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Health / Africa’s COVID-19 Vaccination Drive Suffers Setback As Nigeria Gets $900m Health by Andromache: 3:45am On Jun 29, 2021
The African COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy of the African Union (AU), yesterday, admitted that its target of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the continent’s population (about 750 million people) or the entire adult populace by end of 2022 had suffered a setback, as only less than two per cent of Africans had received the jabs.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said the vaccines available to the continent represent a small portion of global supplies, even as purchase, delivery and administration of the doses remain significant.
The African COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy of the African Union (AU), yesterday, admitted that its target of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the continent’s population (about 750 million people) or the entire adult populace by end of 2022 had suffered a setback, as only less than two per cent of Africans had received the jabs.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said the vaccines available to the continent represent a small portion of global supplies, even as purchase, delivery and administration of the doses remain significant.
Africa is now the most difficult period, the major epidemic of the epidemic and the shortage of vaccines, are now facing great difficulties and we should go hand in hand.
Health / Former White House Adviser Says Dangerous Coronavirus Variant Is 'like Covid On by Andromache: 2:51am On Jun 28, 2021
A coronavirus variant first identified in India is "like Covid on steroids," Andy Slavitt, former White House senior adviser for Covid-19 response, said Wednesday.
"(The Delta variant) is a more virulent strain," Slavitt told CNN. "This is like Covid on steroids. You can be around people for less time and still get exposed."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled the Delta variant a "variant of concern," a designation given to strains of a virus that scientists believe are more transmissible or can cause more severe disease.
The CDC says the variant accounts for about 10% of coronavirus cases in the United States.
Slavitt said the variant provides people with one more reason to get vaccinated.
"If you have been vaccinated, you have very little to worry about," he said.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN on Tuesday the Delta variant "is rapidly increasing here in the United States."
He said there is data that indicates it might cause more severe illness.
"That still needs to be understood more clearly, but these are two important concerns and they explain in part ... why this has become the dominant variant in the UK, where over 90% of cases are the Delta variant," Murthy said.
The good news is that vaccines appear to be effective against the variant.
A new study by Public Health England found that two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are "highly effective against hospitalization" caused by the variant. The study found the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalization after two doses.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during CNBC's Evolve Global Summit that he feels "very good" about the vaccine when it comes to variants of concern, but the company has a system in place in case a variant emerges that requires a more tailored vaccine.
Murthy said there isn't enough data to indicate the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine in regard to the Delta variant, but the vaccine has shown it can help prevent hospitalizations and deaths when people are infected with other strains.
"The key is get vaccinated, get both doses," Murthy said.
As of Wednesday, 44.1% of the total US population was fully vaccinated while 52.7% has received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the CDC.
Thirteen states -- with the addition of Hawaii on Wednesday -- have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents, the CDC says.
This comes on the heels of the US surpassing 600,000 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That means about one in every 550 people in the US has died from the virus.
Investment / Nigeria Considers Equity Fund To Boost Growth, Stem Poverty by Andromache: 2:44am On Jun 25, 2021
ABUJA, June 22 (Reuters) - Nigeria is considering the set up of a private equity fund as part of its effort to fight poverty in Africa’s most populous nation and has asked a team of top government officials to work on the plan, the presidency said on Tuesday.
The proposed fund, the Nigeria Investment and Growth Fund (NIG-Fund) will lead resource mobilization and also manage the resources, the presidency said in a statement. It said the plan was part of the country’s poverty reduction and growth strategy.
Nigeria has announced several funding raising initiatives in the past with several others still on the drawing board.
The West African nation’s economy, the biggest on the continent, has been hammered by the fall in oil prices following disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic. The country relies on crude exports for around 70% of government revenues.
Growth in Nigeria resumed in the fourth quarter after a COVID-19 induced recession but it lags the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, with food inflation, heightened insecurity and stalled reforms slowing the economy and increasing poverty, the World Bank has said.
In February, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the creation of a new company with a seed capital of 1 trillion naira ($2.43 billion), that will focus on infrastructure development.
Nigeria has considered tapping its sovereign wealth fund and domestic pensions to set up a $25 billion infrastructure fund to invest in the transport and energy sectors.
Poor transport and power networks in Nigeria have stymied economic growth for decades, holding back the distribution of wealth in the country which has Africa’s biggest economy but 40% of people live below the national poverty line of 137,430 naira ($334.48) per year.
Health / US Imposes Visa Restrictions Over Cameroon Violence by Andromache: 3:38am On Jun 23, 2021
Addis Ababa, June 08, 2021 (Walta) – The United States has imposed visa restrictions on people accused of inciting violence in English-speaking western Cameroon.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was “deeply concerned by the continued violence in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon”.
“We condemn those who undermine peace through engaging in or inciting violence, human rights violations and abuses, and threats against advocates for peace or humanitarian workers,” he said on Monday.
Blinken did not indicate the number or identify the people affected by the visa ban.
He urged the Cameroonian government and separatist armed groups to end the violence and engage in a dialogue without preconditions to peacefully resolve the crisis.
Cameroon’s English-speaking regions of North-West and South-West have been mired by violence since 2017, with separatists fighting to break away from the government dominated by the French-speaking majority.
According to the UN, more than 3,500 people have died and 700,000 displaced since the onset of the violence.
State troops and rebel fighters have both been accused of committing crimes and abuses against civilians.

This kind of thing will happen at the moment of the epidemic. This kind of violence must be stopped. At present, the common enemy of everyone is Covid-19, not each other. In order to alleviate the harm of the people, I hope the government can come up with effective policies to deal with such incidents.
Health / Can Eating Bananas Prevent COVID-19 Infection? by Andromache: 3:22am On Jun 21, 2021
A video has been circulating on multiple WhatsApp groups in Nigeria, claiming that eating “a banana a day keeps the coronavirus away.” The video has been found to be doctored with false claims.
The video, which was produced in the form of a news broadcast clip, recommended that eating a banana a day could help prevent humans from being infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
For over 15 months, the video has been in circulation on various social media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and until recently Twitter and WhatsApp platforms in Nigeria.
The video, which has been forwarded several times on WhatsApp between March 2021 and June 2021, was traced to a March 15, 2020 post on Facebook here using Google Reverse Image Search. It has been viewed over 2,700 times on the Facebook page and now circulates widely on WhatsApp.
It is one of the several videos spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed over 3.8million deaths with about 176million confirmed cases globally as of June 15, 2021, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These numbers continue to rise daily.
Since the outbreak of the disease in December 2019, many social media platforms, especially WhatsApp chat groups and Facebook, have become vehicles for spreading misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19.
Users are often asked to forward such messages to as many people as possible.
Some of such viral WhatsApp videos or texts include those claiming that drinking palm oil or hot water, tea several times daily can cure COVID-19, or that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines can reduce lifespan, or that the Nigerian government is giving out COVID-19 survival funds. These, among others, have been debunked by the ICIR’s FactCheckHub.
THE BANANA CLAIM
The claim reads: “Bananas are one of the most popular fruits worldwide. such as Vitamin C. All of these support health. people who follow a high fibre diet have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Bananas contain water and fibre, both of which promote regularity and encourage digestive health.
“Research made by scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia have proven that bananas improve your immune system due to the super source of Vitamins B-6 and helps prevent coronavirus. Having a banana a day keeps the coronavirus away.”
Same video, same claim but many edited versions
The 58-second video, which shows a news report by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), with the same banana claim, has been edited severally especially by a TikTok user, @dil_ka_raja2020 and YouTuber to include these texts inscriptions: “Bananas can beat this virus, Must Watch”; “Banana a day keeps the Coronavirus away.” He has over 12,000 followers with over 167,000 likes on his TikTok page.
Also, an edited 27-second version of the video posted from Pakistan on YouTube on 14th March, 2020 has also been viewed 318 times.
The Associated Press (AP) had earlier reached out via email to a University of Queensland spokesperson who confirmed that “the video is fake and said they strongly recommend people do not share it.”
Similarly, a Queensland University scientist Keith Chappell, who discussed the university’s efforts to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus in the ABC News video, had also told the AFP that the banana claim video “is definitely NOT true.”
In addition, video footage from the eight- to ten-second of the misleading WhatsApp video was seen on the Shutterstock videos website, using Reverse Image Search – another OSINT tool.
Further findings showed that the footages from the 12- to 23-second of the viral video were extracted from a YouTube clip made by Herbs Cures titled: “Health Benefits of Banana” and uploaded online on March 1, 2020.
Also, the ‘Herbs cures’ logo could be seen in the viral video. The ‘Herbs Cures’ video only listed the benefits of bananas and did not claim that bananas could prevent COVID-19 in the four -minute, thirty-eight second video.
Additional analysis also showed that the footages from the 24- to 31-second of the viral video were extracted from a news video published by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in February 2020 titled: “How Scientists Are Trying to Develop a Coronavirus Vaccine.”
The four-minute, seven-second WSJ video did not claim that bananas could beat or prevent COVID-19.
Can any food or fruit prevent one from being infected with COVID-19?
According to WHO, “there is no single food that will prevent you from catching COVID-19,” but bananas have nutritional values.
Although the global health body has a nutrition fact-sheet for healthy diets that protect against malnutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, it said there was none that could protect anyone against COVID-19.
Scientists also advised that maintaining good nutritional status could help boost one’s immune system against COVID-19, adding that there was no evidence that any food or supplement would prevent infection or spread of the disease.
“Bananas are a fine fruit and garlic is a fine vegetable. But no. There are no clinical trials to suggest they have anti-coronavirus activity. Vitamin-C Is not even a fruit or a vegetable,” says an infectious diseases expert from the University of Maryland in the United States, Faheem Younus.
However, here are WHO-recommended steps to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
CONCLUSION
The claim is FALSE! There is no credible evidence that eating bananas can beat or prevent COVID-19 infection.
The viral WhatsApp video was doctored from two news reports by the ABC News and WSJ respectively, as well as other video footages, to include references to bananas.
Health / CBN: Agric Sector Interventions Geared Towards Food Security by Andromache: 8:28am On Jun 18, 2021
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said its various development finance interventions in the agriculture sector are meant to guarantee food security.
CBN Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, said during an interview at the CBN two-day fair in Lagos at the weekend, that all central bank’s interventions were also geared towards supporting the federal government’s quest to diversify the economy.
“If as a nation we cannot feed ourselves, then there is a major problem. Once we don’t have food security in this nation, it becomes a problem. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, we saw countries imposing some forms of export restrictions and you begin to wonder that if we didn’t champion the rice revolution in Nigeria, what would have happened? That is why we need to look inwards for the things that we need.
“We keep rolling out these interventions because of what I call the failure of the market. If you allow the market to determine credit allocation, certain sectors such as agriculture, SMEs, may suffer and that was why the central bank stepped in,” he stated.
He added that when Mr. Godwin Emefiele assumed duty in June 2014 as CBN governor, he had pledged to build a people-centred central bank, stressing that the interventions of the bank cuts across all the strata and they addressed Nigerians’ needs.
He said: “You have the targeted credit facility, which came in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a means of mitigating the adverse impact on families, households and SMEs. This is the first time you are seeing interventions and facilities where nobody asked you to bring collateral.
“That is because we understand that the young graduate that just came out from the university doesn’t have collateral or landed property to bring. So, you now use that intervention to empower them to start something and by doing that you stimulate the economy.
“If you look at the Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) as well, it also speaks to the young generation who don’t have collateral and don’t have what it takes to access the normal traditional loans from the banks. They go to NIRSAL MFB and nobody asks them for collateral.”
According to him, the National Collateral Registry was introduced to ease access to credit for Nigerians.
He also said that the CBN Fair was to create a platform to interact with stakeholders, to explain some of the CBN’s policies, interventions and programmes as well as to elicit responses from them.
Health / Lowest Average Of Daily Covid-19 Infections And Deaths Since March 2020 by Andromache: 3:37am On Jun 17, 2021
US reports lowest average of daily Covid-19 infections and deaths since March 2020. But experts warn millions are still vulnerable
The US is making significant strides in curbing the coronavirus pandemic just in time for the summer, with reported infections reaching a new low over the last year.
The country averaged less than 14,400 daily reported infections and 427 deaths over the past seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University data. It’s the lowest the US has seen since late March 2020, just weeks after the pandemic was first declared.
The good news comes as about 42% of Americans are fully vaccinated, while nearly 52% have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But health experts are warning that the recent lag in vaccination rates leaves millions unprotected against Covid-19 variants that have made their way to the US from other parts of the world.
The US reached its peak of daily vaccinations on April 1, with more than 4.3 million people inoculated in one day, according the CDC. Since then, the numbers have plummeted. Over the past week, an average of roughly 560,000 Americans have been vaccinated each day.
As the US enters what the former CDC director called the “slog-phase of the vaccination campaign,” health experts have been drawing attention to both vaccine hesitancy and accessibility issues.
Travel / 2021 Hajj: Saudi Arabia Bars Travellers From Nigeria, Others Over COVID-19 by Andromache: 2:42am On Jun 15, 2021
Saudi Arabia has barred travellers from Nigeria and other countries from performing 2021 Hajj over coronavirus concerns.

This is as Saudi Arabia announced Saturday it will allow 60,000 vaccinated residents of the kingdom to perform the annual hajj.

The hajj ministry said this year’s pilgrimage would be “open for nationals and residents of the kingdom, limited to 60,000 pilgrims”, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

With this, travellers from Nigeria have been barred from performing hajj for the second time in a row.

Last year, the kingdom also hosted downscaled hajj amid the coronavirus pandemic, preventing thousands of Nigerian pilgrims from participating.

The pilgrimage, scheduled to be held at the end of July, would be limited to those who have been vaccinated and are below 65 years of age with no chronic illnesses, it said.

The hajj – a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime — typically packs millions of pilgrims into congested religious sites and could be a major source of contagion.



Only up to 10,000 Muslims took part in last year, a far cry from the 2.5 million who participated in the five-day annual pilgrimage in 2019.

In a relaxation of coronavirus curbs last October, Saudi Arabia opened the Grand Mosque for prayers for the first time in seven months and partially resumed the all-year-round umrah pilgrimage.

The limit on umrah pilgrims is 20,000 a day, with a total of 60,000 worshippers allowed to perform daily prayers at the mosque.

The umrah usually attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe each year. Authorities said the umrah would be allowed to return to full capacity once the threat of the pandemic has abated.


The revered Black Stone in the Kaaba – which is customary but not mandatory to touch during the pilgrimage – remains out of reach.

“In light of what the whole world is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic… and the emergence of new variants, the relevant authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation,” the hajj ministry said Saturday.

“Considering the large crowds that perform hajj, spending long periods of time in multiple and specific places… required the highest levels of health precautions,” it added in the statement carried by SPA.


A scaled-down hajj represents a major loss of revenue for the kingdom, already reeling from the twin shocks of the virus-induced slowdown and a plunge in oil prices.

The hajj and the year-round umrah pilgrimages together rake in some $12 billion (10.3 billion euros) annually.

Last year, the foreign press were barred from the hajj, usually a huge global media event.

Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 460,000 coronavirus infections, including 7,536 deaths.

The health ministry says it has administered more than 15 million coronavirus vaccine doses, in a country with a population of over 34 million.

Hosting the hajj is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, for whom the custodianship of Islam’s holiest sites is their most powerful source of political legitimacy.

But a series of deadly disasters over the years, including a 2015 stampede that killed up to 2,300 worshippers, has prompted criticism of the kingdom’s management of the pilgrimage.
Health / Biden's Infrastructure Talks With GOP Collapse Amid Irreconcilable Differences by Andromache: 8:20am On Jun 11, 2021
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's infrastructure talks with Republicans collapsed Tuesday, the lead GOP negotiator said.
"I spoke with the president this afternoon, and he ended our infrastructure negotiations," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said in a statement.
The end of the talks will increase pressure on Democrats to pass a sweeping package using a special process that doesn't require any Republican votes in the Senate.
Weeks of negotiations failed to bring the White House and Republicans close to a deal. They remained far apart on a total price tag for a bill, which types of projects should be included and whether to raise any new taxes.
Health / COVID-19 Funds Were Diverted In Countries – UN by Andromache: 2:36am On Jun 10, 2021
Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, on Wednesday, said inadequate oversight and transparency led to the diversion of COVID-19 funds in some countries.
Mohammed made the remark at the UN-General Assembly Special Session on Corruption (UNGASS) at UN headquarters in New York, NAN reports.
The theme is “Challenges and Measures to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Strengthen International Cooperation’’.
The official noted that the UN System Common Position on Corruption, which coordinates support for member states, sets out measures for integration of anti-corruption processes nationally and locally.
The world body urged countries to restore public trust by taking concrete actions to eliminate corruption.
Mohammed said social protests had sent a clear message that people would not tolerate cynical, corrupt practices.
“They are demanding transformation of legal, political, economic and social structures that have long been indifferent to accountability and transparency.”
She added that corruption disproportionately impacts women, limiting their access to public resources, information and decision-making.
“It fosters organised crime and the exploitation of natural resources”, said Mohammed, a former Environment Minister.
Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa will present Nigeria’s position at the Special Session.
Health / The United States Is Beginning To Reopen As The Number Of Govt-19 Cases Dwindles by Andromache: 2:19am On Jun 08, 2021
U.S. Gayle Smith speaks in Washington, D.C., on April 5, following the announcement by Secretary of State Anthony Blinkan that he will be appointed Foreign Office Coordinator for Global Govt-19 Response and Health Care. Runners / AFP / Ball / Getty Images
Gayle Smith, co-ordinator of the State Department for Govt-19 and the Global Response to Health Care, has pledged to share internationally with President Biden that the United States will distribute 25 million Govt vaccines as part of the initial 80 million dose transs. Friday. He did not provide a schedule for vaccination.
Smith said the United States would distribute 25% of the first installment bilaterally.
Smith said the remaining 75% of the first batch of U.S. vaccines will go to COVAX, an international group focused on global vaccine distribution, and that the Biden administration has “identified the countries that want to get these vaccines.”
Smith said nearly 6 million doses will be distributed across Latin America, including the Caribbean, 7 million doses in South and Southeast Asia and 5 million doses in Africa.
“This is the first round, this is a start,” Smith said. She could not say when the 55 million dose, which would make a total of 80 million vaccines, would be given.
Going forward, Biden management will pursue a three-pronged strategy to increase vaccine supply through dose sharing, and will encourage U.S. manufacturers to increase vaccine production “in the last quarter, if not earlier this year and next year”. he said. . Smith said management would improve global vaccine production by increasing productivity, adding that “there are more locations in the world, manufacturers, capable of distributing vaccines.”
“Our goal is to end the epidemic and make it worse,” Smith said. “Doing this is in our best interests, and our health care is at stake … none of us are safe as long as we are all there.”
Health / COVID-19 Funds Were Diverted In Countries – UN by Andromache: 2:31am On Jun 05, 2021
Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, on Wednesday, said inadequate oversight and transparency led to the diversion of COVID-19 funds in some countries.
Mohammed made the remark at the UN-General Assembly Special Session on Corruption (UNGASS) at UN headquarters in New York, NAN reports.
The theme is “Challenges and Measures to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Strengthen International Cooperation’’.
Police arrest woman for beating co-wife to death, setting her ablaze
The official noted that the UN System Common Position on Corruption, which coordinates support for member states, sets out measures for integration of anti-corruption processes nationally and locally.
The world body urged countries to restore public trust by taking concrete actions to eliminate corruption.
Mohammed said social protests had sent a clear message that people would not tolerate cynical, corrupt practices.
“They are demanding transformation of legal, political, economic and social structures that have long been indifferent to accountability and transparency.”
PDP raises alarm as NNPC plans to acquire Dangote Refinery shares
She added that corruption disproportionately impacts women, limiting their access to public resources, information and decision-making.
“It fosters organised crime and the exploitation of natural resources”, said Mohammed, a former Environment Minister.
Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa will present Nigeria’s position at the Special Session.
Health / COVID-19: Nigeria’s Active Cases Surpass 7,000 by Andromache: 2:09am On Jun 03, 2021
The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) says the number of active COVID-19 cases in Nigeria increased to 7,657, with 31 confirmed additional cases.
The NCDC made this known via its verified wedsite on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the country’s active cases went up from 7,637 on Friday.
The public health agency noted that the new figure of 31 raised the total number of infections in the country to 166,285.
It said that the new COVID-19 infections were registered in five states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“The country count of new COVID-19 daily cases dropped below 50, with the 31 new confirmed cases.
“Saturday’s case count is lower than Friday’s case count which saw 63 new infections.
“Fifteen cases were recorded in Lagos, 5 in Gombe, 4 in Akwa-Ibom, 3 in FCT and 2 cases each in Kaduna and Kwara state.
”There were no cases in Bauchi, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, and Sokoto States,” it stated.
NCDC said that the death toll in the country still stands at 2,071, as no death related to the disease was recorded.
It said that 156,557 people had recovered from COVID-19, adding that the figure is about 94.15 per cent of known cases.
NCDC added that resolved cases increased by 11 in the past 24 hours, adding that there were more new cases than resolved cases on Saturday.
It said that the country had also conducted over two million tests since the first case was announced on Feb. 27, 2020.
It added that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 2, continued to coordinate the national response activities.
NAN recalls that the agency had published the Nigerian COVID-19 Situation Report for Epi Week 18.
It reports that the weekly COVID-19 situation reports provide a summary of the epidemiological situation, datasheet and response activities in Nigeria.
The situation reports showed that in Week 20, the number of new confirmed cases increased to 310 from 290 reported in week 19, adding that these were reported in 15 states and FCT.
It showed that the number of discharged cases decreased to 63 from 116 in week 19, reported in 11 states and the FCT, while the number of reported death in the last one week was 1 (Ondo State).
It indicated that cumulatively, since the outbreak began in Week 9, 2020, there have been 166,019 cases and 2,067 deaths reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 1.2 per cent.
“The number of in-bound international travellers at Nigerian airports was 15,755 compared with 15,669 in Week 19.
”The number of in-bound international travellers test was 2,747 of which 23 were positive compared to 18 from week 19.
”Also, the number of out-bound international travellers test was 3,833 of which 25 were positive compared to 24 from week 19,” the situation reports indicated.
NCDC commended Nigerians for keeping the curve low, but said “we cannot let our guards down.”
”COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over. We must continue to take protective measures to limit the spread and protect our families and communities,” it said.
Health / Gov Lalong Gets Second Jab Of COVID-19 Vaccine by Andromache: 2:45am On Jun 02, 2021
Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau on Monday received his second jab of the Oxford Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Government House, Jos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor’s personal physician, Dr. Benjamin Dashak, administered the vaccine on Lalong, his wife, members of the state executive council and some members of the state security council.

Speaking after taking the jab, the governor said that fatal cases of COVID-19 disease is decreasing in the country as a result of the mass vaccination.

He said he flagged off of the second phase of the vaccination to encourage the people to get the vaccine. He dispelled the myths surrounding the vaccine.

“People are waiting for the governor to Flag off the vaccine, so I have flagged it off and you are encouraged to do same.

“Our prayer is that COVID-19 will soon leave Nigeria and the world,” he said.

He assured Plateau residents that in spite of the challenges being experienced in the supply of vaccines globally, the state has enough to go round.

The governor said that the vaccination is becoming a prerequisite for international travels, saying “You cannot travel out without the vaccine, especially for religious pilgrimages.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Secretary of Plateau State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Livinus Miapkwap, said the waiting period to receive the second jab of the vaccine has been reviewed as a result of innovations in researches.

He said that the period between the first snd second jabs has been reviewed downwards from two to three months to six to 12 weeks.

He said the governor who got his first jab on March 15 was therefore eligible for the second jab, saying 17 centres have been designated for the mass vaccination in the state.

He explained that people who got their vaccines from other parts of the state or outside the state, can go to any centre closest to them, saying there was no need for them to go to distant places to get the jab.

Miapkwap said that the first jab would also be administered for those who have not received, saying the exercise would go on concurrently with the second jab administration.

Also speaking, the commissioner for information, Mr. Dan Manjang, urged the people to take the exercise with
all seriousness, saying Lalong demonstrated the leadership by taking the second jab to assure the people of its efficacy and safety.Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau on Monday received his second jab of the Oxford Astrazeneca
COVID-19 vaccine at Government House, Jos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor’s personal physician, Dr. Benjamin Dashak, administered the vaccine on Lalong, his wife, members of the state executive council and some members of the state security council.

Speaking after taking the jab, the governor said that fatal cases of COVID-19 disease is decreasing in the country as a result of the mass vaccination.

He said he flagged off of the second phase of the vaccination to encourage the people to get the vaccine. He dispelled the myths surrounding the vaccine.

“People are waiting for the governor to Flag off the vaccine, so I have flagged it off and you are encouraged to do same.

“Our prayer is that COVID-19 will soon leave Nigeria and the world,” he said.

He assured Plateau residents that in spite of the challenges being experienced in the supply of vaccines globally, the state has enough to go round.

The governor said that the vaccination is becoming a prerequisite for international travels, saying “You cannot travel out without the vaccine, especially for religious pilgrimages.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Secretary of Plateau State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Livinus Miapkwap, said the waiting period to receive the second jab of the vaccine has been reviewed as a result of innovations in researches.

He said that the period between the first snd second jabs has been reviewed downwards from two to three months to six to 12 weeks.

He said the governor who got his first jab on March 15 was therefore eligible for the second jab, saying 17 centres have been designated for the mass vaccination in the state.

He explained that people who got their vaccines from other parts of the state or outside the state, can go to any centre closest to them, saying there was no need for them to go to distant places to get the jab.

Miapkwap said that the first jab would also be administered for those who have not received, saying the exercise would go on concurrently with the second jab administration.

Also speaking, the commissioner for information, Mr. Dan Manjang, urged the people to take the exercise with all seriousness, saying Lalong demonstrated the leadership by taking the second jab to assure the people of its efficacy and safety.
Health / U.S. Vaccine Diplomacy In Latin America Is Failing by Andromache: 2:57am On May 31, 2021
There is considerable hand-wringing about China’s vaccine diplomacy in Latin America. This reflects the inability of the Trump and Biden administrations to view vaccines in strategic terms. At a decisive time, the U.S. chose to complain about China rather than offer leadership and a compelling alternative to solve Latin America’s COVID-19 crisis. The Biden administration needs to move quickly, while keeping three points in mind.
First, China bashing is not an effective tool. Latin American governments now have two decades of close relations with China and know very well where they stand.
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) recently sent a letter to President Joe Biden that “our competitors”—meaning China and Russia—will send vaccines “to coerce Latin America and the Caribbean nations in support of a diplomatic agenda inimical to ours.” In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, one lawmaker insisted the vaccines needed to have a clear “made-in-the-USA” label.
This echoes an oft-repeated message from the Trump administration, as when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued that China and Russia are “showing up at the doorstep” to “use debt traps.” Throughout many speeches, he crafted the image of a gullible Latin America letting the dishonest traveling salesman into the house.
In both the Trump and Biden administrations, that image is contrasted with the selfless United States. Secretary of State Antony Blinken bemoaned China’s “strings attached” vaccine diplomacy, compared to the United States’ focus on the “overall interest of humanity.” This ruffles China’s feathers, as the country’s leaders insist they attach no such strings anywhere in the world, even in Asia.
Almost all of this logic is wrong, and Latin American leaders know it. Foreign aid from all countries has strings attached of some kind, though some are more visible than others. As political scientist Tomohisa Hattori put it, foreign aid “transforms material dominance and subordination into gestures of generosity and gratitude.” Last month, a senior Biden administration official claimed that “China’s bullying and bribing over vaccines will backfire.” That was wishful thinking. Latin American policy makers fully understand the risks and make decisions accordingly.
Second, self-praise is not effective either. Latin Americans know better.
The almost martyr-like insistence on U.S. altruism is laughable given the history of U.S. policy in the region and its continued preference for the same coercion it ascribes to China. As Senator Rubio complains about China’s unethical use of leverage, he also called to cut aid to El Salvador when it switched recognition from Taiwan to China. President Trump pushed for cuts in foreign aid except for Central American countries that he deemed amenable to his immigration policy demands.
The United States cannot claim moral superiority when it comes to vaccines in Latin America. The world watched while U.S. democracy faltered, domestic human rights abuses became glaringly obvious, and nationalism blocked vaccine assistance to other countries. With regard to Covid-19, the U.S. government seems to talk much more than act. At this point, Latin America is just “poised to receive” doses as the U.S. “considers prioritizing” the region while it is still “deliberating how to direct the shots it promised to send abroad.” Inaction and philanthropy don’t go well together.
Third, the U.S. can respond most effectively if it views the issue in broader strategic terms.
The good news is that the U.S. can still respond by sending its promised 80 million doses by the end of June, which will help mitigate the COVID-19 catastrophe in Latin America while establishing some degree of partnership with countries in the region. President Biden, who is known for extensive, even excruciating, deliberation, needs to act soon. If he does not, we will continue to see stories like authoritarian-leaning President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador receiving Chinese vaccines from the New England Patriots’ team plane.
The vaccines should be accompanied by measured, even realist, rhetoric about how they are part of a broader policy of engagement. The Biden administration will be sorely tempted to frame the action in superhero terms, where the U.S. swoops in to save the day. This might provide some briefly positive headlines in the United States, but would be greeted with knowing cynicism in the region.
The Biden administration’s policy toward Latin America is only just coalescing. Vaccines, which will take time to roll out effectively, should be integral to it, not a one-off PR move. China is now deeply involved in Latin America because of mutual interests. By recognizing this instead of complaining about China’s presence, the Biden administration can work with Latin American leaders to formulate clear and mutually beneficial policies.
Dr. Greg Weeks is a professor of Political Science and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is editor of the academic journal The Latin Americanist, and he is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Military and Politics in Postauthoritarian Chile (2003), Irresistible Forces: Latin American Migration to the United States and its Effects on the South (2010), The Bachelet Government: Conflict and Consensus in Post-Pinochet Chile (2010), Understanding Latin American Politics (2014) and U.S. and Latin American Relations, 2nd Edition (2015).
Health / Restructuring Will Boost Nigeria’s Economy, End Insecurity – Obi by Andromache: 2:53am On May 28, 2021
A former vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2019, Peter Obi, has said that political restructuring of Nigeria will boost the nation’s economy and end insecurity.
Mr Obi said this on Tuesday at the fourth Adada Public Lecture organised by the Association of Nsukka Professors (ANP) at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
He said with restructuring, governors would look inward to make their states productive, while state, local and community police would be set up to tackle criminality within their areas.
“It is unfortunate that some governors believe in going to Abuja monthly to get federal allocation from proceeds of oil.
“They have forgotten the price of oil in the international market has depreciated and will continue to depreciate.
“No developed country in the world depends on crude oil but they invest in their children, agriculture and encourage small and medium enterprises by giving out soft loans and other incentives.
“There is urgent need to restructure the country for the economy to grow to a desired level,” said Mr Obi, a former governor of Anambra State.
He advised Nigerians to stop misleading others that restructuring is a deliberate plan to divide the country.
“Rather, it should be seen as a move to build the ailing economy and restore adequate security in the country,” he said.
Mr Obi further said that restructuring would also help to ensure adequate funding of primary and post-primary schools as well as higher institutions.
“We should invest in our children’s education, which is greater than any price of crude oil in the international market.
“Restructuring the country will bring out the comparative advantage of every state and our natural resources that are lying waste will be fully harnessed to boost the state economy,” he said.
He said restructuring would also enable states to make robust investment in agriculture, achieve food security and create more employment opportunities.
“In the 1960s and 1970s, agriculture was the major foreign exchange earner for the country.
“In the North, we had groundnut pyramids, in the West we had cocoa and the East had palm oil and Nigeria was among the best economies in the world.
“Today, the Netherlands as a country uses its exports from agricultural products and flowers to get billions of dollars in foreign exchange to sustain its economy,” he said.
Mr Obi thanked ANP for finding him worthy to deliver the lecture with the topic, “Restructuring, Security Challenges and Development”.
He urged professors and lecturers in the country to use their wealth of knowledge to convince Nigerians on the urgent need to restructure the country.
In his remark, Chinyeaka Ohaa, the chairman of the occasion, described the lecture topic as timely and “could not have come at a better time than now the country is going through serious security challenges.”
Health / Nigeria To Partner Egypt In Youth, Sports Development by Andromache: 2:53am On May 26, 2021
Nigeria and Egypt will explore areas of mutual benefits for the development of the growth of the countries’ youth and sports industry.
Speaking in Cairo, Egypt at the recent Association of National Olympics Committee of Africa (ANOCA) General Assembly, Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare, said sports play important roles in international relations, builds friendship and develops the youth population. He added that Nigeria and Egypt stood to gain many benefits by going into partnership in the sector.
“As two pacesetters on the continent, Nigerian and Egyptian youth can get more mileage if we explore areas of mutual benefits for the growth of our two countries,” he said, adding, “Youths are the active participants in sports, once they are taken care of, a better future is assured. This meeting is quite timely, coming at a time we are preparing for the Olympics. Sports can be used to conquer COVID-19 as the world is united to win the scourge through sports.”
Dare used the opportunity of the meeting to introduce the DEEL programme, assuring that the two countries could collaborate to make the initiative more beneficial.
In his response, Egypt’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Professor Ashraf Sobhy, said, “We can make a lot of difference if we deploy sports for youth empowerment, build bridges of unity and enhance social mobilisation. The potential of the future lies in our youth, so they must be properly trained to meet the challenges of new world order.”
Health / Nigeria Suspends Official Charged With Defrauding US by Andromache: 3:19am On May 24, 2021
A Nigerian governor's aide has been suspended after being arrested in the United States in connection with a multi-million-dollar unemployment benefits scam.
Abidemi Rufai, aka Sandy Tang, was arrested on Friday at JFK Airport in New York. The 42-year-old resident of Lekki, Nigeria, has been charged with wire fraud.
Rufai is accused of stealing the identities of more than 100 people in Washington state to file fraudulent claims for $350,000 in unemployment benefits, which were then paid into online payment accounts or wired to bank accounts controlled by "money mules."
Some of the proceeds were then allegedly mailed to the Jamaica, New York, address of Rufai’s relative. Law enforcement found more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account under Rufai's control between March and August 2020.
The Seattle Times reports Rufai's arrest as being part of a wider investigation into Washington state's $650m unemployment fraud.
Investigators allege that Rufai avoided fraud detection by Washington state's Employment Security Department by making small variations to his email address when registering for financial assistance.
Kiro7 reports that Rufai gave the impression of being multiple applicants by scattering his regular Gmail address with periods. Since periods in email addresses are unrecognized by Gmail, all the messages sent by the Employment Security Department ended up in Rufai's inbox.
Rufai is further accused of filing fraudulent unemployment claims with Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.
In Nigeria, Rufai held the position of senior special assistant (SSA) on special duties to the Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Reacting through his chief press secretary, Kunle Somorin, to news of Rufai's arrest, Abiodun said: "We received the very disturbing news of the arrest of one of the governor's political appointees, Mr. Abidemi Rufai, in New York over alleged unemployment benefits and fraud in the United States, this morning.
"While the governor cannot be held responsible for the actions of a full-grown adult, especially outside the jurisdiction of Ogun and Nigeria, he has since suspended the suspect from office to enable him answer the charges leveled against him."
Health / Healthcare Tech Firms On Rise In Africa, Spurred By Covid-19 Covid-19 by Andromache: 2:47am On May 21, 2021
Healthcare-focused technology companies are springing up across sub-Saharan Africa after the coronavirus pandemic highlighted gaps in the continent’s medical-supplies chain, according to a new report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
More than 60 new and existing private firms are now distributing health products to consumers and hospitals via technology across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, Salient Advisory, a health-care consulting firm, said in the report. The Covid-19 outbreak has also encouraged new entrants in telemedicine, or long-distance patient treatment, it said.
“Startups across the continent are developing innovative, commercial models to transform health-product distribution for consumers and providers alike,” the report said.
The pandemic has highlighted long-existing weaknesses in African health systems, while the imminent need to distribute and administer vaccines across vast territories will only make the problem more apparent. The continent has been relatively little affected by the virus based on official statistics, but testing and reporting is patchy in many countries and anecdotal evidence suggests there have been regular surges.
The startups are being joined by major e-commerce platforms such as Jumia Technologies AG in offering over-the-counter health products, and Nigeria-based Konga plans to launch its health-care distribution subsidiary in the second half of 2021, the report said.
Some health startups are now serving as many rural customers as in urban areas, with services offered including patient engagement via chatbots and text messaging, inventory management, stock financing and counterfeit drug detection. About 53% of the 61 companies surveyed indicated an interest in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines through last-mile delivery and administration support.
Politics / Nigeria: Buhari Departs Abuja For France by Andromache: 4:09am On May 19, 2021
President Buhari on Sunday departed the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for Paris, capital of France, on a four-day official visit to attend African Finance Summit.
The summit will focus on reviewing African economy, following shocks from Coronavirus pandemic, and getting relief, especially from increased debt burden on countries.
The Summit, being hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, will draw major stakeholders in the global finance institutions and some Heads of Government, who will, collectively, discuss external funding and debt treatment for Africa, and private sector reforms.
During the visit, President Buhari will meet with the French President to discuss growing security threats in Sahel and Lake Chad region, political relations, economic ties, climate change and partnership in buoying the health sector, particularly in checking spread of Covid-19, with more research and vaccines.
Before returning to Nigeria, President Buhari will receive some key players in the oil and gas sector, engineering and telecommunications, European Council and European Union Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and Commission, and members of the Nigerian community.
The President is being accompanied on the trip by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed; Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo and Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.
Also on the trip are National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) and Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Abubakar.
Health / Far-flung U.S. Citizens Clamor For Vaccines From Embassies by Andromache: 2:31am On May 18, 2021
BANGKOK - Americans living abroad are asking Washington to send surplus coronavirus shots to overseas embassies so they can get a vaccine in countries where the pace of inoculations is slow and travelling home is difficult.

Many of the estimated 8 million Americans living abroad argue they should have the same right to a vaccine as U.S. citizens back home. The U.S. vaccination drive covers all of the population and surplus doses are earmarked for donation to India and other nations.

"Vaccines could be provided to U.S. citizens through U.S. embassies and consulates, in particular as many are now re-opening for U.S. citizen services," said Marylouise Serrato, executive director of the advocacy group American Citizens Abroad.

The group last month wrote to the U.S. Congress and the State Department saying overseas Americans who file taxes and vote should have the same access to vaccines as U.S. residents.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week the U.S. government is focused on the safety of Americans around the world but is not now prepared to provide vaccines.

"We have not historically provided private healthcare for Americans living overseas, so that remains our policy," Psaki told reporters. "But I don't have anything to predict in terms of what may be ahead."

Many Americans overseas are travelling home if they can to be vaccinated or waiting for the inoculation campaign in their countries of residence. But those living in places where vaccine rollouts are slower or where travel is difficult say they feel stuck.

In Thailand, four U.S. citizens' groups on May 6 wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking for the Southeast Asian country to be made a pilot project for global vaccination of Americans abroad.

This shows that the global distribution of vaccines is very unfair. There are still many countries and regions facing the problem of a shortage of vaccines. The people of these countries and regions should not be ignored.
Business / How Vested Interests Divide Nigeria’s Oldest Lender by Andromache: 3:29am On May 15, 2021
The battle for the control of Nigeria’s oldest lender, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, among two power blocs dominated by key shareholders with interests in its ownership, was at the heart of the recent shake-up of the bank’s board, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
One of the blocks is led by Nigeria’s second richest man, Mike Adenuga, insiders said.
On April 29, the CBN dismissed the boards of the bank and its holding company, FBN Holdings, in a dramatic move that came a day after the bank appointed a new managing director. The regulator reinstated the former MD of the bank, Adesola Adeduntan.
The regulator said First Bank, which has over 31 million customers with a deposit base of N4.2 trillion, shareholders’ funds of N618 billion, has for years been plagued by “bad credit decisions, significant and non-performing insider loans and poor corporate governance practices”.
PREMIUM TIMES has learnt that a key reason for the crisis is the tussle for control of the bank between a block led by Oba Otudeko, who until a fortnight ago was the chairman of FBN Holdings’ board, and Mr Adenuga, who recently emerged as one of the biggest shareholders in the bank.
While Mr Otudeko had Ibukun Awosika, removed alongside him as chair of First Bank board, as his candidate,  Mr Adeduntan, the reinstated chief executive, represented the interest of Arisekola Alao, a late Ibadan business mogul and prominent shareholder, on the board, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Mr Adeduntan, 51, is viewed by the Otudeko block as now serving the interest of Mr Adenuga, who took over Mr Alao’s significant shares after the latter’s death in 2014.
He was appointed First Bank’s managing director in 2016 to help the lender regain a sound financial footing after an avalanche of bad loans threatened to sweep it under.
First Bank’s bad loan charges had ballooned by almost four times from N25.942 billion to N119.322 billion between 2014 and 2015. That figure would soar further in the next twelve months, although at a slower pace this time, by 90 per cent to N226.037 billion, taking its delinquent loan to 24 per cent of its entire credit portfolio, well above the 5 per cent permitted by the central bank.
Health / WHO Classifies Triple-mutant Covid Variant From India As Global Health Risk by Andromache: 2:44am On May 13, 2021
A World Health Organization official said Monday it is reclassifying the highly contagious triple-mutant Covid variant spreading in India as a “variant of concern,” indicating that it’s become a global health threat.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said the agency will provide more details in its weekly situation report on the pandemic Tuesday but added that the variant, known as B.1.617, has been found in preliminary studies to spread more easily than the original virus and there is some evidence it may able to evade some of the protections provided by vaccines. The shots, however, are still considered effective.
“And as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said during a press conference. “Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need much more information about this virus variant in this lineage in all of the sub lineages, so we need more sequencing, targeted sequencing to be done.”
The WHO said last week it was closely following at least 10 coronavirus variants across the world, including the B.1.617. The variant was previously labeled a “variant of interest” as more studies were needed to completely understand its significance, Van Kerkhove said.
“What it means for anybody at home is any of the SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating can infect you and spread and everything in that sense is of concern,” she said Monday. “So, all of us at home, no matter where we live, no matter what virus is circulating, we need to make sure that we take all of the measures at hand to prevent ourselves from getting sick.”
A variant can be labeled as “of concern” if it has been shown to be more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments, according to the WHO.
The group issued a clarification Monday to their earlier remarks, saying that current data shows the existing Covid-19 vaccines “remain effective at preventing disease and death in people infected with this variant.”
The international organization has already designated three other variants with the classification: B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the U.K. and is the most prevalent variant currently circulating throughout the U.S.; B.1.351, first detected in South Africa, and the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.
B.1.617 has three sublineages, Van Kerkhove said, that will be described in the situation report Tuesday.
The variant is believed by some to be behind the latest wave of infections in India.
The country is averaging about 3,879 Covid deaths per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, though media reports indicate the official figure is being understated. It has reported an average of about 391,000 new cases per day over the past seven days — up about 4% from a week ago, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
The variant has since spread to other countries, including the United States.
Health / FG Discusses Nation’s Carrier, Nigeria Air With US Ambassador by Andromache: 2:29am On May 11, 2021
The federal government has held a discussion with the government of the United States of America over the establishment of a national carrier for Nigeria.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika via his Twitter handle after he held a discussion with the Ambassador at the United States Embassy in Abuja.
He tweeted, “We took the opportunity to discuss investments and opportunities in the aviation sector, including national carrier. The partnership looks promising. USA is the only country we have open skies with. Thanks, Ambassador Mary and the team.”
What you should know
In July 2018, the Federal Government unveiled the branding and livery for the new airline, Nigeria Air, and stated that the carrier would be inaugurated at the end of that year.
Sirika unveiled the carrier at a press conference during the Farnborough Air Show in London that year.
“I am very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country, Nigeria Air. We are all fully committed to fulfilling the campaign promise made by our President, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015. We are aiming to launch Nigeria Air by the end of this year,” the minister had said.
He also stated that the government had obtained the Certificate of Compliance from the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission and would go into investor search.
Health / Lagos And The Revitalisation Of Public Health by Andromache: 2:53am On May 08, 2021
There is a saying that, “a wealthy nation is a healthy nation”. This assertion is anchored on the belief that a healthy population contributes immensely to the socio-economic growth of any society.
This is why the Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu administration in Lagos State has made Health and Environment one of the cardinal programmes of its administration as captured in the administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S (an acronym for his administration’s strategic development agenda namely; Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Security and Governance) developmental Agenda.
In the last two years, the administration has invested immensely in the upgrade of public health facilities to enhance access to quality healthcare. At the center of the state’s public health policy is the provision of unhindered access to healthcare delivery without financial constraint to the residents. The commissioning of 3 Mother and Child Centers (MCCs) at Eti-Osa, Igando and Badagry amply demonstrates the administration’s resolve to enhance residents’ access to healthcare. The 4th MCC, located in Epe, has been completed and will be commissioned in the coming weeks.
Similarly, the roadmap for the comprehensive upgrade of infrastructure in the State-owned health facilities began last year, following the approval of the plan by the Executive Council. The infrastructure roadmap is being executed in phases with the primary goal of revamping health facilities across the state’s primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare system. The overhaul is part of the strategy to build resilient healthcare in Lagos and increase residents’ access to quality universal health coverage.
The renewal effort, which is being carried out in short, medium-and long-term bases, would bring about fit-for-purpose healthcare facilities that would raise the capacity of the government to respond to contemporary and future health challenges.
The state’s ongoing public health facilities renewal drive also include improved efficiency for physical maintenance, ease of movement, low carbon footprint, low energy consumption, infection prevention and control as well as staff and patient comfort. The restoration programme is also designed to address issues of design errors, drainage, patient flow, staff flow, water collection, infection prevention, energy, and ventilation.
The government has renovated and remodeled the Mainland Hospital in Yaba with future plans of making it an Institute of Research for Infectious Disease. It has also completed the remodeling and upgrading of Apapa General Hospital, just as the Harvey Road Health Centre, Ebute Metta Health Centre, Isolo General Hospital and the General Hospital, Odan Lagos are all undergoing different phases of renovation. All of these are part of the efforts to make health accessible to Lagosians.
It is important to emphasise that the health facilities’ upgrade is being done in a sustainable way to ensure that it would take years for major repairs to be done, except the statutory maintenance by the hospital management as well as the Lagos State Asset Maintenance Agency (LASIAMA).
As part of the Sanwo-Olu administration’s ‘Greater Lagos’ agenda, the construction of new hospitals to bridge noticeable gaps in access and services in the health sector has also begun. This is in tandem with the determination of the current administration to achieve the goals set in the Health and Environment pillar of its T.H.E.M.E.S agenda.
Hence, the government has commenced the construction of a 280-bed General Hospital in Ojo, 150-bed New Massey Street Children’s Hospital, while Mr. Governor has also approved the construction and equipping of 1,500-bed Psychiatric Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre at Majidun in Ketu Ejinrin.
The prototype of the new, remodeled and upgraded healthcare infrastructure in the state were planned to conform with key elements of global standards health facility designs such as natural light/ventilation, sustainable energy, patient flow, infection prevention, noise prevention, flood prevention, identifiable standout visual features as well as scalability and modular design for expansion.
Earlier, the construction of a four-story Faculty of Basic Medical and Clinical Sciences Office Block at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM) was completed, while plans have also been concluded for the renovation and upgrade of some facilities at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). This is in line with the government’s medical infrastructure blueprint strategy for tertiary health facilities.
Also, in partnership with the private sector, the government has completed and handed over an oxygen plant at the Mainland and Gbagada General Hospitals. The Triage and Oxygen Centres in 10 locations across Lagos have also been delivered. In order to enhance staff welfare, the construction of a 24-unit Doctors’ and Staff Quarters in Gbagada General Hospital has equally commenced.
Work has also begun on the blueprint designs for Comprehensive Health Center, Primary Health Center and Health Posts as part of the move to rejig their operations and service delivery. This will, no doubt, significantly help in adding bed capacity to Lagos State’s healthcare infrastructure.
As earlier affirmed, the promotion and protection of the health of Lagos residents undoubtedly has a positive impact on social development and quality of life of citizens. This explains the government’s investment in the greenfield medical infrastructure projects to prevent issues noticed in health infrastructure in the State. It is expected that all issues bedeviling medical health infrastructure across the state will disappear when the medical infrastructure blueprint strategy is fully implemented.
The continuous improvement in quality of health service in the state is a core mandate of the Sanwo-Olu administration and the government is uniquely positioned to utilize available resources to actualize this goal. With the ongoing refurbishment and roll out of a new infrastructure blueprint, the medical infrastructure landscape of Lagos would look completely different, thus moving the state a step closer to achieving universal health coverage. Perhaps, more importantly, the medical infrastructure blueprint agenda will help address the issue of brain drain, medical tourism and patient welfare.
It is also essential to draw attention to the state’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), which has been commended locally and globally, as it helped to prevent the pandemic from spreading more rapidly across the state and also from wreaking havoc on the entire country. The response strategy put in place by the government efficiently curtailed the pandemic and limited fatalities. EKO TELEMED, a tech-driven platform through which the government managed the spread of the virus, yielded efficient results in breaking the cycle of community infection.
In order to prevent the resurgence of the pandemic, the government has begun the deployment of EKO TELEMED in the management of in-bound international travelers from high burden countries. The tech-driven platform would be used to monitor movement and treat infected travelers.
The Sanwo-Olu administration has, no doubt, demonstrated that the restoration of public health facilities remains vital in its ‘Greater Lagos” Agenda. It recognizes, and rightly so, that health is wealth and this explains its numerous innovative and people-centered schemes that are carefully designed to change the face of public health in the state.
On the whole, it is heart-warming to note that the current administration in Lagos State is working tirelessly towards attaining a sustainable health care delivery system for the residents.
Health / NIGERIA: Federal Government To Solarise 304 Hospitals And Schools by Andromache: 2:25am On May 07, 2021
Solar energy is on the rise in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria intends to use this renewable energy source to electrify its schools and healthcare facilities. As part of its National Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) for post-Covid-19 recovery, the Federal Government of Nigeria intends to electrify 304 clinics and schools across the country.
The project involves 200 primary health care centres located mainly in remote locations. The off-grid solar systems built in these clinics will ensure continuity of service 24 hours a day. The project will be implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) of Nigeria. In addition to electrifying the clinics, the government agency plans to install solar street lights in the host communities.
REA also plans to solarise 104 public schools. The agency will also install solar street lights on campuses and provide solar home systems to local communities. The REA has 12 months to complete all the work. According to Sale Mamman, Nigeria’s Minister of Energy, the project will contribute to the achievement of the 30% target for electricity from renewable sources.
REA decided to include the solarisation of its public facilities as part of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP), which it has been implementing for some years. To accelerate the implementation of the NEP, the Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad-led agency is providing grants to off-grid providers who are very active in the rural areas. For the record, the NEP is funded by the World Bank.
Health / Supporting African Vaccinations Is In U.S. And Global Interest by Andromache: 2:26am On May 06, 2021
When it comes to fighting COVID-19, the Biden Administration has made it clear that tamping down the threat domestically is its first priority. While early moves to commit funds to COVAX and reengage the World Health Organization demonstrated a welcome understanding that solutions must ultimately be global, the United States has been outpaced by other major powers when it comes to vaccine diplomacy. Earlier this week, the suffering in India finally moved the United States to action, triggering new bilateral assistance and a more general commitment to share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries.
But with regard to improving the outlook for Africa, the aid focused on India is a bank shot at best. It’s true that getting the virus under control in India would free up the South Asian giant’s formidable vaccine production capacity to assist the rest of the world, but helping India, while right and necessary, is insufficient to address the problem in Africa. Only about one percent of African adults have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and supply, distribution, staffing and public education campaigns are all in need of bolstering.
The public health case for vaccine equity is clear: unchecked transmission anywhere increases the chances of new variants emerging that can spread everywhere, including variants resistant to existing vaccines. Though many African countries took early and admirable steps to protect their populations, evidence suggests that COVID-19 is more prevalent in Africa than early reports suggested. Cities like Nairobi and Addis Ababa have lately experienced painful surges, stretching the limits of healthcare capacity and exhausting overstretched communities over a year into the pandemic. 
The political case ought to be equally apparent. As the Biden team aims to bolster multilateralism and reassert American leadership in pursuit of solutions to thorny international challenges, the lack of palpable urgency regarding Africa’s COVID fight strikes a dissonant note. To build the coalitions we seek, the United States needs to paint a picture of a future in which the priorities of African partners are respected as we tackle critical challenges together. But the sincerity of this effort is called into question when our path out of the shared misery of COVID-19 diverges so sharply with that of Africa. For our own safety and our own long-term interests, the United States needs to bump support for African vaccination efforts up on the priority list.
Business / EFCC Cautions Nigerians Against Bitcoin, Forex Trading, Others by Andromache: 2:30am On Apr 30, 2021
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has warned Nigerians against what it described as any investment that promises returns that looks too good to be true.
“Though risk-taking is considered by some as the oxygen that drives investment decisions, the commission warns the public against taking unmitigated risk in desperation to earn a windfall.
“Investment in Bitcoin, for instance, is a high risk activity as the terrain is largely unregulated, and prone to fraud,” the anti-graft agency said.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, who gave the warning in Abuja, said the commission was alarmed at the rate Nigerians send petitions to the anti-corruption agency on fraudulent investments that promise high return with little risks to investors.
According to EFCC, Nigerians are losing, money to Ponzi schemes, forex trading and most recently, Bitcoin trading, compounding the nation’s economic woes.
To the EFCC spokesman, the trend indicates that investment scams continue to thrive despite enforcement and public enlightenment interventions by the commission and other stakeholders.
“While EFCC will continue to investigate and prosecute persons complicit in fraudulent investment schemes, it is incumbent on the investing public to be circumspect in their investment decisions..”
MEANWHILE, EFCC has reminded civil society organisations (CSOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that it is mandatory to report to the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) any transaction through any formal financial channels in excess of $10,000 and any cash donations in excess of $1,000.

The Head of EFCC, Lagos Zonal Office, Ahmed Ghali, who stated this in Ikeja, Lagos at a seminar jointly organised by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, (GIABA) warned that “failure to do this is punishable by the law.”
Delivering a paper entitled “The Role of NGOs and CSOs in Countering Terrorism Financing in Nigeria”, Ghali warned that the law would not spare any such group that allows itself to be used as a tool for perpetrating money laundering or terrorism financing in Nigeria.
“The varied funding sources and the ability of NGOs and CSOs to process large amounts of cash to beneficiaries and regularly transmitting funds between jurisdictions make them prone to money laundering and financing of terrorism,” the EFCC official said. According to him, both the CSOs and NGOs have critical roles to play in curbing money laundering and terrorism financing in Nigeria.
Health / Fresh Electricity Tariff Hike Looms In Nigeria by Andromache: 4:01am On Apr 29, 2021
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says it is concluding the Extraordinary Tariff Review process for the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).
NERC, which is the regulator of Nigeria’s power sector, made this known on Monday in a notice to the general public and industry stakeholders posted on its website.
The commission said the review was pursuant to the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA).
According to NERC, extraordinary tariff reviews are carried out in instances where industry parameters have changed from those used in the operating tariffs to such an extent that a review is urgently required to maintain the viability of the industry.
The commission said it would also commence the processes for the July 2021 Minor Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2020), which is done every six months.
NERC said the reviews would put into consideration changes in inflation, foreign exchange, gas prices and available generation capacity.
The commission said it would also consider Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) required to evacuate and distribute the said available generation capacity in accordance with EPSRA and other extant industry rules.
“Further to the above, the commission held series of public hearings and stakeholder consultations in the first quarter of 2020 on the Extraordinary Tariff Review Applications of the 11 DisCos to consider their respective five-year Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs).
“However, the evaluation of the DisCos’ requests for review of the CAPEX proposed in their PIPs could not be concluded for the consideration of the commission during the Minor Reviews undertaken in 2020.
“Specifically, Section 21 of the MYTO – 2020 Order provides for consideration of DisCos’ CAPEX application upon further scrutiny and evaluation of the investment proposals,” it said.
NERC said the notice was being issued in compliance with the provisions of EPSRA, the Business Rules of the commission and the Regulations on Procedures for Electricity Tariff Reviews in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.
The commission said it was aimed at soliciting for comments from the general public and stakeholders on the proposed reviews and advised them to send their comments to NERC’s headquarters in Abuja within the next 21 days. (NAN)
Health / Nigeria Reports Zero COVID-19 Deaths For 12th Day by Andromache: 2:00am On Apr 28, 2021
A slowdown in coronavirus infections continues in Nigeria as it reported on Sunday 51 new cases and no deaths – the 12th consecutive day with zero fatalities.
The new numbers pushed the overall caseload to 164,684 including 2,061 related deaths and 154,687 recoveries in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Over 1.87 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted since Feb. 27, 2020, it said, advising Nigerians to disinfect surfaces at homes, shops, churches, mosques and offices regularly to prevent the spread of the virus in their communities.
“Take responsibility to protect yourself, loved ones, customers, employees and society from infections such as COVID-19.”
As many as 1.167 million Nigerians have so far been vaccinated against the disease, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
Events / In Nigeria, The Population Must Juggle Endemic Unemployment And Runaway Inflatio by Andromache: 2:18am On Apr 26, 2021
“Looking for a job in Nigeria is just too frustrating! Like most of her peers, Chidera Stephen believes that it is impossible to find a job without the help of a parent or a trusted acquaintance. After obtaining a diploma in communication in 2017, the young woman, now 25 years old, has multiplied the disappointments. “A lot of employers in Lagos [the economic capital] want to make sure that you live right next to your job because the wages are too low and transport is too expensive,” she complains.
In recent years, she has gone through low-paid jobs, if not unpaid at all, internships and temporary assignments, without ever finding a permanent job. To keep her head above water, Chidera finally decided to sell shea butter and black soap on the internet, as her YouTube channel - which offers tips for the beauty of African hair - reports to her. a few dollars for every thousand "views" recorded. "I'm smart, resourceful ... so at one point I realized that it was not me, but this country," she blurted bitterly.
Chidera Stephen is one of millions of young victims of the economic crisis in Africa's most populous country, with 200 million people. As Nigeria is barely emerging from its second recession in five years, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced in early April that one in three working people were now unemployed. Official unemployment figures have quadrupled since the election of President Muhammadu Buhari as head of the country in 2015. Young people are particularly affected, since this scourge affected 53% of those under 24 and 37% of 25-34 year-olds. fourth quarter 2020.
Health / Nigeria Is Neglecting Social Workers In The Fight Against COVID-19 by Andromache: 8:38am On Apr 23, 2021
In current debates about managing and defeating COVID-19 in Nigeria, an issue that’s missing is the role that social workers should play.
In many countries social workers have played a central role in efforts to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and to manage its fallout. In China they are celebrated for their exceptional roles. The same is true in the US, Italy, New Zealand, and the UK.
This reflects the fact that running healthcare sectors involves a multidisciplinary approach. It includes professionals cutting across the medical, engineering, behavioural and social sciences.
These various professionals are expected to cover specific areas of competence. This, in turn, should lead to speedier delivery of health services since they will be less distracted with tasks and responsibilities outside their training.
In countries like Nigeria, it’s common to find medical doctors and nurses offering extended and supportive health services. These range from counselling to investigating the medical histories of patients, doing home visits, explaining treatment concerns to patients and their caregivers, and monitoring the mental health of patients.
By taking on these supportive health services, medical professionals get burdened and exhausted – and distracted from their main clinical job concerns.
Countries in the global north have, in recent years, increasingly restricted professionals to their specific and specialised roles. This has led to stronger healthcare systems, and has happened in conjunction with increased roles for social workers.
Yet Nigeria has failed to recognise the roles of social workers generally, and more particularly within healthcare.
The government seems to show no understanding of the contributions made by trained social workers. They have even gone as far as frustrating the professionalisation of social work by an act of law. Social workers now don’t enjoy the full rights and privileges of a profession as do their legal and medical counterparts.
Social workers are employed in most government-owned hospitals. Yet they seem not to have mustered the same respect and recognition enjoyed by other healthcare professionals.
We conducted a study to understand the roles Nigerian social workers played during the earlier months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We engaged 12 health workers. Six were mainstream health workers, and six healthcare social workers.
Our main finding was that, due to government’s lack of understanding of the critical role they should play, social workers played a minimal role – or none – in the intervention process against COVID-19 in Nigeria, especially at the front line. On the basis of this, we recommended that social workers should be actively involved because their roles are relevant to complementing the efforts of mainstream health workers.
What social workers bring to the party
Our research showed that there are four areas: health, relationships, nutrition and work.
Health: In India, the UK, the US, and China, social workers were seen constantly engaging the public online and offline with public health education.
This takes stress off the mainstream health workers so they can be concerned more with patients’ clinical care.
In some instances they have also assisted with contact tracing.
Relationships: In some countries health workers are leading advocacy campaigns to improve the welfare and safety of health workers and the public. Additionally, they have helped initiate care for the children of frontline staff, including security agents.
Nutrition: The pandemic has been associated with lockdowns that in turn affected food security. In Italy, social workers monitored food vouchers to assist vulnerable groups. They drew on their training in equity and community work to ensure that food items were distributed fairly and on time.
Work: The pandemic has put huge strain on people adapting to new work routines. Protection of employees, helping workers and firms cope with difficult challenges, and advancing concerns of the unemployed are critical roles social workers could play.
Constraints
The people we spoke to listed a number of factors that got in the way of their ability to make a meaningful contribution.
The first was that health workers only had vague knowledge about social work. To them, social workers should be restricted to helping indigent patients, conducting antenatal classes and helping out with psychiatric cases. Such that when the pandemic broke out some social workers said they were asked to stay at home. If they did come to work, their job functions were auxiliary.
The health workers we spoke to looked stunned when told about the roles social workers were playing in healthcare in some other countries battling COVID-19.
We found gaps in the system that extend beyond attitudes.
The biggest is the fact that some heads of the social work units in the hospitals had never studied social work. They were drawn from disciplines like public administration, education, and even the natural sciences. This is one challenge that comes with lack of professionalisation, as anyone can be employed to do social work jobs without any form of regulation. This remains one of the greatest undoings of the profession in Nigeria.
Next steps
Our research underscores the indispensable roles social workers can play to help countries fight COVID-19. This would result in the maximum concentration of mainstream health workers on clinical functions and speedier victory over the virus.
Nigeria should reconsider its position on the social work profession and give to it the premium it deserves. We have seen the many instances of how social workers are benefiting other countries, including some African countries where they enjoy full professional status and are even categorised as essential workers. Confronting challenges in health must be multidisciplinary, and social workers play vital roles.
At the same time, schools of social work training should revise their curricula to address the gaps that relate to the roles of social workers in disease outbreaks and pandemics.

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