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NGO urges FG to fast track social security act for older persons

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A Coalition of Rights of Older Persons, an NGO, has called on the Federal Government to speed up the implementation of Social Security Act to address the plight of older persons in the country.

Sen. Eze Ajoku, the President of the coalition, made the call in a document made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Thursday ahead of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2019.

He said when such bill is passed and assented by the president, that there would be safety net for the older persons to reduce their suffering.

He said there was need for a national policy in terms of health, economic and protection of their social and civil rights as priority.

Ajoku said if such bill is passed and the law is put in place that lack of respect for older persons will be minimised.

He further said that the organisation would use the upcoming event to create awareness on the plight of senior citizens and as well as provide avenue for discourse.

“The objective of the event is to help the older persons share experiences and to provide guidance with a view to devise a strategy that would strengthen the well being of older persons in Nigeria.

Ajoku alleged that the government had done very little to ameliorate the situation either through legislature, policies or education of the masses against elder abuse.

He disclosed that there was no national policy on ageing before the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs saw it as a priority in 2019, which he said was commendable.

He further said that it was imperative for all hands to be on deck to ensure that the policies were translated into action in order to address the issues faced by the elderly.

He listed the issues faced by the elderly as verbal abuse, financial exploitation and forced confinement, among others, must be addressed.

He also said that quality and accessible healthcare as well as social protection for the elderly must be at the forefront of stakeholders agenda.

He added that one in 10 older Nigerian were abused or neglected each year and only one in 14 of such cases came to the authorities’ attention.

He however admonished government to improve on the healthcare system at the rural level especially the healthcare clinics to cater for the elderly ones.

“I suggest that Gerontology should be thought in our tertiary institutions to prepare our youths for ageing as well as teach them on how to respect and treat ageing parents.

“There should be a regular campaign by NOA and Ministry of Information in order to educate and create continuous awareness of the older persons plight.

“Religious organisations such as churches and mosques are encouraged to teach and remind their followers to care for their ageing parents.

“Older Nigerians are vital contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes us all,” Ajoku said.

He noted that elder abuse awareness day was a reminder that as a society, we have a critical role to play in ensuring that elder justice is sustained.

He however called on everyone to join in lifting up of voices in the fight against elder abuse.

According to him, the year’s theme is centered on unifying the shared values of elder justice and responding to violence against women to bring to the forefront experiences of older persons around the globe.

Ajoku maintained that if government at all levels pay pensions and stipends regularly to older persons their plight would be reduced.

He therefore urged government at all levels to create day care facilities as well as community based care system for older persons, stressing that it will help curb abuse and maltreatment faced by these category of citizens.

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NOA, UNICEF to partner religious leaders to end female circumcision in Imo

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Mr Victus Ekeocha, The NOA Director in Imo, made the pledge in Izombe,  Oguta, on Wednesday at a one-day “Advocay Dialogue with Religious Leaders for FGM Abandonement in Oguta Local Government area of Imo.”

Ekocha said that UNICEF,  through the World Health Organistaion (WHO), had  discovered that female circumscision was not beneficial to the girl child,  but rather was fraught with many disadvantages.

He said the sensitization  programme was aimed at seeking collaboration of religious leaders in the fight to curb FGM.

He said the religious leaders had the respect and acceptance of thier church people as such their preachings on the harmful effect of FGM would go along way in depeening the awareness.

The NOA  official said that NOA, in collaboration with UNICEF, had since 2015 been creating awareness on the dangers of FGM and the need to abandon the practice by people in variuos communities of the state.

Ekeocha said efforts were being made to ensue that communities in the state abandon “such harmful cultural practices”,  adding that awareness was being created in the nine local government areas of Imo since 2015 to stop the FGM practice.

The UNICEF Child Protection Officer, Mr Victor Atuchukwu, also said that research hasd shown that FGM had no benefit to the girl-child and women and could not make a female child promiscous as was erronously believed.

He commended the religioius leaders for coming out enmasse to attend the programme, which he said,  would go along way in making the people of Oguta have more understanding of the ills associated with FGM.

Mr Ben Mbakwem , UNICEF FGM Consultant in Imo and Ebonyi states, said that the sensitisation and advocay programme was to accelerate efforts toward reduction of FGM, thus fulfilling the rights of girls and women.

He said it was also to realise the goals on Social and Gender Norms Transformation by 2021 and the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030.

Mbakwem identified the complications of FGM to include intensive pain, excessive bleeding, uninary incontinence, difficulties during menseruation and delivery.

Earlier, Dr (Mrs) Oby Azubuike, the Director, Ministry of Gender Affairs in the state, said the main objective of the programme was to provide an opportunity for religious leaders to dailogue about FGM and its harmful effects on girls and women in their congregation.

She said it was equally to strengthen the capacity of religious leaders to enable them take on effective role in the campaign to eliminate FGM and to demystify the misperception and misinterpretation that the practice of FGM is a religious requirement.

Azubuike said the programme was also meant to sensitise church members that FGM is not a religious requirement as well as enable them reach a concensus to denounce the practice.

The religious leaders, who attended the programme, promised to partner the National NOA and UNICEF to end the FGM in the state.

Apostle David Dibua, the  Chairman of Oguta Chapter of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), who spoke onbehalf of the clerics, described the sensitisation as a welcome development and worthwhile.

He said religious leaders had come to the understanding that FGM is harmful to the girl child, adding that the Bible never recommended its practice.

“God in his wisdom did not include women in his commandments on male circumscision so I wonder why the tradition has involved women,” he said.

Dibua promised, on behalf of the traditional rulers, to sensitise church members through the different groups and arms of the church as the practise had led to divorce and problems in most homes.

NAN reports that religious leaders from different denominations including the Catholics, Anglicans and Penticoastals attended the meeting.

Edited by Tajudeen Atitebi

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Saraki welcomes milestone of Nigeria as Polio free

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An NGO, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, has welcomed the milestone of Nigeria being free of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) for three years.

Its Founder, Mrs Toyin Saraki, said in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos that the last case of WPV was detected on Aug. 21, 2016, in Borno.

“Since then, no new cases of WPV have been detected in any part of Nigeria.

“This is a major step toward certifying our country as WPV free,” she said.

However, the founder said that the country must celebrate cautiously and without complacency.

According to her, to sustain this success, the country must continue Polio mass immunisation campaigns with the same great drive and commitment as before.

“This is vital in order to ensure that all children are protected against polio, including the Circulating Vaccine Polio Virus (CVPDV) which can occur in areas with weak routine immunisation coverage, and other vaccine-preventable diseases,’’ she said.

Saraki said that the foundation’s Maternal Monday social media advocacy campaign and MamaCare Frontline programme were committed to supporting the immunisation work of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria.

She also pledged to support the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control.

“Giving mothers access to information on the safety and importance of vaccines is a necessity in order to empower them to make immunisation choices in the best interests of their children,” she said.

EEI/MST

Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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Polio: Foundation supports government to get WHO certification

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Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, had restated its commitment to support the Federal Government through the National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA) to achieve World Health Organisation’s Certification for a polio free nation.

Nigeria News Agency reports Nigeria has achieved three years without a case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) since the last isolated WPV case in Borno on Aug. 21, 2016.

Sir Emeka Offor, the Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria made this known while briefing newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the news conference was part of the activities to celebrate three years without records WPV in the country.

Offor said that three years without polio virus in Nigeria indicated that the years of fighting the menace of polio had received impetus since no child in Nigeria was paralyzed as a result of wild polio virus.

He said that the foundation had committed expertise, resources and time to support government toward achieving WHO certification of polio free nation.

“Our resolve is irrevocable; our determination is strengthened as we look into the future to achieve the second milestone which is the certification of Nigeria and Africa as wild polio virus free.

“I encourage all of us to stay focused; our surveillance and vigilance must be raised now.

“Our activities of advocacy, routine immunisation and field supervision must continue with alacrity as we approach the finish line,’’ he said.

NAN reports that following this achievement of three years without the Wild Polio Virus, Nigeria has commenced the process of documentation toward the final certification by the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC).

The process involves a detailed assemblage and review of surveillance, Routine Immunisation (RI) and Supplemental Immunisation Activities (SIAs) Data by the National Certification Committee before submission of the final documentation to ARCC in March, 2020.

If ARCC is satisfied with the country’s documentation, Nigeria will be certified Wild Polio Virus free.

AM/GY

Edited by Grace Yussuf

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WHO 2020 Certification: Nigeria marks 3 years of free Polio

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Nigeria has achieved three years without a case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) since the last isolated WPV case in Borno on Aug. 21, 2016.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), disclosed this at news conference on Wednesday in Abuja.

The briefing was organised by the agency to mark Nigeria’s achievement of three years without a case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV).

Shuaib said the NPHCDA was acknowledging milestone for this great achievement which kicks-in the process of attaining WHO certification of polio free nation by 2020.

He added that attaining three years without new case of WPV means that all the efforts and strategies of the Federal Government to end the circulation of WPV was working.

He assured that the agency would do everything possible to ensure that the gains are not reversed.

Shuaib said the current situation calls for a continuous vaccination of all the children.

He said that it is imperative that all stakeholders continue to support the polio programme through technical, financial support and political oversight to prevent the re-occurrence of WPV.

He added that the support was required to stop the spread of all the other types of polio virus in Nigeria.

“We need to collectively address the remaining challenges facing the programme, including the poor access to children in some parts of the country due to insecurity, poor health seeking behaviour of our people and vaccine hesitancy, among others,’’ he said.

Dr Clement Peter, the Officer in Charge, World Health Organisation (WHO), said as the last polio endemic country in Africa, Nigeria passing three years without WPV case was a step towards certifying Africa WPV free by mid-2020.

He added that following three-year mark, Nigeria has commenced the process of documentation towards the final certification by the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC).

Peter said Nigeria would submit its final country data for evaluation in March 2020, provided there were no new polio cases.

He said if ARCC was satisfied with the country’s documentation, Nigeria would be certified WPV free between March and June 2020.

Dr Paul Basinga, the Country Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, however urged the federal government not to take the current success for granted.

He reiterated the commitment of the foundation to work with the agency to reach the last child with life saving vaccines.

He added that the foundation was also committed at strengthening the surveillance to detect and respond to any threat of outbreaks especially in hard to reach and conflict-affected communities.

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Youth development in focus as Dare assumes duty

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The newly appointed Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has promised to intensify efforts at youth development along side sports during his tenure.

Dare said this in Abuja on Wednesday as he assumed work to a rousing reception by staff of the ministry.

He said that the ministry was integral to the achievement of government’s agenda for growth and development of the nation.

“In this ministry we have youth, we have sports. Youth development is integral to the success of the administration because we have a massive youth population.

“This is a ministry that is close to the hearts of Nigerians. Beyond soccer, we have other sports; and beyond sports there are other ways we can develop the youths.

“Our mandate is very clear, there is need for us to broaden our horizon and to deepen the work we do,” he said.

The minister said that he would use is over two decades media visibility to ensure that the works of the ministry were effectively projected by the media.

“I know that the media is an integral part of youth and sports development, and I have a massive media background of more than 28 years.

“We will find a way to take sports out of the back pages to the front pages,” he said.

He urged staff of the ministry to intensify work on the ministry’s 2020 budget to meet President Muhammadu Buhari’s submission deadline of September.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Olusade Adesola, expressed willingness of staff to work harmoniously with the new minister.

“The ministry is lucky to have a minister who is very friendly with the press.

“I welcome you, and I assure you that we are all committed to work with you to ensure that we take the ministry to the next level,” Adesola said.

Also present at reception was the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, as well as heads of other agencies under the ministry.

Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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