order to get ready for the 2023 Population and Housing Census.
The youth are avid internet and social media users, according to Kwarra, who was speaking on behalf of the group through Alhaji Husaini Isiyaku, Senior Special Assistant to the Chairman of NPC.
According to him: “The estimation that over 60% of Nigeria’s population is under 30 and a good part of this under-16 demographic has never been captured in a census exercise.
“Moreover, that demographic constitutes the greater part of Nigerian citizens who are active internet and social media users.
“It therefore follows that, for the forthcoming 2023 National Population and Housing Census to succeed in covering the youth population, there must be clear, deliberate and effective sensitisation and mobilisation strategies designed to reach that important youth segment of our society.
“Such strategy should, of necessity, mainstream and robustly engage the social media and its influencers towards achieving youth inclusiveness in the census figures.
“The foregoing underscores the need for an assemblage of bloggers and social media influencers to help them appreciate the important roles they could play in mobilising the youth population to participate in the 2023 census.
“This bloggers and social media influencers’ conference is proposed on the premise that the buy-in of such strategic persons would manifest in their promotion of the census on their various platforms and ultimately translate into massive youth participation in the census.”
Commenting on the preparations made so far by the Commission to ensure accurate and reliable census, the NPC boss, said the Commission had made significant progress in preparation for the Census.
He further stated that, “We have successfully completed Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD), conducted two pre-tests and Trial census, trained facilitators for the census and other preparatory activities are presently going as we speak.
“These efforts have laid the groundwork to ensure that the census succeeds and is implemented according to best practices.
“In addition, the Commission has developed a Census Strategic Plan and Implementation Strategy detailing a whole range of activities to be carried out in the pre-census, actual census, and post census stages.
“Our vision of the 2023 census is to produce accurate, reliable and acceptable census with an all inclusive user-friendly data.”
In his remarks, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency(NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, underscored the importance of population and housing census, saying that the exercise would help Nigeria to plan and achieve sustainable development.
Abari represented by Mrs. Theresa Maduekwe, a director in NOA, said the Agency was irrevocably committed to carry out sensitisation and mobilisation campaigns across the length and breadth of the country.
He therefore, tasked all Nigerians to join hands with the Commission to make 2023 census exercise a resounding success.
Responding to questions from participants, Dr. Isiaka Yahaya, Director of Public Affairs Department in NPC, affirmed that insecurity plaguing some parts of the country would not prevent NPC personnel from carrying out the census exercise.
Yahaya observed that in spite of the insecurity plaguing the country, that the NPC through its dogged determination and unwavering commitment was able to carry out Enumeration Area Demarcation and pre-census trials across the country.
Quoting a research conducted by NOA in December 2022, he pointed out that 84 per cent of the respondents across the country were already aware of the forthcoming census.
The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) says the digitization of its system through the e-NSITF will enable it streamline its process for growth, while bringing its abiding benefits to the doorstep of Nigerian workers .
Speaking at the Abuja venue of a fund-wide, two-day training for key staff of the agency on Strategic Re-positioning, the Managing Director of the NSITF, Mrs. Maureen Allagoa, said the project, which is in line with the Federal Government policy on ease of doing business, will increase efficiency, break all barriers to outreach, transparency and accountability while blocking all the loopholes and leakages that badgered the fund over the years.
Represented by the Fund’s Executive Director, Administration, Dr Gabriel Okenwa, Allagoa said digital technology has brought innovations to government and private businesses, which no organization can ignore without great peril.
“Digital technology has brought great changes to businesses and the world of work in such a manner that compels organizations to align with the trend. The NSITF which occupies a cardinal position in the nation’s social security system cannot afford to lag behind .
“The e-NSITF whose first phase has been completed, is a practical platform which leverages on ICT to ease the implementation of Employee Compensation, by modernizing our systems and processes ,while expanding our frontiers in business and social security .
“This innovation is also stakeholder-inclusive, in that it grants our customers who are employers of labour, an unfettered access to our services by exposing them to our digital tools for interaction and business conduct. They will secure satisfaction while the accompanying instant feedback, in turn, optimizes the fund’s quality service in real time.
“ From the comfort of the respective offices of our enrollee-employers , they can register by keying into our platform, make payment which is tracked into a central pool and seamlessly generate compliance certificates. Waiting for period unending will be eliminated.
“ This process will also put securely behind us, every controversy over payment of claims which can now easily be tracked with the identity of the recipient in a public record.”
The Managing Director further urged all staff to key into the reform, meant to equip and adapt them to the digitization. She pledged the commitment of the management to improved staff welfare and other service conditions that assist efficient delivery of services.
At the end of the two-day sensitisation which is taking place simultaneously across the six zones of the country , the select staff-participants are expected to take the training to their respective fifty-six branches of the fund. Apart from boosting the fund’s digital infrastructures and equipping the staff with necessary skills and knowledge, the training will arm them for aggressive enrolment of employers, effective and prompt payment of claims and compensation, as well as active health and safety administration. Over one thousand out of 5000 staff strength of the fund is taking part in the programme.
The International Labour Organization ILO has attributed the recent rise in child labour, force labour, child trafficking and modern slavery to poverty, insecurity and unemployment in the country
Speaking in Abuja, the Director ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Venessa Phala, noted that the number of children in child labour has risen to one hundred and sixty million worldwide-an increase of eight point four million children compared with the last report.
Phala, who disclosed this in her welcome remarks during the National Child Labour and Force Labour Survey Validation Workshop said the eradication of child labour and force labour in Nigeria requires the development of monitoring infrastructure to determine and measure its magnitude, distribution, dimensions and characteristics at the national and sub-national levels. Children mostly affected are under the ages of 5 to 17, with most of them working in jobs that deprive them of their childhood, interfere with their education or harm their mental, physical or social development.
Stakeholders in the labour circle have however attributed the recent increase to factors associated with poverty, insecurity and unemployment in the country.
Phala said children have a right to better lives than engaging in forced labour practices just to shore up income on behalf of their parents.
She argued that the practice of engaging under-aged children in eking out a living runs contrary to the ILO Convention on the World of Work.
“We all know that the number of children engaging in child labour has risen to 160million worldwide, which is representing an increase of 8.4million children when compared with the last report.
“In eradicating the scourge of child labour and force labour in Nigeria, concerted efforts are required from all stakeholders, part of which is the development of monitoring infrastructure to determine and measure its magnitude, distribution, dimensions and characteristics at the national and sub-national levels,”Phala stated.
Corroborating the ILO’s position, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju, said government is not resting on its oars to see that the fight against child labour and force labour is reduced to the bearest minimum, if not completely eradicated.
She noted that children who are seen as leaders of the future ought not to be exposed to such practices at a tender age but rather shown love and properly catered for, for the general good of the country.
“I will use this opportunity to enjoin Nigerians across the federation to remain steadfast in the fight against the rising child labour, force labour and modern slavery practices so as to eradicate it from our society”.
Also Speaking, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju, who said the country has improved in the fight against child labour and force labour advised that children who are the leaders of tomorrow should be loved and properly trained for the betterment of the nation.
Daju however charged Nigerians across the federation to remain steadfast in the fight against the rising child labour, force labour and modern slavery.
Recall that the ILO recently sealed a partnership with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to unveil a new national survey for child labour in Nigeria with a view to helping the government and key stakeholders in their intervention programmes.
Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu, the Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, has hinted that the organisation and its partners were using art to highlight the importance for maternal health in the country.
Ihekweazu said this on Friday in Abuja at the second edition of the ‘Celebrating Womanhood Art Gala’ themed “Elevating Women’s Voices for Quality Maternal Healthcare”.
Our correspondent reports that this was part of the activities to commemorate International Women’s Month.
The organiser, Nigeria Health Watch said that the theme acknowledged that women’s perspectives, insights, needs and experiences were frequently overlooked in decision-making, policy design and implementation.
The managing director said that no woman deserves to die while giving birth in the country.
Ihekweazu said that the art gala aimed to advocate for maternal health programmes and services that incorporate and centre women’s experiences and perspectives to improve the quality of maternal care in the country.
“Art has been used to record history, shape culture, cultivate imagination, and encourage individual and social transformation, she explained.
She said that the goal of this year’s art gala was to amplify the voices and experiences of women, using art to raise awareness about the need for meaningful engagement, consultation, and listening to the perspective and experiences of women.
The managing director said that the art gala aimed to advocate for maternal health care that incorporates women’s experiences and perspectives, meaningfully, ensuring their needs were reflected in health care delivery in the country.
“If our voices as women are an essential part of our humanity, then we lose some of our humanity when we as women are made voiceless.
“Women having a voice is crucial & our voices must be heard. Silence is what allows women to suffer without any recourse,” she said.
The wife of Kebbi State Governor and Founder, of Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF) Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, said that it is no secret that Nigeria has a lot of maternal health issues across the country, including Kebbi state.
Bagudu said that various interventions from partners, the government, and civil society, have helped improve maternal health indices in Kebbi state.
She said that the state leveraged the existence of community development committees to influence decisions and social behaviour, and this had made a huge difference in the maternal indices in Kebbi State.
Ms Iyadunni Olubode, MSD for Mother, Director of Nigeria Programs said that a woman’s perception of the care she receives is an integral part of her clinical experience.
Olubode said that it is, therefore, an important consideration in improving the quality of care in the country.
She said that the formal channels to solicit and integrate women’s perspectives and preferences would fortify and sustain efforts to improve quality throughout the continuum of maternity care, at every level of the health system and for all women everywhere across the country.
According to her, Women’s perspectives and experiences before, during and after childbirth provide critical insights into how to strengthen maternity care for all women in the country and should be a guiding force in developing and implementing equitable solutions.
She expressed joy over celebrating the diversity and indomitable spirit of women all over the country, represented by each woman at the event and depicted in the different art forms seen and still to be seen.
Ms Onyedikachi Ewe, Senior programs and Advocacy Manager, at Nigeria Health Watch said that art can attract attention, evoke emotion, sustain interest, and stimulate memorable responses.
Ewe said that for these reasons, the only organisation have decided to fuse arts in our advocacy and as a creative way to build knowledge and raise awareness on maternal health issues in the country.
According to her, If any progress is to be made towards achieving or contributing to the SDG target of reducing global maternal deaths to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, then we must prioritise listening to women’s voices to understand their unique needs, perspectives, and experience.
Meanwhile, Mrs Chika Offor, Chair of, Health Sector Reform Coalition, said that the lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy for a woman in the country is worrisome. Offor commended what Nigeria Health Watch and partners had put in place to highlight the suffering of a Nigerian mother. She called on the government to focus on reducing the high maternal and neonatal mortality rate in the country.
“The situation which has been the case for far too long is unacceptable and it is time we do things right,” she said.. NAN recalled that the event begins with a walk-through led by Dr Ngozi Akande, Female Artists Association of Nigeria, who guided the guests through the curated artwork depicting the health challenges women face in the country.
Meanwhile, “Nigeria Health Watch held its first celebration of the Womanhood Art Gala in 2021.
***Says One Million Persons In The Area Have TB But Are Unaware of It
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, has revealed that the continent’s TB death rate has decreased by 26% between 2015 and 2021, putting Africa on the verge of reaching a 35% drop.
In addition, mortality has decreased by 35% in seven nations during 2015: Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.
In her statement for World TB Day 2023, Moeti hinted that the disease may be eradicated, emphasizing the need to to ensure equitable access to prevention and care, in line with our drive towards Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.
We commemorate World TB Day yearly on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of this preventable disease and call for accelerated action to end it, she said.
Her words: across the region, the challenges in TB prevention and control are significant: “First, the delayed diagnosis and testing. There is still a notable gap between the estimated number of new infections and case notifications of TB: 40% of people living with TB did not know of their diagnosis or it was not reported in 2021. One million people are living with TB in the region and have not been detected.
“Second, the link between TB and HIV. Approximately 20% of people newly diagnosed with TB are also living with HIV infection.
“Third, the multi-drug resistant TB. In the African region, only 26% of all people living with multi-drug resistance are receiving the appropriate treatment.
“Still, I am delighted that our Member States are increasing the uptake of new tools and guidance recommended by WHO, resulting in early access to TB prevention and care, and better outcomes. In the African Region, the use of rapid diagnostic testing has increased from 34% in 2020 to 43% in 2021, which will improve countries’ ability to detect and diagnose new cases of the disease”, she said.
She continued: “In 2021, with a clear roadmap, the WHO in the African Region showed that it is possible to reach – and even surpass –the first milestone of the End TB Strategy (20% reduction by 2020), with a decline rate of 22% in new infections since 2015.
“Through our technical support, leading advocacy, and effective partnerships, enormous progress has been made over the past decade, especially in the East and Southern African Regions. High-burden countries, like Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia have surpassed or reached the 20% target of reducing new TB cases.
“It is particularly important to find and diagnose cases of TB so that the patients can be treated, and their contacts offered preventive medication. Nigeria is an example of a country that managed to significantly increase national TB case finding by 50% in 2021 using innovative approaches such as the expansion of the daily observed treatment protocols, use of digital technologies, Community Active Case Finding, and enlisting Public Private Mix initiatives.
“TB requires concerted action by all sectors: from communities and businesses to governments, civil society and others. We must work together to develop innovative approaches to reach vulnerable populations and ensure that they have access to quality TB care and management.
“The second UN High-level Meeting on TB in September 2023 will provide a rare opportunity to give global visibility to the disease and mobilize high-level political commitment to end TB.
“Ending TB is feasible with the decline in TB deaths and cases, and the elimination of economic and social burdens associated with it”.
Moeti urged leaders, governments, partners, communities, and all stakeholders to urgently foster the resilient health systems required to accelerate the TB response so that we can reach the Sustainable Development Goals targets by 2030. Yes, we can end TB in our lifetime.
The dreaded but treatable Tuberculosis (TB) epidemic in Nigeria is something the Federal government is devoted to putting a stop to, according to the Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
In order to increase public awareness of tuberculosis and the efforts being done to prevent and treat the disease, he dropped this hint during a news conference marking the 2023 World TB Day. It gives us a chance to evaluate how well the End TB plan and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are doing .
He stated that tuberculosis (TB) is a significant public health issue both globally and in Nigeria, represented by Minister of State for Health Hon. Ekumankama Joseph Nkama.
Osagie stated that: “In line with the government’s effort to ensure good health and well-being for all Nigerians as envisioned in SDG 3, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) through the NTBLCP with the support of our committed and dependable partners have initiated a number of laudable TB control interventions.
“The country has in place a number of relevant policy documents to charta strategic direction for the control of the infection. These include the National guidelines for TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment, the National Strategic Plan (NSP-2021-2025), and the compendium of best practices among others.
“We have adopted and are scaling up new global innovations in every sphere of the response. This has ensured improved access and the efficiency of the interventions. For example, the GeneXpert equipment – a rapid molecular test for TB has increased from 32 in 2012 to 503 in 2022. The mobile digital ray with artificial intelligence, for TB screening among key and vulnerable populations, is being strategically scaled up across the country.
“In line with the NSP 2021-2025, active case-finding interventions have been deployed to target key and vulnerable populations as well as clinic/hospital attendees. These interventions are yielding positive results. Routine TB screening among outpatients is being implemented in all tertiary and a good number of secondary health facilities and this intervention is responsible for 8% of the national 2022 TB notification. We have equally expanded TB treatment services (DOTS centres) from 12,606 in 2019 to 20,148 in 2022 – translating to a 50% coverage of total heath facilities in Nigeria. Implementation of a robust Public-Private Mix DOTS (PPM- DOTS) plan has shown encouraging results as we have been able to expand TB services to 4,038 private facilities in 2022 from 1,451 in 2018. Thus, making PPM-DOTS a key TB control intervention that contributed to 24% of the national 2022 TB notification.
“In order to promote community participation, ownership and to discourage stigmatization of TB, community TB interventions are being implemented through community-based organizations across the country but more actively in 23 states. The community contribution to our national TB case notification rosee from 19% in 2018 to 45% in 2022.
“As encapsulated in the National Strategic Framework for TB/HIV collaborative activities, there have been significant improvements in this direction. Ninety-seven per cent of TB patients were tested for HIV in 2022. Consistent with the report of the 2018 National HIV/AIDS Impact Indicator Survey (NAIIS), the proportion of TB patients co-infected with HIV has dropped significantly from 12% in 2018 to 6% in 2022.
“It is heartwarming to state that these high-impact interventions amongst others have helped in revamping our TB control efforts with our annual TB notification increasing steadily from 138,591 in 2020 to the highest-ever notification of 285,561 in 2022. 1 think we all deserve a round of applause for this achievement” , Ehanire stated.
However, considering the high burden of TB in Nigeria, there are significant gaps in some critical aspects of our National TB response. A key challenge to our control effort has been access to TB services. The TB service coverage for 2022 was 50%, as services were only available in 20,148 out of 40,562 health facilities in the country.
Similarly, WHO Country Representative (WR) Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo who was represented at the occasion by Dr Laxmikant Chavan WHO Technical Officer hinted that, Nigeria at the United Nations High Level meeting (UNHLM) on TB in 2018 made a commitment to diagnose and treat 1,109,000 TB cases and place 2,183,890 clients on TB preventive Therapy (TPT) from 2018 to 2022. After the end of 2022, Nigeria has not demonstrated achievements of this commitment as available reports show that the country is trailing behind in all the set targets.
He noted that, TB control budgets in Nigeria continue to be drastically underfunded. About 69% of the TB budget in 2021 was unfunded, this is a major threat to the country’s efforts in achieving the set targets. Too many people are pushed into poverty when they contract TB due to lost income, transport costs and other expenses. 71% of the TB patients in Nigeria and their household are affected by catastrophic cost due to TB.
According to him:” WHO will continue to support Nigeria in developing and implementing guidelines, plans, framework and strategic documents to end TB epidemic in Nigeria. In addition, we will facilitate research to provide evidence-based interventions and innovations for finding the missing TB cases and enhancing the country’s efforts in reaching the set targets.
“We will continue to work with the programme to build capacity of senior and middle-level managers across the states on the needed knowledge and skills for improving quality of care and data analysis towards formulating evidence-based policies for enhancing programme performance at all levels. In addition, we will continue to support monitoring of the programme at all levels, in rea-time, to identify challenges and advise on strategies to address the challenges.
“Finally, let me pledge WHO’s continued support in strengthening partnership and innovations towards the attainment of set targets as well as leveraging on the country’s primary health care strengthening initiatives to end TB epidemic in Nigeria. TB IS Curable and treatable; I implore anyone coughing for two weeks or more to go for TB test in the nearest health facility. We call on everyone- the donors, private sector, civil society, academia and the press to join forces in solidarity and together, “Yes, we can end TB epidemic in Nigeria”, he stated.
In addition, the Deputy Director, Office of HIV/ AIDS and TB USAID Nigeria, Omosalewa Oyelaran said since 2003, Nigeria remains in the top 10 countries affected by TB, with one of the lowest detection rates globally.
She said to combat this debilitating disease, USAID collaborates with the Government of Nigeria and other national and international partners to support the National Tuberculosis Program. Since 2003, USAID has contributed more than $250 million to TB control efforts in Nigeria. In 2022 alone, USAID programs helped screen over 15 million individuals for TB. USAID’s support also includes the provision of TB screening, diagnostic, treatment, and preventive services in 18 states through community and facility-based interventions.
According to her:” In partnership with the Government of Nigeria, USAID’s ‘TB Accelerator’ model invested in local civil society organizations (CSOs) to increase access to quality TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, including multi-drug resistant TB. These local CSOs collaborate with the national and state TB programs to deploy, and scale, state of the art equipment and tools to improve detection of TB. USAID also facilitates multi-sectoral public-private partnerships to increase public awareness and advocate for domestic resources to address the TB epidemic in Nigeria. As a result, Nigeria realized a significant increase in TB case finding and treatment coverage over the past three years.
“Despite the additional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have achieved significant results working together in partnership with GON and Global Fund. We commend the Government of Nigeria’s efforts to sustain the accelerated service delivery that resulted in yearly case notification increases of 160 percent between 2019 and 2022.
“However, much remains to be done if Nigeria is to meet its TB control target of ending the TB epidemic by 2035. We must continue to work together to reach all TB patients and their contacts in Nigeria.
“However, the greatest challenge is the funding gap, which is estimated to be 70 percent of the resources needed to effectively control TB. Therefore, I call on you to mobilize domestic resources to meet this funding gap through budgetary allocations, inclusion of TB services in health insurance schemes, and enhanced private sector engagement”, she said.
In her goodwill message, the Ag. Board Chair, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr Queen Ogbuji said out of the annual estimate of 479,000 TB cases in Nigeria, only 285,561 were notified. This is good progress in the right direction, and considering the fact that Nigeria was able to increase its notification even when the world was grappling with COVID:19 and many countries of the world had low case notification and more TB deaths.
She added that, “The increase has been consistent since then and Nigeria needs to be applauded for this. However, a lot needs to be done to close the gap.While we commemorate, let it remain top in our minds the picture that Nigeria ranks first in Africa and sixth in the world accounting for about 4.6% of the global TB burden
“TB disease is often more severe in children with higher mortality among those less than 5 years old. The notification of children with active TB disease has remained abysmally low at only 6% of out of the annual notification.
“As the country continues to make progress to find the missing TB cases and put them on treatment, much resources is needed to accomplish this, unfortunately, of the $373 million needed for TB control in Nigeria in 2020, only 31% was available and 24% of this came from the donors, only 7% was from domestic source”, she added.
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), has called on well meaning Nigerians and institutions to invest in the nation’s future generations by creating awareness on the dangers of climate change such as extreme weather and loss of livelihoods; and providing opportunities for them to proffer solutions, as this would further make the world a safer place for all. NiMet Director General/Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu made the call in Abuja while marking the 2023 World Meteorological Day.
He explained that the Day commemorates the coming into force on 23rd March 1950 of the Convention establishing the World Meteorological Organisation, adding that prior to this date, the International Meteorological Organisation existed since 1873, as a cooperation of international bodies or institutions working tirelessly together, exchanging data and making forecasts for the good of all.
Speaking further, he noted that, “As an organization of 187 Member States and 6 Member Territories, the WMO requires that all its members will operate with common vision and goals. The World Meteorological Day therefore, offers opportunity for member countries to converge ideas and resources; and align in one common thematic area.
“The ‘Day’ showcases the essential contribution of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHss) such as NiMet and NIHSA (Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency) to the safety and wellbeing of society and is celebrated with activities around the world”, he said.
He also noted that NiMet has placed special importance in the future generations by working with the young minds in the country, and has designed, developed and implemented a programme called Young Meteorological Ambassadors.
Prof. Matazu pointed out that the Agency has signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with several universities in Nigeria to promote the science of meteorology within the academic institutions at tertiary level
Commenting further, he remarked that as an Agency, they are also working to preserve their past resources in terms of publications and instrumentation while developing new ones, thereby providing a robust knowledge base for the upcoming generations.
For his part, the WMO Representative, North Central and West Africa, Dr. Bernard Gomez, noted that the theme highlights past achievements, current progress and future potential of meteorology.
Dr. Benard, who was represented by Dr. Roland Abah, noted that the rate of climate change is accelerating and calls for urgent action to slash emissions and to ensure that future generations can both survive and thrive on our planet.
“Science and innovation are also key tools to scale up the contribution of weather and climate services to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We all must continue to remember that Climate change threatens the achievement of many of these goals and indeed our individual plans”, he concluded.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is “The Future of Weather, Climate and Water Across Generations”.
The Federal Government has assured that the national carrier will begin operations before May 29, 2023, as the Nigeria Air project is 98 per cent completed.
The minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika disclosed this in Abuja at the 10th National Aviation Stakeholders Forum 2023. He added that the successful implementation of the Aviation roadmap, would gulp about $14.166 billion.
Sirika added that local and international flights would commence soon following ongoing negotiations with the Ethiopian Airlines Group Consortium and the Federal Government of Nigeria ongoing.
According to him, negotiations are ongoing with the Ethiopian Airlines Group Consortium and the Federal Government of Nigeria. Next step: Federal Executive Council approval of the Full Business Case.
“Operation of local and international flights will commence soon. Before the end of this administration, before May 29, we will fly. However, with the successful implementation of the roadmap projects, our overall goal is to grow the Aviation sectors contribution from the current 0.6% to 5% (approximately $14.166 billion)”, he added.
Sirika said that the International Air Transportation Association, IATA, in June 2020, reached a significant contribution to Nigeria’s economy by providing about 241, 000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
Speaking further, the minister said the benefits Nigeria stands to derive from the establishment of the national carrier are reduced capital flight from Nigeria; gain the optimal benefit of BASA and SAATM and develop an aviation hub.
The minister also hinted that the National carrier would adequately contribute to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP; facilitate hospitality and tourism; facilitate growth and development of the Nigerian Agricultural Sector and create jobs around the Agro-Cargo Terminals.
According to him, “the National carrier will contribute to the GDP; facilitate hospitality and tourism; facilitate growth and development of the Nigerian Agricultural Sector and create jobs around the Agro-Cargo Terminals.
“A study showcases the significant contribution of air transportation to the National economy, through providing 241,000 jobs (direct and indirect) and a contribution of $1.7 billion to the National economy.
“Furthermore, we have successfully debunked the gospel truth that aviation doubles every 15 years. Currently in Nigeria, the number of airports including those currently being developed has doubled, the passenger number has doubled, other entrepreneurships including catering and ground handling has blossomed, the number of airlines and jobs has multiplied”, he said.
Sirika also said that the aviation sector is challenged with: “Inadequate Safety, Security and Surveillance Equipment; Capacity development of unemployed trained professional Nigerian Aviators and Ageing and over-bloated workforce in the Aviation Agencies; High cost of funds and shrinking capital market.
“Poor and intolerable condition of airport facilities and equipment (long waiting and check-in times, time consuming security screening and baggage pickups; High debt profile of domestic airlines; Slow and Cumbersome Procurement Process; Lack of skilled High level Management personnel in Airlines.”