Be Committed To Peace Accord, UK Envoy Urges Politicians
Ahead of the forthcoming election, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has urged politicians to respect the peace accord earlier signed.
The British government reinstated its resolve to sanction any politician that is culpable of inciting violence across the country, adding that Nigerians who are also British nationals will not be exempted from sanctions if they undermine the electoral process.
Laing, who spoke on Thursday in Abuja, asked the head of political parties to signal respect for the outcome of the vote to all their supporters.
She said, “We shall be looking out for anyone who attempts to violate the electoral process and if it is brought to our attention directly that there are people inciting violence or engaging in hate speech, we can use our policies as tools for sanctions.”
The UK envoy, who expressed confidence in security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission, especially with the implementation of the Electoral Act, however, expressed worries that the socio-economic crises occasioned by scarcity of cash across the country are capable of creating violence if not urgently addressed.
Laing stated, “The election in Nigeria is very important, not only to Nigerian citizens but also to the West African region, the African continent and the whole world. The eyes of the world are on Nigeria and what happens at the election will send a very strong signal.
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“So, as a run-up to the election, we will continue to invest in trying to create a condition for a credible, free, fair and secure election. The job primarily is for Nigeria but again, we try to play our part by meeting with INEC and the civil society to ensure that everything is perfect.
“But in terms of necessary preparations, I think we are in good shape. The security forces are also committed to playing their part well and on the issue of the economy, we are watching closely to see that the election is held on time.”
She, therefore, urged Nigerians to go and cast their votes on February 25 without any fear of intimidation while political parties are cautioned to commit themselves to respect the outcome of the election and signal the same to their supporters.
And if there be any contention, she admonished that it should go through the normal judicial process rather than resorting to violence.
Meningitis, Cholera Kill 88, Experts Call For Action
A total of 922 cholera cases have so far been recorded in Nigeria and 32 of them succumbed to the disease in 2023.
This is according to the latest situation report obtained from the World Health Organisation.
The Case Fatality Rate is at 3.5 per cent as of March 5, 2023.
The WHO noted that the data include the suspected positive rapid diagnostic tests and laboratory-confirmed cholera cases.
It said the case and death numbers presented are unreliable due to differences in reporting systems and underreporting.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria. People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.
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As of March 20, 2023, at least 24 countries continue to report cholera cases. With reference to historical transmission patterns and seasonality, large parts of the world are currently in low or interepidemic transmission periods, therefore this number could increase in the months to come.
The mortality associated with the outbreaks is of particular concern as many countries reported higher case-fatality ratios than in previous years.
Also, the situation report obtained from the website of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention showed that there were 157 confirmed cases of meningitis in the country from October 2022 till March 5, 2023.
A total of 628 suspected cases of meningitis, including 52 deaths, have been reported from 21 states and 66 Local Government Areas in the country.
Meanwhile, the CFR stands at 8.3 per cent.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, a thin layer of the connective tissue that covers the brain and the spinal cord. The common signs and symptoms are fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, neck stiffness, and altered consciousness level.
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The report read in part, “Age group 5 -14 years was the most affected age group. Males were 62 per cent, females were 38 per cent.
“Ninety-One per cent of all cumulative cases were from four states – Jigawa (509 cases), Bauchi (23 cases), Zamfara (22 cases), and Oyo (14 cases).
“Ten LGAs across five states, Jigawa (7), Bauchi (1), Oyo (1), Plateau (1) and Zamfara (1), reported more than five cases each this CSM seasons 2022/2023.”
A medical laboratory scientist at the Department of Microbiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Obinna Chukwudi expressed worry over the country’s poor preparedness in tackling disease outbreaks.
“The Cholera and Meningitis outbreaks in recent times give a clear picture of the degree of our preparedness and containment strategies for more dangerous emergency disease outbreaks in the future.
“The government on the other hand is not left behind because judging from the aetiology of these diseases, you will notice that it is more of the socio-economic levels of the people which put them at a higher risk of getting infected. I advise that the government with advice from experts in the health system should intensify its approaches to implementing more policies that would better the health and well-being of the people.
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“A multifaceted approach including public policy, surveillance, water purification and hygiene, community sensitisation, and the use of vaccines is vital to prevent, control, and reduce cholera and meningitis menace in the affected states,” he said.
Also, the Ondo State Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi said there is a need for joint efforts between the government and the people to fight diseases.
“The government and the people need to work together. There is a need for increased awareness and people need to report to the hospitals once they notice the symptoms.”
Six Health Benefits Of Tiger Nuts
Despite its name, the tiger nut is not a nut, but a tuber. The sweet, almond-like flavor tuber crop has gained popularity as a health food.
Known as Ofio in Yoruba, Aki Hausa and Imumu in Igbo, and Aya in Hausa), tiger nuts may be eaten either raw or cooked. It can be extracted as milk and used as an alternative for those who do not like dairy milk; it can also be used for baking.
Here are the benefits of Tiger nuts:
1. It protects against aging: Tiger nuts are a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures, according to an online health portal, Healthline.
2. It improves digestion: Tiger nuts are a good source of fibre. Dietary fibre aids digestion by increasing the frequency of stools and relieving constipation.
3. It may reduce blood sugar levels: Tiger nuts may help keep your blood sugar levels in check. Healthline notes that animal studies show that tiger nut extract may help reduce blood sugar levels due to the high fiber content of the tubers, which may slow down the absorption of sugar in the gut.
4. It suppresses appetite: A journal published in the international journal for innovative research in the multidisciplinary field showed that tiger nuts are also said to act as a mild appetite suppressant. This helps keep us feeling fuller for longer and also reduces the number of calories we absorb from the food.
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5. It may boost your immune system, fight infections: Studies have shown that tiger nut extracts are effective against E. coli, Staphylococcus, and Salmonella bacteria. The extracts might also be effective at fighting antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. However, more studies are needed to draw a strong conclusion.
6. It boosts sex drive: Tiger nuts have been proven to improve sperm count and motility. Medical director and consultant urologist at the Ogah Hospital and Urology Centre, Fugar, Edo State, Dr Gabriel Ogah, said tiger nuts can boost sex drive and libido in individuals.
Nigeria’s TB Case Finding Rises By 50%, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation said Nigeria had significantly increased its national Tuberculosis case finding by 50 per cent in 2021 using innovative approaches.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made this known in her message in commemoration of World TB Day.
World TB Day is marked yearly on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of this preventable disease and call for accelerated action to end it.
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This year’s theme, ‘Yes, we can end TB’, highlights the need to ensure equitable access to prevention and care, in line with the drive towards Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr Moeti said it was important to find and diagnose cases of TB so that the patients can be treated, and their contacts offered preventive medication.
“Nigeria is an example of a country that managed to significantly increase national TB case finding by 50 per cent in 2021 using innovative approaches such as the expansion of the daily observed treatment protocols, use of digital technologies, Community Active Case Finding, and enlisting Public Private Mix initiatives.
“TB requires concerted action by all sectors: from communities and businesses to governments, civil society and others,” she said in a press statement.
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She said the African Region was on the threshold of reaching a 35 per cent TB death reduction as there had been a 26 per cent reduction in TB deaths between 2015 and 2021.
“Seven countries — Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, South Soudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia—have reached a 35 per cent reduction in deaths since 2015,” she noted.
She, however, decried the challenges in TB prevention and control.
“First, the delayed diagnosis and testing. There is still a notable gap between the estimated number of new infections and case notifications of TB: 40 per cent of people living with TB did not know of their diagnosis or it was not reported in 2021. One million people are living with TB in the region and have not been detected.
“Second, the link between TB and HIV. Approximately 20 per cent of people newly diagnosed with TB are also living with HIV infection.
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“Third, the multi-drug resistant TB. In the African region, only 26 per cent of all people living with multi-drug resistance are receiving the appropriate treatment.”
Meanwhile, she hailed the member states for the increasing uptake of new tools and guidance recommended by WHO, resulting in early access to TB prevention and care, and better outcomes.
“In the African Region, the use of rapid diagnostic testing has increased from 34 per cent in 2020 to 43 per cent in 2021, which will improve countries’ ability to detect and diagnose new cases of the disease.
“We must work together to develop innovative approaches to reach vulnerable populations and ensure that they have access to quality TB care and management.
“The second UN High-level Meeting on TB in September 2023 will provide a rare opportunity to give global visibility to the disease and mobilize high-level political commitment to end TB.
“Ending TB is feasible with the decline in TB deaths and cases, and the elimination of economic and social burdens associated with it.
“Specially today, I urge leaders, governments, partners, communities, and all stakeholders to urgently foster the resilient health systems required to accelerate the TB response so that we can reach the Sustainable Development Goals targets by 2030. Yes, we can end TB in our lifetime,” she added.
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