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Open Defecation Free: UNICEF Commends Katagum LGA, Seeks Media Partnership

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has commended Katagum Local Government Area (LGA) of Bauchi state for attaining Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.

Katagum has now joined other seven LGAs of Dass, Warji, Shira, Gamawa, Bogoro, Ganjuwa and Toro, to have attained the ODF free status in the state.

Dr Clement Adams, the Officer in Charge of UNICEF, Bauchi Field Office, made the commendation in Azare, the Headquarters of Katagum LGA at the commemoration of the 2023 World Toilet Day.

He emphasised the importance for every household to have a toilet which could prevent outbreak of diseases and risk of lives by going into the bush to defecate.

“We have only eight out of the 20 LGAs in Bauchi state with Open Defecation Free status. We need to do more.

“We can do this through partnership. Here, the media plays a very critical role because their role is to help us educate the communities.

“As UNICEF, we can also do our part by making sure that we are reaching out to sensitise the public and create the necessary awareness,” he said.

Adams said that the media was a critical partner in the sensitising the communities on the need for ODF.

“If you don’t have a toilet in your house, you are endangering all the Nigerians that will have to look for a bush and are subjected to a lot of attacks like snake bite, diseases and so on,” he said.

Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Water Resources, Alhaji Nuhu Zaki, said the state government.was committed to attain an open defecation free status across all the 20 LGAs by 2025.

Represented by the General Manager, Bauchi State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Zaki said 5,934 communities were delivered open defecation free while Bauchi and Zaki LGAs were at the verge of becoming open defecation free.

“As one of the sustainability processes, the state government identified and trained private entrepreneurs on sanitation marketing for improved latrine construction in household and public places like markets and motor parks.

“Investors were trained on improved latrine construction both at household and public places across the state.

“As a result of the institutional formation and capacity building to the Toilet Business Owners, Masons and Toilet investors, 113,092 improved toilets were constructed across the state.

“I wish to extend the state government’s appreciation to UNICEF for its continued support to the people of Bauchi State particularly, women and children,” he said.

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Ensure Regular Check-ups To Prevent Blindness – Dr. Avar

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By Sani Yarima

Dr. Gideon Avar, an Ophthalmologist, emphasized the importance of regular check-ups for individuals aged forty years and above to prevent blindness. 

As the Medical Director of Nobis Eye Centre in Jalingo, Taraba State, Dr. Avar disclosed this while speaking with journalists at the Nobis VIP Eye Clinic located at Mile Six.

Despite the challenges faced by his clinic, Dr. Avar mentioned that they are making sacrifices to assist patients by reducing the cost of their medical bills.

He explained that most of their services are charity work, and as part of their social corporate responsibility, they have provided four boreholes in their host community to provide free water to people.

Dr. Avar urged individuals, particularly those over the age of forty, to prioritize regular check-ups, as prevention is better than cure. 

He also revealed that cataracts and glaucoma are the leading causes of blindness in Nigeria, adding that the hospital is conducting eye surgery for approximately 3000 people annually. 

Furthermore, Dr. Gedion Avar pointed out that the hospital has also offered services at a cheaper rate for the sake of the easter period. 

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Wateraid To Ensure Bauchi Has Access To Clean Water, Decent Toilets, Good Hygiene – Country Director

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Dr Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said Wateraid, state government with the support of global supply chain solutions provider DP World would ensure more people within Bauchi state have access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

She stated this in a press statement made available to newsmen on Friday in Bauchi

According to her, Bauchi is a focal state for WaterAid over the next five years, and we hope to keep working with the government and our partners to ensure more people within the state have access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

“In the face of climate change, access to water is becoming increasingly difficult and this has huge implications for health, nutrition, gender equity and economic productivity.

“We deeply appreciate the support of DP World in helping us to reach even more people with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

“These essential services help change lives, especially for women and girls, who bear a huge burden of searching for water, missing out on more productive activities such as education and business.” she said.

The statement also pointed out that the Group Chief Sustainability Officer, DP World, Maha AlQattan reflects on the expansion.

Said “At DP World, we aim to make a difference in the communities where we operate. In Mozambique, we are working alongside WaterAid to advance community wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

Now, we are expanding our support to Nigeria, to reach thousands more people with water services, enhancing good hygiene and improving sanitation, ensuring resilient progress in the face of climate challenges.

“Our commitment is to not only construct solar-powered water facilities and public toilets but also empower local women and youngsters to help foster sustainable communities.”AlQattan said

The statement said the International not-for-profit WaterAid and global supply chain solutions provider DP World have teamed up for a second time to launch a new project to ramp up access to sustainable climate-resilient clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in Bauchi State,

“The venture aims to tackle the challenges faced as a result of the climate crisis and rapid urbanization, and will reach over 15,000 people.

“Among those to benefit mostly include women and girls who are often burdened with the task of walking for miles to collect water, forcing them to sacrifice their education or opportunity to work and live autonomous lives.

“Bauchi State is the seventh most populous state in Nigeria, with a population of over 6.5 million. However, less than 1 in 5 people (18%) has access to basic water and hygiene services, while 21% still practice open defecation.

“At household levels, 74% of the water consumed in the state is contaminated with e-coli from the source, according to the Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) survey for 2021,” it said

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The State Of Primary Healthcare Centers In Taraba State, Nigeria  

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By Thomas Samuel

Primary healthcare centers are the backbone of essential healthcare services for the masses in Nigeria, especially in Taraba State. 

The state, located in the North-east region has 16 local government areas, many of which have rural communities facing significant healthcare delivery challenges.

In recent years, primary healthcare centers in Taraba State have faced a myriad of issues. They suffer from poor infrastructure, inadequate staffing, and critical shortages of essential drugs and funds. 

A recent investigation has highlighted the dire situation in many local government areas. Primary healthcare centers are failing to meet expectations due to dilapidated structures, lack of resources, and staffing shortages.

Local government areas such as Ardo-Kola, Bali, Donga, and Yorro struggle to provide comprehensive healthcare services due to the absence of qualified doctors, inadequate pharmacy facilities, and the failure of the state government to renovate and equip these centers with essential medical facilities.

The absence of doctors and essential medical supplies leads to alarming consequences, including a high child mortality rate in the State, which stood at 70 deaths per 1000 live births in 2018. 

This statistic underscores the urgent need for intervention to address the healthcare challenges faced by communities across the state.

Although the state government has made efforts, such as deploying community health extension workers and providing practical training for students, they have fallen short of addressing the root causes of the healthcare crisis. 

Primary healthcare centers continue to struggle, resulting in preventable deaths and exacerbating the plight of vulnerable communities.

The challenges facing primary healthcare centers in Taraba State extend to all 16 local government areas in the state. Issues such as lack of electricity, absence of clean water sources, and critical shortages of functional healthcare facilities further compound the situation. 

This identifies Taraba among states facing a critical shortage of well-equipped healthcare facilities.

Though successive administrations have made efforts to improve the quality of primary healthcare services, sustaining these interventions has proven challenging. 

For example, while Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku’s administration made strides in equipping primary healthcare centers, these efforts waned after the initial intervention period. 

The present administration under Governor Kefas Agbu has shown commitment to revitalizing healthcare centers, but significant efforts are required for effective implementation.

Adequate funding, manpower, and security are paramount to safeguarding lives and ensuring the effective operation of primary healthcare centers.

However, Taraba State grapples with insecurity, with reports of attacks on healthcare centers and workers impeding service delivery.

To address these challenges and improve healthcare service delivery in the State and Nigeria as a whole, there must be a concerted effort to prioritize funding and implement necessary interventions. 

This includes ensuring adequate manpower, infrastructure, and security measures to safeguard healthcare facilities and personnel. 

Only through sustained investment and commitment can the goal of providing quality healthcare services to all citizens be achieved.

In conclusion, stakeholders at all levels must prioritize investment in healthcare infrastructure, allocate adequate resources, and implement sustainable solutions to improve access to quality healthcare services in Taraba State. 

This is imperative for the health and well-being of the populace and the advancement of the state and nation.

Thomas Samuel is an Editor at the Taraba State Broadcasting Service and a Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University UK. Edited By Sani Yarima.

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