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Galvanizing global ambition to end the AIDS epidemic after a decade of progress

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A new report from the United Nations Secretary-General, Galvanizing global ambition to end the AIDS epidemic after a decade of progress, has been presented to United Nations Member States during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Member States gathered at the United Nations in New York, United States of America, to review progress and share their own progress and challenges.

“A world without AIDS was almost unimaginable when the General Assembly held its first special session on the epidemic 18 years ago,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in the report. “Since then, the global determination to defeat one of history’s greatest health crises has produced remarkable progress … and … inspired a commitment within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

The Secretary-General’s report shows that results once derided as impossible in low-income settings have now been achieved following a decade of progress in the response to HIV. Between 2008 and 2017, there was a 43% reduction in AIDS-related deaths, a 45% reduction in new HIV infections among children and a 19% reduction in new HIV infections among adults globally. The number of people living with HIV on treatment also increased, by 5.5 times, reaching 21.7 million of the 36.9 million people living with HIV in 2017.

“The enormous achievements in the response to HIV in recent decades, under the strong leadership of UNAIDS, is one of the best examples of multilateralism in action,” said María Fernanda Espinosa, President of the United Nations General Assembly. “It is most definitely an indication of what we can achieve when we work together around a common cause.”

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The report shows that progress has been most marked in eastern and southern Africa, where AIDS-related deaths fell by 53% and new HIV infections among adults and children fell by 36%. An epidemic that once killed more than a million people in the region per year now claims fewer than 400 000 lives per year.

In other regions of the world, including Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, western and central Europe and North America, increases in the coverage of HIV testing and treatment services have achieved significant reductions in AIDS-related deaths over the past decade. Most of those regions have also experienced declines in new HIV infections.

Notable exceptions are eastern Europe and central Asia, where the annual number of new HIV infections has risen by 30% since 2010, with an estimated 960 000 people newly infected over this time, and in the Middle East and North Africa, where deaths from AIDS-related illnesses increased by 11%, an estimated 140 000 people newly infected, over the same period.

The report notes that services focused on key populations within those regions are few and far between, and harsh punishments for same-sex sexual relationships, drug use and sex work in those regions and elsewhere are proving to be formidable barriers to the few services that are available.

In western and central Africa, insufficient domestic funding, weak health systems, formal and informal user fees for health care, humanitarian situations and high levels of stigma and discrimination continue to undermine efforts to scale up HIV testing and treatment.

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Many challenges remain, including stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV and harmful gender norms. Laws and policies in many countries prevent young people, women, key populations―gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners and other incarcerated people―indigenous people, migrants and refugees from accessing health and HIV services.

Funding for HIV responses in low- and middle-income countries globally has also remained flat for most of the past five years. In 2017, donor and domestic investments in low- and middle-income countries were US$ 20.6 billion, about 80% of the 2020 target.

“As the Secretary-General’s report makes abundantly clear, to protect the gains we have made and to tackle the challenges that stand in the way of our promise to end AIDS by 2030, we need to firm up our resolve, strengthen our partnerships and say no to complacency,” said Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, a.i. “Let’s start with a successful replenishment that results in a fully funded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that will enable it, along with its range of partners, including UNAIDS, to continue to deliver evidence-informed, people-centred and human-rights based support to the people and communities who need it the most.”

The report outlines that there is an important opportunity to seize the growing momentum to achieve universal health coverage, a core principle of which is leaving no one behind. Collaboration between health systems and community groups has been shown to reduce stigma and discrimination and to help to deliver services to the people in greatest need―a key recommendation of the report is the strengthening of the vital role that community groups play in the AIDS response.

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In the report, the United Nations Secretary-General urges Member States to adopt the following recommendations to galvanize political will, accelerate action and build the momentum necessary to reach the 2020 targets agreed to by the United Nations General Assembly in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS: (a) reinvigorate primary HIV prevention; (b) diversify HIV testing and differentiate the delivery of health care to reach the 90–90–90 targets; (c) establish enabling legal and policy environments in order to reach marginalized and vulnerable populations; (d) mobilize additional resources and allocate them where they are most needed; (e) support communities to enable them to play their critical roles; and (f) incorporate a comprehensive HIV response into universal health coverage

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Waste recycling will set most youths on wealth path – Ayoola

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Youths in Oyo State have been urged to take up the opportunity in waste recycling to escape from poverty caused by shortage of job opportunities and idleness.

 

The State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Hon Kehinde Ayoola stated this on Thursday on his visit to some waste recycling factories in Ibadan, the State capital.

 

Ayoola, who was in company of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Bashir Olanrewaju, consultant to the State on waste management, Mrs Ololade Oresanwo of West Africa ENGR and officials of the Ministry.

 

Ayoola toured recycling plants at Ring Road, Orita Aperin Waste-To-Wealth Project site and the Aba Eku central dump site to ascertain the capacity of the plants and possibility of further government support for the private investors in waste recycling.

 

“As we can all see, the wealth of the nation is no more oil dependent but in areas that we have not been paying attention to before. Today, young Nigerians are making good money from waste recycling while others cringe at the sight of waste, yet we complain of poverty.

 

“We have to be realistic in what we want and how we go about achieving them. The State administration under Governor Seyi Makinde has looked and found various ways to make youths have enabling environment to thrive in whatever business or enterprise they engage in to reduce poverty and unemployment.

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“The capacity to employ is not as buoyant as it used to be by the federal and State governments due to low income from oil, which is the mainstay of Nigeria’s wealth, so we all have to look inward and waste recycling has offered a good opportunity to make money and even employ other youths.

 

“We shall give support to all willing youths in Oyo State that are ready to establish their own business or be an enterprenuer by continuing to provide the enabling environment.”

 

The plants visited were producing polythene nylon and other products from recycled pure water sachet and other waste products.

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Makinde Hails Stakeholders’ Quest For Healthy Environment, Restates Zero Tolerance For Filth

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Oyo State Governor, Engr.  Seyi Makinde  has paid a glowing tribute to stakeholders in the environmental sanitation sector for their resilience in restoring the State back to its status as one of the neatest in the nation.

 

The governor’s commendation was relayed through the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola at his office when he hosted the Heads of Local Government Administrators and Heads of Environmental and Health Services as well as officials of the West African Energy, the Consultancy firm in charge of refuse collection in the State.

 

Hon Ayoola said the State appreciated the efforts of the stakeholders in mobilizing against filthy environment and the ways they have demonstrated their support to the government in mobilizing against the menace of poor sanitation.

 

According to him, the governor knew the efforts that you all at the end of the local government health and administrative administrators have put into this campaign of ridding the State of the culture of poor sanitation and he salutes you all.

 

“It is pertinent that we put more efforts into this project so that before long, if we look back, we shall see giant accomplishments in this line and we shall be able to pat each other on the back for a well done job.

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“We appreciate the input of the market women, civil societies, traditional rulers, the media and those officially saddled with the duty of enforcing clean environment in the State. We wish the trend continues in good stead.”

 

The former lawmaker disclosed further that  Oyo State Government has set up an agenda to curb the menace of environmental laws which would go a long way in ensuring  that the safety and healthy condition of its citizens became important.

 

 

He emphasized that  the Present Administration has zero tolerance for filthy environment hence the need for residents to support this policy by imbibing a good waste disposal culture.

 

“Hygiene is very important to us, failure to uphold some level of hygiene would lead to serious health hazards to us as individuals and persons living around us” he added

 

Continuing, Ayoola stressed that as part of the agenda setting, stakeholders like the Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), religious bodies, market women, transport unions, schools among others would be involved in curbing the environmental menace while also charging residents in the state to make use of refuse collection drums for disposal of their waste.

 

Similarly, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola alongside the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Bashir Olanrewaju and team members from Water Cooperation Of Oyo State paid a visit to Asejire Waterworks and Eleyele Dam by way of familiarizing with the ongoing projects after his resumption into office and also ensuring that quality water is being supplied to homes for the consumption of the general public

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Hon. Ayoola disclosed that part of the aims of Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration was to re-address issues affecting treatment plants in the state and work towards ensuring that every home has access to portable water.

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WHO supports Cross River State in administering polio vaccines to Cameroonian refugees

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Following the 2016 crisis in the South West and North West Anglophone regions of Cameroon, a large number of asylum seekers fled into neighboring villages in Cross River State Nigeria for safety. The asylum seekers mainly came from Akwaya, Otu, Eyumojock, Nsan, Dadi and Bodam villages. The World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the state to reach more refugees against Polio. 

Migration and infectious diseases are highly connected. Immigrants are associated with the spread of infectious diseases, it is also important to recognize that some migrants—particularly refugees fleeing war, persecution, or natural disaster—come from regions with weak or disrupted health systems therefore face a unique set of challenges to health care, hence the need for immunization.

“For you people to travel all the way from Calabar during this rainy period to immunize our children, may you be blessed and rewarded” says Ketches Peter, Head of the 13 autonomous Communities in the Okende Refugees Settlement, Ogoja Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River State. “We are so happy with your support.”

Mr Peter’s praises are a reflection of the dire need for health and humanitarian assistance in the refugee settlement areas. As at 31 July 2019, 74% of the Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria reside either in recognized settlement camps or within host communities across six LGAs of Cross River State. Unfavorable living and environmental conditions continue to be the main challenge among refugees.

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The WHO Nigeria Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) Unit resolved to leverage on National Immunization Days (NIDs) to vaccinate all eligible refugee children, not only in Okende and Adagom refugee Settlements of Ogoja LGA, but also across all other settlements in six LGAs of the State.

Prior to the implementation of the July 2019 NIDs, WHO team conducted an advocacy visit to community leaders of the communities in Adagom and Okende Refugee Settlements in Ogoja LGA seeking collaboration and commitment towards successful implementation of the exercise. With the support of biometric registration data from UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) micro-plans were developed with community leaders to ascertain the spread of refugees within and outside Ogoja LGA.

Vaccination team members were nominated from the refugees trained and carefully selected alongside State Government health workers with daily orientation before commencement of the daily vaccination activities.

“During the implementation exercise, there was supervision by the WHO led team on the ground and committed refugee community heads ensured that pockets of non-compliance were resolved and all eligible children immunized,” says WHO Cross River State Coordinator, Dr Rilwan Raji.

At the advocacy visit to the elected Chairman and Head of the 41 Communities in Adagom, Dr Raji and his team emphasized the need to go beyond the polio national immunization days soliciting the support of the community leaders to mobilize their wards for weekly routine immunization sessions at the health centers in Adagom and Okende, which they fully agreed.

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“WHO will continue to work with Government to ensure every child is immunized and not one single child left behind,” he stated.

The national immunization campaign was held with the supervision of the state government from 20 to 23 July 2019 using the household, fixed- post and special teams strategy throughout Cross River State benefitting the two refugee settlements in Ogoja, as well 26 refugee host communities across six (6) LGAs- Akamkpa, Bakassi, Boki, Etung, Ikom, Obanliku. A total of 5,863 eligible children from refugee camps were vaccinated with two drops of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) as against 2,042 and 1,809 vaccinated in April and July 2018 NIDs respectively when the influx into Cross River initially began.

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