The World Health Organisation (WHO) has commended the Rivers State Government for showing enough commitment to curb the menace of Ebola virus spread.
WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr Rui Vaz gave the commendation when he visited Governor Chibuike Amaechi yesterday in Government House, Port Harcourt.
Vaz said, “We have a very strong leadership and ownership from the government of Rivers State and everything is going to be done through His Excellency the governor.”
The WHO country director assured of plans by the body to provide support to the state government to boost the fight on Ebola.
He stressed that the body was ready to assist in logistics, equipment, reagents and medicines and support for media, especially in training people to identify the key issues in communities.
Vaz also gave hope on finding a final cure to the disease saying the trial drug, Zmapp is still at clinical stages, “there is an overall discussion and effort because this is not only Nigeria’s for all countries. They are looking for threats and I think it’s ongoing because they are looking at the safety of the medicines which is on clinical trial.”
Also, Governor Amaechi has disclosed that the state has released over N300million to fight Ebola disease.
Amaechi emphasized that the state government was poised to curb the menace with all available resources, “what is going on is not a joke, so whatever thing that we need to do we would do.
“If it means borrowing money in order to be able to contain it we would do,” Amaechi maintained.
He, therefore, counselled politicians to avoid playing politics with the scourge, assuring that his responsibility as the governor is to protect lives and property, “so, it’s not time to blame anybody.”
The governor also commended WHO for its assistance and promised that the government was ready to provide fund to ease its operations.
In the same vein, the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed commitment to assist the Rivers state Government in their effort to stamp-out Ebola in the state.
Country Representative of WHO, Rui Vaz stated this during a courtesy visit to the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Tamunoiyoriari Sampson Parker in his office in Port Harcourt.
Vaz, who commended the Rivers State Government for its efforts so far, disclosed that the World Health Organization will provide, among other things, technical and logistic support.
He also assured the people of the state that Ebola outbreak can be contained, stressing that the most important aspect of combating the outbreak is surveillance and case management.
The country representative further made a passionate appeal to the media on the management of information with regard to the Ebola outbreak.
Vaz said the media has the right platform to educate or discourage the people, stating that it behoves on the media to give the right information and not to panic the people.
Parker had earlier thanked Rui Vaz for the visit, and commended the WHO and other partners for their support and encouragements in the quest to conquer the Ebola Virus Disease.
However, Rivers State Health Commissioner, Dr. Tamunoiyoriari Sampson Parker has announced that two out of the three quarantined Ebola suspects have tested negative to the virus and has been released to go home, while the third person, an elderly woman who was admitted in the same hospital with the late Dr. Enemuo, tested positive and is being treated at the treatment centre in Eduoha.
The commissioner stated this in a media parley with health correspondents in Port Harcourt.
He said Miss Chinyere, the younger sister of the late doctor who escaped to Abia State following the report that her elder sister has been quarantined, has been found and is now placed under observation at the isolation centre after showing signs of the virus.
He said the remains of the late doctor, along with other corpses at the morgue, will be interred this week in Port Harcourt in line with WHO protocol, under the supervision of health officials.
This, according to him, is to prevent relatives of the deceased from danger, and reiterated that stigmatization of people under quarantine negates stake holders efforts to end the Ebola scourge.
However, following the confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Rivers State, the state government has established screening points at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
The testing points, which were set up by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and facilitated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are meant to undertake primary and secondary tests on passengers.
Addressing airline managers in her office yesterday, the South South and South East Regional General Manager, Mrs Ebele Okoye, urged the airline operators to ensure that their passengers comply with the testing procedures.
She directed the airline operators to issue the forms provided them to all intending passengers on purchase of tickets as anyone who fails to comply would be prevented from boarding the aircraft.
Mrs Okoye explained that isolation centre has been provided at the airport where further testing would be carried out on anyone suspected from the primary or secondary tests, nothing that the test is for those leaving and those entering the state.
The regional manager also disclosed that the management of FAAN had embarked on enlightenment campaign when Ebola was noticed in the country to sensitise airport users on personal hygiene to check the spread of the disease.
She, therefore, advised intending passengers to arrive the airport about three hours before departure time to give them ample opportunity to undertake the tests.
It would be recalled that the Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Rivers State, Comrade Chika Onuegbu, had alleged that the airport management had not taken proactive steps to check the spread of the dreaded disease in the state.
Onuegbu said that if measures were taken, the ECOWAS staff who visited Port Harcourt, would have been detected and the state would have been saved from the agony and pressure of curtailing the spread of the disease that has yet no confirmed cure.
Similarly, the death of a patient, who is suspected to have Ebola, has caused panic among patients and doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi- Araba, Lagos State.
A reliable source, who confirmed this development to our correspondent in Lagos yesterday, said the patient was brought in by members of the health authorities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, to the hospital on Monday.
According to the doctor who was on duty when the patient was admitted into the Accident and Emergency Unit, the patient was vomiting blood and stooling, symptoms which are similar to that of an Ebola patient, before he died in the early hours of Tuesday at the Spill-Over ward of the hospital.
He said, “They rushed him to the Accident and Emergency Unit, and since he was vomiting and purging and he also had high fever, we quickly took his temperature, it was very high. We were all scared to take his blood samples because we were not wearing any Personal Protective Equipment.
“We had to take him out of the emergency ward to the other spill-over ward to avoid any form of contamination. We also reported to the Lagos State Government so that they can take him to the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba for proper treatment. But he had started vomiting blood by this (Tuesday) morning , and few hours after he died.”
The doctor said that the body has being transferred to the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, for testing and confirmation of the cause of death.
The source said, “Like I said, we could not take any blood sample when he was alive because we were not wearing PPE, and we could not manage him effectively because of the severity of the symptoms we saw and considering the fact that he was coming from the airport. He could have been coming from an Ebola-affected country.
“They will need to establish the cause of death, so as to be able to know whether to quarantine those that he had contact with from the airport to the hospital. LUTH does not have the facilities to handle any suspected case of Ebola, government should know that, so they don’t keep bringing suspected cases here. All suspected cases should be taken to IDH.”
When contacted, the LUTH Chief Medical Director, Prof. Akin Oshibogun, said the death of the patient is still being investigated.
Oshibogun said, “We have been able to establish that this patient has no history of Ebola or any contact with a person that had Ebola. We are only trying to investigate the patient. If there is any new thing, we will let you know. As long as we are in the hospital, from time to time, we will always have high index suspicion and most times these patients turn out to be negative.
“There is a difference between suspected or confirmed cases . We are only investigating the case to protect our people. We have had that situation two times in the hospital now. If we have a case we will announce it.
“In the case of this patient, for the fact that a patient has high index suspicion does not make the patient an Ebola patient. When you create panic many nurses may decide to abandon the patients,” he said.
Also, a 19- year old student of Law at the Ahmadu Bello University has been diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus in Kaduna.
The Public Relations Officer, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Bilyaminu Umar, while confirming the case when contacted via phone said the student was diagnosed at ABUTH, Shika, Zaria.
“Yes, there was a case of a suspected Ebola patient. He is with the Faculty of Law, ABU, Zaria and will be placed on isolation.
“I am out of town, but will confirm details on my return from a trip,” he said.
However, as at the time of going to press yesterday, authorities of the state Ministry of Health were yet to confirm the outbreak in the state.
In another development, The human trail of an experimental Ebola vaccine will begin this week according to the National Institutes of Health, United States of America.
In a statement yesterday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has given the researchers at the institute the approval to begin the human safety trial.
The experimental vaccine, developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and the NIAID, will first be given to three healthy human volunteers to see if they suffer any adverse effects.
If deemed safe, it will then be given to another small group of volunteers, aged 18 to 50, to see if it produces a strong immune response to the virus. All will be monitored closely for side effects.
The vaccine will be administered to volunteers by an injection in the deltoid muscle of their arm, first in a lower dose, then later in a higher dose after the safety of the vaccine has been determined.
Some of the preclinical studies that are normally done on these types of vaccines were waived by the FDA during the expedited review, Fauci said, so “we want to take extra special care that we go slowly with the dosing.”
The vaccine did extremely well in earlier trials with chimpanzees, Fauci told newsmen yesterday.
He noted that the method being used to prompt an immune response to Ebola cannot cause a healthy individual to become infected with the virus.
Still, he said, “I have been fooled enough in my many years of experience. You really can’t predict what you will see (in humans).”
According to the NIH, the vaccine will also be tested on healthy volunteers in the United Kingdom, Gambia and Mali, once details are finalised with health officials in those country.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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