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Experts want FG’s commitment in tackling housing challenges

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Some operators in the real estate industry on Wednesday urged Federal Government to enact and implement serious policies aimed at tackling housing deficit in the country.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that government needed to create enabling environment and enact cogent policies that could trigger solution of the housing problem.

The experts frowned at the poor performance of the housing sector in 2018 and appealed to the incoming Buhari administration to exercise strong political will in ensuring speedy growth in the housing sector before the tenure elapsed.

According to them, the country’s growing population was not commensurate with increased housing supply, hence the deficit.

Prof. Timothy Nubi, Dean, Faculty of Environmental Science, University of Lagos, said that there was need for government to overhaul the land registration system by removing it from the constitution.

NAN reports that the existing land use law (The Land Use Act of 1978) empowered only the governor of a state the sole right to give assent to land titles.

Nubi said that removal of the Land Use Act from the constitution was the only way through which the country could have an effective land registration system.

Nubi said that efficient land registration system would enhance wealth generation, facilitate more housing developments and create investment opportunities.

According to him, many operators and companies have left the property industry dues to the difficulties encountered in the country’s land registration system.

“It will speed up processing of application for land titling by cutting-off unnecessary bureaucracies, financial demands, delays and other challenges encountered in the process.

Mr Ayo Adejumo, former Vice Chairman, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), suggested that government should educate the general public about land policies, individual responsibility and right of ownership.

Adejumo said there were some amendments to the land registration system without the notice of the general public.

He said that government should stimulate people’s interest in land title registration and conversion of customary titles to statutory right of occupancy by reducing the cost.

“Duplication of work, lack of consensus decision making process with professionals, lack of public awareness and transparency, have all combined with the weak rule of law to create a basis for corruption in the system,” he said.

Mr Kunle Awobodu, Chairman, Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), said that the mortgage sector should be looked at as a value chain by restructuring it to be effective.

Awobodu said that there would be no secondary mortgage market without a vibrant primary mortgage market.

He said that sustainability of housing developments relied on effectiveness of the mortgage system and lamented lack of political will toward housing development over the years.

According to him, most of the houses constructed over the years are beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerian citizens.

“For the betterment of the housing sector in future, the Federal Government should show strong commitment by exercising the political will and commitment to make the housing sector grow.

“It is unfortunate that Nigerian civil servants up till now cannot have opportunity of having the houses within their reach.’’

Foreign

Roundup: Experts root for deepening South-South cooperation in fight against COVID-19

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Developing countries in Africa and beyond should strengthen partnership and solidarity under the South-South Cooperation modality to jointly address common socio-economic impacts imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, experts argued.

Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told Xinhua on Friday that the South-South cooperation platform as a viable way to deepen technical and financial cooperation among developing countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South-South cooperation refers to the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South. It is a tool used by the states, international organisations, academics, civil society and the private sector to collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas,” the scholar said.

Noting Africa in particular accounting for a small fraction of the infections globally, Costantinos stressed that “African countries have taken a disproportionate hit due to plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies, which ramp-up external debt servicing costs.”

As the COVID-19 hits countries under the global south, the South-South cooperation platform can help collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas such as agricultural development, human rights, urbanization, health, and climate change,” Costantinos said.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Antonio Pedro, Director of the UNECA’s Sub-regional Office for Central Africa, also stressed that the global community, mainly countries in the developing world, should strengthen solidarity in order to effectively contend the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe as well as to build back better after the coronavirus pandemic.

Pedro mainly underscored the South-South collaboration scheme as an important global partnership platform in addressing the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis given to addressing the negative impacts of the pandemic on the socioeconomic and healthcare aspects of the African continent.

The South-South collaboration, as part of the global partnership, is important to address this pandemic, especially in the context of Africa because of the vulnerabilities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” Pedro said.

The ECA director also stressed that the global solidarity against the COVID-19 “goes beyond the short term imperative of curing people that have been affected and ensuring that people don’t infected, but also building back better.”

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, mainly singled out China as an important player in propelling global partnership and solidarity under the South-South cooperation platform, as he emphasized the Chinese engagement in propelling the development of countries in the Global South.

China is at a historical crossroads today when it comes to the economic recovery and global health with the United States withdrawing from most global development and security initiatives,” Costantinos told Xinhua.

The scholar emphasized China‘s role in in improving economic governance and curtailing corruption in the Global South and addressing the impact of climate change adaptation in the global south, among others.

Pedro, who emphasized the crucial imperative of deepening global solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, also singled out China as a major player in propelling the much-needed global partnership and collaboration towards combating the virus.

“We see the Chinese engagement and the support that it is providing to African governments and to the African Union in terms of access to medical supplies, masks and other things as part of the global solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ECA Director told Xinhua.

“We very much look forward to see more and more countries to emulate the Chinese example because it’s only through global partnerships, with collaboration, and with supporting each other that we will be able to combat this virus,” he affirmed.

According to a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report entitled “South-South Cooperation at the time of COVID-19: Building Solidarity Among Developing Countries,” for many developing countries, where up to 90 percent of the workforce engages in informal activity and lockdown is a difficult proposition, the first effects of the crisis came through economic contagion before the health shock.

(XINHUA)

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Metro

Post-COVID-19: Experts call for review of Bilateral Air Services Agreement

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Some aviation experts have called for an immediate review of Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) to create an enabling business environment for airlines.

They made the call at the third edition of the aviation webinar organised by a law firm, AELEX partners, on Friday in Lagos.

Mr Nick Fadugba, the Chairman of African Business Aviation Association (AFBAA), said the multiple entry points and the frequencies of foreign airlines had been a disadvantage to Nigerian airlines as opposed to the advantages the agreement was supposed to present.

“At the time the bilateral agreement was made, Nigerian airlines in play at the time were relatively new, and now to ensure the growth of the airlines, there’s a need to review the agreement to properly incorporate the airlines as the agreements do not favour the average Nigerian carrier.

“The  multiple entry points have diluted the domestic market for the carriers,” he said.

Fadugba noted that there was need to overhaul the current business plans of the airlines with emphasis on unit cost, load factor and yield.

He said that for the airlines to rise above the current situation, there should be cooperation among airlines through joint training, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), spares pooling, joint operation, interlining and code-sharing.

Another panelist at the webinar, Ms Iyabo Sosina, an international aviation expert and former Secretary General of African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), stated that the future of air transport in Nigeria was bright inspite of all the challenges at play now.

Sosina advocated the need for rebuilding and repositioning of the industry.

According to her, there is a need to focus on the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) without unnecessary political interference with the authority.

She, however,  advised that airlines in Nigeria should be reduced to about four, adding that these airlines must be able to boast of between 10 and 20 aircraft each.

Sosina also noted that more than ever before, there was a need for airlines to initiate collaborative ways of doing business as mergers could not be forced.

This, she said, would make the industry stronger to be able to compete on not just the domestic level but also on the regional and international scenes.

Also speaking, Dr John Arthur of Ghana Airport Company, said  that airports need to start afresh by collaborating with each other and aviation stakeholders.

Arthur advised that African countries should come together to share expertise in order to make the aviation industry viable.

He also noted that countries should look at investing in non-aeronautical inclusions such as building malls in the airports.

Sindy Foster, the Principal Managing Partner at Avaero Capital Partners, stated that the Nigerian aviation industry had been in crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Foster, the lack of capitalisation and the low propensity of Nigerians to fly has been a major issue.

“There is need to look into the factors frustrating the airlines business, one of which is the ticket prices. Multiple taxations should be removed to encourage airlines growth,” Foster said.

Foster, however, disagreed with the Nigerian government over social distancing on flights by reducing load factor to between 50 and 70 per cent.

She said the airlines were already in a dire situation when they were operating at full capacity and asking them to reduce the load capacity was another way of putting down airlines striving to get back on their feet post COVID-19.

The Regional Director, Advocacy and Strategic Operations at International Air Transport Association (IATA), Ms Adefunke Adeyemi, said the airline industry in Africa had experienced a revenue loss of about 6 billion dollars and flights were down by 94 per cent at the end of April.

Adeyemi  stated that inspite of government implementing significant relief measures across the globe, there was need to do more.

According to her , IATA has advocated financial support for Africa from various organisations like UNWTO, World Travel and Tourism Council and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA).

Adeyemi, however, advised that in order to restart the aviation sector, it was necessary to restore public confidence in air travel, putting adequate health and safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring aviation essentials to jump start economies.

In his contribution, Mr  Richard Gimblett, a Partner at Holamn Fenwick Willian, a UK-based law firm, while supporting the points made by other panelists, stated that governments across the world were devising measures to restart the aviation sector.

He said that the Nigerian government should not be left behind.

Gimblett advised that the government could restart the industry by providing direct financial support to passengers and cargo carriers, ensure relief on fees, charges and taxes, make forex available for technological innovations, while also engaging with the leasing and financial community.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Webinar panel of discussion was moderated by Theophilus Emuwa.

Emuwa, who is also the Managing Partner and Head of Tax at AELEX, said there was need for transparency in the management of funds for the aviation industry to grow.

NAN also reports that AELEX is a full service commercial law firm.  

(
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)
)

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Metro

Post-COVID-19: Experts call for review of Bilateral Air Services Agreement

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Some aviation experts have called for an immediate review of Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA), to create an enabling business environment for Nigerian airlines.

They made the call at the third edition of the aviation webinar, organised by AELEX partners and monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Lagos.

NAN reports that the Webinar panel of discussion was moderated by Theophilus Emuwa.

Emuwa, who is a Managing Partner, Head of Tax at AELEX, said there was need for transparency in the management of funds for the aviation industry to grow.

Mr Nick Fadugba, the Chairman of African Business Aviation Association (AFBAA), said the multiple entry points and the frequencies of foreign airlines had been a disadvantage to the Nigerian airlines.

He said this is as opposed to the advantages the agreement was supposed to present.

“At the time the bilateral agreement was made, the Nigerian airlines in play at the time were relatively new.

“Now, to ensure the growth of the airlines, there’s a need to review the agreement to properly incorporate the airlines as the agreements do not favour the average Nigerian carrier.

“The multiple entry points have diluted the domestic market for the carriers,” he said.

Fadugba noted that there was a need to overhaul the current business plans of the airlines with emphasis on unit cost, load factor and yield.

He said that for the airlines to rise above the current situation, there should be cooperation, through joint training, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), spares pooling, joint operation, interlining and code-sharing.

Similarly, Ms Iyabo Sosina, an international aviation expert and former Secretary-General of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), stated that the future of air transport in Nigeria was bright despite current challenges.

Sosina stressed on the need for rebuilding and repositioning of the industry.

According to her, there is a need to focus on the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) without unnecessary political interference with the authority.

She, however, advised that airlines in the country should be reduced to not more than four, adding that these airlines must be able to boast of between 10 and 20 aircraft each.

Sosina also noted that more than ever before, there was a need for airlines to initiate collaborative ways of doing business as mergers could not be forced.

Also, Dr John Arthur, the Group Executive Finance, Ghana Airport Company, said that airports need to start afresh by collaborating with each other and aviation stakeholders.

Arthur advised that African countries should come together to share expertise in order to make the aviation industry viable.

On her part, Sindy Foster, the Principal Managing Partner at Avaero Capital Partners, said that the Nigerian aviation industry had been in crisis way before COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Foster, the lack of capitalisation and the low propensity of Nigerians to fly has been a major issue, which more than ever before, has become pertinent to address.

“There is need to look into the factors frustrating the airline business. One of which is the ticket prices. Multiple taxations should be removed to encourage airline growth,” she said.

Ms Adefunke Adeyemi, however, pointed out that the airline industry in Africa had experienced a revenue loss of about 6 billion Dollars and flights went down by 94 per cent at the end of April.

Adeyemi, who is the Regional Director, Advocacy and Strategic Operations at International Air Transport Association (IATA),  stated that despite government implementing significant relief measures across the globe, there was need to do more.

According to her, IATA has advocated financial support for Africa from various organisations like UNWTO, world travel and tourism council and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA).

While supporting the points made by other panelists, Mr  Richard Gimblett explained that governments across the world were devising measures to restart the aviation sector.

Gimblett, a Partner at Holamn Fenwick Willian, a UK-based law firm, said that the Nigerian government should not be left behind.

He said that the government could restart the industry by providing direct financial support to passengers and cargo carriers.

Gimblett added that the government should also ensure relief on fees, charges and taxes, make forex available for technological innovations, while also engaging with the leasing and financial community.  


Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)

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Environment

World Environment Day: Experts harp on standard training centres for renewable energy   

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Renewable energy experts have identified the dearth of standard training service centers and high cost of training as hindrances to growth in the Nigerian renewable energy industry. 

Mr Happiness Osimahon, a sales solutions engineer and Mr Dewale Adewole, an engineer and project manager at Nexgen Energy and Allied Services made this known in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan on Friday. 

The duo spoke on the theme of the 2020 World Environment Day: ‘Time for Nature’, geared toward the government’s commitment to the provision of essential infrastructure that supports life on earth and human development.

Osimahon said that if training centres were provided for those interested in renewable energy installations and maintenance engineers, it would boost the industry thus creating awareness on the safer energy options. 

 “The continuous use of fossil fuel generates e-waste and pollution. 

“There is a need to develop and build capacity for repairs and maintenance of solar inverter systems and other systems that encourage the use of renewable energy. 

“This is imperative to change the narrative and drive economic development across the country,” Osimahon said. 

He urged governments at all levels to encourage the use of renewable energy to power facilities through policy formulation and implementation. 

Similarly, Adewole said to enhance biodiversity conservation and safe earth, the government should focus on habitat restoration and set up protected areas. 

While species-specific action is sometimes necessary, more often than not, seeking to preserve and restore ecosystems is preferable. 

“The reason is that this helps maximise the overall benefit that healthy ecosystems can provide not only to our environment but also to our own health and wellbeing.

“Government must create and enforce policies that will help people to embrace the preservation of the earth such as reduction in mining activities that create threats to the ecosystem. 

“Also, enacting policies that will guide the activities of most oil and gas companies toward the protection of areas where their operations are being carried out is necessary,” Adewole said. 

He stressed the importance of people protecting the environment so that it could continue to serve humanity. 

He said that over 3,500 homes and businesses were being powered by the company’s customised solar and hybrid systems spurred by the need for a safe earth.

He said that deforestation, illegal felling of trees, and lack of will as well as funding to execute forest creation projects exposed the ecosystems to threats.

“These threats are capable of increasing the level of global warming, extinction of many species of organisms and imbalance in the ecosystem.

Nexgen Energy makes a clarion call to everyone on the importance of protecting our environment

“There is room to do more to protect our environment and keep it green by using energy efficient bulbs to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

“Use of green energy to manage power production, distribution and consumption at home or workplace,” he said.

Adewole urged Nigerians to conserve nature by reducing, reusing and recycling waste as well as volunteer for clean-up exercise in their communities.

He also advised people to conserve water as the less water used, the less runoff and wastewater that end up in the ocean and also people should not dispose of chemicals into waterways.


Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

 

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COVID-19 vaccine development requires international cooperation, say Israeli experts

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International collaboration is vital to quickly producing a COVID-19 vaccine to save lives worldwide, say Israeli medical experts.

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, multiple groups of researchers around the world have been working hard to find the cure or treatment as early as possible.

Dina Ben-Yehuda, dean of the medicine school at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said one country could hardly achieve success single-handedly in the vaccine development.

“We need international collaboration to save the world. And I hope that nobody will forget it,” she stressed.

Ben-Yehuda praised China for transparency in sharing its research findings regarding the coronavirus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The fact that Chinese physicians and scientists felt a responsibility to publish everything, even the bad results, helped many people around the world and saved lives,” said Ben-Yehuda.

China shared the initial information about the virus DNA with all other countries so that every one of them could work on vaccines and treatments. This kind of collaboration should continue for the benefit of all humankind, according to the professor.

Oren Zimhony MD, head of the infectious diseases unit at Kaplan Medical Center, said the international collaboration now on creating a vaccine is stronger than ever.

There are approximately eight main directions taken to work out a vaccine for COVID-19. Such a variety of possibilities increased the odds of finding the right way to the desired result, according to Zimhony.

“The major game-changer to overcome this pandemic is vaccine development,” Zimhony said, who believes that the first clinical implications of the intense vaccine research will be available in six months.

Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the infection prevention control unit at Sheba Medical Center, believes that only a vaccine could stop the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

“It seems there is no proper treatment for COVID-19 disease patients, and the only effective global cure would be a vaccine,” she noted.

The biggest challenge in the work, according to Regev-Yochay, is to find a completely safe vaccine for everybody and a reliable way to deliver it to all kinds of people with different health situations.

“We need to be very cautious with vaccines. It’s much more complicated than clinical trials with the drugs,” stressed Regev-Yochay.

Many COVID-19 patients don’t have symptoms or have mild ones, “so we need to make sure we don’t inject them with vaccines, drugs, or chemicals that could do more harm than good,” she said.

International sharing of information could help researchers compare the effectiveness of different vaccines and speed up the progress of the development.

According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, currently more than 130 COVID-19 candidate vaccines are being developed worldwide, with about 10 of them being already in clinical evaluation.

Among the vaccine challenges is also its mass production for the use of all of humanity, which calls for global cooperation.

“We need to vaccinate billions of people around the globe. Better to do it before the upcoming winter to prevent the dangerous effect of dual infection of influenza and COVID-19,” said Zimhony.

Ben-Yehuda said she believes new technologies of computational medicine and international sharing of big data could help create personalized medicine for COVID-19 infection, as the virus affects people differently.

(XINHUA)

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Chinese medical experts exchange virus fighting experiences with Peruvian doctors

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Peruvian doctors have consulted a visiting team of medical experts from China about their experiences in and knowledge on treating patients with the novel coronavirus.

During the encounter in the city of Arequipa on Wednesday, the team of four Chinese medical experts met with the regional governor, Elmer Caceres, as well as Health Ministry officials and representatives of local hospitals.

To effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic, China relied on three basic principles, which are diagnosis, isolation of the patient and treatment, said Guo Yi, deputy director of the Nanfang Hospital‘s medical department.

“You have to stop transmission at the source” and testing is the key, said Guo.

“The best way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is to make an early diagnosis of COVID-19 and put the patient in mandatory quarantine,” added Guo.

The Chinese experts toured Honorio Delgado Espinoza Hospital, which is now dubbed the COVID-19 Hospital, as it has become the regional treatment center.

The other members of the Chinese delegation are head of the pulmonology department Liu Laiyu, deputy director of the infectious diseases department Zhou Hao, and deputy director of the neurology department’s intensive care unit Wu Yongming.

Peru is one of Latin America‘s hardest hit countries, with 183,198 COVID-19 cases and 5,031 deaths as of Thursday.

The delegation arrived for a visit of approximately 10 days on May 23, at the invitation of the Peruvian government to help the country curb its outbreak.

(XINHUA)

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Education

Experts urge Nigerians to embrace natural foods, proper hydration

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A Professor of Biochemistry at Lagos State University (LASU) has urged Nigerians to embrace natural foods and proper hydration to boost their immune system to fight against COVID-19.

Prof. Babajide Elemo made the call at the sixth LASU Virtual Public Lecture, entitled; “COVID-19: Effective Use of Science in Overcoming the Pandemic,” on Wednesday in Lagos.

He said that regular consumption of natural foods and balanced nutrition were part of the keys to stay free from contracting COVID-19 and any other diseases.

World Health Organization recently published a nutrition advice that people should eat fresh and unprocessed food, drink enough water, eat moderate amount of fat and oil, amongst others.

“Balanced diet and hydration are vital during COVID-19 pandemic, while nutrition status plays an important role in the functioning of the immune system,” Elemo said.

Dr Josephine Sharaibi, Lecturer, Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, LASU, said that absence of cure for COVID-19 necessitated that everyone consumed the right foods and herbs as a means of boosting the immune system against the virus.

Sharaibi said that plants were critical to both the prevention and eventual cure of the disease and advised participants on the responsible use of herbs and herbal medicines in their search for solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that there were many local herbs which included ginger, garlic, tumeric and cinnamon that could be taken as immune boosters.

“There are also anti-malaria herbs such as moringa lucida (Brimstone tree), alstonia boonei (God’s tree), enantha clorantha (African whitewood) and the popular Dogonyaro tree, all of which can be used to treat symptoms of the virus.

“We should also regularly detoxify our system by taking herb drinks and natural fruit smoothies but avoid processed foods and as much as possible, stay natural,” Sharaibi advised.

Also speaking, Prof. Sunday Omilabu, Director, Centre of Excellence on Human and Zoonotic Virology, Lagos State Biobank, warned against unapproved testing process of COVID-19.

Omilabu said that till date, no serological testing platform had been licensed for COVID-19, and even when available, was not meant to replace the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for diagnosis of the virus.

Prof. Richard Adegbola, Research Professor and Consultant, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, recommended three pronged approaches to prepare for future pandemics.

Adegbola said that the three approaches were consistent surveillance for data aggregation and trend monitoring; modelling for prediction and forecasting; and translation and research that turned basic research into health-improving products.

He said there was need for multidisciplinary approach to problem solving because research alone would not be enough to solve all science-related problems.

“Technology and other fields, have major roles to play in keeping our world together,” Adegbola said.


Edited By: Razak Owolabi/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Spotlight: Israeli experts call for change as COVID-19 crisis exposes lack of int’l cooperation

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The world is lacking a coordinated global response to the raging COVID-19 pandemic and its economic ramifications, several Israeli experts have said recently.

To better cope with the COVID-19 crisis, they have urged all countries to come together to form cohesive policies on such issues as vaccine research and international travel.

LACK OF COOPERATION

LACK OF COOPERATION

LACK OF COOPERATION

Many previous crises in history, such as the financial crisis of 2007-08, have witnessed countries making joint efforts to tackle problems, yet the current COVID-19 crisis, which has so far recorded over 6 million infections worldwide and more than 380,000 deaths, has seen a lack of coordinated response across the world with some countries shirking responsibilities expected of them, experts said.

For example, international flights were canceled and airports shutdown following the outbreak. The United States, the sole superpower which should have taken the lead in promoting global cooperation, halted exports of masks and respiratory machines to neighboring Canada, as well as Latin American countries.

Amnon Lahad, chairman of Family Medicine at the Hebrew University, found the real situation quite contrary to such expectations “that the United States would lead and that there would be a global response.”

“There should have been an agreement on the implementation of World Health Organization (WHO) decisions. But every country made their own policy,” Lahad told Xinhua.

Noting that politics have overshadowed the response process, he said that the current crisis “became a political problem rather than a health problem.”

“Medicine mixed with politics, which made decision-making difficult,” he said.

“What we witnessed is not a global world,” Ronni Gamzu, CEO of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, told Xinhua, adding that the lack of cooperation against the epidemic has also darkened the global economic outlook.

CHANGES NEEDED

CHANGES NEEDED

CHANGES NEEDED

In the face of the deadly virus, experts have urged countries to make changes as soon as possible, such as by forming cohesive policies on developing vaccines.

The international community should coordinate a push for progress in research for vaccines and treatment, they said.

Lahad warned that under the current circumstances, “vaccines will be distributed unevenly, not according to morbidity but according to financial or manufacturing abilities.”

Still, he said the above-mentioned situation could be avoided with firm international resolve, adding that global leaders must not be shortsighted when dealing with this global issue.

The experts also called on countries to set the same standard on pre-travel testing, and to form a common policy on how to compensate people who were and may still be hit by travel bans and flight cancellations.

“Now is the time to begin working,” Lahad said, adding, “there should be an international summit with experts from all countries that will manage the crisis before a second wave.”

The WHO needs to improve its operative multi-national arm,” suggested Gamzu, calling for solidarity among the members of the global agency.

(XINHUA)

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

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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.

(XINHUA)

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