On 17th May, health ministers of the 54 member states of the Commonwealth, along with partner organisations, civil society and policymakers will gather for the annual Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM).
The meeting will be held virtually under the theme ‘The Road to COVID-19 Recovery: Lessons Learnt for Building Health System Resilience to advance UHC and Global Health Security in the Commonwealth’ and will provide a forum for health leaders to assess the current health situation in the Commonwealth and discuss key resolutions and areas of action on public health issues as the world recovers from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than one million of our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth.
COVID-19 vaccine equity remains a critical issue in the Commonwealth, and across the world – with more than 40% of the 2.5 billion people across our family of 54 nations yet to receive a single dose.
The pandemic has also exposed the inherent weaknesses and inequities in our health systems, with even the most advanced health systems dealing with major disruptions to essential services and strains on the workforce. This has been magnified for the Commonwealth’s small and least-developed states.
As Commonwealth Health Ministers convene, we all share a clear need to ensure our health systems are well-prepared, well-resourced, and flexible enough to withstand the shocks caused by health-related emergencies – and to provide the foundation for sustainable development.
We can achieve these goals by working together and I am confident that we can emerge from this week’s Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting, and look towards the World Health Assembly and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, with renewed unity and purpose.”
In keeping with the spirit of cooperation among member states, participants will have the opportunity to share knowledge and good practices in building resilient health systems, reflect on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to inform ongoing recovery, and explore innovative approaches that can be adopted by member countries on challenges such as vaccine inequity and strategies to bolster health systems.
This ministerial meeting will build on existing commitments from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2018 and the CHMM meeting in May 2021, including advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals towards global health security, addressing Non-Communicable Diseases, Cervical Cancer, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), as well as COVID-19 recovery and resilience.
The 2022 Commonwealth Malaria Report will be launched on the margins of the meeting, providing a snapshot of the challenges and progress being made to meet malaria targets. It will also show important insights into the trends in malaria interventions in the run-up to CHOGM and the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs.
Breakout sessions will also offer a platform to discuss the latest regional issues regarding pandemic management, digital health, and sustaining health gains.
This year’s meeting is being chaired by Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Dr Christopher Tufton, and will include a keynote address from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a ministerial statement that outlines policy proposals for adoption and implementation will be issued and serve as a collective commitment for Commonwealth countries. A set of key policy recommendations will also be put forward for discussion at the upcoming CHOGM in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2022.
FG Has Paid Fuel marketers N74B in Seven Months — NMDPRA
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) on Wednesday disclosed that the federal government has paid oil marketers N74 billion as bridging claims in last seven months..
The agency said it was reacting to claims by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN), Suleja branch, that continuing fuel scarcity was caused by non-payment of bridging claims.
The agency said it paid N71.2 billion bridging claims and another N2.7 billion freight differentials to the marketers as of June 6.
In May, IPMAN said the government owed its members half a trillion naira being the cost of transporting petrol across the country.
However, at the time NMDPRA had claimed to have paid oil marketers bridging claims of about N59 billion in five months.
In recent months, fuel scarcity has worsened in Abuja and several other cities across the country.
Marketers had listed the high cost of buying petrol at the depots and the high cost of diesel to truck them as the major factors responsible for the recent queue.
On Monday, the government announced that the nation’s capital petroleum deliveries were up nearly 100 per cent after the government offered additional N10 freight reimbursements to marketers.
The statement by the NMDPRA reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has been drawn to allegations made by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN Suleja Branch) on product scarcity as a result of non-payment of bridging claims.
“The authority chief executive of the NMDPRA, at a meeting held on 17th May 2022 with IPMAN bridging payment was discussed extensively and the processes were explained and agreed upon by IPMAN.
“He assured IPMAN of NMDPRA’s willingness to continue making payments of outstanding claims to promote seamless operations.
“Pursuant to the meeting, the NMDPRA went ahead to make an additional payment of N10 billion in June and sought for an upward review of the freight rate which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and is currently being implemented.
“The Authority wishes to reiterate that bridging payment is an ongoing process which is carried out after due verification exercise by the Authority and Marketers.
“So far, the Authority paid N71,233,712,991 bridging claims and another N2,736,179,950.84 freight differentials to the Marketers as at 6th June 2022.
“A breakdown of payment made to Marketers is as follows: Major Marketers (MOMAN) received N9,958,777,487.24, IPMAN members were paid N42,301,923,616.96, NNPC Retails N6,661,459,118.61 while DAPPMAN members were paid N12,303,195,651.57, these translate to a total of N73,969,892,941.84.
“It is disheartening that despite these payments and increase of N10 bridging cost, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago, IPMAN could turn around to accuse the NMDPRA of insensitivity,” the statement said.
It said NMDPRA remains committed to ensuring a safe, efficient, and effective conduct of midstream and downstream petroleum operations.
Nigeria-Cameroon Link Bridge up for Inauguration this June – Fashola
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has stated that the Nigeria-Cameroon link bridge will be inaugurated this June.
Speaking at the 16th inter-ministerial meeting of the group in Abuja, Fashola who doubles as the Chairman of the five regional ministerial steering committees, explained that the largely funded bridge by the African Development Bank (AfDB) is completed and in hopes that ECOWAS would deliver support for the inauguration.
“We have completed a new link bridge that links Nigeria to Cameroon, and it was funded largely by the AfDB and we are hoping that the ECOWAS commission will give us the necessary support to ensure the formal opening of that bridge sometime in the month of June,” he said.
The commitment to the piece of infrastructure, according to the minister, is to transform the road network into a first-class six-lane motorway, emphasizing that while speed is important, quality must not be lost.
“We’re trying to deliver a better life for five countries and over 40 million people who use that corridor, almost on a daily basis.
“The future is bright, this is an important investment for the people of Africa to achieve the objective of the Africa Union (AU) to create a trans-African highway,” he stated.
Lydie Ehouman, AfDB’s Chief Transport Economist and Project Task Manager, also spoke at the event, stating that the bank had been able to acquire an additional €3.5 million for the road project.
Investors King gathered that the total sum available for the initial financing of the project’s strategic research has increased to $41 million.
“The agreement for the on-lending of this additional grant by the bank to ECOWAS is currently being finalised. Thus, in addition to its substantial contribution of $25 million, the bank will have mobilised €12.63 million in the form of a grant from the European Union.
“This brings the total amount available for the financing of this highly strategic study to the equivalent of about US$ 41 million,” she stated.
She did, however, point out that specialists in member countries’ claims of delays were untrue, because the arrangement was that labor should persist while any differences were aired and rectified.
UNDP, DPGA to Promote Global Digital Goods
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), the government of Norway, and Sierra Leone have agreed to promote inclusive digital public infrastructure in countries across the world.
On Wednesday, Investors King gathered that world leaders, development organisations and philanthropic funders are set to invest in a “large-scale technology sharing, funding, and commitment to supporting the international cooperation agenda.”
In its published statement, UNDP stated that the agreement is to improve governance frameworks, which are critical to building a resilient future for countries.
At the event, global leaders committed their efforts to funding and the implementation of digital public infrastructure through a newly established Digital Public Goods Charter (DPG), which serves as a framework to increase international cooperation on this plan.
With its DPG Charter, co-led by the DPGA and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), the UNDP outlines a clear vision for a coordinated global approach to building a safe, trusted, and inclusive digital public infrastructure using DPGs.
“Doing so can enable countries – regardless of income levels – to transform services and service delivery for people and communities everywhere,” the statement read.
The DPG Charter, and the commitments made by global leaders, are especially relevant given the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting climate disruption.
These challenges, compounded with the unprecedented food, energy, and financial crisis added by the war in Ukraine, are creating an urgent need for global action.
Digital Public Goods are open-source solutions used to build digital public infrastructure (DPI), enabling countries to provide better services and foster inclusive economic growth.
While the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) involves digital systems like cash transfers, digital identification, and data exchange that enable the adequate provision of essential society-wide functions. It also allows the building of resilient crisis recovery.
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