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779 million Africans lack Access to sanitation services – WHO

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By Francesca Iwambe

The World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, has said that 779 million people in Africa lack basic sanitation services.

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Dr. Moeti revealed this in a press statement in commemoration of the 2022 World Toilet Day with the theme ‘Sanitation and groundwater,’ with a focus on the impact of the sanitation crisis on groundwater.

The WTD is celebrated on November 19, annually.

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She said, “Access to safely managed sanitation services, in combination with safely managed drinking water services and good hygiene practices, is fundamental to ensuring public health. It leads to fulfilling the SDG 6 targets and is essential for the realisation of all other sustainable development goals.

“Between 2000 and 2020, the population of Africa increased from 800 million to 1.3 billion. Some 290 million people gained access to at least basic sanitation services during that period.

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“However, 779 million people still lack those basic services. Of these, 208 million still practice open defecation.

“The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme report on progress on drinking water and sanitation highlights the fact that only 29 per cent of health care facilities in Africa have basic sanitation services.

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“According to the Joint Monitoring Programme 2020 data, 33 per cent of households in Africa have basic sanitation services, with 21 per cent using safely managed sanitation facilities. Two out of three people lack safely managed sanitation services.”

The Director added that the same report shows that in Africa 27 per cent of rural and five per cent of urban populations still practice open defecation.

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“We must work on average four times faster to ensure everyone has a safe toilet by 2030. The connection between sanitation and groundwater cannot be overlooked.

“In densely populated urban settings, pit latrines and septic tanks sited close to waterpoints that draw from shallow aquifers create potentially serious health risks. This has a profound impact on public health and environmental integrity. For women and girls, in particular, toilets at home, school and at work help them fulfil their potential and play their full role in society, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.

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“The indignity, inconvenience, and danger of not having access to safely managed sanitation is a barrier to their full participation in society.

Safely managed and properly sited sanitation protects humans and groundwater from faecal waste pathogens. A safe and sustainable sanitation system begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible, and dignified setting.

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“Toilets drive improvements in health, gender equality, education, economics, and the environment.

“The link between ground water and sanitation needs to be strengthened through inclusive policy and coordinated implementation. Thus, cooperation between policy makers, water resource, sanitation specialists and practitioners should be increased,” she said.

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She noted that through its normative role, the WHO Regional Office for Africa, in 2022, has supported key monitoring interventions on access to sanitation services.

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Health

Monkeypox renamed mpox, WHO announces

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The World Health Organisation has said it will start using a new preferred term, ‘mpox’, as a synonym for monkeypox.

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According to the WHO, the change of name followed a series of consultations with global experts.

In a statement on Monday made available to The PUNCH, the agency said when the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatising language online, in other settings, and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO.

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“Assigning names to new and, very exceptionally, to existing diseases, is the responsibility of WHO under the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications through a consultative process which includes WHO member states.

“WHO, in accordance with the ICD update process, held consultations and further discussions with then WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO recommends the adoption of the new synonym mpox in English for the disease and mpox will become a preferred term, replacing monkeypox, after a transition period of one year.”

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Yuletide: NCDC warns of possible COVID-19 infection rise

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The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, has predicted that Nigeria will likely see an increase in COVID-19 cases and a decrease in hospitalisation over the holiday season this year.

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Adetifa claimed that the increase in travel over the holiday season might result in a rise in cases.

He said, “We are prepared to see that there may be a bump in cases just because of the increase in travel and the number of people returning. What we may not expect to see is an increasing number of people who are sick.”

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The NCDC boss said vaccination and previous COVID-19 infections provided some degrees of immunity.

“The population has quite a bit of immunity due to vaccination, previous COVID-19 infection, or repeated COVID-19 infection. So. COVID-19 is not new. The Omicron is not new like it was in November (2021).

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“If you look at our numbers, we haven’t lost people for a while. Even if every single death is a great disaster for people’s families or friends, it’s not anything like the Delta variant when we had a big problem,” he added.

Speaking further, he said the Omicron variant was the dominant strain in the country.

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He said, “Omicron took over as the dominant variant in November and December last year, and it has refused to go anywhere. Other minor variants have emerged, but Omicron remains the most dominant.”

The latest data from the NCDC showed that there were 266,283 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 3,155 deaths, while the number of discharged cases stood at 259,640 as of November 18.

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NARD raises alarm over migration of doctors

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*Says, 4,000 doctors migrating soon

*Its now a ratio of one doctor to 10,000

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By Francesca Iwambe, Abuja

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, has raised the alarm over the migration of doctors.

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NARD national president of NARD, Dr Emeka Orji, said on Sunday about 4,000 of its members are planning to disengage their services in the country and migrate abroad for greener pastures.

Dr Orji while expressing worry over the developme noted that it is now a ratio of one doctor to 10,000 patients in the country.

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While lamenting government’s unjust treatment of it members, he said with government’s nonchalant attitudes to members’ salaries, welfare and other deserved packages, the country may be heading to a point where it would have no doctors anymore.

NARD revealed that Nigeria had already lost 2,000 doctors to the outside world in the last two years.

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It tasked the government to halt the drift by doing the needful to avoid what it called disaster in the nation’s health sector.

This, he noted, was far above the World Health Organisation, WHO’s recommended ratio of one doctor to 600 patients.

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Although he admitted that mobility of labour was recognized anywhere in the world, he, however, said there were several reasons why people can decide to leave their countries or migrate to other places, tasking government to find out the reasons and address them.

The NARD president, who was responding to questions on the brain drain among other issues in the nation’s health sector, said: “Mobility of labour is recognized anywhere in the world.

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“There are several reasons why people can decide to leave their counties or migrate to other places even to move from one state to the other in the same country to work ranging from welfare services, remuneration,working condition, security and other social issues.
“And what government should do is to try to find out why and then address it.

“That is what a serious government does, because the truth is that it is really a very serious problem in the health sector as we speak and we believe it is an emergency and that if nothing is done urgently to arrest the drift, we would come to a stage where we won’t have doctors in our hospitals.

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“Over the past two years or so,we have lost over 2,000 doctors to an outside world and on average,we have lost between 100 to 160 doctors every month.

“We are not just talking about the low-level staff here,we are talking about the highly specialized doctors leaving the country.

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“And when you undertake studies to know why they are leaving, 80 percent of them responded that it is because of poor remuneration.

“The salary structure we are using now came into being in 2009. That is over 13 years ago and part of th agreement we had with government then was that it should be reviewed after five years.

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“And that five years was in 2014. Till now, we have been writing for it to be reviewed but we have not made any significant headway on that.

“You know th living conditions in 2009 compared to now with r gards to inflation, dollar exchange rate and all that.

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“As a matter of fact, somebody like me; I’m a senior registrar, but what I was paid in 2009 as a house officer, if you will get the dollar equivalent, you would realize that it was even more than what I’m being paid now.

“So there is nobody that will see that kind of thing and stay back, especially seeing a place where your work is better appreciated, that won’t be tempted to go there.

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“As I’m talking to you now, we have found out that over 4,000 of our members have decided to migrate within the shortest possible time.

“And if that happens, I can assure you that it would be a disaster. It will lead to poor patient management and difficulty in assessing health care.

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“Patients will have long clinic hours such that a patient that should ordinarily see a doctor within one hour can spend the whole day, because if you have one doctor attending to more patients than he should, of course, he won’t give in his best and even the patient would have to wait much longer to be attended to.

“The approved doctor-to-patient ratio by the World Health Organisation, WHO, is one to 600. That is one doctor to 600 patients.

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“But currently in Nigeria, we are doing one doctor to 10,000. You can see the huge gap and it would continue to worsen if government doesn’t don’t do the right thing.”

Dr Orji, who said the leadership of his organisation has been discussing with government on the need to do the right things, regretted that the latter was not expediting actions in addressing the identified grey areas.

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Orji said NARD was taking proactive steps to ensure members were given deserved attention by the government, saying it had met with many stakeholders for intervention.

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