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Surgeon says govt partnership needed to increase cleft surgeries

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A plastic surgeon at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu, Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Onah has said that there is need for the government to partner with Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Smile Train to ensure that more children with cleft deformities have access to free corrective surgeries.

Dr. Onah, who disclosed this in an interview with journalists, said that the government is currently involved with the immunization of children and should use that model to reach out to all children born with cleft. This is because the immunization model targets both children and parents, making it easier to administer.

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“So, we would love to have partnerships with the government so that when they do immunization, the work of Smile Train and other NGOs involved in cleft surgeries can be advertised and people who know those with cleft deformities can inform them about where to get the free treatment done,” he said.

Globally, it is estimated that a baby is born with a cleft deformity every three minutes. On average, one in every 500–750 live births results in a cleft. While an estimated 19,000 children are born with the condition annually in Africa, about 6,186 babies are born with it in Nigeria every year.

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Consequently, Dr Onah noted that the government can also increase the drive for health insurance which covers children with cleft deformities so that when NGOs move aside, after years of impacting lives, parents can always present their children for surgeries.

“But if we continue to have below 5% of Nigerians covered with health insurance, as we do now, quite a lot of people with a cleft will struggle with knowing where to go and how to treat,” he said.

Smile Train has over the years continues to dispel myths and misinformation surrounding cleft, providing funding, training and resources to medical professionals, empowering them to offer free, safe, timely and comprehensive cleft care all year round within the community. Smile Train has active programmes in over 70 countries globally, 40 of which are in Africa, working with over 255 partner surgeons in the continent.

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President Buhari departs Abuja for UAE

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President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday depart Abuja for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet the new president of the country, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The president will meet the new President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to convey his condolences on the passing of the former president and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The President will also extend his congratulations to the new President, renewing bonds of the longstanding friendship between Nigeria and the UAE.

Buhari, in an earlier congratulatory message to the new UAE leader, had reaffirmed Nigeria’s cordial relationship with the country.

He noted that the cooperation between both governments has helped Nigeria in tracking down illegal assets and tracing terrorist funds.

Under the new leadership, President Buhari looks forward to a bigger and stronger partnership for peace, stability, and prosperity for both countries.

President Buhari will be accompanied by the Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, and the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Other members of his delegation are the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Monguno (Rtd) and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.

The President is expected back in the country on Saturday.

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$200bn investments needed to access clean cooking gas by 2030-Sylva

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From Uche Usim, Abuja

With the global energy transition chants reaching a crescendo, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva has said that an annual investment of around $25 billion in the next eight years could help 2.6 billion people globally access clean cooking by 2030.

He also canvassed for $25 billion annual investments for electricity so that 759 million Africans who currently lack it can enjoy it.

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The Minister, who said these at the annual Symposium and Exhibition of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), on Tuesday in Lagos.

However, the Minister stressed that with “approximately 208.62 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of proven gas valued at over $803.9 trillion and potential upside of 600TCF of gas, the most extensive in Africa, and in the top 10 globally.

“And in line with Federal Government’s declaration of years 2021-2030 as the ‘Decade of Gas’, we are taking steps to expand and develop the nation’s huge gas resources through

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enhanced gas exploration, development and utilisation schemes which will lead to gas reserves growth, increased gas production, maturation of the domestic and export gas market, as well as gas flare elimination,” he said.

His suggestions drew inspiration from the United Nations Commission for Africa’s (UNECA) report, which highlighted that Africa needs about $40 billion worth of investments every year if it is to meet its energy needs.

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The Minister, while making reference to the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs report, noted that everyone in the world could have access to clean, affordable energy within the next nine to 10 years if countries modestly increase investments in the energy sector.

He said: “A major question that is yet to beanswered is whether Africa will benefit from an equitable share in this global

investment and growth or, will continue to fall further behind global standards as encapsulated in the UN’s 17-SDGs.

“Despite the long-term and required drop in demand for fossil fuels, short-term demand and prices remain robust, providing strong commercial justification for their extraction and a need to smooth the transition”.

Sylva added that the required investment represents only a small fraction of the multi-trillion-dollar global energy investment needed overall.

He noted that despite contributing less than 6% of world energy consumption and 2% of total global emissions, there is a need for the continent to shift to cleaner energy use.

With significantly untapped fossil fuel reserves, which could provide much-needed foreign direct investment and export revenue, Sylva said Africa has the ability to play a leading role and should play a leading role in the transition to a net-zero energy future. According to him, the continent’s enormous resources can be harnessed using clean energy technologies.

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Describing the PIA as a game changer, Sylva said the legislation will help support the continent to alleviate energy poverty.

He said: “The PIA has generous incentives to enable development, distribution, penetration, and utilisation of gas even as it incentivizes entry into the midstream, especially for pipelines with an additional 5-year tax holiday for investment in gas pipelines.

“The PIA is a supply-side enabler, capable of provoking and triggering commercial interests and investments in gas utilization as well as treating gas as a stand-alone commodity.”

“As a nation, we are following a transition pathway that combines technology, investment, business strategies, and government policy that will enable Nigeria to transition from its current energy system to a low-carbon energy system with natural gas playing a pivotal role over the next generation, roughly between now and 2060.

“Natural gas is a key resource for a just energy transition and has all the credentials to support Nigeria and indeed Africa meet up with her commitment with the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“As a major source of wealth and energy in Africa, the development of oil and gas resources proves critical for our

economic growth and revenue expansion,” he added.

The Minister insisted that there must be multiple pathways to the energy transition in order to ensure that no country is left behind in the process of achieving net-zero by 2060.

“As a continent, we need to be

intentional and recognize the need to develop hydrocarbon resources in environmentally and socially responsible ways.

“And as alluded to by the African

Union, we need to be realistic in choosing the energy transition pathways which addresses our unique requirements and circumstances. As well as enhancing policy, legislation and implementation approaches across national, regional, and continental level, to enable a favorable environment for development.

“We need to develop bankable projects to scale up access to funding and investment. And adopt a mix of energy solutions to address the needs of each country including solutions to high tariffs and accessibility to sustainable energy options.

“We need to promote energy efficiency which is necessary for energy transition and focus on building energy infrastructure and strengthening transmission corridors,” Sylva said.

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