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Afreximbank, IsDB, Others Launch $1.5bn COPREFA Fund




By Adedapo Adesanya

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), the Trade Finance Arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group; and the Arab Bank For Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) are to launch a $1.5 billion Collaborative COVID-19 Pandemic Response Facility (COPREFA) to help the continent get back on its feet.

COPREFA will be accessed by eligible central banks, commercial banks and businesses to finance the import of medical supplies, as well as agricultural equipment and fertilizers essential for addressing the pressing food production deficit.

The programme is also designed to support African economies to overcome a myriad of challenges, including commodity price shocks, a significant drop in tourism, and disruption to supply chains and export manufacturing.

It will also address the sudden declines in financial flows, including a drop off in trade and project finance, migrant remittances, portfolio investment and Foreign Direct Investments.

A key attribute of the COPREFA facility is the speed at which financial assistance can be provided through all partners involved. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be fast-paced, requiring support that can be deployed quickly and flexibly to prevent sharp declines in national economies.

Standard eligibility criteria and credit appraisal process have been developed by COPREFA partners in order to facilitate the implementation of the facility. Support will be available through direct funding, lines of credit, confirmation and refinancing of documentary credits; guarantees, cross-currency swaps and other similar instruments.

The co-financed facility, led by Afreximbank leverages strategic partnerships with other Multilateral Financial Institutions and other international financial institutions in co-financing, risk-sharing of transactions and promoting integrated trade solutions, to support African economies on navigating the impact of COVID-19.

Afreximbank has a strong track record of supporting African economies during financial crises. In 2015, the Bank disbursed more than $10 billion through a Counter-Cyclical Trade Liquidity Facility (COTRALF) to help member countries manage the adverse economic fallout of commodity price shocks.

In March 2020, a financial package called the Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) was launched solely by Afreximbank to support economies through the pandemic – a facility of which over US$5 billion has been disbursed, will be implemented alongside COPREFA.

Established 45 years ago, BADEA as international development finance institutions (DFIs) with the objective of supporting economic, financial and technical cooperation between Arab and African countries through a wide range of financing instruments that have been enhanced and diversified to meet the economic needs of beneficiary countries.

Speaking on this partnership, Mr Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many economies. Africa has not been spared. Afreximbank’s priority has always been to step-up when markets fall. That is why we are supporting African economies forcefully at the time of great difficulties.

“COPREFA, a product of a unique international partnership, is a major contribution to the global fight against the pandemic and will work alongside our other programs to ensure Africa’s future remains bright beyond this economic shock. We thank our partners for the confidence.”

On his part, Mr Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of ITFC, said: “Providing fiscal bandwidth and practical support to SMEs and medical communities in African countries will deliver immediate relief from the supply side restraints on personal protective equipment caused by the pandemic. ITFC has worked extensively since the very start of the COVID-19 outbreak to provide comprehensive support to some of the most vulnerable countries.

The multilateral arrangement that ITFC is embarking upon with our strategic partners will boost economic activity when and where it is needed most and help many countries maintain food security at a time when global commodity supply chains are being challenged and import activity sharply reduced.”

The Director-General of BADEA, Mr Sidi Ould said: “DFI’s as the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), with its partners, has been and will always be; supporting the continent through tough and good times as a reliable, strong and resourceful financial institution.

“And since the COVID-19 pandemic posed drastic challenges that are reshaping the scene of the global economy, we sought that it will require unprecedented cooperation and measures to tackle these challenges.

BADEA has joined the fight against the pandemic by allocating a gross amount of more than USD 500 million in the COPREFA and other initiatives. These allocations will be utilised to ease the negative impacts of the pandemic on African economies and ensure the flow of essential strategic commodities on the continent.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Ilera Eko: Lagos Assures Residents Affordable Healthcare Services



Ilera Eko healthcare services

By Dipo Olowookere

Residents of Lagos have been assured access to quality and affordable healthcare services, irrespective of their cultural, social and religious backgrounds.

This assurance was given by the General Manager of the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), Mrs Emmanuella Zamba, at a recent event held at the Isolo General Hospital, Isolo.

The programme was to sensitise and enrol elderly citizens on the Ilera Eko Health Plan introduced by the Lagos State government. About 108 elderly citizens present that day were registered on the scheme.

At the event, which was held in partnership with 60PLUS Advocacy Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, the GM disclosed that the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was passionate about the healthcare of the aged.

Mrs Zamba, who was represented by the Sales Manager of LASHMA, Uchechukwu Igweonyia, further said the Governor was committed to ensuring that the senior citizens live a comfortable life devoid of sickness, fear of payment of huge medical bills and stress.

She praised the NGO for the laudable gesture, saying the partnership would further ensure that the elderly are financially protected whenever they are not feeling well and would save their expenditure on medical treatment and the purchase of drugs.

Mrs Zamba urged other organisations, individuals and others to emulate the 60PLUS Advocacy Initiative and support the government in its efforts to alleviate the plight of senior citizens and the vulnerable in Lagos.

In her remarks, a member of the Governing Council of 60PLUS Advocacy Initiative and retired Permanent Secretary in Lagos State, Mrs Iyabode Obasa, explained that the collaboration with LASHMA was to put smiles on the faces of the elderly and ensure that they are healthy even at their old age.

According to her, the partnership will enable the elderly, who have ailments like diabetes, hypertension and asthma, to access care and those with surgical treatment covered under the health plan to undergo treatment without paying any additional money.

She advised the elderly to eat good food and fruits as well as drink a lot of water daily, especially warm water early in the morning and at night in order to free their systems and live healthily.

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Marcelle Ruth Hospital Assembles Team, Facilities to Treat Cancer in Nigeria



Marcelle Ruth Hospital

By Adedapo Adesanya

Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre and Specialist Hospital in Lagos has expressed its commitment to reduce medical tourism and brain drain in Nigeria through its advanced radiology and radiopharmacy equipment, which will accelerate diagnostic care for cancer.

Speaking at a media parley on Tuesday, the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Modupe Elebute-Odunsi, noted that with clinically trained members of the founding team all qualified from medical colleges in Nigeria and completed postgraduate training specialized in oncology and haematology overseas, the hospital was ready to reduce the rate that Nigerian sought medical help abroad.

She said, “The exceptional team of highly skilled personnel include consultant medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, family physicians, radiation therapists, nurses, pharmacists, imaging technicians, laboratory scientists, nutritionists, counsellors, and healthcare administrations, working together to treat and care for patients.”

“There is a lot of exciting development happenings in the healthcare industry in Nigeria. Having had some discussion with people in the finance world (including my husband, the chairman of the Board of director, Marcelle Ruth, Mr Bolaji Odunsi, and after research, we discovered that there was a gap in radiation therapy in West Africa,” the medical expert added.

She noted that the centre was specialised in the three modalities involved in the treatment of cancer.

“The first is surgery, the second is chemotherapy, and then radiation therapy which will shine x-rays around the cancerous cells to kill them,” she informed journalists yesterday in Lagos.

However, Dr Elebute-Odunsi noted that there was a gap in the radiation therapy in the country and with the gap in Nigeria; it was hoping to do all it could do to reduce Nigerians seeking treatment in other countries like India and the United Kingdom.

She stated that, “Patients who previously would have had to travel abroad to receive world-class treatment are now able to get the critical care they need here at home. Early detection is vital to the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.”

The CEO disclosed further that apart from offering the treatment, the hospital was also dedicated to ensuring that patients did follow-up medical care, which will help to reduce late discovery of cancer, adding that this would further be strengthened by data collection.

Dr Elebute-Odunsi noted that with the appropriate data collection, necessary information like family history would help not only in the prevention but the early detection of the diseases.

She added that with its partners, including leading healthcare insurance providers in Nigeria including BUPA, Allianz, AXA Mansard, AETNA, CIGNA and UnitedHealth Group, it was helping to actualise its goal.

Adding his input, one of the partners of the hospital, General Electric, represented by Mr Eyong Ebai, General Manager of GE Healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa, said “We are proud to continue supporting the development of Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure.”

“Our partnership with the Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre and Specialist Hospital is a true landmark as it underlines the role that the private sector can play in delivering world-class healthcare delivery in the country.

“These new solutions are designed to expand capacity and improve quality for diagnosis and treatment at MRCC and help meet the needs of the community within the country and region,” Mr Ebai said.

Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre and Specialist Hospital provides world-class and one-stop services for the comprehensive treatment of cancer and other specialist conditions.

At the purpose-built premises on Victoria Island, Lagos, the team offers the highest standards of care with the latest treatments and technology, in comfortable surroundings designed to promote healing.

The hospital is named in honour of the co-founders’ mother/mother-in-law, Mrs Marcelle Ruth Odunsi (1931-1998), previously Vice-Principal, Igbobi College, Lagos and founding principal of Government College, Agege, Lagos.

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Fitbit Unveils Device to Track Users’ Fitness, Wellness



Fitbit Luxe

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A new fashion-forward fitness and wellness tracker designed to help users take a more holistic approach to their health and wellness has been designed by Fitbit.

The new device is called Fitbit Luxe and it offers a beautiful, comfortable and versatile design with a variety of accessory choices.

The fashion-forward tracker also offers the motivation and support needed to stay healthy in today’s world with everything from stress management tools to automatic activity and sleep tracking – all in an effortlessly chic bracelet design.

According to a statement issued by the company, Luxe also gives users insights into their wellbeing through the Health Metrics dashboard in the Fitbit app to identify changes, which could be caused by increased stress or fatigue.

With Luxe, users will get a six-month trial to Fitbit Premium for added support, motivation and deeper analysis of the data. The sleek tracker comes with a colour touchscreen and has up to five days of battery life that is versatile for any occasion and comfortable for all day and nightwear.

The firm said Luxe will be available in Nigeria this Spring and will retail for N75,000 and after the six-month Fitbit Premium trial worth $59.94, users will have to pay $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year for the subscription.

“Over the past year, we’ve had to think differently about our health and wellness from keeping an eye out for possible COVID-19 symptoms to managing the ongoing stress and anxiety of today’s world.

“Even though we are starting to see positive changes, it has never been more important to control your holistic health,” said James Park, VP, GM and Co-Founder of Fitbit.

“That’s why we’ve doubled down on our efforts to introduce innovative tools and insights to support you in staying mentally well and physically active.

“We’ve made major technological advancements with Luxe, creating a smaller, slimmer, beautifully designed tracker packed with these advanced features – some that were previously only available with our smartwatches – and providing access to these tools to even more people around the globe,” Park added.

Also commenting, the MD and pioneer of Integrative Medicine, Deepak Chopra, stated that, “I share Fitbit’s belief that mindfulness and mental wellbeing are an important part of our holistic health and by better managing your emotional wellbeing, it can help make a positive lasting impact on your overall health, including better sleep, improved mood and more meaningful personal relationships.”

“For example, I regularly see my heart rate lower after doing a meditation session and over time, my heart rate variability trends have improved.

“The Mindful Method makes a regular mindfulness practice easy and accessible – no matter whether you are learning how to begin, or are interested in taking your mindfulness practice to the next level,” Chopra added.

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