PUBLIC NOTICE: AUTHORS IN KOGI STATE FLAG OFF HISTORIC LITERARY CONTEST FOR SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES

In an attempt to address the rot in the country’s educational sector, the Kogi State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) has flagged off the 2017 edition of the prestigious ANA/Yusuf Ali Literary Competition, with this year’s focus being on Secondary Schools.

ANA is a widely known literary organization committed to the promotion of Nigerian and African literatures. It was founded on 27th June, 1981 during a conference convened by late Professor Chinua Achebe. That maiden conference of Nigerian writers which held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka was attended by notable personalities in Nigerian literature and two Kenyan writers, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Gacheche Wauringi. The organization is registered as a corporate body/professional association with the Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja.

ANA has Chapters in each State of the Federation including the F.C.T. The current National President of the association, Mr. Denja Abdullahi, hails from Kogi State.

Addressing newsmen in Lokoja, the Kogi State Chairman of ANA, Dr. Kennedy Obohwemu said, “One thing that guarantees our freedom and independence is responsibility. If we lose that, we lose everything. Responsibility remains the watch word of noble organizations. It is in accordance with these basic principles that ANA-Kogi and the Rotary Club of Lokoja Metro decided to jointly organize this epoch-making event.

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“We’ve received official permission from the Ministry of Education to carry out this historic event. The initiative will no doubt serve as a veritable tool for community development, which is what both organizations (ANA and Rotary) are known for.”

Dr. Kennedy added that the multi-disciplinary competition will be held in different stages, with the Grand Finale billed to coincide with the 10th Year Anniversary Celebration of the Rotary Club of Lokoja Metro in the month of September.

“We’re happy to associate with Rotary International. We’re very positive that a lot of new partners will key into this project. It is a laudable. It’s a massive step in the right direction. Our students deserve it, and even more,” Dr. Kennedy said.

Footprints exclusively gathered that the history-making multi-staged literary competition, which is geared towards encouraging healthy academic rivalry among youngsters, is open to all public and private Secondary Schools spread across all 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Kogi State.

The competition shall cover five (5) categories:

  • Essay Writing
  • Poetry Contest
  • Quiz Competition
  • Debate
  • Spelling Bee
  • Schools will be made to lock horns against each other as the competition progresses from stage to stage.

    The Preliminary Stage is open to all students (J.S.S. 1 to S.S.S. 3). Students will be required to write an Expository Essay on the topic: ‘The Power of your Vote: A catalyst for a stable and united Nigeria’.

    In assessing the entries, examiners shall look out for how much students know of the issue, their capacity to express that knowledge in standard English usage and their ability to follow tested methods of expressing knowledge acquired through observation, reading and experience. It is expected to get tougher and more interesting as the competition progresses.

    Please note the following:

  • This category is otherwise known as the Qualifying Stage, where successful students will automatically qualify for the next round.
  • Schools may submit as many entries as possible, irrespective of class level.
  • Essays should be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman or an equivalent font with a one-inch margin on all sides of the page. Entries should not be more than 1000 words.
  • Marks shall be awarded for clarity of work and orderly presentation of relevant facts.
  • All entries must be a product of genuine research and must contain original ideas coupled with creativity.
  • Participants with entries found to contain copyrighted materials shall be disqualified and the affected school severely penalised.
  • Entries must contain the participant’s name, age, class and school.
  • All entries should be sent via email to: anakogistate@gmail.com or rclokojametro@gmail.com or penkupfoundation@gmail.com on or before Friday, May 26th, 2017.
  • A Board of Examiners shall assess all entries and determine the winners.
  • The best one hundred (100) entries (and their respective schools) in each of the three Senatorial Districts (Kogi West, Kogi East and Kogi Central) shall qualify for the next stage of the competition.
  • The overall best three entries shall be announced at the Grand Finale of the Competition.
  • Consolation prizes shall be given to seven (7) other entries.
  • The decision of the Board of Examiners shall be final.
  • A Poetry Contest shall be used to further determine schools that will qualify for the next round.

    As the competition progresses to the final, the best three schools (one from each of the three Senatorial Districts) shall struggle it out for a first, second and third place finish. For the final, there shall be five (5) participants per school: two (2) for Quiz, two (2) for debate and one (1) for Spelling Bee. The participants shall go through the following stages:

  • Quiz Competition
  • Debate
  • Spelling Bee
  • For the Quiz, participants shall be served with standard WASSCE/WAEC Question Papers on English Language (Comprehension, Lexis & Structure, Test of Orals).

    The Debate shall feature sensational arguments on topical issues and current trends in Science, Technology, Politics, Religion and the Arts. Examiners shall look out for the ability of candidates to express themselves in an informed opinion on contemporary issues of national significance. Topics shall be disclosed to schools at least two weeks before the scheduled final date.

    The Spelling Bee shall assess the candidate’s ability to spell words in the English Language correctly. Students shall pick numbers from a pool of questions, and shall be required to provide the correct spellings (as response to the questions) within a stipulated period of time. The current edition of the Oxford Advanced Learners English Dictionary is recommended for use. Participants should pay attention to stress patterns and syllables in the English Language. Correct application of Syntax and Morphology shall be looked out for. Words could be long or short, but attention must be drawn to details.

    The school with the highest number of points in each of the three categories (Quiz, Debate, Spelling Bee) shall be declared overall winner of the competition.

    The Final shall take place on Saturday, September 16th, 2017 in Lokoja. This will be followed by a spectacular Awards Ceremony (red-carpet event) the following Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 in Lokoja.

  • PRIZES AND AWARDS
  • The following prizes and awards have been budgeted for winning students and schools:

    1st Prize:

  • N250, 000 worth of Scholarships for the five (5) students representing the winning school (lump sum shall cover tuition and exam fees, WAEC, NECO and JAMB)
  • Existing school library to be fully equipped
  • Desktop computers
  • Award Plaques
  • Certificates of Merit
  • Customised T-Shirts
  • Customised Notebooks
  • 2nd Prize:

  • N150, 000 worth of Scholarships for the five (5) students representing the winning school (lump sum shall cover tuition and exam fees, WAEC, NECO and JAMB)
  • Existing school library to be fully equipped
  • Educational materials (school bags, Maths & English textbooks, exercise books, biros, pencils, rulers and mathematical sets
  • Desktop computers
  • Award Plaques
  • Certificates of Merit
  • Customised T-Shirts
  • Customised Notebooks
  • 3rd Prize:

  • N100, 000 worth of Scholarships for the five (5) students representing the winning school (lump sum shall cover tuition and exam fees, WAEC, NECO and JAMB)
  • Existing school library to be fully equipped
  • Desktop computers
  • Educational materials (school bags, Maths & English textbooks, exercise books, biros, pencils, rulers and mathematical sets
  • Desktop computers
  • Award Plaques
  • Certificates of Merit
  • Customised T-shirts
  • Customised Notebooks
  • The English Language Teachers for the schools that emerge overall champions (1st, 2nd & 3rd) shall be rewarded with a sum total of one hundred thousand naira (N100, 000)!

    A Raffle Draw shall be conducted at the Grand Finale of the event. Prizes to be won include:

    1st Prize: Laptop computer

    2nd Prize: Deep Freezer

    3rd Prize: Generator

    Consolation Prizes: Pressing Iron, Blender, Sandwich Toaster, Smart Phones, Schoolbags, Wall Clocks, etc.

    There is no gainsaying that this laudable project will require the backing of all and sundry. The cooperation and support of all the players in the industry (organizers, schools, students, government officials and relevant authorities) are hereby solicited.

    For more enquiries, contact anakogistate@gmail.com!

    ANA/ROTARY BRAIN-MATCH FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS

    … for the love of education

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    DOCTORS VEHEMENTLY OPPOSE PLANNED HARMONIZATION OF HEALTH WORKERS’ SALARIES

    The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has called on the Federal Government to shelve its planned harmonisation of salaries of health workers in the country.

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    The association’s position is contained in a communiqué issued by Mike Ogirima, President of NMA, on Sunday at the end of the 57th Annual General Meeting and Delegate Conference of the association, held in Calabar, from April 24 to 29.

    It noted that although health workers faced many hazards in the discharge of their duties, their output could not be compared to doctors who performed the bulk of the medical services.

    “There is an attempt to harmonise the salaries and the Federal Ministry of Health is at the lead of that attempt, which is currently causing a lot of disharmony in the health sector.

    “Medical doctors are highly skilled and few in the country; the cut-off mark for medical students now is 280 and above. Everybody wants to accept that title of doctor in the medical set up; we are not against that.

    “What we are against is the fact that everybody cannot be equated to be equal. In the animal kingdom, all animals are equal; but some are more equal than others,” it said.

    The association said that it was not against moves to enhance the welfare of other health workers, but insisted that relativity should be maintained.

    “We are not saying that the welfare of other medical workers should not be taken care of, but that relativity should be maintained when we talk of salaries of health workers in the hospitals.

    “The NMA is calling on government to evaluate different professionals in the health sector and audit the output they put at work.

    “With that, there will be more objective data and statistics to buttress our point, asking for maintenance of the relativity,” it added.

    The communiqué also lamented the deteriorating state of infrastructures in public health institutions across the country and called on governments at all levels, to place premium on developing the sector.

    It called on the federal government to be proactive by having a strong rapid emergency response team to handle outbreak of diseases, just as it stressed the need to resume local production of vaccines in the country.

    On the outbreak of Cerebral Spinal Meningitis across the country, the NMA condemned the poor handling of the outbreak of the disease in some states.

    The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the NMA also ratified the adoption of the association’s seal/stamp for medical practitioners to check quackery in the profession.

    Credit: NAN

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    BRITISH FIGHTER WITH NIGERIAN ROOTS MAKES HISTORY

    Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua has been trending on social media and other news outlet for hours. His defeat of Wladimir Klitschko, a far more experienced boxer, earned him accolades. The historic fight, which took place at Wembly, was witnessed by 90,000 fans – the biggest fight the division had seen in years.

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    Who would believe that boredom was one of the reasons the pugilist took to the profession.

    “I was looking at becoming a builder, learning my trade, starting my own company. But when I moved to London with my mum and I didn’t have many friends up here, I got into boxing out of boredom,” Joshua had said in 2013.

    It wasn’t just boredom; Ben Ileyemi, his cousin, succeeded in persuading him to take up the careerHe had dragged Joshua to Finchley Amateur Boxing Club back in 2007.

    Many years down the line, Joshua has won many laurels, some of which include Haringey Box Cup (2009), Senior ABA title in 18th bout (2010), ABA and GB titles, silver at World Championships (2011), Olympic gold and BBC Superstars title (2012) and awarded MBE (2013) which was when he turned professional.

    And of course, the real deal, knocking out Klitschko in a heavyweight fight on Saturday night.

    He felt totally lost out training as an amateur boxer at the initial stage.

    With zero inspiration except for boredom, Joshua ventured into boxing, having little or nothing to keep an eye unto.

    “I was a complete novice in that gym,” Joshua said.

    “But they trained me like I was an Olympic champion. In my eyes, anyway. I went through pain, hard sparring, when I was getting beaten up. But it gave me the discipline I lacked.”

    But like the old adage which states that quitters never win and winners never win, he wasn’t going to quit. Not even for a day.

    “I worked harder, studied more bouts and I began to realise they weren’t hitting me as much as they used to. That’s when I started thinking, ‘You know what, I can get good at this.”

    SUSPENDED FROM BRITAIN’S BOXING SQUAD

    He never had it all rosy in his career, anyway, with one of his darkest moments being when he was arrested and convicted for possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

    He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 100 hours’ unpaid work.

    “I wasn’t getting funding so they were tough times,” he admitted.

    “I was just looking for an opportunity and you’re not thinking about the consequences when you’re younger. But I brought shame on myself and my family. It was really bad news for a lot of people who wanted to see me progress and I could see the pain it was putting my mum through. So I said to myself, ‘This has got to stop. I’m a proud man and to be a Joshua is a privilege.”

    SET A 15-YEAR TARGET

    Even as an amateur boxer, he had a clear definition of purpose already: “To remain great is the hard thing and that is what I have to do for the next 15 years of my career,” he told the BBC, announcing his decision to go professional in his career.

    “Deep down in my heart I always wanted to become a professional. After the games, I wondered if it was the right time.

    “The Olympics has put me in a position to be great. The formula to success as a professional is a bit different to the amateurs but is still the same discipline. The regime I have been on is one that has worked and the only thing I have to do is tweak it. I will not slack. I will only add to my game.”

    TRIP TO NIGERIA

    Joshua grew up for some of his early years in Ijebu-Ode Nigeria and returned to the UK halfway through Year Seven to join Kings Langley Secondary School.

    Growing up on the Meriden Estate in Garston, Hertfordshire, Joshua was called ‘Femi’ by his friends and former teachers. He excelled at football and athletics and broke the Year Nine 100m record with a time of 11.6 seconds.

    At 11, he joined his Nigerian mother Yeta in the most populous black nation on earth for six months and attended a boarding school within that period.

    “I thought I was going there (Nigeria) on holiday,” said the 27-year-old who also has an Irish-Nigerian father, Robert.

    “I wasn’t prepared for it. It was a boarding school as well. It was a change and I thought I was going to go for the full course: 5.30am in the morning, up fetch your water, put like an iron in your water to warm it up. Your clothes had to be washed and ironed.

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    Joshua with his mother

    “It wasn’t an issue but I wasn’t prepared. It was a good discipline. We got beaten. That’s my culture: beating. The government raises your kids now; parents aren’t allowed to raise their kids, because there is so much control about what you do or what you say. In the (Nigerian) culture it’s family, outside support; everyone has a role in raising the kids.”

    At the end of six months, which he believed taught him discipline, Joshua and his family returned to the UK, and he resumed the path that led to him being discovered as a promising amateur fighter.

    50 CENT IS ONE OF HIS INSPIRATIONS

    Talking about 50 Cent’s legendary Get Rich or Die Tryin’ album, Joshua admitted thus: “When we were younger and getting into trouble, I remember listening to the CD with one of my close friends. And it was that mentality – basically succeed or nothing. I was obviously putting that mentality in the wrong direction and maybe that’s why I’ve done alright in boxing, because I now use it in the right way.”

    Back in June 2015, Wladimir Klitschko had admitted that Joshua is the future of heavyweight boxing.

    “The future of the [heavyweight] division belongs to Joshua. I haven’t seen an athlete as athletic, as big, as fast, as talented as Anthony and if he’s going to continue the way he is, developing himself, the future belongs to him,” he had said.

    Two years later, he has been proved right after all having been defeated by the same “future” he earlier talked about.

    Joshua was born in Watford, England on October 15, 1989.

    And here is the good news: He hasn’t forgotten his Nigerian background; on his upper right arm is a tattoo of the African continent with Nigeria outlined.

    Credit: The Cable NG

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    DO MOSQUITOES NOW HAVE ALLIES THAT STAND TO FIGHT FOR THEM?

    This year 2017 celebration is the 17th International MALARIA DAY commemoration on the continent. Governments in Africa still say they remain committed to eliminating and eradicating this mosquito carrying the disease called “Malaria”. This vector have refused to relent in its attack and spread of Malaria and other deadly diseases to mankind.

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    The tale of momentary triumphs reported a few years ago of a likely decline of new cases of mosquitoes, appear to be a mirage, in the face of death annually report in billions which have been tired to the support that mosquitoes are receiving over the years from unusual allies.                    

    The story of Climate change and the collaboration with mosquito have only given the story a tragic twist and making the tale a major global health problem in Africa and other parts of the world.

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    The response of a lot of organisms include animals to the dynamic nature of the environment in the last 12,000 years were to go extinct or to stop existing on earth, but few evolved.

    Somehow, fortune smiled on the vector carrying disease mosquito, they quickly formed a partnership with this climatic phenomenon called climate change, to re-emerge much more destructive.

    Exactly 17 years ago Africa union AU member countries committed to eradicate mosquito from Africa, this initiative was welcomed because the statistics displayed then revealed that Africa continue to be the largest continent to bear the biggest burden of malaria with over 89% of cases in 2015 and 92% of death caused by malaria come from Africa alone, over 90,000,000 people die annually from malaria making it is the singular public health disease threat on the continent since then till date. So, on the 25th April 2000 in Abuja, Nigeria the Roll Back Malaria initiative was launched and April 25th of every year was Adopted by AU and other African Government as “Malaria Day”. The sustained campaign from 2000 to 2015 against Malaria brought with it a short-lived celebration in 2015 when it appeared that there was so form of a decline in new malaria cases to about 23% but by 2010-2016 when the world was reporting record high temperature the gains against malaria were non-existence as there seems to be a resurgence of Malaria in Africa and the world.

    I remembered my mother’s words in March of 2016 she said “it appear that malaria went to regroup and retrain on how to bite”, her comment triggered this write-up. However, the question we should be reflecting on is “Do mosquito now have allies that stand and fight for them? strange as it may sound I will try to answer the question at the end of this article.

    Malaria (Plasmodium) doesn’t need any introduction to Africans, the disease is a protozoan infection transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. The four type of Plasmodium that infect humans appear to have evolved from a common ancestor. Mosquito also carries and transmit diseases to humans through their bites.  It is the female mosquitoes that bite. The course of malaria involves bouts of fever alternating with periods of freedom from illness. Each episode begins with a brief period of shivering, a rapid but weak pulse, and a feeling of intense cold (rigour), followed by a period of distressing heat, accompanied by a flushed skin, intense headaches and nausea. Then followed by profuse sweating and a rapid drop in temperature, often to levels below normal.

    A prominent feature of the febrile bouts is the periodic nature it present: They tend to recur every third day with Plasmodium. vivax, P. falciparum, and P. ovale and every fourth day with P. malariae.

    The estimated cost of malaria in Africa is more than U.S $12 billion dollars every year. Insects are costing mankind that much you say but that’s the truth from WHO and World Bank.
                                             
    Yet, with all the fund expended on the fight to eradicate mosquito, it appears they have won the battle or did they truly go for a refreshers course on waging warfare against man?        

    They didn’t go for such course on warfare, the inconvenient truth is that mosquito has found new allies and the partnership indeed created the environment to breed and populate into an Army and with temperatures presently increasing since it started 250-300 years ago mosquitoes have become biological havoc infecting species to mankind.

    So the million dollar question will be, is there a connection between the spread of mosquito-borne disease Malaria and climate change? And the answer is Yes, there is a link between them.  The onset of climate Change will likely raise the infection rates of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria by creating a more mosquito-friendly area.                                               
    They are vectors that can carry infective pathogens like as viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, to a host that can be human or other animals. The increased temperature due to climate change greatly affects the rapid growth of the immature mosquito to a full adult biting machine and the intensity with which the mosquito will bite. With this understanding, concerning the mosquito more bite will occur in humans. This was the conclusion of a research work in Yale School of Public Health in the US.                 

    As Africans, we must take steps to minimize the chances of being attacked by these vectors carrying diseases. Drain standing water in drainages and places where it can collect, using and sleeping under mosquito nets, keep screens on all the windows and doors in the house that can open. Proper dressing if going outside like wearing long trouser and sleeve shirts.   

    If you develop symptoms, seek immediate treatment to safeguard your health and that of others in your area will seem to be an acceptable response but the best response against these invading forces of mosquito and their allies will be to reduce our carbon footprints, the less global warming we create, the less onslaught of mosquito-borne disease we will encounter.

    Indeed, Climate change will influence mankind vulnerability to mosquito-borne disease through the following factors, these Climatic factors will surely influence malaria transmission and vary according to the region.  They include the following:                            

    Temperature: high temperature increases the likelihood of transmission by altering the metabolism of the mosquito activities making them bite more and increasing their egg hatching thereby converting them from immature vector to a full biting machine are accelerated with the rising temperature.                                                                        
    Humidity: With rising temperature and high humidity mosquito can adapt to cope with the new environment. In the semi-arid region of Africa where high temperature are common the female mosquito can live up to a year by hiding in huts and other building structures.                                                                     
    This strategy of their gives them free access to human blood which they feed on one notable feature is that these mosquitoes do not develop or lay eggs until the rains commence.             

    Less of activities also help the mosquito survival rate and transmission of the vector carrying disease, even under adverse climatic conditions.

    Rainfall: Tropical Rainfall promotes transmission by creating stagnant water and other breeding sites and drought may evaporate standing water but cause flowing water to stagnate.                                                                                                                          
    The story is the same in sewers and drainage seen in urban areas. Scarcity of water in the cities also cause people to store up waters in containers this stored water serve as breeding sites.

    Seasonality: malaria transmission usually peak at a specific time of year, although such cadences have little impact on the health of the population because overall infection rates of malaria are so high especially during the commencement of raining seasons.                                                                     
    There are other factors apart from the climatic factor that influences the human exposure to mosquito-borne diseases they are called the Non-climate actors.                    

    These non-climate factors influence the vulnerability of humans to mosquito-borne disease; especially in Africa, they all have direct link to the socio-economic factors and human exploitative activities in the respective regions. The factors partner with mosquito to help drives transmission of malaria.

    They are:
                                                                           
    1.Tree and forest clearance: Mosquito breeds in stagnant water seen around so forest clearance and tree removal provides such environment.

    2.Agriculture Practice: Irrigation in agricultural practise often create an excellent environment for the mass production of mosquitoes with the construction of dams for irrigation or hydroelectric power can also lead to high populations of mosquitoes. Other pool of water that are stagnant like abandoned fish ponds are prolific breeding site.

    3.Migration: As Infected people move in search of a better life from areas infested with malaria they introduce malaria to the host community they have integrated into while does who have not been infested with malaria are at high risk, if they move to an area of infested with malaria.

    4.Urbanization: with the expansion and growth cities areas, extensive water storage and inadequate water disposal can lead to high mosquito breeding site and population. Q lot of African cities are surrounded by large slums these crowed places promote conditions that are ideal for Mosquito transmission.

    5.Resistance to antimalarial drugs: Drugs can be used to prevent malaria infection or to cure infections, but can lead to insecticide resistance in the insect mosquito, which may leading to the emergence of strains of drug-resistant vector. This one of the reasons why malaria prevention and control strategy have started placing importance on developing anti-malaria drugs than canvassing for the use of insecticidal strategies. The malaria drugs resistance is now common and have contributed to the resurgence of malaria.

    6. Poor healthcare system: healthcare system in most African nations are non-existent and are poorly run by government with no budgetary funding, and no availability of infrastructure, managing the cases of malaria will almost be impossible.

    7. Violent conflicts, War and natural disaster:  The breakdown of law and order in a region or declaration of humanitarian disaster as a result of natural event will make forced migration of people inevitable the movement of people from one place to another truly promotes malaria transmission, wars will cause damage to infrastructures like water and drainage systems which will help the transmission of malaria the additional input from climate change is a willing ally that the recrudescence of the disease called Malaria.

    Climate change will have both short and long term effects on vector-borne disease transmission and infection patterns, as they interact with non-climate factors it becomes much clear that mankind is indeed fight for survival from all sides.                               

    Hence the need to take climate change seriously, including the science of studying and researching how mosquitoes have adapted and change, how all these ecosystem variables have combined with this vector, better land use regulations that can be explored, the changing demographics, and the adaptive and mitigation policies we must imbibe to achieve a sustainable future.

    So, as Africans and government leaders, we must be clear the fight against malaria is not only through the use chemotherapy or the distribution of mosquito nets or clearing stagnated water around the area where they congregate understanding the science of climate change is key if we intend to eradicate these army and their allies.

    The 2017 celebration of international Malaria Day, should be about finally eradicating this insect biting diseases spreading vectors. We can achieve this through application of the individual-level adaptive capacity or community-level adaptive capacity, or the ability to reduce the potential exposures that may be caused by climate change.

    Climate factors are useful benchmarks to indicate seasonal risk and broad geographic changes in disease occurrence over decades but the human vulnerability to Mosquito-borne disease is more holistically evaluated by examining climate factors with non-climate factors.

    The chairman of Climate Reality Project, an international NGO that raises awareness on climate change, Mr. Al Gore who was a former Vice-President of US, at a climate and health conference in Atlanta early this year, made a point while showing the picture of a mosquito in the PowerPoint presentation he was giving he said that “climate change is titling the balance, disrupting natural ecosystems and giving more of an advantage to microbes”.

    The report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that extreme weather contributes to the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.                                                   

    A scientist at the University of Miami explained that as climate change continues there will be some sort of tropical bioclimatic regional or zones shift upslope to replace temperate zones, this in turn will lead to more people and new regions exposed to various disease.                   

    This is the story of how mosquito and climate change have team up to spread mosquito in our continent and all over the world.

    Therefore, the call to celebrate 2017 Malaria Day as Africans should be a clarion call for renewal of our sincere commitment to eradicate malaria in Africa, not only through distribution of nets, prescription of malaria drugs and on application of vaccine was are good, but also through understanding the climatic variable and for government to properly fund research in malaria.

    All commmitment must involve international cooperation from UN, WHO, WMO and other relevant organization, and robust partnerships among researchers in Africa is a must, if it already doesn’t exist.                                                                       
    It will require strong action by individuals, societies, and nations to match the threat that mosquitoes and climate change. As humans we must now ally with ourselves and ecologically sustainable innovative technology to win this war against mosquitoes.

    So a high-level political commitment by government in Africa will be important with the  mobilization of all form of resources that must include understanding the science of climate change and the spread of disease, they are required to build the effective weapon against  eradication of malaria.                                                                     
    Therefore the best defense still requires individual level and communities’ level of commitment. The individual strategies have been highlighted above but will need to be replicated in the community level and national stage in the respective nations in Africa. The community level requires that government at all level pay more attention to slum settlements around the cities and make sincere effort to develop rural areas to reduce the influx of people into the cities and ensure strict regulation compliance of environmental laws and infrastructural development which must comply with ecologically sustainable standard.

    Therefore, accelerating the coverage to ensure total eradication will require sustainable financial mechanism which must be targeted at vulnerable group majorly such as young children less than 5 years, elderly persons, and pregnant women and the collaborative effort of everyone in Africa.

    Overall strengthening the healthcare delivery system will not only need providing the new drugs at affordable price for the people but will require that nations developing climate resilient strategy in other sectors like Agriculture, Environment and Energy which will be supported by technology for a sustainable future in Africa.

    Dr. Gbujie Daniel Chidubem
    Founder/Chief Executive Officer
    TEAM 54 PROJECT                    
    Facebook Blog: https://www.facebook.com/groups/team54project/                EmailAddress: team54project@gmail.com & gbujiedan2@yahoo.com   

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    2017 EARTH DAY CELEBRATION: GETTING EDUCATION AND TAKING ACTION – AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE

    Today we celebrate what many consider to be the international mother nature day called Earth Day. Earth Day  is primarily dedicated to conserving our planet’s resources in such a way as to achieve sustainable development for mankind.

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    The brief history going down memory lane of Earth Day celebrations, says around 20 million citizens of America, 47 years ago came together to demand an end to commercial pollution, indiscriminate dumping of toxic materials, use of pesticides and unregulated human activities that degrade ourenvironment.

    Astonishingly, it was the idea of a U.S politician Senator Nelson Gaylord, and this event is now a global campaign celebrated in 192 nations. It is globally coordinated by a non-profit organization, the Earth Day Network. The activities for the Earth Day celebrations usually include but are not limited to the following; Rallies, peaceful Marches, talks, presentations in schools, universities and local communities.

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    The Emphasis till date continue to rest on the planet and how truly splendid it can be if the Earth vivacious ecosystem is cared for and protected from human abusive activities which limit the survival of all life forms on earth. This is how advanced nations celebrate the EARTH day.

    It is not the same in most African countries who are still at the level of trying to understand how to govern themselves and how to see others from a different ethnic group as human beings.

    The level of corruption in most African nations has also negatively shifted the priority of Africans from their environment to trying to survive. The situation is further worsen by the long years of poor governance and visionless leadership which has affected the quality of education citizens receive and healthcare services, all these have helped to relegate the continent, such that serious issues that the Earth Day tries to address or resolve are ignored on the continent and the consequences are usually devastating.

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    Just reflecting on my African childhood and my current young adult life, I never saw the philosophy of saving the Earth in this light as it’s been celebrated in advance nation, until the current climate change crisis reared its head and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report revealed that Africa will be the most vulnerable continent impacted by Climate Change.
    It hit me harder in my soul, when I was privileged to attend the Climate Reality Project (CRP) training on climate change in March 2017 in Denver Colorado and had a rare encounter with the Founder of the organization the Ex-Vice President of United State of America Mr. Al Gore, who further urge that we start taking action to save our environment and on sighting a reports of what lies ahead for the African continent, even in the city I grew up Lagos Nigeria may be submerged before the end of this century because of the rising sea level caused by the  rising temperature in the North Pole. The rapid melting of old iceberg in the north pole that have existed for many years is to blame for the rising sea level and also the newly formed iceberg in the region which are not as strong as the old iceberg also melt much faster, their melting increase the volume of water streaming into the ocean and potentially responsible for rising sea level.  

    I realised following all these revelations that my generation was never prepared or had limited knowledge on the impact that the environment on their existence and with this year Earth Day campaign theme being Climate Literacy and Environment, It comes at a perfect moment, for Africans and their respective governments to reflect and rededicate themselves to sincere commitments to making the continent ecologically sustainable.

    We cannot afford to pull back from building the world that protects the environment and cultivates initiative and policies which guides Adaptation and Mitigation strategy for the needed sustainable development in our African communities.

    Therefore, we must ensure that African are properly enlightened and educated about the climate change science and crisis on a day like the Earth Day holding on April 22nd, 2017.

    I and my group TEAM 54 PROJECT, a Non-Profit Organization, have been coordinating an African initiative, that raises awareness of climate change impact through a global group of passionate individuals who are willing to spread and support the drive for a better environment while proffer solutions for Africa and other nations of the world. So a day like Earth Day is supposed to be celebrated in Africa by encouraging Education. This education is important for Africans to be able to enjoy sustainable development. There is the need to adequately understand the climate science and use the knowledge to better improve our Agricultural sector, Health sector, and drive the needed socio-economic growth model without using fossil fuel. Proper education will generate enlightenment which in turn will empower and inspire action in defence of our environment among young ones in the continent.

    The understanding of the climate science is needed as a catalyst to ensure that proper regulations of energy policies are put in place, to also ensure that advance environmental and climate policies are enforced and to accelerate while encouraging creative ideas using technologies in order to better increase opportunities among African countries.

    The Importance of marking the Earth Day celebrations can’t be over emphasised because Earth Day help to keep in view our progress, while concentrating on countries ecological problems and how to resolve them.

    Africans really need to start to take go care of their environment by living health lifestyle, if we are to stand a chance as we head to the end of the 21st century.  These points are achievable only if we start by keeping our environment clean. This should be done on a personal level, community level and even on a national level.
    we must use every Earth Day celebration and any other day afterwards to restore hope to our continent and planet.

    The facts coming out of Africa are not looking good, It is a fact that over 5,000 people die daily of dirty drinking water polluted either through the active fossil fuel exploration or through poor management of generated waste, and 65 percent of this people affected are Africans. It is official that 1 billion people are going hungry this very moment strictly because crops are drying up and dyeing following increase in temperature, presentation of extreme weather like storms, floods,Cyclones hailstones and drought. All of which have directly be traced back to the indiscriminate and exploitative activities of human on earth, over 40% of arable lands and natural resources are irreparably destroyed with various earthly species approaching extinction on yearly basis.

    This is the Earth of today.

    Therefore Earth Day should be a time for us to reflect and ask ourselves questions; where we are going and Is it moral to disrupt the relationship that has to exist between man and other species that have been here long before mankind? As Africans let us pause to think a little and look at where we are right now, there are so much violent conflict, humanitarian disaster, poverty all around our continent an environment crisis will only worsen our predicament.

    Therefore we must seek and have knowledge of our environment and climate Changes within it,  with this acquired understanding and a sincere commitment we can then be on the true path of sustainable development. 
    Consequently, now is time to urgently act to save our continent, taking climate actions like, reduce carbon emissions, recycling and reusing of things, better management of waste and planting trees are very good steps in the right direction. More importantly, we must begin to love not only ourselves but all other species in our planet.

    We must all stop the fighting and visionless political leaderships across our continent. We must now return back to NATURE. Rising from today’s Earth Day celebration in Africa the conversation and plan should be about advancing climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and innovative technologies for sustainable development. Sadly, all these are dependent on the decisions we take from this very moment. We have children that have been brought into this world, we must leave something better for them, we must secure their future too it is the right thing to do. Nothing is going to change if everyone sits back and wait for changes to come. Everyone has a duty with respect to saving our continent and the Earth, if we all put our collaborative efforts together the resultant impact will transform our continent.

    This Earth Day should be a wake-up call for all African the clock is ticking. It should also be a clarion call to all Africans that time is running out, only Africans can solve their problems no one will solve it for us. Already a global referendum on climate change and sustainable development exist, now is the time to urgently act before it’s too late. African youths should rise up and don’t get distracted its time to take your future seriously demand a better and safe environment.

    Happy Earth  Day celebration

    Gbujie Daniel
    FOUNDER
    TEAM 54 PROJECT

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    FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS: SCIENTISTS MAKE MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH

    A breakthrough has occurred in the fight against HIV, new research reveals. Scientists say they’ve engineered an ‘on-off switch’ into a weakened form of HIV, enhancing the safety and effectiveness of a potential vaccine for the virus.

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    They say this could be the final necessary step to eradicate the disease that’s killed 35 million people since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s. Vaccinologists often prefer exposing the body to weakened viruses, rather than deactivated ones, because they grant stronger and longer-lasting immunity. But weakened viruses retain the ability to replicate, meaning that they still pose a risk of becoming full-blown pathogens. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln began addressing this issue in 2014, when they genetically engineered a version of HIV that needs a synthetic amino acid – one not found in the body – to replicate.

    Doing so required the team to replace a codon that codes for the amino acid in the HIV’s genetic code. Each codon instructs an amino acid to connect to a chain that becomes a protein and ultimately allows viral replication. The team swapped out one of these codons for a ‘nonsense’ version that instead signals a stop in the amino-acid assembly line, halting production of the proteins essential for replication. When the team supplied the synthetic amino acid, the assembly line began churning out proteins, and the virus began replicating. When the supply of amino acids stopped, so did the replication.

    This technique gave the team control over the HIV’s replication. And by delivering a consistent supply of amino acids, the team showed that it can kick-start the multiple cycles of replication necessary for an effective vaccine.

    ‘Safety is always our biggest concern,’ said Dr Wei Niu, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. ‘In this case, [it means] we’re one step closer to generating a vaccine.’

    Other research teams have managed to generate HIV immunity in organisms, with one vaccine protecting 95 percent of rhesus monkeys against the virus. Many of these vaccines have relied on deleting HIV genes to limit replication, but the virus’ penchant for mutating can help it overcome this defense and replicate unchecked.

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    WHO APPROVES WORLD’S FIRST EVER DENGUE VACCINE

    World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday endorsed the world’s first-ever vaccine for dengue fever, a potentially deadly mosquito-borne virus that threatens to infect close to half of the world’s population.

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    Unlike malaria, there is no established cure for dengue fever, which can cause severe nausea, bone pain, headaches, rashes, bleeding and even death. The virus can last for up to 10 days. About 390 million people are infected by dengue each year in some 120 countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.

    Known as Dengvaxia, the vaccine is the product of two decades of research by French-based Sanofi Pasteur. Four countries—Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador and the Philippines—have already licensed Dengvaxia, but Friday’s recommendation will likely spur a host of other developing nations to follow suit at a time when climate change and urbanization is putting increasing numbers of people at risk from the mosquito-borne disease.

    “In countries where dengue is endemic, it’s one of the most feared diseases,” says Dr. In-Kyu Yoon, director of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative, an international consortium that has partnered with Sanofi. “The trajectory globally is increasing—at this point it’s essentially a pandemic.”

    The vaccine is given in three injections spaced out over one year. It is designed for those over the age of nine who have been previously exposed to the virus and is best suited for people living in endemic areas, as opposed to short-term travellers, according to Dr. Alain Bouckanooge, associate vice president of clinical research and development at Sanofi’s division in Thailand.

    Throughout the past few years the company conducted clinical trials in tens of thousands of children in Southeast Asia and Latin America that revealed the vaccine to be 70 percent effective for those with pre-exposure to dengue and 90-95 percent effective against severe hospitalization.

    Scientists have been unable to develop a vaccine for dengue in part because the virus is so complicated. It has four strains, more than other deadly diseases such as polio and smallpox. If a person gets infected with more than one type of dengue, there is a greater chance of the virus of causing hospitalization or death.

    Yoon said there have historically only been a few places where more than one serotype of dengue circulates at any given time, but urbanization has made it more common to have multiple serotypes in the same area.

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    STOP TELLING YOUR KIDS TO BECOME DOCTORS

    Up to about grade five or six, if a little girl wants to be the first ever astronaut-ballerina or a little boy wants to be a professional lion tamer, it is endearing. But at some point children are eased away from their fantastical dreams and towards practicality.

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    “Okay, but what are you really going to be when you grow up?”

    “Well, maybe art is better as a hobby,”

    “You can’t really make a living doing that.”

    These suggestions probably stem from the best intentions; nobody is tryingto crush dreams. Parents, teachers, and family members just want their children to be better off than they are; they are just trying to steer their children towards happiness and success.

    Around this age, “smart” and outgoing kids have a handful of career options presented to them. I was told happiness and success would come from being a doctor or a lawyer, because everybody knows there is a shortage of doctors in the world, and nobody has ever heard of a lawyer being out of work. My 11-year-old logic told me that because I was a bad liar, I should probably be a doctor. The idea was originally sold to me with the promise I would be happy, I would not ever have to worry about money, and I would be helping people. But, what really hooked me was that moment when you tell someone you want to be a doctor and without fail, they tell you how impressive you are and what an admirable goal it is.

    So I tailored the rest of my schooling towards this goal, aiming to get the best grades and be the most involved. Then I started my undergraduate degree, and the whole “big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond” analogy rang true. I was thrown in with all the other students from across the countries also on the road to medicine and success. Suddenly, I was not the smartest, the most involved, or the most charismatic, the most outgoing. At some point between graduation and orientation week, each of us went from extraordinary to average. Pre-medicine is cut throat. People joke that professors in packed first year science lectures ask how many students are planning to become doctors and nearly the whole the class raises their hands.

    Then the prof tells his hopeful new pupils that less than 10% of them will achieve that goal. That is the reality of pre-medicine, and the statistics do not get any easier to hear after that first professor delivers the dream crushing news. Right from that first lecture, we are turned against each other. We are all quite aware that our friends in our classes are the same people we will have to beat out in med school applications. It is not unheard of for students to lend each other incorrect solutions to homework or to sabotage lab exams. We all want those coveted few spots in medical school, and to get them we must be the smartest, the most outgoing, and the most involved. Among my classmates, spending 12+ hours studying or staying all night at the library is the norm because, “that’s what it takes to get into med school”.

    University is supposed to be the prime of our lives, but we are all spending it studying and furiously signing up for every club, team, or research position we can find. It is an endless competition to become the most well rounded student. Everything about the medical school application process breads intense competition. An example of this is the Medical Collage Admission Test (MCAT), a critical thinking test required by most medical schools as part of students’ applications. The four-hour exam requires months of preparation, has incredibly tight time constraints, and is meant to test students’ ability to think critically under pressure. Nearly everything students have learned in the first few years of their undergraduate degree is testable.

    A student’s score in the end is not just the number of questions they answered correctly, but is scaled based on how well the student does in comparison to everyone else who wrote the exam. The admission process, though intense and competitive, is necessary due to the massive volume of applicants. The logic that you should encourage children to go into medicine because there aren’t enough doctors is faulty. There might be too few doctors, but there is no shortage of medical school applicants. The irony in all this is that being a doctor means dedicating your life to the service of others, yet the road to medicine too often molds self serving and competitive students. Perhaps many of us, myself included, are not cut out to be doctors. But we are driven and dedicated students and, for most of us, abandoning the dream of medicine equates to failure.

    Regardless of why we change our minds, even if we simply realized medicine truly wasn’t right for us, there is a stigma that if we are not going to become doctors, it is because we were not good enough. What happens to the rest of us? We have been told since grade five or six that we would make great doctors, and that being a doctor is how we will be successful, but at some point we will have to find another path.

    Sure, this might be for the best; maybe we weren’t cut out to be doctors after all. But how much time and energy did we put into achieving that goal, just to accept defeat? Would we not have been better off if you let us hold onto the dream of astronaut-ballerina or lion tamer a little bit longer? Maybe then we would have created our own definitions of success and left medical school to the kids who find that path themselves.

    Credit: Medical Online

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    DEPRESSION ACCOUNTS FOR 90% OF SUICIDE CASES

    The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Kogi State Chapter has revealed that 90% of suicide cases reported in Nigeria are associated with depression,  just as the association called on government at all levels to create more awareness on how to discourage depression.

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    The Kogi State Acting Chairman of NMA, Dr. Tijani Godwin stated this in Lokoja, Friday April 7, while commenting on this year’s World Health Day with the theme, “Depression, Let’s Talk.”

    While noting that not everybody that commits suicide has depression, Dr. Tijani explained that this year’s theme was carefully chosen by the World Health Organization, WHO with the aim of getting help for people with depression across the world.

    Dr. Tijani while lauding the initiative, averred that it will help reduce incidences of suicide and its attempt in Nigeria.

    Also speaking, Zubair Kabiru of the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja revealed that, depression is the 4th largest contributor to global burden of diseases and by 2020 it will be rated second, adding that it is currently rated the highest contributor to disability worldwide.

    A Consultant Psychiatrist with the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Dr. Ajogbon Daniel maintained that depression is the major cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

    Dr. Ajogbon stated, “nobody wants to come out in this part of the world to report being depressed, hence the need for this year’s theme to encourage people to talk about the way they feel and how best it could be addressed in the society. Globally the latest statistics from WHO says 322 million people are depressed. It is against this backdrop we have to galvanize help, encourage people to talk about the way they feel. If they are depressed is not a crime.”

    He highlighted vulnerability, genetics, social, unemployment and reliance on drugs as some of the factors causing depression in the world.

    According to Dr. Ajogbon, any person observed with the symptoms of sadness, weakness, loss of weight, disinterest on issues, thought of death, negative thoughts, which is persistence for weeks, should be encouraged to seek help on time because it could be pointing to depression.

    Credit: Fresh Angle News

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    THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH ABOUT THE CURRENT OUTBREAK OF MENINGITIS IN WEST AFRICA

    One too often, Nigerians forget that we remain exposed as a nation in Africa, to the countless peril that may be environmental, socio-economical and physical, solely because most African government or leadership don’t have the proper visions of where their country need to or suppose to be. Greed, nepotism, ethnicity, mediocre projects that are not in keeping with ecologically sustainable development goals and corruption of all the existing systems from agriculture, to health, to technology to sport to religion and culture. If we don’t seat back presently to plan our respective countries before the end of this century, I fear for my continent (Africa) and I often feel sorry for Africans especially Nigerians who still sentimentally live under the cover of the human attributes listed above.

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    Introduction

    Meningitis is a tough disease, caused majorly by an infectious agent. Neisseria meningitidis is a gram-negative diplococcus. They can be grouped on the basis of the composition of the capsular polysaccharide into 6 major sero-groups: A, B, C, W, X, and Y.

    The STEREOTYPE C is current the new strain causing the recent outbreak in Nigeria. The last century has recorded many meningitis outbreaks occurring globally, with Africa being the focus of the most reported cases, the distribution of these outbreaks stretches from the West Africa region in Senegal to the East Africa area in Ethiopia now called the “Meningitis Belt” region where they are commonly seen. It is transmitted from human-to-human through close contact with salivary secretions or close respiratory secretions of infected person.

    Meningitis infection occurs during the dry season (December–May) with reported cases averaging 1,000 cases per 100,000 population, but in light of the current climate change crisis and from the news report coming from Nigeria, the reported cases from Mid-December 2016 till March 2017 have been over 2, 355. By contrast, there is a decreased rate of the disease in the United States, Europe, and South America ranging from 0.3 to 3 cases per 100,000 population per year with Sero-group A accounting for 80% of all cases, although rare sero-groups like C, X, and W can be present. A small percentage of the population about 5%–10% are regarded as carriers of N. meningitidis. Those majorly affected are infants, young adults and travelers visiting the meningitis belt countries.

    There also have been reported cases of pilgrimage participants to Saudi Arabia having outbreaks of meningococcal disease upon returning from pilgrims. Clinical presentation generally occurs from 1–10 days after initial exposure with meningitis presenting in more than half of the cases, patients present with the following features; a sudden headache, fever, stiffness of the neck, nausea, vomiting, photophobia, or altered mental status.  Up to 20% of people present with meningococcal sepsis, characterised by a purpuric rash and in extreme cases can lead to multi-organ failure.

    Among children less than 2 years, the meningococcal disease may have non-specific symptoms further making it very deadly, if they are affected because the usual neck stiffness, seen may not be present in this age.
     
    Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are key treatment modalities. Diagnosis is generally made by isolating N. meningitidis from blood or CSF through culture, by detecting meningococcal antigen in CSF by latex agglutination via a lumbar puncture procedure where the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is extracted and a Gram stain performed or by evidence of N. meningitides DNA by Polymerase Chain Reaction test. Other types of bacteria can cause meningitis, such as Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumonia and also few reported cases caused by virus and fungi. Their clinical signs and symptoms are similar to those of N. meningitides.

    Therefore the causative organisms need to be identified, so as to commence antibiotics used for treatment. According to the WHO even when the disease is diagnosed early and adequate treatment begins, 5% to 10% of patients die, typically within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Hence Meningitis is viewed as a medical emergency and preventive measures are still cost effective.

    The preventive measures involve the use of Vaccine, especially in regions known to exhibit reactive immunisation; a vaccination campaign should be initiated, when the number of reported cases reaches the alert threshold for infection, which is defined as 5 cases per week per 100,000 populations. The success of this strategy is greatly dependent on timely surveillance during reported outbreak and rapid medical emergency response.
     
    Sadly, on writing this article, Nigeria and other affected African countries are just requesting for vaccines from World health organization, after over 345 deaths in Nigeria have been recorded.
     
    However, with a better weather forecast, these governments would have applied early for the vaccine or if they have excellent health system they would not have recorded the current fatalities been presented to the public.

    Another important point to note about prevention strategy using Vaccine is that vaccines for meningitis typically provide immunity just for two to three years. The gold standard policy, therefore, has been reactive immunization which has been discussed above. If the number of cases in an area reaches a certain threshold, then vaccinations and antibiotics are ordered for that area and usually, the response to such request can be too late.

    The drawback with relying on the alert threshold is the strong reliance on disease surveillance and the occasional delays in reporting majorly due to poor planning and communication system. Recently, newer vaccines that guarantee long-term immunity have been developed and is in use already. These vaccines help to reduce the threat of epidemics, but other meningitis sero-groups are likely to continue to be a challenge, like the current form Sero-group C causing problems in Nigeria because they are not yet commercially available.

    FACTORS THAT SUPPORT THE OUTBREAKS

    The spread of any infectious disease can be determined by a lot of factors, such as the level of immunity of the human, the types of social interactions with the society, but environment factors do play an important region like; the change in temperature, humidity and dust.  The amount of dust is particularly high in Sub-Sahara Africa due to the strong northeastern wind called the  Harmattan.

    The Harmattan picks up dust as it blows over desert regions like the Bodélé Depression, a dried-up lake bed situated in Chad, it is regarded as the largest deposit of dust in the world. The dust storms formed when these strong wind flexes are so thick that they can prevent the sunshine for weeks. Dust then cause the spread of meningitis through aerosolization with the bacteria imbedded into the particulate it can lodge in the throat of human causing irritation and breach the mucosa membrane and get into the blood stream where it is transported to the brain, which results in the meningitis infection. The individuals who then fall stick remain indoors critically ill, where they then carry out the human to human transmission of the disease more easily other family relatives or friends.

    DETAILED DISCUSSION

    I will start this discussion from the sad news carried by CNN two days ago tagged “Meningitis outbreak in Nigeria kills nearly 300” by Stephanie Busari on Friday, March 31, 2017. As at yesterday the local newspapers were estimating over 400 dead since the commencement of the new outbreak. As Africans, we can start to pull our resources together to develop a research hub for all these environmental variables and how they impact our lives. Consequently having detail knowledge of climatic patterns and understanding what’s going on other parts of the world and more importantly we acting to forestall further worsening of the humanitarian issues on the continent and health matters like current meningitis incident in West Africa is key especially in light of the fact that it has occurred before in the past.

    Travel advisory already has been issued by few western nations. In Nigeria and other West African nations namely, Niger, Mail, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gambia, Togo and others there have been reported cases this year 2017. It is officially a health emergency in Nigeria with her government issuing a public warning and precautionary advice to citizens. With every human system linked together, one way or another, any infectious disease that can spread with the help of environmental variables will be disastrous and it can compromise human systems existing, hence the climate change phenomenon is an important determinant of the current outbreak in west Africa.

     It is my belief that if we are able to properly determine the role of climate in the continuous spread of common diseases like meningitis, we may well be able to assist a lot of African governments and health professionals in forecasting likely periods of epidemics and better prepare for likely consequence, all of which require satellite’enhanced and technology-supported appliances to study weather variables and collate data from the area affected with meningitis. Being able to forecast an outbreak could help save lives.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies is a research-based institutions that have an understanding of the climate science with strong emphasises on the natural and human changes experience here on earth. They achieve these results by combining the analysis gotten from observatory stations and satellite data in strict consultation with available planetary models of atmospheric, land surface, and oceanic processes.

    The research scientists from NASA have known that the outbreaks of meningitis in the West African region have a very strong link and association to climate and environmental conditions. However, the usually lack of credible data solely because African governments do not fund such ventures plus they usually want to continue with the business as usual attitude of most Africans leaders towards environmental matters due partly to cultural and religious belief system have sincerely hindered the full link of this relationship which we now know is obvious. These scientists studied the climate variables and meningitis incidence in Niger for over two decades and in the Journal  Environmental Health Perspectives, they revealed that the strength of the wind and surface dust concentration can be used to predict the rate of meningitis infection especially during drier seasons. Newer researches on meningitis and climate in sub-Saharan Africa also support these claims identifying wind and dust conditions as predictors of the disease. This result may help in developing vaccination strategies that aim to prevent meningitis outbreaks.

    HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE INFLUENCE OUTBREAK OF MENINGITIS?
     
    It is made possible by the increased temperature with a contributory effort from the dry wind. Scientists from NASA believe that the increase in temperature and the active presence of dry winds from the northeast affects the mucous membranes in the human body, that way increasing the chances of the N. meningitides organism getting into the human host.

    Benjamin Sultan and his colleagues from a climate research institute and an infectious disease center in France revealed in 2005 that Climate changes indeed drives the meningitis outbreak in West Africa. They discovered this result after looking at the relation between climate and meningitis outbreaks in Mali in West Africa, a region that annually experience meningococcal meningitis between February and May affecting up to 100,000 to 150,000 people.
     
    An important yet common climatic variable in this region was the dry wind, called the Harmattan, there is a great reduction in humidity and a lot of dust is generated. They discover that from 1994 to 2002, the meningitis epidemic peaks and results in an outbreak about the same time as when the dry Harmattan wind peaks. This empirical observation was able to show the positive association between an external environmental element (in this case dry wind) and the initiation of disease outbreaks.

    Current research work on meningitis incidence in meningitis belt of Africa reveals that dry wind and dusty scenarios are predictive factors for the spread of meningitis but with this understanding, it can help in developing better vaccination delivery strategies which can be targeted to periods of outbreaks.

    It is a general knowledge that disease outbreaks can be seasonal an example is a cold flu (influenza), which record its highest incidence during the cold period in the year. Meningitis, an infection of the thin lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord is also a seasonal disease, especially during the dry season. The Meningitis Belt in Africa comprise majorly arid regions stretching through Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo, Chad, Nigeria and extending east to Ethiopia. The current epidemic in Nigeria is greater in impact and covers much more area than it did 20 years ago. In Nigeria already 15 states out 36 states have reported cases with even few reported cases in one of the southern states originally not affected. Therefore, dust and dry wind conditions have predictability factored in on the seasonal cases of meningitis. With the intense research in both present and past climate change on earth and its resultant effect on disease distribution, it indeed gives mankind a futuristic knowledge and better understanding of the atmosphere and avails mankind additional tool in monitoring or impact on existing human system especially health system.

    Recommendations

    1. It is suggested that the metrological agency in Nigeria and other Africa countries properly fund and develop capacity using current technology.

    2. There should be a more resilient national healthcare system across Africa countries that can withstand for emergency/humanitarian cases though a go forecast/warning system can allow the health professional and various government at different level better prepare ahead of the health crisis by giving more lead time minimize and save lives and facilitate distributing vaccines to vulnerable districts.

    3. A robust campaign for meningitis should be done regulars.

    4. African leaders should encourage the research of these diseases by funding works; they can do these by collaboration and tasking each African country to contribute.

    5. In order to better anticipate future outbreaks or any form of outbreaks, An African Environmental Management committee needs to be formed, it will have multi-disciplinary representation from the various professional groups in Africa Led by AU and Supported by WHO and all health ministries in Africa, especially those in the meningitis belt region, their core mandate is to create predictive models for the disease based on climate and environmental variables. By doing this Africa may be able to speed up the research effort and develop capacity and technical knowledge in these areas in all these areas which can translate to better healthcare outcomes and a progressive society.

    6. African governments at all level must ensure the advancement and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will further mitigate some of the challenges.

    Best regards,

    DR. GBUJIE DANIEL VHIDUBEM                                                   Founder/Chief Executive Officer, TEAM 54 PROJECT
    Twitter handle: @team54project
    Whatsapp only:+2348033041426

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