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Lagbaja visits troops in Niger, urges them to remain resolute

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Taoreed Lagbaja

(Photo: The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja addressing troops at Forward Operation Base (FOB) Erena in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger state on Wednesday (16/8/23))

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja has urged troops of the Nigerian Army to remain resolute in bringing the nation’s adversaries to their knees and restore sanity in troubled areas across the country.

Lagbaja gave the charge on Wednesday during an assessment visit to Niger State following troops’ encounter with insurgents in Zungeru general area where some gallant troops paid the supreme price.

The statement by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, on Wednesday said the COAS arrived Mina, Niger state capital, late night on Tuesday.

Nwachukwu said that Lagbaja immediately moved to Forward Operating Base Erena in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state, where he was briefed on the current security situation by the General Officer Commanding I Division, Maj.-Gen. Bamidele Alabi.

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Addressing troops, the COAS urged them to rally together and be more resolute in bringing the nation’s adversaries to their knees and restore sanity in troubled areas.

He said that the fight against insurgents and bandits was a just cause in defence of Nigeria and Nigerians.

According to him, protecting lives and defending your nation are the noblest service anyone can offer.

“You are therefore in the noble profession of arms and must not allow your morale to dwindle. We must defeat the adversaries of our people and take back every inch of space where they are hibernating in our land,” he said.

Lagbaja assured the troops of his commitment to them and their families the best in terms of welfare within the available resources, adding that welfare was topmost in the pillars of his command philosophy.

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He directed the immediate reinforcement of the troops with additional combat enablers to enhance their operational effectiveness.

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Diphtheria: Children at risk as 7,202 cases are confirmed in Nigeria

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A staggering 7,202 cases of diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be fatal without treatment, were confirmed in Nigeria last week.

The outbreak has been particularly severe among children under 14, with three-quarters of cases (73.6%) in this age group.

Most cases have been recorded in Kano state, Nigeria’s second most populous state. In the past three months, there have been 453 deaths from diphtheria in Nigeria.

Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease, but low vaccination rates in Nigeria have made the outbreak possible. Only 42% of children under 15 in Nigeria are fully protected from diphtheria.

Diphtheria symptoms begin with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases, the bacteria produce a toxin that can block the airway, causing difficulty breathing and swallowing. The toxin can also spread to other body parts, causing heart kidney problems and nerve damage.

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Save the Children is launching a wide-scale health response in the three most impacted states of Kano, Yobe, and Katsina. The organization is deploying expert health and supply chain staff to help overstretched clinics detect and treat diphtheria cases and to support mass vaccination campaigns.

However, Save the Children warns that a mass vaccination campaign will only be successful if the vaccine shortage is urgently addressed.

Severe shortages in Nigeria of the required vaccine and the antitoxin needed to treat the disease mean that the situation could continue to escalate, placing many children at risk of severe illness and death.

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WHO releases $16m to tackle cholera, says Director-General

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released 16 million dollars from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies to tackle cholera.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said this during an online news conference.

Ghebreyesus said that the organisation was providing essential supplies, coordinating the on the ground response with partners, supporting countries to detect, prevent and treat cholera, and informing people how to protect themselves.

“To support this work, we have appealed for 160 million dollars, and we have released more than 16 million dollars from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies.

“But the real solution to cholera lies in ensuring everyone has access to safe water and sanitation, which is an internationally recognized human right,” he said.

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According to him, in the previous week, WHO published new data showing that cases reported in 2022 were more than double those in 2021.

He said that the preliminary data for 2023 suggested was likely to be even worse.

“So far, 28 countries have reported cases in 2023 compared with 16 during the same period in 2022.

“The countries with the most concerning outbreaks right now are Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan.

“Significant progress has been made in countries in Southern Africa, including Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, but these countries remain at risk as the rainy season approaches,” Ghebreyesus said.

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According to him, the worst affected countries and communities are poor, without access to safe drinking water or toilets.

He said that they also face shortages of oral cholera vaccine and other supplies, as well as overstretched health workers, who are dealing with multiple disease outbreaks and other health emergencies.

On COVID-19, Ghebreyesus said that as the northern hemisphere winter approaches, the organisation continued to see concerning trends.

He said that among the relatively few countries that report them, both hospitalisations and ICU admissions have increased in the past 28 days, particularly in the Americas and Europe.

WHO boss said that meanwhile, vaccination levels among the most at-risk groups remained worryingly low.

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“Two-thirds of the world’s population has received a complete primary series, but only one-third has received an additional, or “booster” dose.

“COVID-19 may no longer be the acute crisis it was two years ago, but that does not mean we can ignore it,” he said.

According to him, countries invested so much in building their systems to respond to COVID-19.

He urged countries to sustain those systems, to ensure people can be protected, tested and treated for COVID-19 and other infectious threats.

“That means sustaining systems for collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures and coordination,” he said.

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