Author: Oyindamola AramideOyindamola Aramide works as a Communication Officer at the Nigeria Network of NGOs where she provides strategic communications support on the Network’s projects and programmes. She is a young development practitioner who currently leads the African Monitor’s SDGs project on the Citizens’ Report Initiative in Nigeria. With a background in the English Language from Obafemi Awolowo University, Oyindamola has several communications products to her credit.

PRESS FREEDOM: A PRINCIPAL PILLAR TO GOOD GOVERNANCE

PRESS FREEDOM: A PRINCIPAL PILLAR TO GOOD GOVERNANCE

As the world focuses on development media, its obvious control especially on the corridors of power cannot be overlooked. For the grand health of any democracy, access to information is most essential and press Freedom, a most effective instrument for a functional democratic system acts as a foundation, a resounding expression, too important to be ignored in a democratic society.

The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”. Freedom of the press is the freedom of communication and expression through various media; as seen in the modern day electronic media and publications. Such freedom implies the absence of interference from over-reacting leaders. Hostility expressed by leaders towards the media incites violence, in fact it fuels fear for journalists which does not give room to act as watchdog of democracy.

So many theories have defined press freedom, the Libertarian theory, however stands as theory-friendly to the modern-day freedom of the press, it argued that media does not need to be controlled because people would naturally follow their conscience, engage in public debate and create a better life for themselves.

According to Lyman Tower Sargent an American professor of political science, he opined that the seven types of liberty that compose a democratic ideology are: The right to vote; Freedom of speech; Freedom of the press; Freedom of assembly; Freedom of religion; Freedom of movement and Freedom from arbitrary treatment by the political and legal system.

This year’s global theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”. Information is power, hence it must be timely, concise, clear and reliable. As powerful as information is, it must be curtailed to some point such that false information does not degenerate to Hate Speech or related offences. Currently in Nigeria, any person who publishes defamatory matter is liable to one-year imprisonment, where the person who publishes the defamatory matter and aware that it is false is liable to two years imprisonment.

In line with goal 16 of the SDGs which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies based on respect for human rights, the rule of law, accountability and transparency, the United Nations General Assembly hence declared May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a close reminder to the entire world that in dozens of countries, several publications still remain censored, fined and suspended; while investigative journalists, editors and publishers are continuously harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered in extreme pursuit of stories.

According to the World Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders, every year, RWB (2019) establishes a ranking of countries in terms of their freedom of the press. Norway remains still the country with the best press freedom in the world followed by Finland and Sweden ranked second and third on the index, respectively. Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand and Jamaica also ranked top. Several authoritarian regimes have fallen in the Index.  The countries with the least degree of press freedom are China, Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan.

Since the inception of this index in 2013, many African countries have struggled to climb up the ladder. In 2016, Nigeria recorded a decline on the world ranking, falling from 111 to 116; 2018 was no better, the country recorded another fall, moving from 116 to 119 out of 180 countries, year 2019 records 120 on the Index. This is indeed sad.

New record shows that eight journalists have been killed across the world in 2017, while more than 193 are currently imprisoned. Although Nigerian journalists are not so included on death lists. However, Journalists continue to face harassment without protection of the law even in Nigeria. Journalists are often times threatened, subjected to physical violence and even denied access to information by government officials, police officers and sometimes even the public.

Need we be reminded that if the press is constantly controlled, its ability to investigate and expose corruption, bribery, mismanagement, waste, embezzlement and other vices in democratic societies might just be truncated.

Yet again, according to libertarian theory on press freedom, the theory prescribes that an individual should be free to publish what he likes, holding and expressing his or her opinion freely. Obviously, libertarian theory advocates that the press must be seen as partner with government in search of the truth, rather than a tool in the hands of government, a good guide for media practitioners in their quest to helping nations, particularly developing nations grow. While The Social Responsibility Theory opines that the media have obligations to the society, owing them truth and objectivity, the media must ensure to religiously follow agreed codes of ethics and professional conducts to safeguarding public interest.

“Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies. All states, all Nations, are strengthened by information, debate and the exchange of opinions. At a time of growing discourse of mistrust and delegitimization of the press and journalism, it is essential that we guarantee freedom of opinion through the free exchange of ideas and information based on factual truth” Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO.

 

 

Method of Application for Incorporation of Trustees (April, 2019)

Method of Application for Incorporation of Trustees (April, 2019)

For nonprofits to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission; it is required that they go through the process of application as specified by the commission.

The commission requires that the prescribed application form be manually or electronically (online) filled by organisations intending to register, stating in the form, the name of the proposed corporate body which must contain the words: “Incorporated Trustees of (organisation’s name), aims/objectives of the organisation and names/addresses/occupations of the organisation’s secretary.

To be attached to the completed application form are the following; evidence of approval of name, two passport sized photographs, two printed copies of the organisation’s constitution, duly-signed copies of minutes of the meeting appointing the trustees and authorizing the application, showing the people present and the votes scored, the impression of the proposed common seal if the organisation has one and a payment fee of #37,000 (Incorporation of Trustees – 30,000, Certified True Copy of Constitution- 5,000 and Certified True Copy of Incorporated Form -2,000).

This application form must then be signed and submitted to the commission. The commission may at any time require a declaration in the dailies or any other evidence to verify if the statements and particulars provided by the organisations making the application are true and valid.

Failure to provide true and accurate information for the purpose of incorporating trustees with the Corporate Affairs Commission makes the organisation submitting the application liable to a penalty of one-year imprisonment or a fine as specified by the court.

This publication has been produced with the Commonwealth Foundation and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO). However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Commonwealth Foundation or NNNGO.

First Quarter Report of Year 2019

First Quarter Report of Year 2019

Introduction

In the first quarter of 2019, the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) kickstarted activities by conducting needs assessments and review meetings of 2018 activities in relation to organisation development and growth of member organisations. The outcome of these meetings and assessments was the production of an annual report guide for nonprofit organisations titled “Practical Guide on Writing Annual Reports for Nigerian Nonprofits”. This publication was produced to aid nonprofits in their reportage of activities, outcomes and successes achieved during the year with the aim of improving communication with their different audiences while promoting transparency and accountability within the nonprofit sector.

The Nigeria Network of NGOs also worked to encourage creativity and innovative use of technology within the third sector to improve nonprofit work and put Nigerian CSOs on the global map by partnering organisations that provide technological tools and services to CSOs, across the world, at subsidized costs. This was done through the introduction Techsoup West Africa, a program supported by WASCI with the aim of giving all nonprofits that form part of NNNGO’s membership,  the opportunity of easily accessing technological advancements.

NNNGO also actively worked to improve its book-keeping and accounting systems by employing the use of electronic accounting softwares. The use of these softwares have hitherto helped to eliminate human error, improve transparency and accountability. Meanwhile, work commenced on the 2019 phases of ongoing projects which had been undergoing implementation by the Network in previous years.

Overview of “Strengthening Statutory Regulations for Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria: Amending Part C of CAMA” Supported by the Commonwealth Foundation.

Activities for the third and final phase of the commonwealth foundation project began on January 9, 2019 with the publishing of a newsletter titled; “The Part F of CAMA and its implications for Nigerian NGOs” This newsletter was produced to sensitize the civil society community on the new and efficient way of registering organisations with ease, minimizing compliance burden of non-profits as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to bring Nigeria’s foremost commercial law in line with international best practices.

The second newsletter published in February focused on how NGOs incorporate trustees and their board of directors; it also stated the governing role of the board of trustees to ensure smooth operations and running of their non-profits. This learning was important in order to help nonprofits understand the role of their board and how best to appoint appropriate persons to form their board.

The third newsletter published in March paid particular attention to the filing of annual returns; stating the need to file and the advantage a nonprofit enjoys by filing annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Part of what was included in this newsletter were penalties attached to noncompliance and non-filing of annual returns as and when due.

In the next quarter, compliance workshops will be organised by NNNGO in different geopolitical zones across the country. The “Compliance Trainings on the Part F of CAMA” are a set of workshops designed to provide a comprehensive grounding on how to set up systems and procedures for complying with nonprofit regulatory requirements and holistically drive organisation wide-performance. The workshops will hold in four locations in different parts of Nigeria and provide a thorough grounding on how governance and financial systems are developed, implemented and comprehensively utilized to drive compliance across organisations. Attendees will benefit from case study examples of how this process can be achieved. This interactive workshop format will enable a combination of learning and peer-to-peer experience sharing among our members.

Part of activities for the second quarter include correspondence with newly-elected legislators while focusing on the need to create relationships based on mutual understanding and commitment towards providing an enabling environment for Nigerian nonprofits.

Overview of “Improving Engagement and Communication between NNNGO and its Members” Supported by Forus.

The Nigeria Network of NGOs embarked on a communication needs assessment consultation with members of the Network to ascertain their preferred communication tools in receiving updates from the network. This was done with an aim to engage, inform and share information, as well as build capacities based on the communication tools that can be easily accessed. This will further enable the Network to ensure that information shared with its members are received and read with necessary actions taken and also members are able to provide feedback, inputs and make enquiries with ease.

372 members of the network were reached and subsequently provided valid responses, with a coverage on the 6 geo-political zones -34 states and the FCT. Results show that member organisations preferred the use of EMAIL as a primary media for information dissemination.

Awareness on the Istanbul Principle has started among members of the Network with the development and circulation of info-graphics on the principles. Also, four newsletters have been published focused on issues ranging from the need to effectively understand the Istanbul Principle to grants and opportunities for Nigerian nonprofits. The design and deployment of the NNNGO App is ongoing and advancing towards the grand launch by May 2019.

A capacity needs assessment survey questions; the Nonprofit Assessment Tool (NOPSAT) was developed in the first quarter. The aim of this assessment is to identify the areas of non-profit member organisations that needs strengthening and tailor their needs in the Networks capacity building workshops and toolkits.

NOPSAT is a tool that helps non-profits analyse their strengths and weaknesses to know the capacity needs of their organisation. It measures the governance strategy and structure, human resources and administration, programme management, monitoring and reporting along with its financial management and sustainability of your organisation.

Plans for the validation workshop based on the need’s assessment is ongoing as the Network collates more responses from member non-profits.

Grants and Opportunities for Nigerian Nonprofits (April, 2019)

Grants and Opportunities for Nigerian Nonprofits (April, 2019)

Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) Grant
Deadline: April 20, 2019.

OSIWA seeks proposals aimed at achieving the following specific themes; economic governance and advancement, justice reform and the rule of law, free, quality and independent, media equality and anti-discrimination, democratic practice. See here for details.

OHCHR Seeks Proposals for Minorities Fellowship Programme 2019      
Deadline: April 20, 2019.

The Minorities Fellowship Programme (MFP) is OHCHR’s most comprehensive training programme for human rights and minority rights defenders belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. See more  here.

TY Danjuma Foundation seeks Applications for Health and Education Projects in Nigeria
Deadline: April 30, 2019.

Civil Society Organisations are invited to submit applications to fund health and education  projects in under-served and hard-to-reach communities across Nigeria. The call focuses on the following key areas: Preventable Blindness Maternal and Child Health Upgrading Teachers’ quality. See more here. 

International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Violence Across the Lifespan. Washington, DC
Deadline: May 1, 2019.

EVAWI is inviting workshop proposals for their 2020 International Conference. The conference promotes innovative techniques, unique approaches, and promising practices in responding to gender-based violence. See more here. 

Proposals for NGOs Small Grant Opportunity 2019
Began on 1 April 2019, 9:00 AM GMT and ends 3 May 2019, 23:59 GMT.

See more here.

Apply for Commonwealth Digital Challenge 2019 Media Tech Accelerator
Deadline: May 3, 2019.

The Media Tech Accelerator challenge is now open and aims to help young, aspiring and tech-savvy entrepreneurs from the Commonwealth to develop an app, digital idea or tool to improve the work or solve challenges encountered by, journalists, communicators and media organisations within the Commonwealth. See more here.  

Applications Open for Trust Conference Change Makers Programme 2019
Deadline: May 3, 2019.

Trust Conference Changemakers Programme is inviting all applicants working in the areas of modern slavery, women’s rights, economic empowerment, refugee support and other human rights areas. See more here.

Future Leaders Connect

Deadline: May 6, 2019.     

Visit here to connect with a long-term network of emerging leaders from around the globe, who want to change the world through policy making. As a member of Future Leaders Connect, you will travel to the UK for ten days of advanced policy and leadership development programme at leading institutions to discuss big global challenges, in the UK Houses of Parliament, meet inspirational leaders and the Møller Institute, Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

2019 D-Prize Grant to Recognise New Entrepreneurs who Increase Access to Proven Poverty Interventions
Deadline: May 12, 2019.

The world has already invented ways to end poverty, yet the best interventions are not being distributed at mass-scale. Can you design a business or NGO that solves distribution challenges? See more here.

Key Population Community HIV Services Action and Response (KP-CARE 1)
Deadline: May 13, 2019.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Nigeria) seeks applications from organisations working on HIV services, action and response in Nigeria. See more here. 

Orange Social Venture Prize Africa & Middle East 2019
Deadline: May 30, 2019.

This contest aims to reward the best innovative and socially responsible projects in Africa and the Middle East. See more here.

Call for Proposal for Climate Chance Summit Africa 2019
Deadline: May 31, 2019.

Applicants are invited to apply for “Climate Chance Summit – Africa 2019” which will take place in Accra from October 16th until October 18th at the International Conference Center in Accra. See more here.

Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards 2019 are now open
Deadline: May 31, 2019.

Skål International is an Affiliate Member of the UNWTO whose mission is to promote the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. See more here.

This newsletter is supported by Forus. However, the ideas and opinions presented in this document do not necessarily represent those of Forus, NNNGO or any other organisation mentioned.

 

 

THE PASSION THAT CONNECTS- Celebrating Sports for Development and Peace

THE PASSION THAT CONNECTS- Celebrating Sports for Development and Peace

In the last two decades, there has been a concerted effort to re-mobilize sport as a vehicle for broad, sustainable social development, especially in the most disadvantaged communities in the world.

According to WIKIPEDIA, sports include all forms of competitive, physical activity which through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing entertainment for spectators.

The UN system also defines sports in the context of development and peace as all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction, such as play, recreation, organized or competitive sport, indigenous sports and games for the attainment of specific development and peace objectives.

For centuries, the role and impact of sports in the society has been a subject of debate. For some observers, sport is a physical activity always associated with competition among teams or nations for the pride and glory of winning, while for some it is a sort of pure entertainment.

Sports; games and physical activities are present in virtually every society, its popularity transcends political, national and ideological borders. While it remains the most unifying and networking tool for peace in the world, sport is a passion shared by women and men world over. It is a force for physical well-being and social empowerment. Research reveals that since the advent of Olympics in 1896, more athletes have come to agree that sports unite the world.

Football for instance, the most popular game in the world, is estimated by FIFA in 2007 to be played by about 2 billion people, while other games such as cricket, basketball and baseball, attract the interest of millions more worldwide.

2005 saw the establishment of the United Nations Office for Sport, Development and Peace (UNOSDP), with an objective to raise awareness about the use of physical activity, sport and play as powerful development tools in the advancement of development and peace.

UNESCO also indicates that to achieve the goals of peace and development, it is important to recognize the cultural dimensions of sport. Additionally, several agencies within the UN system (UNDP, WHO, ILO, IOM) also use sport as a factor in their projects for peace and development, hence the declaration of 6th April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, to celebrate the contribution of sports and physical activity to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world.

The international Day of Sport for Development and Peace is a day when some of the world’s sports’ finest work together with community sports with the aim of enriching the lives of children and youth world over.

In more recent years, the use of sport to tackle issues related to equality and social justice emerged as a response from different sectors to even instances of violence and intolerance especially in most disadvantaged communities in the world while promoting good education, quality health-care, development and peace in its wake.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development further reveals and acknowledges sport’s role for social progress: it clearly emphasizes the need for developed countries in aiding developing countries to achieve a “global partnership for development” and sport is definitely one good source of this partnership.

Further studies conducted by The Population Council and Harvard School of Public Health, evidenced the importance of sports through development and its positive effects on children and youth. These studies have also documented grassroots soccer model’s effectiveness in significantly improving students’ knowledge, attitudes, communication and decision-making skills.

This progress so much so influenced FIFA to launch the Football for Hope initiative in 2005 to help improve the lives of youth world over.

WHAT SPORTS CAN DO FOR YOU

  • Playing sports helps reduce body fat and controls body weight.
  • Sports can help you fight depression and anxiety.
  • Sports allows you to challenge yourself and set goals.
  • Sports help aid coordination, balance and flexibility.
  • Sports can help improve stamina and concentration.
  • Sports allow you to experience the highs and lows of winning and losing
  • Sports are a great way of bonding with families and friends.
  • If you are into sports, you are more likely to have a healthy life.

Every year, physical inactivity leads to an estimated 3.2 million deaths. This is why UNESCO joined forces with the World Health Organization to combat sedentary lifestyles, starting with quality and inclusive physical education for all youths which has considerable benefited children and youth in several countries.

In many countries, opportunities to participate in sports are limited by significant infrastructural, social and political barriers. For example, people with disabilities are marginalized in many societies, thus preventing their active involvement in sports.

And so as the world stays true to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world must do all to support sport to ensuring no one is left behind. Sport leaders and lovers must be ready to demonstrate commitment to creating a better world, despite shortcomings like geographic and social barriers.

Regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, we cannot take away the special love the world has for sports, it is enjoyed by all and sundry, sports build self-esteem, physical and mental health and nurtures positive connections with many.

The rights of every person to engage in sports must be respected and should be enforced worldwide. Government, Corporate Bodies, public and private sectors must all come together to create a world for sports which must not only be considered as a form of entertainment but rather an important investment in our present and our future for a lasting peace and development.

Human Rights and Social Justice in Nigeria (March, 2019)

Human Rights and Social Justice in Nigeria (March, 2019)

Fundamental human rights are the “inalienable rights of people”. These are legal entitlements enjoyed by every citizen of a country without fear of violation from government or fellow citizens. In every country, these rights are protected and enshrined in the National constitution- chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria states what are considered as the rights of every Nigerian citizen and how they can be    protected.

However, shreds of evidence show that despite the entrenchment of human rights in the Nigerian constitution, continuous restrictions on some aspects of citizens’ rights continue to undermine the status of human rights in the country. Over time, the civic space has been threatened. There have been cases of human right violations, ranging from the intimidation and harassment of human right defenders, restrictions on the freedom of expression, assembly and association, among   others.

The Sustainable Development Goals address the importance of protecting citizens’ rights. Goal 16 of the SDGs delineates the need to  provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels and the civil society must, in line with    the Istanbul principle of development effectiveness, which emphasizes the need for “respect and promotion of human rights and social   justice; carry out the responsibility of bringing accountability by exposing and following up on human right violations.

Accordingly, CSOs are effective as development actors when they develop and implement strategies, activities and practices that promote individual and collective human rights, including the right to development with dignity, right to decent work, social justice and equity for all people.

CSOs should be at the forefront towards ensuring the protection of these rights and the strengthening of civic space in Nigeria. Although   some measures have been put in place by the government to improve the human rights situations in Nigeria, there is still room for improvement.

This newsletter is supported by Forus. However, the ideas and opinions presented in this document do not necessarily represent those of Forus, NNNGO or any other organisation mentioned.

Filing of Annual Returns (March, 2019)

Filing of Annual Returns (March, 2019)

An annual return refers to profit made on investment, over a period of time. In Nigeria, corporate entities registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) are mandated to file annual returns with the Commission, on a yearly basis.

Even though nonprofit organisations do not make profit on investments, Section 55 of CITA specifically makes it clear that ALL companies, registered with the CAC must file returns irrespective of tax exemptions conferred on their income. This helps to encourage transparency, accountability and to keep record of all functioning organisations, operating within the country.

Generally, organisations must file annual returns not earlier than 30th June or later than 31st December every year (except the year the organisation was incorporated). However, newly registered organisations begin filing their first annual returns, not later than 18 months after incorporation while older organisations file their annual returns not later than 42 days after their Annual General Meeting.

To file annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission, an organisation is expected to visit the CAC website, download and fill out an Incorporated Trustees Annual Returns form (CAC/ IT 4), attach an audited financial statement signed by a chartered accountant and two trustees of the organisation or a statement of affairs, in cases where the organisation is yet to commence operation along with a fee of  #5,000.

Complying with this law will aid the maintenance of good organisational structures as it encourages a culture of record keeping and puts compliant organisations on good standing with the Commission accurate and updated records of said organisations will be accessible to the commission which gives room for transparency and accountability.

Failure to file annual returns within the stipulated period will incur an additional cost of #5,000 for every year of noncompliance, as penalty. Persistent noncompliance to this law could result in eventual de-registration of errant nonprofits as the commission is left to assume that this organisation is non-operational.

Filing annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission as and when due helps to keep the organisation’s name on the commission’s register, saves time in situations where a nonprofit needs a post-incorporation service or documents from the commission and also prevents nonprofits from payment of penalties that apply for late filing of annual returns.

This publication has been produced with the support of Commonwealth Foundation and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO). However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Commonwealth Foundation or NNNGO.

 Jaldhaara Foundation on World Water Day

At Jaldhaara Foundation, it is everything freshwater. Jaldhaara Foundation’s slogan ‘Quenching A Bigger Thirst Nigeria’ speaks volume on the essential need of water for all Nigerians.

With the foundation’s 5-point Agenda, JF aims to make available fresh water for left-behind communities in Nigeria.

Incorporated to remediate the problems in the areas of Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), JF has been able to streamline the percentage of those who are short of fresh water while vigorously working on a quick and effective impact as regards clean water.

By 2020, Jaldhaara Foundation plans to drive the WASH objectives in a large number of communities by implementing sustainable WASH solutions in over two thousand (2,000) communities and by building preference for safe water, sanitation and hygienic practices in unaddressed, isolated and marginalized communities.

By virtue of expansion and in the bid to make fresh water accessible to all, Jaldhaara Foundation together with an established strong partnership with Water Health Nigeria and other related organizations intend to have a structured phase approach which is meant to address the life cycle of water management (i.e. water provision, purification and waste water management) to the marginalized communities, which include: communities and habitations that are underserved and face significant water contamination.

*Jaldhaara Foundation will provide safe drinking water access to these communities through the conventional model i.e. a WHC.

*About 140 communities will definitely have safe water access.

The intention also extends to installation of 140 WHCs across various communities in Nigeria which would mean that more than 4 million people will have safe water access which would automatically result in the reduction of waterborne disease with an increase in annual savings in households due to reduction in medical expenses.

World Tuberculosis Day with Abraham’s Children Foundation

World Tuberculosis Day with Abraham’s Children Foundation

On World Tuberculosis (TB) day, Olaife Ilori speaks with Victor Dorawa Koreyo, Executive Director, Abraham’s Children Foundation. Here is what he has to say about TB, its causes, symptoms and available treatment:

 

*What is TB?

Tuberculosis (also known as “TB”) is a disease caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

*What is the difference between TB infection and TB disease?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys and the spine. It is very important to note that the TB infection is different from the TB disease.

Persons with TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. They are infected with M. tuberculosis, but do not have TB disease. The only sign of TB infection is a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or TB blood test. So while persons with TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB infection to others, the TB disease is infectious and can be spread from one person to another.

*Is TB disease dangerous?

Tuberculosis Disease has been plaguing humankind for thousands of years; it has been and still one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world.

*How common is the TB disease?

About one-quarter of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria. People infected with TB bacteria have a 5–15% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB.

*What is “smear-negative” TB?

Although patients with sputum smear–negative, can transmit infection, indeed, but they have been presumed to be far less infectious than patients who are sputum smear–positive. However, quantitative data are limited regarding the proportion of TB transmission that is attributable to patients with smear-negative.

 

*What is a TB contact?

Tuberculosis (TB) contact means having close contact with patients with infectious TB. As they are at high risk of infecting non-patients (and in line with the End TB strategy), TB contacts should be investigated systematically and actively for TB infection and disease so it does not spread.

 

*What is TB exposure?

You may have been exposed to TB bacteria if you have spent time with someone with TB disease. The TB bacteria goes into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings.

*What are the symptoms of TB?

  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.

*How does TB spread?

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick.

*Do You Think TB Patients Need to Be Put in Isolation?

Persons who have or are suspected of having TB disease should be placed in an area away from other patients without the disease, preferably in an airborne infection isolation room.

*What is the incubation period of TB disease?

The incubation period of TB disease may vary, but it is usually from 2 to 12 weeks.

*What tests determine whether a person has Tb? are those tests safe for pregnant women?

A positive TB skin test or TB blood test tells that a person has been infected with TB bacteria. It does not tell whether the person has latent TB infection (LTBI) or has progressed to TB disease. Other tests, such as a chest x-ray and a sample of sputum, are needed to see whether the person has TB disease.

TB skin testing is considered both valid and safe throughout pregnancy. TB blood tests also are safe to use during pregnancy, but have not been evaluated for diagnosing TB infection in pregnant women.

*How best should TB Disease be treated?

Treating TB takes longer than treating other types of bacterial diseases. However, for active tuberculosis, the treatment usually consists of a combination of TB drugs that must be taken for at least 6 months. But the treatment will only be successful if the drugs are taken exactly as required for the entire length of time.

*What is DOT and why use DOT?

Directly Observed Treatment(DOT) is the name given to the tuberculosis (TB) control strategy recommended by the World Health Organization. According to WHO, “The most cost-effective way to stop the spread of TB in communities with a high incidence is by curing it through Directly Observed Treatment.

*According to World Health Organization (WHO), between 2000-2014, approximately 43 million lives were saved through diagnosis and treatment. In what way is your organization helping to ensure this disease is kept under wrap?

A massive challenge glares us all in Nigeria especially with the high rate of this disease. That I am wearied beholding the burden even in a community like (Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State) is an understatement. As an NGO, we want to redefine the Nigerian health care through speedy treatment of malaria, HIV/AIDS and especially TB. Results of our impactful services in partnership with Afikpo North in the area of TB control is quite encouraging already and i am sure with this step in the right direction, TB Disease will be eradicated by 2030 hopefully.

 DOWN Today; UP Tomorrow – Knowing Down Syndrome

 DOWN Today; UP Tomorrow – Knowing Down Syndrome

It is quite distressing, harrowing and mortifying for a child’s right to an amazing life to be decided upon even before their presence on earth. Down Syndrome is a stigma, segregation and a limited life opportunity in most parts of the world and it is rather unfortunate that this is the lime life has given to people living with this disorder.

Down Syndrome is named after the English Doctor, John Langdon Down, who was the first to categorize the common features of people with the condition. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder and the leading cause of intellectual and developmental delay in Nigeria and in the world. Today the average lifespan of a person with Down Syndrome is approximately 60 years.

This chromosomal disorder is caused when an error in cell division results in an extra 21 chromosomes. Through a series of screenings and tests, Down Syndrome can be detected even before or after birth, which is 1 in every 700 pregnancies. Determined by many factors, research suggests there is a higher risk if the mother delivers at over 35 years of age. Research also reveals that before the age of 30 years, fewer than one in 1,000 pregnancies will be affected by Down syndrome. After the age of 40 years, this figure rises to about 12 in 1,000.

Hence to ascertain the possibility of giving birth to babies with Down syndrome, during the pre- natal period, two types of procedures are available to pregnant women: screening tests and diagnostic tests. The screening tests estimate the risk of the baby having Down Syndrome while the Diagnostic tests tell whether or not the baby actually has the syndrome.

The estimated incidence of Down Syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births worldwide. According to UN, DS causes intellectual disability and associated medical issues.

Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa records the highest mortality rate from DS with 3.8 per 100,000 people in 2013.

In Nigeria local communities believe that all defects or early deaths which may occur in children with DS is traceable to parental misdeeds or links between the child and the evil world. While the myth is most untrue, studies of Down Syndrome covering a period of 9 years have revealed an incidence of 1 in 865 live-births in Nigeria.

FACTS ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME

  • Older women are more likely to give birth to a child with Down syndrome.
  • Where there should be two copies of every chromosome. In Down syndrome, there are three copies, either complete or partial, of chromosome 21.
  • The characteristics of Down syndrome include low muscle tone, short stature and a protruding tongue.
  • Individuals with Down syndrome have a higher risk of some diseases including epilepsy
  • Screening tests can be used during pregnancy to estimate the probability that a child will have Down syndrome.

TYPES

The most common form of Down syndrome is known as trisomy 21, a condition where individuals have 47 chromosomes in each cell rather than 46.

*Trisomy 21 is caused by an error in cell division called nondisjunction. This leaves a sperm or egg cell with an extra copy of chromosome 21 before or at conception. This variant accounts for 95 percent of Down syndrome cases.

*Mosaic Down syndrome is when some cells in the body are normal while others have Trisomy 21.

*Translocation Down Syndrome is caused by rearranged chromosome material. There are three 21 chromosomes just like there are in trisomy 21, but one of the 21 chromosomes is attached to another chromosome, rather than being separate.

CAUSES

Every cell in the body contains genes that are grouped along chromosomes in the cell’s nucleus. There are normally 46 chromosomes in each cell, 23 inherited from the mother and 23 from the father.

When some or all of a person’s cells have an extra full, or partial, copy of chromosome 21, the result is Down syndrome.

FEATURES OF DOWN SYNDROME

Children with DS do look a little bit different to other children. Children with Down syndrome often reach developmental milestones later than their peers. On average, a child with Down syndrome will sit at 11 months, crawl at 17 months, walk at 26 months. They tend to have:

  • Large protruding tongue
  • Almond-shaped eyes with skin that covers the inner eye
  • Small ears
  • A small head that is somewhat flat at the back
  • Short neck
  • A single crease across the palm of each hand
  • Short, stocky and over-weight build
  • large space between large and second toe
  • Vision challenges occur in 50% of people with DS. It is advisable to have an eye test done every other year
  • Congenital heart defects in 40-50% of people with Ds

HEALTH CHALLENGES

There may be higher risk of: respiratory problems, hearing difficulties, Alzheimer’s disease, leukemia, epilepsy and thyroid conditions.

TREATMENT/CURE

There are treatments for Down Syndrome but sadly, there is no cure. Treatments and care are available, however the steps could be utterly frustrating especially with the challenges attached, but with early intervention immediately after birth, the challenges will not be too overwhelming. Hence, appropriate medical care, emotional, psychological and educational care are required from physicians to special tutors, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and social workers, who can come to their aid, by preparing them so they can have equal opportunities for fulfilling lives while ensuring they are not left behind by taking active roles in the society.