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HEALTH SECURITY

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FIRE OUTBREAKS IN NIGERIA: CAUSES AND REMEDIAL MEASURES

In 2024 so far, Nigeria has experienced a series of severe fire breakouts throughout all regions, causing substantial damage to property, loss of lives, displacement, disruption of businesses, and economic setbacks. These incidents have emphasized the critical need for more effective fire prevention techniques, emergency response mechanisms, and public awareness campaigns. URBANIZATION AND UNREGULATED INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY Rapid urbanization has resulted in overcrowded residential neighbourhoods and markets, increasing the risk of fire outbreaks due to the proximity of flammable materials and limited access to firefighting equipment. An incident highlighting this cause occurred in Kano State at Yan Katako Market in Fagge Local Government Area on February 26, 2024. At least 50 stores were destroyed, and investigations revealed that foam, plywood, and other carpentry tools may have fueled the fire. Additionally, unregulated industrial activities as a result of poor enforcement of safety laws in industries also lead to hazardous activities that can cause chemical fires and explosions. These incidents mostly occur at illegal oil exploration sites. ELECTRICAL FAULTS Electrical faults resulting from outdated electrical wiring, circuit overload, and inadequate maintenance of electrical appliances also contribute significantly to fire outbreaks in both residential and commercial structures. A fire incident suspected to have been caused by an electrical fault occurred on January 15, 2024, in Tudun Wada Local Government Area, Kano State, resulting in 7 fatalities. It is critical to emphasize the importance of regular maintenance and safety checks on building electrical systems. POOR FIRE SAFETY MEASURES Poor fire safety measures have also been a cause, as many structures lack basic fire safety equipment, including fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and emergency exits, thereby worsening the severity of fires. In Lagos State, a fire outbreak at a popular 10-storey Mandilas building on Broad Street, Lagos Island Local Government Area, occurred on January 21, 2024. Due to the absence of basic firefighting equipment, the fire that began on the first floor escalated to the fourth before the arrival of the fire service. The incident displaced 6,700 traders and razed 450 shops, 30 offices, 2 hotels, and 5 restaurants. HIGH TEMPERATURES Nigeria’s current hot weather conditions increase the risk of wildfires, which can spread swiftly and cause significant damage. On January 26 and 27, in the Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, wildfires erupted at secondary schools due to their proximity to bushes. MITIGATION STRATEGIES These incidents underscore the urgent need for comprehensive fire prevention strategies and improved emergency response mechanisms across the country. While efforts are underway to address some of the underlying issues, such as updating building codes and investing in firefighting infrastructure, more concerted action is required to tackle this growing crisis effectively. Addressing the underlying causes of fire outbreaks in Nigeria requires a multifaceted approach involving government agencies, corporate sector entities, and civil society organizations. Key interventions include the investment in Infrastructure by prioritizing the upgrade of electricity grids, firefighting equipment, and emergency response systems to increase preparation and resilience, public awareness campaigns to inform individuals about fire safety measures, such as correct use of electrical equipment, safe cooking methods, and evacuation protocols, empowering local communities to prevent fires and respond efficiently in emergencies through training programs and community-based initiatives, regulatory enforcement measures to ensure compliance with building codes, fire safety standards, and industrial rules and encouraging research and development activities to explore innovative technologies and tactics for fire detection, prevention, and suppression.   Image Source: Premium Times

COUNTER INSURGENCY, GLOBAL SECURITY, HEALTH SECURITY, INTELLIGENCE, SECURITY THREATS

COVID-19 in Nigeria: Strategic Response Review by Mr Adesina Tiamiyu

I have been worried about the rising case of infection among Nigerians daily and it becomes worrisome that what we thought was a foreign infection has now taken a seat in our country.The Government has done its best to prevent the spread, provide medical care and support for patients. Following on that was the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT and provision of supports to the vulnerable in our society which is good.The Private sectors have also come to support and we should all commend government as well as all those who support it for doing wonderfully well. However, despite all these, we have been having a steady climb in the rate of infection as community infection has set in coupled with the breakdown of law and other in some areas including the breaking of the lockdown rules. It is because of these that I write to advise the Government to look into the following areas to improve the situation at hand. Nigeria has about 17% of Africa’s population, meaning that about 1.7 million Nigerians are likely to be infected. This is alarming and a concerted effort is needed to defeat this pandemic. Yes government has locked down the country for about four months now but lockdown without testing is a waste. Government need to be aggressive with its testing capacities because the truth is that, the more we test the more we have more cases. Our cases are few today because our tests are few. Let us bring test centers into many communities and equip it to promptly do test rather than asking people to wait until they see symptoms. This will mean some people will be close to dying before they are detected. This must be of high priority. Following on this is the creation of isolation centre to cope with the number of cases that will arise from more testing. Wealthy Nigerians should emulate GTB and other private sector donor.  For instance major event centers can make available their facility to save funds that would have been used to build new ones.Government can then commission Foam manufacturing industries as well as textile companies to come in and provide bed and beddings that will make an isolation or even treatment centers spring up fast. Rather than the 08000CORONA that is confusing even to the literate, what is stopping Lagos state government from using the popular emergency toll free numbers 112/767 which Lagosians are already familiar with? Our cases are few today because our tests are few. All it needs to do is to first put the system in the Call Center in good condition, get medical support staff trained in handling calls dedicated to Covid 19 from where care in form of calming callers down and letting them know help will come.They should also take their details and pass on to field operatives that will immediately swing into action and get to the person. Such field operatives should immediately call the caller back to inform them that they are coming and take further information on the go. This will work better than this new style where existing infrastructure is neglected whereas these are part of the reasons the call centre was set up. Stigmatization is also a very worrying part of the challenge. Mrs. Dafinone is courageous and that won the battle for her. The woman and some other survivors should be used as the face of the next phase of the campaigns and not any other persons who cannot explain the situation. We should know that Covid 19 is not a sexually transmitted disease and anybody can be infected even right in your home if you’re careless. Our people should not stigmatize those infected. They need our love, support and prayers to go through it and win.It is good that government has embarked on various palliative measures to alleviate the sufferings of the less privileged among us and the old and vulnerable. At such sharing centers, what we have are a crowd of unruly people, consisting of mainly young able bodied Nigerians majority of who are not envisaged in this arrangement. No respect for social distancing.Rather than share rice, the food court initiatives will work better but not the way it is being done now where badly prepared and inadequate ration are being served to people like beggars. No respect for social distancing. Rather than share rice, the food court initiatives will work better but not the way it is being done now where badly prepared and inadequate ration are being served to people like beggars. Government should not make emergency millionaires of some people but rather engage reputable and well know eateries with capacities to produce in large numbers, cooked food all over Lagos and therefore get vehicles to take them into centers that should be provided in wards, churches and mosques where those the food are meant for are registered and everybody knows his own centre and the number. If you are not registered in a place, you don’t have any business going there. Daily rations of those who have been registered are taken there daily and any unknown face that shows up is easily identified and taken away. Let us respect the dignity of our people even in this period of national crisis. I also remember that the effect of these lockdown especially on the jobless youths has brought the crime rate to an all time high. Rather than engage these boys in terror for terror as we witness these days when street boys arm themselves in wait for the so called 1 million boys, government can reach them through the Nigeria police and engage them as fumigators, cleaners and gardeners at isolation centers or to follow trucks from the food courts to help share as well as using them to gather intelligence on crime. Those to be used must be quickly trained, well kitted for their assignment, provide them food as well as pay for their services. Some of them will sure get involved and whoever decide

HEALTH SECURITY

Imperativeness of Fixing Nigeria’s Moribund Health System

Introduction At the risk of making sweeping statements, many Nigerians will agree that the healthcare system in Nigeria is moribund, not fit for purpose and tantamount to events in the Animal Farm narrative. Scores of Nigerians die incessantly from preventable, treatable diseases while political leaders and affluent Nigerians embark on ‘’medical tourism’’ to treat common health challenges that can be treated in Nigeria. It is safe to conclude that these well-off Nigerians have no iota of confidence in Nigeria’s healthcare system and medical professionals. The quest for greener pastures and improved well being is the reason scores of Nigerian are traded as slaves in Libya. It accounts for why 26 Nigerian girls perished in the Mediterranean Sea en route Europe recently. It is profoundly hypocritical hearing privileged Nigerians in corridors of power, press Nigerians abroad to return home whereas they journey abroad for quality medical treatment. Pathetic Aso Rock Clinic: Benchmark of Nigeria’s Pathetic Health System The Aso Rock Clinic domiciled in Nigeria’s presidential villa, provides health care treatment for Mr. President, Vice-President, their families, top civil servants working in the Presidency and other notable dignitaries. Punch Newspaper reports that, ‘’despite the N3.87bn allocated to Aso Rock Clinic in the 2016 federal budget, lack of drugs and other essential medical items have crippled operations at the State House Medical Centre’’. President Buhari’s wife, Mrs. Aisha Buhari recently narrated how she rang Aso Clinic when she was sick to find out if the medical facility has an X-Ray machine but was told that the equipment was not functional. Mrs. Buhari says she had to go to a ‘’hospital owned and operated by foreigners 100 per cent to receive medical treatment’’. If Nigeria’s presidential clinic lacks X-ray machine and basic drugs, imagine the situation of medical facilities in remote parts of Nigeria. Troubling Medical Statistics in Nigeria During the commemoration of the 2017 World Heart Day, the National Coordinator of ‎Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe asserts that 150,000 Nigerians die annually as a result of heart-related diseases. She says the number is expected to increase to 23 million by the year 2030 if adequate measures are not taken. The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, estimates that Nigeria loses about $1.5bn in productivity to maternal mortality every year. Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu,  during a news conference to commemorate the 2017 Global Handwashing Day said that ‘’59,000 children in Nigeria die yearly of water-related diseases ‘’. Over 100 million clinical cases of Malaria are recorded in Nigeria; the disease kills 300,000 children annually. The Executive Director, Centre for Healthy Star Initiative and Global Burden of Disease Collaborator, Dr. Bolajoko Olusanya says Malaria is the leading cause of death in Nigeria followed by HIV/AIDS with 143, 689 deaths, while diarrhea became the third top cause of death with 131,873 deaths. Also, Dr. Biodun Ogungbo, neurosurgeon with the group, Stroke Assembly asserts that, ‘’ as much as 200,000 Nigerians are killed or disabled by stroke each year’’. He says half of stroke patients in Nigeria die each year while the rest become disabled. Speaking during a screening/awareness exercise organized by St. Nicholas Hospital for schools in Lagos in 2016, the former President of the Nigerian Association of Nephrology, NAN, Dr. Ebun Bamgboye, asserted that Nigeria has one of the largest burdens of kidney disease in the world. About 17,000 kidney failure cases diagnosed annually in Nigeria and less than 2,000 have access to dialysis. Nigeria is said to have a ratio of 1 Nephrologist to 1 million persons. In 2015, the former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle, also said that, ‘’no fewer than 40,000 maternal deaths are recorded in Nigeria yearly’’. Mr. Entwistle went further to say that, “The excessively high maternal, neonatal and under-five death rates are reflections of inadequate availability and access to quality health services’’. Nigeria’s Poor Life Expectancy, A Function of Deplorable Health System The poor life expectancy in Nigeria is among other things, a function of the poor healthcare system in Nigeria. A 2017 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report pegged life expectancy in Nigeria at approximately 53 years. Prior to now, life expectancy in Nigeria was 46 years. The marginal ‘progress’ does not call for celebration given that war-torn countries such as South Sudan, Burundi respectively boast of 57.3 and 59.6 years. Bring to mind that the life expectancy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon are respectively 59.8 and 57.3 years while Japan is (83.7), Switzerland (83.4), Singapore (83.1), Australia (82.8), South Korea (82.3), Canada (82.2) years. Monaco (89.42 years) boasts the highest life expectancy while Syria has the lowest in the world in 2017. The Booming Medical Tourism Drain It is immensely embarrassing that the self-acclaimed giant of Africa – Nigeria cannot boast of quality, accessible healthcare for its citizens hence the penchant for well-to-do Nigerians to travel abroad for quality Medicare. Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire says Nigeria spends over $1bn annually on medical tourism. Ehanire believes that ‘’spending such a huge amount of money for treatment abroad was not good for the nation’s economy’’. Sometime in October 2017, Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah was flown to the United States for medical treatment. November 2017, Nigeria’s second Republic Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, was also airlifted abroad for medical treatment but unfortunately he didn’t make it. Perhaps this is also a pointer that being flown abroad for medical treatment is not necessarily a hedge against death when death is imminent. Recall that President Buhari left Nigeria on May 7 and returned to Nigeria on August 19, 2017 after spending 103 days receiving medical treatment in London. On December 1, 2016, the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari, was reportedly rushed to London’s Wellington Hospital on a British Airway flight for medical treatment. Former military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) returned to Nigeria on December 18, 2016 after a seven-week medical vacation in Switzerland. The list is endless! South

HEALTH SECURITY

MONKEY POX IN NIGERIA

INTRODUCTION Barely two weeks after the detection of the suspected zoonotic virus-related disease, Monkey pox in Abgura, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, several cases were recorded across seven states in Nigeria. The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that the affected states include Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun, Bayelsa, Rivers and Cross River States. However, Ogun state government said it has no reported case of the disease, but one case of the suspected virus was reported in the state. In a statement on Monday, 9th October, the NCDC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the agency was awaiting the confirmation of laboratory results from suspected cases which was sent to the World Health Organisation (WHO) reference laboratory in Dakar, Senegal. Meanwhile, The Commissioner for information Bayelsa state, Daniel Iworiso-Markson stated that seven patients out of the thirteen initially infected in the state have fully recovered. Cross River state recorded one case of the suspected disease, although the victim has been quarantined. Three cases were also reported in Rumuolumeni, Eneka and Psychiatric Road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Two cases were reported in Lagos State as one of the victims was said to have returned from Bayelsa State, also two incidents of the disease were recorded in Okemisi, Ekiti State.  Similarly, one case was reported in Akwa Ibom state with two other patients in the state under close investigation. The risk of its spread to other unaffected states is also high especially if newly infected individuals travel to any of these states. (which is similar to the case of Lagos state). Typically, fatality rate is known to be between 1% – 10% with most of the deaths occurring in younger age group, however, no death has been recorded since the onset of the disease. In 2014, Nigeria faced a comparable crisis with a rapid spread of the Ebola virus. However, the crisis did not reach an endemic stage and Nigeria was declared Ebola-free by the WHO within three months. RECOMMENDATIONS Here are some precautionary measures listed by the Center for Disease Control that can be taken to prevent the rapid spread of the disease: Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkey pox occurs). Avoid contact with materials that have been in contact with a sick animal. Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection. Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for individuals infected with the disease.

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