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Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts

Monday, November 14, 2022


COVID-19 orphaned 371,100 Nigerian children - Report

Between March 2020 and May 2022, an estimated 371,100 children in Nigeria were orphaned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by the World Bank.

In the September 2022 edition of the report titled “Children: The Hidden Pandemic,” it was noted that Nigeria is among the countries in the world where children suffer significant losses of their caregivers.

It read in part, “Countries having the highest numbers of children facing loss of caregivers due to COVID-19 are distributed widely across global regions. As shown in the map in Figure 5, we observed the largest burden of orphanhood and death of grandparent caregivers from March 1, 2020, through May 1, 2022—the first 26 months of the pandemic—in India, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mexico, the DRC, Brazil, the USA, Ethiopia, South Africa, Russia, Kenya, and Peru.”

The report further noted that an estimated 430,000 children lost a primary and/or secondary caregiver due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

It also warned that the effect of this loss is devastating for the children, who have become orphans.

The report read, “Parental or caregiver death is permanent; consequences for children can be devastating and enduring, with orphanhood increasing the risks of institutionalisation, family economic hardship, separations, disruptions, physical, emotional, and sexual violence.

“Orphanhood increases the risks of mental ill health, suicide, infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, chronic diseases, adolescent pregnancy, and poor educational outcomes. 

Previous epidemic evidence shows that ineffective responses to the death of a parent or caregiver, even when there is a surviving parent or caregiver, can have negative psychosocial, neurocognitive, socioeconomic, educational, and biomedical outcomes for children.”

The PUNCH had reported in 2021 that between March 2020 and July 2021, an estimated 4,000 children in Nigeria were orphaned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statistical report by World Bank experts at the Imperial College of London.

The report also revealed that over 4,100 Nigerian children lost one or both primary caregivers in the same timeframe, while 4,300 lost one or both primary and secondary caregivers.

Commenting on the report, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Medical Association in the FCT, Dr. Muyiwa Komolafe, said there is a need for the government to support homes and foster care for the affected children.

“It is also important to provide scholarships for them, and designated agencies should inspect their growth,” he said.


#COVID-19 #orphaned #Health  #GODloveforokwy

Thursday, August 25, 2022


Italian man tests positive for monkeypox, COVID-19, HIV

An Italian man has become the first person to simultaneously test positive for monkeypox, Covid, and HIV following his trip to Spain.

A report from Newsweek revealed that earlier this year, a 36-year-old Italian male started developing a series of symptoms including fatigue, fever, and a sore throat nine days after returning from a trip to Spain.

The patient’s identity is not disclosed by the report said he spent five days in Spain from 16 to 20 June 2022 during which he confessed to having unprotected sex with men.

On July 2, the man tested positive for coronavirus, according to a case study report published in the Journal of Infection.

That same day in the afternoon, a rash began to develop on his left arm. The following day, small, painful vesicles surrounded by a rash appeared on the man’s torso, lower limbs, face, and glutes.

Three days later, the vesicles had further spread and evolved into pustules – small bumps on the skin at which point the man went to the emergency department at the San Marco University Hospital in Catania, Italy Italy, and was subsequently transferred to the Infectious Diseases Unit.

There, he was tested for monkeypox and subsequently returned a positive result.

The patient was also screened for multiple sexually transmitted infections (STIs). He tested positive for Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), and the researchers said that ‘given his preserved CD4 count, we could assume that the infection was relatively recent.’

The patient had taken an HIV test in September 2021 and returned a negative result.


Friday, May 27, 2022


Covid-19 exacerbates mental health issues in Kenya

In Kibera a low-income neighbourhood in the capital Nairobi, it can be difficult for Kenya's youth to find hope

65-year-old Alice Wanjiku's son found life too much to bear during the pandemic. He took his own life in 2021.

Kimani was her youngest child, of seven, and he bore the financial responsibility of her medical bills and food after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Wanjiku currently pays $14 a week for her cancer treatment at Mbagathi Hospital, she had missed two months of medical care earlier in her treatment due to lack of funds.

The 29 year old was a father of 2 children.

After his work dried up during the pandemic, Kimani could barely make ends meet. He sold his paintings and worked in casual construction jobs.

"If he had sought help, this would not have happened. He would have been counselled and changed his mind. Keeping to himself inspired the negative action," says Wanjiku.

Kenya has a population of 53.77 million people and fewer than 500 mental health workers.

This has prompted community based initiatives to move to fill the gap.

In Kibera slums, a 68-member self help group known as 'Ushirika Stress Free' aims to help residents cope with the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.

The group offers counselling and group therapy at no cost.

"Actually after the COVID pandemic, the majority of people leaving in Kibera slums lost their jobs and even casual labourers had to relocate to upcountry and apart from that it also led to stress on mental health especially people that could not meet their basic needs of food, others could not even accommodate their shelter, paying rent and school fees. This has really led to economic challenges for people living in the slums," explains Anthony Onyango, a community health worker at Ushirika Health Centre, who also visits Wanjiku.

In Kenya's slums many cases of mental illness go unnoticed, because often residents choose to suffer in silence in an attempt to avoid discrimination associated with mental illness adds Onyango.

"The majority of our people are living in denial and we have myths and misconceptions. This is because of a lack of education and poor knowledge of status. So people don't believe that there is mental health and then they get into either stress or depression, such things."

According to a report by Kenya's Ministry of Health, one in every ten Kenyans suffers a mental disorder.

The 2020 report by the the Taskforce on Mental Health called for more funding for mental health facilities and recommended that "mental illness should be declared a national emergency of epidemic proportions, to prioritise mental health as a priority public health and socioeconomic agenda."

The government recently announced a new neuropsychiatric hospital and a centre of excellence that will become a national education and training hub to address the mental health challenges the country faces. Africanews 

Thursday, March 24, 2022


Ghana’s plot to destabilise Eagles with COVID-19 uncovered

An alleged off-field tactics by Ghana officials to destabilise the Super Eagles ahead of their crucial first leg final qualifier for the Qatar 2022 World Cup in Kumasi has been leaked, The PUNCH reports.

Ghana host the first leg of the qualifiers at the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi on Friday, with the reverse fixture in Abuja four days later.

Our correspondent learnt that the Ghanaians were afraid that they might not stand a chance against the star-studded Nigerian side and have instead deployed other means to see how they could win the first leg by a high score line, to turn the return leg in Abuja to a mere formality.

Our source, who is close to the Ghanaian football authorities, said Black Stars officials have been working on the plan, which includes rejecting the COVID-19 certificates of the biggest stars of the Nigerian team and run their own tests, which according to him, they plan to use to psychologically demoralise the Nigerians.

“I was told two weeks ago of a plot by the Ghanaians to make sure they defeat Nigeria in the first leg by a wide margin. My Ghanaian contact told me to tell the NFF to instruct their team that they shouldn’t eat anything at the hotel, including drinking and bathing water.”

On the COVID-19 issue, our source added, “This afternoon, they called me again. Now, I learnt they’ve hatched another plot to destabilise or disqualify the Eagles star players. What they want to do is that they will claim that the (COVID-19) certificates presented by our key players are not tenable, that they will have to conduct their own tests. Even if they later clear the players, the players would have been discouraged, because it would come late.”

Meanwhile, the Eagles have adjusted their travel plans and will not jet out to Kumasi on Thursday (today). They were earlier scheduled to fly out from Abuja on Wednesday.

It was also learnt that officials of the three-time African champions have made new arrangement for their accommodation in the neighbouring West African country, after they were earlier scheduled to lodge at the 3-Star Noda Hotel.

The squad will now lodge at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi, the NFF made the hotel change known in a statement on Wednesday.

Also, President, Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, says the federation is doing everything legal and acceptable for Nigeria to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Pinnick made this known during a meeting with some members of the NFF Executive Committee at the federation’s secretariat on Wednesday.

“Of course, we are not the ones going into the field,” Pinnick said.

“But the arrangements we put in place will, to a large extent, determine the spirit with which the players will enter the pitch. All our arrangements must be flawless and without sloppiness. It is a FIFA World Cup ticket at stake, so we must give it our all.

“Whatever efforts we have been making to ensure seamless movement to and fro, as well as accommodation of our contingent at major matches, must be doubled for the match in Kumasi.

“Nigerians don’t want to hear any story; they only want to see the World Cup ticket.” Punchng 


Nigeria: Controversy trails COVID-19 tests for travellers as nations open up

Despite the announcement, on Monday, by Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC-COVID-19), that fully vaccinated arriving travellers would no longer be required to take a pre-departure Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test, controversy still trails COVID-19 protocols for international travels.

The Federal Government (FG) said fully vaccinated in-bound travellers would, however, be subjected to rapid antigen test at the airport by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) within the arrival hall of the airport free of charge.

The decision was coming after complaints by many travellers over the cost placed on the PCR test and alleged corrupt practices and profiteering.

There are reports that COVID-19 test centres in Nigeria have become fleecing points. While the world is stepping down on protocols that limit movements and interactions, including testing for COVID-19, Nigeria is proliferating centres, where people are exploited and less testing taking place.

The Guardian investigation had shown that there is a syndicate at International airports that aid travellers evade paying for the post-COVID-19 test of N53,000 by collecting between N30,000 and N40,000 from such passengers and passing them through immigration on arrival.

The situation has raised several questions. What is government’s plan regarding freeing some of the COVID-19 protocols? How much actual regulation and monitoring is going on to check abuses? Are there plans to relax some of the COVID-19 measures as obtained in some other climes?

A Nigerian physician and politician who currently serves as the Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group and Director of the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF), Prof Muhammad Ali Pate, had told The Guardian on Monday: “Nigeria’s COVID-19 travel protocol is certainly standing out as an outlier, we are seeing countries removing barriers for fully vaccinated travellers and not requiring tests from them; such as Senegal, United Kingdom (UK) and European countries.

Pate was appointed Julio Frenk Professor of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Pate is also a former Minister of Health in Nigeria. His appointment in July 2011 followed his success as the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). He is formerly the Chief Executive Officer of Big Win Philanthropy and an Adjunct Professor of Global Health of the Duke University Global Health Institute.

Pate added: “Unfortunately the travel testing industry has enjoyed easy money on the back of the pandemic, webs of corruption reinforcing it. There is definitely a need to reassess it, especially a situation where widespread domestic local transmission is going on without meaningful community testing. A situation where COVID-19 test is only required for travel in the absence of free testing for public health measures, suggests other reasons beyond public health concerns.”

Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19 and a consultant virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, said he does not think Nigeria should rush into discarding all the measures put into preventing the spread of the disease.

Tomori, who is the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Redeemer’s University and former President, Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), said Nigeria should adopt a targeted step by step approach for the following reasons: “We have not yet seen the end of COVID-19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) continues to warn about this. Over one million cases per day are still being reported globally. A few countries are seeing an upsurge in the number of cases, sometimes as high as 5,000 daily, and China, for example, has locked down one or two cities.”

Tomori said the decision to massively roll over the preventive measures in the UK and other countries in the West was not based on scientific evidence, but political and socio-economic considerations.

He said in countries where protocols are being relaxed, a majority of their population is already (fully) vaccinated and protected, so they can afford targeted/step by step relaxation, but not total relaxation.

The virologist said given the epidemiology of the disease in Nigeria and the abysmally low vaccination rate, “we should not copy what other countries with different epidemiology and higher vaccination rates do. Perhaps in Nigeria, we could continue the use of masks in public buildings where a lot of people congregate- government offices, schools, worship centres, social gatherings etc.”

On laboratory testing, Tomori said it should be limited to unvaccinated outbound persons travelling out to foreign countries and in accordance with country-specific guidelines. Regarding inbound travellers to Nigeria, he said: “I still think, given our low vaccination rates and likely vulnerability of our population, we should still insist that vaccinated, as well as unvaccinated persons coming into Nigeria should come in with negative laboratory results until our vaccination rates reach acceptable level. In particular, I will suggest that the elderly, especially with co-morbidities, should wear masks, at all times when in the public space. Remember, we are dealing with a largely unvaccinated and possibly vulnerable population, and therefore we must at all cost limit the introduction of the virus into our nation.”

Tomori said checking abuses is not only a government affair. “It includes the individuals- the traveller and government official (acting in his or her personal capacity) colluding to abuse the regulations. It is an individual matter to break the rules and regulations that government makes. It is a make and break situation, government making and people breaking the rules and regulations,” he said.

On plans to relax some of the COVID-19 measures as obtained in some other climes, Tomori said: “I already mentioned that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) is working on this matter. What is important is not cutting and pasting other country rules and regulations without considering Nigerian specific epidemiological and scientific evidence.”

Reacting to the existence of a syndicate at the International airports that aid travellers evade payment for post-COVID-19 test, Tomori said: “Of course, I will not be surprised if that is happening. Anywhere in this world, where there are human beings, such unscrupulous syndicates are available to offer dubious services to willing accomplices. We are not alone in this crooked deceit to side-track rules and regulations. We need to continuously expose such crookedness.”

A professor of anatomy and consultant reproductive endocrinologist who co-pioneered the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) research in 1984 and his team successfully delivered the first test-tube baby in Africa in 1986, Oladapo Ashiru, told The Guardian: “The situation in Nigeria is full of anomalies. It smacks of the desire to defraud the population and the FG must put a stop to it. When you travel to virtually all the countries that have maintained a strict regulation on COVID-19, all they require from you is proof of double vaccination. And if you have the booster, it is a bonus. You are given easy entry without harassment. These include United Arab Emirate (UAE), Austria, UK, United States of America (USA), and several other countries.”

Ashiru, who is also President, Academy of Medicine Specialties and Medical Director, Medical ART Centre, Maryland Lagos, said: “If you are not vaccinated you are required to produce a negative COVID-19 test, at most 72 hours before arrival and that is it. This is not the case in Nigeria. Regardless of whether you are triple vaccinated or not, you do a COVID-19 test before you leave Nigeria, before you return and two days after your return- Three tests costing so much, a complete rip-off. We have looked at the issue at the Academy of Medicine Specialties and we would soon give an advisory to the government that there is no scientific basis for such repeated tests, except to make money out of innocent Nigerians. I wonder what these people would have done if they were in charge of our public health during days of Yellow fever or cholera vaccination.”

Director-General, NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, in response to The Guardian queries, acknowledged the express concerns of Nigerians regarding the Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP), COVID-19 testing pre-and post-arrival in Nigeria.

Adetifa said the NITP was developed by the private sector and is managed by Nigerians in the public sector as one of several measures introduced to limit the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in the country. “Despite challenges in the functionalities of the site, mostly related to payments using foreign cards, we have continued to work extremely hard on its improvement,” he said.

The public health physician said while the NITP site is hosted on NCDC’s domain, all funds for testing purposes are paid through the bank to the accredited private laboratories. Adetifa said no funds from private testing are received by NCDC. COVID-19 testing in government laboratories remains free of charge for public health purposes. “Testing for personal purposes such as travel are paid for by individuals to be conducted in private laboratories. The current travel advisory and public health safety measures are under review by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and will be updated shortly,” he said.

On reports that COVID-19 test centres have become fleecing points, the NCDC DG said while the NCDC understands the challenge Nigerians have had with respect to the cost of PCR tests for travel, it is important to clarify that COVID-19 testing laboratories are not ‘fleecing points’. In addition, the NCDC has no role in determining the costs of tests, which are arrived at by states and the respective laboratories.

On how much actual regulation and monitoring is going on to check abuses, Adetifa said: “Allegations of ‘less testing’ have been made without any provision of evidence or detail. The PSC and the NCDC have investigated every case of sharp practices in the COVID-19 travel lab network. Laboratories have been suspended and supervised corrective actions as applicable ensured.

“In addition, we have put in a lot of effort to ensure transparency and accountability for all the laboratories within the NCDC COVID-19 laboratory network. We have monthly meetings with coordinators and data managers of public and private laboratories to review performance, troubleshoot and address other challenges. As part of this effort, a quality audit and supervisory visit have been in progress since January 2022. This was planned for Q3 2021 but postponed on account of the fourth pandemic wave. Through our logistics and supply chain management system, we also ensure accountability for medical and laboratory supplies for the public laboratory network.

“NCDC’s role is to support states to strengthen the national public health laboratory network as part of its mandate. It does not regulate laboratories – which function is in the domain of states and the professional councils. States have a responsibility to ensure that all laboratories, both public and private, are in compliance with protocols (for travel, etc.) as established by the FG of Nigeria through the PSC-COVID-19.”

On whether there are plans to relax some of the COVID-19 protocols and measures as obtained in some other climes, Adetifa said the NCDC makes technical recommendations to the PSC-COVID-19 for travel and other aspects related to the COVID-19 response. He said PSC-COVID-19 follows an evidence-based multi-sectoral and country risk-based approach in arriving at decisions on travel, public health safety measures, etc.

The NCDC further explained: “Just yesterday, the PSC-COVID-19 revised the current travel advisory and public health safety measures as announced in the press conference and as will be covered in full details in the upcoming PSC-COVID-19 press release. Some of these changes include abolishing curfews, recommending only discretionary use of facemasks outdoors, removing the requirement for pre-departure PCR tests and introducing sampling for testing at the airport for fully vaccinated travellers intending to travel to Nigeria, etc. Please look out for these details from the PSC-COVID-19 secretariat ahead of them coming into effect on April 4, 2022.

“The NCDC has continued to support the nationwide COVID-19 vaccine campaign by the National Primary Healthcare and Development Agency (NPHCDA) to boost the COVID-19 vaccine uptake by Nigerians.”

On said the issue of syndicates providing means to contravene requirements for COVID-19 vaccination and COVID-19 tests, Adetifa said: “Our colleagues in the Port Health Services of the FMoH who process travelers have reported to PSC-COVID-19 syndicates in Dubai and Saudi Arabia that are the sources of falsified COVID-19 test results and vaccination certificates. They have also detected falsified documents provided by others working in Nigeria. In every instance, travellers have been made to comply with Nigeria’s travel advisory and for Nigeria, colluding personnel at the airports and laboratories have been dismissed and laboratories sanctioned,” he said.

Adetifa said the key issue here is fellow citizens who make a conscious decision to avoid complying with extant travel protocols and consequently exposing themselves to being fleeced by other unscrupulous and ill-meaning Nigerians who see the pandemic response put in place to protect collective and individual health as an opportunity to swindle fellow citizens.

He said the NCDC, though not physically present at the airport works collaboratively with government institutions stationed at the airport under the leadership of the PSC-COVID-19 to ensure strict implementation of Nigeria’s COVID-19 travel protocols. Theguardianng 

Monday, September 13, 2021


COVID-19: NCAA Asks Airlines To Board Travellers To Nigeria Without QR Code

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has asked all foreign airlines operating in and out of Nigeria not to deny Nigerians boarding over their inability to show evidence of payment for the day-7 COVID-19 PCR test or to generate a paid QR code.

The Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, announced this in a letter issued on Saturday to all airlines operating in and out of the country.

He said the decision was taken in view of the challenges some travellers to Nigeria experience while trying to fill their Health and Travel history into Nigeria’s International Travel portal (NITP).

According to Capt. Nuhu, the cumbersomeness of generating the PCR code after payment of the statutory fees has led to many travelers from Nigeria and into Nigeria being denied boarding by airlines.

“The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has been made aware of Challenges some travellers to Nigeria are experiencing while trying to fill their health and travel history into the Nigeria International Travel Portal.

“Airlines are hereby permitted to board any traveller to Nigeria who is either unable to pay for the repeat day-7 COVID-19 PCR test or Generate the paid QR code/permit to fly,” the letter read in part.

It added that such passengers will be required to make payment for the repeat day-7 COVID-19 PCR test at their destination airport in Nigeria. ChannelsTv

Tuesday, April 13, 2021


US Donates $3million Grants For COVID-19 Food Security In Nigeria

The United States Agency for International Development has launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge that will provide $3 million to Nigerians.

The agency said on Monday that the funds will come in financial support and technical assistance to “youth-led and mid-stage companies working in food value chains in Nigeria.”

As Nigeria is experiencing food insecurity compounded by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects on the food value chain in the country, the pandemic has disrupted already fragile agricultural value chains.

This is especially as it concerns smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process, and distribute food. 

The USAID noted that this menace disrupts agricultural productivity and markets, and negatively impacts livelihoods, especially among vulnerable households, women, and youth.

The USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson said, “We are launching the COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to help innovative Nigerians alleviate food insecurity. This assistance encourages private sector-led solutions to boost food production, processing, and create market linkage along the agriculture value chain in a sustainable way across Nigeria.”  

In launching the challenge, USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing, and distribution.
The agency noted that successful applicants will present ideas that demonstrably help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain increase agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months.

The challenge will award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to $75,000 each and award 10 to15 mid-stage companies up to $150,000 each. 

“The winners will receive funding and technical assistance to rapidly expand their activities to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food value chain and improve the resilience of vulnerable households to the negative impacts of the pandemic,” the agency added.  Saharareporters

Tuesday, April 06, 2021


COVID-19: Saudi Arabia to reject pilgrims not immunised

Saudi authorities said Monday only people immunised against Covid-19 will be allowed to perform the year-round Umrah pilgrimage from the start of Ramadan, the holy fasting month for Muslims.

The hajj and umrah ministry said in a statement that three categories of people would be considered “immunised” — those who have received two doses of the vaccine, those administered a single dose at least 14 days prior, and people who have recovered from the infection.

Only those people will be eligible for permits to perform umrah, as well as to attend prayers in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.

It added that the condition also applies for entry into the Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city of Medina.

The ministry said the policy starts with Ramadan, which is due to begin later this month, but it was unclear how long it would last.

It was also not clear whether the policy, which comes amid an uptick in coronavirus infections in the kingdom, would be extended to the annual hajj pilgrimage later this year.

Saudi Arabia has reported more than 393,000 coronavirus infections and 6,700 deaths from Covid-19.

The kingdom’s health ministry said it has administered more than five million coronavirus vaccines, in a country with a population of over 34 million.

Last month, King Salman replaced the hajj minister, months after the kingdom hosted the smallest hajj in modern history due to the pandemic.

Mohammad Benten was relieved from his post and replaced by Essam bin Saeed, according to a royal decree published by official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The kingdom hosted the hajj in late July last year.

Only 10,000 Muslim residents of Saudi Arabia itself were allowed to take part, a far cry from the 2.5 million Muslims from around the world who participated in 2019.
It is unclear how many pilgrims will be allowed for hajj this year.

According to the pro-government Okaz newspaper, only vaccinated pilgrims will likely be permitted this year.

In a relaxation of coronavirus curbs last October, Saudi Arabia opened the Grand Mosque for prayers for the first time in seven months and partially resumed the umrah pilgrimage.

The umrah usually attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe each year.
Authorities said the umrah will be allowed to return to full capacity once the threat of the pandemic has abated.


Monday, March 22, 2021


COVID-19: South Africa Sells Its AstraZeneca Vaccine Doses To AU

South Africa has sold a million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for distribution in 14 fellow African nations, the health minister announced Sunday.

South Africa last month suspended its vaccination programme, which had started with AstraZeneca jabs after doubts were raised over that vaccine’s efficacy against a local variant of Covid-19.

Pretoria instead announced its intention to sell its AstraZeneca doses to the African Union (AU).

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement that “the first batch of vaccines that is being delivered will benefit 9 (AU) member states. The balance will be collected this week to be delivered to 5 other countries”.

South Africa began immunising its 59 million people in early February with doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in India.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was on the airport tarmac to receive the first shipment.

However, a study by the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg pointed to a “limited” efficacy of the AstraZeneca jab against the South African variant of Covid-19. The government then suspended its vaccine rollout programme.

World Health Organization experts have since given the AstraZeneca jab the all-clear, saying it can be used in all countries and against all variants.

The African Union has acquired 270 million vaccine doses and has declared that it is quite happy to distribute the AstraZeneca version.

South Africa has registered 1.5 million coronavirus cases including 52,000 fatalities.

However recently the number of new cases has dropped significantly and last month Ramaphosa announced that the second wave of the virus had passed.

The country has ordered vaccine does from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer and now hopes to immunise two-thirds of the population, though so far only 183.000 doses have been administered.


Monday, March 08, 2021


COVID-19 may Push 8m Women into Poverty in 2021 - UN

The United Nations has projected that the disruptive impact of COVID-19 may lead to eight million more women than men sliding into extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa this year.

It said that inequities that cause disadvantages to women have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

In a message to mark the 2021 International Women’s Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said
the pandemic will have long-term impacts on the social and economic fabric of societies, including progress towards gender equality.

He said: “This pandemic will have long-term impacts on the social and economic fabric of our societies, including progress towards gender equality. UN women projects show that in 2021 eight million more women than men will be pushed into extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Moeti said the stay-at-home orders brought the livelihoods of many African women, working as hairdressers or market vendors, for example to a standstill.

“Lockdowns, coupled with fears of infection and health workforce shortages, are among the reasons for reports of drops in access to contraception, antenatal care and births in health facilities in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and other countries.

“These restrictions, including school closures, also increased the risks of sexual and gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies and dropping out of school, particularly for girls,” he said.

Moeti further said that the pandemic will have long-term impacts on the social and economic fabric of societies, including progress towards gender equality.

On the intervention efforts meant to curb the impact of the problem, he said WHO is providing guidance and technical support to governments to ensure the continuous delivery of essential gender-responsive services and to assess the barriers girls and women face in accessing these services.

He said that the 36-member states in the African region have integrated at least one gender-responsive measure in their national COVID-19 response plans.

“We have trained 155 health workers in 22 African countries to support women suffering from gender-based violence and to continue to safely deliver sexual and reproductive health and HIV services in the context of COVID-19.

“Within WHO, we remain committed to enabling women to advance in their careers and enhance their leadership potential. Over 80 mid-level and senior female staff in the region have participated in leadership training and we are piloting its expansion to ministries of health,” he said.

Moeti also said that despite the immense challenges of the COVID-19 response, already 27 volunteers are on board, while 93 per cent are female and more than 20 additional will be onboarded in the coming months.

“Women now account for 33% of our workforce, up from 30% in 2015. We have established a mentoring programme, and a task force to promote a more conducive working environment for female WHO staff in the region,” he said. Thisdaylive
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