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Lagos PDP flags off COVID-19 relief outreach

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By Joshua Timi

The Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State has rolled out relief initiatives to alleviate the sufferings of indigent Lagosians,as the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic persists,afflicting both the high and mighty in the nations of the world.

Kickstarting the first phase of the scheme,Engineer Adedeji Doherty,the Lagos State PDP Chairman notes that the lapses observed in the state government’s relief scheme, where several indigent Lagosians were clearly not reached necessitated the initiative.

 Doherty said rather than just faulting the inadequacy in the state government’s palliatives arrangement, the party choose to attend to the needs of those deliberately  schemed out of its scope of coverage.

He  said,”We saw what the State Government was doing and believed that we could not wait and criticized whatever they were doing wrongly or rightly at this time but to assist both our party members, sympathisers and general residents in various communities.
 “Who were deliberately being sidelined in the distribution of the government managed relief/ palliative scheme .

“As Chairman of the PDP I wrote two open letters to the Governor, regarding this abnormality and he responded by saying that the process was hijacked by some elements in his administration”.

Speaking about the modalities in place to sustain the relief plan, tagged “ LAGOS PDP COVID-19 RELIEF INITIATIVE “,especially to the deliberately sideline frame in the state.
Doherty stated that the relief is meant for distribution across 57 LGAs/LCDAs in the state.

“We went on to create a whatsapp platform of about 100 members made up of personal friends and Party faithfuls, who I pleaded with and finally got them to contribute towards assisting most of those that might have been sidelined along the line.

“The relief initiative has the following materials as donated by our donors;Noodles,Fredh baked Bread and vegetable oil are distributed on a House to House basis! While some were enough to reach all the LCDAs some materials couldn’t .

“We are of the opinion that Government would and can not reach everyone anyway, even if the process was perfect and as such we had to ignore our party differences and take part in achieving the goal the Government had set for itself and the state as a whole. 

“Our program is still ongoing as we are still receiving more relief materials and we are getting ready to do the next round of distribution.

To ensure probity, the Lagos PDP boss hinted that all payments were and is being made directly to Honeywell Flour mills but PDP relief written as payee including the donors name . 

” We had also instructed our Coordinators to be fair in the distribution of the food items which we delivered to them with the assistance of the Nigerian Peace Corp, who helped monitor the distribution and supervised the Social Distancing order which was put in place by Government. 

 “However we believe that this would and cannot also be enough to go round and that is why we intend  to make it an ongoing program, even after the COVID 19 Crises is over .” Doherty said. 

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HEALTH

“Nigeria to increase effort in fighting sub-standard products”

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By Michael Dibie

Minister of state for Health, Joseph Ekumankama has reiterated that the government of Nigeria will continue to fight the activities of sub-standard products in the health sector which has over the years impeded operations in the industry. The minister made the promise at the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP)/ The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) scientific workshop held in Abuja.

According to the minister, the government will increase its effort in fighting the menace through the activities of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON),

“Sub-standard product has been a fight we have been fighting for years and we will continue to do so, it may not stop today but we will support the agency to continue to fight it, he said”

Speaking on the workshop, he notated that auspicious event is aimed at bringing together critical stakeholders within the pharmaceutical sector to review the existing capacities for the local production of API in Nigeria and develop strategies to accelerate the process in the West African Region, leveraging on the African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA).

According to the minister, there are still significant barriers to access to quality medicines and healthcare provision to the Nigeria population.

“The situation where there is no single pharmaceutical company that produces any APIs or pharmaceutical excipients locally is no longer tolerable. All of the APIs used by the industries in Nigeria are imported from India, China, the USA and Germany, he added”

In a keynote address, the Director General (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Peter Adigwe said that NIPRD has proffered solutions both national and international willing to bring in innovations that can help Africa and taking Nigeria projects to the next level.

“We train people in the area of traditional medicines through harnessing local ingredients and creating jobs. Our multi-billion Laboratory is almost completed and new innovations in the health sector are being looked into in other to access new ways or avenues of doing things, he added’
He also noted that NIPRD will continue to focus on innovative projects for the people that will encourage job creation and access to quality health delivery

President of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists, Prof. Cecilia Igwilo called on developed countries to support the sector in getting all the active ingredients from the research table into the pilot table to production. She urged the agencies to partner for developmental research projects.

‘If we have active ingredients, we want to push 1-3, we must make sure that we patted that through the proper organization so that it will be there for the next 10 years depending on the duration in other to recover and ensure that no other person does what we are doing, she said”

Speaking on the effect of the Covid-19 on Africa, Chief of Party, USP, MOPA ESUGA said. The African continent was worst hit by scarcity of essential medication and needed medical supplies on account of export bans placed by India and China.

According to him, the manufacture of APIs is still at a modest level in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa taking the lead.
“I believe my role today is not just about the science of API manufacturing but agenda-setting that should galvanize the key stakeholders towards strategies that make for the manufacture of APIs in the West Africa sub-region”

It should be noted that in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where the overall pharmaceutical market size is worth US$ 20 billion annually, the production of life-saving medicines is furthermore concentrated in very few countries: 50 per cent of pharmaceutical manufacturing takes place in South Africa and an additional 40 per cent in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda combined.

The overall African Pharmaceutical sector is worth US$ 30 billion per annum. However, the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in Africa contributes to only 25-30 per cent of the continent’s needs.

NIPRD is a Federal Government Parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Health. The institute was designated a center of Excellence in the African sub-region in research and development of drugs and vaccines, phytomedicines, and diagnostic towards improving the health and well-being of Nigerians and mankind.

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HEALTH

“This is why you may have contacted Omicron without knowing” -WHO

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The Omicron COVID-19 variant is more transmissible than the Delta strain and reduces vaccine efficacy but causes less severe symptoms according to early data, the World Health Organisation said Sunday.

The Delta variant, first identified in India earlier this year, is responsible for most of the world’s coronavirus infections.

But South Africa’s discovery of Omicron – which has a large number of mutations — last month prompted countries around the world to impose travel bans on southern African countries and reintroduce domestic restrictions to slow its spread.

The WHO said Omicron had spread to 63 countries as of December 9. 

The faster transmission was noted in South Africa, where Delta is less prevalent, and in Britain, where Delta is the dominant strain.

But it stressed that a lack of data meant it could not say if Omicron’s rate of transmission was because it was less prone to immune responses, higher transmissibility, or a combination of both.

Early evidence suggests Omicron causes “a reduction in vaccine efficacy against infection and transmission”, the WHO said in a technical brief.

“Given the current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” it added.

Omicron infections have so far caused “mild” illness or asymptomatic cases, but the WHO said the data was insufficient to establish the variant’s clinical severity.

South Africa reported Omicron to the WHO on November 24. Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer/BioNTech last week said three doses of their jabs were still effective against Omicron.

Countries with sufficient vaccine supplies such as Britain and France have encouraged their populations to receive a third “booster” jab to fight Omicron.

(AFP) 

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HEALTH

WHO joins forces with FIFA, Quatar to launch #ACTogether campaign on CVID-19

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Using the platform of the first FIFA Arab Cup™, the World Health Organization (WHO), FIFA and the Qatari authorities are launching the #ACTogether campaign to call for teamwork and unity to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.

A large proportion of the global population remains susceptible to infection and at an increased risk of severe disease and death. Vaccine inequity persists in many parts of the world; of the nearly 7.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered globally by mid-November 2021, only 0.6% had been administered in low‑income countries. The WHO is emphasizing the need to scale up access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, through support to the global Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator equity initiative, as well as the importance of strict adherence to public health measures.

FIFA will utilize football’s substantial platform during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ with a series of videos for broadcast, both in-stadium and around Doha. Team captains will also show their support for the message, while each participating member association will have assets to share with its fans via its social and digital platforms. The #ACTogether awareness initiative was first rolled out during the last edition of the FIFA Club World Cup™ in Qatar in February 2021 and its latest iteration stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe and we all have our roles to play in sharing that message. Health comes first, and through football, we can reinforce the message that high infection and death rates will persist worldwide as long as there is inequitable access to tools to fight the pandemic. Teamwork is key to that and that’s why we are standing together with the WHO, the Qatar Ministry of Public Health and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and call for everyone to #ACTogether and lay the foundations for a healthy FIFA World Cup in 2022.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant underlines the importance of global solidarity and working together to defeat the pandemic. I welcome the strong support from Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, FIFA, players, spectators and partners to support this vital message on the occasion of the FIFA Arab Cup. Now, more than ever, we need to facilitate equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests, and encourage everyone to follow public health measures. Fully funding the ACT Accelerator will help make the ambition of ending the acute phase of the pandemic a reality.”

Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health, said: “The Ministry is proud to be partnered with FIFA and WHO to promote global collaboration and ensure the safety and health of all. While the pandemic remains managed in Qatar, the threat of the pandemic is still present around the world, and unfortunately access to the tools to defeat the virus remain limited for many countries.”

Her Excellency noted that just as the players in the FIFA Arab Cup will experience a level playing field on the pitch in Qatar, the world needs to ensure a level playing field exists for getting vaccines, treatments and tests where they are needed most. She called on members of the public to continue to follow hygiene, social distancing and other preventive measures, and expressed her delight to have the chance to promote this vital message at the Arab Cup.

Mr Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said: “The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the next mega-event to take place in a COVID-19 world. As organizers, the health and safety of all participants and fans is our number one priority, and our support for #ACTogether is an integral part of this commitment. Working closely with the Ministry of Public Health, the WHO and FIFA, we have no doubt that this campaign will contribute to ensuring that the tournament will be both safe and secure, and we look forward to bringing the world together, both in person and digitally, to celebrate their common humanity and passion for football.”

In using the inaugural FIFA Arab Cup 2021 to share the message, FIFA and its partners are underlining their commitment to both fair play and equity in protecting public health, reflecting core values on the pitch, all while staying true to the main public health measures.

The #ACTogether campaign is being supported by the lead partner agencies of the ACT Accelerator initiative: CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, UNICEF, Unitaid, Wellcome, the WHO, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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