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Expert calls for effective public awareness on prevention of kidney disease




Lagos, March 13, 2019 A Consultant Nephrologist, Dr Babawale Bello, has called for effective public awareness on the prevention of kidney disease.

Bello, who works at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, made the call on Thursday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

He spoke ahead of the World Kidney Day slated for March 14.

NNN reports that the World Kidney Day was set aside by the International Society of Nephrology to bring awareness to the public about kidney health.

It holds every third Thursday in March.

According to Bello, the purpose of the World Kidney Day is to enlighten the general population about kidney disease, its causes and how it can be prevented.

“Kidney disease is a major problem that people do not seem to be aware of and it’s estimated that in any population of adults checked, about 10 per cent of them have kidney disease.

“Awareness is key to informing people that kidney disease is common, and also to let them know that they can have a kidney disease without having any symptoms.

“This is one of the biggest challenges with kidney disease, because most people have it and they don’t have symptoms.

“Until it is quite advanced or they have lost about 60 per cent of their kidney functions, that is when they start having symptoms.

“So, regular checkup is very essential to early detection, and this can only be achieved through effective public awareness,” he said.

Bello said that the biggest contributor to the burden of kidney disease were hypertension and diabetes.

“If we look at any population in general, hypertension and diabetes are the two biggest contributors to the burden of kidney disease.

“So, anybody who has hypertension or diabetes have a higher risk of developing kidney disease, especially if it is not controlled.

“Also for us in this environment, the other major contributor is chronic nephritis.

“It is an inflammatory process that affects the kidney where inflammation is triggered, most especially in this environment by infection that tend to linger and not properly treated.

“Also, some aspects of lifestyle can indirectly predispose people to kidney disease, such as eating junk foods, excessive drinking, smoking, lack of exercise and consumption of herbal medicines,” he said.

Bello said government should ensure that they provide information to the public on those things that might predispose them to kidney disease in order to reduce its burden.

He said that the public also needed to improve on the health seeking behaviour whereby people seek medical advice from neighbours, friends and non-medical professionals.

“When most Nigerians are sick, they first tell their neighbours, who will tell them what to use or they should go to a chemist, or to the herbal people until when everything has failed,  then they eventually come to the hospital.

“Nigerians should know that we need to go to the hospital when we are well and have the well person’s check, that’s when we can detect early whatever is wrong and fix it.

“We need to pass this message across to people so they can know that it is very important to do a regular check and not wait until they are sick before going to the hospital; this is not only about kidney problem.

“Simple test like putting stripe into the urine can tell us if someone has a kidney problem or not, that’s how easy it is.

“So, we need to improve our lifestyle, exercise regularly and ensure to eat food that are high in fibre.

“People should stay aware from all these traditional herbs, either the local or imported ones,” he said.

The expert also said that the growing burden of HIV contributed to the high increase of kidney disease.

“We need to keep it in mind and tell people to adopt the habit of abstinence and mutual fidelity,” he said.

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Post-COVID-19: Expert tasks parents on discipline



Mr Idowu Olanipekun, a development professional at the Centre for Development and Protection (CEDEP) in Ibadan, has urged parents to be disciplined in adjusting their way of life after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Olanipekun gave the advice in Ibadan on Tuesday while speaking on life after the COVID-19 against the background of the Global Day of Parents.

He stated that a downturn in the economy with effects on other facets of life would present herculean tasks in the management and resurgence of homes, businesses and religious centres

Olanipekun ,however, enjoined parents to remain resolute in stabilisation efforts in order to forestall a second wave of COVID-19 which might portend greater danger than the first.

” The key to general sustenance after this pandemic period is discipline.

“Imbibing all-round discipline as a tool of suppressing the sour experiences of COVID-19 pandemic period is a challenge that should be a weapon for curtailing the outbreak of a second wave starting from the home front by our parents.

“In other words, post COVID -19 parenting watchword should be discipline in consonance with every area of life,” he said.

The expert urged parents to guard how they spend their income as purchasing power would drop drastically before the economy would improve.

“Parents should be technical in drawing a scale of preference for their needs and wants upon which priorities are set.

“There shouldn’t be any room for extravagant spending even at the level of the children’s education.

“Reality of time should be allowed to lead us into the next economic phase of life,” he said.

Olanipekun also enjoined parents to teach and expose their children to all necessary medical tips against COVID-19.

He added that this should be in line with the Presidential Task Force guidelines on checking the spread of the pandemic such as hand washing, use of sanitisers as well as wearing of facemasks.

“Also, with the ease of lockdown, parents are expected to guide their children at the various worship centres and programmes if not excluding them completely from participating in religious activities to curb the resurgence of COVID -19.

“Everyone should inculcate the act of social and physical distancing, most especially as children will be attending classes on resumption of academic session, while limiting their exposures to other social activities,” he said.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)

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Interview: Floyd’s death highlights racial discrimination in United States — expert




The death of George Floyd, an African American who died in police custody last week, highlights the racial discrimination in the United States, a Turkish expert has said.

Noting that United States President Donald Trump‘s frequent use of “racist narratives during his speeches or on Twitter” has emboldened extremist groups, Deniz Zeyrek, a political commentator, said that “American racist grassroots are acting now with more audacity than before.”

Demonstrations and violence have spread to dozens of U.S. cities after a video went viral of Floyd being suffocated to death by a white police officer in the mid-western United States state of Minnesota on May 25.

Zeyrek, who is also a well-known columnist in Turkey, said the ongoing demonstrations are also signs of frustration and despair of the African American community and other minority groups ravaged by the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, which has claimed the lives of 106,000 Americans and cost the country 40 million jobs.

“Trump managed the pandemic with incompetence in what is seen as a very bad management of the crisis, therefore people are angry at its administration,” he said.

Minority groups in the United States are bearing more burdens but getting less attention, said Zeyrek, noting that African Americans or Latinos have suffered higher mortality rate of COVID-19 than white Americans.

Calling protesters in Minneapolis “thugs” and vowing that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump is weaponizing racial discrimination for his own gains, as he is seeking re-election this year, said Zeyrek.

He noted that the anger of demonstrators is not only about the situation of African Americans or the death of Floyd, but about the whole social problems in the United States plagued by the health crisis.

“Demonstrators, which are not only black, but from all segments of the society, are saying that it has become impossible to live in the country … where the police are terrorizing the people”, he said.


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Washington using pandemic to pursue unilateralism, play blame games — experts




The U.S. administration led by President Donald Trump is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to pursue unilateral policies while pinning the blame for a mismanaged national health emergency on others, said experts from Latin America.

Trump has repeatedly tried to scapegoat the World Health Organization (WHO), claiming the United States is paying the price for the agency’s mishandling of the pandemic, Guatemalan political observer and former diplomat Manuel Villacorta told Xinhua.

At a time when the international community should be more united than ever, Trump is pulling the United States out of the WHO citing the global body’s alleged mishandling of the novel coronavirus outbreak, said Villacorta, describing the move as a grave error.

In fact, the U.S. handling of the health emergency has been “devastating,” he said, noting upwards of 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, more than any other country, and 40 million Americans have lost their jobs and numerous businesses have gone under.

That’s why President Trump is looking to blame someone else. First he did it with China and now he’s doing it with the WHO — an unprecedented political mistake,” said Villacorta, who served as Guatemala’s ambassador to Israel.

Other Latin American observers agree that the U.S. government fails to take action after the WHO declared COVID-19 a global emergency on Jan. 30.

Not only did Washington drop the ball on taking timely preventive measures, but its inaction shows that the United States is not leading a global initiative of this kind, said Argentine political columnist Andres Oppenheimer.

“Instead of launching a serious campaign to promote social distancing, and ordering tests and ventilators, Trump constantly minimized the pandemic,” Oppenheimer wrote in a May 4 article.

What Washington has done is using the pandemic as an excuse to unilaterally fast-track deportations of undocumented immigrants across the border into Mexico, without considering the health implications amid the pandemic.

A so-called “expedited removal,” which allows authorities to deport immigrants without going through the normal legal process of holding hearings before an immigration judge, began on March 21. In a few weeks, about 10,000 immigrants, many from Central America, had been deported to Mexico.

The prestigious El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (El Colef), a Mexican research center that studies Mexico-U.S. border issues, recently warned that “the United States‘ unilateral and rapid deportations of migrants to Mexico at late hours of the night make it difficult to provide these migrants with a medical check-up and follow-up, and raise the possibility that infected persons are entering the country.”

According to Claudia Masferrer, a research professor at Mexico City’s El Colegio de Mexico, the pandemic has become an excuse for Trump to continue cracking down on migrants.

For President Trump … migrants have always been scapegoats for everything,” said Masferrer.


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Spotlight: Turkish health experts call for vigilance amid reopening of restaurants




Turkey has taken an important step towards normalization on Monday, allowing restaurants, cafes and many shops to reopen after more than two months of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, but health specialists call for vigilance.

Restaurants and cafes were permitted to serve customers again, as long as they adhere to physical distancing rules established by the health ministry.

Museums, some gyms and pools, and also public parks also opened their doors. Worshippers were allowed to return to mosques for prayers, wearing masks and obeying distancing rules.

Istanbul’s landmarks, the Grand Bazaar and the ottoman Topkapi palace, have begun to receive visitors.

Despite cloudy weather following a rainy weekend, many young people returned to the cafes in downtown Ankara.

“We have been waiting for this day for a long time, we really want to go to normal life, as possible as we can. It is difficult to stay at home when the weather is so good (in previous weeks),” Ece Tekin, a university student, told Xinhua in a shop located on the busy Tunali Hilmi Avenue.

The young women, who was sipping coffee with a mask under her chin, said that she was still alert about the situation.

“I will try to make the best of this time because I don’t know if it will last. People are talking of a new wave of outbreak, I hope it will not be the case and hopefully we will wake up from what seems a science fiction movie,” she said.

The restaurant staff are required to wear masks and gloves. Social distancing rules also limited the businesses to run at around 50 percent capacity.

“It’s hot and wearing with this protective gear is not easy, but we must do, at least the customers are back,” said a waiter. “Although we cannot accommodate them all, we are glad to be back and trying to adapt to this.”

Tables were also moved further apart and disinfectants were placed on them.

In the Segmenler and Kugulu parks located nearby, people were enjoying timid rays of sunshine, but some of them were not wearing masks.

The two-month lockdown brings significant setback for most of the restaurants and cafes, which were already hit by high inflation before the outbreak.

Some shops have closed in downtown Kizilay, as they were unable to afford the rent and personnel wages during the lockdown.

The number of new infections in Turkey has been dropping each day, according to health officials who still urged for vigilance against a resurgence of the pandemic.

“We must remain vigilant and wear masks when we go outside. Whether there will be a resurgence depends on how we are protecting ourselves and others. We can do it if we abide by three rules: masks, distancing and hygiene,” tweeted professor Tevfik Ozlu, a virologist and member of the Coronavirus Science Board.

Some citizens and scientists are uneasy about the progress of normalization, which they argued is too fast as daily infections numbers are still around 800-900.

“While the outbreak is not fully under control, opening kindergartens, shopping centers and gyms, which are common places, poses a serious risk,” said public health expert Tugrul Erbaydar.

“This normalization is going too fast,” he stressed, hoping that the country doesn’t return back “to square one” in its fight against the coronavirus.

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Roundup: Unprotected interactions, increasing tests behind re-spike in COVID-19 cases: expert




An Iranian medical expert said unprotected social interactions and an increase in the number of tests are the reasons for the recent surge in the tally of the novel coronavirus cases in the Islamic republic.

On Monday, Iran‘s confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 154,445, continuing a new rise in daily cases over the past weeks, while the death toll rose to 7,878.

Iran reported the first cases of the disease on Feb. 19, and the officials decided to impose a major lockdown on economic and cultural sectors thereafter.

In early April, Iran announced a gradual reopening of its economy and easing of restrictions on social interactions under the plan of “smart distancing.”

Last week, Iran allowed partial reopening of the holy shrines. All employees have returned to work since Saturday and high-risk places of businesses, such as gyms and beauty salons, have also reopened for business.

Mosques, malls and holy sites have opened under social distancing rules, but wedding ceremonies remain banned.

However, following the recent rise in the number of new infections, the Iranian health authorities raised the alarm over a new spike in different regions in Iran.

Seven provinces are in alarming state over the virus’ return, and the southwestern province of Khuzestan is in a state of emergency, Kianush Jahanpur, head of Public Relations and Information Center of the health ministry, said Sunday.

“An increase in the social interaction has resulted in the re-spike of the disease,” Seyyed Ahmad Hashemi, head of North Khorasan University of Medical Sciences, said in an interview.

“Some people think the disease has ended, so they do not care the health protocols,” Hashemi warned, noting in some gatherings the health instructions are not observed.

Hashemi, an expert in infectious diseases, said the soaring infections are also linked to the increasing number of tests across the country and the tracing factor.

According to the health ministry, more than 100 laboratories across the country have been equipped with the testing kits. On Monday, Iran announced the administration of 955,865 lab tests since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in the country in February.

On Monday, Jahanpour urged the public to wear face masks in crowded places and respect distancing.


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Chinese medical experts awarded by Serbia for assistance in fighting COVID-19




Another three members of a six-strong Chinese expert medical team to Serbia were awarded on Monday with military memorial medals for their assistance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The medals were awarded by Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin to the three members, who arrived on May 4 to replace their colleagues.

Following the award ceremony, Cheng Shouzhen, a member of the Chinese medical team, said the team has toured many places in Serbia, such as COVID-19 hospitals, elderly care facilities, and child care centers.

“We shared our experience gained in China and especially in Wuhan. We openly exchanged suggestions and opinions in line with the current epidemiological situation about treatment of patients, abolition of the state of emergency, gradual return to work and restarting production, as well as opening borders,” she said.

Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo congratulated the country on excellent response to COVID-19, adding that the joint battle against the pandemic strengthened ties between the two countries.

“The Chinese expert medical team to Serbia became a symbol of the friendship between our two countries,” Chen said.

Defense Minister Vulin thanked the Chinese experts for their help. “We learned from you as doctors, but also as human beings. You have demonstrated discipline, endurance and diligence,” he said.

The Chinese medical expert team has been assisting Serbia in fighting the COVID-19 since March 21. On May 6, Serbia lifted the state of emergency, and opened borders for passengers recently.


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Chinese medical experts in Sudan hold video conference about COVID-19




Chinese medical experts in Sudan on Sunday held a video conference with Chinese people in the country over the prevention of COVID-19.

Workers from Chinese companies and Chinese people living in Sudan participated in the video conference, during which Chinese medical experts answered questions related to the coronavirus and introduced the personal protection measures.

The Chinese medical team arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Thursday from Algeria after ending its two-week anti-coronavirus mission there.

“We are paying attention to the collection of questions and give more video exchanges in recent days,” Zhou Lin, the expert team leader, told Xinhua.

On May 30, the medical experts were divided into two groups for the anti-coronavirus mission in Sudan. One of them provided an on-site training for the Chinese doctors from Omdurman Friendship Hospital of Sudan.

The other group went to an office of a Chinese company in Sudan to give an on-site training to the staff.

China has offered help to Sudan in its fight against COVID-19.

In late March, the Chinese Embassy in Sudan donated over 400,000 surgical masks to the Sudanese government.

On April 23, Chinese medical experts held a video conference with Sudanese counterparts to share China‘s experiences in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.


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Interview: Sri Lanka looks to domestic tourists for post-COVID-19 revival: expert




Sri Lanka should aim to entice domestic tourists as it seeks to revive a cash-strapped hotel sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a leading hotelier in Sri Lanka has said.

In an interview with Xinhua, President of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and Chairman and Managing Director of Mount Lavinia Hotel, Sanath Ukwatte said that domestic travelers are eager to go out after the recent easing of the curfew.

“People want to restart their lives and are quite eager to enjoy nature again. We also expect that locals are eager to patronize restaurants and hold events such as weddings, conferences, and seminars,” Ukwatte said.

Sri Lanka‘s Ministry of Health has formulated strict guidelines for the safe operation of hotels as Sri Lanka resumed economic activity earlier this month. Checks are being conducted to ensure that registered hotels are adhering to these regulations, Ukwatte said.

Ukwatte said that Sri Lanka‘s hotel sector would also look to opening up to travelers from regional markets, as pandemic-related disruptions continue in European and North American markets.

Sri Lanka‘s hotels have been one of the worst-affected sectors by the pandemic, with the country attracting merely 71,370 arrivals in March compared to 244,328 in the same month last year, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).

Arrivals in April and May have been brought to a virtual halt due to flight restrictions.

The government has stepped in to provide the cash-strapped hotel sector with concessional loans and discussions are underway for a temporary wage subsidy scheme for hotel employees, Ukwatte said.

Sri Lanka‘s hotel sector directly employs around 150,000 people, with nearly 700,000 people indirectly dependent on it for wages, according to Ukwatte.


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Experts call for inclusive slums upgrade in Lagos,other cities



Some experts on Saturday called  for the upgrade  of slums in Nigeria through sustained efforts to build resilient cities that would enhance good health and welfare of  the residents.


The experts who made the calls  at a zoom meeting organised by the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP),also said that such upgrade would protect the environment.


The theme of the meeting was: `’Cities beyond Pandemic’’.


They urged leaders in Lagos State and across the country to plan for  inclusive urban settlements that would reduce migration,tackle infrastructure problems,  and avert spread of diseases from overcrowding.


The experts also called for sustained slums upgrade plans for local communities that would make electricity, education, transportation, security, employment and mass housing availalable to the residents.


In her presentation, Chiara Tomaselli, the Urban Resilience Project Manager, Resilience, Sixense Engineering, Paris, stressed the need for knowledge to face the uncertainties of COVID-19.


Tomaselli ,who spoke on:  “Managing Cities Development Need in Post Pandemic’’, said that ignorance and limited resources were some  of the challenges facing  African cities in preventing outbreak of  diseases.


She called on African  leaders to  immediately begin to address underlying issue of infrastructure deficit that had given rise to urban slums.


Tomaselli commended the Lagos State  Government’s response to COVID-19,adding that it was important for the state to build urban resilience that would  provide good transportation,health and other needs for her citizens.


“We need to increase mobility without compromising health issues. Mobility shouldn’t ignore climate change.


“Also public health capturing in urban metropolitan area is important to curb the transmission of the virus. Improper water and sanitation also lead to outbreaks, ” she said.


She, however, warned that realistic planning should capture the most vulnerable people through adequate provision of affordable food, shelter and other basic needs.


“We have to know  that cities are places of opportunities and they will keep growing,” she said.


According to her, technology can be used to tackle the problem of overpopulation citing Japan and Korea as examples of countries leveraging on technology to deal with congestion.


Also,  Mr Nelson De Lamare, a climate change expert, emphasised the importance of the local government in driving clean climate agenda  that would have direct impact on a healthy environment.


Lamare said  that carbon emissions had reduced in several countries due to the COVID-19  pandemic as  there had been less industrial activities and vehicular movement.


He, however, noted that the difference in carbon emissions was not so visible in Lagos because of inadequate power supply which had  increased the use of generators inspite of the COVID-19 lockdown.


“Fighting climate change does not only require behavioural changes but also systemic changes,” he said.


Lamare listed other causes of climate change linked to human action, and called for a need to  reduce both the COVID-19 curve and that of global warming  for more resilient cities.


He said that the global warming curve could only be flattened if local authorities take swift political decisions to safeguard both health and the environment.


Lamare said that town planners should be at the forefront of driving resilient cities agenda while calling for political will on the part of leaders to evolve and implement policies.


“Post pandemic recovery plans must tackle the climate crisis by improving how cities are built, organised and used, by adjusting policies towards greener and cleaner economies and increasing resilience to future crisis.


“Mainstream climate mitigation and adaptation properties in stimulus packages and investments to recover from the crisis, while setting accompanying measures for the most vulnerable groups who may be disproportionately affected,’’ he said.


Also,  Mr Paul Okunlola, the Program Officer of UN Habitat in Abuja ,said that  COVID-19 had shut down economic and social activities in several countries including Nigeria.


Okunlola said that the crisis had presented opportunities for town planners to drive the agenda of tackling challenges of urbanisation and urban slums.


He gave statistics of COVID-19 incidences and fatalities in countries and compared the figures with Ebola crisis, and called for focus on how cities develop and  enforce planning to remove pressure on infrastructure.


“Urban planning will need  a new Central role in the post COVID-19 recovery era. The stimulation presents a unique opportunity to rethink the way cities are planned, built and managed,’’ he said.


He called for a new city plan that  would capture the informal sector and the poor to accommodate changing travel, shopping and work lifestyles of urban dwellers.


An architect,Mr Jorgen Andersen, who spoke  on “Pandemics and Planning in African Cities’’ also noted the  huge infrastructure deficit due to lack of sustained planning.


Andersen, an associate professor at the  Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Denmark, made slide presentations of poor living densities of various African communities including Mokoko in Lagos State, vunerable to  COVID-19 infection.


According to him, most of the inhabitants lived and worked in the informal economy in compact settlements and houses which make social distancing impossible.


“How can you have social distancing when we live in settings like this, how can you go into self isolation if you are living in a condition like this. This is a challenge for regional and urban planners.


“In order to build better cities  preparing for future pandemics, communities should be carried along to become involved, upgrade slums.


“Planning is governance and governance is about interest ,and it should capture the ordinary people,’’ he said.

Edited /Peter Dada

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