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Global Vaccination Plan, Panacea For Pandemic- UN Chief

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General  says the only way out of COVID-19 pandemic and out of unjustly distribution of vaccines is through a global vaccination plan.

Guterres spoke to a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Group of 77 developing nations (G77) and China on Tuesday at UN headquarters, New York.

According to him, pandemic continues to wreak havoc on developed and developing countries alike.

He said that the UN backed the vaccination strategy set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The goal of the vaccination strategy is to get vaccines into the arms of 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by the middle of 2022.

“Everyone, everywhere, must have access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment,” the secretary-general said, asking for support for the ACT-accelerator and the COVAX facility.

Guterres also warned that the world economy is projected to grow by 5.9 per cent in 2021 but the pace of recovery, according to him, is extremely uneven.

For him, this is not surprising, when developed economies are investing 28 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product in recovery, middle-income countries are investing 6.5 per cent, and the least developed nations are investing just 1.8 per cent.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that cumulative economic growth per capita over the next five years will be 75 per cent less than the rest of the world.

“This dangerous divergence threatens to widen as growth rates are expected to decrease in 2022. Rising inflation could also have a negative impact on the cost of borrowing and servicing debt,” he warned.

The UN chief also addressed the climate crisis, unsustainable levels of inequality, and the development of new technologies, asking for “a quantum leap in unity and solidarity to make collective decisions” on these global challenges.

On multilateralism and the importance of the United Nations, the secretary-general stressed the role of the organisation during the pandemic.

UN Country Teams rolled out socio-economic response plans covering 139 countries and territories. More than US$3 billion was repurposed, and an additional US$2 billion was mobilised to prioritise immediate support.

For Guterres, it was recent reforms that enabled the organisation to adjust and respond quickly.

“As a result, more than 90 per cent of host governments have indicated that the United Nations today is more relevant to their country’s development needs when compared to three years ago,” he said.

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Malawi Cholera Outbreak Claims Over 1000 Lives

Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda has revealed that despite hospitalization numbers reaching 30, 621, Malawi’s deadliest cholera outbreak on record has killed over 1,000 people.

According to the World Health Organization, the death toll on Tuesday eclipsed the biggest documented outbreak, which killed 968 people between 2001 and 2002. (WHO).

Chiponda urged people to exercise extreme caution when handling the bodies of cholera victims before funerals.

“People who are dying from cholera may be washed by family members who then prepare funeral feasts… outbreaks of cholera commonly follow these feasts,” the minister said on Wednesday.

She urged people to use proper disinfection methods such as chlorine and plastic body bags.

The majority of the deaths happened in the two main cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre, where students had recently returned to school after schools were closed to try to contain the spread.

Cholera strikes the southern African country on a regular basis during the rainy season, from November to March, with deaths often hovering around 100.

However, pollution levels were unusually high during and after the holiday season in 2022.

Malawi got over three million doses of oral cholera vaccine from the UN in November 2022 to boost its immunization program, but case numbers continue to grow.

Adrian Chikumbe, a spokesman for the health ministry, told AFP that all dosages had been utilized.

He went on to say that “the fact that there is only one cholera vaccine manufacturer worldwide makes acquiring the life-saving medicine tough,” fostering rivalry between countries in need.

Cholera, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is caused by a bacterium that is usually spread by contaminated food or water.

According to George Jobe, director of the organization Malawi Health Equity Network, falsehoods and disinformation flowing online are exacerbating an already terrible situation.

“Most people don’t believe we have cholera,” he told AFP. Additionally, “some religions do not permit their [sick] members to go to the hospital”.

(Al Jazeera)

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“Fast With Common Sense Or Pay With Your Kidneys”, NAFDAC Boss Cautions Nigerians

The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has cautioned Nigerians against excessive fasting, saying it can cause kidney problems.

Speaking on Monday at a media briefing in Abuja, Mojisola Adeyeye, NAFDAC director-general, advised Nigerians to fast “with common sense”.

“We are a very religious country – Muslims and Christians, we fast a lot and it is part of the kidney problem. Your body has to have homeostatic balance, meaning the water level in your body must be enough to make your organs function,” she said.

“Some people will fast for 20 days or 10 days without drinking even a little bit of water and the kidney is being punished and it can damage your kidney because the kidney does not have water to dilute and filter, that is what some of us do.

“I fast but I fast with common sense. You have to fast with common sense or else you pay with your kidney.”

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COVID 19: FG Says All Travellers Arriving Nigeria Must Show Vaccination Proof

The Federal Government says all travellers arriving Nigeria must now provide evidence of COVID vaccination.

The director of port health services, Geofferry Okatubo made this known on Monday during a media briefing at the ministry of health in Abuja.

Speaking on Monday, Okatubo said port health services had heightened surveillance at points of entry following the reported surge in the cases of COVID in countries like China, Japan, and the United States.

“Port health services has resumed checks of passengers’ vaccination status and will provide traffic data on inbound passengers from all over the world,” he said.

“All international travellers arriving Nigeria are now to provide evidence of vaccination at point of entry and it was agreed that unvaccinated passengers arriving from other countries may have to be vaccinated at the airport.

“The minister of health also recently approved that port health services should meet with other stakeholders such as the NCDC, and the ministry of aviation over the use of rapid diagnostic testing at points of entry.”

Also speaking at the briefing, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), said as of January 20, 2023, Nigeria has fully vaccinated 65,176,784 persons with the vaccine, while 77,070,988 eligible persons have taken at least one dose of the vaccine.

He said a total of 10,390,911 persons have received booster doses.

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