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Conflict reduction: ECOWAS Court supports human rights

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Justice Edward Asante, President of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, says adhering to International Humanitarian law (IHL) is key to armed conflicts reduction in the region.
Asante said this at a two-day workshop on IHL organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the court in Abuja.

“The best way to counter the long-term impact of armed conflicts of whatever description is to prevent violations of IHL and IRHL,” he said.

IHL is a set of rules which seek to limit the effects of armed conflict for humanitarian reasons; protects persons no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare.

IHL is also known as the law of war or the law of armed conflict.

The court’s president said the training would better equip the court and contribute to addressing the challenges facing the respect for human rights in the region.

“It is very clear that the work of the court stands to be hugely enhanced if the key actors, particularly the judges and lawyers are exposed to the current legal regime in the field of IHL to better equip the court in addressing these unfortunate phenomena.

“It is against this backdrop that we consider it a privilege to host the experts from the ICRC for this two-day workshop ostensibly for training of our human resource base in the area of IHL.
“When fundamental human rights are not respected, people lose hope; the best way to counter the long-term impact of armed conflicts of whatever description, is to prevent violations of IHL and IRHL,” he said.

He urged participants to take seriously the training opportunity to make them acquainted with the principles of the IHL.

Similarly, Justice Keikura Bangura, member, ECOWAS Court, described the training as timely, adding that it enlightened participants on how human right law and humanitarian law interfaces.
According to him, these are very rich areas that need to be upgraded on periodic basis due to their vital role.

“Humanitarian law are areas that cannot be applied in isolation; if we are applying human right law you must give due consideration to humanitarian circumstances.’’

Mr Vincent Pouget, Communications Coordinator, ICRC Nigeria, described the training as an additional tool for their daily practice.

Pouget said the training was aimed at promoting and advocating for the use of the IHL and to further facilitate the use of the law in West Africa.

According to him, at the end of the training it is expected to increase the knowledge and understanding of the judges and other members of the court about IHL which is very relevant.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the 25 participants at the workshop included five Judges and 20 members of the court.

Health

FG validates efficacy of HIV self-test kits

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Kits

Abuja, Nov.19, 2019 The National AIDS and STDs Control Programme (NASCP), has acknowledged the efficacy of the HIV self-test kits for use in Nigeria with 98.4 per cent specificity and sensitivity to detect HIV antibodies.

Dr Godwin Emmanuel Coordinator, Organising Committee, who made this known in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said NASCP was established to spearhead the Ministry of Health’s interventions on the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Emmanuel said the HIV self-test kit evaluation report scheduled to be disseminated by NASCP on Nov.22, outlines modalities for conducting HIV self-testing in the country.

He said the report dissemination was sequel to the national operational guidelines for the delivery of HIV self-testing in Nigeria which was recently approved by the Federal Ministry of Health.

Emmanuel further mentioned that the HIV self-test kit also known as Oraquick HIV self-test kits were currently used in more than 50 countries of the world.

He noted that the test kit had also being certified by World Health organisation (WHO), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and NAFDAC.

“As part of measures to promote HIV Self-Testing by ministry, Oraquick HIV self-test kits was recently evaluated by the federal ministry of health across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

“This is in line with national guidelines to assess the efficacy of the test kits for use in Nigeria, hence, the evaluation showed 98.4 per cent specificity and sensitivity to detect HIV antibodies I and II among Nigerians.

“This therefore affirms greater confidentiality and privacy from individuals who will purchase the easy-to-use, pocket friendly diagnostic kit from a designated outlet.

“The self-run test can be done in the privacy of one’s home or other desired locations, without the knowledge of anyone,’’ he said.

He said many people living with HIV in Nigeria are unaware of their status and the country was yet to meet the recommended number of HIV testing and counselling sites needed for a desired scale up.

Emmanuel, however, stressed that the HIV self-testing had been identified as a strategy that would contribute to the attainment of UNAIDS global 95-95-95 goals.

He said the 95-95-95 goals means: “95 per cent of people living with HIV should know their HIV status; 95 per cent of people who know their status should be on treatment; and 95 per cent of people on treatment should achieve suppressed viral loads’’.

Emmanuel said the HIV self-test (HIVST) in Nigeria was viewed as a mechanism to help increase HIV testing uptake, thereby helping to capture un-diagnosed HIV cases.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi/Sadiya Hamza

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UNFPA organises initiative to eliminate violence against Women, girls

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UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on Tuesday opened a three-day workshop on the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative (SI) toward eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

Conceptualised in September 2017, the EU and UN launched the ambitious partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide.

The initiative aims to mobilise commitment of political leaders and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and specifically Goal 5 on gender equality and Goal 16 on inclusive and peaceful societies.

The initiative is backed by an initial dedicated financial envelope of 500 million Euros from EU, targeting large-scale investments in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific and the Caribbean, aimed at achieving significant improvements in the lives of women and girls.

The UNFPA Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Erika Goldson, while declaring the SI workshop open in Abuja, said that the initiative would change the dynamics of girls and women to be free from violence.

She urged Implementing Partners (IP) such as CSOs, NGOs, government MDAs who are working with UNFPA to achieve the goal of eliminating Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country to be proactive toward achieving zero violence against women and girls.

She also encouraged them to reach out to the Fund for plans toward achieving the goal, as well as share new ideas and innovations.

A total of 250 million Euros out of the initial total 500 million Euros will be spent to implement the programme in Africa, namely Nigeria, Malawi, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

In Nigeria, a pilot programme toward achieving the goal of the initiative is being carried out in six states, namely Lagos, Adamawa, Sokoto, FCT, Ebonyi and Cross River.

The initiative will later be extended to other states of the federation to ensure that girls and women live free of violence and can develop their potential and contribute to national development.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Encourage youths employability skills to propel development- NGO urges FG

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An NGO, Youth Action on Tobacco Control and Health (YATCH), on Tuesday called for the engagement of youths on life and employability skills.

Its Executive Director, Mr Seye Omiyefa, made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.

Omiyefa said that such skills would encourage positive behaviour and reduce the rate of drug use among youths in the country.

He said: “The development of a community is a dynamic process involving all segments of the locality, including the often overlooked youth population.

“It is crucial at this point to target specific disadvantages of young people through skills and labour market training and work experience programmes, job search assistance and other employment services.

“Life skills can promote interactive, decision-making, problem solving, critical thinking and stress management skills and lead to more social acceptability, which in turn will reduce drug abuse tendency.”

The executive director also said that life skills was crucial to nation building.

According to him, youths are often said to be the leaders of tomorrow and tomorrow starts today, hence the need to equip youths through life skills training.

“It is crucial because most youths graduate from secondary and tertiary institutions without acquiring necessary life skills.

“This and other factors contribute to the kind of youths and leaders we produce as a country.

“If we equip youths properly before they graduate from high school and tertiary institutions, we will as a nation produce young people with the right mindset which will contribute to nation building,” he said.

Omiyefa said that YATCH had recently participated in a training on evidence based-substance abuse prevention which necessitated the need to revitalise its current Youth Action against Tobacco’s Club in secondary schools.

He said that the organisation was currently advocating the formation of a Prevention Leadership Action Team (PLAT) and creating a substance abuse policy in all the schools.

According to him, this is as a result of the manate of YATCH to rescue millions of people from tobacco related deaths and drug abuse.

“The introduction of the PLAT by YATCH is a way to sustain the substance abuse prevention programmes and policy in the schools without a representative of YATCH present.

“The PLAT team are currently being trained and comprises teachers, school heads, administrators, community leaders and students.

“The PLAT committee will commence evidence-based preventive intervention for universal and selected groups through ‘Life Skills Training’ with other age appropriate interventions.

“This intervention is evidence-based and should also be implemented in higher institutions in Nigeria,” Omiyefa said.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Olagoke Olatoye

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BHCPF will allow Nigeria increase access to quality healthcare services – WorldBank

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The World Bank Group, says that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) is an important part of reforms in the health sector that will help Nigeria increase access to quality healthcare services.

The Bank said that the fund would also ensure that Nigerians do not face financial impoverishment as a result of medical spending.

Dr Sarah Alkenbrack, the Senior Health Economist, Health Nutrition and Population Global Practice, World Bank Group, said this at a four-day workshop organised by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) on Tuesday in Abuja.

The workshop was organised for 18 states on the need to support health financing arrangement at the national level.

Nigeria News Agency , reports that the theme of the workshop is “Strengthening Health Financing at the Frontlines’’.

Alkenbrack said that the reform would take the country closer to the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which most countries were striving to achieve as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2030.

She said that an important part of the design was the trade-offs made between the population, services, and the share of the direct costs covered, as represented by the “UHC Cube’’.

“The BHCPF covers the entire population with a basic package of services that will prevent 80 per cent of the disease burden.

“A key point of this session is that public financing is key for making progress toward UHC,’’ she said.

The health economist noted that UHC was about ensuring effective coverage, quality and financial protection.

She said that the UHC journey requires making trade-offs between breadth, depth and height of coverage.

Alkenbrack said that public financing was key for making progress towards achieving UHC.

“There is no one- size-fits-all approach.

“Countries can learn from other countries about what works but context matters,’’ she said.

NAN reports that the 18 participating states are, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Cross River, Enugu, Gombe, Taraba, Imo, Kogi, Yobe, Zamfara, Lagos, Jigawa, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, and Sokoto states.

The workshop is being attended by stakeholders in the health sector.

Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Ese E. Ekama

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Makarfi: College of health technology to be fully digitised – Provost

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Dr Suleiman Usman, Provost Shehu Idris College of Health Science Technology, Makarfi said on Tuesday that work is going on to fully digitise all official activities in the institution.

Usman made the disclosure in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in his office at Makarfi, Kaduna State.

Usman said the college had already established an e-library and was making efforts with Glo network on networking the entire college.

“It is not only going to be e-library alone, we have already measured the parameters, service will be available all over the college, wherever you are within the college you can easily access the Internet.

“However, the e-library is part of the 2019 revised budget of the institution, it has been approved, we are waiting for the money.

“In addition to that, by next year the college will begin Computer Based Tests (CBT) entrance exam as against the old method of manual exam.

“We have already gotten and designed a place in the college, we are going to mount over 300 computers with full internet service, so that all our activities will be through the Internet,” he assured.

The Provost identified transparency as another of his priorities, recalling that initially, so many things in the college were being done under the carpet without the knowledge of the staff and even the management.

“I have set up the Policy Transparency Unit, so that whatever we do in the college is made public, everybody have access to what we were doing.

“If you need any information about what we are doing, we will make it available to you.

“Right now as I am talking to you, I have already liaised with the ICPC, and about five of the college staff will go for training at the ICPC headquarters.

“After the training, the commission will come down to the college to draft a standard procedure manual for the college so that everything we are going to do will be rotating within that manual,” he noted.

Usman also said that the college had introduced e-monitoring tool to measure lecturers’ performance.

He said: “One of the important things I will proudly say I have achieved is the issue of staff monitoring.

“Initially, our lecturers go to class at will, sometimes they go to the class outside normal or official hours to teach the students.

“Now each staff is being monitored by the use of a tool, this tool is used to examine the activities of both staff and students in the class and it is also used to evaluate the relationship between the students and lecturers while in the class.

“This tool is for every individual staff, we are going to use the tool to measure the performance and productivity of every staff in the college, unless you pass 70 per cent to 80 per cent, you will not be promoted.

“It is an e-tool, when you go into the class, it will identify you, the teacher will tell us the subject he/she is going to teach, then those that are doing the monitoring and evaluation will also go to the class and see,” he said.

He said timetable of each staff would be made available to the monitoring unit who would be going round to confirm and record where appropriate.

The Provost said the monitoring unit was also saddled with the responsibility of listening to the lectures to ensure that it was within context.

“If the lecturer is lecturing outside the context, we will detect it, again, the response of students to lecturers is another thing, are the students understanding the lecture or not?

“At the end of the whole exercise, we also have a tool, it is called Teacher Performance Evaluation Tool, this comes up when students are about to write their examinations.

“Before students write any examination, a questionnaire will be given to them to fill, are they comfortable with the teacher? Does the teacher teach the course to the later? Has he/she been given them notes? Did they pay for the notes?

“These are some of the questions to be answered by the students and we call them pre-examination tools.

“This questionnaire and the daily routine evaluation will be combined to come up with the performance of every lecturer,” he said.

The Provost said financial activities of the college are now online, to block some leakages discovered in the accounts section.

“If the college is to pay you even N1,000 it has to be through the Internet, in fact, my accounting staff don’t even see money, they only deal with papers, including myself.

“Another area is the aspect of registration of students especially new intakes, so many bad things happened during registration exercises,” he said.

edited by Emmanuel Nwoye/Maharazu Ahmed

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Hadejia LG vaccinates 90,752 children against measles, meningitis

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The Hadejia Local Government Council in Jigawa on Tuesday said it has commenced vaccination of 90,752 children against measles and meningitis in the area.

The Council’s Immunization Officer, Alhaji Gimba Mukaddas, told the Nigeria News Agency in Hadejia, that the exercise started on Nov. 16 and would end on Nov. 23.

He said 52,210 children aged between one and seven years would be vaccinated against meningitis, while 38,542 children aged between nine months and five years would be vaccinated against measles.

Mukaddas said 160 health personnel were engaged for the vaccination being conducted in 20 schools and health centres across the area.

Also speaking to NAN, the Council’s Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Maikanti, called on parents to present their children for the vaccination exercise.

He noted that improved health care service delivery remained top priority to the council.

Maikanti also called on the vaccinators to fear God and ensure that all the targeted children were vaccinated.

Edited by Saidu Adamu/Maharazu Ahmed

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