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WHO ‘Should Pay Reparations To Victims Of Sexual Abuse By Staff’

sexual abuse

WHO ‘should pay reparations to victims of sexual abuse by staff’

Survivors of sexual abuse by World Health Organization aid workers during the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ebola outbreak in 2018 should receive “substantive” reparations, the co-chair of an independent inquiry into the scandal has said.

Julienne Lusenge, a prominent Congolese human rights activist, said it was “essential” that the UN’s global health body drew up a workable plan for reparations to respond to the “real needs” of women and girls who became victims of abuse.

“The issue of reparations is very, very important,” said Lusenge, executive director of the Fund for Congolese Women. “Babies were born; women were left unwell. So we think it’s important to have a holistic programme in which the alleged victims themselves will be the stakeholders.”

In a damning report published this week, the independent commission found 21 of the alleged perpetrators of serious abuses, including a number of rape allegations, were employed by the WHO. The scandal led to 29 pregnancies, with some women later being forced to have abortions by their abusers, the inquiry found.

In total, the commission interviewed 75 alleged victims aged 13 to 43. The youngest survivor recalled being offered a lift home by a WHO driver in the small town of Mangina in North Kivu. She said that instead of taking her home, the man raped her. She became pregnant and had a child, the report noted.

Lusenge and her fellow commission members called on the WHO to draw up a plan for making reparations to the survivors once the investigation had been completed. Many victims, they noted, had complained of receiving no help and being “left to deal with the physical and moral consequences” of the abuse on their own.

“So we are now waiting for the WHO to … provide substantive reparations,” Lusenge told the Guardian on Thursday.

“We think it’s important that a strong message be sent to all those who might one day embark on humanitarian programmes and abuse and exploit girls and women. For us, this is essential. We must make sure this reparations programme is properly drawn up and responds to the real needs of the victims.”

The report said some of the victims had suffered trauma as a result of the abuse, with some of the men administering abortion pills or injections to girls and women they had impregnated. Other victims had seen their financial insecurity worsen as a result of the abuse and exploitation. Two said that, after their pregnancies became public, they had been forced to stop their studies.

On Tuesday, as the report was released, the WHO’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, vowed that there would be “zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, and zero tolerance for inaction against it”.

He said four people who were still employed by the WHO when it was made aware of the allegations had had their contracts terminated. Two other employees have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into their handling of complaints. Apologising to the victims and survivors, Tedros said the WHO’s “central concern” now was providing them with “services and support”.

However, Dr Gaya Gamhewage, the WHO’s director of prevention and response to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, appeared to rule out formal reparations.

A person is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni in Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2019.
‘Humbled and heartbroken’: WHO finds its Ebola staff abused women and girls
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“We acknowledge that we need funds easily available on the ground for victim and survivor support. That’s very clear,” she said. “However, there is no provision in the UN system for financial reparations to the victims.”

Marcia Poole, a WHO spokesperson, said the body was working with UN partners to ensure that “all victims and survivors” were provided with support in accordance with the UN protocol on assisting victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, including medical and psychological support.

She said: “Some are receiving support through the UN system for the education of children born out of [sexual exploitation and abuse] as well as livelihood support, such as dressmaking, livestock farming and basket-making, so that they can sustain their families.

“We need to work with others to make sure such support is predictable, effective and provided at scale, as needed.”

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WHO Demands Fresh Data from China amid Outbreak of Pneumonia in Children

The World Health Organization (WHO) is requesting more data from China amid an outbreak of pneumonia in children.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said the agency was ‘following up with China’ as hospitals across the country continue to be overwhelmed.

Face masks and social distancing are again being recommended in the country.

The country is said to be grappling with a spike in pneumonia, dubbed ‘white lung syndrome’ because of the way lung damage shows up on scans, among children that has been attributed to a rebound in respiratory illnesses rather than an entirely new virus.



China had one of the most brutal and longest lockdowns of any country in the world which the WHO says robbed children of vital immunity against seasonal illnesses. 

Dr Van Kerkhove told the conference today: ‘Yes, we are seeing an increase in respiratory infections around the world.

‘We’re in autumn and entering winter months, so we are expecting to see rises in respiratory infections regardless.

We are following up with China. They are seeing an increase due a number of different infections

We are following up with our clinical network and following up with clinicians in China.

‘In terms of acute respiratory infections, we are looking at the burden on healthcare systems and looking at the healthcare capacities of systems.’

It comes after Chinese Health Ministry spokesman Mi Feng urged people in the country to again consider wearing face masks and distancing.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, he said: ‘Efforts should be made to increase the opening of relevant clinics and treatment areas, extend service hours and increase the supply of medicines.

‘It is necessary to do a good job in epidemic prevention and control in key crowded places.

‘[This includes] in schools, childcare institutions and nursing homes, and to reduce the flow of people and visits.’

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433 Foreign-Trained Doctors Fail MDCN Qualifying Exams

No fewer than 433 out of the 836 foreign-trained medical graduates who sat the qualifying examination organised by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) failed

The qualifying examination was held at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital between 22 and 23 November 2023.

The assessment for the foreign-trained medical graduates was in a Computer Based Test format with the graduates taking the examination in four different centres, namely:  BMG Institute of Information Technology; JAMB Professional Test Centre; Kano Cooperative CBT Centre and Treztech, all in Kano State.

The examination comprises a computer-based test, a picture-based test, and an objective structural clinical examination.

Findings showed that most of the medical and dental graduates performed poorly in the CBT.

A list of shortlisted candidates in Abuja showed that a total of 836 candidates with medical degrees from foreign universities were selected for the examination initially. However, only 403 candidates passed, according to the results obtained on Monday.

Every year, thousands of Nigerians aspiring to become medical doctors and dentists enrol in foreign universities, spend a fortune on tuition and accommodation fees, and dedicate between four and seven years to pursuing the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery course.

Among the favourite destinations for Nigerians studying medicine are Ukraine, Sudan, Cyprus, Egypt, The Caribbean, Russia, Belarus, India, Hungary, Guyana, Niger Republic, and Benin Republic. But on completion of their studies abroad, to get a licence to practise in Nigeria, they are required to pass the MDCN assessment.

The MDCN is the body that regulates the practice of Medicine, Dentistry, and Alternative Medicine in the country to safeguard the nation’s health care system.

The MDCN conducts the assessment twice a year.

The examination tests the candidates’ ability to apply their basic medical sciences and clinical skills in a healthcare setting.

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UK Confirms Never- Seen- Before Strain Of Swine Flu in Human

The UK’s first human case of swine flu strain H1N2, very similar to what has been circulating in pigs, has been detected, the UK Health Security Agency said on Monday.

Routine surveillance in general practitioner surgeries picked up the case after the person suffered a mild illness.

The UKHSA said it is now carrying out contact tracing to prevent further spread of the virus.

It is not known at this stage how transmissible the strain is or if there could be other cases in the UK.

It is also too early to say if the strain could have pandemic potential.

The UKHSA has notified the World Health Organisation of the latest case.

There have been about 50 reported human cases worldwide of the H1N2 virus since 2005, none of them related genetically to this strain.

The person involved is not known to have worked with pigs and has fully recovered.

The case was detected as part of routine national flu surveillance undertaken by UKHSA and the Royal College of GPs, which was in place even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The patient was tested by their GP in North Yorkshire after experiencing respiratory symptoms.

The strain was identified via Polymerase Chain Reaction testing and genome sequencing.

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The UKHSA said people with respiratory symptoms should continue to follow the existing guidance, avoiding contact with other people while suffering symptoms and taking particular care around vulnerable people and the elderly.

It said it was “monitoring the situation closely and is taking steps to increase surveillance within existing programmes involving GP surgeries and hospitals in parts of North Yorkshire.

“To assist in the detection of cases and assessment of transmission, those people who are contacted and asked to do the test are encouraged to do so.’’

Meera Chand, incident director at the UKHSA, said, “It is thanks to routine flu surveillance and genome sequencing that we have been able to detect this virus.

“This is the first time we have detected this virus in humans in the UK, though it is very similar to viruses that have been detected in pigs.

“We are working rapidly to trace close contacts and reduce any potential spread.

“In accordance with established protocols, investigations are underway to learn how the individual acquired the infection and to assess whether there are any further associated cases.’’

Chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said, “We know that some diseases of animals can be transferred to humans, which is why high standards of animal health, welfare and biosecurity are so important.

Based on early information, the UKHSA said the strain detected in the UK differs from recent human cases of H1N2 elsewhere in the world but is similar to viruses in UK pigs.

In 2009, there was a pandemic in humans caused by flu strain H1N1, commonly referred to as swine flu.


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