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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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Police Kill Another Cult Leader In Rivers

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The Rivers State Police command has recorded another milestone in its fight against cultism in the State, as it has hacked down another cult gang leader, Peter Chukwu popularly called “Daddy Chukwu.”
Daddy Chukwu is a cult kingpin terrorizing Mgbuoshimini community and its environs in the State.
The killing of Chukwu who hailed from ONELGA is coming barely two weeks after police operatives eliminated two notorious cultists who were associates of late 2Baba in Ahoada Local Government Area of the State.
Chukwu, a 34-year old cultist and kidnap kingpin was the anchor head of Marine Iceland in Orashi Region in Ogba/Egbema /Ndoni local Government Areas of the state before he met his waterloo.
The late Iceland hitman was said to be the second in command to the infamous ONELGA cult leader, late Don Wani and was declared wanted in 2017 by the State Police command for his involvement in various killings in the State.
The State Commissioner of Police, Tunji Disu, while briefing journalists at the state police command in Port Harcourt, last Thursday, disclosed that late Daddy chukwu was responsible for the killing of over 21 persons in Mgbuoshimini community in Rumueme, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area in October 2017.
Disu disclosed that the late Chukwu was killed by the combined team of policemen from the state, Delta and Force Headquarters, Abuja and was trailed to his hideout in Delta State where he had gone to fortify himself with his native doctor at Obosi in Delta State after allegedly escaped from police arrest in a hotel in Igwuruta community, last month.
“Following his close shave with the authorities, he fled to Asaba in Delta State. He remained in hiding before returning briefly to Port Harcourt, where he boasted about his invincibility and the power of his charms. He returned to Delta, where he began plotting to kill the investigating police officers and to launch attacks on police facilities to free his arrested associates.
“Undeterred by the notorious gangster’s initial escape, on April 5, 2024, around 4 am, a coordinated team launched an assault on his hideout. The team, comprising the Rivers State Command Tactical Team and the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), advanced to Delta to locate the criminal’s hideout. With support from the Delta State Commissioner of Police, operatives from the command joined the conclusive operation, resulting in the neutralisation of the suspect following a fierce operation.
“He was tracked down and apprehended in Ibusa, Delta State, and found in a herbalist’s home where he sought spiritual fortification. Upon realising the presence of security forces surrounding the premises, Peter Daddy Chukwu fiercely resisted and attempted to flee. He put up a fierce resistance, and in an attempt to escaped he was fataly wounded and later was confirmed dead in a hospital where he was rushed to”, the CP stated.
He added, “In his scramble to escape, he left behind his personal effects, including a hit list containing names of his next victims and other vital documents and gadgets that gave the Police a clear picture of the extent of sophistication he operated with. This necessitated the urgency in arresting the notorious criminal.”
According to the police commissioner, the Police recovered tinted Black toyota highlander, AK 47 riffle, Pump Action gun, IED, Camouflage of Police and Army uniforms from the hoodlum.
He said the Police discovered a list of 11 persons Chukwu wanted to kill when the Police went to his hideout at a hotel in Igwuruta.
The CP, while given the breakdown of the various heinous crime committed by late Chukwu and his gang said they were responsible for the killing of the former Community Development committee (CDC) of Ngbuoshimini community, late Mr Ndidi Livingstone on January 13, 2024 at the Faith Ministry Church on January 13,2024
“The gang dressed in police uniforms on that day and brought out Ndidi Livingstone,Chairman of Comminity Development Committe(CDC)of Mgbuoshimini community,Obio/Akpor and killed him in the presence his wife,children and church members at the community on January 13,2024 ,and also responsible for killing of twenty -one in 2017.He also killed and multilated the body of one Miss Grace Asuquo who declined to honoure his invitation He is also in the business of hiring assasination job for people. He was contracted to kill a hotelier,one Victor .In a bid to kill the hotelier he installed tracker in the hotelier’s car and after unsuccessful two attempts to kill the hotelier, he planted bomb in his hotel which exploded and damaged big part of the hotel”, he stated.
The Police boss added that the late cult kingpin had a network of informants who shared to him intelligence information about activities of the people and the operations of the Police in the community.
Also speaking at the press briefing, the representative of Mgbuishimin community, Mr livingston Weche, thanked the State Commissioner of Police and the IGP for their timely intervention and urged the police not to relent in taking further proactive steps to eradicate crime and criminality in the community.

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NDLEA Recovers 900,000 Opioid Pills, 1,347.4kg In Seven States

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National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it has intercepted about 900,000 pills of opioid at Sabon Gari area of Kano State.
Spokesperson of NDLEA, Mr Femi Babafemi, in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja, said that two suspects were arrested on April 9.
Babafemi said that another 48-year-old suspect was also apprehended at Essit Ebum area of Calabar with 39.4kg of cannabis sativa on April 9.
He said that NDLEA operatives on patrol on Owerri-Onitsha road, Imo, also intercepted a logistics truck, with registration number: JGB 403XB on Friday.
Babafemi said that 230 blocks of cannabis sativa, weighing 119kg and hidden under household items, were recovered from the suspect, after a thorough search.
He said that 252 kilograms of cannabis were also seized during a raid at Ijesa-Isu forest in Ekiti on Saturday.
Babafemi said that the suspects were caught loading 40kg of same substance to the engine compartment of a gas truck at Agho village, Owan-East in Edo.
“Two motorcycles used in conveying the consignment to where the gas truck heading to the North was parked were also recovered,” he said.
The NDLEA spokesperson further stated that a suspect was arrested on Friday with 79kg of cannabis at Imeko area of Ogun.
He said that an 18-year-old was equally nabbed with 410kg of the same substance when NDLEA operatives raided Obatedo camp, Itaogbolu forest in Akure North Local Government area of Ondo state.
“With the same zeal, the various commands of the agency across the country continued with the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy campaign in the past week,” he said.
According to him, some of them include: WADA sensitisation lecture for students and staff members of Gboko Polytechnic, Gboko, Benue, officers and men of 15 Engineering Field Regiment Nigerian Army, Topo, Badagry, Lagos.
Others, he said, were meat butchers at Odo Eran abattoir, Osogbo, Osun and WADA advocacy visit to Kogi Governor, Ahmed Ododo, among others.

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HURIWA Tells Tinubu To Discontinue Plans On New National ID

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The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has urged President Bola Tinubu to discontinue the plans for the issuance of a new National Identity Card, describing the planned exercise as a misuse of the commonwealth of Nigerians, and a scheme to rip Nigerians of public funds.
The group also said the plan showed a lack of national strategy to formulate and implement beneficial public policies governing the issuance of the ID.
This was made known by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko in a statement, yesterday.
Recall that on April 5, 2024, the NIMC announced its collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System to launch a new card having multiple functionalities, including for social and financial services.
The management of the commission had also clarified in a note last Friday titled “Key Facts About the Proposed New General Multipurpose National Identity Card”, that the new ID card would be a single, multipurpose card and not three separate cards.
HURIWA questioned how 133 million poor Nigerians suffering “crushing poverty”, were expected “to maintain working bank accounts to enable them to collect the so-called single National ID”.
The group said, “This is a scheme to rip off Nigeria of monumental and humongous amounts of public funds which will end up in the offshore bank accounts of top leaders and their mistresses and acolytes.
“We call on President Bola Tinubu to discontinue this sheer misuse of both the commonwealth of Nigerians and the plan to once more subject Nigerians to rounds of ordeals of queuing up in the hot sun or rains all over the country in their banks to access their so-called banks to obtain the dubious national identity card even as the Rights group said it is poor thinking for NIMC to assume that all Nigerians have functional bank accounts to enable them get the ID from those banks.”
HURIWA also stated that a report showed that 50 per cent of Nigerians were unbanked and unbankable due to terrible poverty, adding that it was of the view that the plan was part of a sinister plot by “fast fingers” in the corridors of power to use the public funds to “empower their mistresses, friends and cronies”.
The group urged the government to rather adopt the International Passport as the most critical ID card.

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