Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA, made this known in a statement released by Mrs Kori Habib, the Media Associate of the fund in Abuja.
Kanem, whose speech is entitled “peace in the home: safeguarding the health and rights of women and girls – even during COVID-19,” in commemoration of World Population Day (WPD) said that the impact of COVID-19 would likely hamper global efforts to achieve three ‘zeros’ at the heart of our UNFPA’s works.
NAN reports that the World Population day is a United Nations’ initiative celebrated on July 11 every year.
NAN reports that the day aims at spreading awareness about the exploding world population and the importance of reproductive health.
She regretted the possibility of a set back in their achieving of the three zero -zero unmet need for contraception, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030.
“UNFPA projects, for example, that the pandemic will cut global progress towards ending gender-based violence within this decade by at least one third.
“Moreover, if mobility restrictions continue for at least six months with major disruptions to health services.
“47 million women in low- and middle-income countries may be deprived of modern contraceptives, resulting in seven million unintended pregnancies,” Kanem said.
The Executive Director said that peace in the world has its beginning with peace in the home, quoting the United Nations Secretary-General as saying in his call for a global ‘ceasefire’ on Gender-Based Violence.
Describing Gender Based Violence as a pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic, Kanem expressed worry over how one woman in three have experienced physical or sexual violence in her lifetime.
“Now, with countries on lockdown and household tensions heightened, gender-based violence is on the rise, and sexual and reproductive health services are being sidelined by health systems struggling to cope with COVID-19.”
She said that the COVID-19 crisis has taken a staggering toll on people, communities and economies everywhere,noting that not everyone was affected equally as women and girls tend to suffer most.
Kanem however reiterated calls for global attention to the vulnerabilities and needs of women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis aimed at protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights and ending the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence.
“UNFPA is working to ensure that the supply of modern contraceptives and reproductive health commodities is maintained and that midwives and other health personnel have the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe.
“We are encouraged that so far 146 Member States have signed on to the Secretary-General’s call to make peace in the home a reality, and we are partnering to support them.
“As part of our COVID-19 response, we are innovating to deliver remote services such as hotlines, telemedicine and counselling, and gathering and using disaggregated data to support governments in identifying and reaching those most in need.
“Positive public messaging around gender equality and challenging gender stereotypes and harmful social norms can reduce the risk of violence. In this, men and boys can and must be key allies.”
The UNFPA boss said that Sexual and reproductive health care was a right, and like pregnancies and childbirth, human rights could not stop for pandemics.
According to her, together, let’s put the brakes on COVID-19 and safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now!”canvassed for global synergy between countries and organisations saying no organization or country could do this alone.
“The pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of global cooperation. The United Nations, which this year marks its 75th anniversary, was founded to foster international cooperation to solve international problems.
“As the global community comes together in solidarity to survive this pandemic, we lay the foundation for more resilient, gender-equal societies and a healthier, more prosperous future for all.”
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
Dollar slips as yields dive on recovery worries
The dollar fell in Asia on Wednesday, hitting a five-month low on the yuan.
A hardening perception that the United States recovery is lagging Europe has buttressed the euro, which has repelled a rebound in the dollar and rose back above $1.18 on Wednesday.
At the same time speculation that stalemate over fiscal policy in Washington could leave the Federal Reserve with more to do, has hastened a steady decline in United States yields – undermining the dollar more broadly.
Sterling, the Australian dollar and the kiwi all climbed back toward pre-pandemic highs, while the yen rose and gold soared as real yields plumbed record lows.
“United States economic outperformance, relative to the eurozone and Japan, is no longer guaranteed given the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ said Tai Hui, J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s chief strategist in Asia.
“Dollar interest rates are also converging to other developed economies’ interest rates, which means that the dollar is less appealing,’’ Hui said.
He added it is difficult to see the Fed easing policy ahead of its global peers.
The Australian dollar led gains among the majors with a 0.4 per cent rise to $0.7189.
Ten-year Australian government debt now yields about 31 basis points more than 10-year United States government debt, up from 16 basis points two months ago.
The New Zealand dollar rose 0.3 per cent to $0.6646, catching some support from a surprise dip in the jobless rate.
The yen rose 0.1 per cent to 105.60 per dollar and sterling edged higher to $1.3091.
Even the Chinese yuan, which had struggled to capitalise on the dollar’s weakness amid simmering Sino-United States tensions, forged higher to a five-month top of 6.9570 per dollar in onshore trade.
Other Asian currencies also made gains, notably the Malaysian ringgit, which was stronger than 4.2 per dollar for the first in five months.
The dollar has been sliding since March, but its prime antagonist in recent weeks has been the euro, which in July posted its best month in almost 10 years.
That has the common currency more or less back where it began life in 1999 and has many investors convinced it can keep climbing as a Europe-wide fiscal relief package anchors recovery and allays perennial worries about the bloc’s stability.
“Right now, looming long-term negative United States issues – like the dollar’s reserve status as the United States and China decouple – are at the forefront of FX concerns and not the euro’s structural problems,’ said Deutsche Bank strategist, Alan Ruskin.
“The door to $1.20+ remains wide open,’’ he said.
For now, eyes are on Washington where White House negotiators have vowed to work “around the clock” with congressional Democrats to try to reach a deal on coronavirus relief by the end of this week.
Investors expect steady services growth in Europe and a slowdown in the United States in hiring, with surprises on any front likely to illuminate the apparent divergence between Europe and the United States
Analysts at ING have also noted that equity investors have yet to really buy into the European recovery story – and say a pile-in could provide even more support to the currency.
“Buy-side surveys suggest that investors are still heavily overweight United States equities, especially tech stocks, and are minded to rotate into the Eurozone and see the euro as cheap,’’ said ING’s global head of markets, Chris Turner.
“If that rotation comes to pass … then euro/dollar may be a $1.25 story after all.’’
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Oil prices snap four-day winning streak as COVID-19 cases grow
Oil prices fell for the first time in four days on Wednesday, slipping from as much as five-month highs as mounting coronavirus cases worldwide and in the United States undercut market confidence about a potential pickup in fuel demand.
Brent crude was down four cents, or 0.1 per cent, at $44.39 a barrel by 0449 GMT.
It finished 0.6 per cent higher on Wednesday – the highest close since March 6.
West Texas Intermediate oil was down eight cents, or 0.2 per cent, at $41.62 a barrel.
The contract ended Tuesday trading 1.7 per cent higher, its highest close since late July.
Coronavirus cases continued to rise in the United States, and deaths are at more than a 1,000 a day while dozens of states have had to pause or scale back plans to reopen their economies.
Still, a big fall in United States inventories of crude oil provided a bottom to prices.
Crude inventories were down by 8.6 million barrels in the week to Aug. 1 to 520 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for a drop of three million barrels.
Official figures from the United States Department of Energy are due out later on Wednesday.
“It would be safe to say that United States crude oil inventories are in a firm downward trend,’’ if the official numbers confirm last week’s drop, ING Economics said in a note.
Helping support sentiment were signs that talks between Democrats in Congress and the White House on a new package of coronavirus relief started moving in the right direction, although the two sides remain far apart.
United States factory data this week also showed an improvement in orders, which some analysts saw as offering relief to concerns about risks to any recovery.
Japan’s services sector contracted for a sixth consecutive month in July, data showed on Wednesday.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
COVID-19: Nigeria’s total hits 44,433 as NCDC announces 304 new cases, 910 deaths
The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Tuesday.
According to it, as of Aug. 4, 14 deaths were recorded in the country.
Till date, 44,433 cases have been confirmed out of which 31,851 cases have been discharged and 910 deaths recorded nationwide.
Others were Edo (6), Bauchi (4), Kwara (4), Ogun (4), Osun (4), Bayelsa (3), Plateau (3), Niger (3), Nasarawa (2) and Kano (1).
Meanwhile, the agency warned that the coronavirus does not care if a person ‘believe’ in use of face masks or not.
“You may not believe in the virus, but the virus sure believes in you.
“Do not wear masks with valves.
“Why? Because a valve acts as an open doorway, allowing your breath to leave the mask and putting those around you at risk of catching COVID-19.
“Again, there are many ways to wear a mask incorrectly, but only one way to maximise protection; wear a well-fitted mask with gaps.
“Check if your mask fit before going outside, it is really simple.
“Step 1, inhale: Your mask should pull on your face.
“Step 2, exhale: Your mask should expand.
“Step 3, check leaks: There should be no major leaks.
“Readjust your mask if there are leaks for best protection, your mask should fit well,’’ it advised.
“Even if you wear protective mask in public, it is important that you also use other preventive measures, stay at least two metres away from other people.
“Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
“Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands; cover your coughs and sneezes.’’
It, however, said that coronavirus could not overwhelm Nigerians.
“There’s an end; let’s just do the needful,’’ it stated.
The figures have reduced significantly over the past seven days with the lowest figure over this timeline, being 288 recorded on Aug. 3.
Between June and July, new cases had risen to as high as 790 on July 1.
With the recent trend, the case rate is slowing down in the country.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
95% of students in exit classes resume in FCT
Mrs Essien Enewan-Okon, Principal of Government Secondary School, Wuse Zone 3 in Abuja, said that 90 per cent of students in the school’s exit classes have resumed.
“They are all in their classrooms, very happy and we teachers are equally happy to resume; we thank God and the FCT Administration, who have made it possible for us to resume.
“As a government school, we are fully prepared for resumption because the FCT Secondary Education Board gave us all it takes to resume, starting from hands sanitizer, buckets for hand washing to face masks.
“The entire school premises was fumigated, we washed our classrooms and created the two meters distance required for desk spacing in all our 11 classrooms before resumption,” she said.
The principal also said that the school on resumption began by giving the students orientation on the new normal and how to go about their lives in school and at home.
“We even told them the type of food they should eat and pray to God that they should comply with the protocols,” she said.
A student in the school, Daniel Boluwatife said that she was excited to come back to school because the uncertainty of whether or not Nigerian students would be writing the 2020 WASSCE was very disappointing to her.
Also, Michael Oyegoke said, “I am excited to come back to school because there were a lot of distractions at home than in the school environment”.
On whether the teachers would be able to cover their syllabus within the two weeks preceding the WASSCE, both teachers and students were optimistic.
Mrs Felicial Ogbuegebe, head of sciences department in the school said that before they went on lockdown, there was only two weeks remaining before the WASSCE.
“We had covered our syllabus and we were doing revision before the lockdown came.
“All we need to do now is to revise with the students because staying at home for this long, they must have forgotten one or two things.
“Every safety measure has been put in place before the school resumed; so all the teaching staff are joining our hands together to teach the students, especially the sciences – Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
“All the teachers are now involved in preparing the exit class; this time it is not a time for a teacher to say that he teaches only SS 3 or SS 1 classes.
“Whatever class you teach, we are all involved with the SS 3 class now to make sure that they get whatever they need to get before their exams, ” she said.
An optimistic Nuralhuda Mohammed, a female student told the News Agency of Nigeria : “my expectation for WASSCE is that, it will not be hard for me because I have read over and over during the lockdown, so, I am good to go.
“Since my teachers have all covered all their schemes of work and I am not new to the school environment, I have nothing to worry about,” she said.
In another vein, Malam Tamim Yusuf, the chief administrative officer of the Muslim Community Centre, owners of Fau-ad Lababidi Islamic Academy and four other institutions in Abuja, said that, the school was in full compliance with the government directives for resumption.
“In compliance with the directives of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, it is only our SS 3 students that have resumed.
“We decontaminated the entire school premises and an inspection was carried out by the Department of Quality Assurance of the FCT Education Secretariat on arrangement of classrooms.
“They were satisfied with our compliance, so they issued us a certificate for having satisfied all the requirements.
“Today being the first day of resumption, we organized a general orientation both for students and teachers.
“The orientation is in two phases: a medical doctor came from the National Hospital Abuja to give a talk generally on the COVID-19 protocols and an Imam gave another talk on what the Qura’an says about the pandemic and human responsibility.
“Right from the gate, no one is given access to the school premises until they have washed their hands and had their temperature taken; our classes are compliant in terms of social distancing,” he said. .
Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Felix Ajide (NAN)