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Measles Cases Increase By 79% In Two Months, UNICEF, WHO Warn

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned of what they described as a “perfect storm” of conditions for measles outbreaks, disclosing that measles cases increased by 79per cent in the first two months of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021.
Meanwhile, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia recorded the largest measles outbreak in the past year due to insufficient measles vaccine coverage is the major reason for outbreaks, wherever they occur.
The duo warned that conditions ripe for serious outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses
In a report, they stated that an increase in measles cases in January and February, 2022 is a worrying sign of a heightened risk for the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and could trigger larger outbreaks, particularly of measles affecting millions of children this year.
Pandemic-related disruptions, increasing inequalities in access to vaccines, and the diversion of resources from routine immunisation are leaving too many children without protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
The duo noted in the report that the risk for large outbreaks has increased as communities relax social distancing practices and other preventive measures for COVID-19 implemented during the height of the pandemic.
“In addition, with millions of people being displaced due to conflicts and crises including in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan, disruptions in routine immunisation and COVID-19 vaccination services, lack of clean water and sanitation, and overcrowding increase the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.
“Almost 17,338 measles cases were reported worldwide in January and February, 2022, compared to 9,665 during the first two months of 2021. As measles is very contagious, cases tend to show up quickly when vaccination levels decline. The agencies are concerned that outbreaks of measles could also forewarn outbreaks of other diseases that do not spread as rapidly.
“Apart from its direct effect on the body, which can be lethal, the measles virus also weakens the immune system and makes a child more vulnerable to other infectious diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea, including for months after the measles infection itself among those who survive. Most cases occur in settings that have faced social and economic hardships due to COVID-19, conflict, or other crises, and have chronically weak health system infrastructure and insecurity,” the report noted.
Speaking on the development, UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell, said measles is more than a dangerous and potentially deadly disease.
According to Russell, “It is also an early indication that there are gaps in our global immunization coverage, gaps vulnerable children cannot afford.
“It is encouraging that people in many communities are beginning to feel protected enough from COVID-19 to return to more social activities. But doing so in places where children are not receiving routine vaccination creates the perfect storm for the spread of a disease like measles.”
In 2020, 23million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines through routine health services, the highest number since 2009 and 3.7million more than in 2019.
As of April 2022, the agencies report 21 large and disruptive measles outbreaks around the world in the last 12 months.
Most of the measles cases were reported in Africa and the East Mediterranean region.
The figures are likely higher as the pandemic has disrupted surveillance systems globally, with potential underreporting.
Speaking, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted immunisation services, health systems have been overwhelmed, and we are now seeing a resurgence of deadly diseases, including measles. For many other diseases, the impact of these disruptions to immunisation services will be felt for decades to come.
“Now is the moment to get essential immunisation back on track and launch catch-up campaigns so that everybody can have access to these life-saving vaccines.”
“As of 1 April 2022, 57 vaccine-preventable disease campaigns in 43 countries that were scheduled to take place since the start of the pandemic are still postponed, impacting 203million people, most of whom are children.
Of these, 19 are measles campaigns, which put 73million children at risk of measles due to missed vaccinations.
“In Ukraine, the measles catch-up campaign of 2019 was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and thereafter due to the war. Routine and catch-up campaigns are needed wherever access is possible to help make sure there are not repeated outbreaks as in 2017-2019 when there were over 115,000 cases of measles and 41 deaths in the country – this was the highest incidence in Europe.
“Coverage at or above 95 per cent with two doses of the safe and effective measles vaccine can protect children against measles. However, COVID-19 pandemic related disruptions have delayed the introduction of the second dose of the measles vaccine in many countries.
“As countries work to respond to outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and recover lost ground, UNICEF and WHO, along with partners such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the partners of the Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are supporting efforts to strengthen immunisation systems by restoring services and vaccination campaigns so countries can safely deliver routine immunisation programmes to fill the gaps left by the backsliding; helping health workers and community leaders communicate actively with caregivers to explain the importance of vaccinations; rectifying gaps in immunisation coverage, including identifying communities and people who have been missed during the pandemic; ensuring that COVID-19 vaccine delivery is independently financed and well-integrated into overall planning for immunisation services so that it is not carried out at the cost of childhood and other vaccination services; implementing country plans to prevent and respond to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and strengthening immunisation systems as part of COVID-19 recovery efforts”.

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LG Boss Lauds Mrs. Wike On Women’s Mentorship

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The Chairman of Bonny Local Government Area, Rivers State, Hon. Anengi Barasua has said that the mentorship roled played by Mrs. Suzzuest Nyesom Wike has enriched women in the State in all ramifications.
She said Justice Nyesom Wike’s display of humility and support for women was worthy for emulation.
Barasua, said this while fielding questions from journalists, at the weekend, in her office in Bonny, saying support given to the governor was enormous.
” Justice Suzzuest Wike, is a virtuous mother and role model to women, particularly in Rivers State. The women are proud of her. Her humility and inspiration she has given to women is commendable” Barasua said.
The local government chairperson urged women in authority to always emulate Mrs Wike, as she support her husband to succeed in his administration.
” I want to say an old time adage that says behind every successful man there is a woman. We have seen a real mother that has so much interest in women empowerment and deveploment.
I urge every woman in her position to emulate her and be submissive to your husbands. I also use this opportunity to felicitate with her on her birthday and wish her God protection and good health” she stated.
In another deveploment, Bonny Chairman has also congratulated all women elected in the just concluded PDP delegate and primary elections describing it as most peaceful.
She reiterated her commitment to the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike for given women more opportunity to participate in the democratic process.
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Nigeria’s GDP Grew By 3.11% In Q1 2022, NBS Affirms

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.11per cent in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS made this known via its Nigerian Gross Domestic Product Report Q1 2022 released, last Monday.
According to the report, Nigeria’s GDP grew by 3.11per cent year-on-year in real terms in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS noted that the development showed a sustained positive growth for six consecutive quarters since the recession witnessed in 2020 when negative growth rates were recorded in quarter two and three of 2020.
It added that the first quarter 2022 growth rate further represents an improvement in economic performance.
The NBS stated: “The observed trend since Q4 of 2020 is an indication of a gradual economic stability.
“The Q1 of 2022 growth rate was higher than the 0.51per cent growth rate recorded in Q1 of 2021 by 2.60per cent points and lower than 3.98per cent recorded in Q4 of 2021 by 0.88per cent points.
“Nevertheless, quarter-on-quarter, real GDP grew at -14.66per cent in Q1 of 2022, compared to Q4 of 2021, reflecting a lower economic activity than the preceding quarter.
“In the period under review, aggregate GDP stood at about N45.317million in nominal terms.
“This performance is higher when compared to the first quarter of 2021 which recorded aggregate GDP of about N40.014million, indicating a year-on-year nominal growth rate of 13.25per cent.
“The nominal GDP growth rate in Q1 2022 was higher relative to the 12.25per cent growth recorded in Q1 2021, and higher compared to the 13.11per cent growth recorded in the preceding quarter,” the report read.

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RSG Launches RIV-CARES Programme …World Bank Rates Rivers High

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The Rivers State Government has launched the state COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike performed the launching at the NBA Secretariat in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Speaking through his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said the programme was to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable households and support micro and small-scale enterprises as a means of stimulating economic growth post-COVID.
According to the State Chief Executive, “the state government had signed in for the programme, made provisions in the 2022 Budget for Result Areas and signed Funds Release Policy, which is an assurance to the World Bank that funds shall be released for the implementation of the programme”.
Wike said the launching of the RIV-CARES Programme would create awareness for the people of the state and engender expression of interest by beneficiary households, communities and operators of micro and small businesses (SMEs).
The governor, who encouraged the Rivers people to take advantage of the opportunities provided by RIV-CARES to enhance their means of livelihood and reduce the spate of poverty in the communities, commended the World Bank and the Federal CARES for their support to the state.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs. Titilola Kuna Cline, said in a bid to check the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods, food security and micro and small businesses, the World Bank in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the state governments, introduced the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) Programme.
She said the state scaled through rigorous preparatory stages and qualified to participate in the programme whose objective was “to expand access to livelihood support and food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms”.
According to her, the stages include, signing of subsidiary loan agreement and fund release policy by the government.
Others include the establishment of the RIV-CARES Steering Committee, establishment of State- CARES Coordination Unit domiciled in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning and preparation of work plan.
“The NG-CARES, after domestication of programme implementation manual now known as RIV-CARES programme has the State Coordination Unit (SCU) saddled with coordinating implementation of RIV-CARES programme in the state and reporting to Federal-CARES supporting unit and the World Bank in Abuja.
“It is also a bridge between the delivery platforms and the State-CARES Steering Committee and for delivery platform under three Results Areas (RA1-3).
Cline listed the three areas to include cash transfer unit, labour intensive public works and community-driven development social (CDD-S) Plus.
The rest are, FADAMA and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Also speaking, the representative of the World Bank, Mr. Aso Vakporaye, said the programme must succeed in order to kick out poverty from the state in view of the fact that failure to kick out poverty would make life difficult for the entire citizenry.
He, therefore, thanked the governor for making it possible for Rivers State to participate in the programme.
Similarly, the World Bank and the Federal Government have rated Rivers State high in the implementation of the COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus scheme by the state government.
Representative of the World Bank Task Team Leader, Mr.Aso Vakporaye said this, yesterday, in Port Harcourt at the official flag offand implementation of the Rivers State COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme in the state.
Vakporaye, who is also the chairman of the Federal Government’sFederal-CARES Technician Committee,confirmed that Rivers State has met the requirements for the implementation of the programme.
He said alot still remains to be done,adding that the state needs to release more money for the implementation of the programme.
Also speaking, theTechnical Head of State CARESCoordinating Unitand Secretary,RIV-CARESSteering Committee,Mrs Imaonyeni Ephraim, said the programme would improve the livelihood of the poor and vulnerable people in the state.
She said the programme, which runs for two years,was open to many beneficiaries.
The flag off was performed by the state Deputy Governor,Dr.Ipalibo Harry Banigo, onbehalf of Governor Nyesom Wike.

By: John Bibor

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