Niger state government has urged Ministries, Department and Agencies MDAs to proffer options for prompt interventions through policy and programs indicated in the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) reports.
Governor Abubakar Bello gave the directive during the presentation of the MICS report at the Sensitization and Dissemination of Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) by the State Ministry of Planning Commission in partnership with the UNICEF Kaduna Field Office held in Minna.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government SSG Ahmed Matane who expressed concern over areas the state was not doing well like open defecation, water and sanitation, maternal and mortality and out of school children.
Matane noted that data is a reflection of who or where you are which must be adopted to ensure interventions hence the need for embarking on sensitization and dissemination, described MICS as the only global reliable data collector.
He assured that government will make use of 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report as a guide to take crucial decisions to safe lives of under age, open defecation among others.
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has revealed that over 60% of children in Niger State were multi-dimensionally poor and 10% of mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding in the state.
The Chief of UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, Donald Norris represented by a medical expert, Dr Idris Baba stated that MICS data indicated that the learning achievement situation in the state has improved while urging the state government to tackle the situation.
The Commissioner and Deputy Chairman Ministry of Planning Commission, Zakari Abubakar said that the children, women and household data is key for planning and policy development.
He assured that the ministry will not relent in its mandate in regards to the provision of data in perspective of what to be done through availability of data as routine to show areas of focus as well as areas to improve upon in terms of development.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday urged authorities to swing into action and rescue 21 children abducted in a farm in Mairuwa community, Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State on Sunday.
In a statement signed by UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Ms Cristian Munduate, the UN agency described the abductions as “reprehensible.”
“UNICEF is concerned about the report of the abduction of no fewer than 21 children at a farm in Mairuwa community, Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State, north-west Nigeria,” the statement said.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNIEF) says over 1.5 million Nigerian children are at risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition as floods hit over 20 of the 36 states in the country.
UNICEF in a statement on Friday also said more than 2.5 million people in Nigeria are in need of humanitarian assistance – 60 per cent of which are children.
“The floods, which have affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country, have displaced 1.3 million people.
“Over 600 people have lost their lives and over 200,000 houses have either been partially or fully damaged.
“Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been on the rise. In the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone, a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths were reported as of 12 October.
As rains are expected to continue for several weeks, humanitarian needs are also expected to rise. Children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation,” said UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate.
“They are particularly at risk of waterborne diseases and emotional and psychological distress. UNICEF is working closely with the Government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those who are most in need.”
The floods are adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country.
According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), Nigeria is considered at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of climate change, ranking second out of 163 countries.
“Children in ‘extremely high risk’ countries face a deadly combination of exposure to multiple climate and environmental shocks combined with high levels of underlying child vulnerability, due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education,” the UN body said.
A shortage of cholera vaccines has forced a temporary shift to a one-dose strategy from the usual two in campaigns to fight a swelling number of outbreaks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Wednesday.
The UN health agency said the “strained global supply of cholera vaccines” had pushed the International Coordinating Group (ICG), which manages emergency supplies of vaccines, to suspend the two-dose regimen.
“The pivot in strategy will allow for the doses to be used in more countries, at a time of unprecedented rise in cholera outbreaks worldwide,” WHO said in a statement.
It pointed out that 29 countries had reported cholera cases so far this year, including Haiti, Syria and Malawi.
That compares with the fewer than 20 nations that reported such outbreaks in total over the previous five years.
“The global trend is moving towards more numerous, more widespread and more severe outbreaks, due to floods, droughts, conflict, population movements and other factors that limit access to clean water and raise the risk of cholera outbreaks,” it said.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection in the small intestine causing sometimes fatal dehydration. It is generally contracted from food or water contaminated with vibrio cholera bacteria.
– ‘Extremely limited’ –
WHO and other members of the ICG — the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity, the UN children’s agency UNICEF and the Red Cross — highlighted that a one-dose strategy for cholera vaccines had been proven to be effective in response to outbreaks.
But they warned that there was only limited evidence on the exact duration of protection, which appeared to be much lower in children especially.
With two doses, when the second dose is given within six months of the first, immunity against infection lasts for three years.
“The benefit of supplying one dose still outweighs no doses,” Wednesday’s statement said.
“Although the temporary interruption of the two-dose strategy will lead to a reduction and shortening of immunity, this decision will allow more people to be vaccinated and provide them protection in the near term, should the global cholera situation continue deteriorating.”
WHO warned that the current supply of cholera vaccines was “extremely limited”.
ICG manages a global stockpile of oral cholera vaccines, but of the 36 million doses forecast to be produced this year, 24 million have already been shipped for preventive and reactive campaigns.
And an additional eight million doses have been approved by ICG for a second round of emergency vaccination in four countries.
“As vaccine manufactures are producing at their maximum current capacity, there is no short-term solution to increase production,” the statement said.
“The temporary suspension of the two-dose strategy will allow the remaining doses to be redirected for any needs for the rest of the year.”
WHO warned that this was only a short-term solution.
“To ease the problem in the longer term, urgent action is needed to increase global vaccine production.”
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Prevention says the country recorded a total of 2,187 confirmed cases of cholera and 233 associated deaths from the 1st of January to the 25th of September 2022.
The NCDC also said the multi-sectoral National Cholera Technical Working Group (TWG) in collaboration with partners has been supporting affected states in risk communication, active case search, case management, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions.
The NCDC-led multisectoral TWG includes representation from the Federal Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners.
The agency said the outbreak of the waterborne disease has been exacerbated by limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities, open defecation, and poor hygiene practices.
“We also urge Nigerians to keep their environments clean, only drink or use water that is boiled and stored safely, ensure food is cooked and stored in a clean and safe environment, avoid open defecation, and wash their hands regularly with soap and running water.
“Cholera is preventable and treatable; however, it can be deadly when infected people do not access care immediately. Nigerians are advised to visit a health facility immediately if they have sudden onset of profuse watery diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and weakness.
“As the NCDC continues to work with partners to lead the health-sector response to cholera outbreaks, we call for an urgent improvement in access to clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene,” the NCDC stated.
The Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of the Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dr. Fatima Waziri – Azi, Tuesday played host to a team from the United Nations Children Education Funds (UNICEF) led by its Chief of Child Protection, Mrs. Sharon Oladiji, in a meeting that saw the two agencies renew its partnership for effective child protection.
In her speech, Mrs Sharon Oladiji traced the existing working relationship between NAPTIP and UNICEF to 2003 adding that with the recent development and the plight of children in the wake of rising Sexual and Gender Based Violence across the Country, there is the dare need to work closely with NAPTIP.
She outlined the areas of expected working relationship to include building capacity of Child Protection Officers and Counsellors in order to response effectively to issues of SGBV, partnership in the area of Child Protection information management, Child migration management as well as participation of NAPTIP in the solution room activities which is part of the justice delivery activities.
In her response, Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi, thanked UNICEF for its support to the Agency in the past and expressed the readiness of NAPTIP to partner further with the Fund for adequate protection of Children in the Country.
The Director General also informed the UNICEF officials of some of the recent achievements of the Agency in the areas of implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act which include the appointment and posting of Child Protection Officers in the Six Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the conviction of 13 SGBV offenders with 89 cases in Court of Law, the inauguration of Anti- Human Trafficking and Violence Against Persons Vanguard in Federal Unity Schools across the Country in addition of high scale enlightenment and awareness.
Boko Haram and other insurgent groups recruited over 8,000 girls and boys as child soldiers in 13 years, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday.
The agency’s comment came in a statement issued to mark the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, otherwise called the “Red Hand Day”.
“For 13 years, armed conflict in north-east Nigeria has claimed thousands of lives and disrupted livelihoods and access to essential services for children and their families,” UNICEF said.
“Nearly one million homes and 5,000 classrooms have been razed in the protracted armed conflict. Since 2009, more than 8,000 girls and boys have been recruited and used as child soldiers in different roles by armed groups.”
According to the UNICEF Chief of Maiduguri Field Office, Phuong T. Nguyen, such development should end immediately.
“It is unacceptable and unconscionable that girls and boys continue to serve on the frontlines of a conflict they did not start,” Phuong added.
UNICEF while calling on the Nigerian government to sign the Handover Protocol, said the move would end the detention of children previously associated with armed groups. The protocol, it said, would also ensure that children “encountered during military and security operations are transferred from military custody to civilian child protection actors to support their reintegration into society through the provision of family tracing and reunification services and medical, educational, and psychosocial recovery services”.
Phuong, who admitted that children are severely affected by conflicts, however, called for more protection for them.
“Every day of delay in the custody of armed groups is a tragedy with grave implications for the children, families, and Nigerian society as a whole,” the UN chief noted.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has lamented over the rising cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria.
According to the international agency, Nigeria accounts for the third-highest global number of FGM with a ‘worrying trend’ which has risen from 16.9 percent in 2013 to 19.2 percent.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said this in a statement released on Sunday in commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM.
“Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains widespread in Nigeria. With an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria accounts for the third-highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide.
“While the national prevalence of FGM among women in Nigeria aged 15-49 dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2018 it increased from 16.9 percent to 19.2 percent in the same period,” Hawkins said.
He stressed that the case is prevalent among Nigerian girls aged 0-14 and an estimated 86 percent of females were cut before the age of 5, while 8 percent were cut between ages 5 and 14.
Hawkins added that millions of girls are being robbed of their childhoods, health, education, and aspirations every day by harmful practices such as FGM.
“The practice of FGM not only has no health benefits – it is deeply harmful to girls and women, both physically and psychologically. It is a practice that has no place in our society today and must be ended, as many Nigerian communities have already pledged to do.”
He further explained, “State prevalence ranges from 62 percent in Imo to less than 1 percent in Adamawa and Gombe. The prevalence of FGM is highest in the South East (35 percent) and South West (30 percent) and lowest in the North East (6 percent).”
To end the menace, he said, “UNICEF is initiating a community-led movement to eliminate FGM in five Nigerian states where it is highly prevalent: Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo.
According to him, nearly three million girls and women would have undergone FGM in these states in the last five years.
The UNICEF in response to the alarming rate of FGM cases in Nigeria has created a movement called – “The Movement for Good.” It is aimed to reach five million adolescent girls and boys, women – including especially pregnant and lactating mothers – men, grandparents, and traditional, community and religious leaders, legislators, justice sector actors, and state officials through an online pledge to ‘say no’ to FGM.
Female genital mutilation is a form of violence against women.
The House of Representatives is seeking the compulsory establishment of creches in all public and private workplaces in the country.
This, according to the House, is to assist breastfeeding/nursing mothers, especially those observing exclusive breastfeeding, to perform their official duties and care for their babies at the same time.
A bill seeking to establish the creches passed second reading on the floor of the House in Abuja on Thursday.
The bill passed the second reading in a unanimous voice vote and was sponsored by a lawmaker from Edo State, Rep. Sergius Ose-Ogun.
The long title of the bill reads, “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Labour Act, Cap. L1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to make Provision for Establishment of Creches in every Public or Private (Health, Educational, Industrial or Commercial, Etc.) Workplace for employees who are Breastfeeding/Nursing Mothers; and for Related Matters (HB. 1438).”
The World Health Organisation and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) both recommend that nursing mothers should feed their infants exclusively on breast milk for the first six months.
WHO states the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding thus: “Breast milk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses.
“Breast milk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.
“Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese, and less prone to diabetes later in life.
“Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.”
The first analysis indicated that governments and detaining authorities in at least 84 countries have released thousands of children since April 2020 when UNICEF drew attention to their increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in confined and overcrowded spaces, and called for their immediate release.
“We have long known that justice systems are ill-equipped to handle the specific needs of children – a situation further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, was quoted as saying in a statement.
“We commend countries which heeded our call and released children from detention. By protecting children from conditions that could have exposed them to grave illness, these countries were able to overcome public resistance and spur innovative, age-appropriate justice solutions.
“This has proved something we already knew – child-friendly justice solutions are more than possible.”
According to UNICEF, the study is one of two analyses that illustrate the situation for hundreds of thousands of children deprived of their liberty every year.
Both reports were released ahead of the World Congress on Justice with Children.
Children in detention – including in pre-and post-trial custody, immigration detention, held in relation to armed conflict or national security, or living with parents in detention – are often held in confined and overcrowded spaces.
“They lack adequate access to nutrition, healthcare and hygiene services, and are vulnerable to neglect, physical and psychological abuse, and gender-based violence,” the statement said. “Many are denied access to lawyers and family care, and unable to challenge the legality of their detention.
“COVID-19 has profoundly affected justice for children, shuttering courts and restricting access to essential social and justice services. Evidence shows that many children, including children in street situations, have been detained for violating pandemic curfew orders and movement restrictions.”
An estimated 261,000 children in conflict with the law – those who have been alleged, accused or recognised as having committed an offence – are held in detention, according to the second UNICEF analysis.
The second analysis – Estimating the number of children deprived of their liberty in the administration of justice – the first of such analysis since 2007, warned that incomplete record-keeping and undeveloped administrative data systems in many countries meant the number was likely to be much higher.
“Any child detained is evidence of failed systems, but that failure is then compounded further. Justice systems meant to protect and support children often add to their suffering,” said Fore.
“As policymakers, legal practitioners, academics, civil society, and children and young people convene at the World Congress this week, we must work together to end the detention of children.”
UNICEF stressed the need for authorities to ensure justice for children and safely end the detention of all children in various countries.
It, therefore, called on governments and civil society to invest in legal rights awareness for children in justice and welfare systems, especially for the most marginalised ones, expand free legal aid, representation, and services for all children, and prioritise prevention and early intervention in child offending and diversion to appropriate alternatives.
The organisation also asked them to end the detention of children – including through legal reforms to raise the age of criminal responsibility, ensure justice for child survivors of sexual violence, abuse or exploitation – including investing in child and gender-sensitive justice processes, and establish specialised child-friendly, virtual, and mobile courts.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says G20 countries have received 15 times more COVID-19 vaccine doses per capita than countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
UNICEF disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, where it quoted a new analysis conducted by science analytics company Airfinity.
According to the agency, the analysis exposes the severity of vaccine inequity between high-income and low-income countries, especially in Africa.
“It found that doses delivered to G20 countries per capita are:
“15 times higher than doses delivered per capita to sub-Saharan African countries; 15 times higher than doses delivered per capita to low-income countries; 3 times higher than doses delivered per capita in all other countries combined.
“Vaccine inequity is not just holding the poorest countries back – it is holding the world back,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“As leaders meet to set priorities for the next phase of the COVID-19 response, it is vital they remember that, in the COVID vaccine race, we either win together, or we lose together.”
Wealthy countries with more supplies than they need have generously pledged to donate these doses to low- and middle-income countries via COVAX but according to UNICEF, these promised doses are moving too slowly.
“Of the 1.3 billion additional doses countries have pledged to donate, only 356 million doses have been provided to COVAX,” the UN agency said, adding that “African countries, in particular, have largely been left without access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Less than five per cent of the African population are fully vaccinated, leaving many countries at high-risk of further outbreaks”.
However, the agency is optimistic that a push from some of its ambassadors could help the situation.
“As leaders prepare to meet for the G20 Summit in Rome this weekend, 48 UNICEF Africa ambassadors and supporters from across the continent have united in an open letter. They are calling for leaders to honour their promises to urgently deliver doses, writing that ‘the stakes could not be higher’,” the agency said.
The letter’s signatories, including Angelique Kidjo, Arlo Parks, Davido, Tendai Mtawarira, Femi Kuti, Tony Elumelu, Ramla Ali, Winnie Byanyima and others, are calling on leaders to donate the pledged vaccines by December, along with the necessary resources to turn the vaccines into vaccinations.
“Every day Africa remains unprotected, pressure builds on fragile health systems where there can be one midwife for hundreds of mothers and babies,” the letter read. “As the pandemic causes a spike in child malnutrition, resources are diverted from life-saving health services and childhood immunization. Children already orphaned risk losing grandparents. Disaster looms for sub-Saharan African families, four out of five of whom rely on the informal sector for their daily bread. Poverty threatens children’s return to school, protection from violence and child marriage.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some 80,000 to 180,000 healthcare workers globally are estimated to have died from COVID-19 between January 2020 and May 2021.
Less than 1 in 10 healthcare workers in Africa have been fully vaccinated and more than 128,000 have been infected with the virus. The agency has also found only one in seven COVID-19 infections are detected in Africa due to limited testing, meaning the true number is likely much higher.
“Saving lives in Africa starts by saving the lives of the life-savers,” said Fore.
“Too many communities on the African continent were already grappling with stressed healthcare systems. They cannot go into another year of this global crisis enduring so many preventable deaths and prolonged sickness.”