Established in 1948, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) which priority is public health; contributing to promoting a healthy population across the world.
WHO engages in tackling health crisis among member-states of UN of which Nigeria is a member.
Nigeria is a direct beneficiary of the activities of WHO and particularly the north eastern part of Nigeria, where millions were affected by the insurgency, has been singled out for specific intervention.
Cholera is one of the health challenges being tackled by WHO in the area which is prone to epidemics in view of the current challenges.
So far, more than 377, 000 people have benefitted from the first ever cholera vaccination campaign in Adamawa State, facilitated by WHO.
Of recent, the frontline states of north eastern Nigeria, comprising Adamawa, Borno and Yobe recovering from the crisis resulting from the insurgency have had to battle cholera epidemic.
This has prompted WHO and other partners to respond to the challenges of containing the fatality of the epidemic.
In Adamawa, particularly in Mubi area, the timely intervention of WHO-coordinated response to the outbreak of cholera in May, when health workers were on strike, was the stitch in time that really saved many lives by bringing the fatality ratio of the epidemic from 17 per cent to 2.2 per cent.
WHO engaged 39 health workers on ad hoc arrangement to support the immediate response to the outbreak pending when the strike was called off.
The organisation also engaged 107 Community Health Champions (CHC) for house-to-house case search, risk communication, aqua tab distribution and referral of suspected cases for treatment.
Mobile health teams were also deployed to conduct household disinfection of suspected cholera cases.
The WHO’s Mid-Year Report for 2018 indicated that health workers were also engaged by the organisation to geo-coordinate mapping which enabled focused intervention, including disinfecting localised neigbourhoods in Mubi.
To further stem the outbreak which affected Mubi North, Mubi South, Maiha and Hong Local Government Areas of Adamawa, WHO not only activated an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for partners coordination and rapid decision making, it also provided technical supervision for the chlorination of water sources mainly responsible for the outbreak.
In Borno State where the epidemic occured in Kukawa Local Government Area in February, WHO deployed its mobile health team that facilitated early detection and prompt intervention.
As a result of this strategy, 679 cases were detected and treated and as such the Kukawa outbreak was restricted to the vicinity of the town.
In Yobe State, the outbreak occurred in March in Gashua town of Bade Local Government Area where the WHO-trained Rapid Response Team swiftly responded.
The state ministry of health in collaboration with WHO and other partners contained the outbreak which affected 404 people.
Yobe officially declared the outbreak over in June following this concerted response.
Appreciating the interventions from WHO and other partners in containing the cholera outbreak in Adamawa, the state Commissioner of Health, Dr Fatima Atiku, who noted the deadly nature of the epidemic said the collaborative effort was commendable.
She appreciated the benefit of collaborating with WHO in enhancing the health sector capacity in handling outbreaks and control of health challenges.
Atiku noted the engagement of volunteers and town announcers for effective community sensitisation and health education on cholera prevention, engagement of disease surveillance and notification officers for active case finding and surveillance.
She observed that setting up of active toll-free lines for prompt feedback from the public on any observed symptoms related to cholera and other public health issues were some of the many measures supported by WHO in containing the cholera epidemic.
“As a result of this collaborative effort, the case fatality ratio of the outbreak which was 17 per cent as at May 12 was drastically reduced to 1.8 per cent as at June 1.
“Nigeria, no doubt, sincerely appreciates the efforts of our development partners, volunteers and health workers who dedicated their lives to save others affected by the outbreak,’’ Atiku said.
The Director of Public Health in the Adamawa State Ministry of Health who is also the Head of the Emergency Operation Centre, Dr Bwalki Dilli, urged the public to strictly observe cholera preventive and control measures such as drinking clean water and hygienically prepared food intake, hygiene promotion, hand washing with soap and water after defecation and before eating as a lasting solution.
“Media practitioners are also encouraged to scale up broadcast of health promotion messages and programmes that will educate the people on imbibing healthy lifestyle,’’ Dilli said.
A former WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, in his message contained in the organisation’s mid-year report of 2018, noted that the humanitarian crisis in the north east caused by Boko Haram insurgency has continued to make the population vulnerable to disease outbreaks.
He assured the public that WHO would continue to do its best in line with its vision of ensuring access to healthcare by all despite the challenges.
“Although, funds received for planned activities in the first half of 2018 were scarcely enough, WHO continues to appreciate the governments of Nigeria, Japan, Germany, South Korea, among others and agencies like ECHO, USAID, CERF, OFDA and CIDA that have remained steadfast with funding its emergency operations in Nigeria.
“It is, therefore, crucial that donors and partners continue to support WHO to enable comprehensive delivery of life-saving interventions to populations in need,’’ Alemu said.
Indeed, being at the centre of steady improvement in public health, WHO really deserves all the support it can get to continue the humanitarian work in the north eastern part of Nigeria and beyond.
“WHO’s work is about serving people; about serving humanity. It’s about serving people regardless of where they live; be it in developing or developed countries, small islands or big nations, urban or rural settings,” said its Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, while stressing the unique role of the organisation in impacting positively on public health.
With this feat, public analysts note that WHO has lived up to this vision as witnessed in north eastern Nigeria.
Uba writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.
Mitigating Climate Change Effects Via Legislation
Undoubtedly climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity today. Environmental experts also say that Nigeria is vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of the country’s low response capability.
They cautioned that climate change and global warming, if left unchecked, would cause more adverse effects on livelihoods of most Nigerians who are already living in abject poverty.
According to an environmentalist, Oyeniyan Olagunju, Nigeria is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and must, therefore, as a matter of urgency take steps to reduce vulnerability, build resilience and adaptive capacity.
Olagunju said that while climate change constitutes environmental threat of the 21st Century, the current experience, alongside its adversity, has left Nigeria with no better option than to seek immediate measures to adapt and mitigate impacts.
According to him, climate change has negatively affected Nigerian economy, with various observable impacts, ranging from significant reduction in agricultural productivity to increase the morbidity and mortality rates.
“The energy sector is not left out, because climate change has impacted the hydropower plants which are sources of electricity for the country.
“Others like the transportation, tourism and manufacturing sectors are affected which in turn pose threat to the overall economy,’’ Olagunju said.
He said that a study conducted by the Department for International Development (DFID), confirmed that climate change would cost Nigeria between six and 30 per cent of its GDP by 2050, with estimated loss of between 100 billion dollars and 460 billion dollars.
“Currently, the erosion of low-lying coastal and non-coastal regions of Nigeria results in persistent buildings collapse, with attendant loss of lives.
“Of important concern also are the drying lakes in Nigeria, especially the Lake Chad, which is at the junction of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger, as a valid reference point,’’ Olagunju said.
A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Analysis and Management revealed that by 2020, Nigeria stands to lose 11 per cent of its GDP to climate change in absence of an aggressive climate policy to sustain the social and economic development in the country.
Rep. Sam Onuigbo, the lawmaker representing Ikwuano /Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency of Abia State, in the House of Representatives, said that there was need to domesticate global instruments, in order to combat the effects climate change in Nigeria.
Onuigbo expressed worry over the absence of a legal framework on climate change, which he identified as critical for the conservation of nature and protection of the country’s natural resources and environment.
He also expressed dismay that the Climate Change Bill, which he sponsored while he was the Chairman, House Committee on Climate Change, during the 8th National Assembly, did not receive presidential assent after its passage.
“I have not given up on the Climate Change Bill because I have been able to rework it and represent it, and I am happy that the bill has gone through first reading in the House of Representatives,’’ the legislator said.
He expressed optimism that the reintroduced bill would receive presidential assent with a view to aid in mitigating the effects of climate change in the country.
“With the awareness that we all have shown in matters concerning climate change, ecology, and how we can work towards sustainable development, I am optimistic that this time there will be good advisers around Mr President.
“It is important to tell him why it is absolutely important to sign the bill,’’ Onuigbo said.
He emphasised that the bill still focuses on mainstreaming government actions and responses into policy formulation and implementation and the need to establish the national council on climate change.
The lawmaker said that besides proposing for a council, the bill also proposes an agency to drive efforts to checkmate the devastating effects of climate change in the country.
Onuigbo, who is also the Vice-President of Globe International (Africa), promised to work with other legislators to initiate policies and bills that would ensure reduction of ecosystem degradation and Green House Gas emissions.
Globe, is legislators’ organisation that supports parliamentarians to develop legislative response to the challenges posed by development.
Onuigbo, however, pledged to use his position to draw international and national attention to the strengthening of Globe in Nigeria, in order to provide added urgency to the country’s drive to protect the environment.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had made a commitment to the cause by signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on September 22, 2016, “and committing severally in many international discussions that Nigeria must address climate change issues.
“It is hoped that by the end of my tenure, natural capital governance would have been worked into government policies and financial permutations and projections.
“It is also hoped that more attention will be paid to renewable energy sources,’’ Onuigbo said.
He called for increased awareness to sensitise people to understand the need to do away with activities that impact negatively on the environment.
While pointing out the need to do away with non-degradable materials, Onuigbo canvassed for the adoption of improved agricultural systems for both crops and livestock.
A lecturer in the Department of Demography and Social Statistics, Federal University, Birnin Kebbi,Mr Abbani Yakubu, stressed the need for government and relevant stakeholders to extensively fund researches in climate change.
According to him, it is very necessary because climate change affects all.
“It impacts on our daily lives and affects food security, which the government is trying to achieve in the country.
“Research is very integral to solving climate change problems.
“We need to understand the extent to which it is affecting human lives.
“Efficient database management system on climate change occurrence and related events should be developed, in order to ensure effective and timely response to climate change incidents in Nigeria,’’ Yakubu said.
It would be recalled that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels.
In its 2019 seasonal rainfall prediction, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), said that it would be another hot year.
The mean annual variability and trend of rainfall over Nigeria in the last six decades, depicts several inter-annual fluctuations that have been responsible for dry and wet years or extreme climate events, such as droughts and floods in many parts of the country.
NiMet also predicted that, as a result of these climatic conditions, incidences of malaria and other diseases will be higher in areas with temperatures ranging between 18 °C to 32 °C and with humidity above 60 per cent.
“More worrisome is the increasing knowledge that the country will be subject to consistent changes in rainfall and temperatures in the not-so-distant future.
“Hotter and drier conditions would likely exacerbate droughts and heat waves and hamper agricultural production, particularly rain-fed agriculture, which many Nigerians rely on for their livelihoods,’’ a farmer, Mr Ndifereke Akpan, said.
While identifying that agriculture accounts for around 23 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, Akpan said that progress could be hampered if the trend was not checked.
“Unless we take action, these trends are likely to jeopardize hard-won progress.
“Already, climate-induced conflicts are exacerbating fragile security situations, with flashpoints mainly in the middle belt of the country.
“Climate change, therefore, poses a significant threat to Nigeria’s development ambition of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and could stunt and even reverse the progress that has already been made,’’ Akpan said.
With enforceable legislation in place, Nigeria will effectively mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and global warming.
Uwadileke writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.
Lest We Forget Dim Ojukwu
Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a man of reputation and influence, warlord, people’s general and leader died in a London hospital on November 26, 2011 after he was struck with a complicated stroke. He was given a state-cum-military burial on March 2, 2012 by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria. It is now eight years since he took a bow, bade us goodbye and departed this mortal world after he had played his parts in the affairs of the Igbo nation and Nigeria.
Ojukwu was an exceptionally intelligent, dauntless and courageous leader. He was the first Nigerian to be enlisted in the Nigerian military with a Master’s degree, the first African to pass the Joint Services Course at Latimer, England. He was the first military instructor of the Nigerian Army, the first Nigerian Quartermaster-General of the Nigerian Army, the first Military Governor of the Eastern Region and the first regional leader in Nigeria to confront, challenge the Federal Government of Nigeria and prosecuted a war that held Nigeria captive for 30 months over the perceived injustice meted on Ndigbo and the massacre of people of Eastern Nigerian extraction nationwide.
He was a defender, a crusader and advocate of justice, people’s rights and good governance in Nigeria. So, his absence for the past eight years is seriously felt by all who admired his doughty spirit, especially now that the issue of Biafra, a country he attempted to create out of Nigeria, is fully resurrected and is making wave in the world. Who knows what would have been his contribution and moral support to Biafra and its agitators. What would have been his stand on controversial issues such as rural grazing areas (RUGA), restructuring, Ibo presidency in 2023, Python dance which is reported to have claimed many innocent lives of Ndigbo in Umuahia. We missed all that. Infact, we are short-changed by his death.
Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, Ojukwu’s bosom friend and a man who kept the spirit of Biafra alive, said few days after the death of Ojukwu that when he heard that he was stricken with the dreaded stroke, he and some members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) went to his Casabianca residence in Enugu to see him, to commiserate and wish him speed recovery. He said when they got there and saw Ojukwu, he was really in a bad state. He said he hailed him (Ojukwu) as usual with all his intimidating chieftaincy titles, such as Ikemba Nnewi, Dike Dioranma Ndigbo, Eze Igbo Gburugburu and other titles, he did not respond to any. He said he was alarmed. He then joked and told him that he was a handsome man. It was then he responded by asking whether he would be handsome in the coffin. Uwazuruike said that he was shocked and devastated by such a response. Thereafter, he asked Ojukwu what he meant by being handsome in the coffin, there was no response. The MASSOB leader said it was then he knew that Ojukwu would not survive. Ojukwu eventually died in the United Kingdom where he had gone for a medical treatment on November 26, 2011.
Truly, Ojukwu became handsome in the coffin. As a historian, what was paramount in Ojukwu’s mind in his sick bed was how people and history would place or perceive him as regards his involvement in the civil war that claimed millions of lives and destroyed properties worth billions of naira. That was why he asked his friend Uwazuruike whether he would be handsome in the coffin. However, people and history proved kind to him. He was eulogized, idolized, honoured and dramatized while in the coffin. Ojukwu was, indeed, handsome in the coffin.
There was an unprecedented outpouring of affection and admiration for him. There were celebrations everywhere in Nigeria and beyond. Even the truth about the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War and the patriotic roles he played to avert it was told for the first time in 42 years after the end of the war. Everyone who spoke unanimously agreed that he was a man of peace, vision and foresight. They consented that his postulations as enunciated in the Aburi Accord was the finest and the greatest for the unity and development of Nigeria.
They averred that if the then Federal Government had abided by the accord, there wouldn’t have been a civil war and that Nigeria would have been a better place to live in today. The restructuring of the country which Nigerians are clamouring today was a major menu in the Aburi Accord. So, what Ojukwu saw many years back is what Nigerians are seeing and agitating today. What a visionary and foresighted leader? Again, they agreed that he was an enigma, the people’s general and a leader whose exemplary leadership virtues should be emulated by all Nigerians.
He was exonerated from being among the coup plotters nor supported the January 1966 coup that shutdown the corrupt First Republic and led to civil war. He was the commander of the Fifth Battalion of the Nigerian Army stationed in Kano where he succeeded in ensuring that the coup plotters and their cohorts did not infiltrate the. That remarkable achievement earned him the respect and admiration of the then Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, and his subjects. It also earned him an enduring friendship with the Emir and people of Kano.
Ojukwu was honoured by the Nigerian military during his burial. They carried his lifeless body from Abuja to Owerri, Aba, Enugu, Awka and kept vigil throughout the burial. Ojukwu, no doubt, deserved the honour. He brought dignity, honour and prestige to the Nigerian military. Apart from being one of the few Nigerian military officers that built the Nigerian military, Ojukwu brought respect to the force when as a Master’s degree holder (obtained from the prestigious Oxford University in England) and son of a millionaire he joined the military as a lowly ranked soldier.
Before then, the military was largely seen as an institution for school dropouts and wayward children. But Ojukwu’s enlistment erased that erroneous notion and encouraged many educated Nigerians to join the military. So, he deserved whatever honour and respect the Nigerian military accorded him during the burial. He was a great man in all ramifications.
Ojukwu, a charismatic leader, was born in Zungeru, now in Niger State in 1933 to Sir and Lady Louis Philip Odumegwu Ojukwu, the first African millionaire. In 1944, at the tender age of 11, Ojukwu was admitted into the prestigious Kings’ College, Lagos after completing his primary education at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Lagos. And in 1946, two years after, and at the age of 13, the brilliant boy was sent to England where he enrolled in Epsom College, Surrey, to continue and complete his secondary education.
On completion of his secondary education, he was admitted into an elitist Oxford University, United Kingdom. Strong and determined, little Ojukwu shunned the comfort of his millionaire father’s home, ignored the devastating British cold weather, strange environment and ubiquitious white faces, persevered and graduated with a Master’s degree in Modern History.
He returned to Nigeria in 1956 and joined the civil service of the colonial government of the then Eastern Region as a district officer. A year after, precisely in 1957, the restless Ojukwu left the civil service and joined the Nigerian Army; thus becoming one of the first university graduates to be enlisted in the Nigerian military. There, he made a super and brilliant military career and left a unique imprint on the sands of time.
Ojukwu was an elder statesman and politician. He was the founder, political leader and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2003. His party came third among the 30 political parties that participated in the elections. Former President Goodluck Jonathan honoured him with a state-cum-military burial. By that, he partially ended the civil war and equally endorsed General Yakubu Gowon’s famous declaration of No victor, no vanquished. The final fulfillment of all this will, indeed, be when an Igbo man is elected as president of Nigeria, 50 years after the end of the civil war.
Former Nigerian leader, General Ibrahim Babangida, in his tribute to Ojukwu, said that the election of an Ibo man as president of Nigeria would gladden Ojukwu’s spirit. No doubt, Ojukwu’s death marked the end of an era in Nigeria.
Ogbuehi, a freelance journalist, wrote in from Eagle Island, Port Harcourt.
Fishing Out The Ritualists
It would be obvious to a growing number of Nigerians by now that much of the violent crimes in the country, from murder to kidnapping and armed robberies, have much to do with some fetish rituals. A most recent case of car-snatchers in Eleme axis of Rivers State can be used as an example, because there was a confession pointing towards working in collaboration with witch-doctors. Ritual murder of a young girl by an undergraduate student also pointed towards the involvement of a ritualist and sponsor as accomplices.
Witch-doctors and ritualists go far beyond what an average Nigerian would know. Without being uncharitable or alarmist, there is a need to look into the activities of numerous religious sects operating as visionary and exercise ministries. To say the least, there are witch-doctors and ritualist, using religious applications as platforms of operation. Was there not a case of a “clergyman” and “after-birth placenta pepper soup”?
Investigations into the exploits of witch-doctors and various brands of ritualists, in relation to their associations with criminal groups, reveal shocking details. The first issue has to do with a propensity to acquire some power, coupled with an illusion of invincibility. In agberolingo such power of invincibility is known as “Odeshi”. Unfortunately, those exploring and promising such extra-normal power engage in a number of activities whose end-results they know nothing about.
But they go on, heedlessly!
Those who heedlessly explore the psychic world without knowing its nature expose themselves and other people to serious dangers, one of which is the possibility of insanity. Thus, toying with psychic power, for political, economic, religious or criminal purposes, usually lead to unpleasant end. Actually there are centres of energy of various natures which anyone can make contact with, but the rule is that only the pure can reach-out to what is pure or noble.
At best, what witch-doctors, ritualists and other impudent explorers of the psychic world encounter and deal with are usually inferior and dark energy centres. Fascination with what is unusual and curious cause many gullible people to be carried away by the illusory nature of the psychic world. One rule is sure over there, namely: There is no free meal, neither can anyone get what he is not qualified to get. The only thing easy to get is illusion or clouding of consciousness.
Therefore, dabblers into the psychic world for whatever purposes, do a great deal of harm to themselves and others too. When those who do so are clergy men and women, there is the possibility of dragging the image of religion into the mud. Serious seekers of the light of truth do not associate with juggling fiends of the psychic world, because no wise person would go for mud when gold is not far to fetch. One has to know the differences and values.
There is a need to suggest that stricter regulations be placed on establishment of religious houses as well as proselytism. Possibly, preachers and operators of all visionary, miracle and healing ministries should be licensed, inspected and subjected to regular audit. As for various categories of witch-doctors, ritualists often mentioned by criminal gangs as their accomplices or consultants, they should be prosecuted. They are known to demand for human parts, including placenta of nursing mothers taken immediately after delivery. If there is no demand for human parts, then, there would not be ritual murder for the purpose of obtaining such parts. Similarly, the murderers are merely killer agents for faceless monsters who believe in money and power as chief goals in life. Quite often such monsters are rarely accessible or prosecuted.
The illusion of wanting to get something without paying an equivalent price for it is an issue which all stakeholders in human development process must jointly emphasize at every opportunity. Similarly the fact that dark and impure forces thrive where people hold such illusions about life is a reality which explains the sad rate of spread of evil propensities. Of the laws governing life hardly is there any which stipulates that anyone can get away with any wrong doing, not even when a visionary, exorcist or a marabout claims that such law can be annulled. People are simply gullible.
Arising from the illusion that natural laws can be annulled by those who claim to have a power to do so, may gullible people rush to those who make such claims? While we may not be able to stop anyone or groups of persons from making claims about possession of unique powers, those making such claims should be licensed and taxed as they operate. Authentification and verification of such claims would also be necessary before they become legal for public patronage.
A great deal of harm had been done by dabblers, intruders and fake practitioners in every sphere of human activities. In the case of the unseen and known, there is a need to protect the gullible public from harms which can arise from such charlatans. While the laws prescribe freedom of belief and association, there should be strict provisions to checkmate extremities and abuses. Such extremities and abuses include disturbing and noisy nocturnal ritual and hallucinations under the name of freedom of worship. Ban on noisy worship is necessary.
Undoubtedly, activities of ritualists which include witch-doctors, marabouts, religious and cult groups, who engage in various orgies, are going into extremities that should be put under control. The current hard and difficult times in the country should not be a licence for ritualists to exploit the gullible masses to practise their trade for a fee. Some demand weird items for exorcism.
More importantly, the police should intensify activities in this direction by fishing out ritualists of the criminal hue and place a check on other groups to ensure that the public remains protected. Despite the difficult nature of such a task, ritualists of all kinds pose real dangers to society.
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