Saturday, 22 June 2019

Lagos Partners Stakeholders For Nigeria’s Polio-Free Status

•Conducts Second Phase Of Vaccination Campaign

To ensure an unbroken record in the Nigeria’s renewed attempt to become polio-free, Lagos state government with support of other local and international partners has successful conducted a second phase of the immunisation campaign against the disease.
Disclosing this at a media/ stakeholders sensitisation workshop in Lagos, Titilayo Goncalves, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, said the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) and other agencies, have successfully concluded another polio vaccination campaign.
According to Goncalves, the state-wide vaccination began Saturday, June 15 and ended Tuesday, June 18, 2019, following the confirmation of environmental strand of Polio Virus in Makoko, Itire and Maracana Canals in the State.
The Permanent Secretary also said the vaccination campaign was to halt the spread of polio virus and increase coverage of immunised children against vaccine-preventable diseases.
She further explained that the vaccination campaign would improve the herd immunity of the environment against the Wild Polio Virus.
Dr. Gonclaves, however, noted that the campaign was aimed at eliminating the polio virus found in the State, stressing that the State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is very passionate in ensuring that no child in Lagos suffers disability or dies as a result of vaccine-preventable diseases.
She revealed that the second phase of the polio vaccination campaign was in furtherance of the noble goal that all children in Lagos State be covered by the present immunisation campaign, which was done house to house so that the 100 per cent status of polio Immunisation will be attained, maintained and sustained.
According to her; “We have made good progress in this bid with the cooperation and support of other agencies and development partners, but we are still pursuing this goal with great determination and focus so that no single child between zero and 59 months would remain unimmunised or unprotected from the Polio virus.”
Gonclaves explained that the vaccination was an opportunity for parents and caregivers who visited the PHCs and General hospitals in their neighborhood to catch up with the other immunisations.
According to her, polio vaccination is safe, free, not dangerous and can be taken irrespective of former immunisation status, adding that, no child is safe from the vaccine-preventable diseases until immunised.
Recalled that the recent 35th Expert Review Committee for Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation (ERC), expressed optimism that the Nigerian programme is on course to achieving polio eradication with ‘Impressive progress’ recorded.

The ERC meets periodically to evaluate progress towards the attainment of a polio-free Nigeria. The monitoring body provides guidance to the government and partners.

The summary of the experts’ feedback was contained in a presentation by Dr. Pascal Mkanda, Polio Eradication Programme Coordinator of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, after meeting with government officials, partners and other stakeholders in Abuja from March 26-27, 2018 to review progress of the programme in Nigeria. 
“With no wild polio virus reported for 18 months in accessible areas, there is a unique opportunity for Nigeria to get the job done within the lifetime of the current administration,” Dr Mkanda said.
 Commenting, Dr. Fiona Braka, a representative of the WHO said ; “We are in the middle of an outbreak and we must respond to it. The outbreak response must be of high quality to interrupt the transmission of the virus.
 Braka who spoke at the media/ stakeholders sensitisation workshop organised by Lagos state noted,“Nigeria has made remarkable progress in the fight against polio. We are now 32 months without a wild polio virus Nigeria.” 
However, she said, “This outbreak we are facing is a different strain and we, therefore, must respond approximately, adding that the goal is to interrupt the virus and that can only be achieved if everyone works collectively to bring out children to get two drops of polio vaccine over the next four days.”
 She said, “The virus has been detected in three canals in Lagos State; Makoko, Itire, and Maracana. So far this year, seven viruses have been isolated in Lagos. It is our hope and wishes that why we are all here is that this outbreak will be interrupted as quickly as possible.”

Corroborating, Dr. Tayo Lawal, the Permanent Secretary, Primary Health Care Board, Lagos State, said, the just concluded polio vaccination campaign was house-to-house, transit, and fixed post teams. Children at homes, markets, churches, mosques, major car parks, and social event venues were vaccinated. 
He said the transit components of the vaccination team comprised 7381 trained personnel who administered only OPV to children aged zero to 59 months irrespective of their immunisation status.
 He added that the vaccination covered eligible children who were encouraged to visit immunisation posts located within all our Primary health care centers and General hospitals for the other antigens.
 Dr. Usman Adamu from Primary Health Care Board, Abuja, said data from the last polio campaign revealed that the main reasons some children were not vaccinated in Lagos state included estates and gated communities refusing entry of immunisation teams and many parents claimed not to have heard about immunisation campaign. 
As long as a single child remains unprotected by immunisation, there is a high risk for infection to occur, says Adamu, while urging the media to create more awareness on the need for parents to ensure that their children under age five get vaccinated against polio. 
Contributing, Hayon Nam, the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) Communication For Development Specialist, said part of the role of the media disseminates the correct information to the people so that they can make an informed decision on this activity that can change their lives. 
She said the media is the ear, eyes, and mouth of Nigeria and the most reliable trusted source of information. 
“We are on the last mile to eradicating polio in Nigeria, However, with the efforts of the media getting the information to the larger population and getting their children vaccinated, we would eradicate polio.”

Lagos PSN Urges President Buhari To Assent To Pharmacy Bill

From Left: Pharm Olumide Akintayo, Past President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria; Dr. Fidelis A. Ayebae, Chairman of the occasion; Pharm. (Mrs.) Adeniran Bolanle, Chairman Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Lagos State Branch and Mr. Olusola Adu, Representative of the Lagos State Governor-Elect during the 2019 annual luncheon and welcome reception for newly inducted Fellows of PSN from Lagos State/N50m fundraising to complete on-going Secretariat Building of the Society held at Sheraton Hotel Lagos, recently.
Chioma Umeha

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Lagos Chapter, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, sign the Pharmacy Bill into law before the expiration of the life of the current administration.
Chairman, Lagos PSN, made the call in an address she presented to the 2019 annual luncheon of the group held at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos recently.
Pharm. (Mrs.) Adeniran said the call had become necessary against the backdrop of fears that the bill would technically cease to exist after May 29, 2019 if the President Buhari does not give assent to the laudable bill.
She said, “If this happens, then efforts and resources wasted at the 8th National Assembly will commence all over at a 9th National Assembly.  The dire consequences if this happens includes but not limited to deterioration in the dangerous drug abuse and misuse challenges in Nigeria with an over-riding socio-economic implications for the country.
“The potential of a devastating falsified medicines syndrome with the propensities of increased fatality rate, and therapeutic failure against the background of an almost collapsed and non-existent health system; A seeming deliberate attempt to negate the attempts to actualise the goals of accessibility, affordability and efficacy of drugs available in the drug distribution chain of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It amounts to an endorsement of an unauthorised drug distribution and in fact an outright jeopardisation of the new National Drug Distribution Guidelines which officially took off about five years ago with little or no impact till date.”
She said that in the light of the salient factors and others time would not permit to reiterate, the PSN strongly appeals to President Buhari to kindly heed to the clarion call of pharmacists under the aegis of the various arms in organised pharmacy practice to give assent to the Pharmacy Bill which had been pending for well over 18 months.
“It is the only proactive measure to attain Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) an ideal the rest of the decent world is committed to,” she stated.
On the welfare of Public Sector Health Workers, Adeniran said, “We wish to make yet another frantic call on the Presidency to intervene in the unending cycle of delinquency that continues to short-circuit fruitfulness and productivity of health workers under the banner of JOHESU.
“The PSN (Lagos) finds it necessary to specially congratulate JOHESU and its major chieftains for successfully pushing through some modest gains at the mediation process of Alternate Dispute Resolution Centre of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN). It is particularly instructive that the NICN has given these resolutions some force through its consent.”
She enumerated some of the specific resolutions agreed to by the Federal Government and JOHESU to include adoption of central internship placement of eligible health professionals through the Federal Ministry of Health and Maintenance of the status quo with regards skipping of CONHESS 10 by JOHESU members.
“Payment of all arrears of JOHESU members through liaison of the Federal Ministry of Health with CMDs/MDs, PICA and IPPS; Tackling of employment deficit of JOHESU member after a staff audit; and compliance with extant position of the law in the appointment of CMDs/MDs.”
Others are adoption of the report of the five-man committee on the payment of Specialist Allowances which is to be implemented by the Health Minister; Streamlining of board appointments in the FHIs, including the need to administratively redress the complaints of PSN and NASU who did not have nominees appointed on any of the boards.
JOHESU admonished the Federal Government to appoint nominees of PSN and NASU on the boards of the National Eye Centre and National Ear Centre which were still pending in same respect; Agreement that the retirement age of health workers be reviewed by the National Council of Establishment (NCE) through a fresh memo.
This move will be backed with advocacy by all concerned; additional demands bordering on welfare of JOHESU Members are to be subjected to the sub-committee on JOHESU critical Labour matters; Parties to the agreement resolved that the implementation of court judgment is not subject to the discretion of any of the parties, she said.
In view of these landmark developments, Adeniran said; “We call on the Presidency to give speedy approvals to all pending challenges including adjustment of CONHESS scale which has been pending for 5 years now; Payment of April and May 2018 salaries of JOHESU members which have been withheld by the outgoing Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole.
The rest are; “Approval of the Consultancy Cadre for pharmacists and other eligible health workers; and comprehensive reforms in healthcare through an amended University Teaching Hospital Act,” she stated.
Speaking on developments, she said that since the last luncheon, the PSN (Lagos) has deployed its resources into new investments which run into significant tens of millions in Naira terms.
“We have bought a befitting Toyota bus, a 100KVA Generator and moved the main Secretariat annex to the finishing stages.
“I will therefore invoke the giving spirit inherent in all of you colleagues, sponsors, players and partners because this is what motivates our annual luncheon which is the main fund raising event of the state branch.”

Insurgency: Over 1,700 Children Freed Since 2017 From Armed Groups – UNICEF

Nearly 900 children, including 894 children, including 106 girls, were released from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri, north-east Nigeria, today, Friday, May 10, 2019 as part of its commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children.
The new release brings the total number of children released since 2017 to over 1,700, according to a statement signed by Oluwatosin Akingbulu, Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) made available to DAILY INDEPENDENT.
The CJTF is a local militia – an armed group that helps the Nigerian security forces in the fight against insurgency in north-east Nigeria. It was formed in 2013, with the aim of protecting communities from attack.
“Any commitment for children that is matched with action is a step in the right direction for the protection of children’s rights and must be recognised and encouraged,” said Mohamed Fall, Representative of UNICEF in Nigeria and the Co-chair of United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations (CTFMR).
“Children of north-east Nigeria have borne the brunt of this conflict. They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence. This participation in the conflict has had serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being.”
Since September 2017, when the CJTF signed an action plan committing to put measures in place to end and prevent recruitment and use of children, 1,727 children and young people have been released. Since then, there has been no new recruitment of children by the CJTF.
The children and young people released today will benefit from reintegration programmes to help them return to civilian life, seize new opportunities for their own development, and contribute to bringing lasting peace in Nigeria, as productive citizens of their country. Without this support, many of the children released from armed groups struggle to fit into civilian life, as most are not educated and have no vocational skills.
In the ongoing armed conflict in north-east Nigeria, more than 3,500 children were recruited and used by non-state armed groups between 2013 and 2017. Others have been abducted, maimed, raped and killed.
“We cannot give up the fight for the children, as long as children are still affected by the fighting. We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria,” said Fall.
UNICEF continues to work closely with state authorities and partners to support the implementation of reintegration programmes for all children released from armed groups, as well as others affected by the ongoing conflict. The gender and age-appropriate community-based reintegration support interventions include an initial assessment of their well-being, psychosocial support, education, vocational training, informal apprenticeships, and opportunities to improve livelihoods.
At least 9,800 people formerly associated with armed groups, as well as vulnerable children in communities, have accessed such services between 2017 and 2018.

30 Years After CRC Adoption, Nigerian Children Still Suffer Injustice

Chioma Umeha
Three decades after Nigeria adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child  (CRC), the Bill is still existing in papers in many of the States as only 25 of them have ratified it, even as 12 States, mainly from the North are yet to domesticate the law.
This is just as anxious child protection experts announced to journalists on Monday that poverty, community disintegration, family dysfunction, and child vulnerability are drawbacks to the actualisation of the Child Rights Laws in the country.
According to them, failure in meeting the developmental needs of the Nigerian children makes him a victim of several forms of violence, the consequence is non-implementation of the Act in the country.
Among the experts was Sharon Oladiji, Child Protection Specialist, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said at a two-day media dialogue on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC@30) held in Lagos who gave a breakdown of the slow trend in the Bill’s domestication.
She noted that 11 out of the 36 states of the federation, in addition to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have not domesticated the Act bringing the number to 12.
Providing further analysis, Oladiji said, the 11 states are all from the north, including, Sokoto, Kano, Zamfara, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Adawama and Gombe.  
“Only eight states out of the North’s 19 states have domesticated the Act. They are: Niger, FCT, Nasarawa, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Kwara and Kogi and all 17 states in the south have domesticated the Act.
While Jigawa state had earlier domesticated the Act, but repealed it thereafter,  Oladiji observed in her presentation, titled; “Topic: ‘Domestication of the CRC; the CRA legal framework,’ at the dialogue organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in collaboration with UNICEF.
The Child Protection Specialist stressed; “We must promote all opportunities that will help sound development in children. Lack of access to developmental need is detrimental to the rights of children.”
Oladiji further said that investing in a child is paramount for Nigeria and Africa as a whole to realize the right of the burgeoning child population, adding that a healthy development of a child is crucial to the future wellbeing of any nation.
“Special attention is required for Nigeria which is the country with the largest increase in absolute numbers of both birth and child population, it is time we acknowledge our shared responsibility and address this issue.”
Olumide Osanyipeju, Director, Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) Federal Ministry of Information in his remarks, said that the UN Convention on the rights of the child is a comprehensive statement which would be binding under international law and became necessary with reports of grave injustice suffered by children.
The prejudices he said, ranged from high infant mortality, deficient health care, limited opportunities for basic education, alarming accounts of children being abused and exploited as prostitutes or in harmful jobs, Children in prison or in other difficult circumstances.
He added that it is equally worthy to note that it has really been an uphill task bringing to fruition the total realisation of children’s rights in our society, especially in the rural terrains which constitute the bulk of our society and where a vast majority of our people are not literate.
“The situation that stares us in the face is the tall order to bring our people to understand that children deserve as many fundamental rights as the adults, and the need to protect the rights of our children at risk of deprivations of basic social benefits, in exploitative and difficult circumstances, and even mortality.”
Mrs. Blessing Ejiofor, UNICEF Communication Officer, stated the objectives of the workshop which include; taking advantage of CRC@30 anniversary to renew alliances and inspire broader movements for children across the media in Nigeria, introduce the global CRC@30 campaign and highlight UNICEF Nigeria’s engagement plans.
Others are how the media can support the campaign and provide a platform to review media advocacy on children’s rights in Nigeria vis-a-vis the CRC, identify and plan new ways to push for increased financial and non-financial investments in children with a focus on emerging trends and threats to childhood in this millennium.
Also, UNICEF Chief of Communication, Eliana Drakopoulos, said media has a role to play in this global campaign adding, CRC was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its resolution of November 20, 1989, has the same meaning for people in all parts of the world.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human right treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children
She further stated; “We want to know where we are now 30 years after the CRC. What is the stage of children’s rights?  Have all the States implemented the rights of the children? Children need to know their rights and even parents should know as well.”

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