opinionBy Adeola Akinremi
In November 2009, I sat near Isaac Adewole, in Dare-Salaam, Tanzania. I could tell of his brilliance and dedication to a cause he believed in based on how up-close I saw and interacted with him. He was elected the Chairman of African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) at that meeting unopposed to confirm his leadership prowess. We all roared in jubilation to approve that election.
At that time, he was a professor at the University of Ibadan and awaiting Vice Chancellor. He made it to become the Vice Chancellor of the premier university just about one year after. His academic brain and soundness have not been mixed with Nigeria’s perplexing politics.
But in November 2015, five years later, Adewole, became Nigeria’s Health Minister and his progress took a turn. He became a reactive man, and not proactive anymore. He must really be frustrated and hiding it.
Really, serving in Nigerian government can turn a smart man into a sluggish man. Government work around here can make a man full of vision to lose his sight.
Adewole must have had a torrid time as a sitting Health Minister whose tenure has had running battle with outbreak of diseases. With scores of people dying from diseases that are preventable and government using fire brigade approach for a rescue plan, I am fully convinced that Adewole is in a cage too difficult to exit from.
“I should start with global health security, as we might be aware, we have been dealing with series of outbreaks over the last one year. We started with Lassa, we moved on to cholera, there were pockets of measles and now we are dealing with meningitis,” he said without putting figures to the number of health-related deaths under him as a minister. But those deaths are now over a million in less than two years that he became a minister.
Honestly, I feel lethargic these days about Nigerian situation that I am hesitant to write. The bad shape that our country is will require not only a smart panel-beater to beat it into shape, but a man of hammer to hit the hell out of Nigeria.
This week, after reading the headline, ‘Nigeria begs U.S. to help fight Malaria’, my heart pumped. Sadly, the news story was attributed to the Health Minister, who equally acknowledged that the United States through its USAID/Presidential Malaria Initiative covering 11 states and the National Malaria Programme has invested substantial amount of about 490 million dollars in Nigeria.
The United Kingdom through its Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank, the Global Fund, all separately put millions of dollars into malaria fight in Nigeria.
But despite the huge money invested in Nigeria already by the United States, including what the country itself continues to include in its annual budget, no less than 300,000 lives are lost to malaria annually. If you have been a victim of malaria, you will have no reason to dispute the figure. I think it could be more than that after seeing two close family members killed by malaria.
So my question is why is malaria-related death continues in Nigeria year after year despite the fact that it is preventable and with the huge amount of money invested in Nigeria by donor countries and nonprofits? The continuous mismanagement and embezzlement of fund by those entrusted with its administration is a big issue in malaria fight in Nigeria.
Interestingly, Nigerian administrators are so unkind to the poor. They continue to embezzle such money meant for rescue efforts like security fund, national emergency management fund, Presidential Initiative for the North East fund, malaria control fund and many others.
On its National Malaria Control Programme website (www.nmcp.gov.ng), you can get the picture that Nigeria is not interested in eradicating malaria the way the United States did in the 50s. At best, Nigeria wants to roll malaria back so that it can continue to roll forward. The content on the website is outdated and that shows the concern the Ministry of Health has for malaria eradication.
When in November 2016, the United States launched a whistle-blowing campaign on Nigeria for theft of its donated anti-malaria fund I was sad, knowing that I have lost people to malaria.
According to the Deputy Inspector General in charge of the American supported Malarial Control Programme in Africa in USAID, Jonathan Schofield, antimalarial products including treated bed nets and medicines carrying the USAID brand meant to be distributed free of charge, as part of the contribution of the American government to eradicate malaria in Nigeria were being diverted or faked by syndicates.
I remember that the U.S. government promised to give monetary reward for any useful information that would lead to the arrest of syndicates who hoard or fake the USAID funded malaria products in Nigeria. It was that bad. Why are we the enemies of our own progress?
It may surprise many why the United States continues to support Nigeria despite its frustrating experience. Here is the truth. The U.S. understands that America is not completely a safe haven with regards to malaria, though malaria ended in the U.S. in the 50s.
Americans are explorers and they go everywhere, and because they visit such malaria endemic countries as Nigeria there’s the probability of being infected.
Of course, with more immigrants and tourists arriving in the U.S. everyday, they will likely carry the fever with them and place the burden on America’s healthcare system.
For instance, in a report published on April 24, the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene claimed that between 2000 and 2014, about 22,000 people were admitted to U.S. hospitals with complications of malaria.
As the U.S. Consul General in Lagos, Francis John Bray, recently wrote that, “ridding the world of this burden will have a long-term transformative impact across the globe, saving millions of lives and generating trillions in additional economic output,” the burden is on Prof. Adewole to follow the money to save lives.
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Health
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By Brian Ngugi, Business Daily
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has licensed the Dubai Islamic Bank – owned by the United Arab Emirates’ largest Shariah lender Dubai Islamic Bank – to carry out operations in the country.
CBK said in a statement that DIB intends to exclusively offer Shariah compliant banking services in Kenya.
“It becomes the third fully Shariah compliant bank to be licensed in Kenya, after Gulf African Bank Limited in 2007 and First Community Bank Limited in 2008,” said CBK Friday.
The lender has a presence in Bosnia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey and the UAE.
End of licensing freeze
DIB’s entry into the market marks the end of a moratorium imposed by the CBK on licensing of new banks.
“CBK welcomes the entry of international brands such as DIB into the Kenyan banking sector. DIBs entry will expand the offerings in the market, particularly in the nascent Shariah-compliant banking niche,” said the regulator.
Central bank said its entry signifies long-standing economic ties between Kenya and the UAE.
As at September last year, the Emirati bank had an asset base of $47.6 billion and capital of $7.4 billion.
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Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Banking
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The Minister of Energy, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi, notes the judgement by the Cape Town High court in the Earthlife and South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) case against the Minister of Energy and other respondents. The Minister has now directed the Department to study the judgment, and will pronounce on the matter in due course.
The Minister will also engage all other relevant parties on the outcome of the matter.
The Department reiterates that the South African Government has not entered into any deal or signed any contract for the procurement of nuclear power. However, there are Inter-governmental Agreements (IGA’s) signed between South Africa and the following countries: United States of America, South Korea, China, Russia, and France.
The Minister will engage Parliament on this matter going forward.
Issued by: Department of Energy
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Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Energy
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In support of Rwanda’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growthhas confirmed its commitment to a grant of up to USD$1 million over three years to support the growth of small business owners in Rwanda.
According to a press statement by Mastercard, to ensure that the first phase of the roll out of the grant is successful, Mastercard has partnered with theAfrican Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), locally known as Inkomoko. The team develops and grooms entrepreneurs in industries such as technology, agriculture and energy – three of East Africa’s biggest and fastest growing sectors, and priorities in Rwanda.
Announced during at the 2016 World Economic Forum on Africa (WEF Africa) in Kigali, Rwanda, Mastercard committed to supporting Rwanda’s vision of financially empowering its citizens, with the grant established to support achieving this goal. The commitment is in line with driving poverty out of Rwanda through job creation, ensuring gender equality through equal access to opportunities, and delivering decent work prospects which will enable economic growth.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners are key drivers of the local economy – currently making up 97.8 percent of the private sector in the country.Inkomoko’s one-year programme removes the barriers local entrepreneurs face in the areas of skills development, networks, and financing, through providing mentoring, technical support, capacity building, and direct access to affordable capital. What makes the partnership between Mastercard and Inkomokouniqueis the support of both Rwandan nationals as well as some of the 160,000 refugees currently living in Rwanda.
In collaboration with the United Nations Agency on Refugees (UNHCR), the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and MastercardCenter for Inclusive Growth, Inkomokowill roll out aprogramme aimed at fostering the social and economic independence of refugees in Rwanda.With a large population of refugees, the role of private and public partnerships remains crucial to the inclusive growth and development of all those displaced. Mastercard, together with the African
Entrepreneur Collective,has committed to assisting entrepreneurs in Rwanda regardless of their circumstances, a vision shared and driven by the Rwandan government. “Connecting entrepreneurs, especially women and refugees, to the networks that power the modern world – like financial services – unlocks their economic potential and accelerates a cycle of equitable and sustainable economic growth,” says Shamina Singh, President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
The Inkomoko entrepreneurship programme aims to restore the dignity of refugees living in Rwanda by empowering these small business owners with vital support to grow their businesses. The programmewill work with 4,000 refugees in Rwandaover the next three years.
“The intention is to connectrefugees with the tools and skills necessary to enable them to become self-sufficient and independent entrepreneurs to improve their own livelihoods, create jobs for others in their communities, and contribute to Rwanda’s larger economic development. Rwanda’s refugee camps and host communities are places of vibrant social and economic activity with bustling markets, shops, restaurants, and industries,” says Julienne Oyler, Executive Director of African Entrepreneur Collective.
Supporting and developing entrepreneurs in these areas will have tremendous impact on the communities themselves and the country at large.Rwandahas become a bustling centre of commerce in Africa, and by implementing programmes that broadly target high potential local entrepreneurs, broad-based economic growth can be advanced by equipping the country’s next generation of business owners with the right tools to hone their financial literacy – the foundation of financial inclusion and growth.
In this way, the support provided as part of the grant not only falls in with the country’s Vision 2020 strategy to create a knowledge-based, cashless economy with 90 percent financial inclusion, it also contributes to Rwanda meeting its Sustainable Development Goals, most notably in terms of eradicating poverty and driving gender equality through the empowerment and entrepreneurship.
Facilitating inclusive growth is an important way to build social and economic development, and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth remains committed to working with partners in both the public and private spheres to drive that development.
“Microentrepreneurs drive the local economy, and through our partnership with African Entrepreneur Collective, we look forward to empowering them with the tools and training to grow their businesses and advance the lives of their families and communities,” concludes Singh.
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Technology
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Rwandan refugees (file photo).
More than 500 Rwandan refugees residing at Tongogara Refugee Camp are resisting repatriation despite assurances from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that it was now safe for them to return home, the Financial Gazette can report.
Efforts to repatriate the refugees follow a UNHCR meeting held in Geneva last year where a secession clause was adopted whereby all Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers across the globe are to be repatriated from December 31 this year.
Under the secession clause, United Nations member States hosting Rwandan refugees have to comply with the declaration.
The repatriation exercise mainly targets refugees from Rwanda who fled their home country at the height of the 1994 genocide, a mass slaughter of Tutsi minorities by the Hutu ethnic majority. The ensuing bloodbath claimed more than 800 000 lives within 100 days.
Following the 1994 Hutu-led genocide, the then Hutu government was toppled from power leading to many Hutus fleeing the country fearing retaliation from the Tutsi-led government.
Rwanda’s current President Paul Kagame is a Tutsi.
Tongogara Refugees Camp administrator, Meshack Zengeya, said Hutus form the majority of the 564 Rwandese at the camp.
In her maiden tour of the refugee camp last week, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services, Prisca Mupfumira, said Zimbabwe was bound by the secession clause and is therefore entrusted to repatriate all Rwandan refugees residing within the country’s borders.
“It’s not the Government of Zimbabwe coming up with a position that Rwandans have to go back. It’s a position which was taken last year in Geneva affecting all Rwandans wherever they may be,” she said.
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“The idea of being a refugee is not a permanent status. I was a refugee in the United Kingdom myself before independence, together with my permanent secretary (Ngoni Masoka). When independence came, UNHCR had to repatriate us back to Zimbabwe, to come and contribute to the development of our country. You can’t be a refugee forever.”In as much as we would want to help, it should be known that this is the position of the UN and not Zimbabwe, that come 31 December all Rwandans have to go (back home) unless there are individuals with special reasons that we might have to look at. But generally, our hands as a country are tied. We have to comply,” she added.However, the Rwandan community at Tongogara Refugee Camp are not happy to go back home.Rwandans who spoke to the Financial Gazette indicated that they were aware of the UN position, but were not yet prepared to return home.The Rwandan community leader, Philip Sindayigaya, argued that nothing had changed in their home country that warrants their return, alleging that the Kagame-led government was still involved in atrocities against the Hutus.”… our position is clear: No one here wants to return home. We want to stay in Zimbabwe because what we ran from (retribution) is still there,” said Sindayigaya, adding that they had written to Mupfumira and President Robert Mugabe on the issue.”We have been appealing for Zimbabwean citizenships, we have noted that other nationals have benefited or resettled and we want similar treatment. You should know that every Rwandan here ran from different problems back home, but the UN is generalising our problems. So we are very worried and heartbroken about this issue.”There are still problems in our home country and as I speak more people are still seeking refugee elsewhere,” he added.Records from Tongogara Refugee Camp indicate that Zimbabwe, which is home to more than 10 000 refugees from across the continent, is still receiving applications from more Rwandan refugees despite the impending repatriation deadline.Another Rwandan, Sameri Kaimba, said when he fled to Zimbabwe, he came alone and sired seven children who have Zimbabwean birth certificates.This, Kaimba argued, would cause more problems for him when he is repatriated back home with his Zimbabwean born children.Jean Damacene Nkurikiyimana raised similar concerns.”Many have been here for more than 20 years. Children were born here so what should we do? I came here in 2003 with three of my children and I now have three more children. Their birth certificates are from Zimbabwe. And our position is that we don’t want to go back home, never! As long as the (current) government is still there, we will never go back there,” said Nkurikiyimana.The resistance against the secession clause came after another failed attempt to repatriate the Rwandans in 2013.The refugees have initiated a “go-and-see first” exercise where they send people to their home country to assess the political atmosphere there.This would then be used to inform their next move regarding their return home.
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Rwanda
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By Kennedy Kangethe
Nairobi — The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has licensed Dubai Islamic Bank after the bank fulfilled its stipulated requirements.
The move comes even as the regulator is yet to lift the moratorium it had imposed on the licensing of new banks.
Dubai Islamic Bank Kenya intends to exclusively offer Shariah compliant banking services becoming the third fully Shariah compliant bank to be licensed in Kenya, after Gulf African Bank limited in 2007 and First Community Bank Limited in 2008.
Earlier, CBK had stated its intention to finalise the processing of licence applications for two institutions that had been granted an ‘approval in principle’, as a first step to lifting the moratorium on licensing of new commercial banks.
“Accordingly, DIB Bank Kenya Limited (in formation) and Mayfair Bank Limited (in formation) will take the remaining steps to finalise their license applications,” CBK has earlier stated.
The decision is seen to highlight the CBK’s confidence in the stability of the banking sector, which has been experiencing turbulence in the past couple of years, causing the collapse of three lenders in a row.
DIB is a fully owned subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB PJSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) founded in 1975 is the first bank to have incorporated the principles of Islam in all its practices and is the largest Islamic Bank in the UAE.
DIB PJSC as at September 2016 had an asset base of Sh4.8 trillion and capital of Sh754.8 billion.
It has a presence in Bosnia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey and UAE.
“CBK welcomes the entry of international brands such as DIB into the Kenyan banking sector. DIBs entry will expand the offerings in the market, particularly in the nascent Shariah compliant banking niche,” CBK says.
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Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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opinionBy David K. Mafabi
At this time of the year, in the corridors of the executive, parliament and the technocrats, last touches are being put to the national budget for the financial year 2017/2018.
As usual, the debate rages involving political leaders, technocrats, ‘civil society’, etc – regarding what are supposed to be the priorities in the budget. Development partners continue to make their pitch. The other week, some partners said we should give more to the health sector. Now, others still, have waded in – saying the place of honour belongs to the education sector! Anyhow, this is also the road to the oxymoron of “unfunded priorities”.
Yet, at the overall and national strategic level, this should be a settled matter – for the next 30 years or so. In 2007, government agreed a Comprehensive National Development Planning Framework (CNDPF), which provided for the development of a 30-year vision to be implemented through: three 10-year plans; six five-year National Development Plans (NDPs); Sector Investment Plans (SIPs; Local Government Plans (LGDPs); Annual Work Plans and Budgets.
This is the process which led us to the national vision statement, “A transformed Uganda society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country” – the roadway to the firm placement of Uganda in a competitive upper middle-income country status, with a per capita income of US$9,500, within 30 years.
GDP growth would be sustained at the minimum of 8.52% per annum over the period. First World status would be attained within half a century.
Under Vision 2040, a number of sectors/subsectors/projects were identified as being critical: the development of a high-tech ICT city; massive irrigation schemes; phosphate industry; iron and steel industry; the development of five regional cities (Gulu, Mbale, Kampala, Mbarara, Arua); the development of five strategic cities (Hoima, Nakasongola, Fort Portal, Moroto, Jinja); the development of four international airports; standard gauge railway network with high-speed trains; oil refinery and related pipeline infrastructure; multi-lane paved national road network; globally competitive skills development centres; nuclear and hydro power plants; science and technology parks in each regional city; international and national referral hospitals in each regional city.
In other words, while we could and must discuss the opportunities and fundamentals involved in this process, the national accumulation and saving required to complete this journey, issues of management and implementation, the socio-economic vehicles for implementation, etc – the strategic direction is very clear.
This, should be at the heart of the national economic doctrine (even dogma!) for the next four decades. And we should not waste too much time over non-essentials.
In the meantime, we have continued, and we intend to continue, to look at the experience of some of our partners, as they transited. In this respect, today we very briefly look at the journeys of Sweden and Norway – essentials in transformation from backwardness to modernity.
Sweden experienced two parallel economic processes from 1790 to 1815. On the one hand it underwent an agricultural revolution leading to the commercialization of farming, and on the other, a so-called proto-industrialization, with small industries being established in the countryside – with workers switching between agricultural work in summer, and industrial production in winter.
All this fed into the first industrial revolution of 1815 to 1850. Significantly, Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce compulsory, universal education in 1842.
Exponential export growth (agricultural produce and steel), construction of railway lines and massive investment take-off, characterized the period 1850 to 1890.
This was the prelude to Sweden’s second industrial revolution of 1890 to 1950. Our purpose is not to delve into the content of the two revolutions – it is to underline the centrality of industrialization to transformation.
Regarding Norway, before industrialization, her economy was based on agriculture, timber, and fishing. Fishing was a supplement to farming and, in many cases, a primary household subsistence activity.
This changed with the advent of Norway’s industrial revolution – synonymous with a prolonged period of national capital formation starting in 1865.
Industrialization produced the first textile mills in the middle of the 19th century. It is, however, important to appreciate that the first large industrial enterprises, just like in the United States, appeared simultaneously with the appearance of a new bourgeoisie in industry and banking.
One important point about Norway. The state is directly involved in the commanding heights of the economy: the petroleum sector, through Statoil; hydro-electric energy production through Statkraft; aluminum production through Norsk Hydro; the largest Norwegian bank DNB; the telecommunication provider Telenor; etc. The state controls 31.6 per cent of publicly listed companies.
In all, scientific economic sense must hold, so that, as a people, we remain focused on the objectively indicated and necessary path for transformation.
The author is Private Secretary for Political Affairs, State House.
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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By John Vianney Nsimbe
Express FC have not played a single game in two weeks, which makes them fresher than KCCA FC, who have played three matches in the last seven days. The two city rivals clash today at Wankulukuku stadium, reports JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE.
KCCA FC were on Wednesday drawn in group ‘A’ of the Caf Confederation Cup round-of-16 in which they will face Morocco’s FUS Rabat, Tunisia’s Club Africain and Rivers United of Nigeria, beginning May 12.
But before then, they have a decisive league fixture against Express FC to contend with today. KCCA continue to lead the table with six matches left, although with the mistakes they have been making, the championship is still there for the taking.
Their manager Mike Mutebi said in the aftermath of the Tuesday 1-2 loss to Vipers, that it was purely self-inflicted: “Both Vipers goals were gifts from us. The players know that we cannot let our concentration slip at such a critical time, when the championship is at stake,” Mutebi said.
While KCCA began the second round with an enviable record of ten goals for and none against in their first three fixtures, they have conceded nine goals in their last six league games.
During that period, KCCA has not had a settled back-line. And without consistency in that department, problems are bound to erupt. Earlier in the season, it was largely known that Dennis Okot, Joseph Ochaya, Timothy Awany and Habib Kavuma were the mainstays.
But also as a team, KCCA do not appear to have the same concentration levels on the league like they do on the continent. It seems like a distraction, that they just would like to get over with. This should work for Express, especially after seeing the way Vipers circulated the ball, as KCCA chased shadows.
Express coach Matia Lule says they have a plan for KCCA after watching them for a while.
But he remarks: “Football is unpredictable. Sometimes you rest for long and lose your touch. So, we must work for the result.”
Apart from winger Simon Sserunkuma, who has been suffering from a bout of malaria, Express is injury free. The same cannot be said of KCCA. Brian Majwega, Tom Masiko and Muzamir Mutyaba remain doubts, as is the possibility of KCCA repeating their 3-1 first round win over Express.
Uganda Premier League
Express v KCCA, Wankulukuku (Live on Azam TV)
SC Villa v Police, Masaka
Vipers v URA, Kitende
Soana v Onduparaka, Kavumba
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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Luanda — The Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha, said Thursday in Luanda that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) represent a useful tool in the development of the daily activities of women, especially in the field of business.
According to the minister, who was speaking at the 5th forum on girls and ICT, many women are nowadays developing their business as the aid of new technologies, which shows their interest in this market.
José Carvalho da Rocha said that nowadays in many parts of the world there are women who create their companies with these tools and do not even need to leave their homes.
Today, with the advancement of new technologies, the minister continued, women have already realized that new information technologies are part of their lives and of their companies and that it is increasingly difficult to live without them.
For this reason, José Carvalho da Rocha explained that the United Nations guides the member countries to encourage women to use more and more information and communication technologies.
The forum aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages women to consider careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies.
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Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Technology
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By Nini Iyizoba
As of April 17 2017, there had been over 8000 reported cases of Meningitis in Nigeria, and nearly 800 deaths, and it’s not slowing down yet. The first case of the disease was first reported in Zamfara state in November 2016. By February 2017, it had become more widespread in the Northwest and Northcentral zones in Nigeria and was declared an epidemic in six states Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto and Yobe.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, usually caused by bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infection of the surrounding fluid. Viral and Bacterial meningitis are contagious and can usually be transmitted by overcrowding, coughing, sneezing and close contact. Epidemic meningitis is most often caused by the bacteria known as Neisseria Meningitidies. It has different strains but Serotype C accounts for about 80% of the Nigerian outbreak.
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control is supposedly making efforts to bring the outbreak under control. Rapid Response teams have been deployed to all affected areas to ‘provide assistance’, but it seems as though the efforts put forth are not enough because the death toll seems to be on the increase. In the past 2 weeks alone, approximately 300 people have died from this outbreak. These deaths could have been avoided, either through vaccination or by accurate diagnosis and rapid intervention. Part of the reason for the increased number of deaths may be due to the unpreparedness of the health authorities especially, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
The NCDC as well as the Ministry of Health are well aware that Nigeria is one of the countries that fall under the ‘Meningitis Belt’ yet, we were unprepared for an outbreak. Meningitis can occur anytime of the year but is most commonly seen during the dry season from December to June. In 1996 alone, Meningitis killed more than 11,000 people in Nigeria. In 2009, almost 600 people died. In fact, just 2 years ago, a meningitis epidemic affected almost 10,000 people and killed over 1000 people in Nigeria. And now, again, in 2017, it’s happening all over again. How can we not be prepared? Why should we be caught unawares? It is occurrences like these that make people theorise about the lack of empathy for the poor or average Nigerian life.
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Meningitis is quite common in Sub Saharan Africa and countries like Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Chad, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso etc make up the ‘Meningitis Belt’ because of the likelihood of meningitis epidemics every few years. The most affected age group is 5-14 years of age and those affected may exhibit symptoms such as high fever, headache, neck stiffness, photophobia, altered mental status, nausea, vomiting etc Though meningitis is treatable, it still has a high morbidity and fatality rate.
Yes, the NCDC has explained that the C strain which is causing majority of the reported cases is not very common, and so, they weren’t (still aren’t) prepared for it. But that is an unacceptable excuse. The Disease Control Centre and the Ministry of Health are knowledgeable enough to know how to prepare for eventualities. What incentive is necessary to create a passion for preserving humanity? When will we ever be prepared to tackle an outbreak of meningitis, a disease that has cut short the lives of so many Nigerians?The truth of the matter is that there is a scarcity of vaccines. It baffles me how we are still battling to stock up on vaccines knowing fully well that the country is prone to meningitis outbreaks. The Federal Government have gotten vaccines to combat the Type C strain but they are not enough. About 500,000 doses of Meningitis C vaccine have been distributed to affected areas in the North for immediate vaccination. Approximately, another 800,000 doses are being expected from United Kingdom to help support the ongoing vaccination programs. That brings the total to about 1.3M vaccine doses for a country that has a population of over 180M people. We might as well say that we have no vaccines. This Meningitis outbreak shows that the Ministry of Health have no solid plan of action to help prevent such widespread outbreaks. It is disheartening that here in Nigeria, we wait until there is an epidemic or an outbreak before we start running helter-skelter to try to manage it.They knew it was coming. The first case was back in November, and only now, after 4 months and 8000 cases later, are we only starting to acquire vaccines. Why can’t we have emergency preparedness like other countries? Imagine the United Kingdom giving Nigeria 800,000 doses of vaccine to help us, meanwhile they are not even near the Meningitis Belt. Yet, they are prepared to tackle an outbreak, even with the lowest probability. The Federal Government, the Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control must work together as a unit to be able to have a plan of action to curtail any future outbreaks such as this.In the meantime, all Nigerians must also do their part to ensure they stay safe. Below are a few prevention tips;Make sure you stay in well ventilated areas and avoid overcrowded rooms.Avoid close contact or kissing anyone with respiratory infections such as coughing, sneezing etc Practice good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently.It is essential that we acquaint ourselves with the associated signs and symptoms because though meningitis may be fatal, it can be treated, as long as there is early detection and rapid intervention.Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr. Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Apr 27 2017 | Posted in Health
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