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NAF critical to success of government’s 8-point agenda – Minister

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NAF critical to success of government’s 8-point agenda – Minister

(Photo: Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, receives the Minister of Human Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, at NAF Headquarters in Abuja.)

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, says the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) remains a key enabler to the successful implementation of the 8-point agenda of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration.

A statement issued by the NAF Spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, on Wednesday said the minister said this when she paid a courtesy visit to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar.

Edu said that President Bola Tinubu had remained committed to reducing the number of Nigerians in dire need of humanitarian assistance irrespective of their location.

She said the commitment would only be realisable if the ministry could have easy access to some of the victims who reside in inaccessible areas.

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According to her, it is in view of the difficulty experienced in gaining access to these locations that she was at the NAF Headquarters to seek for assurance and solicit for assistance in the delivery of relief materials to the needy in areas hindered by difficult terrains or insecurity.

The minister promised that families of NAF veterans as well as those who paid the supreme price while on active duty would be captured in the new expanded poverty alleviation programme set to be rolled out in some weeks to come.

She called for the establishment of a humanitarian desk officer at Headquarters NAF for ease of liaison with her Ministry during the compilation and submission of the list of beneficiaries to ensure that the appropriate NAF beneficiaries were captured under the programme.

Edu commended the NAF for its assistance to the ministry and its parastatals in the areas of casualty evacuation, distribution of relief materials as well as evacuation of stranded Nigerians in conflict areas overseas.

Responding, Air Marshal Abubakar said the NAF and the ministry had a long history of collaboration either directly or through its numerous agencies.

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Abubakar assured the minister of NAF’s readiness and willingness to assist her achieve the mandate of the Ministry and called for effective coordination which, he said, was the cornerstone of any successful humanitarian operation.

He also proposed some key areas where NAF and the ministry could strengthen their partnership.

According to him, the two organisations can partner in the areas of joint training and capacity building as well as optimise disaster response protocols to enable us act swiftly, minimise duplication of efforts and ensure more efficient allocation of resources.

He added that close collaboration would ensure that aid get to those in need in a timely and efficient manner.

The minister, who was accompanied by senior officials of her ministry, also took time out to lay a wreath at the NAF Memorial arcade.

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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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