…As UNFPA says trafficking heightens spread of STI, HIV***
Nigeria has recorded 462 new cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that the cases were spread across 15 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Friday night.
The health agency noted that one more person died from the disease.
According to it, till date, 43,151 cases have been confirmed, 19,565 cases have been discharged and 879 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and FCT.
The 462 new cases were reported from 16 states – FCT (93), Lagos (78), Plateau (64), Kaduna (54), Oyo (47), Ondo (32), Adamawa (23) and Bauchi (19).
Others are Rivers (9), Ogun (9), Delta (9), Edo (7), Kano (6), Enugu (6), Nasarawa (5), and Osun (1).
The health agency said that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was activated at level-3, continues to coordinate the national response activities.
Meanwhile, NCDC announced that two new laboratories have been activated for inclusion in the NCDC Molecular Lab Network.
“These are Molecular Diagnostics Lab, Gombe State Specialist Hospital and United Nations IOM Lab, FCT.
“There are currently 61 laboratories with capacity to test for COVID-19 in the NCDC network of laboratories,’’ it stated.
In the meantime, Trafficking in Persons has been identified as one of the major factors capable of heightening the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), and HIV infections globally.
Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said this in a statement to the newsmen on Friday in Abuja by Kori Habib, Media Associate, UNFPA.
Kanem said that traffickers preyed upon the poor and the vulnerable, binding them in unspeakable conditions where every human right was violated.
She decried the cruel manner in which traffickers wielded physical and psychological violence, drugs, and sexual abuse as weapons to control their victims especially women and girls.
“And with sexual exploitation and abuse comes a heightened risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, making a dire situation deadly.
“Even under the best of circumstances, women and girls around the world are less likely than men and boys to enjoy their fundamental rights to health, autonomy, bodily integrity and freedom from violence,” Kanem said.
The UNFPA Executive Director explained that Trafficking had the ability of taking gender inequalities to the extreme thereby setting backward successes made in war against Gender-Based Violence.
Kanem, however, called on national and local governments, law enforcement, criminal justice systems and human rights organisations to redouble efforts to identify and report trafficking by bringing perpetrators to justice as well as supporting survivors.
“I also call on governments, community organisations, schools and other institutions to invest in women and girls and guarantee them equal rights and opportunities so that they can fulfill their potential and live a life of dignity, free of harm.”
She reemphasized the need for additional efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, which according to her was undermining livelihoods, worsening poverty and increasing women’s vulnerability to traffickers.
She observed that schemes of traffickers may become harder for law enforcement to uncover during the lockdown.
The Executive Director expressed optimism that the war against forced sex must be won.
She said: “Every year, tens of thousands of people are trafficked across and within national borders.
“While men and boys tend to be trafficked into forced labor, women and girls tend to be trafficked into forced sex.
“Trafficking must never be tolerated, and our fight against it must continue even during the pandemic.
“We must not stop until this affront to human rights is brought to an end.”
It was reported that July 30, of every year is set aside by UN to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.