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Procession Of Lawyers Attracted Me To Law Profession – First Class Graduate 

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Radiance Ovuoma Onu Esq, an indigene of Rumuekini in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, is a legal practitioner with a technology- specialised law firm. An Associate of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, she is also a fashion designer, a digital forensics examiner and a content creator.
Born 15th July,1997, she is a First Class Law graduate of  the Rivers State University.
Passionate  about humanity and giving back to society, she founded The Hill’s Beam Foundation, which is focused on grooming young people through the journey of purpose, through the instrumentality of charity and outreaches centred on academic excellence, self actualisation and other areas.
She is also the convener of the Soul Sister’s Network, a forum for the sharpening, mentoring and nurturing of young ladies. In this interview with Ibinabo Ogolo, she talks about how she pursued and achieved academic excellence, how clarity and mapped-out plans for what she really wants to be in life have actualised her ambition and more. Excerpts.
How did you start your law profession?
My scholastic experience began as a pupil of the University of Port Harcourt Day Care Centre (now Gladys Cookey Resource Centre). After that, I went to the University of Port Harcourt Demonstration Primary School and then to the University of Port Harcourt Demonstration Secondary School, where I received my West African Secondary School Certificate with distinction.
I studied Law at the prestigious Rivers State University between 2014 and 2019. I was particularly in the Private and Property Law department of the Faculty of Law.
I was called to the Nigerian Bar as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in July 2021 upon the successful completion of the mandatory one-year vocational training at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos campus.
What motivated you to aspire to become a Lawyer?
Revisiting memory lane on how the idea was conceived, I remember listening to the usual evening news with my family on this particular day. I was still in primary school, as far as I recall. A procession of lawyers was shown on television as part of the news, and I was enthralled by the wigs they wore. I told my mother right away that I liked the wig and would want to wear it. My mum, at this point, told me that if I wanted to wear that wig, I’d have to be a lawyer. That was it! That was how the notion of becoming a lawyer was conceived and I have run with it till date.
Growing up and becoming more aware and knowledgeable about my choice, I became more intentional about the profession. This growing passion fuelled my interest in pursuing academic excellence because I was indoctrinated that  in order to get into a university to study law, you had to be intellectually sound and enjoy reading. Despite the fact that I fared well in my high school science subjects, being a lawyer remained my ambition.
However, some other options were put before me along the line, like medicine. I remember my school counsellor back in SS1 calling me to be sure it was really my will to pursue a career in law because my grades, while all great, tipped me towards being a science student because I scored higher in those areas. Notwithstanding, my desire to become a lawyer remained strong, and at this point, I had a better understanding of the fundamentals of the profession and was eager to give it my all.
I was mentally and academically prepared to study law to a significant extent, and this informed my drive for academic excellence and the development of charisma. I believe I was particularly determined to put on the wig I had fantasised about as a child, and I am overjoyed that I was able to do it..
Can you recount your step by step journey towards bagging a First Class degree, which is not an easy feat?
I would start by mentioning that I began my first year with the right orientation. I was surrounded by people who believed in me. From the moment I got my admission, I had access to the right counsel and motivation. Barr (Mrs) Blessing Eddie-Amadi, my aunty, who is like a mother to me, was and still is one of my biggest supporters. She kept telling everyone we met in my first year how well I did in my JAMB( 258) and Post-UTME exams(84/100). With all of the anticipation, I knew I could not let her down. Also noteworthy is the advice I received after my admission from Hon. Justice Agbara Rtd (now of blessed memory). In his words, “Ovuoma, make sure you aim for a First Class and nothing less, so that if things go wrong and you have to drop, you will be dropping to a 2.1”. Till date, these remarks have continued to inspire me in setting my goals. With these motivating forces behind me, inclusive of my immediate and extended family, I started with a goal-getting and possibility mindset.
At the end of Year 1, a good number of my course mates finished with a 5.0 CGPA, but I had a 4.7. This was the first hurdle. The thought that I may not reach my goal began to pervade my mind, especially as I realised that the higher you go in academics, the more difficult it becomes. However, some senior colleagues with whom I became acquainted reminded me that I still had a lot of semesters to make up for year 1. All I had to do was make sure I never fell below a 4.5 CGPA in any semester or session, as they instructed.
I got into year 2 and I must say this was the year I had my best grades. I had a 5.0 GPA in one of the semesters. This level taught me that your efforts will always match your results if you study not just hard but smart. First, I had a very intentional mentor at this level. I never missed classes because I am a better listener than a reader sometimes. Also, the library had the bulk of my time as I would always go there for my personal research. All of these efforts made me enjoy the courses even more. I ensured my notes were always up to date. In fact, I had class notes, study notes, and case notes. I had a target, so I made sure to stay on course This was also the level where I started to make strategic friendships and I made sure my circle was made up of people with similar goals as me. That way, I had people to study with, revise with, and encourage myself with. My circle was really helpful in my year 2 as well. I also remember being strategic in my studying. My mentor taught me to have a hierarchy when drawing up my study plan. The courses that were bulky and/or seemed difficult to get an A in (which was the law of contract at the time) were my top priority, so I allocated more of my study time and research to make sure that I was able to break down every seemingly difficult topic to the barest minimum of understanding. One challenge I faced at this level was with one of our borrowed courses.I know for a fact that I did not do so well in that course because I was not completely receptive to the teaching. It took me so long to fathom why I was learning Python programming instead of citing cases. Having a C in the course affected my CGPA, as that was the first time I recorded a C in my result. I concluded year 2 with a 4.81 CGPA.
Year 3, did not start on such a good note as I was started off the level with a deteriorated health. I recall missing the first weeks of resumption on health grounds. However, I owed it to myself to make up for the lost weeks with intense studying and note making. One significant story I will like to share about my 300 level is with a particular course, it is almost impossible to get an A in.That was the case of the almighty Commercial Law.
As much as I did not like the personality of the lecturer, I had to like him for the purpose of that course. I listened attentively to him, augmented with my textbooks and other materials. In the end, it was an A grade in both semesters. I also had a challenge with one of the borrowed courses in the first semester, as Economics is one subject I have struggled with since high school. Having a C in this course earned me a 4.78 GCPA.
I must confess that my fourth year was the most difficult. Again, the session began with me missing the first few weeks due to a surgery from which I needed to thoroughly heal before returning to the classroom. I was also saddled with a number of responsibilities that took my time. In all honesty, I had quite a number of distractions at the moment, but I knew I still had to give this level my best game. Year 4 taught me that in achieving excellence, if you cannot sacrifice some of your responsibilities, then you must adequately learn the art of time management and balance. As the courses became tougher, the grades became even more difficult to attain, and some of our lecturers made this really discouraging. I got really discouraged, but I was surrounded by people who still believed I could achieve my goal. My response was to go back to my drawing board, amplify my strengths, downplay my weaknesses, and cut down on some responsibilities.
Final year came with all the necessary butterflies. It was definitely an exciting feeling to get to the finish line. Since I had laid a solid foundation over previous levels, I had a bit of a relaxed final year. I maintained the fire and I worked as hard as always, but there was this relief that I was very close to achieving my dream. I was so confident that even when my grade for my dissertation (30 units) was changed from an A to a B,I was not scared because even with the B, I was still going to graduate with a first class. This feeling was only possible because I started on a strong pedestal. Eventually, after all the deductions and setbacks, I graduated with a 4.6 CGPA.
Summarily, my journey was characterised by first, a belief and determination to graduate with a first-class and practically starting early to achieve this so that no matter how difficult it gets over the years, my background remains sufficient. If I had had such a bad start, at the difficult levels, I would have fallen off my goal.
This feat was greatly influenced by God’s mercies, but I also had to do my part by working hard and smart. I understand that some students still fall victim to vindictive lecturers. However, my opinion is that if you distinguish yourself as an A student from the beginning, you will be confident enough to dispute any instructor or outcome that does not meet your expectations. You become their prey the instant you settle for mediocrity, and you further rob yourself of the courage to contest a poor grade. Be brave enough to stand up to a vindictive system, but make sure you have done your bit by identifying yourself as a serious student.
Lastly, I was that student who always set my target scores and grades at the beginning of the semester. Since Continuous Assessment (CA) will usually take place when the course content is not yet bulky, I always aimed for a 25/30 minimum. Sometimes it was higher, sometimes it got a little lower. The logic is that if Iam able to get 20/30 at least, I will only have to struggle for 50/70, which is easier to achieve than 60 or 70/70 in the exams. This tactic really helped me, and with this, I never took any CA for granted. I will prepare for it as though it were the main exam. I was also that student that liked to check her results and know her grades. Knowing this always helped me plan and strategise better.
To be continued.

What/who is your inspiration?
My main source of motivation is the woman I aspire to be. I have had a glimpse of her and I know she will be great. I have to keep doing all I can to actualize my purpose and potential, and in doing this, I am constantly encouraged and strengthened by my source, the Holy Spirit.
Closely related to this is my inclination for success, influence, and affluence. If I must make a change in my time, then I have to find a spot at the top and spread the tentacles of my influence from there. Bearing this in mind, I am resolved never to settle for failure or mediocrity. I am always motivated to keep trying, working hard, and smashing my goals till I get there.
My parents (Ven. Dr. Ben Onu and Mrs Florence  Onu)are another major source of inspiration. They have invested so much in me that I can’t afford to allow their labour go to waste. I am resolved to make them proud and keep the family legacy going.
Another key motivation I had in aiming for a first class is my desire to further my studies abroad. My sister, who is also one of my mentors, Dr. Adanma Chrys-Chikere, advised me early enough to aim for a grade that would position me for scholarship opportunities and give me a better chance of being admitted to further my education outside Nigeria. This stood as a motivation, and I’m grateful to God for the success so far, believing that in due time, this dream will materialize.
Did you have a mentor/role model?
Yes, I did. Napoleon Richman Thommanuel Esq. has been my mentor from Year 2 till date. As a senior colleague, he made it a point to prepare me for each new level, session, and even semester. He was available to calm all my fears. There were times he would insist I go off the media to focus on my books, and sometimes I had to spend my holiday studying.  I also had some other senior colleagues along the line that were very helpful and supportive in boosting my morale and staying focused on the goal. One of them is Blessing Ohaka Esq. She always and greatly fueled my possibility mindset.
The earliest role model I’ve had is my aunt, Barr. (Mrs) Blessing Eddie-Amadi who is the first close image of a lawyer I conceived. Her drive and passion for success and humanity is highly admirable. She is one of the bravest and most daring women I know, as well as a goal-getter. She definitely fulfills the description of a woman of the people. Everything she does will always be for the greater good of those around her. She is the epitome of love, giving, and support. She is, without a doubt, a mother to me. I’m positive she’s on a road I’d like to pursue and even improve on.

For worldwide relevance, I also look up to Oby Ezekwesili, our Nigerian Idol. She exemplifies tenacity and virtue, and her quest for more inspires me every day. She is intelligent and ambitious. These are qualities I’m striving to emulate and instill. Her notion that there is more to being a woman inspires me, and I am determined to fully embrace my feminine power and potential.
Ebizi Eradiri Esq. is someone I also look up to, especially as a young lawyer. She changed a narrative and is now forging her own path through hard work and academic excellence. As a double first-class lawyer, she was one of my mentors while at the Nigerian Law School, and today she is evidence of every word of encouragement and possibility she instilled in me. As much as I celebrate her wins, I also aim to not just fly as she is but even higher. She has broken a number of biases, and she has inspired me to not limit myself by any self-inflicted or societal-based bias.
As someone who aspires to someday be in the political sphere of influence, I admire people like Michelle Obama and Mrs Parker Odochi. I’ve seen ambition, support, and vigour for societal influence among these women. They exude an aura that I admire greatly.

What is your advice to anyone who wants to make it?

First and foremost, believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish everything you set your mind to. You are distinct, one-of-a-kind, and not empty, and it all begins with your mindset. You must cultivate a positive attitude toward yourself, your values, and your goals. I’ve always believed in myself as a trail blazer and this perspective will continue to drive me to never settle for less when I have everything it takes to be more. I remember back in secondary school when I was appointed the Head Girl. It remains one of my high moments in life because this was a position usually occupied by science students. But then there was me, a student of the Arts department, who changed the narrative. Even after being appointed, I had to remind myself that the legacy I owe those who come after me is to promote the notion that hard work and excellence pays off. This is what I continue to do to this day.
Again, I’d say it all starts with how you think about yourself and your future. Failure will never be an option for you if you have a vision of who you want to be tomorrow. How far you can go or become is often determined by your mindset. Develop an attitude that corresponds to who you want to be and what you want to accomplish. Cultivate an attitude of possibility and reject any mindset that undermines your self-esteem. On the days when things don’t go as planned, you’ll need to rely on your burning passion to get you through.
It isn’t enough to simply believe or have the appropriate mindset. You must do the work and pay the price. Success does not always come cheap. You could lose friends, displease your pleasures, go MIA, leave your comfort zone, take on difficult tasks, abandon habits, and so on. Understand your timing too and quit unhealthy competitions. Find your niche and explore As much as you can, avoid procrastination and get to work right away.
Regardless of how depressing our country’s educational system appears to be, keep in mind that there are some doors that only academic excellence can open for you. Some people have made it because of their academic achievements. I’ve had a taste of it, and I’m currently working my way through it to the wider picture of my success. Never stop developing yourself. Grab the degree excellently, but you will also need the know-how to apply your degree to profitability. As an undergraduate, go for internships during your holidays to embrace the practical side of your course. If you can handle it, take up leadership positions to boost your CV. Thank God for the era of online courses. Take up as many relevant ones as you can enrol in during your spare time. In addition to capacity building, remember to make strategic networks. Attend conferences and connect with successful people in your field; learn from them.

What do you aspire to be now?

My aspirations have not exactly changed. They have only become bigger and clearer. I still look forward to building a career in the legal profession and maybe end up as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. This is not a static aspiration, though, as I am still at the early stage of my career and still exploring its nitty-gritties.  might develop an interest in the bench over time.
I am also enthusiastic about teaching. Despite the fact that the Nigerian educational system is rather disheartening, I still hope to maybe become an academic someday. Maybe if the Bench doesn’t have me, I can double as an Academic and a practicing lawyer. This is why I am currently looking to further my studies with a Master’s Degree and, afterwards, take up a PhD in Law.
Finally, as the woman of influence I aspire to be, I am also interested in my entrepreneurship goals.I am open to establishing an entrepreneurial source of income over the years. The goal is to amass enough wealth to sponsor personal and humanitarian dreams. It has always been my aspiration to live a life that has an impact on my generation and the generations to come.I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who has supported me throughout the years. My family, both nuclear and , especially Ezirim Ucheoma and a long list of friends.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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‘Why Child’s Rights Act Still Doesn’t Apply Throughout Nigeria’

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Nigeria adopted the Child’s Rights Act in 2003, giving legal consent to both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child. The country’s constitution states that for an international law to take effect, Nigeria’s legislature must create a national version.
But as Nigeria operates a federal system of government, the law does not automatically become applicable in all of its 36 states. In terms of the constitution, children’s issues are the preserve of the constituent states. Each state legislature must make the national law applicable within its territory. And only 25 of the 36 states in Nigeria have localised the Child’s Rights Act.
Currently, 11 states, all in northern Nigeria, have yet to domesticate the Child’s Rights Act. There are no records of discussions or debates about the Act in these state legislatures. It has been argued that other laws, including the constitution, are able to protect children. But children in those states are still subject to practices like early marriage, female genital mutilation and begging.
Why The Law Has Not Been Adopted Fully:
Apart from the federal structure of Nigeria’s government, there are other reasons the Child’s Rights Act has not been adopted by all states. Chief of them is religion, coupled with ethnic and cultural diversity. The dominant religions in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam, with a significant population being adherents of traditional African religions.
It may be simplistic to describe Nigeria as comprising “a Muslim North” and “a Christian South”. There are significant numbers of Christians in the north and Muslims in the south. But Islam does dominate in the north, in comparison to the south.
And the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, along with some legislators from the north, characterised the Child’s Rights Act as anti-culture, anti-tradition and anti-religion. Some of the contentious issues include the definition of the child (a person below 18 years) as it pertains to child marriage, particularly for girls.
Child marriage is a prevalent practice in parts of the north. Children about the age of 10 or 12 years get betrothed or married off. While the Child’s Rights Act prohibits child betrothal and child marriage, there are other operational laws that make exceptions.
The basis for this is that in Islam, puberty is a determining factor in a (girl) child’s readiness for marriage. Fixing 18 years as the minimum age does not fit the doctrine.
Other religious concerns against the acceptance of the Child’s Rights Act include children’s right to freedom of religion, differences in the inheritance rights of male and female children, and the Shariah’s prohibition of adoption, in favour of kafalah, which distinguishes between biological and non-biological children.
Implications:
By ratifying the Child’s Rights Convention and African Children’s Charter, the Nigerian government has the overall responsibility for ensuring these are implemented in a uniform and coherent manner. The government also took on the responsibility of discouraging religious, cultural, customary or traditional practices that are inconsistent with the Charter.
Yet, at the most basic level, the government is failing to live up to this obligation. Children, a most vulnerable group on account of physical and mental immaturity, bear the brunt of this inaction. They are being denied the full protection of the law. And the consequences for many children, besides child marriage and its health and other consequences, include negative impacts on their education and overall development.
With regard to education for example, the socio-cultural Almajiri system remains prevalent in the north. The practice allows children, usually from poor homes, to be sent to “Islamic boarding schools” for religious education. Many, however, end up on the streets as child beggars, seeking alms and menial jobs for daily survival.
Successive governments have failed to incorporate it as part of the formal school system, leaving children exposed to harmful practices and abuses prohibited by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Children’s Charter and the Child’s Rights Act. In Nigeria, recruitment of these child beggars by terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram is a real threat or option.
Children Need Uniform Protection
The Child’s Rights Act and the African Children’s Charter define a child as a person below 18 years. But various laws in Nigeria define children differently and for various purposes. The government needs to take the lead in harmonising the various definitions in conformity with these international and regional laws.
A constitutional amendment would ensure unification across the nation. It should leave no loopholes for contradictory laws, particularly at the state and local levels or based on religion or customs. But a constitutional amendment is a Herculean task, hampered by some of the obstacles facing the Child’s Rights Act. It should consider the multi-cultural and multi-religious nature of Nigerian society but focus on the best interest of all children.
While the constitution does not expressly declare Nigeria to be a secular state, a harmonious approach to law making that does not vilify religion is in the best interests of the child. Religious and traditional leaders are “gatekeepers” who cannot be jettisoned. Negotiations with them should not devalue their religion, but get them to become drivers of change for the benefit of children.
The importance of public education campaigns about the issues cannot be over emphasised. The voices of children must also be amplified. Increasingly, examples from the world over show that the power to cause real change begins with the populace. In other words, political will can be secured via a bottom-up rather than top-down approach.
States that have domesticated the Child’s Rights Act also have a role to play in challenging the remaining 11 states to do the same. They can do this by showing concrete evidence of the change in the lives of children in those states.
There is no strong case to be made for domestication if it has not translated into fulfilled rights for children. For example, female genital mutilation, a prohibited harmful traditional practice, is still common in parts of southern Nigeria.
Ultimately, where children are concerned, all actions must be in their best interests. The first step in that regard is applying the Child’s Rights Act across the country.

By: Usang Maria Assim
Assim is of the University of Western Cape.

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Three Years Of COVID -19: What Hope For Children?

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As 2022 progresses, the third year of the global pandemic, the harm done to children by COVID-19 crises is increasingly evident. There is a record rise in child poverty. Also, setbacks to progress on routine vaccinations and disruption to education which has been greatest among poorest children and job losses have been greatly borne by women and youth.
COVID-19 has been a uniquely dis-equalising crisis. It is a universal crisis and for some children, the impact may be lifelong.
Children and young people are not the face of this pandemic, but they risk being its biggest victims.
The economic crisis generated by COVID-19 threatens to hit children and families the hardest.
According to analysis by Florish Data Visualisation, even before the pandemic struck, 591 million children, that is almost one in three children in the mostly low and middle income countries were considered poor by national definitions.
The vast majority of them lived in Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia.
As families lost their sources of income and home environments turned upside down due to the devastating effects of COVID 19, children and young people found themselves more vulnerable to poverty and deprivation of their basic needs.
Available data on the impact of unemployment and the loss of parents, income due to COVID-19 pandemic are not disaggregated by age and do not reflect the realities faced by children around the world.
According to reports, impact of COVID-19 on the welfare of households with children from data collected in 35 countries including Nigeria states that households with three or more children were most likely to have lost income with more than three quarters experiencing a reduction in earnings. The report also states that income losses have left adults in one in four households with children going without food for a day or more.
Adults in nearly half of households with children reported skipping a meal due to lack of money.
“The modest progress made in reducing child poverty in recent years risks being reversed in all parts of the world. Families have expressed loss at a staggering scale. Last year,2021, inflation reached its highest level in years, more than two thirds of households with children brought in less money. Families could not afford food or essential health care services. They could not afford housing. It was a dire picture and the poorest households were pushed even deeper in poverty”, said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF Director of Programme Group.
Meanwhile, Nigeria was particularly vulnerable to the economic impacts of COVID-19 due to the absence of a functioning social security system capable of providing support to households that lost jobs and income during the crisis.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet noted in 2021 that although the pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of the right to social security, over 70 percent people worldwide had no or only partial social security coverage.
Nigeria‘s Constitution does not provide a legal right to social security. Nigerian laws create no entitlements to unemployment or child benefits.
However, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank have urged a rapid expansion of social protection systems for children and their families support may include the delivery of cash transfers and the universalisation of child benefits which are critical investments that can help lift families out of economic distress and help them prepare for future shocks. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 200 countries or territories have introduced thousands of social protection measures and the World Bank has supported countries with approximately $125 billion.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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Children And Adolescents More Vulnerable To Malaria Disease -Report

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All over the world, malaria is said to be responsible for approximately one to three million deaths per year. Malaria is one of the most deadly diseases in Africa and Nigeria contributes 24 percent of its prevalence.
At global level,the most vulnerable group to malaria deaths are children under five years old and in 2019 alone, they accounted for 55 percent of total deaths. Also, 80% – 90% of the deaths each year are in the rural sub-Saharan Africa.
Malaria is the world’s fourth leading cause of death in children and adolescents. Malaria is preventable and curable, however, the lack of prevention and treatment due to poverty, war and other economic instabilities in endemic areas, results in millions of deaths each year.
According to 2020 World Malaria Report, Nigeria had the highest number of global malaria cases(27% of global malaria cases) in 2019 and accounted for the highest number of deaths(23% of global malaria deaths).
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
There are five parasite species that cause malaria in humans and two of these species are P-falciparum and P-vivax, they pose the greatest threat. P-falciparum is the deadliest malaria parasite and the most prevalent on the African continent.
In 2007, the World Health Organisation (WHO) generated the idea of World Malaria Day from Africa Malaria Day which is an event that African governments observed against the disease beginning from 2001.
At the 60th session of the World Health Assembly which was sponsored by the WHO, it was proposed that African Malaria Day be changed to World Malaria Day. This was aimed at bringing greater awareness to the global fight and to recognise the existence of malaria across the globe.
However, the World Malaria Day which is observed annually every 25th April was to bring global attention to the effort being made to bring an end to malaria.
This year 2022 theme: “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives”  aimed to highlight the importance of investment in new tools as well as more effective use of available methods to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria particularly in worse hit countries.
Here in Rivers State, the government marked the World Malaria Day by  reiterating its political will and commitment to reduce malaria disease burden among its people.
This was stated by the state Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo in a goodwill message to  commemorate World Malaria Day 2022.
She noted that since the inception of the administration of Chief Nyesom Wike in Rivers  State, the prevalence rate of malaria has reduced significantly, adding that, the state prevalence rate of malaria was 11.3 against the national prevalence of 24 percent.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Health, Dr Ndidi Chikaenele Utchay has called on the people of Rivers State to ensure that they get tested for malaria disease and also to endeavour  to sleep under Insecticide Treated Bed-Nets (ITBNS) in order to prevent mosquito bites. She described the treated nets as a sure safeguard against mosquitoes, noting that they are safe for use.
A report by BMC Journal on Public Health stated that children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19 in malaria endemic African countries are the most vulnerable group to be affected by malaria.
However, the hope of ending malaria disease recieved a boost in 2021 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the use of first ever malaria vaccine. WHO estimates that the vaccine could save the lives of an additional 40,000 to 80,000 African children each year.
The vaccine RTS,S or mosquirix, is not just the first for malaria but also the first developed for any parasitic disease. The vaccine was found to surpass the 75 percent efficiency goal set by WHO for a malaria vaccine to receive a nod.
Although WHO said the vaccines could save tens of thousands of young lives each year, there are concerns it may not get to the children and young people who are most vulnerable to the disease. Health experts say children and young people mostly miss out on vaccination due to inaccessibility of vaccines and poor awareness by parents about their importance.
According to WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, “the vaccine supplies are limited. As such it is important that the doses that are available are utilised for maximum impact, while ensuring continued availability of other preventive measures to those most at risk.”
Dr Moeti said RTS,S vaccine pilots have sealed implementation in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi which reached up to 900,000 children. This require a focus on research and leveraging on available evidence to ensure that targeted interventions are efficient use of resources to produce measurable results.
Recent findings to avoid malaria infection include application of mosquito repellent with DEET (di ethyl toluamide) to exposed skin, drape mosquito netting over beds, put screens on windows and door, treat clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags and other fabrics with an insect repellent called permethrin.
Meanwhile, a report from the World Health Organisation Strategic Advisory Group on Malaria Eradication has called for renewed research and development(R & D) to boost eradication efforts.
The latest World Malaria Report showed that  US $ 851 million is needed in the period  2021-2030 for R & D into malaria vaccines,antimalarial medicines,new technologies for vector control and innovations to tackle mosquito resistance to insecticides.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

 

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