Information and news about nigeria

diagnose birth asphyxiaBirth asphyxia is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It occurs when a child does not get enough oxygen before, during or after birth. However, an app under development could detect asphyxia in as little as 10 seconds. As such, this app has the potential to diagnose birth asphyxia and save the lives of children.

Causes and Symptoms of Asphyxia

Some causes of perinatal asphyxia include low blood pressure in the mother, placental abruption wherein the placenta separates from the uterus wall and the compression or entanglement of the umbilical cord. Additionally, birth asphyxia can be caused if the uterus does not fully relax. This is because it can impede blood flow to the placenta and thus the child.

As a result, the symptoms of children suffering from asphyxia include a weak or irregular heart rate, weak reflexes, being blue in color, lethargy and/or a soft cry.

This last symptom, a soft cry, is important. It is what Ubenwe, a Nigerian AI company, relies on to diagnose birth asphyxia. Moreover, Ubenwe plans to save children from debilitating illnesses resulting from brain damage caused by asphyxia, like blindness or deafness.

What is Ubenwe?

Ubenwe is a mobile app that uses proprietary AI technology to detect weak crying that can be a sign of asphyxia. In their words, the app can “analyze the amplitude and frequency patterns in the cry to provide a diagnosis of birth asphyxia.”

Ubenwe is an Igbo word that means “cry of a child.” In clinical trials, where the app tested 1,400 recordings of children crying, the app can diagnose birth asphyxia with a 95 percent accuracy rate. By recognizing this key symptom of asphyxia immediately and accurately, Ubenwe can save many lives.

Nigerian student Charles Onu and his research team invented the app at McGill University in Canada. Additionally, Onu is an associate fellow at the Royal Commonwealth Society. He is one of 12 fellows from around the world chosen to take part in the Jeanne Suave’ Leadership Program. This program brings together the world’s brightest young leaders to end global problems.

In 2017, Ubenwe was one of 141 teams from around the world to make it into the X Prize competition. This competition encourages inventors to apply AI technology when solving global problems. Subsequently, Ubenwe began research and development in 2012. In 2014, Ubenwe began pilot testing.

The Importance of Ubenwe

Currently, the main method to diagnose birth asphyxia requires drawing blood from the umbilical cord or the baby. However, this method is not suitable because 60 percent of women worldwide do not give birth in a hospital. Half of all deaths that occur in middle- to low-income nations could be prevented if the afflicted had had access to a hospital. Often, by the time the parents of a child are able to reach a hospital, the harm has already been done.

However, 95 percent of the developing world has a mobile phone. Ultimately, every one of those 95 percent could have access to Ubenwe and potentially diagnose birth asphyxia. With the majority of developing countries having access to mobile phones, they have increasing access to apps with the power to save lives.

– Sarah Bradley
Photo: Flickr

Victims of Boko HaramSince 2002, the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, has killed more than 27,000 people and displaced nearly two million from their homes in the northeast regions of Nigeria. For victims of Boko Haram, recovery will be a lifelong process. Although it has been estimated that nearly 4.5 million people remain food insecure since the insurgency, it is the psychological toll that remains most difficult to measure and treat. With the help of organizations such as the U.N., the Neem Foundation and Tender Arts Nigeria, victims of Boko Haram in refugee camps are offered much-needed psychological treatment, including art therapy and training on how to reintegrate into society.

The Role of Therapy in Combating Trauma

Many victims of Boko Haram are taken as children and forced to both witness and commit acts of unspeakable violence, even to members of their own families. Girls as young as 11 are forced to marry and undergo rape. These girls are frequently used as suicide bombers, while the boys are trained as soldiers. The victims of Boko Haram are indoctrinated and occasionally radicalized themselves. For this reason, they are often shamed or feared upon their return, being referred to as epidemics.

The Neem Foundation highlights the importance of therapy to help victims recover from psychological trauma. After being kidnapped, witnessing their villages being attacked and their loved ones being killed, many people suffer severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Children also frequently suffer from cognitive delays and a proclivity towards violent outbursts.

The Neem Foundation brings individual and group therapy to refugee camps, visiting the camps on motorized tricycles called kekes around the country. Terna Abege, a clinical psychologist with the Neem Foundation, uses various methods of therapy, including visualization techniques called “thought-stoppers” to help victims of PTSD deal with disturbing flashbacks. The Neem Foundation and other nonprofits, such as MANI, seek to fill the gap in mental health care in any way they can, including offering therapy to suicidal victims over Twitter and WhatsApp.

How Art Therapy is Used in Nigerian Refugee Camps

Art therapy is also being integrated in refugee camps to help people sort through their mental trauma. The use of drawing and painting, among other art forms, can divert attention from negative thoughts and help people communicate in alternative ways. Art therapy can also help victims preserve their broken cultures and identities and express feelings that they cannot put into words.

In an emergency school set up by UNICEF in Cameroon, children gather in groups to draw as a form of art therapy. The trauma is evident in the scenes of violence and bloodshed that seem to flow naturally from the reservoirs of their memories. Under Boko Haram, children are beaten for crying at the violence they witness and not allowed to play with toys or make noise. When they return, they are often desensitized to violence and either act out violently or withdraw entirely. The art therapy helps the children to express what they have been suppressing and helps therapists identify those in most need of treatment.

Since 2013, Tender Arts Nigeria, created by Kunle Adewale, has used art therapy to help children suffering from physical and mental illnesses and impairments, such as cancer, Down Syndrome and behavioral problems. Since the war with Boko Haram, Tender Arts has reached out to victims of violence and radicalization. They use art therapy to assist in deradicalization efforts and to heal those traumatized from the violence.

Like the Neem Foundation, Tender Arts believes its efforts are not only important avenues of healing but important in helping people avoid radicalization or other areas of crime. More than 10,000 victims have already benefited from the art therapy offered by Tender Arts Nigeria. Because Boko Haram preys on the poor, young and uneducated, Adewale believes that valuing the arts and education is the best way to fight Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden.”

The Importance of Greater Access to Mental Health Care in Nigeria

The Neem foundation highlights the importance of increasing the availability of psychological treatment for refugees in Nigeria. There is a major deficit in mental health care in Nigeria, with only one mental health facility available in the northeast and only one therapist per 375,000 people. The Neem Foundation is working to implement programs that will train more people to offer therapy. They now offer an intensive nine-month program in Maiduguri to train lay counselors who can work more immediately as therapists for the traumatized population.

Although the road to recovery is a long one for victims of Boko Haram’s violence, the Neem Foundation believes in the need to act quickly to prevent more severe mental illnesses from developing. They are working to spread awareness about mental health and want to gain more governmental support for the mental health crisis in the coming years. In the meantime, as more therapists become available throughout Nigeria, it is their hope that these victims can recover and start to live normal lives again.

– Christina Laucello
Photo: Flickr

Disabilities in Nigeria
Out of Nigeria’s estimated population of 200 million, approximately 27 million people live with disabilities. A 2005 study by the Leprosy Mission Nigeria found that, of its 1,093 respondents, 37 percent struggled with visual impairments, 32 percent had limited mobility, 15 percent had reduced hearing and the majority of people surveyed—61 percent—were unemployed because of their disability. People with disabilities in Nigeria typically receive little support from the government and instead rely on family members, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and religious groups. One of their biggest obstacles is the stigma surrounding their disabilities, which excludes them socially, economically and politically.

Often, families treat people with disabilities in Nigeria as a secret shame, and work and education exclude them. In extreme cases, their families abandon them or, if the family is wealthy, they institutionalize them. The Leprosy Mission Nigeria found in its survey that 16 percent of its participants survived by begging.

The Stigma Surrounding Disabilities

Tobiloba Ajayi, a lawyer and cerebral palsy activist born with CP, regularly faces questions and judgments about her mental faculties. She told Bright Magazine that, in a university pre-admission interview, “They said, ‘Really, I don’t think you’ll survive the semester.’ I remember looking [them] in the face and saying, ‘Watch me.’” She graduated five years later with a law degree.

Activists with disabilities in Nigeria like Ajayi are working to fight the stigma by changing the public perception of people with disabilities. Often, people treat them as “one-dimensional charity cases” rather than empowered people with their own needs. Ajayi helped make history by being one the lawyers to draft the state of Lagos’Special Peoples Law, which criminalized discrimination against people with disabilities and required that state-owned buildings and large buses be wheelchair accessible. When enacted in 2011, Lagos became the first state in Nigeria to pass a disability protection law. While this law helps increase accessibility for people with disabilities in Nigeria, inaccessibility still leaves many out.

Accessibility

According to Leprosy Mission Nigeria, 70 percent of the participants lacked access to disability-specific health care. Social agencies in Nigeria often receive limited funding partly because of the prevailing belief that the government should take a hands-off approach to let the country grow. The lack of funding and manpower means that these social agencies cannot access rural areas where the most vulnerable population lives.

In addition to a lack of medical care, people with disabilities in Nigeria often struggle with finding accommodations. Cobhams Asuquo, a blind singer, songwriter and producer, often struggled with finding braille reading material. In college, the braille textbooks were expensive and hard to come by. He told Bright Magazine, “As a nation we’re missing out on the value [people with disabilities] can add, just because we’re not creating an enabling environment for them to thrive.”

For the past several years, activists have been working tirelessly to pass the Nigeria Disability Act. In January 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed it into law after two chambers of the National Assembly passed it. To ensure that Nigeria enacts this law effectively, Sightsavers Nigeria has petitioned the U.N. to uphold the rights of people with disabilities.

While Nigeria has a way to go to give people with disabilities equal opportunity, the passage of this law is a great start. By increasing access and protection, people with disabilities in Nigeria can have a greater voice in politics, education and the economy.

– Katharine Hanifen
Photo: Flickr

treating hiv in west and central africa
As of 2017, 1.8 million adolescents around the world are living with HIV. This accounts for five percent of total HIV cases. Approximately 1.5 million, or 85 percent, of these adolescents, live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of this, 61 percent live in Eastern and Southern Africa and 24 percent live in West and Central Africa. The region with the second-highest HIV rates for adolescents in the world is West and Central Africa. Ending HIV in West and Central Africa requires strong national and international efforts to protect and treat children and adults.

One of the largest problems in the region is a lack of HIV testing. According to Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, a majority of children living with HIV are not receiving the proper care because they have never been tested and do not know they have the disease.

One way to resolve this is to ensure testing is being done at primary health facilities in communities, with a family-centered approach. It is equally important to increase testing and treatment for pregnant women. Only 47 percent of pregnant women with HIV in West and Central Africa were able to use antiretroviral medicines, which prevent transmission to the unborn child.

Gender Matters

Among adolescents, there are often gender disparities in HIV infections. In many parts of the world—including South Asia, East Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa—more boys than girls between the ages of 15 and 19 were newly infected in 2017. Whereas in West, Central, Eastern and Southern Africa significantly more girls than boys were infected. In West and Central Africa, 66 percent of the new were girls, while only 34 percent were boys.

Women and girls in this region are particularly at risk of HIV because of cultural, social and economic inequalities. They are less likely to attend school. Girls that are uneducated are twice as likely to become infected with HIV than girls who have attended school. Additionally, uneducated girls are at a greater risk for partner violence, increasing the risk for HIV.

Access to healthcare is also a significant issue. Women’s inability to see a healthcare provider prevents life-saving testing and treatments. Approximately 50 percent of girls and young women in Sub-Saharan Africa are not allowed to make personal health decisions.

International Efforts

Ending HIV has long been a focus of international humanitarian organizations. Recently, with the increased focus on preventing HIV infections among adolescents, UNAIDS created ALL IN! This collaboration improves knowledge about HIV, as well as how it can be prevented and treated. The goal is to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent by 2020, aiming for ending the epidemic by 2030.

UNAIDS reports that HIV has already decreased in some of the most severely affected countries due to the adoption of safer sexual practices by adolescents. Often, school is crucial to providing the necessary sex education.

Efforts to reduce HIV in West and Central Africa is not only being done by international organizations such as UNAIDS; governments and their partners are taking initiatives to better prevent and treat HIV in youth and adults.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the government made the decision to stop charging people for HIV testing and treatment services. Fees have long been a barrier for those who live in poverty. Currently, only 46 percent of those in Côte d’Ivoire living with HIV were accessing treatment. Hopefully, this initiative will begin to increase this number, helping nearly half a million people.

Treatments and Strategies

Those who are at a high risk of HIV in West and Central Africa but have not yet contracted the disease can take the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimen. A pilot study is taking place in Burkina Faso, focusing on providing this preventative treatment to the most vulnerable. This includes homosexual men, who often avoid medical treatment due to the stigma surrounding their sexuality.

Once the study, which began at the end of 2018, is completed the plan is to expand PrEP across the nation and, eventually, the entire region. Benjamin Sana, a participant in this pilot study, is thankful for the treatment and believes that PrEP has the potential to save lives.

In response to a new survey, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president led the development of a Revised National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework for 2019 to 2021. Since 2010, Nigeria has tripled the number of people who receive HIV treatment and adopted an effected test and treat policy in 2016.

The new strategy aims to ensure services are being delivered to the people who need them the most, even in remote areas with less health care access. One of their primary goals is to ensure that no more children are born with HIV in Nigeria, according to the president.

These efforts in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, as well as other countries in the region, will hopefully have a significant impact on the future of HIV in West and Central Africa, saving thousands of lives.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in NigeriaNigeria, Africa’s most populated country, is having a mental health crisis. Many developing nations fall prey to mental health traps, and this West African country is no different. Developing nations spend too little, if any, resources on mental healthcare, and their nation’s population suffers because of it. Healthcare in Nigeria, especially for those with mental health issues, is poorly managed, underfunded and outdated. Here are five facts about mental health in Nigeria.

Five Facts about Mental Health in Nigeria

  1. With a population of 181 million, it is estimated that as much as 30 percent of the population suffers from a mental illness. This means that more than 54 million people are dealing with mental illness with little to no help. In comparison, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 54 million is the same number of people who are diagnosed with arthritis in the United States.
  2. In Nigeria, fewer than 10 percent of those battling mental illness have access to mental healthcare. Access is mainly limited to cities, leaving the rural areas without resources for psychiatric care. Since half of the population of Nigeria live in rural areas, those people do not have access to mental healthcare. Those people are turning to self-medication, self-diagnosis and misunderstanding or denial of their symptoms. Many of those without help are children and adolescents.
  3. There has not been an update to the laws regarding mental health in Nigeria since 1958. These laws are outdated and contradict decades of mental health research. This is how it is possible for the Nigerian government to spend only 4 percent of its annual budget on healthcare.
  4. Depression is the most common illness that affects mental health. In a global survey, Nigeria ranked 15 in the number of suicides per year. In another survey, Nigeria was ranked the most depressed country in Africa. Despite the government’s inability to manage mental health in Nigeria, there is hope.
  5. MANI, or the Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative, is the largest and most successful NGO fighting mental illness in Nigeria. This group focuses on ending the negative stigma surrounding mental health in order to increase the demand and the resources for psychiatric care. MANI has been successful since its inception in 2016 by using the internet and social media to spread awareness as well as providing a suicide and distress hotline.

MANI has grown its following from 500 to more than 20,000 Nigerians, spreading the word across the country about the free mental health services that it offers. MANI is providing an important resource for mental health in Nigeria, but until NGOs like MANI gain more traction, those struggling with a mental illness will continue to find a lack of support and continued opposition to changing laws surround mental healthcare.

Kathryn Moffet
Photo: Flickr

Floating SchoolsFloating schools are exactly what their name suggests, they are schools floating on water, typically on a boat. They are essential to providing year-round education in regions where rainy seasons and flooding often disrupt the school year for the most vulnerable children. Floating schools have proved to be incredibly effective in providing an uninterrupted education in places like Bangladesh, Nigeria and Colombia where extreme weather often makes getting an education more difficult.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh is located in the massive delta created by the Ganges, the Meghna and the Brahmaputra Rivers meaning that the majority of the country is below sea level. The monsoon season, from June to October, can leave up to two-thirds of the country under water. Naturally, this extreme flooding makes it impossible for children to get to school for a significant part of the year which can be very harmful to a developing mind.

Enter the nonprofit Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha and its 23 floating schools. The floating schools usually take the form of large boats and use solar panels to provide electricity and power computers. These schools bring the classroom to Bangladeshi children when they cannot get to it themselves. In addition to the school boats, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha operates a flotilla of boats acting as libraries, adult education centers and solar workshops. In 2012, the organization won the U.N. Prize for Inspiring Environmental Action.

Nigeria

The neighborhood of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria spans across the Lagos lagoon making the region at perpetual risk of flooding and waterlogging. Around 250,000 people live in Makoko in crude housing that often deteriorates because of heavy rains. These conditions make it especially difficult to give children in this community a consistent education. The Nigerian architect, Kunlé Adeyemi, in collaboration with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the United Nations, designed and built Makoko’s prototype floating school. The school was three stories, used plastic drums to stay afloat and housed around 100 students.

Unfortunately in 2016, after the school had been decommissioned, the structure collapsed during heavy rains after what Adeyemi described as “three years of intensive use and exceptional service to the community.” The Makoko community and the international community alike welcomed the school. In 2014, the floating school was shortlisted for the design of the year award and an improved version of the school is already in the design process to replace the collapsed one.

Colombia

In northern Colombia, in the town of Sempegua, the rainy season invariably brings flooding and disruption. Andres Uribe and Lina Catano, in partnership with the United Nations Development Fund and Colombia’s National Disaster Risk Management, constructed and inaugurated the first floating school in Latin America in 2014. The architects behind the project designed the school so that it could float during the rainy season and function on ground during the dry season, making it operative year-round. The schoolhouse can fit 60 children and around 400 underprivileged families will benefit from the floating structure. The school is also part of a loftier project that Uribe outlined, “and when we talk about floatable housing solutions, we are not just imagining schools, but houses, health centers, sports centers, or commercial zones, so the town can continue to be productive.”

These floating schools provide consistent access to education to children who otherwise would not be able to get to school on a regular basis, but also provide viable infrastructure solutions to places where persistent flooding has been disruptive for decades. Floating schools are just the beginning; the future leaders educated inside these schools are sure to continue developing the full potential of floating infrastructures for their communities.

– Isabel Fernandez

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Antenatal Care in NigeriaMany developing countries have reduced their maternal mortality rates by expanding maternal care through policy innovations. Between 1990 and 2015, maternal mortality has dropped by 44 percent. While this is a considerable amount, maternal mortality remains high in developing countries. For example, in Nigeria, only 61 percent of pregnant women visit a skilled antenatal care provider at least once during their pregnancy. The average rate for similar lower-to middle-income countries is 79 percent.

Maternal health concerns the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. During this time, major causes of maternal mortality include hemorrhaging, infection, high blood pressure and obstructed labor.

Every day, 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and birth. In fact, 99 percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries. It is necessary for policy innovation in developing countries because sustained use of maternal and antenatal care and increased rates of institutionalized delivery reduce maternal mortality.

Antenatal Care in Nigeria

Of the women who did access and antenatal care, 41 percent did not deliver in a health care facility. Nigeria ranks in the top 16 nations in maternal mortality: 576 deaths per 100,000 births. Containing only 2.45 percent of the world’s population, Nigeria contributes to 19 percent of maternal deaths globally.

There is a stark difference in the number of women who seek antenatal care in urban and rural areas: 75 percent versus 38 percent, respectively. Studies also show that more skilled professionals attended births in urban areas, revealing that 67 percent of women had a trained professional helping them. In rural areas, only 23 percent of women had the help of trained professionals. In these rural areas, only 8 percent of newborns receive postnatal care, whereas 25 percent of children do so in urban environment.

Due to the lack of health coverage and used resources, many of Nigeria’s infants die from preventable causes. Approximately:

  • 31 percent die from prematurity,
  • 30.9 percent die from birth asphyxia and trauma and
  • 16.2 percent die from sepsis.

Ways to Increase Access to Antenatal Care in Nigeria

Improving maternal and antenatal care in Nigeria can encourage women to utilize services such as improved facility infrastructure and amenities. Policy innovation in Nigeria can result in better equipment, more available drugs and an increase in overall comfort for the spaces.

In a study of antenatal patients in Nigeria, women responded positively to increased interpersonal interactions with providers. The study also suggested that improved maternal care should include access to providers who have technical performance skills and experience. Improved maternal care also includes access to providers who display empathy for their patients. Furthermore, policy innovation in Nigeria could improve increased access to facilities for those in rural areas.

Accessed to maternal and antenatal care in Nigeria can be improved with policy innovations made throughout the country. By making health facilities more accessible to more women and giving them the supplies and support they need, Nigeria will be able to decrease its maternal mortality rate and save its families from preventable complications of during pregnancy and infancy.

Michela Rahaim
Photo: Flickr

Tuberculosis in NigeriaTuberculosis is an infectious disease that attacks the lungs and destroys other organs in the body, causing coughing, weight loss, fever, night sweats and sometimes death. More than one-third of the world’s population is infected with bacteria that could cause tuberculosis, and between 5 and 10 percent of the people infected will become sick. Two million people die from tuberculosis every year.

Poverty and tuberculosis are connected, as many impoverished people live in unhygienic communities with little access to healthcare. Young children and people living with HIV are also at serious risk since tuberculosis is harder to diagnose in both groups. There are many people in danger from tuberculosis, particularly those living in developing countries where poverty and diseases are common. This article will discuss facts, causes and solutions to the problem of tuberculosis in Nigeria.

Tuberculosis in Nigeria

Nigeria is ranked seventh out of the 30 highest burden countries for tuberculosis and second in Africa. Around 470,000 people are diagnosed with tuberculosis in Nigeria every year, leading to more than 150,000 deaths from tuberculosis in 2017 alone.

One of the greatest risks to the Nigerian people is the co-infection of tuberculosis and HIV. It is 16- 27 times more likely that someone with HIV will develop tuberculosis in their lifetime than someone without HIV. In fact, 63,000 HIV positive people are diagnosed with tuberculosis every year in Nigeria and 39,000 HIV positive people die from tuberculosis every year in Nigeria. Nigeria has 3.2 million people currently living with HIV, which makes its population susceptible to tuberculosis.

Another reason that Nigeria has one of the highest levels of tuberculosis is the poverty rate. There are around 152 million people in Nigeria living below the poverty line. These people suffer from poor living conditions, where diseases can often roam free, and lack of healthcare and proper food or shelter. Tuberculosis can also carry a harmful stigma, so many people living in poor communities fail to seek treatment.

Bolatito Aiyenigba, deputy project director for malaria and tuberculosis on CCP’s USAID-funded Breakthrough ACTION, helped to lead a research team to discover the reasons that Nigeria has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in the world. Aiyenigba said, “Stigma, discrimination and an overall lack of awareness of TB are providing to be major barriers to going to the facility for a TB test. We now have deeper insights into the ‘why’ behind this through patients’ stories.”

Misinformed beliefs cause people to refrain from getting help. For instance, many people in Nigeria believe that tuberculosis is caused by smoking, drinking or witchcraft, or even that it is hereditary, and then try to cure it by using burnt crabs, ashes or oil. Other people don’t believe that tuberculosis testing is free in public health facilities. Groups such as the Breakthrough ACTION project are working to raise awareness about tuberculosis, first by seeking out the problem and then providing a solution.

Solutions

What is happening to end tuberculosis in Nigeria? In the summer or 2018, minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewale held a symposium focused on “raising future leaders to end TB in Nigeria.” Adewale reminded everyone that the Federal Ministry of Health established the National TB and Leprosy Control Program in 1989 and that since then, Nigeria has been aligned with all World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

WHO launched its End TB Strategy in 2014. This strategy aims to eradicate tuberculosis globally as part of the Sustainable Developmental Goals. By 2030, countries that are part of the plan will reduce tuberculosis cases by 80 percent, tuberculosis deaths by 90 percent, and completely eliminate catastrophic costs to families suffering from tuberculosis. Nigeria implemented the WHO’s End TB Strategy in 2016.

Most of all, the Nigerian government is fighting to raise awareness of tuberculosis. With more funding for tuberculosis activities, a guarantee that treatment will be available to the public, and support for people who are already on treatment, Nigeria could take huge steps forward to end tuberculosis. The wife of Nasarawa State governor, Dr. Mairo Tanko Al-Makura, said it all: “We ask for your cooperation in fighting this disease to a stop.”

– Natalie Dell
Photo: Flickr

Child Sexual Abuse in NigeriaChild sexual abuse in Nigeria is rampant and as high as one in four girls and one in 10 boys. Cece Yara is an organization dedicated to preventing and ending the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. The words, Cece Yara, are from the Hausa language which means “save the child” and truly encompasses the mission of the foundation.

The Mission

The Cece Yara Foundation is an NGO with a mission to prevent the sexual abuse of children and provide emergency assistance and care. Bola Tinubu, a child activist and lawyer, founded the organization and she believes in protecting the safety of all children. The Foundation works in coordination with counselors, law enforcement and educators to ensure that every child lives with innocence and safety throughout their life.

Child sexual abuse is still a silent issue in Nigeria and there are many myths surrounding it. The Foundation also works to correct these myths and educate the public on how rampant the sexual abuse of children actually is. The organization believes that educating adults is the first step in preventing this abuse. Cece Yara ensures that every adult in a child’s life is aware of the signs of sexual abuse in a child and how to prevent it or even intervene.

Cece Yara also provides counseling services and a child forensic interview. The interview is a structured conversation between a counselor and a child to teach the child how to recount an incident of sexual abuse. Many children are afraid to come forward about abuse either because they are ashamed or confused. The forensic interview allows them to feel safe enough to get the help they desperately need.

Nigeria’s First Child Helpline

The Cece Yara Foundation has recently implemented the first child helpline in Nigeria. The helpline is available 24 hours a day and has professionals, trained on how to talk to children, answering the line. There are two lines; Cece Yara offers one free for children and the other paid for adults. This line serves to provide immediate help and assistance to a Nigerian child suffering from sexual abuse.

Child Abuse and Poverty

Children in developing nations are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation compared to those living in high-income countries due to the stress associated with poor living conditions. Alleviating poverty can have a significant impact on the rate of child abuse in an impoverished region.

The Cece Yara Foundation has been able to help 2,000 children in Nigeria since its launch in 2016. It has had a tremendous impact on the lives of Nigerian children who have suffered or are suffering from sexual abuse. The Cece Yara Foundation is fighting for a future that is safe for the children of Nigeria.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Pixabay

Causes of Human Trafficking in Africa
A theft of human life and an exchange of money for someone’s dignity: this is what makes up the horrific crime of human trafficking.  Human trafficking is an ever-present issue across the globe, and the number of victims the number of victims rises each year. While there are countless contributing factors, the causes of human trafficking in Africa are particularly alarming.

Human trafficking is a prevalent issue in Africa, where law enforcement agencies often lack resources that are readily available in other countries. This results in police officers with less training and funding and makes it difficult for police to properly execute in cross-border intelligence causing a larger amount of human trafficking.

More than 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders annually and many victims of human trafficking migrants are from Somalia and Eritrea which means that international communication is crucial. One of the causes of human trafficking in Africa can be linked to law enforcement that lacks the training to cooperate with neighboring countries in order to prevent and interrupt this crime.

Human traffickers often seek the most vulnerable populations. In South Africa, an estimated 30,000 children are trafficked each year. Furthermore, in countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ghana, girls as young as eight years old are sold as brides.

Immigrants that are attempting to reach Europe, the Middle East and Italy are often left vulnerable. In 2016, of 11,000 women arriving in Italy in search of a better life, 80 percent were from Nigeria, and many will likely be forced into prostitution and become sex trafficking victims.

However, there is also progress being made to combat this crime. Technology is quickly advancing and in Nigeria, it is being used to stop trafficking. In 2003, a Nigerian app called ‘iReport’ launched, allowing people to report human trafficking across the country. To date, iReport has secured 359 cases.

Kenya has also taken strides in efforts to resist and combat human trafficking. In 2014, Victim Protection Bill was passed, helping to provide support to victims and increasing convictions by building a stronger prosecution case. Since many victims are terrified of their attackers, this bill provides safety for those that want to prosecute or come forward.

While the causes of human trafficking in Africa are complex, there is clear progress being made to address them. Nations are constantly developing new solutions to combat human trafficking and support victims of these crimes.

– Emme Chadwick
Photo: Flickr