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WHO: Global health community prescribes climate action for COVID recovery – The Maravi Post

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Based on a growing body of research confirming numerous and inseparable links between climate and health, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health spells out that transformational action in every sector, from energy, transport and nature to food systems and finance is needed to protect people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the intimate and delicate links between humans, animals and our environment”, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people”.

An urgent call

WHO’s report was launched at the same time as an open letter, signed by over two thirds of the global health workforce – 300 organizations representing at least 45 million doctors and health professionals worldwide – calling for national leaders and COP26 country delegations to step up climate action. 

“Wherever we deliver care, in our hospitals, clinics and communities around the world, we are already responding to the health harms caused by climate change”, the letter from the health professionals reads.

“We call on the leaders of every country and their representatives at COP26 to avert the impending health catastrophe by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to make human health and equity central to all climate change mitigation and adaptation actions”.

Fossil fuels ‘killing us’

Both the report and open letter come as unprecedented extreme weather events and other climate impacts are taking a rising toll on everyone.

Heatwaves, storms and floods have taken thousands of lives and disrupted millions of others while also threatening healthcare systems and facilities when they are needed most, according to WHO.

Changes in weather and climate are threatening food security and driving up food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, while climate impacts are also negatively affecting mental health.  

“The burning of fossil fuels is killing us. Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity”, states the WHO report. And while no one is safe from the health impacts of climate change, “they are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged”.

10 Priorities to safeguard the world

  1. Commit to a healthy, green and just recovery from COVID-19.
  2. Make COP26 the ‘Health COP’, placing health and social justice at the heart of discussions.
  3. Prioritize climate interventions with the largest health-, social- and economic gains.
  4. Build climate resilient health systems, and support health adaptation across sectors.
  5. Transition to renewable energy, to save lives from air pollution.
  6. Promote sustainable, healthy urban design and transport systems.
  7. Protect and restore nature and ecosystems.
  8. Promote sustainable food supply chains and diets for climate and health outcomes.
  9. Transition towards a wellbeing economy.
  10. Mobilize and support the health community on climate action.

Climate actions far outweigh costs

Meanwhile, air pollution, primarily the result of burning fossil fuels, which also drives climate change, causes 13 deaths per minute worldwide, according to WHO. 

The report states clearly that the public health benefits from implementing ambitious climate actions far outweigh the costs. 

“It has never been clearer that the climate crisis is one of the most urgent health emergencies we all face”, said Maria Neira, WHO Director of Environment, Climate Change and Health.

“Bringing down air pollution…would reduce the total number of global deaths from air pollution by 80 per cent while dramatically reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change”, she pointed out.

Dr. Neira added that a shift to more nutritious, plant-based diets “could reduce global emissions significantly, ensure more resilient food systems, and avoid up to 5.1 million diet-related deaths a year by 2050”.  

Call to action

Although achieving the Paris Agreement on climate change would improve air quality, diet and physical activity – saving millions of lives a year – most climate decision-making processes currently do not account for these health co-benefits and their economic valuation.  

Tedros underscored WHO’s call for all countries to “commit to decisive action at COP26 to limit global warming to 1.5°C – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s in our own interests”, and highlighted 10 priorities in the report to safeguard “the health of people and the planet that sustains us.”

Air pollution in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is leading to a series of health problems for the city's inhabitants.

© UNICEF/Habibul Haque

Air pollution in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is leading to a series of health problems for the city’s inhabitants.

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Guilty of Being Nigerian in Ghana – The Maravi Post

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Nigerians arrested for trafficking and cyber crime

Opinion By Leo Igwe

The Nigerian government should look into the treatment of Nigerians in Ghana because there are reports of police harassment and extortion from Nigerians in the country. A Ghanaian friend recently shared a Facebook post on some police raids that targeted Nigerians. His post reads: “My apartment has been raided by the Ghana Police 4 times in less than a year. Whatever reason you think for this. It’s worse! The apartment used to be occupied by some Nigerian men who were tired of being harassed by the police”. So many Nigerians in Ghana suffer constant harassment by the police. The harassment has gone on for too long that some are tired. Yes, some Nigerians are tired of being targeted, stopped, arrested by the police in Ghana.

As the post further reveals, the raids have become a pretext for extortion: “The neighbor told me that they packed and left the day after the final raid; after they had to find 7000 Cedis bribe for the police to bail themselves out. They were not the only Nigerians who packed and left. More than five apartments became available after that raid”.

So raiding apartments where Nigerians live has become a lucrative business for the police in Ghana. Police officers extort thousands of Cedis from Nigerians, then let them go and later return to raid and extort money from them again. Nigerians have become easy prey for the Ghana police. Nigerians have become a cash cow for Ghanaian authorities. Take a look at the next part of the post:

“When I first got the apartment, even before I had finished cleaning it up, police officers showed up in Rambo style, entering into the apartment without knocking, asking where the Nigerians are. I explained to them that I was the new tenant and did not know of anyone else. Because of how the apartment was in disarray, they nodded along and left”.

Look, this was not a random raid for illegal occupants. It was a targeted police action. There are nationals from many west African countries who are living in Ghana. When I was in Ghana, I met Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, and Ivorians who were living in the country and who had taken Ghana as their home. In fact, on one occasion, I met some Fulanis in the Northern region. They entered Ghana on horses through the border with Burkina Faso. They had no travel documents.

The police in Ghana are not raiding apartments asking for Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, or Nigeriens who were illegally staying in the country. No, the police raided apartments asking: “Where are the Nigerians? So, the Ghana police have specifically been instructed to go after Nigerians!

The post recounts other incidents of police harassment:
“The second time this happened, I was in my office while some friends were in the kitchen. The police surrounded the apartment, some entering from the front and some from the back, shouting and asking where the Nigerians were. I could see the fear in my friends’ eyes. I stepped in with some jokes to calm nerves, and we even offered them food to calm their nerves. The third time this happened, I had learned to keep my doors locked at all times. I heard banging on the door and someone trying to forcibly open the windows. I opened the door and a police officer rushed past me asking if I am Nigerian and where the Nigerians were. Today, I was not home. My girlfriend was. The police came again asking for Nigerians. I came home to find their pickup still parked outside. They were moving from apartment building to apartment building looking for Nigerians. Their case: they received a tip that there are Nigerians in the area who smoke. The day before, they had raided some apartments and caught themselves some Nigerians who ultimately had to pay about 6000 Cedis, I am told, to be left alone. “.

So police have raided this guy’s apartment many times. Who knows how many times these Nigerians-targeted police raids have been carried out in Ghana? Who knows how much money the Ghana police have extorted from their Nigerian victims?

In conclusion, the post states: “These raids usually happen on a weekend. The officers are always different. They always carry weapons. They always enter forcefully. They are always targeting people who look different. I am beginning to suspect this is not sanctioned by Ghana Police. Why would the state sanction xenophobia? I am also beginning to suspect that when they run out of Nigerians to do this too, Ghanaians who are different would be the target. Most of these Nigerians targeted, are hard-working members of the community, trying to survive in their sister country. They are only guilty of being Nigerian in Ghana”.

What this kind-hearted Ghanaian has recounted is definitely the tip of the iceberg of abuse, harassment, maltreatment, and extortion that Nigerians, who are living in Ghana, suffer at the hands of the police. Probably, Ghanaian police are imitating the police in Nigeria. They have realized that the Nigerian police abuse and brutalize their citizens with impunity. They are now extending the abuse to Nigerians in their country. Police abuse of Nigerians should not be an excuse for this horrific treatment. Ghana police must be called to order. They should stop targeting, and extorting money from Nigerians.
The government of Ghana must rise to its responsibility and end this official witch hunt and maltreatment of Nigerian nationals who are living in the country.

The government should know that there are at least 500, 000 Ghanaians living in Nigeria.

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Football star Didier Drogba signs with WHO, as new Goodwill Ambassador   – The Maravi Post

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Mr. Drogba, from Côte d’Ivoire, will promote WHO’s top tips on how physical activity can lead to a healthier and happier life, and also highlight the value of sports, particularly for youth. 

The Ivorian striker is best known internationally for his long and record-setting career at Chelsea Football Club, and for having been named African Footballer of the Year in 2006, and 2009. He is the all-time top scorer and former captain of the Ivory Coast national team.  

He also has a long track record off the pitch, of participating in various campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, anti-malaria campaigns, and HIV prevention and control. 

‘Champion on and off the pitch’ 

During the announcement of his new role, in Geneva, Mr. Drogba said he was honoured to team up with WHO and “support its work to help people reach the highest level of health possible, especially young people in all countries.” 

“I have benefited first-hand from the power of sports to lead a healthy life and I am committed to working with WHO to share such gains worldwide”, he said.  

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, hailed Mr. Drogba as “a proven champion and game changer both on and off the pitch.” 

For Tedros, the athlete’s support can help curb the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through the promotion of healthy lifestyles.  

“We are pleased to have him playing on our team, and helping communities worldwide reach and score goals through sports for their physical and mental health and well-being”, Tedros said.  

According to the WHO chief, Mr. Drogba will also support the mobilization of the international community to “promote sports as an essential means for improving the physical, mental health and social well-being of all people, including in helping COVID-19 recovery efforts.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of physical activity. According to WHO, up to 5 million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active.   

Lack of exercise 

Current global estimates show four in five adolescents, and one in four adults, do not do enough physical activity. 

Globally this is estimated to cost $54 billion in direct healthcare costs, and another US$14 billion to lost productivity. 

Increased physical inactivity also hurts health systems, the environment, economic development, community well-being, and quality of life. 

Regular physical activity helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various types of cancer, including breast cancer and colon cancer. 

World Cup health 

Mr. Drogba’s announcement as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador was made during a ceremony to launch the Healthy 2022 World Cup – Creating Legacy for Sport and Health. 

The initiative is a partnership between Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health and its Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, WHO and world football’s governing body, FIFA, to promote sports during next year’s World Cup in Qatar. 

Mr. Drogba joins other WHO ambassadors including champion Brazilian footballer Alisson Becker and his wife, the doctor Natalia Loewe; Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York; Cynthia Germanotta, President of the Born This Way Foundation and mother of artist Lady Gaga; and former UK Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown. 

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Taliban backs WHO polio vaccination campaign across Afghanistan next month – The Maravi Post

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The vaccination campaign will begin on 8 November, and will be the first in over three years to reach all children in Afghanistan. 

This includes more than three million children in parts of the country who have previously remained inaccessible to inoculation campaigns against the infectious disease, which can cause paralysis and death. 

A second nationwide vaccination campaign will also take place alongside Pakistan’s national polio inoculation drive in December. “We know that multiple doses of oral polio vaccine offer the best protection”, Dapeng Luo, WHO Representative in Afghanistan said. “Sustained access to all children is essential to end polio for good.  This must remain a top priority”. 

‘Extraordinary opportunity’ 

With only one case of wild poliovirus reported this year in Afghanistan, the country has an “extraordinary opportunity” to eradicate the disease, WHO said. 

Restarting polio vaccination now, is crucial for preventing any significant resurgence of polio within the country and mitigating the risk of cross-border and international transmission, the agency reiterated. 

A supplementary dose of vitamin A will also be provided to children aged 6 to 59 months, during the upcoming campaign. “To eliminate polio completely, every child in every household across Afghanistan must be vaccinated, and with our partners, this is what we are setting out to do,” Hervé Ludovic De Lys, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan said. 

Measles, COVID shots 

The polio programme is a result of ongoing high-level talks between the UN and the Taliban leadership to urgently meet the health needs of the people in Afghanistan. 

To mitigate against the risk of a rise in diseases overall, and deaths, all parties have also agreed on the need to immediately start measles and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. 

This will be complemented with the support of the polio eradication programme and with outreach activities that will urgently begin to deliver other life-saving vaccinations through the national expanded programme for immunization, WHO noted. 

‘Joint commitment’ 

“The urgency with which the Taliban leadership wants the polio campaign to proceed, demonstrates a joint commitment to maintain the health system and restart essential immunizations to avert further outbreaks of preventable diseases,” Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean said.  

WHO has, however, reiterated that the overall health system in the country remains vulnerable. 

Filling the gaps 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says it is rapidly preparing to fill urgent gaps to help ensure that the Afghan healthcare system does not collapse in the medium term. 

Currently, seven of IOM’s eight mobile health teams (MHTs) are operational in four border provinces. Assistance is also planned to be expanded imminently to Kabul, the western province of Ghor, and the northern provinces of Balk, Badakhshan and Badghis. 

In these northern provinces, IOM said it is scaling up to further support the Provincial Public Health Department with MHTs, rapid response teams (RRTs) for COVID-19 and additional vaccinators. 

Security paramount 

WHO emphasized that the safety and security of health workers remain a prime concern for the polio programme. 

The Taliban leadership has expressed their commitment for the inclusion of female frontline workers and for providing security and assuring the safety of all health workers across the country, the Organization said. 

WHO and UNICEF have called on authorities and community leaders at all levels to respect and uphold the neutrality of all health interventions, and ensure unhindered access to children now, and in the future. 

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