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Gov Bello at new year maintains that COVID-19 is not deadlier than other diseases

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***Says most of the new findings vindicate his earlier position

***Reels out achievements in health, education sectors

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has reiterated his earlier position on the ruse about COVID-19.
He maintained that COVID-19 is not deadlier than other diseases ravaging the country hence equal attention should be given to cholera and other more deadly diseases.

In his new year broadcast to the people of the State on Saturday the Governor indicated that from the death ratio of COVID-19 which stands at 1.39% in Nigeria it is not deadlier than other diseases.
Recall that in a viral video, the Kogi governor condemned the use of the vaccine, saying it was meant to kill people.
Speaking in the said video while addressing a crowd, Bello doubted the authenticity of the vaccine, saying there is no cure for HIV and many other diseases troubling mankind.

“Vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer, headache and for several other diseases that are killing us. They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid,” he had said.
He even used what happened in Kano during the Pfizer polio vaccines that crippled and killed many children as a reason for Nigerians to beware.

“If they say they are taking the vaccines in the public allow them take their vaccines. Don’t say I said you should not take it but if you want to take it open your eyes before you take the vaccines.”
Continuing with his new year message, the Governor said
“So far we have found no reason to believe that the death ratio of Covid-19 which currently stands at 1.39% in Nigeria is evolving into deadlier numbers than those of the other diseases we have to grapple with too.

“In fact, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed again this month that Cholera had claimed far more lives in Nigeria in 2021 than the dreaded coronavirus pandemic has been able to do since its advent.

“Given this information and the need for us to protect all of our people against all threats, as well as the competing demands on our scarce resources, we frankly cannot in good conscience justify spending more on Covid-19 than cholera, malaria, or any of the childhood killer diseases.

“By distancing ourselves from the mass hysteria in this way we have been able to keep a cool head and confront the pandemic without fear. “The result is clear – Kogi State remains safe. Our public health institutions are in a permanent state of heightened vigilance but our society is opened for life and business to go on.
“Our people are also free to come and go while observing appropriate public health and hygiene protocols, especially those that engender protection against diseases generally and improve the overall wellbeing of the general populace. “This is why we continue to sensitise against open defecation, production, sale and consumption of unsafe foods and disregard for appropriate postures or covers while sneezing or coughing.

“Today, global expert opinion is swinging towards allowing populations and governments to have more elbow room in deciding how they will respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can say that in this regard Kogi State has been an outlier in Nigeria since the pandemic began and we intend to keep it so.
“You, our dear people, can continue to trust us to keep monitoring the evolving situations closely, with an eye on the science while allowing common sense to guide us in your overriding best interests. “We will also continue to keep you updated with the right information, and when necessary, effective advisories.”
On the new year he said,
“We celebrate the divine gift of life as we bid 2021 goodbye and welcome 2022. We thank God for navigating us through a year which tried the courage of many individuals and the resilience of practically every nation on the earth.

“The last 12 months have been challenging – for the world, for Nigeria, and for us in Kogi State. The battles we have fought and the victories we have won do not speak of our own wisdom or power but of the mercy and compassion of the Almighty God, to Whom be all the Glory.

“Like the year 2020, 2021 found itself in the shadows of the Covid-19 pandemic. Everything from international travel to national economies continue to be adversely impacted by the genuine efforts, but also by the uncertainties and yes, shenanigans, around the disease.
“As of today, scientists and world leaders are reworking their responses to Covid-19 as the world learns more about how it mutates and spreads.
“Not surprisingly, at least to me, much of the new knowledge continue to affirm positions I have adopted from the beginning.

“In the face of conflicting information about the disease, the Kogi State Government that I lead chose early to keep an eagle eye on the case Fatality Rate of Covid-19 more than any other epidemiological event or data set associated with it.
“We also do same with each variant. This helps us to determine quickly how worried we should be for our people with each variant. Once we know the likely fatal impact, we are then able to make intelligent governance decisions on how to respond to it.

“We are then able to compare and contrast this information in relation to the threats posed by perennial killer diseases in our society such as malaria, cholera, lassa fever, yellow fever, meningitis, etc.
“It becomes easy after that to allocate resources appropriately towards each public health threat confronting us.

“In 27 days’ time we will step into the 7th year of our exciting journey in this New Direction. For each and every one of those years, I make bold to say, we have made consistent progress towards sustainable, verifiable and replicable results.
“Every year we have reached for new altitudes in governance and established fresh attitudes in leadership in pursuit of our electoral promises to you. Today, our results speak louder than ourselves.

“When we emphasise the successes of our response strategy to Covid-19 as I have just done above, we do so as part of accounting for our overall achievements in government.

“Our best value has always come from putting our people and the things that are important to them first. “In our effort to do more of this we made Education, Health, Infrastructure and Utilities, Job Creation and Youth Engagement, Civil Service and Pension Reforms, Agriculture, Security, as well as Cooperation and Integration among all Nigerians in our state our expanded thematic focus in this second term.

“Generally speaking, we have been spectacularly and successfully busy in the health sector, way beyond Covid-19. In our first term we constructed, renovated or equipped hundreds of Primary Healthcare Centres across the state, with a good number of them fitted with solar lighting facilities to ensure that they can operate by day and by night.

He said they have maintained the tempo into his second term as they have been upgrading secondary and tertiary healthcare infrastructure across Kogi State.
“Some of our enduring legacy efforts in this area include the construction of a 300-bed Reference Hospital in Okene. When completed it will have ultramodern equipment for diagnosis and treatment of most diseases occurring in our society.

“We are also renovating and remodeling the Specialist Hospital, Lokoja including the construction of a brand new administrative block.
“At the same time we are building brand new General Hospitals in Badoko, Ajaokuta LGA and Gegu Beki in Kogi LGA.

“We are also constructing a new clinical complex in Prince Abubakar Audu University Teaching Hospital, Anyigba as we rush to start a medical programme in the school.

“In addition, we are constructing an advanced clinical complex in the General Hospital, Isanlu simultaneously with comprehensive overhauls of the Zonal Hospital Idah and Adavi Eba Cottage Hospital.

“So, as you can see, we are not talking COVID for lack of any other achievement, but as a necessary corollary to all we do to secure the healthcare and wellbeing of you great people of Kogi State.”

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World kidney Day: Foundation off-sets medical bills of kidney patients in Niger

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As part of the activities to mark this year’s world kidney day, Nathaniel Kidney Foundation (NKF) in Niger State has off-set the medical bills of a number of kidney patients at the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB)) Specialist Hospital in Minna, the Niger State capital.
The kidney foundation which was established in 2022 by the family of late Nathaniel Matthew, a 24 year old kidney patient who lost the battle to the disease in 2021 has since its establishment reached out to over 50 kidney patients across the state in the area of offsetting their medical bills.
In addition to settling the medical bills of kidney patients, the foundation has used every world kidney day to embark on an enlightenment campaign and sensitization on radio and television against the kidney disease on the causes and possible prevention of the disease.
The Chairman of the foundation, Mr. Gideon Makeri while speaking to newsmen in Minna, shortly after a sensitization walk and a visit to the patients at the IBB Specialist Hospital in Minna, said the foundation was established by the parents of late Nathaniel Matthew to remember the promising young man whose life was cut short due to kidney infection.
This year’s world kidney day which he said coincided with the birthday of the late Nathaniel, was used to reach out to the kidney patients through off-setting their medical bills, stressing that the foundation since inception two years ago, has supported kidney patients in the area of treatment both home and abroad.
According to him, “over 50 kidney patients have so far benefitted from the foundation. The beneficiaries include those that the foundation has supported in the area of treatment at home and abroad and they are today healed of the diseases and are doing well”.
He disclosed that among the beneficiaries this year was a 300 level student of the Ibrahim Babangida University (IBBU) Lapai who is currently placed on dialyses at the hospital, adding that seven kidney patients have their hospital bills settled as part of the activities to mark this year’s world kidney in the state.
While appealing to individuals and organizations to partner with the foundation towards assisting kidney patients in the state, Mr. Makeri decried the rising cost of treatment for kidney disease in the country, adding that to undergo dialyses now, a patient need N30,000 and such patients might be required to undergo the session three times in a week.
“In advanced countries, the government pays for dialyses for the people but in Nigeria the reverse is the case, and because of this, some people stayed back at home and resigned their faith to God. That is why we are appealing to individuals and organizations to come and partner with the foundation to save lives”.
The Chief Medical Director of IBB Specialist Hospital, Dr. Bala Waziri commended the family of the late Nathaniel for sustaining the foundation since it was launched two years ago, saying that the foundation has made a remarkable contributions to lives of kidney patients in the state, and urged them sustain the momentum.
According to him, a lot of people living with the disease in the state and the country in general are going through very difficult times, especially with high cost of the treatment of the disease, pointing out that “the price of drugs and dialyses equipment have gone up beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerian. A lot of patients no longer afford the cost of the treatment.
“Some patients undergo dialyses three times in a week with each costing N30,000. This is aside the normal kidney drugs which the price has equally gone up for more than 100 percent”.
He described the condition of kidney patients in the hospital as very pathetic and therefore appealed to individuals and organizations to come to the aids of those suffering from the disease.

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Media professionals move to curb apathy towards HVP vaccination

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From Daniel Abel Lafia

Media professionals under the auspices of Sustainable Media Advocacy Foundation (SMAF), on Wednesday promised to intensify media campaigns against the negative public perception of Vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus among young girls between the ages of 9 and 14 years in the state through intensive campaigns.

The foundation Chairman, Mr. Kalu Idika made this known at its advocacy meeting organized to review its activities in Lafia.

According to the SMAF Chairman, the objective of the organization is to promote media engagement for sustainable development.

“We are available to partner with any group to create every necessary awareness for people at the grassroots level.

“We are registered professionals ready to partner with any interested organization to sensitize, promote, and reach out to the nooks and crannies of the state in any field of endeavor.

The chairman, however, recalled that the foundation had undergone several trainings and have also engaged in sensitization in the area of safe sex among adolescence, maternal mortality in partnership with local and international Non Governmental Organizations, (NGOs).

Mr. Kalu noted that the foundation is currently partnering with the National Primary Health Development Agency, (NAPHDA), to ensure girls between ages 6-14 receive vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus, HPV launched by Governor Abdullahi Sule.

Kalu, however, stated that the Foundation has undertaken many activities in the past as well adding that they enjoyed technical support from International organizations and Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NAPHDA),

Mr. Ishaya Amegwa, who represented the state’s health educator, commended the foundation in ensuring adequate awareness against the myth and misconceptions about the vaccine.

With the help of the media engagement, more people are coming out even as parents are bringing their girls within the age bracket to receive the vaccine.

‘The media came to our assistance and created the necessary awareness that we needed at that time to encourage the young girls to avail themselves for the vaccination.

In a remark, the Research Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Support Lead of The Challenge Initiative, Taco, Oluwafemi Timothy Rotimi, commended SMAF for the collaboration commencement and implementation of its programme in the state.

Rotimi also noted that the Foundation had reached out to various communities and the public through its media platforms in order to communicate the positive outcome impacted on the wellbeing of the people of the state.

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Malnutrition: USAID doles out RUFT worth 3.5 million Dollars to Nigeria

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The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated 60,000 cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUFT) to Bauchi, Kebbi, and Sokoto States to mitigate severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria.

USAID in a press statement made available to journalists after the official handover of the RUFT in Abuja on Thursday, said the approach became necessary as millions of Nigerian children are being affected by malnutrition.

The agency stated that the approach is in collaboration with the Nigerian government, to strengthen local RUTF manufacturing, as well as incorporate RUTF into state health systems such as health insurance, drug revolving funds, and health budgets.

The statement reads in part, “The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), donated over 60,000 cartons of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)-valued at $3.5 million to the governors of Bauchi, Kebbi, and Sokoto states in Nigeria. The handover is part of USAID’s bid to expand access to treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

“In Nigeria, severe acute malnutrition remains a significant public health concern, affecting 3.6 million children. With challenges of food insecurity, limited access to quality healthcare, and inadequate nutrition interventions, multisectoral collaboration and innovation is needed. Expanding sustainable local access to affordable, life-saving nutrition commodities is essential to address severe malnutrition in Nigerian children.”

The agency added that the approach also  improves the quality of groundnut inputs for manufacturing RUTF, to strengthen the quality of nutrition health services and to integrate humanitarian nutrition services more sustainably.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, USAID Mission Director, Melissa Jones said, “Reducing malnutrition is a critical component of improving health, education, and inclusive economic development.

“We commend Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health for including RUTF and other nutrition commodities in the list of essential medicines. Doing so allows this life-saving essential food to be procured and made available at all health facilities.”

Bauchi State Deputy Governor, Hon. Mohammed Auwal Jatau, commended USAID for its interventions in Bauchi.

Jatau gave the indication while receiving 17,500 cartons of RUTF donated by the USAID to the Bauchi State government.

The Deputy Governor said to reciprocate  the gesture, the administration of Governor Bala Mohammed would continue to fulfil the obligations of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU.

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