The Heartland Alliance International (HAI), a service-based human rights organisation committed to promoting the rights of vulnerable populations, says the coronavirus is jeopardising progress toward eliminating viral hepatitis.
The Chief Executive Officer of the organisation, Mr Bartholomew Ochonye, made the remarks in an interview with the told News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja.
Ochenye said this situation on viral hepatitis was not peculiar to Nigeria alone but cut across the globe.
He charged policymakers to scale up treatment for viral hepatitis virus infection in Nigeria and to also elevate it to a public health priority for adequate action.
The CEO said that the government should work toward reducing poverty, increasing health and preventing disease which is socially distributed.
“We see this with hepatitis, we see this with COVID-19,’’ he said.
He called for joint efforts to raise awareness about the disease in the country.
“Hepatitis could be eliminated or controlled in Nigeria if collaborative efforts are started and people are enlightened about the preventive measures on how to protect themselves from the lethal, blood-borne viral infection.
“In addition to coronavirus, there is an urgent need to create awareness about other communicable diseases, especially hepatitis B and C in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Ochonye complained about the poor interest of international donor agencies in sponsoring activities that could help people know more about the disease and precautionary measures against it.
He appealed for a commitment from government, individuals and corporate organisations to fight against hepatitis.
“I am concerned that the level of knowledge of the disease is low in Nigeria and that has been responsible for the rise in the figure of confirmed cases.
“Many are unaware that they are carrying the disease because of the high cost of testing.
“We are working with key populations in Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Lagos state to enlighten the people about hepatitis using different platforms.
“In a society where figures of diseases like are growing, largely because of increase in awareness, that of hepatitis is rising significantly due to poor knowledge about the disease.’’
“It should be a cause for concern for us all.
“ Viral hepatitis is the only disease in Nigeria that is on the increase.
“People must be mindful of what they eat, drink and their lifestyle, particularly sexual related activities,’’ Ochonye said.
He commended the intervention of the Federal Government in the fight against hepatitis but requested for more actions, particularly on testing and vaccination.
Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
COVID-19: Bayelsa schools ready, safe to re-open – Gov. Diri
Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa on Tuesday announced that the state had put in place measures to check the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) among students in exit classes billed to resume on Wednesday.
Diri gave the assurance at the ‘Safe School Reopening Train-the-Trainer’ programme in Yenagoa.
He said that the government had provided 10,000 face masks, temperature scanners, soap and water for all public and private schools in Bayelsa.
The governor inaugurated a 10-member Safe Schools Reopening Committee headed by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Peter Akpe, to monitor implementation of the safety protocols across the state.
Diri urged the committee to ensure compliance with the safety protocols to curb infection.
He noted that Bayelsa had 339 COVID-19 cases at the moment.
Diri also noted that Rivers had 1,842 cases and Delta 1,520, saying that Bayelsa was listed the 23rd out of 36 states in infection rate.
“Out of the responsibility for the health of our dear children, we decided to close schools on March 26 even before we recorded the index case in Bayless, on April 27, 2020.
“I commend the efforts of our healthcare professionals who I describe as generals in the battlefield.
“With the steps we have taken, teachers have joined in the frontlines of the battle against the pandemic.
“We seek the cooperation of parents, teachers and other stakeholders to prevent teacher-to-student transmission of the virus and vice versa,” Diri said.
In his remarks, Dr Nathaniel Apoku, Co-Chairman of Bayelsa COVID-19 Task Force, said that 90 per cent of the 339 positive cases out of 5,000 people screened for the virus had been discharged.
“We have so far tested 5,000, we have only 24 active cases under our care.
“Our isolation centres are virtually empty, this is due to the commitment, dexterity and funding support by the government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that other members of the Safe Schools Reopening Committee include Mr Freston Akpor, Permanent Secretary, Bayelsa Ministry of Information, and Mr Walter Liverpool, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)
Ebonyi govt pledges to promote breastfeeding, provides crèches, jingles
The Ebonyi Government has pledged to do everything possible to encourage breastfeeding among young mothers in the state to improve child and maternal survival.
The Commissioner for Health in Ebonyi, Dr Daniel Umezurike disclosed this on Tuesday during a press briefing to mark 2020 World Breastfeeding Week in Abakaliki.
Umezurike revealed that the state government considered the feeding critical by creating public awareness campaigns and jingles with support from partners to advocate breastfeeding in the state.
The commissioner also disclosed that civil servants who were nursing mothers in the state had been observing four months paid maternity leave to encourage breastfeeding.
He said that wife of the Governor, Mrs Rachael Umahi had established creches in the women development centre and strategic locations to enhance appropriate feeding.
“This is for mother to get close to their children, even at work so that they can breastfeed intermittently.
He added that they were also allowed after the leave resumption to close at mid-day to enable them return home to their babies to feed them appropriately.
“Breastfeeding is most important way of improving child and maternal survival. We take this very seriously.
“We do all these to encourage, protect and support breastfeeding in the state,” Umezurike said.
According to him, malnutrition is a challenge that reduces production of breast milk, when nursing mother are not properly fed.
Umezurike added that such families to include the downtrodden and widows were supported by Mrs Umahi to ensure family health were protected in the state.
He further stated that COVID-19 pandemic had affected activities, food production, consumption practices degrading land and ecosystems among others, thus every steps taken across life cycle to mitigate environmental degradation and climate crisis.
He stated that the pandemic had demonstrated that the global world interdepend and dependent on same planet, thus needs a healthy planet with support of breastfeeding.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner disclosed current situation report of COVID-19 in the state, saying that total confirmed cases is 871, deaths 25, discharged 804 and active cases is 36.
“We have three isolation centers and some on home isolation,” Umezurike said.
The Baby Friendly Initiative Coordinator in the ministry of Health, Mrs Beatrice Ojinkama described breastfeeding as foundation of live.
Ojinkama gave advantages of initiating breastfeeding to include serving as first immunization for a child to survive, help remove reserved placenta, help in family planning among others processes.
She called on the media to assist partners and the ministry in achieving the scheme.
Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)
Police nab 3 over alleged culpable homicide, 2 for kidnapping in Niger
The Police Command in Niger has arrested three suspects over alleged culpable homicide in Chanchaga Local Government Area of the state.
The police also announced the arrest 2 suspects over alleged kidnapping in Shiroro Local Government Area.
Abiodun, said that based on information received at about 10:30 hours on July 26, that two teenagers were found lying dead behind M.I Wushishi Housing Estate.
On receipt of the information, police detectives attached to Chanchaga division, swung into action and arrested three suspects in connection with the case, all of Kpapi village in Chanchaga, Minna.
“During interrogation, the suspects confessed to have conspired and fired a Dane gun at the deceased persons, who they claimed to have encroached and damaged their farmland through illegal mining.
“The suspects will be charge to court after investigation,” Abiodun said.
Similarly, the command has arrested two suspects over alleged kidnapping in Shiroro local government area of the state.
Abiodun said on July 28 at about 09:00 hours, information was received that unknown gunmen numbering about 14, invaded Nakudna village via Erena in Shiroro and kidnapped one Jambo Salihu of the same address to unknown destination.
On receipt of the information, Police detectives attached to Erena division swung into action and arrested two suspects, both of Nakudna and Kusasu villages in Shiroro local government area in connection with the case.
During interrogation, the suspects confessed to be indigenes of the community but conspired with their armed gang members now at large, and acted as pointers and informants to the bandits.
The victim was rescued unhurt while efforts to arrest the fleeing suspects was ongoing.
He said that the case was under investigation and the suspects would be charged to court after investigations.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Sexual violence: Mrs Akeredolu pledges to partner stakeholders
The wife of Ondo State Governor, Mrs Betty Akeredolu, has pledged her readiness to partner with relevant stakeholders to end cases of sexual violence in the state.
Akeredolu spoke on Tuesday in Akure at a stakeholders meeting on gender-based sexual violence
According to her, an action plan must aim at addressing the issue of rape in the state holistically.
The governor’s wife, therefore, advised stakeholders to collectively come up with a reasonable action plan that would end the menace.
Mrs Titi Adeyemi, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, said the essence of the meeting was to have a follow up forum on the previous meeting with stakeholders on rape and gender based violence.
Adeyemi noted that the spate of rape cases and gender-based violence was becoming alarming.
“It has become so worrisome, especially during the coronavirus period, which concerns every individuals.
“There has been an upsurge on issue of rape and all hands must be on deck to curb it.
” That is the main reason Mrs Akeredolu and relevant authorities have shown great concern at this time.
“We have put a team of experts together, people who have technical knowledge on gender-based violence issues to look for a lasting solution.
“We have a whole range of stakeholders coming together to evolve an action plan to tackle the menace, and I believe that this move is going to assist the state and the society at large,” she said.
Adeyemi said her ministry had concluded plans with the Ministry of Budget to include funds for gender-based violence management in its budget.
She also said that a desk for management of gender based violence cases would be created while government would build the capacity of care givers as well as empower victims.
The commissioner commended the governor’s wife for contributing to the proactive measures put in place to curb the menace in the state.
Mrs Bola Ogundadegbe, the Chairperson of Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in the state, disclosed that the 112 rape incidents recorded since 2017 had been charged to court.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that stakeholders at the meeting included representatives from Ministries of Justice, Education, Health, Women Affairs as well as representatives of non governmental organisations specialising on rape cases.
Edited By: Muftau Adediran/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)