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Diri Visits UN Headquarters, Pledges Collaboration on SDGs

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From Tayese Mike, Yenagoa

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, says his government remains committed to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations to enhance the living conditions of the people of the State.

Diri, who the assurance when he visited the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr.

Amina Mohammed, at the UN headquarters in New York, United States of America, said the continued collaboration with the global body would fast track development in such areas as education, health, youth, and women empowerment, food production and the environment.

In a statement by his Director , New Media, Kola Oredipe and made available to DAILY ASSET, the Governor who congratulated Dr. Mohammed for rising to the enviable position and for her great work at the UN, stated that the collaboration would enhance the prosperity agenda of his government to the people of the State, insisting that his government is building critical infrastructure that will provide great opportunities to open up Bayelsa State for more investments in different sectors.

“First, we are here to congratulate you on your appointment and to say that you are a worthy ambassador of Nigeria in the United Nations. So far, you have done very well occupying this office, please continue to help humanity. We have come to strengthen the existing relationship between Bayelsa State and the UN. We are committed to the attainment of the SDGs for the betterment of our people in education, health, sanitation, access to clean water and ensuring we live in a safe environment devoid of pollution”, Diri stated.

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He said that the State Government took a deliberate effort to open up the maritime domain with the three ongoing Senatorial roads linking several riverine communities and corridors to the Atlantic ocean where so much opportunities exist for the establishment of a sea port and massive aquaculture project.

“Yes, we are an oil producing state but we have more wealth in the sea and agriculture. Because, we are located in the Gulf of Guinea, we must also strive to tackle the security issues on our water ways to attract serious investments.

I have offered to host the meeting of the Gulf of Guinea in Yenagoa. When our waterways are safe, we can tap the tourism potential there in. We already have an agreement with a European consortium on deep sea fishing and ship building, an investment capable of providing over 2,000 jobs.

The roads we are constructing along the three corridors will take us to Brass, Agge in Ekeremor to develop a deep sea port and also link us to the Ocean through Oporoma”, Diri said.

On the unabated environmental pollution and degradation, Governor Diri, said the ongoing clean-up in Ogoni land by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) should be extended to the entire oil-rich Niger Delta and that Bayelsa State is worst affected by  incidents of oil spills leaving behind attendant devastated ecology and health issues.

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According to him,“You are very familiar with our stories and the Niger Delta environment. We must commend what you started in Ogoni as then Minister of Environment. Our land, rivers are polluted. The remediation of the region must be total. Bayelsa State is worst affected.”

In her response, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Amina Mohammed, appreciated the pace of development in Bayelsa State since its creation in 1996 and that the UN was ready to deepen the existing relationship with the State to support ongoing development efforts by the current administration.

“A lot has happened in terms of infrastructure in Bayelsa State since creation along side my own State of Gombe. We are here to support nations, communities to grow. We are working with leaders like you to add values to the lives of the people and create opportunities for the young people to harness their potential. Here, we are working hard to realise those SDGs and make our society better”, she stated.

Dr. Mohammed who welcomed the request for the hosting of the Gulf of Guinea meeting by Bayelsa State, said the UN was disturbed at the level of environmental pollution in the oil-rich Niger Delta, a situation she described a ‘complete disaster.’

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She added, “It is not just about Ogoni land but the remediation should be for all oil producing places. The means of livelihood of the people, fishing and farming are greatly affected. The oil pollution is a complex thing and it is a complete disaster which require urgent intervention.”

On the entourage of the governor to the UN headquarters were Ambassador Lot Egopija, Nigerian Consul-General in the New York,  Hon. (Dr.) Fred Agbedi, Member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Barr. Patience Ranami Abah, Permanent Secretary, Bayelsa State Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investments and Major Lancelot Anyanya (rtd.).

Foreign News

UNICEF Awards $170m Malaria Vaccine Contract to GSK

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has awarded a contract for the first ever supply of a malaria vaccine to GSK with a value of up to 170 million dollars.

Newsmen report that GSK plc, formerly GlaxoSmithKline plc, is a British multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company with global headquarters in London, England. Established in 2000 by a merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham.

UNICEF in a statement issued from New York on Tuesday said the landmark award would lead to 18 million doses of RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) being available over the next three years, potentially saving thousands of lives every year.

In 2020, nearly half a million children died from malaria in Africa alone, a rate of one child death per minute.

Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division said the vaccine rollout would give a clear message to malaria vaccine developers to continue their work because malaria vaccines are needed and wanted.

“We hope this is just the beginning. Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market.

“This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

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According to WHO data, more than 30 countries have areas with moderate to high malaria transmission, where the vaccine could provide added protection against malaria to over 25 million children each year once supply scales up.

The RTS,S malaria vaccine is the result of 35 years of research and development and is the first-ever vaccine against a parasitic disease. The vaccine acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa.

In 2019, pilot routine vaccine use was launched in three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – as part of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme coordinated by WHO.

The experience and evidence generated by the pilots informed WHO’s recommendation in October 2021 for widespread use of the first malaria vaccine in countries with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.

Soon after, in December 2021, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s decision to provide funding for malaria vaccine programmes in eligible countries opened the pathway for broader roll-out of the vaccine.

“We recently opened the first application window for Gavi support in rolling out the malaria vaccine.

“Thanks to UNICEF’s procurement work, we now have more certainty on supply and can move a step further towards getting this life-saving vaccine to the people who need it the most.

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“As manufacturing ramps up over time, we hope that increasing volumes will also lead to more sustainable, lower prices,” Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said.

Dr Kate O’Brien, WHO Director of the Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals said lives are at stake, every day.

“WHO welcomes the progress to secure supply and timely access to vaccine so that more countries can begin to introduce this additional malaria prevention tool as rapidly as possible.

“Given the initial limited supply, it is crucial that children living in areas where the risk of disease and need is highest are prioritised first.”

This award is the culmination of 18 months of intensive preparation and consultation with industry and partners.

As the largest buyer of vaccines in the world, UNICEF accelerated action to conclude procurement negotiations, to ensure there are no delays in securing available supplies of the malaria vaccine to help protect vulnerable children.

Demand for the malaria vaccine is expected to be high among affected countries. As with any new vaccine, supply will be limited at first and will increase over time as manufacturing capacity ramps up to the level required.

As volumes increase, costs per dose should decrease. Plans are already underway to boost production, including through technology transfer, so that every child at risk will one day have the opportunity to be immunized against this killer disease.

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“We must not lose sight of the need to accelerate access to this and future malaria vaccines, and to make the necessary investments in malaria control and immunization services, as well as in research and development.

“Effective malaria and immunization programs are both key to the successful delivery of a malaria vaccine and contribute to stronger health systems overall,” Dr Ashley Birkett, Global Head of Malaria Vaccines and Biologics at PATH, said.

UNICEF supports the regional diversification of vaccine production and encourages GSK and other pipeline manufacturers to consider partnering with companies in Africa as part of this effort. (NAN)

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Senior Kenyan Election Officials Disown Results of Presidential Election

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The planned announcement of the Kenyan presidential election results on Monday descended into chaotic scenes after the deputy chairperson of the election commission and three other commissioners disowned the presidential election results.

“We are not able to take ownership of the results that will be announced,’’ Juliana Cherera, the deputy chairperson of the electoral commission told a media briefing at a different venue from where the announcement was to be made.

Diplomats and international election observers were whisked out of the tallying hall where the chairman of the electoral commission was preparing to announce the presidential results.

Meanwhile, Deputy President, William Ruto, appears to be leading a tight presidential race against opposition leader, Raila Odinga, on Monday as Kenyans awaited final results of the election held nearly a week ago.

However, Kenya has a history of post-poll violence and slow progress by the electoral commission in tallying Tuesday’s vote has fed fears that the election will be disputed, leading to bloody scenes like those that followed presidential polls in 2007 and 2017. (NAN)

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Severe Drought Displaces More Than 1m Somalis – UN

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The number of drought-related displacements has surpassed one million to hit 1,002,796 people in Somalia since January 2021, the United Nations (UN) humanitarian agency said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said some 83,518 people were displaced in July by drought, a 26 per cent decrease compared to the previous month.

The UN agency on June 24 appealed for 993.

3 million U.S. dollars to provide live-saving and life-sustaining assistance to prevent famine and respond to the drought in Somalia by December.

The OCHA said the impact of the drought and increasing economic pressures are deepening the severity of needs and driving the country to the brink of famine. (Xinhua/NAN)

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