United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday applauded the progress made in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Ban expressed his satisfaction in a message to mark the World Malaria Day, which came up yesterday.
He said: “In a very short time, the world has gone from simply trying to hold malaria at bay to the realistic goal of delivering effective and affordable care to all who need it.”
The secretary-general noted that since 2003, international commitment to malaria control had increased more than five-fold to 1.7 billion dollars in 2009.
He also observed that the scientific community had set a research agenda for developing the tools and strategies that would eventually eradicate malaria.
Also in a message to mark the Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said its campaign to confirm diagnosis of malaria before treatment was yielding results.
It said a new evaluation of malaria rapid diagnostic tests would help health workers quickly to identify which patients had the disease and the need for immediate treatment.
According to the WHO, 15 out of 29 rapid diagnostic tests meet its criteria and can be used to quickly identify which patients have the disease.
“The Malaria Product Testing Evaluation Programme just completed a new assessment of the performance of 29 rapid diagnostic tests and found that 15 of them met the minimum performance criteria set by WHO,” the UN agency said.
“These rapid tests have been a major breakthrough in malaria control.
“They allow us to test people who cannot access diagnosis based on microscopy in remote, rural areas where the majority of malaria occurs,” said Dr Robert Newman, the Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme.
The UN secretary-general’s Special Envoy for Malaria, Mr Ray Chambers, said that about 200 million mosquito bed nets had been delivered across sub-Saharan Africa, covering half of the world’s population at risk of the disease.
He said that 100 million additional bed nets were in the process of being produced and delivered, leaving a gap of 50 million bed nets to meet the UN’s goal of universal coverage by the year’s end.
The UNICEF Executive Director, Ms Ann Venemean, said in a statement to mark the Day that the UN secretary-general’s goal for all endemic countries to achieve universal coverage with essential malaria control interventions by Dec. 31 was achievable.
“Evidence shows that malaria control interventions work, but they need to be scaled up even more to achieve the 2010 goal.
“The dual approach in the fight against malaria — from better coverage of insecticide-treated nets to increased use of Artemisin-based Combination Therapies to treat patients — is what is needed to help save thousands of lives,” she said.
Meanwhile, a U.S-based Nigerian medical practitioner, Dr Olabisi Jagun, told newsmen that with the search and research for a malaria vaccine still on, the focus should now be more on prevention to eradicate the disease.
Jagun, who is the Washington D.C. (Capital Area) Chairperson of the Association of Nigerian Doctors in the Americas, said the group was advocating for the availability of potable water and better drainage systems in Nigeria to prevent the spread of the disease.
In a related development, the World Bank had on Thursday announced that it had committed 200 million dollars to bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa to protect people living in the region from malaria.
The funding was in support of a recent call by the UN for a stepped-up effort to fight the disease.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the money would fund the production and distribution of additional 25 million nets, half the quantity still needed to supply all those at risk by the end of the year.
According to WHO statistics, around 850,000 people still die from malaria annually, of whom nearly 90 per cent live in sub-Saharan Africa. Majority of those deaths are children aged under five years.
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.
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