CHIBOK GIRLS, UNFPA AND ABORTION (2)

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By Sonnie Ekwowusi

Therefore under the pretext of preventing maternal deaths in Nigeria, the United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) has been reducing human capital in Nigeria through its aggressive distribution of dangerous pills and abortificients especially among Nigerian teens. I keep on repeating that the UNFPA organised a very shameful gathering last year dubbed “third Family Planning Pre-Conference”. It was held at the Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja. In that gathering, the UNFPA launched a condom-safe-sex campaign entitled, “No Hoodie No Honey”. This campaign was widely reported in the Nigerian media and posted on twitter, Face book and on other social media.  The campaign was targeted at young Nigerians especially young Nigerian girls in the age bracket of 14-18. It was aimed at supplying condoms and contraceptives to young Nigerians and luring them into believing that “safe-sex” is their right and therefore they shouldn’t be ashamed to practice “safe sex” even if the different cultures and religions teach otherwise. One of the inscriptions on the No Hoodie No Honey roll-up stand which posted on Twitter read: “Lets push for easy access to the female condom and that a woman may buy condoms without being shamed”

Now, it has been widely reported that the UNFPA is offering pregnant Chibok girls abortion and sterilization for the rest. It was also reported that some women and girls in the displacement camps in Borno State Nigeria are visibly pregnant and receiving support from UNFPA, and that the UNFPA is providing them with so called “reproductive health (RH) kits and dignity kits”. “Reproductive health” or “reproductive health services” or “family planning services” is a dodgy phrase used by the UNFPA to promote abortion and contraceptives in Nigeria. This is understandable. Because the word “abortion” is repugnant in the highly-sensitive Nigerian religious and cultural milieu, the UNFPA avoids using the word, “abortion”, but instead use dodgy words such as “reproductive health services” and “family planning services”.  To understand the real meaning of “reproductive health services” or “family planning services”, one must read the publications of the Center for reproductive Law and policy, 120 Wall Street, New York, United States. In this publication, the phrase: “decide when to have children, and how many, or “timing and spacing of children” has been interpreted to mean recourse to legal, safe, and accessible abortion services by women.

Prof Babatunde Osotimehin readily admits that the UNFPA offers abortion and contraceptive services in order to reduce the human capital of a nation. For example, while fielding questions from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, May 31 2015, Prof Osotimehin announced that the UNFPA had budgeted $75 million to boost reproductive health services or abortion and contraceptive services in Nigeria. In a country plagued by genteel poverty, youth unemployment, disease all that, it is a big scandal that the UNFPA is budgeting a whooping $75 million to boost abortion and contraceptives for young people.  Prof Osotimehin is even trying to win over President Muhammadu Buhari to endorse the UNPFA. Buhari should not listen to Osotimehin. The UNFPA is destroying our cultural and religious values, and it is high time it is sent packing from Nigeria. The UNFPA promotes forced abortion and coercive sterilization.  It has been implicated in some abortion and sterilization scandals in Mexico, China, Peru and other countries. Abortion and sterilization are illegal in Nigeria. The Bible condemns the murder of children and the corruption of young children. The Holy Koran detests anything capable of putting young people in moral jeopardy. The universal fundamental right for humanity which Islam stipulates that must be observed and respected in all circumstances and at all times is sacredness of life. In fact, the first and foremost basic right in the Holy Quran is the right to life. In Islam, the Mohammadiya, the Ahmadiyya, the Quadiniya, and the Shiite Moslems all denounce killing of children. Quran 17:31 stipulates: “slay not your children, fearing a fall of poverty, we shall provide for them and for you, lo the slaying of them is greater sin”.

A society that allows its children to be killed is heading for extinction. If adults are entitled to the enjoyment of right to life, why not children?. Mankind owes the child the best it can give it because it is the leader of tomorrow. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989, signed and ratified by Nigeria, states that every child, before and after birth, should have a right to life

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CHIBOK GIRLS, UNFPA AND ABORTION (1)

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Sonnie Ekwowusi

Last week, some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) community and religious leaders in Nigeria took the United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) to task for trying to compound the woes of the pregnant Chibok girls recently rescued from Boko Haram and the internally displaced persons (IDPs) by prescribing abortion to them and sterilization procedures to the rest. In condemning the prescription as an unwarranted inhumane and wicked intervention, the Project for Human Development (PHD), an NGO based in Lagos, argued that what those pregnant Chibok girls and IDPs need at this moment in time is the human compassion of effective medical care, social counseling, rehabilitation and re-integration, not life-risking and violent-wrecking abortion or sterilization (Read, “Group rejects Abortion option for pregnant Chibok Girls”, THISDAY, May 18, 2015; “Group Faults UNFPA over Abortion, Sterilization on Boko Harm victims”, The Guardian Newspaper, May 23 2015, Page 6; “Rescued Girls: UNFPA has abortion agenda, PHD alleges”, Vanguard, May 26, 2015, Page 36; “Don’t abort Boko Harm babies, group pleads”, National Mirror, May 27, 2015, Page 21)

But in a swift reaction last week, the UNFPA and its Director-General Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin stated that the UNFPA was not guilty as charged, but paradoxically Osotimehin went ahead to contradict himself by admitting that the UNFPA promotes “reproductive health” and “modern family planning services” which are other phrases used for describing abortion and contraceptive services. How can Osotimehin be speaking from both sides of the mouth?. In one fell swoop, he denies that UNFPA promotes abortion, but in another fell swoop he admits that UNFPA promotes abortion. In any case, if you google the words, “Osotimehin and abortion”, you will come across Osotimehin’s absurd arguments that African women need safe abortion and contraceptives to slow down population growth, enhance women’s health and reduce poverty. In his article entitled: Planned Families, strengthened Communities (The Guardian, Wednesday, November 28, 2012), Osotimehin writes that studies have shown that investing in abortion and contraceptives “reduces poverty… and gives women a greater say in their households and communities”.

Before commenting on pregnant Chibok girls and the UNFPA, permit me to quickly unmask the UNFPA. This is necessary to highlight the damage being caused in many African countries by the UNFPA. Only last April at the 48th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development which took place at the United Nations Building, in New York City,  a fortified African Group led by Ambassador Usman Sarki, a distinguished and widely respected Nigerian ambassador, courageously stood its ground and refused to be coerced or intimidated by the UNFPA, America, Belgium and other European nations into accepting the inclusion of “comprehensive sexuality education” (CSE) and “reproductive rights” (terms that connote  abortion rights and teen-contraceptive-use rights) as part of  the consensus document. Ambassador Sarki made it clear during the negotiations that unless the UNFPA, United States and European nations were ready to withdraw the vexatious CSE and abortion rights from the text, the African Group was not going to accept and adopt the text.

Now, let me unmask the UNFPA. As its name aptly reveals, the main mission of the UNFPA in developing countries like Nigeria is population reduction or human capital reduction or fertility reduction. The UNFPA tries to achieve this by making what it calls “safe abortion” and “unmet contraceptive” services assessing and affordable to the vast African population especially African teen population. Why is the UNFPA bent on reducing the fertility rate in Africa? On December 10, 1974, the United States National Security Council promulgated a top secret document entitled National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM-200), also called The Kissinger Report.  It was subtitledImplications of Worldwide Population Growth For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.”  This document was declassified in 1989.  It laid out a detailed strategy by which the United States would aggressively promote population control in developing nations in order to regulate (or have better access to) the natural resources of these countries. In order to protect U.S. commercial interests, NSSM-200 cited a number of factors that could interrupt the smooth flow of materials from lesser-developed countries as it called them, to the United States, including a large population of anti-imperialist youth, who must, according to NSSM-200, be limited by population control. The document identified 13 nations by name that would be primary targets of U.S.-funded population control efforts.  The named countries were India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia and Colombia. According to NSSM-200, elements of the implementation of population control programs could include: a) the legalization of abortion; b) financial incentives for countries to increase their abortion, sterilization and contraception-use rates; c) indoctrination of children; and d) mandatory population control, and coercion of other forms, such as withholding disaster and food aid unless developing countries implement population control programs.

NSSM-200 also specifically declared that the United States was to cover up its population control activities and avoid possible charges of imperialism by recruiting some United Nations agencies such as the UNFPA to do its dirty work. Section 30(a) of NSSM-200 states:  “Concentration on Key Countries. … Assistance for population moderation should give primary emphasis to the largest and fastest growing developing countries where there is special U.S. political and strategic interest. Those countries are: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia and Columbia. Together, they account for 47 percent of the world’s current population increase.” NSSM-200 also states “No country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion…since abortion is still repugnant to the peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and parts of Asia and Oceania, we must mask our desire to legalize abortion by pretending to care about the state of women’s health.  We do this by saying that we want to eliminate “unsafe abortion.”

 In other words, since the word “abortion” is repugnant in the highly-sensitive Nigerian religious culture, the UNFPA avoids using it and instead uses euphemisms or dodgy phrases such as “reproductive health”, sexual and reproductive health services”, “family planning services”, “reproductive health services” which connote abortion and contraceptive services. So when Osotimehin says that the UNFPA promotes “reproductive health”, sexual and reproductive health services”, “family planning services”, “reproductive health services”, he actually means that the UNFPA promotes abortion and contraceptives.

Trouble for Africa:Randy Berry appointed first US special envoy for LGBT right.

In a ground-breaking move the United States has appointed Randy Berry the first US special envoy for gay and lesbian rights.
At the announcement of the creation of this new office, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that “Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally -– the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,”
Currently in some 75 countries, mostly in Africa. consensual same-sex activity is banned. So this new envoy has been charged with the duty of ensuring that these laws are changed.
This move by the US under the administration of Obama though not surprising only goes to show again their misplacement of priority.
Currently we are inundated with information of hundred of persons dying from the activities of Boko Haram and ISIS, two weeks ago ISIS killed 21 Christians etc, Boko Haram have been killing in their hundreds and yet USA our supposed big brother is talking of LGBT rights.
Lets all be alert to ensure that our laws reflect the spirit of the people( volkgeist) and refuse any form of international intimidation to forget the right use of our senses.

LAGOS LAWYER FAULTS NEW ABORTION BILL

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Sonnie Ekwowusi has faulted the new abortion Bill. The Public Hearing on the new abortion Bill comes up at the Senate on Monday March 2, 2015. Euphemistically coined Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (VAPP), the new abortion Bill, seeks to allow Nigerian girls and women unimpeded access to abortion. The import of the VAPP Bill is that abortion is a woman’s choice. Women are entitled to have access to all safe, effective means of controlling their family size, including abortion. A woman has a right to make decisions regarding her own body. Denying women access to abortion is a form of gender discrimination. Safe abortions services protect women’s right to health.

IPAS, an international abortion lobby group, together with the DFID, UNFPA and others, has been mounting pressure on the Senate to pass the VAPP Bill so that President Goodluck Jonathan should assent to it before the swearing in of a new President. The VAPP Bill has already passed through the House of Representatives.

It will be recalled that Imo State Governor Owelle Rochas, passed an abortion law entitled, Imo State Law of Nigeria Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) law No 12, about four years ago but was forced by the citizens of Imo State to get the Imo State House of Assembly to repeal it.

Mr. Ekwowusi describes the new abortion Bill as a big set-back for the empowerment of Nigerian women. According to Mr. Ekwowusi, what Nigerian women need to stay alive is authentic educational, political, economic, social, cultural and spiritual empowerment not abortion empowerment. Abortion is not like food or essential medicine that every woman needs to consume in order to stay alive; in fact abortion is the greatest violence  against women, he said. More importantly, abortion is illegal in Nigeria. It is unconstitutional. Besides, the VAPP Bill is ill-timed. It is coming at a time Nigerians are preparing for elections. Therefore, Mr. Ekwowusi urged the Jonathan government not to succumb to the pressure being mounted by IPAS, DFID, UNFPA and other international agencies to get abortion legalized in Nigeria especially at this election period.

Rethinking Charlie Hebdo: The right to Freedom of expression Vs the duty to respect the beliefs of others.

By Nwala Ijeoma *

In the wake of the events of 7th January, 2015, the world is still in shock and pain. Most of us are really afraid for we do not know what the future holds for our dear “right to freedom of expression”. Before going further, I would like to state, unequivocally, that in no way do I support the use of violence as a way of settling disagreements or reacting to any threatening opinion. The Charlie Hebdo killing was mindless and not well thought- out.

However, when half of the world is pointlessly holding vigils, demonstrations and ‘copping’ trends with the hash tag #JeSuisCharlie, it all becomes disturbing as it shows we clearly do not understand what the right to freedom of expression really is. We are merely following trends on the internet.

This poses a danger, as only a handful are saying what needs to be said. As John Stuart Mill said, “the right to swing my arms in any direction ends where your nose begins .” This quote or versions of it are also attributed to a few other writers such as Holmes Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. One might be curious enough to ask, ‘why should there be an end to my right to swing my arms? They are, in fact, my arms and why shouldn’t I be minded to do what I please with it?” If you have asked yourself this, you are not alone. This has been the basis of one of the most heated legal arguments; whether morality is and should be a part of law?

To answer the first set of questions, a version of the expression spoken by an anonymous judge might be told. A man was arrested for swinging his arms and hitting another in the nose. He asked the Judge if he did not have the right to swing his arms in a free country and the judge replied “your right to swing your arms end just where the others man’s nose begins.” Even the law abhors careless misstatements and acts or omissions that end up hurting others- causing damages, according to law. Therefore, we are all encouraged to exercise care and caution in all we do.

If you still choose to ask, what then does morality have to do with this argument? I will reply with a few questions too. Are we not being moral, when we choose right instead of wrong? Are we not being moral when we think of what our actions will cost our neighbors? Are we not being moral, when we lend happiness to others instead of sadness; when we encourage rather than put people down; when we say kind words and not harsh ones; when we criticize, to encourage improvement and not insult and mock; when we prevent a stranger from dying in whatever little way we can instead of walking away and most of all, when we love one another? Do we all not need love? Are we afraid of the word ‘morality’ because it might denote that we are affiliated to one religious order or another, and we cannot have that? A neighbor is any person who may be reasonably affected by our actions and inactions whether or not he is in close proximity to us.

Morality is the very fabric of this universe. But is it even desirable that all rights must have an end or limit? Morality will say YES! When we exercise complete and absolute freedom or rights, we, too, become despots as we will be merely living out our own selfish and uncontrolled passions without, for a second, thinking of how it affects our neighbor. Because, while you have a right to swing your arms in public ,in a jolly manner, as an expression of excitement or whatever, you must, however, stop when you walk into a crowd so that you do not injure anyone. Yes, morality places a heavy (worthwhile) burden on us when we exercise rights because for every right, there is a corresponding duty.

Now where does the right to freedom of expression end? I say it ends when the feelings and beliefs of others are at stake. Yes, we have a right to say and express our opinions without fear of being put down or fear of violence of any kind but do we do not also have a corresponding duty to respect the feelings and beliefs of others when we seek to express ourselves? Isn’t there ever a thing as “sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words almost killed me”? Should we go on proclaiming rights and forgetting that corresponding duties weigh heavily upon on the ‘right-holder’?

I am not a Muslim but I believe that Muslims are entitled to their own beliefs and so are Catholics, Buddhists and atheists. We have no right, under the toga of freedom of expression, to jest Mohammed, Jesus or any religious character or event which a religion holds dear and sacred. We have no right, to say words that would hurt our neighbors. We have no right, whatsoever, to intimidate a religion by mocking the ideals of that group. The word ‘respect’ is being used so little today.

The Charlie Hebdo editors did not ask to be killed but this does not make them martyrs. They did, however, provoke reactions from people by hurting them continuously with their publications. What most people know of the Charlie Hebdo Story is that they got killed because they were journalists expressing their right to freedom of expression. What people do not ask is, did he carry out the duty that came with that right. He deserves to be mourned as dead people should but he should not to be treated as a saint. But because he is dead now, we will not point fingers.

I am sure that when those zealots set out to kill the Charlie Hebdo editors on the 7th, they did not know that today the world would be celebrating them. In fact, if they did, I am sure the editors would still be alive today. They did not also understand that by that singular action, they have further put other Muslims and Islam in a more difficult position in Europe. This is to show you that they felt murder was the only way to ‘defend’ their faith since religion in the twenty-first century is foremost perceived as undesirable and a threat and very little is done to prevent the senseless mockery of religious beliefs. Violence is in no way an answer to any question or opinion, no matter how threatened we may feel by that opinion. I am not insensitive to fact that men just died, but I am also sensitive to fact that the editors of Charlie Hebdo exhibited courage when they chose to continue with satirical, ‘insensitive’ and often vile publications despite threats against them. They are, however, not saints as the world would like to believe because they chose to disrespect the feelings and beliefs of others.

So, no, I am not Charlie, #JeSuisNePasCharlie. I am Nwala Ijeoma and I do not condone mindless violence or mindless expressions against another’s belief. I have the freedom to say what I want but a duty not hurt my neighbor whenever I chose to express myself.

*Nwala Ijeoma is a law student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka

An Aging Europe in Decline

This article was culled from The New York Times

By, Arthur C. Brooks

I’VE fallen and I can’t get up.”

These words, shouted by an elderly woman, were made famous in a medical alert device ad in the 1990s. In 2015, they might be Europe’s catchphrase.

As the United States economy slowly recovers, analysts across the political spectrum see little to cheer them from Europe. The optimists see the region’s economy growing by just 1 percent in 2015; many others fear that a triple-dip recession is in the offing. Germany is widely viewed as a healthy country whose prosperity helps compensate for Europe’s weakness, yet over the past two quarters for which we have data, it has experienced no net growth at all. Predictions of decade-long deflation, low productivity and high unemployment are becoming conventional wisdom.

What does the Continent need? Most economists and pundits focus on monetary and fiscal policy, as well as labor-market reform. Get the policy levers and economic incentives right, and the Continent might escape the vortex of decline, right?

Probably not. As important as good economic policies are, they will not fix Europe’s core problems, which are demographic, not economic. This was the point made in a speech to the European Parliament in November by none other than Pope Francis. As the pontiff put it, “In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a ‘grandmother,’ no longer fertile and vibrant.”

But wait, it gets worse: Grandma Europe is not merely growing old. She is also getting dotty. She is, as the pope sadly explained in an earlier speech to a conference of bishops, “weary with disorientation.”

Some readers might regret the pope’s use of language — we love our grandmothers, weary with disorientation or not. But as my American Enterprise Institute colleague Nicholas Eberstadt shows in his research, the pope’s analysis is fundamentally sound.

Start with age. According to the United States Census Bureau’s International Database, nearly one in five Western Europeans was 65 years old or older in 2014. This is hard enough to endure, given the countries’ early retirement ages and pay-as-you-go pension systems. But by 2030, this will have risen to one in four. If history is any guide, aging electorates will direct larger and larger portions of gross domestic product to retirement benefits — and invest less in opportunity for future generations.

Next, look at fertility. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the last time the countries of the European Union were reproducing at replacement levels (that is, slightly more than two children per woman) was the mid-1970s. In 2014, the average number of children per woman was about 1.6. That’s up a hair from the nadir in 2001, but has been falling again for more than half a decade. Imagine a world where many people have no sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts or uncles. That’s where Europe is heading in the coming decades. On the bright side, at least there will be fewer Christmas presents to buy.

There are some exceptions. France has risen to exactly two children per woman in 2012, from 1.95 in 1980, an increase largely attributed to a system of government payments to parents, not a change in the culture of family life. Is there anything more dystopian than the notion that population decline can be slowed only when states bribe their citizens to reproduce?

Finally, consider employment. Last September, the United States’ labor force participation rate — the percentage of adults who are either working or looking for work — reached a 36-year low of just 62.7 percent.

Yet as bad as that is, the United States looks decent compared with most of Europe. Our friends across the Atlantic like to say that we live to work, while they work to live. That might be compelling if more of them were actually working. According to the most recent data available from the World Bank, the labor force participation rate in the European Union in 2013 was 57.5 percent. In France it was 55.9 percent. In Italy, just 49.1 percent.

One bright spot might seem to be immigration. In 2012, the median age of the national population in the European Union was 41.9 years, while the median age of foreigners living in the union was 34.7. So, are Europeans pleased that there will be new arrivals to work and pay taxes when the locals retire?

Not exactly. Anti-immigrant sentiment is surging across the Continent. Nativist movements performed alarmingly well in European Parliament elections last year. Europe is less like a grandmother knitting placidly in the window and more like an angry grandfather, shaking his rake and yelling at outsiders to get off his lawn.

None of this should give Americans cause for schadenfreude. At a purely practical level, a European market in further decline will suppress American growth. But more important, European deterioration will dissipate the vast good the Continent can do in spreading the values of democracy and freedom around the world.

So what is the prescription for Europe’s ills — and the lesson for America’s future?

It is true that good monetary and fiscal policies are important. But the deeper problems in Europe will not be solved by the European Central Bank. No matter what the money supply and public spending levels, a country or continent will be in decline if it rejects the culture of family, turns its back on work, and closes itself to strivers from the outside.

Europe needs visionary leaders and a social movement to rediscover that people are assets to develop, not liabilities to manage. If it cannot or will not meet this existential challenge, a “lost decade” will look like a walk in the park for Grandma Europe.

*Arthur C. Brooks, is a contributing opinion writer, is the president of the American Enterprise Institute.

NOW THE WORLD CAN LEARN FROM AFRICA

Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh

By. GREGORY NNAM*

The first case of Ebola in Nigeria was confirmed in Lagos on July 20, 2014. The disease entered the country through an infected Liberian diplomat Patrick Sawyer who had reportedly come to Nigeria to seek medical attention. The days that followed this confirmation were thick with media reports on the apocalyptic projections of health experts and political commentators who had admitted the possibility of an epidemic. In fairness, the experts should not be blamed for their early convictions because with the conditions in Nigeria it would have been unwise to infer the contrary. Nigeria had for a while been standing on the edge of a precipice. The health system management was in ruins. Poor facilities, lack of trained professionals and lack of organisation all added up to make the condition grim and the unstable socio-political landscape snuffed out whatever hope there might have been for an improvement. Even the outbreak of Ebola in neighbouring West African countries drew only a passing attention from the government and the media alike. Therefore when the disease came calling the country was almost unprepared. As if to confirm our worst fears, Patrick Sawyer died 5 days after his arrival in Nigeria leaving behind a number of infected persons. Before long, the initial fears of the people spiraled into a nationwide panic. In the midst of the confusion, every kind of wrong information was spread and sadly it led to the loss of some lives. Unlike other diseases the country has had to contend with, the high population in the country presented a perfect condition for the transmission of the disease from Lagos to other parts of the country. The situation was dire and therefore needed an immediate and well directed response. Thankfully the Nigerian government was on hand to provide this response.

The government set up isolation wards and treatment centres in Lagos and equipped the health ministry with specially adapted mobile communication systems to trace the contacts made by sawyer. Prior to the outbreak of Ebola, Nigeria already had teams in place to investigate the outbreaks of Lassa fever and Cholera. There were also about 100 Nigerian doctors being trained in epidemiology by the US Centre for Disease control. These formed the health team that spear-headed the attack on Ebola in the country. Although the disorganization in Nigeria’s disaster management system presented a challenge, the health operatives were able to trace 100% of all primary and secondary contacts linked to the first Ebola case. The health team handled the treatment of the Ebola patients and the monitoring of the suspected carriers of the virus. It is unclear what had informed the decision of a certain Ebola patient who ignored the treatment centres in Lagos and sought medical assistance in Port-Harcourt. The patient got what he came for but not without infecting the doctor who was treating him, further expanding the coverage area of the virus. The health ministry swung into action and with a robust financial and technical backing from the government 98.9% of all primary and secondary contacts of the first patient in Port-Harcourt were found and isolated for observation. According to a report by the US Centres for Disease control and prevention, about 900 people-nearly everyone who had contact with patient zero (Patrick Sawyer) were identified, interviewed and monitored with approximately 18500 face to face visits conducted by investigators of the Nigerian centre for Disease control and the Ministry of Health. This without doubt is a vivid manifestation of a high level of dedication and diligence. These two virtues unfortunately are gradually becoming extinct in modern societies largely because of the comfort-seeking lifestyle led by many. This African example speaks eloquently of the benefits of these virtues. With renewed efforts by the health team a good number of the patients responded to treatment and before long there were recorded cases of 11 complete recoveries out of the 19 diagnosed cases.

The widespread misinformation that resulted from the chaos witnessed in the early stages of the disease’s outbreak was effectively nullified by the government’s public enlightenment initiatives. The media was awash with announcements, shows and jingles that threw more light on the nature of Ebola, its prevention and the efforts made in its control. The government banned indefinitely all inter-state movement of corpses to restrict the spread of the disease. Within a few weeks of relentless efforts all cases of Ebola in Nigeria were under control. It came as no surprise to any when on October 20, 2014 Nigeria was declared an Ebola-free nation after 42 days without any new infection. The WHO allows 42 days to pass before declaring a country Ebola-free because this period represents twice the length of time required for any infected person to manifest symptoms of the disease (window period). Besides this, the WHO requires that active surveillance must be in place to detect “chains of transmission that might remain hidden”. Three days earlier neighbouring Senegal was declared Ebola-free after a less serious battle with the virus.

During a media briefing, the WHO labelled the effective control of Ebola in Nigeria “a spectacular success story”. Besides the literal implication of this statement, it also means that the rest of the world especially those countries still struggling to control the virus can indeed learn from Africa. Without in any way claiming that Africa has the best expertise or structures for disease control, it should be noted that the experience of Nigeria and Senegal can serve as a template for charting the path for the control of the disease globally. The efforts of various governments both within and outside Africa to control the spread of Ebola in countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea even though inadequate is still worthy of commendation. Without doubt, if efforts are increased and adequate machineries are put in place very soon the world will be Ebola-free.

* Gregory Nnam, studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka

PROTECTING NIGERIAN CHILDREN

By Sonnie Ekwowusi

What is happening to us in this country? Why should anybody in his right senses target the Nigerian young for destruction? I can’t believe what they are doing to the Nigerian young. While we are still lamenting that Chibok girls have not been released and that many children are victims of Boko Haram senseless murder, some people are meeting in Abuja and corrupting children. We are losing our sense of public shame in this country, and, this, for me, is a big tragedy. Last week the so-called 3rd Nigeria “family planning” Conference was staged at the Sheraton Hotels, Abuja. From all intents and purposes, the Conference was supposed to be a Conference on family planning but the Conference ended being a very big public scandal: it ended up being a Conference to assist Nigerian children and Nigerian minors to have access to all sizes of condoms, and contraceptives and literature on permanent sterilization Vasectomy, deprovera female sterilization (Tubal Ligation), injectable contraceptives, IUCD, postinor2,Lo-femenal, norplant, suction tubes etc.

At the Youth pre-conference sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which took place a day to the Conference, a video animation was shown to young Nigerians on how to effectively practise “safe-sex” using the condoms and other contraceptives. The young people also watched another video animation of other young people sharing knowledge and experience on issues related to condom use and contraceptive use. The UNFPA created a social media campaign code-named “No Hoodie No Honey” posted on twitter aimed at supplying condoms and contraceptives to young Nigerians including Nigerian minors. The UNFPA was out to coerce young people into believing that “safe-sex” is their right and therefore they shouldn’t be ashamed to practice “safe sex” even if the different cultures and religions teach otherwise. For example, one of the inscriptions on the No Hoodie No Honey roll up stand posted on twitter reads: “Lets push for easy access to the female condom and that a woman may buy condoms without being shamed”

First: this advert is tainted by fraud and deception. The advert that condom protects its user against infections and against HIV is a fraudulent advert. Scientifically, no condom is safe proof. Every condom has naturally-occurring holes that put its user in serious jeopardy. Because condoms are not safe, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has enacted a law that every condom advertised in Nigeria must carry the following Health Risk Warning Clause: “Be warned: condom is not 100 per cent safe: total abstinence or faithfulness is the best option”. The “Gold Circle” condom carelessly and indiscriminately used in Nigeria has been banned in Ghana. On 20th July 2005, Ghana’s Food and Drugs Board (FDB) issued what it called “Consumer Alert on “Gold Circle” Brand of condoms to the effect that the Gold circle condoms do not have adequate physical strength and therefore likely to break during use. Therefore the FDB directed all Ghanaian pharmacies, licensed chemical shops and other outlets that had stocks of “Gold circle” brand of condoms to remove them from their shelves and return them to their sources of supply. I don’t know when the “Gold Circle” condom would be banned in Nigeria.

But assuming condom were effective, condom-use promotes sexual promiscuity and pre-marital pregnancy because of the false sense of security it generates in users. And sexual promiscuity, by definition, spreads sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.

In any case, condom “safe-sex” is not the first priority of the average young Nigerian in the street: the first priority of the average young Nigerian is to settle down in life-to secure a good job, earn a good salary, have a roof over his or her head and marry a good wife or a good husband later. If the organisers of the Abuja conference were really and truly interested in helping the Nigerian young, why didn’t they organise a job-creation conference or a skill-acquisition Conference or farming Conference to boost food production instead of  a condom Conference?. Is condom food that young Nigerians must eat to stay alive?

More importantly, most contraceptives are deadly. A Study that has been carried out have shown that a woman who takes birth control pills before her first child is born has at least 40% of increased risk of developing breast cancer and that a woman who has taken the pill for four or more times prior to the birth of her first child has a 72% risk factor in developing breast cancer. In October 2011, the New York Times published an article entitled Contraceptive Used in Africa May Double Risk of H.I.V. This article was based on a cohort study by prestigious medical Research journal The Lancet that clearly stated that “the risk of HIV-1 acquisition doubled with the use of hormonal contraception especially the injectable methods.” In addition to the HIV-related effects of this product, there is also the doubled risk of breast cancer demonstrated by various studies like the extensive research done by the Fred Hutchingson Cancer Research centre, Seattle and published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in February 2012, with the research team stating clearly after their studies : “We found that recent DMPA (Depo-Medroxyprogesterone acetate a.k.a Depo-Provera) use for 12 months or longer was associated with a 2.2-fold increased risk of invasive breast cancer.”

It is sad that most foreign NGOs and agencies are coming to Nigeria to exploit our children to their own gain. The UNFPA, for example, has become notorious for distributing condoms and contraceptives among Nigerian teens. And the government appears to have shut its eyes to this atrocity. This cannot continue. Now is the time to stand up and protect our children if we want them to have a stake in bright future.

FLAWS IN THE NATIONAL HEALTH BILL 2014 – Sonnie Ekwowusi

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There are too many troubling national issues in Nigeria today competing for space that one runs the risk of even overlooking the most critical issues that require urgent attention. For example, the National Health Bill is a very critical national issue requiring urgent attention. Health is wealth. It is only when you are alive that you can, for example, discuss politics, economy, Boko Haram and all that. Dead men don’t speak from the grave. It is inconceivable that in this age of astonishing medical breakthrough many Nigerians are still dying of preventable diseases. That is why the country’s health challenges, like the controversial Obamacare, merits eloquent public commentary.

You may be well aware that the Senate has passed the National Health Bill 2014 into law. Likewise the House of Representatives. The two Houses are now set to harmonize the Bill before sending it to President Jonathan for his assent.

But sadly enough, the National Health Bill 2014 (NHB 2014) is flawed. Little wonder it is mired in the most simmering controversy. First: the NHB 2014 is not substantially different from the controversial National Health Bill 2008 and National health Bill 2012 which the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and President Jonathan respectively refused to sign because they were adjudged to be perverse, discriminatory, inchoate and self-serving. Second and most importantly: the NHB 2014 is completely at variance with the agreed conclusions at the stakeholders’ Public Hearing on the National Health Bill. You will recall that on Monday 11th February 2013 the Senate organised a Public Hearing on the NHB 2014 at Room 231 of the Senate Building. It was well attended by different stakeholders which included the Nigerian Medical Council (NMA), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM); Association of Radiographers of Nigeria (ARN); society of Physiotherapy (NSN); Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria; Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN); National Association of complementary and Alternative medicine; Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria; Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria; Institute of Health Administrators of Nigeria, Nigerian Phisioterpahy Association of Nigeria. The Public Hearing was chaired by Senator Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, medical doctor, principal sponsor of the Bill, Chairman Senate Committee on Health and a man of exquisite eloquence.

Prior to the commencement of the Public Hearing, Senator Okowa reassured all stakeholders present that their inputs will be accommodated in the final National Health Bill to be adopted by the Senate. And in all fairness, Senator Okowa truly gave all stakeholders the opportunity to make their respective submissions. While some stakeholders wanted some sections of the National Health Bill to be amended, re-couched, delimited or expanded to accommodate their interest, others wanted some sections of the Bill endorsing trafficking in human organs to be entirely expunged from the Bill.

First, the Senate Health Committee should be commended for prohibiting the manipulation of any genetic materials, including genetic material of human gametes, zygotes or embryos, import and export human embryos, as well as conduct any experimentation for human cloning and other purposes.

Having said this, it is very unfortunate and a big paradox that the Senate and the House of representatives have inserted sections 48, 49, 51, and 53 into the NHB 2014 which are aimed at legalizing trafficking in human organs and trading in human tissues like female eggs cells and so forth. Specifically, section 48 (2) “a person shall not remove “tissue” which is not replaceable by natural processes from a person younger than eighteen years”. Obviously this means that a person can remove tissue replaceable by natural processes from persons who are nineteen years and above. This is sad. Section 49 is ambiguously couched and could be greatly abused. It states that a person shall use “tissue” removed or blood or a blood product withdrawn from a living person only for such medical or dental purposes as may be prescribed. To worsen matters, the word, the interpretation of the word “tissue” is not provided in the interpretation section. Sections 51 and 52 are too wide and could lend themselves to great abuse as well. “Removal of tissue” is unqualified. It could mean anything.

You see, we live in an age of high trafficking in human beings and human organs. At the moment Nigeria is one of the leading countries in the world in human trafficking. The statistics are mind-boggling. Not infrequently, it is reported that uncountable number of Nigerians especially young girls and children are trafficked to many unknown destinations where they are used as sex slaves or forced to do all manner of degrading labour. It is on record that some female students of some Nigerian universities are selling their eggs. Sections 48, 49, 51 and 52 will further fuel greater trafficking in human organs and tissues in Nigeria  There is no doubt that it would be difficult for the authorities to resist the manipulations and financial pressures of unscrupulous groups that stand to gain from trafficking in human eggs, tissues and all that. This is a multibillion dollar business worldwide which is very difficult to check or handle especially in a country like Nigeria with ineffective police system and judicial checks or any effective regulatory agency.

Therefore to effectively guard against the said abuses, sections 48, 49, 51 and 53 of the NHB 2014 should be re-couched to expressly and unambiguously prohibit trafficking in human organs and any form of trading in human tissue. Consequently, President Jonathan should withhold his assent to the NHB 2014 pending the rectification of the aforesaid palpable flaws in the Bill. Anything short of this is unacceptable.

Meriam Ibrahim, is finally released

Pope Francis meets with Meriam Ibrahim and her baby girl, Maya.

 

About two months ago, I wrote a post asking for your prayers for the release of Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death by the Sudanese government for marrying a Christian and for refusing to denounce the Christian faith.

Thanks to your prayers she has been released.

Today she and her family met with Pope Francis . Among other things the Pope thanked her for her testimony

As we celebrate her release, we still have to pray for  more persons who are being persecuted for the sole reason that they are Christians.

Examples include: Asia Bibi who is languishing in a putrid cell in Pakistan, and also Christians in Mosul