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Survey says UATH most accessible to PWDs

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A survey by the Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC) has identified the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) as the most accessible health facility in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for Persons With Disability (PWDs) and Women and Girls with Disabilities (WGWDs).

This is contained in a 2018 report on: “A Pilot Accessibility Audit on Health, Social and Criminal Justice Services’’, conducted in the FCT and in Mararaba, Nasarawa State.

Ms Irene Ogbogu, the Executive Director, DRAC, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday that the report was conducted by the centre with the support of Christoffel Bliden Mission (CBM), a UK NGO.

According to her, the UATH was most accessible to PWDs and WGWDs with a 72 per cent physical accessibility rate.

The study revealed that Bwari General Hospital, Garki Specialist Clinic, Wuse District Hospital and Gwagwalada Township Clinic followed with 50 per cent physical accessibility rate each.

“The remaining health facilities fall below 50 per cent physical accessibility rates.

“Amaco Clinic Mararaba and Kuje Health Care 3 ranked the least accessible health facilities audited in the study with a 12. 5 per cent physical accessibility,’’ it said.

It showed that out of the 14 health facilities audited, only five have physical accessibility rate of 50 per cent and above, while the other eight did not have up to 50 per cent physical accessibility rate.

“Bearing in mind that at least 90 per cent of the facilities’ physical accessibility variables need to be in place in order to afford accessibility levels of facilities, one can then say that majority of healthcare facilities are not accessible to PWDs and WGWDs,’’ it said.

The study revealed instructively that of all the healthcare facilities audited, none of the facilities toilets are accessible to neither PWDs nor WGWDs.

It said that such had implications as access to toilet facilities is a major determinant in making the decision to visit a building or not by PWDs and WGWDs.

It stated that with the poor physical accessibility rates of health facilities, there was a clear picture of the bleak prospects of WGWDs in accessing quality care.

The study further revealed that social welfare service department, courts and police stations that were audited did not meet the basic requirements for physical accessibility of PWDs.

“The Abaji and Women Friendly Initiative in Kuje each has 37.5 per cent physical accessibility rate, while the others fall below 35 per cent physical accessibility rate.

“The Divisional Police Station in Abacha road, Mararaba, had the highest score of 31 per cent, but it still falls below bar in terms of disability access.

“The court most physically accessible to PWDs and WGWDs is the Magistrate Court, Abaji, with 44 per cent accessibility level, followed by Upper Grade 1 Area Court, Karu, with 31 per cent accessibility level,’’ the report read in part.

The study proffered concerted advocacy which must be directed to building authorities to ensure strict compliance with building codes in order to ensure that the principles of universal designs are adopted.

According to it, there is a need for staff in the three focus services to undergo intense training on Disability Inclusive Service Delivery (DISD), as it will go a long way in promoting access of WGWDs to service.

This, it said, will reduce the pregnancy of negative attitude amongst service providers toward PWDs and WGWDs.

NNN reports that the study was not focused on facilities whether government or private owned but on facilities that, through their mandates, should be providing such services, such as NGOs and relevant MDAs.

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UK consumer confidence continues to slip in May: survey

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British consumer confidence deteriorated in late May despite the country starting to further ease lockdown since mid-May, a survey from polling firm GfK said Friday.

The GfK released its third COVID-19 flash report using data gathered between May 20 and May 26, which showed that the long-running consumer confidence index has decreased by two points over the past two weeks.

Consumer confidence index dropped across key measures to -36, just three points shy of the historic low of -39 in July 2008, the survey said.

“Against a backdrop of falling house prices, soaring jobless claims, and with no sign of a rapid V-shaped bounce-back on the cards, consumers remain pessimistic about the state of their finances and the wider economic picture for the year to come,” said Joe Staton, GfK‘s client strategy director.

However, the survey found latent demand among shoppers for big-ticket items while most outlets remain closed. The only bright spark is the Major Purchase Index with a six-point fillip, the survey said.

“As the lockdown eases, it will be interesting to see just how the consumer appetite for spending returns in a world of socially-distanced shopping and the seismic shift to online retailing — alongside worries of a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases as relaxations increase,” Staton said.

According to the government’s three-step plan to lift lockdown, from May 13, workers who are unable to work from home can travel to work if their workplace is open. Outdoor markets and car showrooms are allowed to reopen from June 1 in England and all non-essential retailers will be able to reopen in England from June 15.

The government has published new guidance for the retail sector to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards.

(XINHUA)

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UK house prices see largest monthly fall in May since 2009: survey

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Britain’s average house price saw the largest monthly fall in May 2020 since February 2009, as lockdown restriction impacted heavily on housing market amid the COVID-19 pandemic, mortgage lender the Nationwide Building Society said Tuesday.

The average house price across Britain in May was 218,902 pounds (about 275,016 U.S. dollars), dropping by 1.7 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, said the Nationwide in its House Price Indices.

“Housing market activity has slowed sharply as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide‘s chief economist.

Meanwhile, the annual rate of house price growth in May slid to 1.8 percent, down from 3.7 percent in April.

“Behavioural changes and social distancing are likely to impact the flow of housing transactions for some time,” said the mortgage lender in its report, adding that “most viewed the current situation as a temporary pause in the market, with would-be buyers now planning to wait six months on average before looking to enter the market.”

At the same time, the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase plummeted to around 15,800 in April 2020, with nearly 80 percent below the February level, hitting the lowest since the series began in 1993, said a report issued by the Bank of England Tuesday.

“Weakness in the housing market associated with COVID-19 was reflected in weak mortgage market activity in April,” said the contral bank.

“Low transaction levels may still make gauging price trends difficult in the coming months — especially for regional indices, which by their nature have lower sample sizes,” said Gardner.

According to the Nationwide, the medium-term outlook for the housing market remains “highly uncertain” and will highly depend on the performance of the wider economy.

“However, the raft of policies adopted to support the economy, including to protect businesses and jobs, to support peoples’ incomes and keep borrowing costs down, should set the stage for a rebound once the shock passes, and help limit long-term damage to the economy,” said the Nationwide.

(XINHUA)

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China completes first Mount Qomolangma airborne gravity survey

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China announced on Tuesday that it has completed the first high-precision airborne gravity survey for Mount Qomolangma and its surrounding region as the aircraft of the mission safely returned to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

By bringing the complicated gravity survey instruments into the air, the survey will provide data for the region’s geoid surface with centimeter-level accuracy, thus contributing to a more precise measurement of the height of the world‘s highest peak.

This is the first time China has conducted such a survey and it will fill the gap in relevant data, said Chen Bin, chief of the Mount Qomolangma airborne survey project.

An airborne remote-sensing measurement for the region is in progress and will provide decimeter-level three-dimensional outcomes for the region’s topography.

The entire airborne survey is expected to be completed in early June if weather permits, according to Chen.

The aircraft for the gravity survey has been installed with world-class equipment, some of which were domestically-developed, he noted.

The airborne survey is part of China‘s ongoing mission to remeasure Mount Qomolangma, with the final height to be based on a variety of survey data, including data from a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) satellite survey.

(XINHUA)

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Finns believe in authorities far more than social media for COVID-19 info: survey

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Concerning the COVID-19-related news and information, Finns trust the authorities, experts and traditional media more than social media, showed a survey conducted by the University of Helsinki.

The survey, published on Monday, showed that 92 percent of respondents trusted medical experts, who posted information about the pandemic.

More than 70 percent thought that physicians, researchers and the Finnish National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) were the best sources of accurate information.

Confidence in the reliability of traditional news media was also quite strong. The poll showed that around 60 percent of respondents thought that news media were generally reliable, with a higher trust placed in traditional media.

“And the confidence levels were higher during the pandemic than in similar surveys conducted in previous years,” said Janne Matikainen, research director of the survey, in the press release issued by the University of Helsinki on Monday.

According to the poll, the news media received good reviews. About 80 percent of respondents thought that the news media has offered information about how to act during the pandemic and helped them to understand the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The survey also showed that Finns highly believed in the reliability of politicians as sources of information. About 70 percent of respondents considered that the government provided fairly or very useful and reliable sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, social media was not considered an important news source by Finnish residents. Only 20 percent of the respondents considered that information found on social media platforms was important news sources.

According to Matikainen, merely 13 percent of the respondents claimed that discussing the virus on the internet or on social media is quite important for them.

The researcher was surprised about the strong confidence levels in authorities and traditional media, saying “the most surprising thing is that the role of the internet and social media is so low.”

The material of the survey was collected in mid-May of 2020. A total of 1,354 people aged 18-79 responded to the survey.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland has to date confirmed a total of 6,885 COVID-19 infections, of which 26 cases were new. The death toll rose to 318, while at least 5,500 people have recovered.

(XINHUA)

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Sharp downturn in UK manufacturing continues in May: survey

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Despite an eased pace of contraction, Britain’s manufacturing sector continued to see a sharp downturn in May as restrictions caused further widespread disruptions in economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said a report published Monday.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector rose to 40.7 in May, up from a record low of 32.6 in April. Despite the increased level of the PMI, it still signalled a marked deterioration in overall operating conditions, said the report following a joint survey by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

“Those who typically see the glass half empty will note that the UK manufacturing sector remained mired in its deepest downturn in recent memory,” said Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, a London-based global information provider.

The impact by the COVID-19 pandemic were felt “across the manufacturing sector in May”. Rates of contraction in output, new orders and new export business were among the steepest in the survey history across consumer, intermediate and investment goods producers alike, said the report.

“Output, new orders and employment fell sharply again in May as restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 caused further widespread disruptions to economic activity, demand and global supply chains,” added Dobson.

Pockets of growth were generally linked to healthcare-related or personal protective equipment (PPE) products. Some firms also noted that inflows of new business showed signs of restarting as clients began the process of reopening and the lockdown restrictions implemented both in Britain and overseas are gradually easing, said the report.

“Even with the slight uplift in May’s sentiment as firms began to recover from the initial shock and looked to the future, optimism remained depressed,” said Duncan Brock, group director at the CIPS, a UK-based global procurement and supply organisation.

“Worries over safety for returning staff and repairs to broken supply chains will be uppermost in business minds, and are obstacles to be overcome before real recovery can begin,” said Brock, adding that uncertainty remained the “watchword for the months ahead.”

(XINHUA)

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Vietnam’s factory activity contracts at lower space: survey

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Vietnam Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which measures the economic health of the country’s manufacturing sector, jumped to 42.7 in May from 32.7 in April, signaling a much softer decline in business conditions, a report compiled by the London-based global information provider IHS Markit revealed on Monday.

Disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic led to a sixth successive monthly decline in manufacturing production, said the report, noting that the fall was much softer than seen in April as some firms resumed operations.

Similar trends were seen with regards to new orders, with the rate of contraction remaining rapid but easing from the low seen in April. Some respondents highlighted a particular weakness in demand for new export orders.

Supply-chain disruption due to COVID-19 remained a key feature of the survey in May, with vendor delivery times lengthening markedly again. Panelists also reported particular difficulty in securing imported items.

However, with COVID-19 brought under control in Vietnam, there was tentative optimism among manufacturers that production would increase over the coming year.

“The success Vietnam has had in bringing the COVID-19 outbreak in the country under control means that the economy can begin along the road to recovery,” commented Andrew Harker, economics director at IHS Markit, noting that the return to growth will likely be gradual, with little support coming from export markets in the near-term at least as the pandemic continues to affect large parts of the world.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates an expansion of the manufacturing sector compared to the previous month, below 50 represents a contraction, while 50 indicates no change.

(XINHUA)

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Over 90 pct of Israeli startup companies face funding slowdown: survey

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Over 90 percent of Israeli startup companies face a funding slowdown, even though the Israeli economy has returned to almost full activity, according to a new survey released by the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) on Sunday.

The survey, conducted by the IIA and Israel Advanced Technologies Industries (IATI) organization, shows that even after returning to normalcy following the decline in COVID-19 morbidity, Israeli startups still experience complex difficulties.

In the survey, about 40 percent of hi-tech companies in the process of raising funds have been notified by investors that they are halting the process, while over 50 percent noted that the process is progressing slowly.

Also, 51 percent of the companies requested additional funds from current investors, and of these, only 19 percent reported receiving the extra support.

According to the survey, 42 percent of the companies have applied or consider requesting a loan from a financial entity because of the crisis.

Half of companies already asked for a loan reported that their banks denied their requests, while 30 percent have yet to receive an answer.

About 54 percent of the companies reported that if the current conditions continue, their operations will be discontinued within six months.

Also, about one quarter of the companies reported laying off employees, with 14 percent of all companies reported wide-scale layoffs of over 15 percent of workforce.

This trend is especially apparent in software and communications companies, with about 19 percent of businesses in the field have announced wide-scale layoffs.

About 57 percent of the companies have reported plans for extensive layoffs in the next six months if current situation continues, while 71 percent reported having frozen hiring processes.

In addition, more than a third of companies reported putting employees on leave of absence, while one-third of companies confirmed extensive wage cuts of more than 15 percent of salary.

As many as 60 percent of survey respondents noted that they are considering applying for the assistance offered by the IIA.

The survey was conducted among 414 hi-tech Israeli companies, of which most employ no more than 50 employees.

(XINHUA)

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Survey shows 75 pct of schools in rural Zambia not ready to reopen

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About three-quarters of primary schools in rural areas of Zambia are not ready to reopen on June 1 because they lack COVID-19 protective materials, a survey conducted by two local organizations and released on Saturday has revealed.

Pupils in examination classes are expected to return to school next Monday after they were closed in March due to the outbreak of the pandemic.

A survey conducted by the National Action for Quality Education in Zambia and the Medical for Quality Healthcare in Zambia has revealed that primary schools in rural areas were not ready to reopen.

In a statement, the two organizations said the schools will need one or two weeks more before they reopen.

The survey monitored 631 rural schools between May 22 and 28.

The survey found out that 90 percent of schools in rural areas lacked sanitizers, had no masks, temperature recorders, were not disinfected and had poor sources of water.

“We are of the considered position that allowing rural primary schools to reopen when they are clearly not ready would be going against the very good and plain guidelines put in place by the government to fight COVID-19,” the release said.

But Jobbics Kalumba, Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary said the ministry has put everything in place to ensure that schools reopen.

He said schools were ready to observe the guidelines put in place by health officials.

“We cannot fail to open schools just because one of two schools have not met the criteria. The schools are ready. We have been on the ground,” he said.

The schools are expected to provide free masks to all the pupils.

(XINHUA)

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Pandemic changes Germans’ eating habits: survey

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Thirty-nine percent of Germans agree that agriculture has become “more important” as a result of the coronavirus crisis, said the official nutrition report for 2020 published by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) on Friday.

“Coronavirus is also changing the everyday diet of Germans,” said Food and Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner. “A new awareness of food has emerged and also of the work of those who produce it.”

Especially teenagers and young adults in Germany believe that the agricultural sector has become more important since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a survey conducted by the opinion research institute Forsa among 1,000 German citizens.

As a result of restaurant and canteen closures, almost a third of Germans have been preparing meals themselves during the coronavirus crisis, while almost as many have had meals with family members more frequently, according to the BMEL.

“Whether the new enthusiasm for cooking will be permanent or is merely due to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, we will only be able to judge later,” said Kloeckner.

Assessing the general eating habits of Germans, the BMEL noted that “variety was on the plates.” A large majority (70 percent) of Germans eat vegetables and fruits every day, while dairy products, such as yoghurt or cheese, are on the daily menu for 64 percent.

Meat consumption in Germany is continuing to fall slightly. Twenty-six percent of those surveyed eat meat on a daily basis. In the first survey conducted for the official nutrition report in 2015, the respective figure was 34 percent, according to the BMEL.

More than half of the Germans surveyed described themselves as so-called flexitarians — people who eat meat but occasionally avoid meat consumption deliberately. At the same time, the number of vegetarians and vegans in Germany remained unchanged at 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively, according to the BMEL.

Almost half of those questioned have bought vegetarian or vegan alternatives to animal products at least once. According to the BMEL, 75 percent of those who bought meat-free alternatives were “curious,” while nearly 50 percent also chose these products for animal welfare reasons.

(XINHUA)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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