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Trajectory of COVID-19 Pandemic: Uncertainties, Hope



Trajectory of COVID-19 Pandemic: Uncertainties, Hope

Most Nigerians are still in awe as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic still trends or has been laid to rest in their respective communities.

Such uncertainties heighten as the infection rate declines, and protocols are relaxed with less attention given to COVID-19 by many countries, including Nigeria.

Also read: COVID-19: NGO trains health workers on data management

With the advent of the Russia-Ukraine war and the outbreak of the Monkeypox disease in non-endemic countries, interests in COVID-19 appear to have been diverted, at least for a while.

The global health community is racing to provide vaccines for Monkeypox control while countries battle with food shortage issues, fuel crises and global inflation emanating from economic downturn.

Similarly, the COVID-19 epidemiological report by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been reviewed to thrice a week as against a daily report while the epicentre of COVID-19 in Nigeria, Lagos State, barely releases its COVID-19 update like before.

The last COVID-19 update from the state was released on April 24 and this, among other factors, makes concerned citizens continually ponder on whether COVID-19 still exists in countries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on Dec. 31, 2019, announced the detection of pneumonia of unknown cause in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Within a month, cases are reported in five WHO regions, leading the health agency to hold an Emergency Committee meeting of its International Health Regulations on Jan. 30, and declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The Committee notes that early detection, isolating and treating cases, contact tracing and social distancing measures in line with the level of risk could assist to stop the virus spread.

On Feb. 11, 2020, it names the virus COVID-19, a choice that will help guard against the use of other names that might be inaccurate or stigmatising.

“We must be guided by solidarity, not stigma.

“The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other. We must stop stigma and hate,” the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, tells the global community.

On Feb. 14, 2020, the COVID-19 infection is confirmed in Africa with the first reported case in Egypt, while Nigeria confirmed its first case on Feb. 27, 2020.

On March 11, 2020, WHO declares the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic due to its concern by its alarming levels of spread and severity, and the levels of inaction.

The high transmissibility of the virus leads to panic among the global populace with countries affecting measures including lockdown, curfew, travel bans, and many persons broadcasting unverified information on how to prevent infection from the disease.

At the peak of the pandemic in 2020, increased hospitalization, high mortality rate, and shortages in medical supplies including personal protective equipment (PPE) left health workers and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients.

The global community rises to the challenge with strategic cooperation leading to the formation of the ACT-Accelerator partnership, launched by WHO and partners, to support the fastest, most coordinated, and most successful global effort in history to develop tools to fight disease.

With significant advances in research and development by academia, the private sector, and government initiatives, the ACT-Accelerator secured a way to end the acute phase of the pandemic by deploying the tests, treatments, and vaccines the world needed.

These interventions made the first COVID-19 vaccines possible, although it met with lots of skepticism about their safety and effectiveness.

However, the vaccine helps the world move beyond the fear of COVID-19 and exit lockdowns.

Consequently, borders are reopened, airlines begin operations, and schools and offices resume remote learning and work as the world adjusts to  “living with COVID-19”.

Consequently, the director-general of the WHO, at the 2022 World Health Assembly, warns countries against complacency, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.

Ghebreyesus maintains that a decline in infection figures and deaths does not signify an end to the pandemic while also expressing concern about the COVID-19 spike in 70 countries and low testing rates.

“It is not over anywhere until it is over everywhere. Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70 per cent of their population, almost all of them high-income countries,’’ Ghebreyesus says.

Similarly, the NCDC cautions that COVID-19 is real and not yet over, noting, sadly, that the disease has affected no fewer than 200, 000 Nigerians.

The NCDC also notes that COVID-19 continues to threaten lives and livelihoods, stressing that all necessary precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of lives.

Notably, Dr Iorhen Akase, an infectious diseases physician, complains that the world failed to learn from the COVID-19 experience.

According to him, most people are in a hurry to move on with their lives in disregard to infection prevention control practices in their daily lives and communities.

Akase warns that pandemics and large-scale outbreaks can claim millions of lives, disrupt societies and devastate economies.

He adds that most infectious diseases can be controlled through effective preparedness and constant hand hygiene practice by citizens, advising citizens against letting down their guard.

Also on precautionary measures, Mr Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, cautions against indifference to COVID-19 risks, noting that the pandemic could generate a variant that could be more transmissive and fatal.

Gates says the COVID-19 pandemic created a unique opportunity to improve global preparedness and strengthen health systems against future pandemics.

Specifically, that means improving technology, including vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; building up health systems and improving global monitoring of diseases.

As the world continues to respond to COVID-19, health experts stress that preemptive planning and protective measures can help in better management of future pandemics.

They also say that countries with high rates of current immunity and widespread booster uptake will be better protected against COVID-19, just as they call for a continuous response system against infectious diseases.


Health and Safety

Over 73m People In Philippines Suffer From Tooth Decay



 At least 73 million Filipinos suffer from dental caries, making the disease a “serious health concern” in the Southeast Asian country, the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday.

“Dental caries is a silent epidemic,” Manuel Vallesteros, a division chief at the DOH’s disease prevention and control bureau, said this after a committee hearing at the House of Representatives.

Vallesteros said the DOH data is based on the 2018 national health survey, noting that the number now is much higher compared to when the COVID-19 pandemic had restricted access to dental services for more than two years.

Merely for illustration…

He noted that eight of 10 Filipino children suffer from “childhood caries” or “decaying baby teeth” because they are fed with sweetened infant formula.

“The oral health status of Filipino children is alarming,” the DOH said, adding the oral disease “continues to be a serious public health problem” in the Philippines.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), dental caries is a major global public health problem and the most widespread non-communicable disease. 

– Xinhua

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Health and Safety

5 Ugborodo Communities Picket Chevron Yard In Escravos



#EndSARS Protest: Hoodlums break into Benin custodial centre

Hundreds of residents of the Ugborodo Community in the Warri South-West Local Government area of Delta on Wednesday besieged the Chevron Yard in Escravos, protesting against the alleged insensitivity of the oil company to their plights.

The protesters were drawn from Ode-Ugborodo, Ogidigben, Ajudaibo, Madangho, and Ijaghala Communities under Ugborodo Federated Communities.

The aggrieved protesters, both young and old, were led by the Eghare-Aja of Ugborodo, Mr. Daniel Uwawah.

They were armed with placards of various inscriptions such as: “We want our PIA as host communities Ugborodo”; “Enough of Chevron Divide and Rule Policies”.

“All local content contracts must be brought to the community through the appointed organ”; “Ugborodo Community demands frequent and regular engagement with Chevron”, among others.

In his remarks, Mr. Terry Atete, the Igbajoh of Ugborodo Community, who spoke on behalf of the Eghare-Aja, said that the federated communities had written several letters to the oil company for dialogue in line with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021.

The Act is one of the most audacious attempts to overhaul the petroleum sector in Nigeria.

It seeks to provide legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry.

If implemented diligently, the PIA will help facilitate Nigeria’s economic development by attracting and creating investment opportunities for local and international investors.

Atete said that since the inception of Eghare-Aja, the Ugborodo Community had also written to Chevron on the Act, concerning the award of contracts and employment.

According to him, the company had deliberately refused to address their grievances.

“We are faulting the PIA process. We are saying that Chevron should come directly and dialogue with our community in line with the PIA Act.

“We are not going to accept it until they come and dialogue with us.

“We will not relent until Chevron comes and dialogue with the host communities, which made up Ugborodo,” he said.

Also, Mrs Oritsematosan Nuko, a Woman Leader in Ugborodo Community, appealed to Chevron and the Federal Government to come to the rescue of the community and shore up the area.

Nuko said that indigenes of the community were almost being chased away by tidal flood.

She, however, urged Chevron to heed to the call and address the demands of the community.

Nuko said the oil company should come forward for a dialogue toward addressing the lingering challenges confronting the federated community, including unemployment and the award of contracts.

Commenting, a Chevron member of staff, who pleaded anonymity, said that all the issues raised by the aggrieved protesters were already being addressed at the company’s headquarters in Lagos.

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Health and Safety

Resident Doctors To Commence 5-day Warning Strike On Wednesday



… As FG fails to negotiate

Those planning to visit the hospital this week may as well think twice as the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), says it will commence a five-day warning strike on Wednesday.

The President of the association, Dr. Innocent Orji, disclosed this on Monday while speaking with newsmen on the outcome of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.

According to him, the warning strike will begin by 8 am on Wednesday.

The association had on April 29 issued a two-week notice to the Federal Government to increase the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) or risk industrial action.

It said at the time that the increment should be to the tune of 200 percent of the current gross salary of doctors and also be in addition to the new allowances included in the letter written to the Minister of Health in 2022 for the review of CONMESS.

According to the association, it observed that in spite of several engagements with the Federal Government on the need to upwardly review CONMESS, which was last reviewed over 10 years ago, there are no changes.

“The Federal Government has neither called NARD to the negotiation table nor taken any tangible step in addressing the issue.

“This is against the background of the dwindling economic situation in the country, the serial abysmal decline in the value of the Naira, the imminent removal of fuel subsidy, and the consequent damaging effect on the cost of living in the country.

“There have been previous ultimatums issued to the government by NARD on account of this problem of the review of the CONMESS salary structure.”

It added that the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on CONMESS stated clearly that the salary structure would be due for review after five years, but this has not been done since the implementation in 2014, though the approval was given in 2009.

Orji, however, said that since the issuance of the two-week notice the association had not been called upon by the Federal Government to initiate negotiations.

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