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COVID-19: WHO Lists Achievements, Says Vaccination No Guarantee

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed some of its achievements in combating COVID-19 in 2020, noting that vaccination is no guarantee of virus eradication.
WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said this at the last COVID-19 press conference of the year at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
In a speech posted on the agency’s website, the director general said WHO had worked tirelessly since the virus was reported in Wuhan, China in December, 2019.
“If we rewind to the start of 2020, it was on 10 January that WHO published its first comprehensive package of guidance documents for countries, covering topics related to the management of an outbreak of a new disease.
“The next day, WHO received the full genetic sequences for the novel coronavirus from China and by 13 January, WHO published its first protocol for a diagnostic test by a WHO partner lab in Germany to detect the virus.
“By mid-January, our international technical expert networks were engaged and meeting by teleconference to share first hand knowledge with the new novel coronavirus and similar respiratory viruses, such as MERS and SARS.
“And WHO convened the Strategic Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards and the Global Alert and Response Network.
“By the end of the month, 30 January, I declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, WHO’s highest level of alert under global health law,’’ he said.
And by the start of February, he said WHO was shipping diagnostic tests around the world so that countries could detect and respond effectively.
“On 4 February, WHO released the first global preparedness and response plan for COVID-19 based on the latest scientific evidence.
“At the same time, WHO was connecting scientists, funders and manufacturers from across the globe together to accelerate research on tests, therapeutics and vaccines.
“In mid-February, WHO’s longstanding research and development blueprint group brought hundreds of experts from more than 40 countries together to plot out a COVID-19 research roadmap.
“This was based on years of work on other infectious diseases including SARS, MERS and Ebola.’’
And by March, the director-general said WHO was planning the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, which was launched with partners in April.
The director-general said the ACT-Accelerator was a historic collaboration to further hasten the development, production and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics.
“Good news came in June as initial clinical trial results from the UK showed dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, could be lifesaving for patients severely ill with COVID-19.
“By September, new antigen based rapid tests had been validated and the diagnostic pillar of the ACT-Accelerator had secured millions of them for low- and middle-income countries.
“And then the shot that rang out around the world was the release of positive vaccine news from multiple candidates, which are now being rolled out to vulnerable groups,’’ he said.
According to him, new ground has been broken not least with the extraordinary cooperation between the private and public sector in this pandemic.
“ In recent weeks, safe and effective vaccine rollout has started in a number countries which is an incredible scientific achievement.’’
Meanwhile, some senior officials of WHO had warned that vaccination do not guarantee that infectious diseases would be eradicated.
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO Emergencies Programme warned that there might be a chance of another pandemic, more serious pandemic spreading across the world.
“The next pandemic may be more severe; we need “get our act together”, because we live on a fragile planet, and in an increasingly complex society.
“Let’s honour those we’ve lost by getting better at what we do,’’ he said
Also, the WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19, Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, noted that some of the countries that had coped better with COVID-19 had history of managing outbreaks.
“Those countries that have cope better are not necessarily been those with the highest incomes, but those that have lived through other infectious disease outbreaks.
“Those countries have used the “muscle memory” of traumatic events to kick their systems into gear, and act to comprehensively tackle the virus,’’ she said.
Kerkhove , however, called for the world to be better prepared for the next health crisis, with well-trained health workers able to take full advantage of innovative technology, and informed, engaged citizens capable of keeping themselves safe.
Also, Guest speaker Prof. David Heymann, a disease expert and member of a WHO “surge team”, said that we now have the tools at our disposal to save lives, allowing us to learn to live with the virus.
Heymann, deployed to strengthen the COVID-19 response in South Africa earlier this year said COVID-19 was likely to become endemic in the global population.
Vaccinations, he explained, do not guarantee that infectious diseases will be eradicated.
“Societies would do better to focus on getting back to full strength, rather than on the “moonshot of eradication”, said the official.

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Immunization: Health Board Targets Rural Communities

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Towards ensuring that immunization campaign achieves its target of over 90 percent, the Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board, says it has provided modalities for trained health care providers to reach the interiors of the state.
Making this known in an exclusive interview, the Health Education / Coordinator, Rivers State Social and Behavioural Change Communication Committee, Dr Daris Nria, said provisions have been made to take the free immunisation exercise to the rural areas of the state.
Because immunisation programe will be running concurrently in all the local government areas, and these areas will be empowered with boats or other means of transport, as well as logistics.
She used this opportunity to call on the public especially parents and women of child bearing age to avail themselves the opportunity of being immunized against tetanus and other diseases.
In another development, the Maternal and Neonatal Child Health (MNCH) Focal Person, Rivers State Primary Healthcare Management Board, Dr Emen-Jaja stated that the MNCH week slated to commence from 20th – 24th September will provide health care services for children under the age of five years, pregnant women as well as their spouses.
Such services, according to her, include administration of vitamin A, deworming exercise, nutritional screening, general health checks, child spacing and birth registration.
“Both women of reproductive age and their spouses who visit the health care centres would also have free services within the week.

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CSO Wants Cancer Treatment Centres In Rivers

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The Rivers State Chapter of the Civil Society organsation (CSO) has called on the state government to establish cancer treatment centres in the state to address the current growing cancer cases in the state.
Making the call recently, chairman of the organisation, Mr Dennis Otobo, said going by the status among the community of states in the country, Rivers State needs such centres in strategic areas of the state.
He stated that “going by the position of Rivers State among other states in the country, we are over due to have enough cancer treatment centres, especially considering the State Government’s focus on the health of her people”.
According to him, “taking some of our cancer patients to other neighbouring states does not tell well of our health services, no matter how we look at it.
“Government should establish cancer treatment centres in the state, at least a one hub treatment centre in each LGA”, he said.
Otobo explained that for now, about 99 per cent of treatments for cancer and related services are provided by donor agencies and patients are taken outside the state for treatment, which requires a lot of fund that is mostly not available.
“If government can provide cancer treatment centres in the state, it will not only lessen the impact of the ailment in the state but will also alleviate the suffering of patients who cannot afford going for treatment outside the state”, he said.

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To Much Salt Consumption, Bad For Kidney – Expert

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A Nephrologist, specialist in Kidney disease, Dr Manda David-West, says excessive salt consumption is one key cause of kidney disease.
Stating this in a recent interview, she said in-take of too much salt is capable of damaging one’s kidney, in addition to raising blood pressure.
“Too much salt can raise up the Blood Pressure (BP), and once the BP is raised, if you are not on medication, It can damage the kidney over time, she said.
In order to prevent this, Dr David West, who is a Consultant Nephrologist at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) called for limitation in salt in-take.
She further stated that to prevent kidney disease, there was the need to cut down on carbohydrate and callory intake, alongside checking food in-take capable of increasing chances of developing diabetes mellitus.
Dr David West continued that enough intake of fruits and vegetables, alongside exercises with a view to keep fit also prevents kidney diseases.
Contrary to wide spread belief that food supplements are good for the body, Dr David West said too much intake of food supplements is not good for the body.
Accroding to her, besides taking fruits and vegetables, “they should engage in daily exercise, try and keep fit and be active as much.
“Even (food) supplement has not been proven to be good to the kidney, especially when it is taken for a long time.

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