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Suspected Ebola cases in Congo rise to 29



The number of suspected Ebola cases in Congo has risen to 29, up from 21, Reuters News agency reports World Health Organisation spokesman Christian Lindmeier as saying.

Three people have died so far and 416 peolpe who may have had contact with sufferers were being chased up in case they also developed symptoms, he said.

People began to get sick on or after 22 April in Bas-Uele province in the country’s far north.

The region affected lies 1,300km (800 miles) north-east of Kinshasa, close to the border with the Central African Republic, in a remote forested area.

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Education, key to exclusive breastfeeding – Survey



The 2016- 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2016-17) has revealed that education is one of the most important tool in encouraging and promoting the campaign for 100 per cent attainment of exclusive breastfeeding by all mothers in Nigeria. Out of the 60 per cent child deaths attributed directly and indirectly to under nutrition, two third of child deaths have been attributed to improper feeding during the first year of a child’s existence.


A key finding in the survey indicates that 41.0 per cent of children under five in the country were exclusively breastfed by mothers who had attained one form of higher education or the other.

A further breakdown reveals that 30.6 of the children were exclusively breastfed by mothers who completed their secondary school education, 20.8 per cent was attributed to mothers who only attended primary school, 16.9 of the children were born to women who had non-formal education and 19.6 of the children were breastfed by mothers who had no access to any form of education whatsoever.


The United Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF (UNICEF), Evaluation Expert, Maureen Zubie-Okolo, told newsmen during a media dialogue on MICS5 2017 and Data Driven Reporting in Enugu, that “the percentage of children exclusively breastfed is not as high as those predominantly breastfed.”


According to Zubie-Okolo, a mother’s education has a great impact on the nutritional status of the child, as children born by mothers who were either unable to attain any form of education or only had access to lower education, were the ones mostly faced with issues of malnutrition.


She noted that the survey was proof that the more the number of educated mothers in the country, the higher the chances of an increased percentage of children exclusively breastfed as a result of access to adequate information and a better understanding of the benefits of feeding a child with only breast milk within the first six months after birth.


While noting that 54.0 percent of children in Nigeria were breastfed predominantly, and only 23.7 per cent were exclusively breastfed, she lamented that based on the survey, women in northern Nigeria ranked lowest in breastfeeding their children exclusively.


The figures from the North West shows only 18.5 per cent of children were breastfed exclusively and 56.6 per cent were predominantly breastfed, while 21.3 per cent were exclusively breastfed and 50.4 predominantly breastfed in the North East, as against the Southwest, where 70.5 per cent of children born were breastfed exclusively.

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UN Women seeks nation’s commitment on gender equality



As report lists lack of data, poor funding as gaps for women’s empowerment

The UN Women recently called the world community to hold accountable for gender equality commitments those in power across different countries of the world.

To this end, the international organisation, has therefore called for the institution of a vibrant civil society with space to express itself, as part of measures to achieve hold world leaders accountable over gender equality issues.

UN Women made these calls during the launch on February 14  of its flagship report, “Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The report demonstrates through concrete evidence and data the pervasive nature of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, and puts forth actionable recommendations on how to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Two and a half years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, this first-of-its-kind report examines through a gender lens the progress and challenges in the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Agenda’s focus on peace, equality and sustainability provides a powerful counter-narrative to the current rise of conflict, exclusion and environmental degradation.

Yet, women are up against an unprecedented set of challenges in all these areas, and urgent action is needed to address them.

For instance, new analysis from the report shows that:

In 89 countries with available data, women and girls account for 330 million of the poor. This translates to four more women living on less than USD 1.90 a day for every 100 men.

The gender gap is particularly wide during the reproductive years.

More than 50 per cent of urban women and girls in developing countries live in conditions where they lack at least one of the following – access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, durable housing, and sufficient living area.

Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls is a pre-condition for peaceful societies, yet one in five women under the age of 50 experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the past 12 months.

Between 2010 and 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares of forest areas. Poor rural women depend on common pool resources and are especially affected by their depletion.

Presenting the report, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “As a world, we committed through the SDGs to leave no one behind. This report’s new data and analysis underlines that, unless progress on gender equality is significantly accelerated, the global community will not be able to keep its promise. This is an urgent signal for action, and the report recommends the directions to follow.”

The report highlights how, in the lives of women and girls, different dimensions of well-being and deprivation are deeply intertwined: a girl who is born into a poor household and forced into early marriage, for example, is more likely to drop out of school, give birth at an early age, suffer complications during childbirth, and experience violence—all SDG targets—than a girl from a higher-income household who marries at a later age.

The report also looks beyond national averages to uncover the yawning gaps between women and girls who, even within the same country, are living worlds apart because of their income status, race/ethnicity, or where they live.

In the United States (US), poverty rates among black, native American, and Alaskan native women more than double those of white and Asian women, with disparities in education also staggering.

Thirty-eight per cent of Hispanic women in the poorest quintile did not complete high school, compared to a national average of 10 per cent. Other case studies and data sets from the report take an in-depth look at the situation in Colombia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, and Uruguay.

The report also provides wide-ranging recommendations for change, highlighting four key areas of action:

Integrated policies that can leverage synergies and help achieve several goals at the same time. Achieving gender equality is not only an important goal in and of itself, but also a catalyst for achieving the 2030 Agenda and a sustainable future for all.

 For instance, the report shows that reducing the burden of unpaid care work for women by providing free and universal child care would allow them to access employment opportunities, create decent jobs in the social services sector, and improve children’s health and nutritional outcomes. And, as simulations for South Africa and Uruguay show, the investment would at least in part pay for itself by generating new jobs and additional tax revenue.

Currently, we cannot actually assess what is happening to women and girls across all 17 SDGs. Six of them have no indicators with explicit mentions of women and girls, and the lack of timely and regular gender data hampers adequate monitoring.

The financing gap to achieve a sustainable world can in fact be closed, by addressing the unrecorded capital flight, including illicit financial flows that developing countries face; by reversing the public expenditure cuts that erode safety nets and essential services in both developed and developing countries; and by using all strategies available for raising domestic revenue

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Bed sharing raises risk of baby deaths



Scientists have raised the alarm over the number of babies dying of suffocation, occasioned by an increase in the number of parents sharing beds with their infants.


According to the findings of a report published in ‘Paediatrics,’ babies are safest sleeping on their backs in their own cribs without any pillows, toys, blankets or other loose bedding. From 1999 to 2015, the suffocation death rate for babies younger than one year climbed from 12.4 to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 United States (US) infants.


Similarly, the study shows that in 2015 alone, this translated into 1,100 infant deaths that were entirely preventable.


The majority of these suffocation fatalities occurred while babies were in bed. Although, there is lack of data to show the trend of these activities in Nigeria where bed sharing between mothers and newborn is very common among low income and the poor, it is believed that this practice might also be impacting negatively in the country.



However, going by the guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), if babies do sleep in parents’ beds, parents should have a firm mattress, remove soft objects such as pillows, and move the bed away from the wall, as part of measures to ensure the safety of the babies.


Similarly, the AAP said parents should also be aware that bed sharing is most dangerous for newborns, less than four months old, premature babies and underweight infants, or if babies were exposed to tobacco during or after pregnancy.



Study co-author, David Schwebel, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said: “It may be that parents are not following `safe sleep’ recommendations to place infants in beds without stuffed animals, soft blankets, pillows, and other items that could cause suffocation.


Suffocation and strangulation deaths increased across the board for boys and girls, regardless of race, ethnicity or whether they lived in urban or rural communities, the study found. At least some of the increase in suffocation deaths might be due to a change in how these fatalities are categorised, researchers note.


Some fatalities that were attributed to sleep-related causes like sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the start of the study might have been categorised as accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed by the end of the study period.-

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