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Air Pollution: FG Shuts Down Asphalt Plant in Port Harcourt



By Dipo Olowookere

In a bid to urgently address the air pollution problem in Port Harcourt and its environs, the Federal Ministry of Environment has declared the air pollution in Port Harcourt an “Emergency Situation” and has subsequently issued a notice to temporarily shut down an asphalt processing plant in Port Harcourt belching out thick smoke from its operation to bring the situation under control, while investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the air pollution.

The air pollution, which usually manifest in the form of soot, has been on for more than eight weeks and has greatly impacted negatively on the air quality in Port Harcourt and its surroundings.

Aware of the attendant negative effects of this menace on socio-economic, health and environmental impact, the Federal Government took a bold step by rallying all major stakeholders, which includes the Rivers State Ministry of Environment, the Federal Ministry of Health and the people of Rivers State to find a lasting solution to arrest the ugly trend.

The development led to the closure of the plant by the Rivers State Government.

The Ministry explained that the sources of pollution are diffuse and anthropogenic in nature (man-made) as the preliminary analyses of the soot samples has indicated that the air pollution problem is as a result of open air and incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, burning of wastes and vegetation, burning of tyres, asphalt processing and illegal artisanal refinery operations.

The Ministry therefore enjoins the public to remain calm and take adequate measures to protect themselves by adhering to the health guidelines that will be issued by the health authorities and to always ensure that their windows and doors are firmly shut when necessary whilst assuring that government will continue to work assiduously to protect its citizens and the environment from any form of air pollution.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via

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Evercare Repositions Nigeria’s Healthcare Delivery System



Evercare Hospital Lekki

By Ahmed Rahma

The healthcare delivery system in Nigeria is about to get better with the entry of Evercare Group into the nation’s health sector.

The company has already acquired state-of-the-art medical facilities for the provision of quality healthcare in the country and stop medical tourism abroad through the Evercare Hospital Lekki.

Business Post gathered that the Evercare Hospital Lekki, a private multispecialty tertiary care facility, boasts of 165 beds for in-patients. The management of the facility said it produces 2.3 million litres of oxygen for each bed per day.

The facility will offer exceptional patient care and high-quality, accessible services across core medical, nursing and surgical services that are in line with global standards and available to all.

Evercare’s facility is equipped and designed with modern state-of-the-art infrastructure and diagnostic services, with core focus specialities including Mother & Child Services, Cardiac Sciences, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Critical Care & Emergency Medicine.

“Quality is at the core of Evercare Hospital Lekki’s healthcare mission.

“At Evercare, we will constantly innovate to ensure the delivery of best-in-class standards of patient safety, clinical excellence, and outstanding clinical outcomes.

“Our dynamic and passionate team of caregivers will ensure an unparalleled patient experience as we have a philosophy of ‘patient first’ and are always available to cater to healthcare needs.

“We look forward to embarking on our journey to transforming healthcare,” the Chief Executive Officer of Evercare Hospital Lekki, Mr Rajeev Bhandari said in a chat with newsmen on Thursday.

On his part, the CEO of Evercare Group, Mr Massimiliano Colella, said, “Our goal at the Evercare Group is to create a long-term blueprint for the healthcare sector and support the advancement of medical care across Nigeria.

“Evercare Hospital Lekki brings first-class healthcare services to the people of Nigeria and will reduce the need for Nigerians to travel overseas in search of quality medical care.

“We are making speciality and sub-specialities available and will elevate the standards of service delivery. Our aim to build a sustainable future to provide world-class healthcare facilities in emerging markets and one of our key missions is to invest in local resources to help them expand their reach to help communities in need.”

On her part, the Executive Director of Finance, Administration and Strategy of the hospital, Ms Temilade Awogboro, stated that they provide in-patients with three square meals and has also provided space for patients’ relatives to stay over if they want to.

Evercare Hospital Lekki is a member of the Evercare Group, an integrated healthcare delivery platform that operates hospitals, clinics and diagnostic facilities across Africa and South Asia, including India, Pakistan and Kenya.

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COVID-19: Ghana Receives First Covax Delivery



Ghana Covax Delivery

By Ahmed Rahma

Ghana on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, became the first country on the African continent to receive 600,000 AstraZeneca/Oxford doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccines were acquired from the World Health Organisation (WHO) through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), a humanitarian vaccine distribution mechanism.

The arrival represents the start of a massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign encompassing 20 African countries.

In a joint statement, WHO Ghana representative, Mr Francis Kasolo, and UNICEF Ghana representative, Anne-Claire Dufay, said, “This is a momentous occasion, as the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines into Ghana is critical in bringing the pandemic to an end.”

It was stated that the 600,000 Covax-sponsored vaccines are part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine coming from the Serum Institute of India.

The Covax initiative aims to deliver almost 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021.

“The shipments also represent the beginning of what should be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history,’’ Kasolo and Dufay said.

“As health workers and other front-line staff are vaccinated, we will be able to gradually see a return to normalcy,’’ the two representatives added.

According to the Minister of Information of the country, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Ghana is planning to begin its vaccination campaign on March 2.

He said health workers, people older than 60 years, people with underlying health conditions as well as essential workers and teachers will be first to be immunised.

So far, less than two dozen African countries have started COVID-19 vaccination, according to the WHO.

Africa has recorded more than 3.8 million COVID-19 cases, 3.5 per cent of all reported cases worldwide, and more than 102,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control.

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Lagos Unveils App, USSD Codes to Detect Fake COVID-19 Tests



COVID-19 Test

By Adedapo Adesanya

As part of efforts to curb the proliferation of false COVID-19 PCR test results, the Lagos State Government has rolled out a verification platform to validate the authenticity of COVID-19 PCR tests done within the Private Laboratory Consortium and all State Public laboratories for outbound flights.

In a statement, the state government stated that the platform can be accessed through an app and also the use of USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data-codes).

“The Lagos State COVID-19 Result Verification App can be downloaded through Google Store, Apple Store or directly through the internet, using the link

“It will utilise the laboratory reference number to verify the COVID-19 PCR test, validating the result real-time and passengers can download their result sheets, which can be shown to anyone requiring it.

‘’The app version can be used and accessed within and outside of Nigeria but unlike the USSD, does not require a Nigerian Telecommunications Network. It is available once it is downloaded and the internet is available. It is noteworthy to mention that verification through the app is free at all times,” the statement said.

Giving further details on the USSD option, it noted that it can be accessed on all networks in Nigeria by dialling *35131*19# on the 9mobile network and *55500*19# on all other networks and following the onscreen prompts to verify results.

The state also made provisions for the option to be retrieved outside of Nigeria as long as the mobile line is on a Nigerian telecommunications network.

It said that the first 30,000 result verification will be free, courtesy of the Lagos State Government with subsequent verification expected to attract N50 per usage for the user/client.

‘’The process can be used by all clients who require the validation of COVID-19 PCR results, such as Airports, Airlines, Work-related processes and passengers themselves.

“The Lagos State Government would also be placing personnel at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport to assist in the verification process of the COVID-19 PCR results for all outbound passengers,” it disclosed.

The Lagos State Government then issued a stern warning, cautioning that anyone caught in this illegal practice will be prosecuted, adding that it will continue to strengthen its response against this pandemic to protect the lives and livelihood of all Lagosians and residents.

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COVID-19: Kano Begins Home-Based Care Scheme



kano abdullahi ganduje

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Kano State Government, through its COVID-19 taskforce technical committee, has introduced a home-based care program to reach people in remote areas as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the pandemic.

This was made known in a statement from the state Primary Health Care Management Board and signed by its Information Officer, Mr Maikudi Marafa, on Saturday.

According to the state Commissioner of Health, Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, who launched the program on Saturday, efforts have been made to curtail the second wave of the pandemic.

The Commissioner stressed that health personnel had been trained and provided with motorcycles and medications to reach hard to reach areas, with a view to rendering home care health emergency services.

“Dr Tsanyawa charged the health workers mandated with the task, to be more committed to the discharge of their assignment,” the statement said.

The statement further revealed that the State Coordinator of the task force committee, and also the Executive Secretary State Primary Health care Management Board, Dr Tijjani Hussain, said that the scheme would use community target sampling.

Dr Hussaini also highlighted that the program was aimed at rendering emergency services to people in hard to reach communities of the state.

He commended the state government for its support to the task force committee, in its effort towards eradicating the pandemic in the state, the statement noted.

The statement further disclosed that Dr Hussaini has appealed to the people in the state to give all the necessary support and cooperation to the health personnel, to achieve the goals of the programme.

Kano has the ninth highest prevalent rate of the disease with 3,646 cases recorded since with 3,342 recoveries and 100 deaths.

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Senate Moves to Block Medical Tourism



Senate Cryptocurrency Ban

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Senate has moved to block revenue leakages from medical tourism by coming up with a bill aimed to reduce the number of Nigerians travelling abroad for medical care.

In a bill titled Federal Medical Centres (Establishment) Bill, 2021 sponsored by Mrs Aishatu Ahmed (APC, Adamawa Central), on Thursday, the upper chamber of the parliament moved to effect structures that will stop the trend.

Leading debate on the bill, Mrs Ahmed said the absence of a legal framework for the regulation, development and management of Federal Medical Centers, which were established to render health services, was responsible for hindering the provision of intensive, effective and efficient health care services to the people of Nigeria.

According to the lawmaker, “this has led to a number of challenges in the health sector including but not limited to under-funding, weak facilities and infrastructure, poor motivation of health workers, low budget, weak accountability, conflicts with the political structure of the states and industrial strikes which has led to inadequacies, shortcomings and weaknesses which hinder effective health care delivery services.”

She noted that the passage of the bill will “reduce the number of Nigerians who have to go to other countries for medical care.”

The lawmaker lamented that “an average of 20,000 Nigerians travel to India each year for medical assistance due to the absence of a solid healthcare system at home.”

Senator Ahmed further noted that the piece of legislation would also sufficiently address remuneration of the employees of the Medical Centers which in turn would check the exodus of doctors and nurses to other countries.

“Seventy-seven per cent of black doctors in the US are Nigerians and there is rarely any top medical institution in the US or Europe where you don’t find Nigerians managing at the top level.

“Hardly a year passes without a major national strike by nurses, doctors, or health consultants. The major reasons for these strikes are poor salaries and lack of government investment in the health sector,” she said.

Citing a report of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, Mrs Ahmed stressed that the bill would “improve on the persistent rate of avoidable deaths of all Nigerians.”

“A recent UNICEF report has it that preventable or treatable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and HIV/AIDS account for more than 70 per cent of the estimated one million under-five deaths in Nigeria,” she said.

She added that with the right data, Nigeria would witness improvements in the health information system, regular and sustainable population and health-facility-based surveys; as well as have a centralized management of the many challenges of the 23 Federal Medical Centers in the country.

Contributing to the debate, Mr Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central) said Federal Medical Centres were incapacitated as a result of the absence of legal backing establishing them and insufficient funding.

“We have about twenty-three Federal Medical Centres that were established across the country, but without legal backing.

“The consequence of such is that there are, what I will call policy somersault as regards the operations of these centres.

“You see some of the centres that have enough facilities and manpower to even be termed a Teaching Hospital, but because the legal framework did not state the standard, in terms of infrastructures, manpower and services, they remain like that, and it becomes at the whims and caprices of the policymakers in the Federal Ministry of Health.

“The consequences in terms of funding allocation, Federal Medical Centres receive less fund compared to Teaching Hospitals,” the lawmaker said.

On his part, Mr Ibn Na’Allah said the bill was timely as it seeks “to ensure that all institutions of government are governed by law.”

“We cannot continue to operate a democracy where public funds are disbursed to institutions that are not recognized by law. That is not right,” Mr Na’Allah added.

The bill, after scaling second reading, was referred to the Committee on Health by the Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, for further legislative work.

The committee, which is chaired by Mr Oloriegbe, is expected to report back in four weeks.

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Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Neutralises S/African COVID-19 Strain



South Africa GDP

By Ahmed Rahma

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine developed by German firm, BioNTech, in partnership with Pfizer has been found to neutralise the South African variant of coronavirus, but with considerably fewer antibodies.

According to an in-vitro study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the neutralisation rate for the more infectious strain was weaker by approximately two thirds.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch said it was unclear what effect that would have on the efficacy of the vaccine, since other factors were also key to the body’s immune response, such as the production of so-called T-cells.

“There is no clinical evidence to date that the South African variant virus escapes vaccine-elicited protection from COVID-19 in vaccinated people,” Pfizer and BioNTech said in a joint statement on Thursday.

However, the companies added that they were “taking the necessary steps, making the right investments, and engaging in the appropriate conversations with regulators” to adapt their mRNA vaccine if a strain emerged that made it significantly less effective.

Recall that recently, the South African government suspended the use of AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on its citizens over an issue concerning the protection of users.

About a million doses of the vaccine from the United Kingdom had already been delivered to the former apartheid country by the manufacturer.

However, South Africa claimed test results showed that the vaccine did not protect clinical-trial participants from mild or moderate illness caused by the more contagious COVID-19 virus variant ( B.1.351) that was first seen there.

It was not clear from the studies whether the vaccine protected against severe disease from the B.1.351 variant.

The clinical trial participants, who were evaluated, were relatively young and unlikely to become severely ill, making it impossible for the scientists to determine if the variant interfered with the vaccine’s ability to protect against severe COVID-19, hospitalisations or deaths.

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