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Nigeria Announces 112 New COVID-19 Infections

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The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 112 new infections of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Nigeria had so far tested 705,809 people since the first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported on Feb. 27 this year.

The NCDC, in a statement on its verified website on Saturday, said that with the 112 new infections recorded in 14 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FC T) the total confirmed cases nationwide have jumped to 64,996.

According to the centre, of the 112 new cases FCT and Oyo State had 27 each, followed by Bayelsa and Rivers with nine infections each and Delta with seven infections.

Edo, Kaduna and Ogun have five each; Anambra, Katsina, Ondo, Osun and Plateau reported three each; Niger two and Kano had one.

On the sunny side the NCDC stated that 93 coronavirus patients who were treated in some of the isolation centres were discharged in the past 24 hours.

It also said that since the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria 61,029 of the 64,996 confirmed coronavirus patients have been treated and discharged in isolation centres while 1,163 patients had succumbed to the disease nationwide.

The centre said that it had activated a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre at Level III to coordinate the national response activities in the country.

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Changing Attitudes Towards Disability in Africa

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We are all an accident or misfortune away from incapacitation! Worldwide, the most common disability in people under the age of 50 is depression, followed by hearing disorders and visual impairments.

Welcome to the world of many.

WHO records show that over a billion persons in the world have some form of disability. Depression is a common mental disorder with about 264 million persons suffering significant difficulties in functioning due to various forms of depression. A condition so exhausting, it numbs the mind and demobilises the senses. 

We are, at our finest when our faculties work at best and in sync. Consider, however, that sometimes, for no reason of physical exhaustion, breathing could become difficult or problematic…an overwhelming feeling of despair or inadequacy hits hard due to the many vicissitudes of life – heartbreaks, out of work, emotional meltdown, burnouts et cetera.

In no time, pessimism sets in with a despondent lack of activity sucking every modicum of energy in you. At such times, the teeth of suicidal impulses may flash here and there, making the victim less beneficial to himself or society.

Having restricted mental or physical functioning as a consequence of injury or illnesses are easily noticeable in the forms of blindness, amputation, paraplegia, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and other forms of disabilities, mental and emotional forms of disabilities have more persons in its net.

From those suffering multiple traumas to those who wake up daily distraught –apologising, rationalising, explaining their existence or shortcomings to others between hysteria or through self-talk.

They struggle with private internal dialogues through faint whispers or silent incoherent thoughts that are so incapacitating, they feel trapped.  

Often used to denote physical impairment, cognitive impairment, sensory damage, intellectual impairment, mental illness, and various types of chronic diseases, disability may be present from birth or occur during a person’s lifetime.

People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to deficiencies in health care services. They may experience greater vulnerability to secondary conditions, co-morbid conditions, age-related difficulties. Many have been found to engage in risky health behaviours making them more susceptible to premature death.

They are more prone to ulcers, fragility in bones, UTIs, co-morbid conditions, premature ageing, and higher rates and risks of engaging in unhealthy lifestyle due to physical or mental inactivity. People with mental health disorders and intellectual impairments have been shown to have a lower life expectancy.

Recent statistics show that people with disabilities often receive less education and have disadvantaged living conditions. These may include insufficient food, lack of access to safe water, poor housing, and sanitation.

This exposes disabled individuals to the highest risks for infectious and non-infectious diseases.

Over time, due to negative attitudes and misunderstanding about the significance of their handicapping conditions, disabled persons have been stigmatised and underrepresented.  

Negative attitudes revolving around children with disabilities have seen many denied of education or employment especially in developing nations of the world.

Worthy of note is the establishment of the African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI)established in 1988 in Harare. A dedicated agency of the AU which coordinates and reports on all matters relating to disability in Africa.

Since then, heads of government, civil liberties organisations, NGOs, continue to partner with ARI. These bodies include Pan African Federation of Disabled Persons (PAFOD), the African Union of the Blind (AFUB), and other regional organisations of persons with disabilities. 

Disability inclusion and catalysation of positive actions must clear the harmful perceptions which suggest that disabilities were linked to some divine curses or family sins. Many are perceived as serving penalties due to gross disobedience to God’s commandments; ancestral violation of societal norms or other alleged offenses against gods of the land; village witches and wizards; inherited curses from societal taboos like ‘arguing and fighting with the elders’; possession by evil spirits among others.

In October, 32-year-old Naddy Zialor made history as the first Seychellois living with a disability to be sworn into the country’s National Assembly.  Zialor was born with cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affects movement and causes involuntary spasms. This is one of such bold steps towards inclusivity.

These absurd assumptions and perceptions are unreliable and mostly preposterous as they make access to support more difficult for victims of disability. Most persons living with disabilities need medical rehabilitation or some forms of assistive devices like hearing aids, prostheses, and wheelchairs.

As we mark the international day of persons with disabilities, we must uphold and domesticate conventions on the rights of persons with disabilities, continue to create programs to overcome these perceptions in order to promote, protect the vulnerable group. 

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UNICEF Seeks $6.4Bn For 300 Million People Needing Humanitarian Aid

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday issued an emergency fund appeal of $6.4bn to reach 300 million people, including more than 190 million children, in crises-hit areas in Africa, Asia and Central America.

The funds, the organisation largest-ever emergency fund appeal, will provide essential aide support and services through the end of 2021.

This appeal is a 35 per cent increase over funds requested for 2020, and a reflection of expanding humanitarian needs globally amidst protracted crises and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When a devastating pandemic coincides with conflict, climate change, disaster and displacement, the consequences for children can be catastrophic,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“Today we are facing a child rights emergency in which COVID-19 and other crises are combining to deprive children of their health and wellbeing. This unprecedented situation demands a similarly unprecedented response. We are urging our donors to join us so that together we can help the world’s children get through this darkest of times and prevent a lost generation.”

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lives of children, particularly the most vulnerable. Routine immunization services for children have been disrupted in more than 60 countries, while nearly a quarter of a billion students worldwide are still affected by COVID-19 school closures. Economic instability is disrupting essential services and making it harder for families to make ends meet and increasing the risk of domestic and gender-based violence.

Meanwhile, new humanitarian crises emerged in 2020. The conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has left 2.8 million people in urgent need of assistance. In Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, more than 425,000 people, including 191,000 children, have been displaced. Reports of killings, abductions, recruitment and use of children as soldiers are on the rise. In addition, powerful storms devastated vulnerable communities in Central America and East Asia (namely the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia), affecting 2.6 million and 13.4 million children respectively.

At the same time, the pandemic has worsened protracted emergencies in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela. This coming March will mark 10 years of conflict in Syria and six years of conflict in Yemen, leaving nearly 17 million children in need of humanitarian assistance in these two countries alone.

The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years, threatening food security, increasing water scarcity, forcing people from their homes and increasing the risk of conflict and public health emergencies. An estimated 36 million children, more than ever before, are living in displacement due to conflict, violence and disaster. Malnutrition among children is on the rise in countries around the world.

As part of its Humanitarian Action for Children which sets out the agency’s 2021 appeal, UNICEF plans to reach:

  • 149 million women and girls and 7.4 million children with disabilities;
  • 6.3 million children with treatment for severe acute malnutrition;
  • 27.4 million children with measles vaccinations;
  • 45 million people with access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene;
  • 19.2 million children and caregivers with access to mental health and psychosocial support;
  • 17 million children and women with access to gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions;
  • 93.3 million children with formal or non-formal education, including early learning; and
  • 9.6 million households with cash assistance.

As part of its response to COVID-19, UNICEF is putting its massive supply and procurement operation behind rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, with a focus on equity to reach the most vulnerable children and families. This work includes coordinating with major global airlines and freight providers to step up efforts to deliver vaccines to more than 92 countries around the world as soon as vaccines become available. The agency is also co-leading efforts to help governments’ readiness to deploy the vaccines – including by prepositioning syringes, mapping out cold chain equipment, and tackling misinformation.

The top five appeals by funding requirements for 2021 are for Syrian refugees (US$1.0 billion), Yemen (US$576.9 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (US$384.4 million), Syria (US$330.8 million) and Venezuela (US$201.8 million).

Putting national and local organizations at the center of humanitarian operations is a key strategy in UNICEF’s humanitarian response. Key results in 2020 were made possible by UNICEF’s partnerships, including with humanitarian country teams, UN agencies, civil society and non-governmental organizations, national and local responders and resource partners. Notable results include:

  • 1.5 million children treated for severe acute malnutrition;
  • 3.4 million children vaccinated against measles;
  • 3 billion people reached with COVID-19 messaging on prevention and access to services;
  • 1.8 million health care workers provided with personal protective equipment;
  • 45.5 million households benefiting from new or additional social assistance measures provided by governments to respond to COVID-19 with UNICEF support;
  • 2.5 million COVID-19 test kits provided to 56 countries.

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COVID-19: AU Targets Vaccinating 60% Of Africans In 2 Years

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COVID-19 Vaccine tests has been successful in different regions of the world/ Shutterstock

In the next two to three years, the African Union is targeting the vaccination of 60% of Africa’s population, against COVID-19.

This was revealed on Thursday by the disease control group of the umbrella body for countries in Africa.

Africa, with a current population of more than 1.3bn people has recorded at least 2.2million COVID-19 cases. The worst-hit country in the continent is South Africa, which has almost 800,000 cases and has recorded more than 21,000 deaths.

While the UN has said it will collaborate with pharmaceutical companies and international organisations to make vaccines available to some African countries, the timing of vaccination has become a major concern.

“We hope that for this to be meaningful, our 60% must be reached in the next two to three years. We should be deliberate in this,” said John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mr Nkengasong warned African leaders about the need to start the vaccinations in good time, in order to prevent the disease from becoming endemic.

Read: Kenya Looks To China For COVID-19 Vaccine

He added that there are also logistics problems being faced by the continent, with how to keep vaccines’ cold chains viable also posing a challenge.

“We have a window from now to January and February to keep strengthening our systems, which is the refrigeration,” said Nkengasong.

Africa is one of the least coronavirus-infected regions of the world, but there have been fears about the resurgence of the disease, with new outbreaks recorded in Kenya and South Africa.

An average of 3,000 daily cases being recorded in South Africa, while Kenyan health workers said the increase in the number of cases is affecting its medical systems.

Companies like Pfizer and BioNTech have recorded successes with their COVID-19 trials, with the stronger economies of the world already booking significant doses for their populations.

African countries have been charged to look inwards in their search for a vaccine and also, in the improvement of their health systems.

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