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91m Africans Infected By Hepatitis, WHO Laments

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More than 91million Africans live with Hepatitis B or C, which are the deadliest strains of the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO), has revealed.

WHO disclosed this in its Viral Hepatitis Scorecard 2021 which looks at data from the African region but focuses on Hepatitis B and C, both of which cause liver cirrhosis and cancer.

It found that in 19 countries, more than eight percent of the population is infected with Hepatitis B, while in 18 countries, more than one percent of the population lives with Hepatitis C.

In 2020, the African region accounted for 26percent of the global burden for Hepatitis B and C and 125,000 associated deaths, it said.

The scorecard showed that around 70percent of Hepatitis B infections worldwide occur in Africa.

“It can take decades after infection from the virus before an individual starts manifesting symptoms. Thus, what is particularly worrying for the future is that the region accounts for 70percent of the global Hepatitis B cases found among children younger than five years, with 4.5million African children infected. Currently, 33 countries have a Hepatitis B prevalence of more than one percent among children younger than five years, which is a small improvement from 40 countries in 2019,” it noted.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said hepatitis was a silent epidemic, adding this scorecard is sounding an alarm for the region and the world to hear.

“We must do better and stop this disease from stealing away our children’s future. There is a safe and effective vaccine that offers nearly 100percent protection against Hepatitis B, one of the deadliest strains of the virus. We must ensure that all African children are vaccinated within 24 hours of their birth and are followed up with two or more doses of the vaccine,” Moeti said.

The scorecard found that coverage for routine childhood vaccination against Hepatitis B is 72percent for the region, well below the global target of 90percent needed to ensure that the virus is no longer a public health menace.

“The number of countries with more than 90 percent coverage has increased from 23 in 2019 to 27 in 2021. Additionally, while the birth dose vaccine is administered in only 14 African countries, at an overall coverage of 10 percent, it is an increase from 11 countries in 2019.

“Hepatitis can be spread through contaminated blood products, and much more progress is needed to ensure blood safety. In the African region, only 80percent of blood donations are screened with quality assurance, while five percent of syringes are re-used. Only six syringes are distributed per injecting drug user, compared to the global annual target of 200.

“Diagnosis and treatment rates are alarmingly low, the scorecard shows. In 2021, only an estimated two percent of persons infected with Hepatitis B were diagnosed, and only 0.1percent were treated. For Hepatitis C, an estimated five percent of infected persons were diagnosed, with close to 0percent treated,” the WHO said.

Moeti added that “To turn the tide, hepatitis services must move out of specialized clinics to decentralized and integrated facilities where most Africans still seek care. More primary health care workers need to be trained to diagnose and treat the virus.

“While there has been progress in making hepatitis medications affordable, still more needs to be done.”

The Tide reports that the World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 annually and this year’s theme is ‘Bringing hepatitis care close to you.’

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Anglican Bishop Urges Politicians To Lead With Integrity

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The Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Niger Delta, Dr Emmanuel Oko-Jaja, has called on Nigerians, especially those in positions of authority to uphold moral standard and integrity.
Oko-Jaja said this at a thanksgiving service to mark the 90th birthday of Prof. Sylvanus Cookey at Saint Paul Anglican Church in Opobo Town, Rivers yesterday.
The Tide’s source reports that Cookey was the second Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) in 1982.
Oko-Jaja advised political leaders to always be self-aware and avoid actions that could damage their reputation.
“In today’s Nigeria, hardship has changed how the people behave, as lies have become more popular than the truth.
“We now live in a country where injustice is now celebrated and lowering moral and social standard have become the new normal.
“Leaders must follow the exemplary legacies set by our forebears by becoming upright and live a life that would not bring shame to their family and community,” he said.
He attributed the country’s current economic challenges and declining living standards to leaders failing to prioritise the well-being of citizens.
“The younger generation should emulate the virtues of our predecessors like Prof. Cookey, who prioritised integrity over material gain.
“Good reputation was the norm back then, and I hope that God will restore it to Nigeria, where leaders’ goal will be to have good names.
“If anyone wants to commit evil, they should remember that their actions can bring a bad name to their family and community,” he cautioned.
Addressing the celebrant, the King of Opobo Kingdom, HRM Dandason Jaja, praised Cookey for his impact on society and described him as a mentor and philanthropist.
He said that the celebrant was a distinguished academic, who had impacted numerous youths through vocational training, leading to their successful employment in different sectors.
Speaking earlier, Cookey expressed gratitude to God for attaining 90 years and acknowledged the support of his family and friends.
Reflecting on his contributions to the country, he encouraged leaders to leave behind positive legacies for future generations to celebrate.

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Senators, Reps To Resume Plenary In Remodelled Main Chambers

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Nineteen months after federal lawmakers movement to  temporary chambers,  the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives would finally resume sittings in  their  newly remodelled main hallowed chambers tomorrow
Spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Hon. Akin Rotimi Jnr, and the Clerk to the Senate, Barrister Chinedu Akubueze confirmed the planned movement to the main chambers in separate written announcements made penultimate week on the change in resumption date by lawmakers from their ongoing recess.
Hon. Rotimi, who is the chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, in the official announcement dated April 4, 2024 to the honourable members, cited the need to resume plenary at the renovated and reconfigured main chamber, as reason for the postponement in line with the general wish of the lawmakers.
“The House of Representatives wishes to inform the public and stakeholders of the rescheduling of the resumption date from the ongoing recess, originally slated for Tuesday, April 16, 2024, to  Tuesday, April 23, 2024.
“This adjustment is necessary to accommodate the completion of renovations to the main chamber of the House of Representatives to ensure its readiness for plenary sessions, henceforth,” he stated.
Two days after, the Clerk to the Senate also issued a statement, postponing resumption of plenary by the Senate from April 16 to 23, 2024.
Akubueze ‘s statement reads in part: “Distinguished Senators are hereby invited to note that the resumption of the plenary sitting of the Senate, which was scheduled for Tuesday, 16th April, 2024, has been postponed to Tuesday 23rd April, 2024”
It would be recalled that ahead of the projects delivery, the Site Engineer of Visible Construction, Tajudeen Olanipekun, had early last month informed journalists covering the Senate, that the two main chambers, would be ready for use by both the Senate and the House of Representatives in April this year.
Olanipekun’s assurance on delivery of the fully transformed and reconfigured hallowed chambers to management of the National Assembly, coincided with call by the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, to the Clerk to the National Assembly, CNA, Alhaji Sani Magaji Tambawal that both the Senate and the House of Representatives, want to move to their main chambers as soon as possible after close to two years of using temporary ones.
In carrying out the subtle marching order, the construction firm in the last five weeks has carried out the required finishings on
the upgraded and reconfigured hallowed chambers fixed with state-of-the-art chairs, parliamentary equipments,  appliances and extended sitting terraces.
Physically, the entire ambience of the space in and around the hallowed chambers have been transformed, just as barricades used to restrict movements at the foyer have been removed.
The  Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, had in March 2021 awarded a N30billion renovation contract to Visible Construction Limited to rehabilitate critical segments of the National Assembly complex.
The law makers had in September  2022 vacated the main chambers to enable the Contractors;   handle the renovation work of both chambers
Some of the critical segments are the office buildings housing the office accommodation for the senators and honourable members, watertightness of the roof of the complex, the cooling system, replacement of lifts that are inoperable in the White House as well as in the House of Representatives and in the new Senate Wing among others.

By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

 

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Police Commence Recruitment Process In Anambra, Enugu

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The Zone 13 of the Nige- rian Police Force, comprising Anambra and Enugu States, has announced the venue and time for both General Duty and Specialist Constable recruitment medical screening in the two States.
This is contained in a statement issued yesterday by the Zonal Police Public Relations Officer, SP Josephine Ihunwo, yesterday in Enugu.
Ihunwo said that prospective candidates from Zone 13 should note that the exercise would take place at Police Hospital, Awka.
She said that the medical screening would commence simultaneously nationwide on Tuesday, April 16, and end on April 30, 2024.
“Candidates are advised to visit the recruitment portal: https://apply.policerecruitment.gov.ng to know their status, specific time, date and other mandatory requirements.
“So also, qualified applicants are to appear in clean white T-shirt and short with the following requirements;
“National Identity Card/Slip; Print Out of Medical Examination Slip and all necessary documents.
“The Assistant Inspector-General of Police Zone 13 Command, AIG Godwin Aghaulor, wishes all prospective candidates success as they embark on this exercise,” he said.

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