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SERAP Sues Ministry of Health and NCDC Over Failure to Account for Public Funds on Covid-19

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SERAP Sues Ministry of Health and NCDC Over Failure to Account for Public Funds on Covid-19

Human Rights organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP),  has filed a lawsuit against Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, over “their failure to account for the public funds and other resources so far spent and used to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.”

The lawsuit came after SERAP made a Freedom of Information (FoI) request on 27 March 2020 to the Minister of Health and the NCDC, expressing “concern that lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources to combat COVID-19 would lead to diversion or mismanagement of funds and resources, unnecessarily cost lives, and result in serious damage to public health in the country.”

According to the suit, SERAP wants the Health Ministry and the NCDC to reveal details received from the private sector, state and federal governments, and also reveal how the funds have been used in the fight against the Covid-19 disease in Nigeria.

Publishing details of the lawsuit on it’s website, SERAP with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/616/2020 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP seeks:

1.“An order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Minister of Health and the NCDC to publish details of the funds and resources from federal and state governments, and the private sector, as well as details of how the funds and resources have so far been spent and used to combat COVID-19.”

2.  “An order of mandamus to direct and compel the Federal Government to disclose information on the exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

According to SERAP’s lawsuit: “Transparency in the use of COVID-19 money would help to reduce the risk of corruption or opportunism, build trust and engage Nigerians in the fight against coronavirus as well as safe lives. Transparency and accountability are important to implementing an effective response to COVID-19 and slowing the spread of the virus in the country.”
 “Nigerians have the right to know the details of spending of COVID-19 money, as this is essential to the fight against corruption, and will foster the development of democratic institutions and the rule of law in Nigeria.”

 “Millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to an improved water source and to proper sanitation, thereby making them vulnerable to COVID-19 and other illnesses. Yet, the Ministry of Health and the NCDC have failed and/or refused to disclose whether there is any collaborative work with the Ministry of Water Resources to provide vulnerable Nigerians with safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions.” SERAP continued in the lawsuit by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Atinuke Adejuyigbe, and Opeyemi Owolabi

According to SERAP, some politicians have been taking multiple tests as NCDC has been prioritizing home testing the high and mighty while leaving the most vulneable without tests..

According to SERAP,  there have been reports of lack of transparency in use of Covid relief funds so the government has no justifiable reason to deny SERAP the information it’s requesting.

“The information SERAP is seeking to access is permitted under the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The Federal Government has a legal duty to ensure that information on the spending of COVID-19 money and resources is released to SERAP and widely published. It is not too much to ask for details of measures to protect health workers and procedures put in place to ensure that COVID-19 money is not diverted, mismanaged or stolen.”

“The Federal Government has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested, and therefore, this court ought to grant SERAP the order directing and compelling the Federal Government to publish details of spending of COVID-19 money.”

“There are reports of lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources being mobilised to combat coronavirus, and that authorities are prioritising home testing of politicians, with some reportedly taking multiple tests. Politicians engaging in multiple tests for coronavirus have in turn slowed the number of tests for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

“The suit is in the public interest, as it bothers on issues of national interest, public welfare and interest, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability. Obedience to the rule of law particularly by those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law.”

“Nigerians are entitled to know how the commonwealth is being utilized, managed and administered in a democratic setting, as this positively influences the feeling of belonging in the society. This right to know will no doubt help in promoting a transparent democracy, good governance and public accountability.”

According to SERAP’s official Twitter account, the organization  is seeking the following reliefs:
An order granting leave to the Applicant to apply for judicial review and seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling the Respondents to provide and disclose the following information to the Applicant:
A. Details of exact funds and other resources allocated by the Nigerian authorities and private sector donations to the Respondents to improve Nigeria’s health facilities to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria;

B. Details of spending and planned spending of any such funds, other resources and donations to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria;

C. Details of efforts made by the Second Respondent to make NCDC’s website functional and accessible and to publish weekly spending on initiatives by the NCDC, including on NCDC’s website;

D. Details of processes and procedures put in place to ensure that the funds, other resources and donations allocated to combat COVID-19 are not diverted, mismanaged or stolen;

E. Details of measures to protect health workers and to encourage the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people to come forward for testing and to escalate testing for this group;

F. The exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people

 

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Senate urges FG to procure COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians

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covid-19 Vaccine

Senate urges FG to procure COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians

The Senate has urged the Federal Government to make sufficient funds available for procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians.

It described as unfortunate the failure by government to produce a plan for the purchase, distribution and administration of the therapy despite the fact that many nations globally had done so.

Adopting a motion sponsored on Thursday, Dec 3, by Senator Oloriegbe Ibrahim during plenary presided over by Senate President Ahmad Lawan in Abuja, the upper legislative chamber directed its Committee on Health and Primary Health Care to summon the Ministries of Health and Finance, as well as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and other relevant agencies for their plans.

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The lawmakers regretted that “the only plan on COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria is the pledge by Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) to support 20 per cent of the country’s requirement.”

This support, according to them, would cover only the cost of the treatment without taking care of logistics for distribution and administration.

The legislature added: “Despite the change in the epidemiology trends of the disease, the financial plan developed by the country and World Bank in April 2020 to fund the response to the pandemic is still being implemented without taking due cognisance of the changes by re-allocating the funds to vaccine procurement.”

It noted that failure to administer vaccines in the nation would result in Nigeria’s inability to contain further infections and a possible ban on Nigerians by countries across the world.

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COVID-19: Chinese Embassy Issues Nigerians and Other Nationals Travel Restrictions into China

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COVID-19: Chinese Embassy Issues Nigerians and Other Nationals Travel Restrictions into China

The Chinese authorities have issued fresh travel restrictions into China by Nigerians and other nationals in Nigeria holding valid Chinese visas or residence permits.

A public notice issued by the Embassy of China and Consulate in Nigeria today November 5, states that the decision was based on the COVID19 concerns in Nigeria. Other countries placed on temporary travel restrictions include the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, Philippines, and a few others.

 

The Chinese embassy says it will no longer issue certified health declaration form for non-Chinese nationals in the country. It, however, said holders of diplomatic passports, courtesy, or C visas would not be affected by the regulation.

 

‘Notice of temporary suspension of entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in Nigeria holding valid Chinese visas or residence permits.’

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China has decided to temporarily suspend entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in Nigeria holding visas or residence permits still valid at the time of this announcement.

The Chinese Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria will no longer issue a certified health declaration form for the above-mentioned personnel. Entry by holders of diplomatic service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected.

Foreign nationals visiting China for emergency needs may apply for visas at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate. Entry by non-Chinese nationals in Nigeria with visas issued after November 3, 2020, will not be affected.” the public notice read

Reacting to the development, the spokesman, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, Wang Wenbin, told AFP that the entry suspension was a legitimate and valid move consistent with international customary practices.

 

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Woman loses hearing in one ear after mild Covid-19 infection

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Woman loses hearing in one ear after mild Covid-19 infection

A woman identified as Meredith Harrell lost her hearing in one ear after mild Covid-19 Infection.

According to Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent, Harrell was walking from her backyard into the house, her right ear suddenly started to ring.

She realized that, other than the ringing, she couldn’t hear anything out of that ear.”It was like someone flipped a switch,” she said.

Harrell’s hearing loss was a mystery until about a week later, when she took a Covid-19 test. It was positive.

Even though she never felt sick, an otologist — a doctor who specializes in hearing — explained to Harrell that the virus was likely the culprit.Meredith Harrell with her son, Mason. The family tested positive for Covid-19.Meredith Harrell with her son, Mason. The family tested positive for Covid-19.

Viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis are known to sometimes cause sudden hearing loss, and there’s growing evidence that the novel coronavirus should be added to the list.

“We’re hearing more and more that people have hearing loss as part of their Covid infection,” said Dr. Matthew Stewart, associate professor of otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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There are no statistics on how common it is for people who’ve had Covid-19 to experience hearing loss, but a few small studies point to a possible link.

A team in Manchester, England, asked Covid-19 patients eight weeks after they’d been discharged from the hospital whether they’d experienced any hearing changes or ringing in their ears.

Of the 138 patients in the study, published in the International Journal of Audiology, 13% said yes.

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He said the reason is that the coronavirus is known to cause blood clots in other areas of the body, and he thinks that could be happening in the “extremely small blood vessels” in the inner ear.

Kevin Munro, an audiological scientist who co-authored the study in Manchester, said he thinks that theory makes sense.”

The capillaries in the inner ear are the smallest in the human body, so it wouldn’t take much to block them,” he said.

Munro and his team at the University of Manchester are planning larger studies on Covid-19 and hearing loss.

Until then, they’re not sure why it seems like some Covid-19 patients develop hearing loss while others don’t.

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