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Health Workers Declare Strike In Ogun Over Insecurity

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Health workers in Ogun State have begun a strike action over complaints of doctors kidnappings. They say they will not go to work unless the government ensures they are protected.

Ogun State branches of the Nigerian Medical Association and national association of Nigeria nurses and midwives, said they are no longer safe as they announce decision to go on strike midnight Tuesday.

A medical doctor and a nurse were said to have been kidnapped on Wednesday last week on the Abeokuta-Imeko road. A dental therapist employed at the state general hospital in Ijebu Igbo was also abducted on her way to work on Monday.

Nurses and midwives association said in a letter of notification of withdrawal of service to the state commissioner of health, Dr Tomi Coker, that quote it is clear protection of lives and resources is way out of reach of the government. End quote.”

NMA chairman, Dr. Oladayo Ogunlaja said before health workers return to work, the state government must fix security issues and make where they work a safe place without any fear.

The state is now becoming unsafe for everybody living in the state, not in one axis.”

Meanwhile, a prominent figure who was one of two people who arranged the release of the two health workers with kidnappers has accused some police officers of colluding with the kidnappers.

The victims were released as a result of the efforts and the ransom offered to the kidnappers, according to the negotiator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He, on the other hand, remained tight-lipped about the supposed ransom paid to the kidnappers.

“The experience is not what we should be talking about,” the source said. The police and the kidnappers were working together. They are well-informed about the situation. Our people (the kidnapped doctors and nurses) told us that the kidnappers told them what we told the police.”

However, when approached, Abimbola Oyeyemi, the state’s police public relations officer, was enraged by the accusation.

The remark, according to Oyeyemi, was unjust and callous. “that would be the most callous and deceitful remark i have ever received from anyone,” he said.

He said that police had been on the lookout for the kidnappers for days, to the point where “even the helicopter that we have now has been used for aerial surveillance because of these people.”

“Even we mobilized local vigilantes, some of them were even attacked by the hoodlums. After all these somebody would be saying that they did not do anything.”

On the ransom, Oyeyemi said, “we told them that we are not in support of any ransom to be paid because if we are paying ransom we will be making them feel that the thing they (kidnappers) are doing is good, and  the more they will continue doing it.”

When contacted, Remmy Hazzan, special adviser to the governor in public communications, summarized the government’s behaviour.

The government, according to hazzan, played its part but chose not to get involved in something that did not follow its rules of engagement.

“There are certain types of agreements that would not fall in line with the government’s rules of engagement,” he said.

“So, if some people are involved in some negotiations and are out of order and we are not part of that ,that cannot be a reason why we should be held down.

“But we did our own within the limit of the rules of engagement. What they interpreted to mean we, not being involved may not particularly be the rules of engagement that we know.”

In response to medical workers’ decision to go on strike over unemployment, hazzan said that the government was willing to work with them.

“We’ll involve them,” he said. The level of comprehension or perception of safety varies from person to person.

“There are things that you need to do beyond the people that are actually in uniform, so, when we engage the medical practitioners, we will be able to agree on the minimum that will ensure that everybody is safe.

“If they are asking for security it is well within their rights as citizens of this country because the constitution also guarantees that.

“But, we will engage them and we will be able to take the right step to ensure that everybody is safe.”

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India Tops 24 Million COVID-19 Cases As New Variant Spreads Across Globe

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India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised an alarm over the rapid spread of the highly transmissible coronavirus mutant first detected in the country as the official tally of infections crossed 24 million, and 4,000 persons died for the third straight day.

Jairo Mendez, a World Health Organization infectious diseases expert said the Indian B.1.617 variant of the virus has been found in cases in eight countries of the Americas, including Canada and the United States.

Mendez said “These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences” adding that “the only worry is that they spread faster.”

People infected by the variant included travellers in Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe. In the Caribbean, cases of the Indian variant have been detected in Aruba, Dutch St Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.

The mutant strain has also been detected in Britain, as well as in Singapore.

According to health ministry data, India recorded 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections in the last 24 hours.

Public Health England said the total number of confirmed cases of the variant had more than doubled in the past week to 1,313 across the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said “We are anxious about it – it has been spreading,” adding that there would be meetings to discuss what to do. “We’re ruling nothing out.”

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WATCH: WTO Considers COVID-19 Vaccine Patents Rights

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W.H.O. Urges Waiver Of COVID-19 Patent Rules

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Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated its call on manufacturing companies and countries to waive COVID-19 vaccine patent rules to enable the jabs to be produced more widely in countries with low vaccination rates.

W.H.O. director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus expressed disappointment that delegates had so far been reluctant to back the proposal at the World Trade Organization put forward by South Africa and India.

The world health body has also said it needs between 35 billion to 45 billion dollars to fund its Covax vaccination programme for low income countries next year.

Meanwhile, American drug firm Moderna has pledged half a billion doses of its vaccine to Covax over this year and next year.

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