WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo made the call in a statement posted on its website.
It said WHO urged international community and countries in Africa to take concrete actions to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, as researchers around the world race to find effective protection against the virus.
The statement quoted, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying “it is clear that as the international community comes together to develop safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19.
“Equity must be a central focus of these efforts.
“Too often, African countries end up at the back of the queue for new technologies, including vaccines. These life-saving products must be available to everyone, not only those who can afford to pay.”
WHO and partners launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to speed up the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
WHO is collaborating with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to ensure a fair allocation of vaccines to all countries.
The collaboration is aimed at delivering two billion doses globally for high-risk populations, including one billion for low and middle-income countries.
According to the statement, the African Union has endorsed the need for Africa to develop a framework to actively engage in the development and access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Countries can take steps now that will strengthen health systems, improve immunisation delivery, and pave the way for the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“These include: mobilising financial resources; strengthening local vaccine manufacturing, and regulatory, supply and distribution systems; building workforce skills and knowledge; enhancing outreach services; and listening to community concerns to counter misinformation.’’
Meanwhile, the WHO regional office, on its official Twitter account @WHOAFRO said Africa had recorded over 520,000 confirmed cases as at July 9, 2020.
“There are over 520,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent – with more than 250,000 recoveries and 12,000 deaths,’’ it said.
The regional office stated that South Africa has 224,665 cases and 3,602 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 30,249 confirmed cases and 684 deaths, while Ghana has 22,822 confirmed cases and 129 deaths.
It added that Gambia, Seychelles and Lesotho were countries currently with the lowest confirmed cases in the region as Gambia had 55 confirmed cases with three deaths.
Seychelles had 94 reported cases with no death while Lesotho had 134 reported cases and one death.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
More than 1bn school children worldwide affected by COVID-19, says UN Chief
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the largest educational disruption in history that has affected more than 1 billion school students worldwide, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday.
“In mid-July, schools were closed in more than 160 countries, affecting over 1 billion students,” Guterres said in a video address, marking the launch of a new global policy brief on Education and COVID-19.
It is true that the schooling crisis existed long before the pandemic, as around 250 million children were out of school worldwide, but COVID-19 amplified it and brought the world to the edge of what Guterres described as a “generational catastrophe.”
While commending efforts to keep up education via distant learning, the UN chief said that many students stayed out of reach, for example, learners with disabilities, those in minority of disadvantaged communities, displaced and refugee students.
The schooling crisis has, in turn, had a knock-on effect on child nutrition, child marriage, gender equality and fair distribution of unpaid care work, among other things.
As elaborated by Guterres, the proposed brief addresses the crisis management through four steps, including the reopening of schools, increase of education funding, expansion of outreach, and modernisation of education through boost of investments in digital literacy and infrastructure.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Red Cross calls for grassroots sensitisation on activities in Niger
The Niger chapter of the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) has called on its Bida Division in the state to take its sensitisation engagements to the grassroots to educate them on what the society stands for.
Alhaji Hamisu Jankaro, the state Chairman, NRCS made the call on Tuesday in Bida during a two-day induction course organised the executive and governing board of its Bida division.
“You have to build a stronger Red cross by sensitising people in your area about our activities and what we stand for,” he said.
Jankaro said that the measure would enable the people to know more about the NRCS and also recognise the society.
He said that a good public perception of the society would help to ease the responsibility of the members of the NRCS in the area.
According to him, the National Headquarters of the society has been training and retraining volunteers in the state for effective service delivery.
He noted that the induction course organised for the executive and governing board was to let them know what Red cross was all about and their statutory responsibilities.
Alhaji Abdulmumuni Madami, Chairman, Bida Division of the Red cross, thanked the state branch of the society for organising the course.
Madami promised to work as a team for the development of the division and Red cross.
In a presentation, Malam Abdullahi Iliyasu, one of the resource persons advised participants against talking to journalists without permission.
Iliyasu, who is also the state Branch Communication Coordinator (BCC) of the society, urged them to discharge their duties in line with the seven basic fundamental principles of the society.
Dr Aliyu Babadoko, Divisional Adviser on Disaster Management Control of the society, said that the training had exposed them to the rudiments of the Red cross.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the division had 1,000 members and volunteers in Bida Local Government Area of the state.
Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Expert decries deficiency in management of students with disabilities
Dr Badewa Adejugbe-Williams, an expert in the management of students with diverse physical and neurodevelopment disabilities, has decried the dearth in the educational management of students with various disabilities in the country.
Adejugbe-Williams, who is the founder, Royal School of Education Therapy Foundation (RSETF), an Abuja based school for children with disability like autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, stated this at a news conference, on Tuesday in Abuja.
She said that as part of efforts to address the deficiencies, the foundation had concluded plans to train educators and specialists to deal with variety of students and their needs.
She disclosed that the foundation would partner with the Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo to achieve its objective.
Adejugbe-Williams, also revealed that the programme had been approved by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to offer series of one-year online Special Education Teacher Certificate Courses.
“The Royal School of Educational Therapy Foundation (RSETF) is aware of the skills deficiency in the educational management of the ordinary student across the country.
“This deficiency is greater emphasised when dealing with students with disabilities who require educational specialists to help their learning process, and educational management to help them fulfil their innate potential.
“With the absence of educational specialists, who understand the issues at play when dealing with students with diverse learning styles and abilities, there is the very likelihood that these students would eventually drop out of school, get stalled in their educational progress, be largely ignored, or fall through the gaps.
” RSETF recognises the need to train educators to deal with variety of students and student-needs and therefore partner with the Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, with the aim of promoting school effectiveness and improved learning outcomes for all pupils, especially those with diverse physical and neurodevelopment disabilities in Nigeria,” she said.
She explained that the partnership programmes are in Regular Special Education Teacher Certificate, Advanced Special Education Teacher Certificate and International Special Education Teacher Certificate.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Iran to fine infringement of coronavirus measures
Iran’s coronavirus crisis unit on Tuesday said it would introducte fines for infringements of coronavirus measures such as wearing of face masks, the authorities announced on Tuesday.
“It is unacceptable that some people still refuse to wear a mask in spite rising infection numbers, putting their fellow citizens at risk,” Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said.
He said that the ministry was fully in support of the crisis unit’s plan to sanction defaulters.
“Since the end of July, around 200 people have died from the coronavirus per day, due to the high number of new infections.
“Around 2,700 new cases were reported on Tuesday,“Harirchi said.
Meanwhile, the Iranian medical association has also warned of staff shortages.
Overall, there have been a total of 314,786 cases and 17,617 deaths related to Covid-19.
There have also been disagreements within the Iranian Government regarding August’s Ashura festival, which routinely draws huge crowds.
While clerics and Rowhani insist the festival will take place, experts said new infections would be unavoidable if the celebrations went ahead as usual.
However, as cancellation seemed unlikely, social distancing rules and mandatory mask wearing are to be enforced at the religious ceremony marking the death of Hussein, the third Shiite Imam.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)