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Nigeria – Measles-related admissions reach record at MSF facilities in Maiduguri

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Nigeria – Measles-related admissions reach record at MSF facilities in Maiduguri

By: Our Reporter

Measles admissions to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) facilities in Maiduguri, Northeast Nigeria, spiked between October and December 2023, reaching record numbers.

Despite the vaccination efforts, this worrying situation calls for a rapid reinforcement of routine immunization campaigns.In 2023, MSF teams treated a total of 9,618 patients with measles in both of its healthcare facilities – Gwange Paediatric Hospital and Nilefa Kiji nutrition hospital – and in MSF-supported primary healthcare (PHC) centres in Maiduguri.

“We did not expect such a large influx of patients, particularly at the end of the year” explains Abdulwahab Mohamed, MSF medical coordinator, referring to the 3,965 patients treated from October to December, which represent almost three times more than for the same period in 2022.

“Dr. Jombo Tochukwu-Okoli, MSF Medical Activity Manager at Gwange Paediatric Hospital, attributes this alarming rise in the number of cases to an inability of public health actors “to achieve the 95% vaccination rate, required to suppress measles.

“This is notably due to the difficulties for the health workers in accessing rural communities surrounding Maiduguri”, Dr. Tochukwu-Okoli continues, as the insecurity has made vaccination campaigns a difficult endeavour.

This is not the only difficulty to achieve a higher vaccination coverage. The interruption of routine childhood vaccination during the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the health systems thus having a negative impact on the implementation of routine immunisations campaigns. Technical complications also lead to interruptions in the cold chain making the vaccine defective.

The measles spike coincides with an unprecedented diphtheria outbreak in Northern Nigeria and a longer-than-usual malaria season. The diphtheria outbreak, with 24,500 suspected cases and more than 600 deaths reported since it was officially declared in January 2023, is yet another strong indicator of the dramatic setback in routine immunisation programs and the lack of long-term efforts to increase vaccination coverage in the country.

In 2021, Maryam Umar’s son contracted measles. Aware of the danger the disease poses to young children, Maryam took the toddler to the MSF-run Gwange hospital in Maiduguri where he eventually died.

“I was really scared and started crying when he had measles because [I knew] of the severity of the disease” the mother of six children recalls.

Last year, when her youngest daughter contracted measles, Maryam took no chances. She immediately brought her to Gwange hospital, where MSF staff operate two wards dedicated to treating measles.

The toddler was discharged after one week of oxygen therapy.Measles is one of the most contagious viral diseases in the world. Infecting the immune cells, the virus quickly spreads all over the body and eventually affects the respiratory system. This causes a cough that can spread the virus to others.

“One infected child can spread the virus to between 9 and 12 other unvaccinated children” explains Dr. Tochukwu-Okoli.

Although there is currently no specific cure to treat measles, there are life-saving drugs that can keep patients stable and prevent complications.As the virus affects the immune system it can lead to serious complications long after measles is gone.

“This makes the virus so deadly as it leaves a child open to other, specifically diarrhoeal, diseases”. Dr. Tochukwu-Okoli is worried about the significance of a measles spike in a context where malnutrition is so prevalent, “Measles is notorious for precipitating malnutrition” because of the degenerative impact the virus has on the gastrointestinal lining.

“The diarrhoea,” Dr. Tochukwu-Okoli, continues, “makes it difficult for the child to retain and absorb nutrients in the post measles phase, and purges the child of essential micronutrients further depressing a child’s immunity”.

In the Northeast of Nigeria, where access to nutritious food is seasonally limited, diseases like measles among other factors, leads to higher levels of malnutrition and creates a vicious cycle, as the malnourished status also leads to further immune suppression. In turn this generates greater morbidity and mortality linked to measles and other diseases.

The complex security situation in Northern Nigeria, significant funding cuts by international donors for Nigeria, and the continuous neglect of public health infrastructure is alarming.

Considering the high prevalence of vaccine-preventable outbreaks, such as measles, diphtheria and meningitis, MSF is cautioning international and national stakeholders not to look away at what could be an oncoming perfect storm for a worsening of the humanitarian crisis this year, 2024.

Nigeria – Measles-related admissions reach record at MSF facilities in Maiduguri

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Ndume backs Gov Zulum on appealing to FG not to merge NAUB with NDA

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Ndume backs Gov Zulum on appealing to FG not to merge NAUB with NDA

……. Says only Act of Parliament has power to scrap NAUB

By: Inusa Ndahi

Southern Borno Senator, Mohammed Ali Ndume has threw more weight behind Governor Babagana Zulum who appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to halt purported merger of the Nigerian Army University Biu, NAUB with Nigerian Defense Academy, NDA in Kaduna.

Recall that the Oronsaye Committee Report (OCR) 2012, hitherto adopted by the federal government seeks to merge or scrap several Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), including institutions with duplicating functions as a means of cutting cost in governance .

Senator Ndume who addressed Journalists in Maiduguri on Friday said, Borno state, and indeed all the other states of the North East are proud of NAUB which was established since 2018, and therefore, for it to be merged or subsumed, it has to be by an Act of Parliament.

Ndume who is the Chief Whip, noted that, NAUB had even graduated it’s first set, while many undergraduates are waiting for graduation and issuance of their statement of results or certificates, stressing that scrapping of such a top civil- military institution is against development and research.

“The NAUB was created out of necessity and to ensure there is civil- military relationship in the North Eastern parts of the country, especially Borno state which has suffered devastation of lives and property due to over decade Boko Haram ( Western Education is Sin) insurgency.

“Secondly, the NAUB is not part of the Oronsaye Report. The OCR was in 2012, while NAUB was established in 2018 by approval of the National Executive with enactment of an appropriate law that backed it up after I sponsored that Bill.

“NAUB is assented to by the then President of the federal republic of Nigeria, and therefore is a law, and only another law can repel or subsume it to become another institution or faculty as the case many be.

“The NDA is purely a military defense institution to train Military Officers, be it Army, Navy or Airforce, while 75% of the students’ population in NAUB are civilians studying various degree courses in the existing six (6) faculties that are fully accredited by the Nigeria Universities Commission, NUC. Therefore you cannot merge this University with and institution that is purely mandated to train Military Officers.

“To this end, our Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum has already made the position of Borno State Government clear by appealing to the President or the federal government to back track on its matter, considering the fact that Borno has only one federal university/institution in Maiduguri serving the whole North East, before establishment of NAUB, compared to other states that has many federal institutions.

“In addition, NAUB is also established in order to carter for admitting all Nigerians irrespective of where they came from. Let me give you an example, our neighbouring Adamawa state is currently having two federal universities, one in Jimeta-Yola and the other is located in Mubi.

“Infact, even on 29th February 2024, the Senate passed a bill for establishment of federal university of technology in Ilaro, Ogun state. Several federal universities which were established have not been included in the merger, and we see no reason why NAUB will be merged with NDA.

“We just held an emergency meeting with Borno Elders, including those from Southern Borno where the University is located. We deliberated and came up with a position similar to that of our Governor, so we are going to write our resolution to the federal government under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu to delist NAUB from the merger.

“This is very important because, and I want to use this opportunity to call on the people of southern Borno Senatorial District to remain calm and be law abiding, as we strive to ensure justice.” Ndume stated.

Ndume backs Gov Zulum on appealing to FG not to merge NAUB with NDA

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UNODC, Denmark Collaborate to Boost War Against Maritime Crimes in Nigeria

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UNODC, Denmark Collaborate to Boost War Against Maritime Crimes in Nigeria

By: Michael Mike

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with funding from the Danish Government has built a Ship-in-a-Box (SIAB) simulator at the Joint Maritime Security Training Centre (JMSTC); to boost the war against maritime crimes in the country.

A statement on Friday by the UNODC said: “Maritime piracy, including kidnapping and robbery at sea, while in decline in the Gulf of Guinea, remains a threat, as groups involved seem to have moved at least for the time being into more lucrative and less risky markets. Oil theft, oil bunkering and related offences on the other hand experience a revival with devastating consequences for people and the environment. Moreover, multiple recent large-scale seizures suggest that trafficking by sea in all its forms persists. Illegal drugs, falsified medicines, small arms and light weapons, illegally harvested wildlife, and forest products as well as persons are being trafficking into, out of and within the region.”

The statement added that: “While reports of spectacular arrests and seizures should be interpreted as a sign of improved intelligence sharing and interception capacities of security and law enforcement authorities across the region, stakeholders shouldn’t rest on their oars because syndicate crime groups are constantly devising innovative ways to maneuvre established systems.”

The statement said: “To significantly enhance the skills and preparedness of maritime law enforcement officers to operate more efficiently and contribute to safer seas and maritime security, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), through the funding from the Danish Government, built a Ship-in-a-Box (SIAB) simulator at the Joint Maritime Security Training Centre (JMSTC); a facility which was commissioned February 28 in Lagos, Nigeria.”

It explained that: “The Ship-in-a-Box (SIAB) simulator provides a critical additional training infrastructure to enhance the capacity of military and civilian maritime law enforcement personnel in the conduct of Visit, Board, Search and Seizure Operations. It will help to improve the quality and frequency of training, while reducing costs as well as safety risks associated with the conduct of exercises at sea.

The statement said in stressing the importance of the facility and the UNODC approach to tackling maritime crime, the Country Representative of UNODC, Oliver Stolpe, at the commissioning said “While the Ship-in-a-Box undoubtedly will further strengthen our collective response to maritime crime, it represents only one element of a holistic approach. At UNODC we are of the firm conviction that an integrated strategy which combines elements of security, rule of law and prevention that will eventually guarantee a peaceful and prosperous maritime domain for the benefit of the countries and the people of the Gulf of Guinea.”

According to the Danish Ambassador to Nigeria , Sune Krogstrup robust and strategic partnerships can undoubtedly boost efforts to revolutionize the capacity of maritime personnel and enable safer seas and maritime ecosystem.

He said: “Confronting these challenges necessitates collective action to boost maritime security and ensure the unhindered flow of trade and the safety of lives at sea, aligning with various national, regional, and international frameworks. Denmark remains steadfast in its commitment through the Danish Maritime Security Programme (DMSP) to enhance the capabilities of national and regional institutions to secure the Gulf of Guinea and facilitate safe maritime passage.”

While thanking UNODC and the Government of Denmark as well as acknowledging our many years of substantial partnership, Rear Admiral P.C. Nwatu who represented the Chief of Naval Staff, added “The Nigerian Navy acknowledges the many years of collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to strengthen institutional and organizational capacities of member states to check criminality at sea. We are happy to lend our support to the improvement of the maritime law enforcement skills of other agencies both in Nigeria and our neighboring countries to enhance bilateral and multilateral joint actions in securing our individual and common maritime spaces. We therefore appreciate UNODC’s recent initiative through the Ship-in -a- Box programme and the Government of Denmark for funding it and pledge our continued support and cooperation.”

UNODC provided normative, analytical and operational assistance to Member States for strengthening the effectiveness, fairness and accountability of their criminal justice institutions to tackle crime, corruption and terrorism. This also aligns with UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Nigeria.

UNODC, Denmark Collaborate to Boost War Against Maritime Crimes in Nigeria

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VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

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VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

  • Charges members on steadfastness, devotion to duty

By: Our Reporter

Vice President Kashim Shettima has asked the newly appointed Board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) to demonstrate unwavering devotion to duty.

Addressing the delegation who came on a courtesy visit in the Presidential Villa, VP Shettima reminded the board members of the importance of religious commitment in addressing the challenges facing the nation.

The Vice President also acknowledged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s positive impact on the nation, attributing the President’s success to divine blessings and purity of his heart.

He stated: “The road that led us to the Tinubu Presidency did not happen by chance. This is a man whose trajectory is characterized by making sacrifices for the good of the nation.”

Highlighting Tinubu’s role as a sanctuary for victims of political persecution, VP Shettima said the need for leaders to invest in building bridges can never be wished away, noting President Tinubu’s contributions in providing an alternative platform for the Nigerian political system.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu made sacrifices and built bridges. He was a veritable sanctuary for victims of political witch hunts. When other governors were struggling to have a seat at the dining table with Obasanjo way back then, he provided an alternative platform for the Nigerian political system,” the Vice President said.

Addressing the appointed board members, Shettima said, “All of you here were picked because of your religious devotion. We cannot condone what is taking place in the system. We must all strive to make a positive impact to attain the Nigeria of our dreams.”

Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Bishop Stephen Adegbite, expressed gratitude to President Tinubu for the opportunity to serve on the board.

He also commended the Vice President’s exceptional leadership, recounting instances of support for the church and efforts to foster peace and harmony in Borno State.

“Your antecedent and what we have known about you are immense. When we came to Maiduguri, Borno State, I was the Director of National Issues and Social Welfare at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). The then CAN chairman in Borno State said to us that they have an exceptional governor, who supported Christians and rebuilt churches destroyed by Boko Haram,” he said.

He added that Vice President Shettima stood with the Church and ensured that there was peace and harmony in the church in Nigeria and with people of other faiths.

Bishop Adegbite also noted that the commission’s role goes beyond pilgrimage as it extends to the duty of ensuring a harmonious environment for the nation.

“For us as a commission, our assignment is beyond pilgrimage. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that we have a harmonious environment for our nation, to build bridges and ensure that there is peace and harmony in Nigeria,” he stated.

VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

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