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Most Africa’s public health issues linked to climate change- WHO

More than half of the 2 121 public health events recorded in the past two decades in Africa were climate-related, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a new report to mark World Health Day.

Natural disasters had also spiked dramatically since 2010, with 70% of all-natural disasters occurring between 2017 and 2021 according to Today.ng

Floods were the most frequent, accounting for 33% of all reported natural disasters.

By definition, public health events were ones that represented an immediate threat to human health and required prompt action, and not limited to disease outbreaks and the spread of infectious diseases.

“The analysis found that of the 2 121 public health events recorded in the African region between 2001 and 2021, 56% were climate-related. The region is witnessing an increase in climate-linked emergencies, with 25% more climate-related events recorded between 2011 and 2021 compared with the previous decade,” the report stated.

Various United Nations agencies, global think tanks, and aid givers had since incorporated climate change awareness and mitigation in its programmes as the world, particularly Africa, was feeling the effects of global warming.

Part of the message being conveyed was that African governments should prioritize human well-being in all key decisions, stop new fossil fuel explorations and subsidies, tax polluters and implement WHO air quality guidelines.

Climate change-related issues had also become a political campaign rallying point.

On Wednesday, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera donated 10 000 kilograms of maize flour to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), to mark his 67th birthday in the country.

Dodma will then distribute to flood victims in various camps in the Southern Region of Malawi.

“While the president is thankful for the gift of life, he is mindful of the many Malawians whose lives have been disrupted by recent natural disasters, and this donation is his expression of solidarity with them and commitment to alleviating their suffering,” said presidential press secretary Anthony Kasunda in a statement.

Because of climate change, “the entire foundation of good health is in jeopardy with increasingly severe climatic events”, WHO said.

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), southern Africa was one of the most affected parts of the world, with reoccurring natural disasters such as flooding.

As such, WHO noted that waterborne diseases were on the rise.

“The WHO analysis found that water-borne diseases accounted for 40% of the climate-related health emergencies over the past two decades. In Africa, diarrhoeal diseases are the third leading cause of disease and death in children under five. A significant proportion of these deaths is preventable through safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene,” the organisation said.

The WHO analysis revealed that vector-borne diseases, notably yellow fever, accounted for 28% of the climate-related health emergencies, while zoonotic diseases, specifically Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever, were the third most prevalent. Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever is a viral disease transmitted to people from ticks and livestock and had an outbreak fatality rate of up to 40%.

 

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Africa

Just In: Thomas Sankara’s widow reacts to court’s life sentence of Compaoré

Reactions have began to follow a military court’s ruling in Burkina Faso on Wednesday that handed down a life term to former president Blaise Compaore over the 1987 assassination of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara.

Applause erupted in the courtroom as the long-awaited verdict was read out, bringing the curtain down on a case that has afflicted the impoverished and volatile state for 34 years.

Thomas Sankara’s widow, Mariam was also present during the ruling. Mariam hailed the verdict as true justice.

“I think that the Burkinabe people and public opinion now know who President Thomas Sankara was, who the individual was, who the politician was, what he wanted, what those who assassinated him wanted. In any case, I am relieved because we know who he is. He had been called everything in speeches and all that, now we know that he was a man of integrity.”

One of the prosecution lawyers Prospère Farama beamed with smile at the verdict.

“Yes, justice has been done. For the people, because it’s been 34 years of struggle of a people. We must not forget, it’s been 34 years that the Burkinabe people have been fighting against impunity. And with this case, I think that it is a great victory...” Farama told reporters outside the courtroom after the verdict.

The court also issued life terms to Hyacinthe Kafando, an officer suspected of having led the hit squad, and General Gilbert Diendere, an army commander at the time of the assassination, which coincided with a coup that brought Compaore to power. Eight other accused were given jail terms ranging from three to 20 years, while three defendants were acquitted.

But ex-president Blaise Compaore lives in exile in Ivory Coast after being toppled by public protests in 2014, and Kafando has been on the run since 2016. Their trial and sentencing were done in absentia.

“This decision, which comes after a quarter of a century of multiple procedures for us, is welcome. It is at the same time a lesson and Africans should be inspired by it and make sure that no more such tragedies occur in our countries.” Bénéwindé Sankara, another lawyer for the civil parties said.

The six-month trial was avidly followed by many in the landlocked Sahel nation, for whom Sankara’s bloody death remains a dark blot on the country’s history.

Thomas Sankara and his brutal end

A fiery Marxist-Leninist who blasted the West for neo-colonialism and hypocrisy, Sankara was shot dead on October 15 1987, little more than four years after coming to power as an army captain aged just 33.

He and 12 colleagues were killed by a hit squad at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.

Discussing the leftwing icon’s death was taboo throughout the 27-year reign of Compaore, Sankara’s comrade-in-arms.

In its closing statement in Wednesday 2 April’s ruling, the prosecution recounted in grim detail a plot to ambush Sankara and his closest followers.

Sankara headed to the National Revolutionary Council meeting for a rendezvous with death, for “his executioners were already there,” it said.

After Sankara entered the meeting room, the hit squad burst in, killing his guards, the prosecution said.

“The squad then ordered president Sankara and his colleagues to leave the room. They would then be killed one by one.”

Ballistics experts told the trial Sankara had been shot in the chest at least seven times by assassins using tracer rounds.

But the defendants said the victims died in a botched attempt to arrest Sankara after he and Compaore fell out over the direction the country’s revolution was taking.

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Africa

Congolese refugees reluctant to return home

After fighting between the national army and M23 rebels erupted earlier this week in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of Congolese fled to neighboring Uganda.

Now, Kinshasa is asking them to regain their villages but people are reluctant fearing for their life. UN High Commissioner for Refugees says about 10,000 people have already crossed the border as reported by Africanews

A few days ago, the rebels retreated from positions taken on the road leading from Goma, the capital of North Kivu, to Bunagana, on the Ugandan border. It was near Bunagana that a UN helicopter crashed for reasons that remain unknown on Tuesday, killing eight peacekeepers was living in Bunagana where I was selling hemp. I wanted to go and sell my business in a village near Runyoni, and that’s where I was shot, and here I am in this state.”, says _Seka Junior, injured in attack and lying in a hospital in Rushuru.

Many other civilians who didn’t leave the country rushed to Rutshuru, where they found precarious shelter in schools or churches. “The rebels are still in our villages, it’s too complicated to go back because we can’t live together, there may be other clashes and we will be victims.”, says Bibwesho, displaced in Rutshuru.

On top of the 10,000 refugees already in Uganda, according to the UN, about 36,000 civilians have been displaced within the DRC.

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Oil & Gas

List of African countries with the highest petrol prices

Across Africa, petrol prices are soaring. This problem has worsened by a number of factors, including the increasing scarcity of the commodity.

In Nigeria, petrol has been scarce for about a month now. Some experts have said, the case in Nigeria started after the country inadvertently imported adulterated fuel.

Efforts by the West African country’s state-owned energy company (the NNPC) to clean up the contaminated product from the market inevitably resulted in a shortage. Since then, it is alleged that marketers have been hoarding and profiteering.

Despite the recent price surge in Nigeria, the country is not making it to the list of African countries with the highest fuel prices in Africa, perhaps this is due to the fact that the Nigerian Government heavily subsidises the commodity.

The rising cost of petrol in Sub Saharan Africa has also been attributed to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. There are fears that as the conflict continues to escalate, it could have an even more negative impact on energy costs in Africa.

Already, global oil prices have surpassed the $100 per barrel mark, which was last recorded in 2014. The commodity is currently trading at $102.6 per barrel, according to benchmark price Brent Crude.

Below is a list showing the top10 African countries with the highest petrol prices as of March 2022, according to data made available by Global Petrol Prices.

  1. Zimbabwe: This Southern African country has the highest petrol cost in Africa. A litre of petrol costs as much as $2.153. Earlier this month, the country’s Energy and Power Development Minister, Zhemu Soda, explained that frequent petrol price hikes were driven by developments in the international oil industry. Zimbabwe is not an oil producer, although there were conflicting reports about crude oil discovery in Northern Zimbabwe in 2018.
  2. Seychelles: This island country has the second most expensive fuel price in Africa, according to data. A litre of petrol in this country is sold for $1.541. The country does not currently produce any oil and gas, although some international oil companies are busy prospecting potential oil deposits off its many coasts.
  3. Malawi: Malawi follows with $1.426 for a litre of petrol. The country is said to have a great prospect of discovering crude oil reserves in Lake Malawi.
  4. South Africa: Here, a litre of petrol costs $1.413. In 2019, Total Energies announced that it had made a major discovery of gas condensates in one of its exploration fields in South Africa. Experts said this could significantly improve the country’s fortunes.
  5. Uganda: In this country, a litre of petrol costs $1.389. The high cost of petrol in Uganda is despite the fact that the country actually produces oil. Checks by Business Insider Africa show that the country’s crude oil reserves, as of 2021, stood at 2.5 billion barrels.
  6. Mauritius: This country has the sixth most expensive petrol price in Africa at $1.381 per litre. Mauritius currently does not produce oil, although experts say there are prospects.
  7. Burundi: In this East African country, a litre of petrol costs $1.340. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, this country currently does not have any local sources of crude oil or natural gas.
  8. Senegal: In this Francophone West African country, it costs $1.299 to buy a litre of petrol. The country discovered some crude oil deposits between 2014 and 2017, although full-scale exploration has been pushed back till 2023.
  9. Lesotho: In this country, it costs $1.231 to buy a litre of petrol. The country does not have any confirmed oil deposits.
  10. Rwanda: Here, a litre of petrol costs $1.230. This East African country does not produce crude oil.

 

*Africanews

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Africa

Improving adolescent and youth health services in DRC

Nineteen-year-old Armande* recalls her disastrous first visit to a health centre.

“It was awful,” says the teen from Kongo Central, in western Democratic Republic of the Congo. “I was younger then and looking for information on HIV, and the nurse there made fun of me in front of everyone because of my age.”

Adolescents face a range of health and societal problems: sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, sexual violence, early and unwanted pregnancy, and early marriage.

In Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government is working to provide access to quality sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and youth. According to the Strategic Plan for Health and Wellbeing for Adolescents and Youth (2021–2025), a third of the population is aged between 10 and 24 years. Yet only 17% of youth and adolescents used health services in 2021.

To improve service quality, World Health Organization (WHO) has supported the implementation of an innovative collaborative learning project backed by the Global Fund. Service providers work together to identify, discuss and propose solutions for common problems – all while strengthening capacity and developing positive attitudes, which then feed into the health services provided to adolescents.

“Young people and adolescents need services that are tailored to them,” says Fidèle Mbadu Muanda, Director of the National Programme of Adolescent Health. “Collaborative learning is about strengthening capacities and changing attitudes among service providers. We’ve aligned the norms and policies linked to youth-oriented health services according to WHO guidance.”

In addition to providing technical guidance for the project, WHO supported trainings and the design of quality materials for providers.

For Dr Symplice Mbola Mbassi, adolescent and youth health specialist at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, collaborative learning is innovative on multiple counts.

We’ve aligned the norms and policies linked to youth-oriented health services according to WHO guidance

“It allows people to take stock and identify for themselves what needs to be addressed, as opposed to classical approaches to training, where the themes tend to be imposed on trainees. They teach and inspire each other from their own experience and good practices,” she says.

The project was launched in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over 2018 and 2019, covering six districts in the provinces of Western Kasai (Mbuji-Mayi) and Kinshasa. Jeannette Mudipanu, a nurse in Makala’s Saint Clément Hospital Centre who participated in one of the 32 sessions, says she experienced a profound shift in perspective.

“It’s important to understand the individual,” she said. “From there, we must take the time to listen, patiently and without judgment.”

Youth attendance is now up at Saint Clément: available data shows that around 600 adolescents visited the centre between July and December 2020, as compared with 280 over the same period for the previous year. Exit interviews show a 100% satisfaction rate with the services received.

The new approach was evident right away when Armande visited.

“It was night and day,” she says, comparing it with her first experience. “The first thing I noticed was the way I was greeted. The nurse saw me in a private space and responded to my questions without judgment. I got advice on how to prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, avoiding early and unwanted pregnancy, and how to use a condom. She did mention abstinence as the best choice but also acknowledged that it can be hard for young people like us to stick to. Most importantly, she corrected some of the misinformation that’s been going around.”

Service providers seize each opportunity to refute some of the most harmful myths in circulation.

“I had heard that the lubricant on condoms causes cancer, so I used to absolutely avoid those condoms,” Armande admits. “I also used to think that having sex was the only way to transmit HIV.”

HIV/AIDS prevalence among Congolese youth aged 15 to 24 is 0.23%, as compared to a national average of 1.2%, according to Spectrum 2021 and the Demographic and Health Survey (EDS 2013 – 2014). Mortality due to early pregnancy remains a scourge: according to the 2021 Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response Report, youth and adolescents under age 19 account for 11% of deaths.

Based on initial success and lessons learned in the six pilot districts, the project now aims to scale the collaborative learning approach to 25 zones in five provinces.

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AfricaOil & GasReport

Oil and Gas: Nigeria Takes the Lead in Exploration, Production and Regulation in 2022

Nigeria represents one of Africa’s heavyweights when it comes to hydrocarbon exploration and production. With over 36 billion barrels of oil (bbl) and 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the country has managed to position itself as both an attractive upstream market and competitive producer. In its Q1 2022 outlook, The State of African Energy, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) (EnergyChamber.org) contends that Nigeria will maintain its position as one of Africa’s leading crude oil producers as well as one of the continent’s top three gas suppliers between 2022 and 2025, providing an opportunity for the West African country to leverage its energy resources for economic growth while addressing global energy demand.

According to the outlook, Nigeria will produce 1.46 million barrels per day (BPD) of crude oil out of the 6.35 million BPD that Africa as a whole will produce during the year, reaffirming the country’s position as a continental energy hub as production in the West African state peaks in 2023. Production declines in mature oilfields coupled with the country’s reliance on offshore basins – approximately 65% of the crude oil Nigeria currently produces sourced from offshore projects – has highlighted the need for Nigeria to increase oil exploration and production to maintain a secure supply as legacy projects diminish and thereby shrink the country’s production capacity from 2023 onwards. Out of the 36 bbl of oil reserves Nigeria holds, just over 25% is currently produced from deep water projects, underlining a huge opportunity for Nigeria to expand partnerships and investment to ramp up production and increase its role in both the continental and global energy landscape.

“The recent $1.2 billion deal between Nigeria’s Seplat Energy and American energy firm ExxonMobil, in which the multinational will continue with its deep-water projects whilst handing over onshore projects, is an indication of the huge potential the country’s offshore projects have in the near future in addressing energy needs as energy consumption increases. By increasing focus on these projects, accelerating exploration and production in key basins, Nigeria has the ability to unleash its full energy potential,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC.

By increasing focus on these projects, accelerating exploration and production in key basins, Nigeria has the ability to unleash its full energy potential

In order to consolidate its position as a global producer, the Nigerian government needs to fast-forward the approval process for deep-water projects and put in place policies that reduce taxes for operators, the majority of which are international majors that have partnered with national oil companies, to ensure more projects come online through 2025 for a continued stable supply of crude oil.

More investments are also required within the country’s downstream sector with inadequate infrastructure slowing down oil production and increasing Nigeria’s reliance on fuel imports. Nigeria imports up to 1.25 million metric tons per month of gasoline due to inadequate domestic refining capacity. Accordingly, the $12 billion Dangote refinery project in Lagos, slated to kickstart operations during Q4 of 2022 with a processing capacity of 540,000 barrels per day and partly owned by state-company the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, is an example of the willingness of Nigeria to set itself as an oil heavyweight while expanding its oil and gas capabilities to meet domestic, regional and global energy needs.

Meanwhile on the gas front, the AEC outlook shows that Nigeria has also retained its spot amongst Africa’s main gas producers in 2022. An annual production capacity of 1,450 billion cubic feet is expected as the country recovers from 2020 low production levels. Existing gas producing fields, as well as those currently under development, are expected to sustain the country’s gas production through to 2025. Despite factors such as vandalism of infrastructure which are restraining optimal gas and oil exportation, as well as the high costs and emission rates associated with deep-water projects driving majors to diversify their portfolios, greenfield investments in Nigeria and its African counterparts will increase capital expenditure across the continent to $30 billion in 2022, providing an opportunity for new projects to come online and for leading hydrocarbon producers such as Nigeria to modernize and build new infrastructure as well as expand exploration and production.

Nigeria is positioned to lead African investment with proven oil and gas reserves as well as a reformed regulatory landscape making the sector increasingly attractive for foreign capital. The implementation of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in 2021 by the Nigerian government, for example, provides regulatory clarity on royalties and other issues that have previously made it difficult for oil and gas E&P companies and downstream market players to expand investments within the country’s market. Now, with the implementation of the PIB, Nigeria is better positioned, now more than ever, to attract investments and accelerate development in 2022 and beyond.

The AEC’s annual conference, African Energy Week (AEW), taking place from October 18-21, 2022, in Cape Town, will not only highlight post-PIB opportunities in Nigeria, but will make a strong case for the role the country plays in both the African and global energy landscape. Through a range of investor-specific forums, market-driven panel discussions, and ministerial summits, AEW 2022 will discuss exploration, production and regulation, with dialogue centered around how Africa’s oil and gas sector can make energy poverty history by 2030.

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Life DramaReport

LIFE DRAMA: “We birthed triplets while Tropical Storm Ana was ripping away parts of the roof” – Nurse

“On the night the storm hit, we assisted a mother as she gave birth to triplets, while the health centre was flooding and intense wind was ripping away parts of the roof. The situation was scary but we were very lucky. The mother and her three babies survived,” said Filomena Aibo Joao, a nurse at Alto Benfica Health Centre in Mocuba District.

Tropical Storm Ana made landfall in Angoche district, in the coastal province of Nampula on 24 January. Then it tracked westwards towards Zambezia and Tete provinces, causing flooding, severe damage to public infrastructure and homes, as well as interruption of basic services. The storm has caused widespread damage in Zambezia, Nampula and Tete provinces, and to a lesser extent Sofala, Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces.

“My house collapsed on top of me after I managed to take my children out,” said 48-year-old Florinda Culosa, from Mocuba District of Zambezia. Florinda had taken shelter in the house she shared with her six children and two grandchildren, and she was injured when it fell in on her.

“I feel very sad about losing my house. Now I am asking for support so that we can move forward with our lives.”

I feel very sad about losing my house.

Lives, homes and health centres destroyed

UNFPA Mozambique is supporting the Mozambican Government’s efforts to assist affected populations in multiple provinces, including Zambezia, where more than 58,000 people were affected, 52 were injured, almost 3000 houses were destroyed and 17 health centres were damaged (INGD, 31 January).

UNFPA joined the recently established Provincial Multisectoral Needs Assessment Team (composed of provincial authorities and humanitarian partners) on a mission to the Namungaine Community in the Mugeba neighborhood of Mocuba district where, according to the Medical Chief of the District, Dr. Leonodo Janeiro, 17 families lost their homes and three people were injured.

Of the total people affected by Tropical Storm Ana, this includes an estimated 34,000 women of reproductive age, and 4,000 pregnant women who need reproductive health services

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expressed concern about the storm’s impact and the limited resources available to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations, already affected by previous natural disasters and the conflict in the northern region. According to Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD), more than 141,000 people were affected (29,000 families), 220 people were injured and 25 people died (INGD, as of 31 January). Thirty health centres were also damaged. Continuing heavy rains have raised concerns for populations in low-lying areas.

Supporting the most vulnerable women and girls

Through humanitarian funding support, the UNFPA Mozambique country office is currently supporting the Government to strengthen sexual and reproductive health services and protection services for the most vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls of reproductive age. Of the total people affected by Tropical Storm Ana, this includes an estimated 34,000 women of reproductive age, and 4,000 pregnant women (Minimum Initial Services Package calculation) who need reproductive health services.

To enhance preparedness and response efforts, with a particular focus on the sexual and reproductive health needs of affected women and girls, UNFPA supported efforts to assess the stock of contraceptives and maternal health medicines in the Mocuba District medical warehouse, run by Zambezia Provincial Health Services (SPS) and Mozambique’s Central Medical Stores (CMAM). These contraceptives and medical commodities will be provided to the affected populations through mobile brigades established to provide sexual and reproductive health services in the most remote affected areas.

As part of UNFPA’s response in Tete Province, mobile clinics resumed their services in Doa district on 25 January, after the heavy rains receded, in order to ensure continuity of reproductive health services for populations affected by Ana. The mobile clinics, organized through the My Choice project with support from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Mozambique, aim to provide continuity of sexual and reproductive health and family planning services to communities that may be isolated due to the floods.

In collaboration with government partners, in the coming weeks UNFPA will provide several thousand dignity kits to vulnerable women and girls affected by the storm to support their menstrual hygiene, sanitary, and female dignity needs – with items including reusable menstrual pads and underwear – and to support protection and safety with whistles and flashlights to aid them at night, giving women like Florinda (and their daughters) one less thing to worry about.

Ensuring continuity of services

Several tents (24 square metres each) are being shipped this week, including to Zambezia, to be provided to damaged health centres to support continued service provision. Relief materials and support for staff involved in the response are being provided by the Government of Norway, the UNFPA Emergency Response Fund, and by the Government of Austria for assessments and related support in Nampula province.

UNFPA in Mozambique continues to pre-position reproductive health kits, tents, dignity kits, and other supplies, to respond rapidly during the cyclone season. This preparation is pertinent, as another tropical cyclone, Batsirai, has formed and may also affect Mozambique in the second week of February.

Scaling up support for the most vulnerable remains critical. For women like Florinda, increased access to health services through mobile clinics, and dignity supplies, will strengthen their autonomy and their ability to protect themselves.

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Politics

US commend ECOWAS over Action on Mali

The United States commends the strong actions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in defense of democracy and stability in Mali following its Extraordinary Summit on January 9, 2022.

We also echo ECOWAS’s concern over the likely destabilizing impact of Russia-backed Wagner group forces in Mali

We share ECOWAS’s deep disappointment with the transition government of Mali’s lack of action or progress toward organizing elections, as it committed to do following the August 2020 coup d’état.  We support ECOWAS’s decision to impose additional economic and financial sanctions to urge the transition government to keep its pledge to the Malian people to return their country to democracy.

We also echo ECOWAS’s concern over the likely destabilizing impact of Russia-backed Wagner group forces in Mali.  As noted in the Department’s statement of December 15, 2021, these forces will not bring peace to Mali and will divert resources away from the Malian Armed Forces’ fight against terrorism.

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Africa

High rate of Yellow Fever in West and Central Africa – WHO reports

In 2021, nine countries in the WHO African Region (Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, and the Republic of Congo,) reported human laboratory-confirmed cases of yellow fever (YF) in areas that are at high risk for the disease and have a history of YF transmission and outbreaks. These outbreaks are growing in case of numbers, necessitating an urgent response.

Since the beginning of 2021 and as of 20 December, there have been 300 probable and 88 laboratories confirmed cases of YF. Among the probable cases there have been 66 deaths reported from six countries (Ghana = 42; Cameroon = 8; Chad = 8; Nigeria = 4; Congo = 2; DRC = 2), the overall case-fatality ratio (CFR) among the probable cases is 22%, with a very wide variation among countries e.g Ghana (40%) and Cameroon (21%).

In October and November 2021, confirmed active YF outbreaks were reported in Ghana and Chad respectively and required support from the International Coordinating Group (ICG) for vaccine provision from the emergency global stockpile of YF vaccine.

Among the affected countries some are classified as having a fragile, conflict-affected or vulnerable (FCV) setting, in addition to low YF population immunity. Gaps or delays in investigations of suspected YF cases due to insecurity (Chad, Cameroon, CAR) or under-served (nomadic) communities (Ghana) have implications for harm to human health and risk of onward amplification and spread.

The situation is also concerning where cases have been confirmed in inaccessible health districts with weak YF surveillance, preparedness, and response systems, and significant population displacements into neighbouring countries (e.g., Cameroon, Chad, CAR). In addition, there are major urban areas such as Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire that have reported YF cases and are a high concern as they pose a significant risk of amplification mediated by Aedes aegypti person-mosquito-person transmission (without sylvatic intermediary). Urban YF outbreaks can rapidly amplify with onward spread internationally, as seen in Angola and DRC in 2016. The case count of confirmed and probable cases is rapidly evolving and has challenges to track due to the complexity of interpretation in the context of available epidemiological and clinical data, including vaccination history of the cases.

The overall YF vaccination coverage in these regions is not sufficient to provide herd immunity and prevent outbreaks. Estimates from WHO and UNICEF in 2020 on routine YF vaccination coverage was 44% in the African region, much lower than the 80% threshold required to confer herd immunity against YF. The national coverage in the countries of concern were all under 80% with the exception of Ghana (88%): Congo (69%), Cote D’Ivoire (69%), Niger (67%), Cameroon (57%), DRC (56%), Nigeria (54%), CAR (41%), and Chad (35%). These low YF vaccination coverages indicate the presence of an underlying susceptible population at risk of YF and a risk of continued transmission.

These outbreaks are occurring in a large geographic area in the West and Central regions of Africa. These reports signal a resurgence and intensified transmission of the YF virus. The outbreaks have included areas that have previously conducted large-scale mass vaccination campaigns but with persistent and growing gaps in immunity due to lack of sustained population immunity through routine immunization and/or secondary to population movements (newcomers without history of vaccination). For example, outbreaks were identified in late 2020 in countries with a history of nationwide preventive mass vaccination campaigns (PMVCs) including an outbreak in Guinea notified in November 2020 (history of PMVCs 2005, 2010) and Senegal notified in November 2020, (history of PMVCs 2007 plus reactive campaigns in 2011, 2005, 2002). In 2021, the recently confirmed outbreak in Ghana is marked by an impact on nomadic communities, despite the country having completed the final phase of PMVC in November 2020. Outbreaks and case reports of suspected, probable and/or confirmed cases are also occurring in other settings in the region where nationwide phased PMVCs are ongoing and yet to be completed (DRC, Nigeria), or yet to be initiated (Chad, Niger), further compounding the risk of spread.

Another potential factor contributing to the enhanced risk is a delay in the investigation of probable cases. The investigation of probable cases has faced challenges in many of the reporting countries made complicated due to stretched resources, capacity, and logistical challenges. The health systems in the nine countries with confirmed YF, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 vaccine rollout, have been strained with many other competing acute public health outbreaks which has diverted attention from YF preparedness and response activities.

The numerous YF cases and outbreaks in a broad geographic scope, with upward trend of confirmed cases and outbreaks, is indication of ongoing intense YF virus transmission in an extended area in the region and represent a persistent and growing risk to all unvaccinated people living or visiting YF high-risk countries.

Countries reporting probable but no confirmed YF case in 2021

Probable YF cases have also been reported from Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali, Togo, and Uganda. The most recent, with samples collected during September/October, were two cases in Port-Gentil district (Ogooué-Maritime province), Gabon and two cases in Haho (Notse city) and Ogou (Atakpame city) health districts, Plateaux region, Togo. These samples are currently being shipped to the regional reference laboratories for confirmation.

WHO risk assessment

WHO encourages its Member States to take all actions necessary to keep travellers well informed of risks and preventive measures including vaccination

Yellow fever (YF) is an acute viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes (including Aedes sp. and Haemogogus sp). Transmission can be amplified in circumstances where the Aedes mosquitos (day feeder) are present in urban settings and densely populated areas causing a rapid spread of the disease. While many people who become infected do not experience severe symptoms, a subset will develop severe disease. Following a 3-6-day incubation period, cases develop an “acute” phase illness characterized by fever, muscle pain with a prominent backache, headache, shivers, loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting, which resolves within 3-4 days. Approximately 15% of cases enter a second “toxic” phase within 24 hours of initial remission, which may include high fever, jaundice with or without abdominal pain and vomiting, haemorrhage, and kidney failure, 50% of these cases die within 10 to 14 days. Vaccination is the most important means of preventing the infection.

The risk at regional level is assessed as high due to;

  • the active YF virus circulation in these nine high-risk countries (countries or areas where “ YF has been reported currently or in the past, plus vectors and animal reservoirs currently exist”).
  • increased population movement, including a vulnerable nomadic population that is not covered by routine immunization and undocumented border crossings with risk of spread regionally and beyond the AFRO region;
  • potential risk of outbreaks in urban settings, such as Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire or Lagos, Nigeria which are a real threat to regional and international spread;
  • YF clusters located in mixed, urban and agriculture / forest territories (e.g. central Abidjan, Cote d Ivoire) highlighting the persistent risk of YF spill over into an urban area with marked cross reactivity with other circulating flaviviruses which complicates the final interpretation of laboratory results;
  • the affected countries are part of the savannah region with similar ecosystems (forest and shrub land) and a variety of animals including non-human primates (monkeys), that are the primary wild hosts of the YF virus. The ecosystem is also conducive for the Aedes mosquito, which is the vector for YF, and has been involved in the savannah transmission cycle that connects the sylvatic and urban cycles of both humans and primates;
  • suboptimal YF surveillance within the affected countries due to weak health systems and conflicts which delay investigation of probable cases of YF, leading to a likely underestimation of the actual number of cases and the severity of the outbreaks;
  • decreased routine immunization coverages in countries with history of previous YF vaccination campaigns; with a downward trend in coverages over the last decade (72% average in 2010- 65% in 2020);
  • YF preventive vaccination campaigns delayed in countries such as Nigeria, DRC or yet to be planned (Ethiopia, Chad and Niger);
  • concurrent outbreaks (cholera, meningitis, malaria, circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2), chikungunya, leishmaniasis, plague, Lassa fever etc) and the COVID-19 pandemic that might hamper surveillance and the response.

The overall risk at the global level is considered low, as no cases related to this current outbreak have been reported outside of the African region, at this stage. However, there are favourable ecosystems for YF outside the African region and there might be challenges in the surveillance and immunization capacities due to potential onward transmission, if not timely detected.

More than 2 billion individuals in Asia live in areas where the competent vectors A. aegypti and A. albopictus are present. The expansion of global air travel and the rapid ecological and demographic changes increase the risk of YF introductions into Asia. Based on the interconnectivity with endemic countries, studies have suggested China, India, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are at the greatest risk of YF introduction; however, the risk of autochthonous transmission is unknown. There is a risk of outbreaks in urban settings, introduced by viraemic travellers to largely unprotected urban populations such as Lagos (Nigeria), N’Djamena (Chad) or Bangui (CAR), with continued risk of rapid amplification internationally.

The impact on public health will persist until the ongoing outbreaks are controlled, YF vaccination coverage is high and immunity gaps in the population are closed. The importation of cases to countries with suboptimal coverage and persisting population immunity gaps poses a high risk to the Region and may jeopardize the tremendous efforts invested to achieve elimination.

WHO advice

The countries reporting YF cases and outbreaks are all high priority countries for the Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemic (EYE) strategy. These countries have introduced yellow fever vaccination into their routine immunization schedule for those aged 9 months, and also requirements of proof of vaccination against YF for all incoming travellers ≥9 months, except Chad and Nigeria, who request proof of vaccination only for travellers coming from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. Vaccination is the primary means for prevention and control of yellow fever. In urban centres, targeted vector control measures are also helpful to interrupt transmission. WHO and partners will continue to support local authorities to implement these interventions to control the current outbreaks.

WHO recommends vaccination against yellow fever for all international travellers 9 months of age or older going to yellow fever high risk countries. The affected countries also require a yellow fever vaccination certificate for travellers aged 9 months or over.

Yellow fever vaccines recommended by WHO are safe, highly effective and provide life-long protection against infection. In accordance with the IHR (2005), the validity of the international certificate of vaccination against yellow fever extends to the life of the person vaccinated with a WHO approved vaccine. A booster dose of approved yellow fever vaccine cannot be required of international travellers as a condition of entry.

WHO has published guiding principles for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently developing specific operational guidance for conducting mass vaccination campaigns in the COVID-19 context. When conditions permit, the EYE Strategy will support rapid resumption of preventive YF activities according to WHO guidance.

WHO encourages its Member States to take all actions necessary to keep travellers well informed of risks and preventive measures including vaccination. Travellers should also be made aware of yellow fever symptoms and signs and instructed to seek rapidly medical advice when presenting signs. Viraemic returning travellers may pose a risk for the establishment of local cycles of yellow fever transmission in areas where the competent vector is present.

The updated areas at-risk for yellow fever transmission and the related recommendations for vaccination of international travellers were updated by WHO on 1 July 2020; the map of revised areas at risk and yellow fever vaccination recommendations is available on the WHO International Travel and Health website.

WHO does not recommend any restrictions on travel and trade to the region on the basis of the information available on these outbreaks.

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Business

IGR: Advert Expert, Fashogbon Carpets Oyo Agency Over Approach  

The inventor of the Portrait Pole Post (P3), Fashogbon Abiodun David has faulted the hostile approach adopted by Oyo State Advertising Agency (OYSAA) and some of the consultants engaged, saying such will not complement the claim and drive of the governor in increasing the state’s Internally Generated Revenue.

The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, has recently said that his government has, in its first two years, increasing the state’s Internally Generated Revenue by close to N15 Billion without increasing taxes, “but if this trend must be maintained, then all the agencies must work to complement this”, said Fashogbon while speaking with newsmen yesterday.

Fashogon who recently raised alarm over violent attacks on his business and threat to eliminate his life by those he claimed are out to suppress the legitimate Outdoor Out of Home (OOH) advertising practitioners in Oyo State said his firm has greatly contributed to the IGR of Oyo State Government in the last two years.

“Fizzie Republic, my firm has contributed to the IGR of Oyo State through advertising, the records and receipts are there to prove, OYSAA designed a two years contract tenure of which we paid from 2019 to 2021 July, and we have paid another five hundred thousand (N500,000) in the new tenure that supposed to run from August this year 2021 to 2023.

“I wonder why OYSAA is saying my firm owes and had to resort to a violent approach by going in the middle of the night with cutlasses and guns to remove our boards placed on the streetlights in Ibadan metropolis.

“OYSAA adopts defaming of my noble name and serial destruction of business, and no marketing training “As long as the agency uses this approach, the agency will not hit the required revenue generation set by the Governor” Fashogbon sternly stated.

The Initial contract was jacked up by 50% from the original deal with the ministry of energy involvement while the contract was still on, a very poor display of integrity! There is an old saying that says A deal is a deal. This caused the foreclosures of the business 6months ago! This makes the destruction serial and it is so tough to get back on track after each attack

“I do not owe the agency till I default at the end of the new tenure 2021- 2023. We have integrity, we don’t owe. But as we are still awaiting the governor’s intervention, we remain determined, focused and we will refuse to be distracted by elements of evil from the advancement and progress of our goals and core values”, he added.

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