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Alcohol Kills 2.6 Million Drinkers Annually, Says WHO

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Alcohol kills nearly three million people annually, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, adding that while the death rate had dropped slightly in recent years it remained “unacceptably high”.

The United Nations health agency’s latest report on alcohol and health said alcohol causes nearly one in 20 deaths globally each year, through drunk driving, alcohol-induced violence and abuse, and a multitude of diseases and disorders.

The report said 2.6 million deaths were attributed to alcohol consumption in 2019 — the latest available statistics — accounting for 4.7 per cent of all deaths worldwide that year.

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Nearly three-quarters of those deaths were in men, it said.

“Substance use severely harms individual health, increasing the risk of chronic diseases, mental health conditions, and tragically resulting in millions of preventable deaths every year,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

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He pointed out that there had been “some reduction in alcohol consumption and related harm worldwide since 2010”.

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“(But) the health and social burden due to alcohol use remains unacceptably high,” he continued, highlighting that younger people were disproportionately affected.

The highest proportion of alcohol-attributable deaths in 2019 — 13 per cent — were among people aged 20 to 39, the WHO said.

Drinking is linked to a slew of health conditions, including cirrhosis of the liver and some cancers.

Of all the fatalities it caused in 2019, the report found that an estimated 1.6 million were from noncommunicable diseases.

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Of these, 474,000 were from cardiovascular diseases, 401,000 from cancer and a huge 724,000 from injuries, including traffic accidents and self-harm.

Alcohol abuse also makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV and pneumonia, the report found.

An estimated 209 million people lived with alcohol dependence in 2019 — 3.7 per cent of the global population.

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Total per capita consumption worldwide decreased slightly to 5.5 litres of alcohol in 2019 from 5.7 litres nine years earlier, the report found.

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However, alcohol consumption overall is unevenly distributed around the globe.

Well, over half of the world’s population over the age of 15 abstains completely.

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Europe accounted by far for the highest levels of per capita drinking, at 9.2 litres, followed by the Americas at 7.5 litres.

The lowest consumption was in predominantly Muslim countries in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the report said.

Among people who drank alcohol in 2019, the report determined they consumed 27 grammes of pure alcohol per day on average.

That is roughly equivalent to two glasses of wine, two small bottles of beer or two shots of spirits.

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This level and frequency of drinking is associated with increased risks of numerous health conditions and associated mortality and disability,” the WHO warned.

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In 2019, a full 38 per cent of current drinkers acknowledged having engaged in heavy episodic drinking, defined as consuming at least 60 grammes of pure alcohol on one or more occasions in the preceding month.

Globally, 23.5 per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds were considered current drinkers.

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That jumped to more than 45 per cent for people in this age group living in Europe, and to nearly 44 per cent in the Americas.

The WHO said it was essential to improve access to quality treatment for substance use disorders.

In 2019, the proportion of people contacting such treatment services ranged from below one per cent to 35 per cent in countries providing this data.

“Stigma, discrimination and misconceptions about the efficacy of treatment contribute to these critical gaps in treatment provision,” Vladimir Poznyak, head of WHO’s unit for alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviours, told reporters.

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Meta Deletes 63,000 Accounts In ‘Yahoo Boys’ Crackdown

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has removed 63,000 accounts associated with the notorious “Yahoo Boys” scam group, the company announced in its Q1 2024 Adversarial Threat Report on Wednesday.

The accounts, deleted over the past few weeks, were used for financial sextortion scams and distributing blackmail scripts. Meta reported that a smaller network of 2,500 accounts, linked to around 20 individuals, primarily targeted adult men in the United States using fake identities.

Meta said it identified and disabled these accounts through a combination of advanced technical signals and comprehensive investigations, enhancing its automated detection systems.

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“Financial sextortion is a borderless crime, fueled in recent years by the increased activity of Yahoo Boys, loosely organised cybercriminals operating largely out of Nigeria that specialize in different types of scams,” the social media giant stated.

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It added, “We’ve removed around 63,000 accounts in Nigeria attempting to target people with financial sextortion scams, including a coordinated network of around 2,500 accounts.”

“We’ve also removed a set of Facebook accounts, Pages, and groups run by Yahoo Boys—banned under our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy—that were attempting to organize, recruit and train new scammers,” the company explained.

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During the investigation, Meta said it found that most scammers’ attempts were unsuccessful, though some had targeted minors. These cases were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Meta revealed that it also shared information with other tech companies via the Tech Coalition’s Lantern program to help curb these scams across platforms.

READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Further, the parent company of Facebook said it removed around 7,200 assets in Nigeria, including 1,300 Facebook accounts, 200 pages, and 5,700 groups that were providing scam-related resources.

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These assets were found offering scripts and guides for scams and sharing links to collections of photos for creating fake accounts, it expounded.

Since this disruption, Meta’s systems have been actively blocking attempts from these groups to return, continually improving their detection capabilities.

The company noted that it has also been working closely with law enforcement, supporting investigations and prosecutions by responding to legal requests and alerting authorities to imminent threats.

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The social media giant stated that its efforts extend beyond account removal.

“We also fund and support NCMEC and the International Justice Mission to run Project Boost, a program that trains law enforcement agencies around the world in processing and acting on NCMEC reports.

“We’ve conducted several training sessions so far, including in Nigeria and the Cote d’Ivoire, with our most recent session taking place just last month,” the firm revealed.

To protect users, especially teens, Meta disclosed that it has implemented stricter messaging settings for users under 16 (under 18 in certain countries) and displays safety notices to encourage cautious behaviour online.

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READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Last week, Meta was fined $220m by Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for multiple violations of data protection laws linked to WhatsApp.

The investigation, initiated in May 2021, found that Meta’s privacy policies infringed on users’ rights, including unauthorized data sharing and discriminatory practices.

Meta plans to appeal the decision, arguing that it disagrees with the findings and the imposed penalty. The FCCPC aims to ensure fair treatment of Nigerian users and compliance with local regulations.

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FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

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The Federal Government has announced a slash in allowances of foreign scholars who are currently studying in Moscow, Russia.

This is contained in a letter dated July 23, 2024, issued to the scholars’ association in country by the Federal Scholarship Board under the Federal Ministry of Education.

The students are studying under the Federal Government’s Bilateral Educational Agreement Scholarship, which is for the purpose of education exchange between Nigeria and the other countries.

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The letter, which was signed by the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Ndajiwo H.A., on behalf of the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman reads, “A: FG slashes allowances of Nigerian foreign scholars over hardship”

According to the letter, the monthly allowances were slashed from $500 to $220; the graduation allowance from $2500 to $2000; and the PG research allowance was slashed from $1,000 to $500.

The total for the payments initially paid was $5,650 per student but will now be $4,370 but allowance for health insurance, pilot allowance and Medical allowance remains $200, $700 and $500 as before.

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The letter reads: “The Scholars’ Association is hereby notified that due to the prevailing economic situation, the payment mandate for the BEA scholars’ allowances will be as per the new adjustment.”

“The balances for the years 2023 and 2024 owed to scholars will be paid as soon as the funds are made available,” the letter reads.

Meanwhile, reports has it that the scholars have not been paid for close to eight months and have endured financial strain due to the delay in receiving their stipends.

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BREAKING: SGF, NSA, Ministers In Emergency Meeting Over Planned Nationwide Protest

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume, is currently meeting with ministers over the planned nationwide protest against economic hardship.

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The meeting, which is taking place behind closed doors, has all the over 40 ministers in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet in attendance.

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Some of the Ministers spotted are Nyesom Wike (FCT), Yusuf Tuggar (Foreign Affairs), Zephaniah Jisalo (Special Duties), Tahir Mamman (Education), and Abubakar Bagudu (Budget and Planning).

Others are Wale Edun (Finance), Mohammed Idris (Information), Bello Matawalle (Defence), David Umahi (Works), and the National Security Adviser (NSA) Nuhu Ribadu, amongst others.

Recall that the President had earlier on Tuesday pleaded with Nigerians to shelve the #EndBadGovernance protest slated to commence on August 1.

The protest against economic hardship, organized by faceless persons, has gained traction on social media and is scheduled to hold across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

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Details shorly…

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