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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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Health

F.G Approves Establishment Of Teaching Hospital In Taraba

The establishment of a Federal teaching hospital in Taraba State has been approved by the Federal Government.

Approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, the teaching hospital is to be sited at the federal university in Wukari Local Government Area of the State.

In a letter dated 26th of September 2022, the President gave the nod to the leadership of the institution to go ahead with the establishment of the health institution.

The letter which was signed on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, by the Director of Health, Teaching Hospital Division, Dr. Noah Andrew, urged the leadership of the university to make sure that all the needed facilities are in place.

“I am directed to refer to a letter dated 2nd September 2022 referenced SGF 6/T/380 from the Secretary of the Government of the Federation to inform you that His Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari, has graciously approved the establishment of a federal teaching hospital for the federal University, Wukari, Taraba State”, the letter read in part.

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Health

Kaduna Enrolls 136,507 Into Health Scheme

The Kaduna state government has disclosed that it has enrolled about 136,507 poor and vulnerable population into the Kaduna State health insurance scheme.

Head of Administration and Finance, Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Authority (KADCHMA), Mr Suleiman Mustapha, disclosed this in Kaduna, during a one-day Roundtable Dialogue on maternal and child health.

The Maternal and Child Health-Civil Society (MCH-CS) Partnership with support from Save the Children International organised the round table.

Mustapha said 79,329 poor and vulnerable populations were enroled for free basic health under the one per cent consolidated revenue of the state government.

According to him, the state government had so far released N1.1 billion to cover the basic health care services of the poor and vulnerable.

He also said an additional 50,648 poor and vulnerable population were enroled under the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, adding that a total of N1.1 billion had also been contributed to cover their healthcare.

KADCHMA Executive Secretary , Mr Abubakar Hassan, said the agency was established in February 2018 and began provision of health services in June 2020.

According to him, the health scheme is part of the state’s human capital development and social protection strategy for all residents.

 

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Health

55,000 Die Of Rabies Annually In Nigeria- USAID

The United States Agency For International Development USAID has disclosed that at least 55, 000 Nigerians die of rabies every year.

It said rabid dogs account for about 94 percent of confirmed human infections.

This was revealed by Mieko Mckay, Deputy Office Director for Health, USAID Nigeria, in Abuja on Monday during the launch of the National Strategic Plan for Elimination of Dog-Mediated Human Rabies in Nigeria.

The event was organized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the Federal of Health and Breakthrough ACTION -Nigeria and other partners ahead of this year’s World Rabies Day.

Country Representative, World Health Organisation, Walter Mulombo, represented by his deputy, Alexander Chimbaru, said there were recent cases in Gombe and Enugu States.

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