UNFPA donates IEC materials to Ebola Emergency Operations Committee… commends Lagos, FG

In continuation of its commitments to the government and to the United Nations Country Team on a number of preparedness and response areas, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has donated thousands of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials to the Lagos Ebola Emergency Operation Committee to enhance prevention, preparedness and response efforts.
Making the public presentation of the materials in Lagos today was the UNFPA Country Representative, Ms Rati Ndhlovu, who noted that the IEC materials would strengthen public sensitization about the disease as part of the intervention to prevent a relapse.
The UNFPA Country Representative also commended the Lagos State government for its quick response to the break of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the state, especially the speed with which the index case was picked and all the emergency measures put in place to prevent further spread.
The efforts of the Lagos State Ministry of Health in moving quickly with materials and personnel, and the support of the Federal Government to the state and other flashpoints, she acknowledged, was commendable. “These efforts”, Ms Ndhlovu continued, “have paid off and now Nigeria’s fight against Ebola is being recognized, globally, as a success story from which other countries should learn.”
The UNFPA Country Representative presented to the Lagos Ebola Emergency Operation Committee, 10,000 copies of Standard information for Ebola virus disease (EVD) contact self-care; 10,000 copies of Screening suspected patients for Ebola Virus Disease in healthcare facilities; 500 copies of Filovirus hemorrhagic fever guidelines; 500 copies of Standard operating procedures for controlling Ebola and Marburg virus epidemics; and 500 copies of Interim infection control recommendations for care of patients with suspected or confirmed filovirus (Ebola, Marburg) Hemorrhagic fever.

Secretary General’s Message On World Habitat Day

06 October 2014: Over the past decade, efforts under the Millennium Development Goals have cut the proportion of people living in slums by more than half. Yet, over the same period, rapid urbanization, especially in the developing world, has seen overall slum populations rise. In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, as many as 70 per cent of urban dwellers live in slums and informal settlements.

Slums are often located on the least desirable and appropriate land, such as flood plains and steep hillsides, and are inherently vulnerable to the increasingly severe weather events that climate change is causing. Many of the people who inhabit slums were pushed to migrate by the lack of opportunities in rural areas or their countries of origin. They regularly lack basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity and street lighting. Crime is often endemic, with women and girls particularly at risk. Unemployment, under-employment and the cost of transport to distant places of work add further hardship.

To achieve sustainable development and a life of dignity for all, we must address these issues. This year, World Habitat Day is devoted to giving a voice to slum dwellers. Often, people in the slums live in near-anonymity — no address, no census and no idea when their living conditions will improve. By learning from their experiences, city planners and policy makers can enhance the well-being of a significant portion of the human family. Let us hear from people who live in slums what has worked and what has not – and what we need to do.

On this World Habitat Day, I encourage governments, businesses, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations to give slum dwellers a voice – and to listen to what they have to say. We have the technology and the know-how to build economically, socially and environmentally sustainable cities based on local solutions. Ensuring that our towns and cities expand in a well-planned and managed way is not only necessary to meeting the housing needs of our growing urban population, it is also vital for combatting climate change, protecting the environment and supporting sustainable development. Let us focus on a new urban agenda that leaves no-one behind.

‘Handwashing for peace’: UNIC Lagos raises public awareness on handwashing to prevent Ebola

As part of its contribution to the United Nations and government’s efforts to raising public awareness about prevention of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and other communicable diseases, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos has organized a handwashing exercise for a group of students from seven schools in Lagos.Boy washing hands
The students who were part of the production of a children magazine programme on Africa’s largest television network, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), gleefully washed their hands with soap at UNIC premises, the location of the programme production.Group foto- Ebola IEC
They were treated to short presentations on the ‘United Nations for School Children’ and on the activities of UNIC.Envera and the pupils
In an interactive session after the presentations, the students sought to know why the United Nations declared an International Day for Peace and how the United Nations promotes peace worldwide.
In a related development, UNIC Lagos in consultation with other UN Agencies in Lagos has approached the Lagos State government for collaboration on programmes, including organising Handwashing campaign in public schools in Lagos State. seyi and handwashing
Speaking at the meeting initiated by UNIC and involving the UN and the Lagos State Inter-ministerial Committee, the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye, noted that the proposal of UNIC to the State government would strengthen the existing relationship between the UN and the Lagos State Government. She added that the proposed handwashing campaign in schools was in line with the plan of the government, preparatory to the opening of schools after the containment of the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the State.
Earlier, the Senior Public Information Officer, UNIC Lagos, Envera Selimovic, thanked the Lagos State Government represented by the Commissioner for Education, for considering UNIC Proposal and calling for the partnership meeting.

UNIC Lagos dominates airwaves, features on six Radio/TV Channels to mark International Day of Peace

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, has in the last three days, dominated Nigeria’s radio and television airwaves as it joined the rest of the world to mark the International Day of Peace.
In separate appearances on Metro 97.7 FM; Radio One 103.5 FM; Faaji 106.5 FM; Radio Nigeria Network; Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Educational Television; and the Nigerian Television Authority Network News Segment (Panorama), the Senior Public Information Officer, Envera Selimovic and the National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, shared the message of the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, asking ‘combatants to put down their arms so all can breathe the air of peace.’

Envera Selimovic (middle) at Radio One 103.5 FM

Envera Selimovic (middle) at Radio One 103.5 FM

‘Let us all reflect on peace, and what it means for our human family. Let us hold it in our hearts and minds and tenderly nurture it so it may grow and blossom,’ the Secretary General added.
Oluseyi Soremekun (left) at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA)

Oluseyi Soremekun (left) at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA)

Discussing with their audience, Selimovic and Soremekun noted that the observance was meant to raise public awareness on issues related to peace and to also strengthen the ideals of peace within and among all nations and peoples.
Oluseyi Soremekun at Metro 97.7 FM

Oluseyi Soremekun at Metro 97.7 FM

They enjoined their respective audience to hold peace dearly and pursue peaceful co-existence with other people.
The Secretary General’s message was translated into Yoruba Language and shared with radio Audience on Faaji FM by the National Information Officer. Faaji FM broadcasts primarily in Yoruba Language spoken in six States in Nigeria and part of Republic of Benin.

World Leaders Commit to Intensify Efforts to Realize Women’s Health, Rights, Equality

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 22 September 2014 — More than 140 presidents, heads of government, ministers and high officials from around the world today reaffirmed their countries’ strong political support to the historic International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

During the ICPD, held in Cairo in 1994, 179 governments agreed on a 20-year Programme of Action that included a bold new vision of the relationships between population, development and individual well-being. It recognized that population was not about numbers, but about people, and that social, economic and political equality, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, was the basis for individual well-being, slower population growth and sustainable development.

Addressing today’s United Nations General Assembly special session on the follow-up to the ICPD beyond 2014, world leaders agreed that the ICPD was as relevant today as in 1994. They also noted the considerable progress in achieving its goal over the past two decades, particularly in reducing poverty, improving maternal health and enforcing girls’ education. However, they added, much must still be done to improve the quality of life of all people.

The Cairo conference was “a global turning point,” said Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, in his opening statement of the special session. “Its Programme of Action was built on fundamental principles affirming that development should centre on people. It also emphasized the value of investing in women and girls. And it affirmed the importance of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”

“The world agreed in Cairo that when women and girls get the education they deserve, societies are more productive,” added Mr. Ban. “When their rights are protected, societies are more just. And when they are empowered to determine their own future, societies become stronger.”
The UN Secretary-General also applauded UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, “for leading our global push to translate the Cairo Programme of Action into a meaningful change for so many people.”

The Cairo mandate defined the principle of people-centred development in real terms, and “forever changed how we perceive population and development,” said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. “It shifted the focus from human numbers to human lives, human well-being and human rights. Cairo ensured that a bedrock principle of development would be to realize dignity and human rights for all people as a means of achieving our collective goals.”

Over the past 20 years, said Dr. Osotimehin, “we have seen the rise of hundreds of millions out of poverty, gender parity in primary education, fewer women dying giving life and more women in the workforce. These advances show how powerful development founded on dignity and human rights can be.” However, he added, “we still have a long way to go. Our world is growing increasingly unequal, and, all too often, women and girls get the short end of the stick.”
“We cannot talk about sustainable development without ensuring that young people’s needs are met, that we give voice to their aspirations, that we include them in decision-making,” said Dr. Osotimehin. “We cannot talk about sustainable development without addressing women’s empowerment, gender inequality, and discrimination and violence. We cannot talk about sustainable development without ensuring that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all are met.”

These issues, added Dr. Osotimehin, “must be at the heart of the post-2015 agenda to ensure that current and future generations are made up of resilient, adaptive, innovative, creative people capable of building resilient societies. If we can do that, we will be able to address any challenge that our world faces, today and tomorrow.”

The special session was held to renew political support for the Cairo mandate. It also highlighted achievements and gaps in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action, as well priorities for future action, based on a recent global review of the agenda.

Study warns swift action needed to curb exponential climb in Ebola outbreak

Investigation of new data expands information on spread of outbreak and case fatality rate

GENEVA ¦ 22 September 2014 — Unless Ebola control measures in West Africa are enhanced quickly, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Imperial College, London, predict numbers will continue to climb exponentially , and more than 20,000 people will have been infected by early November, according to a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine released six months after WHO was first notified of the outbreak in West Africa.

In the article, public health epidemiologists and statisticians reviewed data since the beginning of the outbreak in December 2013 to determine the scale of the epidemic, better understand the spread of the disease, and what it will take to reverse the trend of infections.

Scale of epidemic

Although WHO was first notified of the outbreak on 23 March 2014, investigations retroactively revealed the outbreak started in December 2013. Between 30 December 2013 and 14 September 2014, a total of 4507 cases were reported to WHO.

The data in the study help clarify some details of who is most affected by this outbreak. For example, there have been mixed reports on whether women might be harder hit because they are more likely to care for sick, or whether it would be men who might be more likely to bury the highly-infectious dead bodies.

“This study gave us some real insight into how this outbreak was working, for example, we learned there is no significant difference among the different countries in the total numbers of male and female case patients,” says Dr Christopher Dye, Director of Strategy for WHO, and co-author of the study. “There may be differences in some communities, but when we actually looked at all the data combined, we saw it was really almost split 50-50.”

The extensive review of data also allowed for a closer look at case fatality rate.

“Assessing the case fatality rate during this epidemic is complicated by incomplete information on the clinical outcomes of many cases, both detected and undetected,” says Dye. “This analysis shows that by 14 September, a total of 70.8% of patients with definitive outcomes have died. This rate was consistent among Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.”

But the case fatality rate was lower when only hospitalized patients were considered, supporting evidence that getting patients to good, supportive health care quickly makes a difference.

Spread of infection

The examination of the data also showed the spread more clearly. In late December, the first cases were reported in the forest areas of Guinea. By March, when the government sounded the alarm to WHO, cases had already spread from the forest area to the capital of Conakry. In May, the focus of the outbreak in Guinea expanded strongly to Sierra Leone and in June it really took hold in Liberia. From July onward, there were sharp increases in case numbers in all three countries.


Although the current epidemic in West Africa is unprecedented in scale, the clinical course of infection and the transmissibility of the virus are similar to those in previous Ebola outbreaks.

“We infer that the present epidemic is exceptionally large, not primarily because of biologic characteristics of the virus, but in part because of the attributes of the affected populations, the condition of the health systems, and because control efforts have been insufficient to halt the spread of infection,” says Dye.

There are challenges in this region that exacerbate the struggles to contain the virus quickly. Most importantly the health systems in all three countries were shattered after years of conflict and there was a significant shortage of health workers, leaving the system weaker than in other countries with Ebola outbreaks. In addition, certain characteristics of the population may have led to the rapid spread of the disease, for example, the populations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are highly interconnected, with extensive cross-border traffic at the epicentre and relatively easy connections by road between rural towns and villages and the densely populated capital cities.

“The large intermixing population has facilitated the spread of infection, but a large outbreak was not inevitable,” says Professor Christl Donnelly, Professor of Statistical Epidemiology, Imperial College and the MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling. “In Nigeria, for example, where health systems are stronger, the number of cases has so far been limited, despite the introduction of infection into the large cities of Lagos and Port Harcourt.“

The critical determinant of outbreak size appears to be the speed of implementation of rigorous control measures.

“Forward projections suggest that unless control measures – including improvements in contract tracing, adequate case isolation, increased quality of care and capacity for clinical management, greater community engagement, and support from international partners – improve quickly, these three countries will soon be reporting thousands of cases and deaths each week,” says Dye.

Experimental therapeutics and vaccines offer promise for the future, but are unlikely to be available in the quantities needed to make a substantial difference in control efforts for many months, even if they are proved to be safe and effective.

The risk of continued expansion of the Ebola outbreak is real. This study provides the evidence needed for an urgent wakeup call requiring intensive scaling up of control measures while working towards rapid development and deployment of new medicines and vaccines.

Media contact:

Fadela Chaib, WHO spokesperson, chaibf@who.int, +41.22.791.2222

UN Member States reaffirm commitment to the rights of Indigenous Peoples at first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

Historic meeting gathers over 1000 indigenous delegates, Heads of State and Government, UN officials and national human rights institutions to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
New York, 22 September 2014 – Following the opening of the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in New York, UN Member States adopted a landmark Outcome Document in which they renewed their commitment to the full realization of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Opening the World Conference, the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Sam Kutesa, welcomed the “active participation of Indigenous Peoples in its preparation, as well as the cooperation between Member States and Indigenous Peoples in the preparation of the Outcome document.”

In his remarks in the opening session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored that “Indigenous Peoples are central to our discourse of human rights and global development.” Noting that the Conference’s “deliberations and decisions will reverberate across the international community with concrete effects in the lives of indigenous people”, he stressed that their engagement would be critical in the global drive for a more sustainable future and pledged the full support of the United Nations to indigenous peoples.

Indeed, the United Nations works closely with Indigenous Peoples to advance their rights, in particular through the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Addressing the opening session of the Conference as a special guest, Nobel Peace Prize and indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchú expressed her deep concern with the persistent violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and urged Member States to “apply national and international law, particularly the rights enshrined in [ILO] Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which establishes minimum standards for their survival, dignity, well-being and rights.”

While significant progress has been made since the adoption of the Declaration in 2007, Indigenous Peoples continue to face numerous obstacles to the full realization of their rights, with many of them struggling to remain on their lands and retain the right to their natural resources. While they make up about five per cent of the world’s population, they constitute 15 per cent of the world’s poor and about one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people.

In the concise and action oriented Outcome Document, prepared on the basis of inclusive and open consultations with Member States and Indigenous Peoples, Member States reiterated their support for the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They further reaffirmed their commitment to consult and cooperate with Indigenous Peoples in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. The document also calls to focus on the special needs of older people, persons with disabilities, women and youth in indigenous communities.

The Conference will include three round tables and a panel discussion with representatives of entities of the United Nations system, civil society organizations and national human rights institutions and will conclude on the 23rd of September.

More information:

Follow the Conference live on webtv.un.org and on Twitter with #WCIP2014


Inter-agency coordination among justice sector Information Officers emphasised

The importance of inter-agency cooperation and coordination among Information Officers of Agencies in justice sector institutions has been emphasised as a critical factor in improving community confidence in the Nigerian judiciary.
Delivering a paper on ‘Raising Community Confidence in the Judiciary: The Role of Information Officers’ at the training on dissemination, reporting and information sharing for Information Officers of justice sector institutions in Nigeria, the National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun, noted that knowledge sharing among the Information Officers would strengthen the communication structure of justice sector institutions.

National Information Officer, UNIC, Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun during hids presentation

National Information Officer, UNIC, Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun during hids presentation

The training which was funded by the European Union (EU) and organized by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with the government of Nigeria attracted participants from the Police, Prisons, Ministry of Justice, National Human Rights Commission, Nigeria Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, Nigerian Law Reform Commission, Civil Society Organisations, NBA, and the media.
Soremekun added that coordinated media engagement based on individual agency’s activities would help in raising community confidence in the justice sector.
A cross-section of participants at the training

A cross-section of participants at the training

Earlier, the Project Coordinator, Ade Omofade, spoke on “UNODC-UNICEF-EU cooperation: Overview of the ‘Support to the Justice Sector in Nigeria’ project.” According to him, UNODC with the support of the EU have over the years have supported the justice sector with institutional capacity building to improve access to justice, enhance administration of justice, and improve the judicial system in the country.
In his presentation on ‘Principles and tools of awareness raising for the justice sector’, the Outreach and Communication Officer of UNODC, James Ayodele, enjoined the participants to harness the strengths of the various media channels to create a good public image for their organisations.
‘Building and sustaining good public image,’ he added, ‘should be the primary target of every Information Officer in the justice sector institutions.’


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone | 25 August 2014 – After two days of intense meetings with senior government leaders and Ebola-response partners to take stock of the current response to the Ebola outbreak, a high-level UN delegation is committing to surge up the resources of the entire UN operation in Sierra Leone especially with a reinvigorated commitment from the World Health Organization.

“This outbreak is still advancing in many parts of the country,” says Dr David Nabarro, the UN Secretary-General’s Coordinator for the Ebola response and co-leader of the delegation. “Our partnership with Sierra Leone to end the Ebola outbreak means upgrading all the UN is doing to get the scale-up required.”

But while the UN is planning to ramp up its work, more airlines are announcing they are discontinuing flights into the country over fear of the disease.

“The reduction in airlines flying into Freetown places a huge impact on our ability to bring in staff and supplies for this Ebola response,” says David McLachlan-Karr, the UN Resident Coordinator for Sierra Leone. “We can suspend other programmes for several months to focus solely on Ebola; but we also need to bring in the surge. This is only possible if the flights return.”

As of 24 August, Sierra Leone has 904 confirmed cases of Ebola, 369 of those have died.

“The situation remains challenging here,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General for global health security at the World Health Organization and co-leader of the delegation. “We will do all we can to get ahead of the outbreak, then we can stop it and help the country get back to normal.”

Responding to this outbreak demands a global partnership in which all society and nations take full responsibility. This means working together, being efficient and organized on all levels, and focusing on what is being achieved.

This outbreak demands global partnership and it is a social responsibility that will require everyone working together. Over the next few days, the delegation will continue working with the UN team and the government in Sierra Leone to develop the details of the upgraded response approach.

UNIC, Lagos Government, SMILE, partner to mark International Youth Day

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, in collaboration with Strategy for Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment (SMILE) and the Lagos State Government office for Youth and Social Development observed the 2014 International Youth Day with panel discussion on the theme: Youth and Mental Health – Mental Health matters’.
The event which attracted 828 participants comprising of 46% female and 54% male; representatives of 23 media organisations; 35 voluntary and non-governmental organisations; five government Agencies and four United Nations organisations, featured four panelists which included a Psychiatrist, Wellness Expert, Psycho-therapist and a general Medical Practitioner.

A cross-section of participants

A cross-section of participants

In his message on the occasion, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, noted that “Mental health is how we feel; it is our emotions and well-being. We all need to take care of our mental health so that we lead satisfying lives. Let us begin to talk about our mental-health in the same way we talk about our overall health.” The message which was read by UNIC Lagos Senior Public Information Officer, Ms Envera Selimovic, added that everyone should remember that with understanding and assistance, young people with mental health conditions could flourish and make valuable contributions to our collective future.
Resource persons and Partners with UNIC, Snr. Info. Officer, Envera Selimovic (Centre) and UNIC, NIO, Oluseyi Soremekun (2nd left)

Resource persons and Partners with UNIC, Snr. Info. Officer, Envera Selimovic (Centre) and UNIC, NIO, Oluseyi Soremekun (2nd left)

Setting the tone for the panel discussion were Miss Amaka Efughi (23 years) and Mr Kalid Sotonye (22 years) who gave testimonies about their past drug addiction and mental conditions which cost them their university education at the time and six years of their lives. They expressed their happiness about their rescue, rehabilitation and re-enrolment back to the university.

In her welcome address, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Hon. Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, urged stakeholders to pay attention to the 15 factors that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had identified as relevant to mental health among youth, some of which are education, unemployment, poverty, drug abuse, armed conflicts, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), among others. She was represented by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth and Social Development, Dr Dolapo Badru.
The occasion was also used to disseminate preventive public information on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) when UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, made a presentation on “Ebola: What you need to know” while officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health later distributed public information leaflets on the disease.

Closing the event, the President, Strategy for Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment (SMILE), Mrs Bimpe Bamgbose-Martins, thanked UNIC for its commitment to promoting partnership and synergy with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) in addressing some societal issues that are of interest to the United Nations.