TIME named Nigerian physician Dr. Tunji Funsho to the 2020 TIME100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The full list and related tributes are available now at time.com/time100.
The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.
Dr. Funsho, a cardiologist based in Lagos, Nigeria, is the first Rotary member to receive this honor for the organization’s work to eradicate polio, having played an essential role in ensuring Africa’s certification as wild polio-free in August of 2020.
“I’m honored to be recognized by TIME for my part in ensuring that no child in Africa will ever again be paralyzed by wild polio, a disease that once disabled 75,000 African children every single year,” said Dr. Funsho. “Eradicating the wild poliovirus in Africa was a team effort that required the cooperation and dedication of governments, partners, Rotary members, hundreds of thousands of health workers, and countless parents who chose to have their children vaccinated against polio.”
As the leader of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, Funsho has worked alongside Rotary members throughout the country to raise awareness about the importance of polio immunization, encouraged governments and public figures to support polio eradication, and served as a vocal leader and advocate for Rotary’s fight to end polio in Africa.
Dr. Funsho works closely with Rotary’s partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI): the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. As a member of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on Polio, he has coordinated immunization and advocacy campaigns with the Minister of State for Health and the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee for Polio Eradication. He has also worked closely with the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, the Dangote Foundation, the Traditional Leaders Council and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria.
In August 2019, Nigeria reached three years without a case of wild poliovirus. Nigeria’s progress, led by Rotary, its GPEI partners and local and national governments, was the result of decades of sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of hundreds of thousands of health workers, and innovative strategies to immunize children who previously couldn’t be reached due to insecurity in the country’s northern states.
On 25 August, the African region was certified wild polio-free. This historic announcement means that five of the WHO’s six regions, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s population, are now free of the wild poliovirus. The virus is now endemic in just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Rotary’s nearly 32,000 members in Africa have played a critical role in helping the region achieve its wild polio-free status by holding events to raise funds and awareness for polio, and working with world governments and national and local leaders to secure funding and support for polio eradication.
Npower Payment: NASIMS Talks Payment of October and November Stipends
The National Social Investment Management System has released an update concerning the payment of the Npower October and November stipends to the Batch C volunteers of the Npower programme. The failure to pay the stipends has launched quite the discourse concerning the efficacy of the programme.
In a Facebook post, NASIMS addressed the lack of payment, responding to the enquiries of some beneficiaries. These beneficiaries had previously repeatedly made attempts to find out exactly when the payments for October and November would be commencing.
NASIMS first moved to clarify how the payment process works, explaining that the payment procedure is not quick and it takes time. The group stated that the account would need to be validated before anything else, after which the bank account details would be forwarded to the Central Bank of Nigeria, who will in turn send out the required stipends to the financial institutions.
The Facebook post closed with NASIMS saying that they are not aware of an exact date on which the payment of the October and November stipends will commence, but mentioned that they are sure that the payment process will be starting anytime soon.
Also, the Federal Government – through NASIMS – has told the beneficiaries of Batch C to provide their Bank Verification Numbers if they are yet to do so, as the BVN is necessary for account validation. The Federal Government also confirmed that if payment status reflects as ‘Pending’ on the dashboard, it means that the account has been successfully validated.
At this stage, beneficiaries are to simply be patient and wait for the payment to be made.
NASIMS also stated that its attention has been drawn to a ridiculous post going around social media, concerning the commencement of Batch C2 selection. The post announced that the Batch C2 of the Npower programme had begun and individuals would need to pay N4500 to be enlisted.
Omicron, WHO Gives New COVID Variant Name
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the new COVID variant B.1.1.529, Omicron on Friday.
The organisation disclosed in a statement published on its website after its officials assessed data received from South Africa earlier today.
It said “The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.”
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.”
Therefore, countries are asked to do the following:
- enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
- submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
- report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
- where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.
WHO said its independent Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) will continue to evaluate this variant and communicate new findings to member states.
On Friday, Belgium reported a case of Omicron variant covid in a traveler from Egypt while Hong Kong reported two cases.
The United Kingdom, US, Israel and others have imposed restrictions on flights from South Africa and other six nations to curb Omicron outbreak in the nations.
US, UK, EU Nations, Israel, Others Restrict Travel From South Africa
The United States has joined the United Kingdom, Israel, European Nations and a host of others to restrict flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi starting from Monday.
US Senior officials announced on Friday, saying the restriction was recommended by Joe Biden’s chief medical officer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the restriction does not apply to US citizens or permanent residents.
The decision was after reports of a fast-spreading new covid variant called B.1.1.529 hits headline on Thursday, raising concerns it could spread across the world if nothing is done fast. On Friday, Hong Kong reported two cases of the virus while Belgium confirmed one case in a traveler from Egypt.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the heavily mutated coronavirus strain ‘a variant of concern’.
WHO said the new COVID variant would be given the name Omicron after data examined by its officials showed exponential growth in cases of the B.1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 variant.
The news plunged global financial markets, with stocks falling to their lowest in more than a year. The Standard and Poor 500 dropped 2.3 percent while Europe’s Stoxx 600 sheds 3.7 percent and the MSCI Asia-Pacific index dipped by 1.7 percent.
Crude oil dropped over $10 or more than 5 percent to $72 a barrel. Even gold, a known haven commodity, pulled back, losing its earlier gains.
“What should have been a quiet Friday trading in both bonds and equities globally has turned into a rout,” said Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance Securities.
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