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Healthcare: EU hands over N3.8bn project to FG

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Travel resumes across Europe amid hopes of economic recovery

…Pledges support for Made-in-Nigeria products***

The European Union (EU) on Friday handed over projects worth N3.8 billion geared toward strengthening primary healthcare and reduction of childhood morbidity and mortality to the Federal Government.

Mr Ketil Karlsen, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, handed over the project to the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire at Gui community FCT.
Karlsen said the overall objective was to contribute to the reduction of sickness and death due to vaccines preventable diseases.

He said the project was in addition to N7.2 provided in 2001 toward Polio eradication using immunisation as a window of opportunity to strengthen the primary healthcare system to provide high quality preventive health services to all Nigerians.
He emphasised that the N3.8billion project was under EU Support to Immunisation Governance in Nigeria (EU-SIGN) initiative.

Karlsen identified the area of interventions to include construction and renovation of cold stores and health facilities as well as supply of 29 vehicles and solar power generators to improve vaccine cold chain.

“The amount was used to fund the procurement of 29 vehicles and solar refrigerators as well as construction and renovation of health facilities and cold stores in 23 states of the federation and the FCT.

“The overall goal of EU-SIGN project is to contribute to the reduction of childhood mortality and morbidity in Nigeria due to vaccines preventable diseases.

“Expected results were to ensure improved effective routine immunisation management systems in the states and local government areas.

“It was also for improved delivery of routine immunisation services through provision of infrastructure, transportation and immunisation equipment. Reduction of spread of polio infections targeted at eradicating polio in Nigeria.

“Also it was meant for improved information and knowledge generation for routine immunisation operational research to drive policies, planning and programme implementation,’’ he said.

Karlsen said the intervention would ensure quality routine immunisation and interrupting the spread of poliomyelitis in Nigeria.

He explained that in order to realise the set objectives the EU support project had used both hard and soft ware solutions to tackle identified challenges.

He described vaccines security as one of the strategies of controlling communicable diseases and saving lives of millions of Nigerians.

According to him, efforts to increase capacity of health centres will be meaningless when there is no supply of potent vaccines to give to children and mothers as well as avoiding problems of stock outs at all levels.

“A functional vaccine distribution system together with effective supervision ensures disease prevention and reduces human suffering and death.

“For the system to be efficient, relevant government agencies need reliable communication and transport means.

“We consequently hope the vehicles procured will go a long way for the states to improve vaccine distribution, enhance supervision, undertake disease surveillance and respond quickly to outbreaks of diseases,’’ he said.

Dr Faisal Shuaibu, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said EU has been an important partner in strengthening our efforts to improve primary healthcare system to provide better health for the populace.

Shuaibu noted that EU through it initiatives had built the capacity of over 1,400 health workers on various aspects of routine immunisation services including support for polio eradication.

Describing the project as a seven years said it commenced in 2011 and to elapse next year.
He assured of adequate deployment of the items to concerned states to boost efficiency of service delivery and ensure that every child is reached with immunisation services.
“The EU funded project is to support the efforts of the Federal Government to reduce the burden of vaccines preventable diseases, polio eradication and strengthen the primary health care system.

“The 23 focal states supported are Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi, Edo, FCT, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Osun Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara,’’ he said.
Inaugurating the projects, Ehanire commended the efforts of EU and described strengthening primary health care systems as the priority of the present administration.
The minister pledged federal government commitment toward sustainability of the projects and realisation of the set goal.

In the meantime, the European Union (EU) has pledged to support Nigeria in improving quality and standards of “Made in Nigeria” agricproducts to make them internationally competitive.

The Union made the pledge in a communiqué issued at the end of the EU-Nigeria Business Forum held in Lagos on Friday, ahead of the AU-EU summit scheduled to hold in Abidjan between Nov 20 and Nov 30.

The forum explored ways of further strengthening trade relations between EU and Nigeria through partnership agreements and identifying value chains with high inclusive growth potential and investing in the right mix of skills.

It noted with concern that while “Nigerian government promotes youth participation in agriculture, access to financing is still a challenge”.

The forum harped on the need to develop the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector in Nigeria.

“The ICT sector will give 80 per cent of the population access to information via internet in the next few years and become a future major source of revenue for the country.

“EU companies strongly believe in the opportunities this sector offers and are planning investments in the country.

“The European Investment Bank (EIB) and African Development Bank are supporting ICT investments with a 150million euros Investment platform tagged “Boost Africa,” it said,

It noted that the recently launched 4.1 billion euros European External Investment Plan and the EU-West Africa Economic Partnership Agreement would further attract investments and promote Nigeria’s agribusiness exports.

The forum stressed that enormous financial gains could be made every year, if discriminatory laws and policies were changed to empower women in the workforce and as entrepreneurs.

“Moreover, 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population is youth and its compelling force and energies need to be harnessed through empowerment and education.

“Gender balance, women and youth empowerment will be at the core of discussions that will take place at the AU-EU Summit in Abidjan on 29-30 November 2017.”

The Minister of Communications Technology, Mr Adebayo Shittu and that of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh attended the occasion.

Also present at the forum the communique stated were the Lagos State Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Olufemi Odubiyi, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Ogun State, Mrs Adepeju Adebajo and, and the Special Assistant on Youth to the President, Mr Nasir Adahama.

The Ambassadors and Consulars-General of the EU countries and many key Nigerian players and stakeholders were also in attendance among others.

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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