COVID-19 Deaths At Lowest In 1 Year- WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the death toll from Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now at its lowest level in almost a year.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said at a news conference on Wednesday in Geneva that vaccine inequality had persisted in spite of decline in COVID-19 deaths.

Ghebreyesus reported that the death toll from COVID-19 was still an unacceptably high, noting that almost 50,000 deaths a week and the real number was certainly higher.

He said, “Deaths are declining in every region except Europe, where several countries are facing fresh waves of cases and deaths.  And of course, deaths are highest in the countries and populations with the least access to vaccines.”

Ghebreyesus again called for greater support for developing countries to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine.

He appealed for global cooperation saying “countries that continue to roll out boosters now are effectively preventing other countries from vaccinating their most at-risk populations.”

As of Wednesday, there were more than 238 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 4.8 million deaths.

WHO had previously pushed governments to vaccinate 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September, a target which 56 nations missed, most of them in Africa.

The director-general said even more countries were at risk of missing the 40 per cent target to be achieved by the end of the year.

“Three countries – Burundi, Eritrea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – have yet to start vaccinations.

“About half of the remaining countries are constrained by supply. They have a vaccination programme underway, but don’t have enough supply to accelerate enough to reach the target,” he said.

Ghebreyesus urged countries and companies that control global vaccine supply to prioritise distribution to the COVAX solidarity initiative and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).

Meanwhile, he said that WHO and partners were working with other countries such as those affected by fragility or conflict to strengthen technical and logistical capacity for vaccine rollout.

“With aggressive and ambitious action, most of these countries can still reach the 40 per cent target by the end of this year, or be on a clear pathway to reaching it,” he said.

He also addressed the escalating crisis in northern Ethiopia, where a nearly year-long war in the Tigray region has left up to seven million people in urgent need for food and other assistance.

He said the conflict had spilled over into neighbouring Afar and Amhara, further increasing needs and complicating response efforts.

Aid is not reaching the area “at anywhere close to the levels needed”, he said, and communications, electricity, other basis services remain cut off.

WHO and partners are calling for unfettered access to the affected regions, as the lives of millions of people are at stake, Ghebreyesus told journalists.

He said, “People with chronic illnesses are dying due to lack of both food and medicine. Nearly 200,000 children have gone without critical vaccinations.

“When people do not have enough food, they are more susceptible to deadly diseases, as well as the threat of starvation, and that’s what we’re now seeing in Tigray.” (NAN)

Covid-19 Response: Women Coalition Gets Traditional Rulers Support in Kaduna

By ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna

The Coalition of women for Covid 19 Response in Kaduna State, on Thursday got the nod of traditional rulers in Kaduna State as they plan to respond to the second wave of Covid-19.

The group on Monday met with the Bunu Zazzau, Hakimi Doka, Alhaji Muhammad Tijhani, who assured them of the traditional institution’s support to achieve their objective.

According to the traditional ruler, “you can count on us for your support, we will continue to partner you and the government in ensuring we get that the right development in our state.

“Am glad we have a government who understand what development is and they are doing their best. Am delighted to have you here and I know whenever there is any development issues I will be your first point of call because we have worked together in many platforms. Any time you come knocking, our doors are always open for you.”

The coalition is a United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in partnership with the UK Government Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office project on Strengthening state capacities and women’s participation in COVID response and broader peace building initiatives in Nigeria.

The programme is being funded by the UK Government, and is being implemented in Bauchi, Plateau and Kaduna State.

It is aimed at advancing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda and addressing key gender issues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, by supporting state governments to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) and enhance women’s participation in leadership and decision-making.

Convener of the group and a Consultant with the UN Women, Dr Lydia Umar, who led members to the group to meet the traditional rulers, said their overall objective is to support Government efforts in preventing the spread of covid 19 and its impact.

“To bring women from government, business and civil society under a collaborative platform for greater synergy in responding to covid 19. The Covid 19 has had several effects on all aspects of human life, disrupting normal functioning of all people especially the lockdown.

“The Coalition of 30 women members in kaduna was formed on 3rd February, 2021 supported by the UN Women to specifically respond to the new wave of Covid 19, help curtail its spread and mitigate its impact.

“Kaduna State Government has done so much that is exemplary and deserves commendation: the impressive representation of women on its State Executive Council (7 out of 14) 50%.

“And Covid-19 Task Force not less than 6, headed by HE the Deputy Governor, timely and proactive lockdown, public enlightenment on Covid-19 protocol, distribution of Palliatives and the building of a befitting isolation center.

“However more needs to be done to strengthen collaboration with women leaders in civil society and the private sector to ensure the needs and concerns of women and girls are adequately reflected in all Covid-19 prevention, response and recovery initiatives.

“Collaboration between Government and these women will ensure that economic recovery plans target the most vulnerable groups of women and girls.” Dr. Lydia, explained