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COVID-19 caused rise in TB deaths for first time in decade – WHO

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Another 34 COVID-19 cases recorded ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics

… As Virologist advises FG against Dec. 1 deadline for vaccination of civil servants***

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said deaths from Tuberculosis (TB), one of the top infectious killers in the world, increased for the first time in a decade, as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

WHO’s 2021 Global TB report highlighted how years of global progress in tackling the disease had been “reversed” since the pandemic overwhelmed health care systems in 2020, preventing vulnerable people from seeking help.

Lockdowns had also thwarted many people’s access to essential health care services, the report insisted, before issuing the additional warning that the death toll from the disease could be much higher in 2021 and 2022.

“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could start to unravel years of progress against tuberculosis,” WHO Director-General, Tedros  Ghebreyesus said.

“This is alarming news that must serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected,” he added.

Covering the response to the epidemic in 197 countries and areas, the TB report found that in 2020, some 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 – more than in 2019.

Also read: COVID-19: NCDC registers 251 new cases, 5 deaths on Oct. 13

This included 214,000 patients with HIV, the UN agency said, noting that the overall TB increase was mainly in 30 countries which include Angola, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Zambia.

Because of the new coronavirus pandemic, “challenges” which made it impossible to provide and access essential TB services left many people undiagnosed in 2020.

In a worrying development, WHO noted that the number of people newly diagnosed people with the disease fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.

It stated that far fewer people were diagnosed, treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared with 2019.

Overall spending on essential TB services also fell, WHO said, adding that the highest drop in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020 were India (down 41 per cent), Indonesia (14 per cent), the Philippines (12 per cent) and China (eight per cent).

“These and 12 other countries accounted for 93 per cent of the total global drop in notifications,” said WHO.

There was also a reduction in provision of TB preventative treatment.

Some 2.8 million people accessed this in 2020, which was a 21 per cent reduction since 2019.

In addition, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB fell by 15 per cent, from 177,000 in 2019 to 150,000 in 2020, equivalent to only about one in three of those in need.

Today, some 4.1 million people suffer from TB but have not been diagnosed with the disease or their status has not been reported to national authorities. This is up from 2.9 million in 2019.

The report’s recommendations include a call for countries to put in place urgent measures to restore access to essential TB services.

It recommended a doubling of investment in TB research and innovation and concerted action across the health sector and others to address the social, environmental and economic causes of TB and its consequences.

In the same vein,  Dr Solomon Chollom, a Jos-based Virologist, has advised the Federal Government against imposing Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on its workers.

He said the proposed barring of civil servants who failed to take the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines from offices by Dec. 1, was curious as it raised more questions than answers.

Chollom, who is also the spokesman of Plateau Inter-professional Health Committee on COVID-19 Response in Jos, gave the advice while fielding questions on the development from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

He noted that on the surface, the government decision would appear as a smart policy towards increasing vaccine uptake across the country.

NAN reports that the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 recently proposed that effective from Dec. 1, no federal government employee shall access office without presenting a safe Coronavirus certificate.

The federal workers shall be required to show proof of Coronavirus vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result done within 72 hours, to gain access to their offices in all locations within Nigeria and at foreign Missions.

According to the committee, an appropriate servicewide advisory/circular will be issued to guide the process.

Reacting to the development, Chollom pointed out that the proposed policy will breach labour relations.

He said within the prism of labour laws the decision would violate fundamental rights of employees as it brushed aside people’s right to informed consent on medical decisions.

According to the expert, accepted that government is permitted to take desperate measures in form of executive decisions during emergency situations, especially those that constitute a threat to security, which public health is one.

He noted that the concern here was whether the current transmission rate, morbidity and mortality indices of the virus as well as hesitancy to the coronavirus vaccine constitute a graveous national challenge to Nigeria with economy and lives on the balance to warrant the desperate measure.

Chollom added that it appeared government had forgotten that Nigerians have raised vital questions that border on trust as far as governance during the vaccine rollout was concerned.

“To allay the fears of Nigerians who doubt the purpose and safety of the vaccines, government should have been seen to be busy raising policies and structures for in-country vaccine production, trials and evaluation to generate homegrown products and data that will answer and allay these genuine concerns.

“Unfortunately, Nigerians wake up daily to policies that seem to suggest that government has some social and economic advantage against the people in the COVID-19 pandemic,” he stressed.

He added that many Nigerians have queried why COVID-19 tests for international travels were referred to centres that charge exorbitantly, while over 70 free testing labs have been sited across the country.

Chollom however advised that the federal government should be mindful of cashing in on the vulnerable economy to entrench modern day slavery on her employees because they can accept anything to cling on to their jobs in view of the biting economy and lack of jobs around.

“What ratio of Nigerians works for the federal government to think of using them to scale up vaccine coverage to achieve herd immunity?

“Civil servants are still asking questions and agitating against policies and framework of Pensions Fund Administration, National Housing Fund and National Health Insurance Scheme, among others, for which the government has remained unresponsive.

“Instead of building confidence and looking into the issues raised regarding these policies, the government seem to be bent at raising more policies that enslave and demoralise the discouraged workforce

“Instead of usurping the rights of civil servants to medical decisions, the federal government should be seen to be aggressive on establishing framework that will allow for in-country development of products, raise more awareness on safety and efficacy of vaccines as well as have a balanced approach to all disease outbreaks especially the common ones that have been endemic in Nigeria,” the virologist explained.

He added that by this way, Nigerians would not take government efforts towards coronavirus as ulterior and self-serving.

 

Health and Safety

Military Destroys 39 Illegal Refineries, Apprehends Oil Thieves; Niger Lifts Curfew on Lambata

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Military Destroys 39 Illegal Refineries, Apprehends Oil Thieves; Niger Lifts Curfew on Lambata

 Defence Headquarters says the troops of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, have in the last two weeks destroyed 39 illegal oil refining sites in the South-South zone.

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Musa Danmadami made this known at a bi-weekly news briefing on military operations on Thursday, in Abuja.

Danmadami said the troops in the conduct of Operation Octopus Grip and other operations destroyed 48 cooking ovens, 103 storage tanks, 27 dugout pits and 33 wooden boats during the period.

He said the troops also recovered one tug boat, a barge, 3 pumping machines, three speedboats and 13 vehicles.

According to him, troops recovered 274,000 litres of crude oil, 71,000 litres of Automotive Gas Oil, and 15 Ak47 rifles, while 40 suspected economic saboteurs were arrested.

“All recovered items and apprehended suspects have been handed over to the appropriate authority for further action,” he said.

“Equally, the air component of Operation Delta Safe conducted air interdiction to several illegal refining sites and creeks at Gogokiri Degema and Okrika Local Government Areas both in Rivers State between Jan. 12 and Jan. 24.

“Crew observed the sites to be active makeshift tents sighted as well as illegal refining activities been carried out.

“Targets were engaged with weapons and the locations were observed to have exploded in an inferno while the illegal refining equipment were also destroyed,” he said.

In South East, defence spokesman said the military and other security agencies had sustained the offensive against the activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network criminals in the zone.

He said the troops had neutralised six terrorists, arrested 24 and rescued 16 abducted civilians.

According to him, several calibres of arms and ammunition including AK47 rifles, pump action rifles, IEDs and locally made explosive pipes among other items were also recovered.

In another development, Gov.  Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger has directed the lifting of the curfew on Lambata town in Gurara Local Government Area of the state.

The directive is contained in a statement by the Secretary to the state Government, Mr Ahmed Matane in Minna on Thursday.

The governor had on Jan. 15 imposed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. as a result of a violent clash that led to the killing of the village head of Lambata, Alhaji Muhammed Abdulsafur.

Matane explained that the lifting of the curfew would begin on Jan. 26.

He said that the curfew was lifted having reviewed the security situation and return of peace in Lambata town and environs.

He said that the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Ogundele Ayodeji had visited Lambata town and commenced investigation into the matter that led to the killing of the village head, stressing that arrests had also been made in connection with the violent clash.

Matane, however, urged the people of Lambata and the public to always be law-abiding and to remain peaceful with one another regardless of social, political or religious affiliations.

According to him, security agencies have been directed to ensure the safety of lives and property of the people of the area.

Matane noted that the governor thanked the residents of Lambata town for their understanding in complying with the curfew.

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Dental Therapist advises regular use of toothpastes against dental diseases

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Dental Therapist advices regular use of toothpastes against dental diseases

A Dental Therapist, Maria Onu, says regular use of toothpastes can prevent dental diseases as toothpaste contain some active ingredients created specifically for such purpose.

She said this on Thursday in an interview in Abuja.

According to Onu, toothpaste is a paste or gel dentifrice used with a toothbrush to clean and maintain the aesthetics and health of the teeth and is generally useful to maintain dental health.

She said, “It is an abrasive used to promote oral hygiene and aids in removing dental plaque or its build-up and food from the teeth while also promoting healthy gums.

“It assists in suppressing halitosis and delivers active ingredients such as fluoride to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

“Toothpastes containing fluoride are effective at preventing tooth decay and it’s a very necessary ingredient for toothpastes.

“Toothpaste are made up of 20 to 40 percent of water, abrasives including aluminum hydroxide, calcium hydrogen phosphates, calcium carbonate, silica, and hydroxyapatite.”

She said that a good toothpaste should contain 1450 (parts per million) ppm of fluoride, mainly in the form of sodium fluoride, detergents and sodium lauryl sulfate with concentration ranges of 0.5 to two percent.

Onu said that toothpastes should also contain antibacterial agents such as triclosan or zinc chloride, flavourants including spearmint, peppermint, and wintergreen.

“Anti-sensitivity agents in sensitive toothpastes containing strontium chloride and potassium nitrate or arginine and anti-calculus agents such as sodium polyphosphate or zinc citrate.”

She said that proper oral hygiene would protect the teeth and gums and keep one’s smile beautiful.

She added that brushing the teeth using fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush at least twice a day was a good practice.

“A soft-bristled one for children and a medium toothbrush for adults as hard bristles can damage the gums and tooth enamel.

“When you brush, place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward your gums. This helps sweep away plaque and bacteria at the gum line.

“Also, be sure to brush all teeth surfaces, including the backs and sides,” Onu said. 

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Troops Rescue 16 Persons, kill 3 Bandits in Kaduna

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Troops Rescue 16 Persons, kill 3 Bandits in Kaduna

 Troops of Operation Forest Sanity have rescued 16 persons from Bandits’playground, Kaduna State, in an operation spanning Birnin Gwari-Kaduna Road and a location in Igabi Local Government Area.

The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, confirmed the development in a statement on Tuesday in Kaduna.

Aruwan also confirmed that three suspected bandits have been neutralised and three firearms, one explosive and 11 motorcycles recovered.

“According to operational feedback, the troops responded to a distress call along the Udawa-Manini axis of the Birnin Gwari-Kaduna Road.

“The troops arrived to foil the attack, rescuing 15 persons in the process.

“Some of the rescued persons who sustained injuries were rushed to hospital for treatment.

“Similarly, troops of Operation Forest Sanity responded to a distress call from Gonan Doctor village, Igabi LGA, and laid ambush at a likely crossing point in Maraban Huda village.

“Contact was made with the bandits, and following a firefight, one bandit was neutralised,” he said.

He said a kidnapped victim was rescued, though injured by the bandits, and was rushed to the Jaji Cantonment Hospital for treatment, one motorcycle was recovered.

Aruwan further disclosed that in response to credible intelligence of bandits’ movement around an interstate boundary area, troops of Operation Forest Sanity set up ambush positions around Mangoro general area around Chikun-Birnin Gwari LGA, on the boundary with Shiroro LGA of neighbouring Niger State.

“The troops engaged the approaching bandits and neutralised two.

“The troops also recovered one AK47 rifle, one pump action gun, one Improvised Explosive Device, one Baofeng Radio, and 10 motorcycles,” he said.

The commissioner said Gov. Nasir El-Rufai received the reports with gratitude and expressed satisfaction at the breakthroughs recorded by the security forces.

“The Governor commended the troops for the successful rescues, and prayed for the quick recovery of injured victims,” Aruwan said.

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