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Life-saving role of Red Cross volunteers during Ebola outbreak highlighted by new study.

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Courageous volunteers may have prevented more than 10,000 Ebola cases during the 2013-2016 West Africa outbreak, according to estimates in a study published today.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, uses statistical modelling to measure the impact of Red Cross safe and dignified burial (SDB) teams during the Ebola outbreak. It found that the practice of safe and dignified burials potentially averted as many as 10,450 Ebola cases, decreasing the scale of the outbreak by over a third (36.5 per cent).

Red Cross teams in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea took on the complex task of burying people who had died of Ebola, a crucial yet dangerous task given how infectious dead bodies were. The work of the Red Cross SDB teams was further complicated by deeply valued traditional burial practices of washing and touching the dead, which contributed in the early stages of the outbreak to increased infection rates.

To respond effectively, we had to change our entire approach to dealing with people who had died and their families,” said Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “We stopped talking about ‘dead body management’ and instead started talking about “safe and dignified burials’. We talked to communities and did our best to understand their beliefs and priorities. Ultimately, we earned their trust, and this was critical to success.”

“The 2017 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reminds us of how precarious global health is”.

In all, Red Cross teams managed over 47,000 safe burials, accounting for over 50 per cent of all burials conducted during the outbreak. The teams were made up entirely of local volunteers, who spoke local languages and who understood cultural norms and community dynamics. Around 1,500 trained volunteers were involved in this work. As a result of their efforts, many of them were stigmatized and threatened.

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“This study reveals the vital role of communities and community-based organizations in the Ebola response,” said Dr Julie Hall, Chief of Staff and Special Advisor on Health at the IFRC. “The success of the SDB programme can be largely attributed to the Red Cross teams who were there before, during and after the outbreak. It was they who provided the basis for a response to the crisis that was both acceptable to local communities, and sustainable.”

IFRC is repeating its call for greater investment in strengthening local and community-level health capacity, including by investing in National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The 2017 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reminds us of how precarious global health is,” said Mr Sy. “International partners need to better harness and invest in local capacities, building on homegrown knowledge and skills, that will help communities respond, protect themselves and put an end to future health crises.

The price tag on this investment is far less than the alternative: outbreaks that are deadlier and more expensive.”

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‘Take pre-emptive steps to secure Oyo State’, Akande advises Makinde

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Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, has been urged to take immediate and decisive measures to secure lives and property in the state.

Professor Adeolu Akande, the Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, made the plea on Monday, in the wake of the security measures announced by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.

The Ondo State Government had on Monday given a 7-day ultimatum to illegal occupants of forest reserves in the state to vacate their hideout. The government also announced many other stringent steps to secure the state from incorrigible elements.

Professor Akande noted the extreme measures would make Ondo State uncomfortable for the criminals, who would seek a new haven and continue to wreak havoc.

“It is logical to expect that the displacement of these criminal elements from Ondo State will lead them to migrate to comfortable zones to continue their nefarious activities. This is the risk Oyo State faces if it fails to take stern measures to keep such elements away from the state.

“We should not be unmindful of claims by the Chairman of the  Amotekun corps in Oyo State that the forest reserves in the Oke Ogun area have become a haven for criminals from neighbouring countries.

“It is therefore of great urgency that Governor Makinde announces measures to ensure that Oyo State does not become a natural comfort zone for criminal elements expelled from neighbouring states.

The APC Chieftain further noted that the rising crime wave in the state and across the country calls for collective action from all citizens.

“This is no time to trade culpability. The state is facing a serious security challenge, and all of us must join hands with the governor to salvage the situation. Criminals do not distinguish between political parties when they commit a crime. They do not choose their victims according to their political affiliation. All hands must be on deck to return our dear state to a secure and peaceful one”, the NCC boss submitted.

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NDDC: Akpabio threatens legal action over fake news of $5m bribe to Malami to secure sole administrator

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Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, has denied the news making the rounds in some media outfits that he offered a bribe of $5 million to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, to secure the appointment of a sole administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Also, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State has threatened legal action against the purveyors of the news inorder to clear his name and that of the Attorney General from the malicious publication.

The position of the Minister was contained in a statement signed by his media aide, Anietie Ekong, and made available to newsmen.

The statement read, “the attention of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has been drawn to a piece of fake news which claimed that Senator Akpabio paid $5 million bribe to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and others to secure the appointment of a Sole Administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

“We wish to state categorically that  this is a piece of malicious concoction manufactured from the pit of hell by mischief -makers. It is a figment of the imagination of the author of the fake news. Senator Akpabio denies the story in its entirety. The authors of the fake news should be ready to back up their claim or face the full wrath of the law.

“The story is a desperate attempt by some unscrupulous bloggers to impugn the integrity of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami as the claim is not only spurious but utterly ridiculous.

“The fact is that in a suit number ABJ/CS/617/2020 filed by a Civil Society Organization, Forum for Accountability and Good Governance, at a Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed had granted an order restraining the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC from performing the functions of the board and accessing the Commission’s offices and files.

“The Order clearly listed the Managing Director Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, Acting Executive Director of Projects Dr Cairo Ojougboh, Mrs Caroline Nagboh and Cecilia Akintomide as those restrained. The Order also asked that “the most senior civil servant or administrator in the Commission be appointed” to take charge of the Commission.

“It was based on this order that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the elevation of the Acting Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Mr Effiong Akwa, being the most Senior Administrator to take over the headship of the NDDC as an Interim Administrator pending the completion of the Forensic Audit Exercise.

“It is therefore absurd for anyone to even imagine that the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio would bribe the Attorney General before an Order of the Court is complied with as the purveyors of the fake news have stated. The general public should discountenance this piece of trash.

‘It is obvious that some  persons who are scared of the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari are working tirelessly to scuttle the exercise by blackmailing the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.  Their modus operandi is to churn out fake news in a bid to stop Senator Akpabio from sanitizing the NDDC. Otherwise, how can a responsible news website make such a grievous allegation without any shred of evidence to back up its claim.

“However, we wish to state that no amount of sponsored fake news and blackmail would deter Senator Akpabio from doing the right thing as directed by Mr. President. The Minister has the overwhelming support of the impoverished masses of the Niger Delta who have borne the brunt of underdevelopment of the region over the years”, it concluded.

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Alaafin of Oyo, encyclopedia of Yoruba culture and tradition – Tegbe

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A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state, Engr. Olasunkanmi Tegbe has described the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III as an encyclopedia of the culture and traditions of the entire Yoruba race.

Congratulating the custodian of culture on his 50th coronation anniversary, Tegbe said Oba Adeyemi has displayed uncommon wisdom and emotional intelligence in administering his domain, fostering peace and sustainable development.

In a statement signed on Thursday and made available to Mega Icon Magazine, the APC chieftain added that the Alaafin has not only “sustained our heritage and identity as a people”, but also used his throne to build bridges of friendship and harmony in the state, across Yoruba Land and beyond.

“I felicitate with His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III on the 50th Anniversary of his ascension to the throne.

“In half a century, Kábíyèsí has displayed uncommon wisdom and emotional intelligence in administering his domain, fostering peace and sustainable development.

“Iku Baba Yeye has sustained our heritage and identity as a people. He is best described as an encyclopedia of the culture and traditions of the entire Yoruba race.

“Our Father has used his throne to build bridges of friendship and harmony in the state, across Yoruba Land and beyond.

“I remain proud of his progressive ideals, particularly the legacy of peace and harmony which Yorubas are known for.

“I pray that Kabiyesi spends many more years in good health”, the statement read.

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