malnutrition

ISMP and EU-ACT: Combating malnutrition through financial empowerment for women.

The International Society of Media in Public Health, (ISMPH) has attributed the growing malnutrition among under-five children in Nigeria to poverty, resulting from low earning capacities of the parents of these children, especially mothers.

Programme Director at ISMPH, Solomon Dogo made this known while interacting with newsmen in Abuja at the 3-day training on production of Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer, where he also explained that the discovery has informed the decision to checkmate the role of poverty in driving malnutrition.

In a bid to tackle the problem of malnutrition by solving the poverty puzzle, ISMPH through support from the European Union Agent for Citizen-driven Transformation, (EU-ACT) embarked on skill acquisition training for women in Barangoni, a community in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT).

Every morning of each day of the training, the women of Barangoni gather enthusiastically to learn how to convert materials they considered as waste into useful products that can be used in their homes, as well as sold to generate income for their households.

Read: How ISMPH is supporting mothers in FCT to tackle malnutrition

Among the materials used were groundnut peels, rice chaffs, the sticks from corn cubs, sugarcane peels, sawdust, starch or gum Arabic as binders and the binding machine which is the only tool that is not sourced from daily living.

The end products are Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer. Charcoal briquette is smokeless charcoal with same cooking time cooking gas – aside home use, it can be sold to generate income; similarly, the Organic Fertilizer can be used to improve crop yield for the women since Barangoni is an agrarian community.

Narrating how this knowledge can be helpful to the women, the Manager, Expedient Global Vision, Hassan Mustapha who is the lead trainer explained that process is less stressful and easy to understand.

Mustapha also revealed that one woman can make up to 3500 naira from every 30 kilogrammes of Charcoal briquettes she produces.

“We are here to train people, especially the females on how to gain from skill acquisition. We are training on two different ways on how to utilize their waste products to be wealth briquettes and Organic Fertilizer.

“Charcoal Briquette is formed from all things that we normally take as waste in our society like groundnut peels, rice chaffs, the sticks from corn cubs, sugarcane peels, and sawdust. These are some of the things that we merge together to make charcoal.

You carbonize them by removing the unused smoke from the original source, then you use the remaining part which is not allowed to burn into ashes. After you merge everything, you grind it so that it now becomes powder then you mix it with the binder, after which you now use the binder machine either automated or manual. The product is left to dry before packaging.

“The charcoal briquette helps to check deforestation because people won’t cut down trees again to make charcoal and can help generate foreign exchange for the country if it is invested in. It is simple to produce and use and it is smokeless, also fast in cooking like gas.

“So women can use it at home and also produce to sell making plenty of profit because the materials are sourced from around the community. If a woman produces a 30kg of charcoal briquette she can sell it for N3500.”

Read: Did you know that Nigeria has highest stunting figures in sub-Saharan Africa and 2nd in the world?

The first phase of the programme involves training of thirty women and there are plans to scale-up subsequently, says Programme Director at ISMPH, Solomon Dogo.

Off-takers have already been engaged to buy off these products, as soon as the women are done with production, as availability of market will drive production.

“The programme aims to see how we can curb malnutrition in the FCT by training and empowering women on how to produce organic fertiliser and other products so that they can have a means of survival because we have noticed that one of the problems causing malnutrition is poverty.

“Most of them do not have the means to take care of their nutritional needs so we decided that look, we’re going to train women – poorest of the poorest – and women who their children are malnourished.

“We also have off-takers who will be buying the products immediately they produce and we will also avail them the opportunity to market these products on radio stations and television stations.”

For the Chief of Barangoni Community, Danlami Nana, the initiative is noble and needs to be sustained.

“This training that they are doing for my people – I’m happy because when I saw this lady and she came to my place, introduced herself and told me that she will invite my people to come and get this training, I’m happy. Whereby that I am happy with my people is that they came out to come and receive this training on liquid fertiliser and also the other things.

Read: IHVN’s ANRiN programme improving nutrition in Kano state.

“This Barangoni we will benefit it, because I have already said that we are the farmers and when we farm something the thing will germinate – it will not grow quickly because it does not have fertiliser – but if community members are trained like this we will not have to go to any company to buy fertilizer again.”

It is hoped that the Initiative by EU-ACT and ISMPH will empower women financially so that they can give their children improved diets to help eliminate malnutrition.

healthcare centers (1)

About 40 percent of Nigeria’s primary healthcare centers lack access to electricity

The United States Agency for International Development, (USAID) Power Africa Nigeria Power Sector Program, USAID Integrated Health Program, and the Government of Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency have launched a call-to-action to provide more primary healthcare centers (PHCs) with clean, reliable, and sustainable power in Nigeria.

This is according to a statement released by the United States Embassy in Abuja and made available to our correspondent.
Speaking on behalf of USAID, the Director of the Office of Health Population Nutrition Paul McDermott said, “We view this as an opportunity for partners and stakeholders in both the energy and health sectors to make commitments, and work collectively to ensure that fully functional primary healthcare centers can be accessed by all Nigerians.”

Read: Why The Nigerian Government Should Provide Primary HealthCare Services

The statement also explained that the USAID-funded Sustainable Energy For All 2022 Powering Healthcare Roadmap estimates that around 40 percent of Nigeria’s primary healthcare centers lack access to electricity.
“By providing access to a stable power supply, PHCs can provide essential services to patients, such as those receiving maternal and newborn care at time of delivery, cold storage for vaccinations, running medical equipment, and delivering services after dark.

“The call-to-action outlines activities that power and healthcare sector stakeholders can implement to accelerate PHC electrification, and challenges stakeholders to achieve clean electrification solutions for 1,000 PHCs by 2023 and a total of 10,000 PHCs by 2030,” the statement read in part.

The Head of the Nigeria Electrification Project Program Management Unit at the Rural Electrification Agency Anita Otubu said, “We are looking to bridge the energy access gaps in primary healthcare centers across the country and we call on everyone to take immediate action on the call-to-action.”
USAID’s Power Africa Nigeria Power Sector Program, in collaboration with the Rural Electrification Agency, is supporting programs in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, which aim to sustainably electrify over 700 Primary Health Centres by the end of 2023.

“USAID will continue to support power and healthcare sector stakeholders to expand electricity access to PHCs across Nigeria.”

blood donation

One Unit of Blood can save Three Patients Lives- WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says donating just one unit of blood can save the lives of up to three patients.

The is a message from the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti in commemoration of the 2022 World Blood Donor Day.

According to him the African Region sees a disproportionate number of conditions requiring donor blood, impacting as many as seven million patients every year compared to other Regions globally.

He said while the need for donor blood is universal, access for everyone who needs it is not.

In the African Region he said demand regularly outstrips supply, negatively impacting timely access for all patients who need safe and quality-assured blood to save their lives.

Dr. Moeti said countries across the African Region have worked hard to improve blood donation frequency, and the situation is showing signs of stabilizing.

He said blood transfusion services in many countries reached out to blood donors through public awareness campaigns, transporting donors from and to their homes, using digital platforms and establishing call centres.

Read: WHO-Africa Region joins global call for regular voluntary blood donors

He said the situation remains challenging, and it is exacerbated by issues such as staff shortages and limited funding from governments and partners organizations for effective blood donor education, recruitment, and retention.

He urge African governments and political leaders to prioritize the provision of adequate human and financial resources to secure the future of national blood transfusion services.

A blood service which gives patients access to safe blood and blood products, in sufficient quantities, he says is a key component of an effective health system.

Read: Stakeholders Calls on Lawmakers to Give bite to blood Policies.

He said donating blood is an act of solidarity noting that by becoming a blood donor, you will help ease the pressure on health systems still struggling under the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Blood Donor Day is celebrated globally on the 14th of June and it focus on the gift of life from voluntary unpaid blood donors around the world.

The theme of the year is; donating blood an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives, highlights the critical role of voluntary blood donations in saving lives, and enhancing community solidarity and social cohesion.

monkeypox

Monkeypox: U.S. debunks reports of U.S.-controlled Laboratories in Nigeria

The United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria has reacted to what it termed recent misleading posts on social media that wrongly speculate on the origin of the current global outbreak of monkeypox disease, and supposedly call for WHO to investigate so-called “U.S.-controlled laboratories” in Nigeria.

Statement from the Public Affairs Section of the Mission, categorically stated that such reports were pure fabrication and that there was zero merit to any allegations regarding the use of US-assisted Nigerian laboratories in the spread of monkeypox.

The statement further clarified that no “U.S.-controlled” laboratories exist in Nigeria exist.
It was also posited that the falsehoods detract from the work that the United States, in close coordination with Nigerian and multilateral partners, accomplish together on public health, including in disease surveillance, diagnosis, prevention, and control.

It said the collaborative work between Nigeria and the United States has provided opportunities for technical assistance in capacity building, equipment, commodities-consumables, and funding to critical public health programme, hospitals and laboratories which all contribute greatly to the prevention and amelioration of global disease outbreaks.
Also contained in the statement was an explanation that Monkeypox was not a new disease, nor is it unique to Nigeria or the region, having first been diagnosed in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC.

Read: WHO Issues Advisory to Tackle Ebola Disease in DRC

It said as the two countries work together to contain its spread, exported cases have been reported in the United Kingdom, United States, and other parts of the world.

“The United States government continues to lend its support and work closely with the government of Nigeria in responding to the outbreak. Through our collaborative interventions, U.S. government agencies working in Nigeria (including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Program) and their implementing partners have supported both national and state laboratories with technical assistance and funding.

“These laboratories are Nigerian, and U.S. support enables them to provide essential services for the public good and the health of Nigeria’s citizens. Especially important, our support to laboratories across the country extends to quality improvements that ensure they have appropriate levels of biosafety and biosecurity requirements in place.

“We will continue to collaborate with the Nigerian government on the ongoing global monkeypox and COVID-19 outbreaks and intensify support to Nigeria in other areas on which we have proudly partnered over the years, such as HIV epidemic control, tuberculosis eradication, malaria elimination, prevention of vaccine-preventable disease, and enhancing food and nutrition.

Child poverty

Multidimensional Child Poverty: 54% of Nigerian children face nutrition, healthcare, education, water, sanitation, among other deprivations

The Multidimensional Child Poverty Analysis using Multidimensional Overlapping Deprivation Analysis approach has revealed that approximately 54% of children in Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor, by facing at least three deprivations across seven dimensions of child rights including nutrition, healthcare, education, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and information – a statement from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed.

The Situation Analysis indicates that child poverty rate is highest among children aged 16– 17 years and least among children aged 0–5 years, noting that children are most affected by poverty because they are vulnerable, and that poverty has long-term impacts on the well-being of children, even into adulthood.

According to the statement, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo today launched three reports: “The Situation Analysis of Children in Nigeria, the Multidimensional Child Poverty Analysis in Nigeria and Monetary Child Poverty in Nigeria prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in collaboration with UNICEF.

Read: Did you know that child marriage fuels insecurity and poor health indices in Nigeria?

It was explained that multidimensional poverty in children is more prevalent in rural settings with 65.7 %, than urban areas with 28.4 %; meanwhile there are also high state disparities ranging from 14.5 % in Lagos to 81.5 % in Sokoto.

The monetary child poverty report showed that 47.4 % of children face monetary poverty by living in households with expenditure less than 376 naira five kobo a day being the national poverty line; as Slight differences are observed between boys placed at 47.98 % and girls at 46.8 %, while there are also high geographical and state disparities from 6.5% in Lagos to 91.4% in Sokoto.

The report further posited that 24.56% of children i Nigeria, face extreme poverty by living in households that spend less than 1.90 dollars a day.

The analysis indicated that the country would need as roughly as 1 trillion naira to lift children out of poverty.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said that data is critical for effective budgeting and decision making – and that the data from the surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.

He said Nigeria has a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children and families in Nigeria, with persistent multi-dimensional poverty being a crucial obstacle.

Hawkins also said an analysis of the reports indicates the need for improved social protection measures to ensure that children are protected from risks, along with an expansion of access to much-needed social services.

“Data is critical for effective budgeting and decision making – and the data from these surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.

“We still have a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children and families in Nigeria, with persistent multi-dimensional poverty being a crucial obstacle. The findings of these reports will help guide the federal and state governments as they plan their budgets – providing evidence for where more funds need to be allocated and wisely spent.”

child marriage

Did you know that child marriage fuels insecurity and poor health indices in Nigeria?

The President of Women Community in Africa, WCA, Khadijah Abdullahi says tackling child marriage is a vital step to solving the rising incidence insecurity, as well as high number of out-of-school children, malnutrition and low child immunization.

Khadijat who stated this at the 2022 WCA Summit in Abuja, themed “Literacy: A vaccine for child marriage”, explained that when girl who is about 14 years old is forced into marriage, she becomes an accidental parent because such a person is not yet ready for the task of raising children.

Speaking to our correspondent Nduka Ezeduino, the WCA President revealed that the 2-Day Summit brings together stakeholders from different backgrounds to brainstorm on the menace of child marriage, so that actionable plans could be realized for implementation.

“If you have observed we have a lot insecurity issues in Nigeria and a lot of people have not dissected the reason why we have these insecurity issues. What they have done is they gloss it over as if it has nothing to do with all these issues were are talking about, the SDG goals we are talking about.

“A child who is married at may be 13, 14 is still a child and doesn’t have the mental maturity to understand how to even nurture herself. She doesn’t even know her purpose as a human being yet. She is still discovering herself and you give her a child, to nurture another child.”

Addressing the theme of the Summit, the National Coordinator for WCA and General Assembly Member, Dr. Maimuna Salim noted that most girls encountered in previous Summits showed lack of literacy which is key in their decision making, hence the decision to centre the theme for 2022 around literacy for the girl child.

Salim further emphasized that a girl empowered with education will understand her sexual rights, have the right to decide when to be married, educate her own children among other benefits.

“Education they say is from the cradle to the grave, you never stop learning. If you do not educate a child, let the child learn and given the needed exposure. They won’t be able to make concise decisions for their life.

Read: SAYPHIN, Others Advocates for Investment in Adolescent Children

“Even when they get into marriage and start having their own children, they are not educated enough to begin to raise children so let her learn.

“And when we speak of say no to child marriage, we are teaching her to have a right to say no. and this is where we find the disparity, an uneducated girl does not know her rights. Yes we speak about culture, we speak about religion where they say a girl cannot marry at a certain age. Yes let her get marry but what about educating her to become independent? Because women are there as builders, when you educate a girl you educate the community. Yes women give birth to kids and who is going to be there to teach our kids?”

Included in the programme of the Summit are the parliamentary sessions for members of the General Assembly to brainstorm, visit to IDP camp and fund raising dinner to raise funds for effective implementation of resolutions reached.

nutrition

IHVN’s ANRiN programme improving nutrition in Kano state.

Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, (IHVN) says its Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) project is yielding positive results with beneficiaries testifying of its impact.

Fatima Sulaiman is one of the beneficiaries of the ANRiN
project, in Kumbotso Local Government Area in Kano State. IHVN is increasing access and utilization of basic nutrition services for children under five years in Kumbotso and eight other local government areas in Kano state.
50-year-old Hauwa’u Sulaiman, grandmother of Fatima, was quoted as saying, “Fatima is eating well and healthy, I am happy that she is strong, thank you for your support,” as she held her granddaughter on her laps.


“When Fatima’s mother wanted to wean her, she brought her to me. At the time, Fatima was not feeding well. She was looking ill and weak. Though she was a year old, she could barely walk. Her legs were weak,” Hauwa’u narrated in Hausa language.
According to a news article sent to our correspondent by the the IHVN, Sulaiman’s experience as narrated above was about that time that community volunteers from the IHVN ANRiN project came to their neighborhood to counsel them about nutrition for pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls and children.
Hauwa’u added that “They also gave me Vitamin A and deworming tablets, Zinc/ Oral Rehydration Solution for Fatima.” The drugs and the nutrition education received empowered Hauwa’u to take better care of her granddaughter and the improvements were obvious for all to see.
She also said, “Some neighbors were hesitant to take the medicines; now they can see their benefit. It helps a child feed better. I advise others to use these medicines given to us free from the ANRiN project.” Fatima now likes to take fresh cow milk, which is easily accessible as her grandmother rears and sells sheeps and goats.


Nutrition Focal Person for Kumbotso Local Government Area, Amina Gambo, explained that the project has been beneficial for Kumbotso indigenes, “They always appreciate the program because the medicines are free and volunteers bring it to their doorsteps. Malnutrition retards the growth of children. They become stunted and any child who is stunted will not meet the expected growth of his or her age group.”
Mother of threeZinatu Musa, another beneficiary of the basic nutrition services from the ANRiN project in Bunkure Local Government Area, said she received iron and folic acid tablets as well as Vitamin A and Albendazole for her children.

Read: Nutrition: Bauchi, Kebbi & Sokoto get $9.5 million from USAID


“When I was pregnant, I had the problem of not feeding and eating well and I also had low blood pressure. I was told to take the medicines in the morning after I have eaten well. It made me stronger and improved my appetite.
“My blood pressure came back to normal too. I am encouraging my friends who are pregnant to take these medicines. One of my children was always complaining of stomach pain but after he was given this Albendazole, he stopped complaining of stomach pains. Now he can eat food well and is healthy.”
IHVN ANRiN Project Chief of Party, Dr Temitope Kolade, said that more women and children are reached daily in the community through the World Bank funded project.
“We work with community-based organizations and community volunteers in Nasarawa, Kano Municipal, Fagge, Gwale, Tarauni, Kumbotso, Dala, Bunkure and Wudil Local Government Areas to provide basic nutrition services. Because the community volunteers are familiar with the neighborhoods, they go house to house to identify eligible women and children. Then, they give them the services.


“IHVN routinely conducts bimonthly town hall meetings and community outreaches as an avenue for engaging with community leaders and gatekeepers in all nine supported LGAs. This has helped improve acceptance rate for the services provided and it also serves as a forum for receiving feedback from the community which has helped improve the quality of services provided.”
IHVN Kano State ANRiN Project Director, Dr Ishaya Madaki, added that the services given are; “counseling for mothers/care-givers of children 0-23 months of age on improved behaviors related to maternal, infant and young child feeding. The project provides fifteen sachets of micronutrient powders bi-monthly for children 6-23 months and iron-folic acid (IFA) tablets for pregnant women.”
Dr Madaki explained that the Institute also gives intermittent preventive treatment for malaria during ante-natal care, distributes zinc and oral rehydration solution and gives Vitamin A and semiannual deworming.”


Kano State is among the Nigerian states with the highest burden of malnutrition. The 2018 National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS) gives the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition for Kano as 6.8% and the prevalence of underweight children as 26.9%.
IHVN started offering these nutrition services after being chosen as a Non-State Actor (NSA) to support the Kano State Government in May 2021. As at December 2021, IHVN has provided 239,304 women and 536,065 children with nutrition services through the ANRiN project.

world iimmunisaion day, amref

World Immunisation Day: Gavi appoints Amref Health Africa as new CSO host

As part of the 2022 World Immunisation Day (Week), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Amref Health Africa, and the Gavi Civil Society Organisation, (CSO) Steering Committee has announced a new partnership to harness the full potential of civil society to deliver on Gavi’s ambitious mission to leave no one behind with immunisation.

A statement from Amref reveals that the announcement builds on the momentum created by a Gavi Board-approved initiative to support and empower civil society organisations and communities to identify and reach underserved and missed communities.

This includes a requirement for all countries supported by Gavi to allocate at least ten percent of their combined Health System Strengthening (HSS), Equity Accelerator Funding (EAF) and Targeted Country Assistance (TCA) ceilings for activities undertaken by CSO partners.

“The decision makes Amref Health Africa the first organisation located in a lower middle-income country to host the CSO platform. Additionally, the coordination of these activities from Kenya – a country that is eligible for Gavi support – Is a unique opportunity to meaningfully include beneficiary communities and their representatives in the design and implementation of immunisation policies and programs,” the statment read in part.

Group Chief Executive Officer, Amref Health Africa, Dr. Githinji Gitahi was quoted as saying that “Civil society organisations play an essential role in supporting communities and health systems, and Amref has been at the core of working with different governments to increase sustainable health access to communities that would otherwise miss out on these essential services.

“Hosting the Gavi CSO Constituency is an exciting opportunity for Amref to support the overall global immunisation agenda – IA2030 – by expanding and deepening civil society engagement with key stakeholders, including government leaders, multilateral partners, private sector organisations and grassroots communities.”

Also speaking, the Deputy CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Anuradha Gupta said “Civil society organisations are critical to reaching the most marginalised, as they understand the specific needs and context of these populations and have the trust and confidence of the communities we are trying to serve.

“We are counting on Amref and civil society partners to help us strengthen political commitment and accountability, build trust in vaccines, and support delivery of immunisation services so that no one is left behind.”

It was also stated that Amref will offer strategic advisory services to the Gavi CSO Steering Committee and support capacity building efforts promoted by the Gavi Secretariat across the CSO Constituency for county-led engagement and implementation.

Amref will also ensure there is coordination between the Gavi Secretariat, the Gavi CSO Steering Committee and the Constituency and will manage communications on key and relevant issues for the civil society immunisation community.

Current Chair of the Gavi CSO Steering Committee, Dr. Sheetal Sharma emphasised the need for every community to be carried along.

“No community should be left behind. The Gavi Civil Society Constituency is excited by the partnership between Gavi and Amref – the first Southern Hemisphere host for the Gavi CSO Steering Committee. The Gavi 5.0 agenda is ambitious, and we are fully committed to its success.

“Civil Society will continue to amplify the community voices and work with all partners at global, regional, national, and subnational levels to ensure immunisation remains a core intervention to deliver the existing global health goals,” she said.

Russian invasion

Russian Invasion: Ukrainians with chronic diseases’ access to health care worsening.

The World Health Organisation, (WHO) has said that 1 in 3 households is home to at least 1 person with a chronic condition that is unable to secure medication and care due to the Russian invasion.

The above assertion is as revealed by a new WHO survey illustrating the devastating impact of the humanitarian emergency on the health and well-being of millions of civilians, and the severe challenges facing the Ukrainian health system, as war in Ukraine hits the 2-month mark.
“Preliminary results from an ongoing nationwide health needs assessment, conducted in partnership with Premise, indicate that of the 1,000 households that have responded so far, 1 in 3 (30%) that have at least 1 person with a chronic disease reported challenges in accessing care for those conditions,” a statement from the UN organisation revealed.

Read: WHO verifies that Russian Strikes Killed Health Workers in Ukraine

According to the statement, the survey also shows that 2 out of 5 households (39%) have at least 1 member with a chronic illness, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer.
“Less than a third (30%) of respondents sought out health-care services recently; of those, 39% cited the security situation as the main reason, while 27% reported that no health-care services were available at all in their area.
“Most households (70%) surveyed are sheltering in their own homes at this time, while 11% are staying with friends and family members in relatively safer areas, 8% are on the move within Ukraine, and 3% are in a shelter or camp for internally displaced people,” the statement read in part.
WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine, Dr Jarno Habicht was quoted thus, “Two months into the war, our findings show the urgent need for continued health system support in Ukraine.
“Through our long-standing engagement with the Ministry of Health, national health institutions and our many partners and donors, WHO has been able to reach nearly 7.5 million people over the past 8 weeks with life-saving supplies, equipment and medicines.
“But we are still unable to reach some of the hardest-hit areas in the east where the health system has all but collapsed. We have received reports, for instance, that nearly all health facilities and hospitals in Luhansk oblast are either damaged or destroyed, and the situation is critical in several others.
It is vital that we gain access so we can assess health needs and move vital supplies into affected areas, including Mariupol. Civilians have a right to health, even in times of war.”
It was further observed that Ukraine’s health system is facing multiple challenges, with the situation growing more dire by the day; the risk of infectious diseases, and increasingly waterborne diseases, is significant, and routine immunization, including COVID-19 vaccination, is greatly diminished because of the war.

On access to reproductive, maternal and antenatal care, as well as mental health care, it was noted that services have been severely impacted due to the Russian invasion, restricted mobility, broken supply chains and mass displacement. And health care continues to come under attack, with more than 160 verified incidents since 24 February.
Also quoted in the statement, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri Kluge said, “As the health agency of the United Nations, WHO is in a unique position to engage in dialogue with all parties to press for, and secure, safe passage for critical health and medical supplies nationwide,” explained.
“Through our Regional Office and country offices, we are constantly in touch with Health Minister Viktor Liashko and Ukrainian health authorities, collectively strategizing to ensure as best we can that health-care providers and facilities can continue to function.”

The WHO said it is working closely with partners on the ground and through the generosity of a range of donors and funders and has managed to deliver specialized medical and emergency supplies, deploy medical teams in hard-to-reach areas, and help minimize disruptions to critical services, including treatments for HIV, tuberculosis and diabetes, routine immunizations, and mental health support.
WHO listed its accomplishments in Ukraine with support of partners in the past two months to include; verification of 162 attacks on health care (as of 21 April); delivery of 218 metric tons of emergency and medical supplies and equipment to Ukraine, 65% of which (142 metric tons) has reached intended destinations, mostly in the east, south and north of the country where the need is greatest; delivery of enough trauma and emergency supplies to conduct up to 207 000 surgeries.
Others are; delivery of enough medicines and health-care equipment to serve 7.45 million people; delivery of 15 diesel generators to meet the energy needs of hospitals and health facilities; delivery of 130 000 COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (WHO had prepositioned many more prior to the Russian invasion); delivery of 1000 vials of tocilizumab to treat severe and life-threatening cases of COVID-19; ordered 20 ambulances to hand over to the Ministry of Health, due to be delivered in the next week; and convened 97 international and local partners with health-related activities in 24 oblasts through the Ukraine Health Cluster.

Also in the list is delivery of trauma and emergency medical supplies to the following oblasts: Kyiv, Cherkasy, Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Poltava, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Odessa and Zaporizhzhia; support of or coordination of more than 50 Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) in Ukraine and refugee-hosting countries to provide direct surgical support and mobile primary health care; as well as run bi-weekly training sessions attended by thousands of Ukrainian health-care providers on mass casualty management, covering topics such as hospital blood transfusions in conflict settings, traumatic limb injuries, emergency nursing care and essential burn care.

The WHO also said it has provided support to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health’s Public Health Centre to estimate the antiretroviral needs in Ukraine for the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has funded and is working with partners on the ground to deliver enough antiretroviral drugs to treat people living with HIV in Ukraine for up to 12 months; established 3 health hubs in western Ukraine to support medical evacuations, and ensured safe medical evacuation of patients, including those suffering from cancer, for treatment outside Ukraine; and put in place contingency plans for medical oxygen given the current disruptions to supply.
“As of 21 April, WHO had received US$ 26.3 million of its appeal for US$ 45 million (58%) to cover its emergency response from March through May. A further US$ 18 million has been pledged. These funds will enable WHO to reach 6 million people with health-care assistance.”
WHO expressed gratitude to governments, individuals, corporations and organizations contributing to its Ukraine Appeal, such as Canada, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund for their timely contributions as they combat the effects of the Russian invasion
“Flexible funding remains critical to enable WHO to deliver urgent, life-saving assistance where it’s most needed,” Dr. Habicht stressed.

According to the United Nations, due to the Russian invasion, more than 12 million people have been forcibly displaced by the Russian invasion: 7.1 million people are displaced within Ukraine and more than 5 million refugees are outside Ukraine. Another 2.9 million are considering leaving their homes due to the war.
“Addressing the health impacts of the Russian invasion in Ukraine and surrounding countries remains my highest priority.
“During, my recent visit to Ukraine on World Health Day, I was deeply impressed by the resilience of the health workers I met, who are going over and above the call of duty to treat patients and serve their communities, despite the difficult circumstances. I complimented as well the Ministry of Health for their efforts,” said Dr. Kluge.
“WHO/Europe is committed to supporting Ukraine during the Russian invasion and in the future. As we respond to the immediate humanitarian needs, we must also plan for reconstruction and rehabilitation in parallel. The challenges are formidable, but WHO will work with national authorities and partners every step of the way, striving to achieve health and well-being for all,” he added

genomic surveillance

WHO worried by impact of inequity on genomic surveillance new technologies

The World Health Organisation, (WHO) says it is releasing a strategy to strengthen and scale up genomic surveillance around the world.

“Historically, few countries have routinely done genomic surveillance in-country, a technology considered complicated and expensive. But COVID-19 changed that.

“Genomic surveillance is the process of constantly monitoring pathogens and analyzing their genetic similarities and differences. It helps researchers, epidemiologists and public health officials to monitor the evolution of infectious diseases agents, alert on the spread of pathogens, and develop countermeasures like vaccines.”

Read: Africa Experience Decline in COVID-19 Cases – WHO

Statement from the Organisation states that the Global genomic surveillance strategy for pathogens with pandemic and epidemic potential 2022–2032 is not specific to a single pathogen or disease threat.

“It provides a high-level unifying framework to leverage existing capacities, address barriers and strengthen the use of genomic surveillance worldwide.

“Data collected by WHO show that in March 2021, 54% of countries had this capacity. By January 2022, thanks to the major investments made during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number had increased to 68%. Even greater gains were made in the public sharing of sequence data: in January 2022, 43% more countries published their sequence data compared to a year before.”

It was also regretted that despite this fast progress, much remains to be done – any new technology comes with the risk of increasing inequity, which is one of the gaps this strategy targets.

Various public health programmes – from Ebola to cholera – use genomic surveillance to understand a pathogen at its molecular level, but COVID-19 has highlighted the challenges of bringing genomics to scale.

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus was quoted as saying that “The complexities of genomics and the challenges of sustaining capacities in different settings, including workforce needs, means that most countries cannot develop these capabilities on their own.

“The global strategy helps keep our eyes on the horizon and provides a unifying framework for action. WHO looks forward to working with countries and partners in this important and highly dynamic field.”

It was further stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that health systems need genomic surveillance so that risks are rapidly detected and addressed.

And also that the technology has been critical in this response, from the identification of a novel coronavirus, to the development of the first diagnostic tests and vaccines, to the tracking and identification of new virus variants.

Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Michael Ryan, was quoted in the statement as saying that “Genomic surveillance is critical for stronger pandemic and epidemic preparedness and response.

“This pandemic has laid bare the fact that we live in an interconnected world and that we are only as strong as our weakest link. Improving global disease surveillance means improving local disease surveillance. That is where we need to act, and this strategy will provide us with the foundation.”