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3 N-power Volunteers Establish Mini-Laboratory At Otokutu PHC

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Three female volunteers in the N-Health programme have established a mini laboratory at the Primary Health Centre, Otokutu, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta.

The volunteers are Jennifer Angese (2013 Pharmacology graduate of Delta State University); Mary James (2011 Microbiology graduate of Unijos); and Harriet Azurundu (2001, BSc Microbiology – Imo State University – and 2008 MLSc –UPTH).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the trio contributed money to purchase the equipment and establish the laboratory in April, barely four months of their deployment to the PHC to provide medical outreach to the rural community.

Narrating their experiences when the Monitoring and Evaluation team of N-Power visited the centre, James said they felt pity for the community which had the centre for long but travelled far to access medical facilities.

She said that rather than seek deployment they made contributions from their token to purchase the equipment in bits in order to make meaningful impact in the community.

According to her, the equipment comprising both electrical and manual types, are worth about N100,000 but that some tests are delayed in the centre due to epileptic power and lack of alternative power source.

She said that her colleagues were teaching in private schools and receiving pittance prior to the N-power job, but noted that the scheme had offered them the opportunity to practice their profession and gain experience.

James said the community was excited about the development but had not made additional input due to poverty, “but we hope someone, someday will do that for the sake of the rural people’’.

She said that due to epileptic power the lab always concluded the samples tests, and issued the results the same day of collection.

She said some patients were referred to bigger facilities if they had to wait for the results for more than a day, “but we work for as long as possible to make patients’ results ready’’.

Azurundu, another volunteer, added that since the provision of the laboratory no fewer than 70 patients including pregnant women, the aged and children had their blood, urine and other samples tested for proper diagnosis and treatment.

“We assumed duty in February and since we discovered that there was no laboratory section here we decided to set up one to assist in proper diagnosis and treatment of patients.

“The lab has been of great help; it has improved the services of the health workers in the health centre.

“Since we started lab tests we have had almost 70 patients benefitting but we have attended to others without actually putting them in our records,’’ Azurundu said.

She said that apart from the help that the people needed it had been her dream to be able to touch lives in one way or the other and “N-Power has given me that room and opportunity to touch lives’’.

On her part, Angese noted that the patients were often tested free or charged only 50 per cent of the cost of the examination to encourage others to access adequate medicare due to poverty.

The volunteers thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for initiating the N-Power programme because it had touched so many lives.

They acknowledged that from the stipends they were able also to help in family upkeep and support their siblings in their education.

The volunteers said they were not expecting the federal government to terminate the programme after two years, but rather to strengthen it because “we will not like to go back after two years doing nothing.

“We hope it will continue in a better way.’’

NAN also reports that the laboratory is equipped with syringes, piercing needles, various reagents, glucometer, cotton swaps, feed stains, oil immersion, microscope, mirror, plastercine, capillary tubes.

Others are blood-count equipment, methylated spirit, HIV reagents, puppets, EDTA collection bottles, hand gloves, wither kits, counting chamber, improvised slide racks, an electric-powered centrifuge as well as a hand-powered centrifuge.

Mr John James, the husband of Mary James, who visited the centre at the time of the monitoring, thanked the federal government for its transparency in the recruitment of the volunteers.

John, a Veterinary graduate-turned logistics specialist, who lost his job in December due to the death of his employer, said that the wife had been sustaining the family from her stipend.

“N-Power is another door that has opened for our family and I encourage the volunteers not to focus attention on the stipend but ensure that they become true professionals during the two-year programme.

“I thank God Almighty and his instrument, President Muhammadu Buhari, and pray that God grants him sound health and also his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for this programme,’’ he said.

The Presidential aide on Job Creation, Mr Afolabi Imoukhuede, expressed gratitude to the volunteers for their painstaking effort to live out the dream of the programme by impacting on the society.

He urged them to continue in their stride as by their conduct they had opened new vistas in their lives.

Imoukhuede also expressed gladness with the performance of the volunteers in Nana Model Secondary and Primary Schools, Warri, and those at the Central Hospital Warri.

However, he told the Medical Director of the Warri Hospital to cancel the one-day off granted to the volunteers weekly since the programme was a full time volunteer scheme without shifts, night or weekend duty.

At a private investor integrated fish farm in Warri, Imoukhuede thanked the proprietor for making the massive facility available for the N-Agro participants to acquire more practical knowledge on fisheries.

An N-Agro volunteer, Mrs Ese Adiomamore, told NAN that the scheme was a sure way of achieving the self-sufficiency in food production and economic diversification programme of the present administration. (NAN)

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‘I don’t believe foreigners are involved in Nigeria killings’ – French envoy contradicts Buhari

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Denys Gauer, outgoing French ambassador to Nigeria, says he does not believe that foreigners are involved in the killings across the country.

The French’s envoy position contradicts that of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari had said that the killings are as a result of the influx of mercenaries from the Sahel region.

“It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region,” the president had said when Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, visited him in London back in April.

But speaking with journalists on Friday in Abuja, Gauer said impunity is encouraging the killings in the country and those responsible must be punished.

The envoy spoke to journalists in commemoration of the 2018 French National Day.

“The reason for the killings is demography; some people are fighting for land, so there must be direct policy to develop agriculture and animal husbandry,” he said.

“I think impunity is encouraging the killings and those responsible must be punished. I don’t believe foreigners are involved in the killings.

“The second is justice. When there is that kind of killing, there must be proper prosecution and perpetrators must be properly sentenced. If that does not happen then, it cannot end.”

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INEC: Smartphones can be used at polling units but not inside voting cubicle

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has not banned the use of smartphones around polling unit areas.

The electoral body says the rule only comes into effect once a prospective voter enters the voting cubicle to cast his or her vote.

Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to INEC chairman, made the clarification in an interview with NAN on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said this while reacting to a statement issued by Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), condemning the decision of INEC to ban the use of smartphones at polling booths.

Secondus had alleged that the decision was to perfect a rigging formula for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

But Oyekanmi said the challenge of vote-buying and selling had prompted many stakeholders to call on INEC to devise innovative ways to tackle the problem.

He said: “In consultation with other stakeholders, the Commission came up with new measures to solve the problem, one of which is to disallow the use of smartphones and other electronic devices in the voting cubicles on election day.

“In other words, INEC is not banning phones around the polling unit area, but the ban takes effect from the moment a prospective voter collects his or her ballot paper and enters into voting cubicle to thumbprint and thereafter drop the folded ballot paper into the ballot box.

“After that, the voter can have access to his or her phone.”

Oyekanmi urged Nigerians to disregard any attempt by any individual or group to politicise what was purely a preventive measure.

NAN

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Report: Over 40% of world’s poorest will live in Nigeria, Congo by 2050

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More than 40 percent of “extremely poor people” in the world will be living in Nigeria and DR Congo by 2050, a report by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has revealed.

In the 2018 goalkeepers report released Tuesday, the foundation said by 2050, Nigeria will have 152 million people in extreme poverty out of a projected population of 429 million.

It blamed this on the lack of investment in human capital to correspond with the increasing population growth.

Nigeria is currently the seventh most populous country in the world with an estimated population of 198 million.

The annual report, produced in partnership with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, tracks progress being made on the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In June, Brookings Institution reported that Nigeria had overtaken India as the nation with the highest number of poor people , with 87 million of its citizens in extreme poverty.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had also said in March that Nigerians are getting poorer due to the lack of coherent and comprehensive economic reforms.

The goalkeepers report said while more than a billion in the world have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty since 2000, “extreme poverty is becoming heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan African countries”.

“By 2050, that’s where 86 percent of the extremely poor people in the world are projected to live. The challenge is that within Africa, poverty is concentrating in just a handful of very fast-growing countries,” the report said.

“By 2050, for example, more than 40 percent of the extremely poor people in the world will live in just two countries: Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Even within these countries, poverty is still concentrating in certain areas.”

It warned that decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling.

This, the report said, is because the poorest parts of the world are growing faster than everywhere else. “If current trend continues, the number of poor people in the world will stop falling – and could even start rising,” it said.

THE WAY OUT

The foundation said to address the poverty crisis, adequate investment would need to be made in young people, especially in areas of education, health and human capital development.

The education and health sectors in Nigeria have suffered neglect over the years. In 2018, N542 billion was earmarked for the education sector while health got N356 billion – out of the N9.1 trillion budget.

“Investing in young people’s health and education is the best way for a country to unlock productivity and innovation; cut poverty, create opportunities and generate prosperity,” the report added.

“The next step is making sure children don’t merely survive but also thrive.”

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