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How Lack of Equipment Exposes Health Workers To COVID-19 In Kano

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Primary Health Centre, Panshekara

When the federal government declared Kano as epicenter of COVID-19 there was no exact figure of health workers affected by the global pandemic in the state.

As in many places ravaged by the pandemic, health workers are in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in Kano State.

The high rate of COVID-19 cases in very densely populated metropolitan local government areas of Kano has exposed many health service providers to coronavirus infection.

During this reporter’s visit to Panshekara Primary Health Centre in Kumbotso Local Government area amidst COVID-19 pandemic, there was violation of NCDC protocol by health workers and patients.

At the immunisation unit of the health centre, health practitioners were sighted working without hand gloves, while visitors did not use face masks.

The situation was also the same at one of general hospitals in Kano metropolis where a medical doctor on duty was sighted diagnosing patients without hand gloves.

One dead, 64 doctors, 30 nurses test positive for COVID-19 in Kano

The Kano State chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Sanusi Bala told this reporter that 64 doctors had tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the state.

Mr Bala explained that many of the victims were the doctors working at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and other private clinics in the state. He said many of them were infected through normal clinical routines while attending to unsuspected COVID-19 cases.

Mr Bala attributed the high number of COVID-19 infection among medical doctors in Kano to lack of adequate personal protective equipment at the initial stage of the pandemic.

“We have 64 doctors infected. And I think about 30 nurses and a number of medical laboratory scientists were also infected. We lost one senior colleague to the fight. We thank Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Apart from the one we lost, the remaining 63 doctors recovered without any hitches.

“Initially, we didn’t have adequate PPE. That was because the number of cases in Kano within a short time kept skyrocketing. They came in large number. And the number of PPE supplied was less than what was required. And there was shortage of training for individuals.

“But Alhamdulillah later, together with the NCDC and the task force, we sat and re-strategised. As I am talking to you, everywhere you go, there is PPE, from the gown, the N-95, boot and all other kits required for people to work. We have less cases now,” he said.

The chairman of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital’s branch of the Association of Resident Doctors, Abubakar Nagoma, confirmed the revelation of NMA chairman. He said 54 doctors got infected while treating patients who came to the hospital with symptoms that later turned to be COVID-19.

Mr Nagoma said the affected health professionals included resident doctors who were undergoing training and consultant doctors. He attributed the vulnerability of the doctors to non-use of face masks by patients and lack of adequate personal protective equipment for doctors.

He highlighted the deliberate hoarding of information by some patients as one of challenges.

“On our part, we lack protective equipment. And you will see many doctors at accident and emergency unit of the hospital wearing only face masks. This is the only protection we have in addition to hand gloves and hand sanitizer,” he noted. “This is not the standard protection protocol guidelines according to NCDC. If you have any suspected (COVID-19) patient, you are supposed to have boots, suit, face mask, goggles, cap and face shield. These are what is obtainable in the developed world and this is the recommendation of the National Centre for Disease Control. To be sincere we don’t have them on ground. We don’t have complete protective suit.

“Another thing, a lot of patients coming from various places within Kano, don’t come with face mask. And some of them will present their pre-existing medical condition, and subsequently the symptoms of COVID-19 start manifesting. To some extent, sometimes patients conceal information until after series of diagnosis, then you find symptoms of COVID-19. You are already exposed by then. It is unfortunate we are working in a very constrained environment.

“Then there is the issue of the number of patients. There are lots of patients coming to the hospital. And they don’t use any barrier that will serve as protection between you and them.

“We have made so many requisitions to the hospital to ensure constant provision of all the necessary protective equipment. In fact, we even went to the extent of threatening the hospital that we will stop diagnosing patients if this equipment is not available. But you know as healthcare providers we cannot fold our arms watching our patients dying. We are always seeing patients whether with or without the supply of what we requested. We are still pushing for this to be available. Even the hospital management are complaining they have yet to be supplied by the federal government. What we have has already been exhausted.”

Fifteen additional health workers tested positive for coronavirus while treating patients at the National Orthopeadic Hospital, Dala. Aliyu Kabara, the chairman of the hospital’s branch of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) confirmed this to this reporter.

Mr Kabara said the 15 infected health personnel included three consultant doctors, nine resident doctors and three nurses that treated asymptomatic COVID-19 patients who came to the hospital for orthopaedic treatment.

“We were the first hospital in Kano to record infected COVID-19 doctors,” he noted. “During the first screening, 15 persons out of 25 samples were positive for COVID-19.”

According to him, the hospital has scaled down operation, and restricted services to emergency cases and inpatients.

On how the doctors got infected, Mr Kabara said they contracted the disease from a female patient who had undergone a surgery.

“When she came back for follow-up, she exhibited some COVID-19 symptoms. Most of the infected doctors are from that unit where this woman was treated,” he said. “We don’t always use personal protective equipment because we don’t have enough. No one will refuse to attend to a patient with life threatening illness and send him back because of lack of personal protective equipment. Some of these patients have COVID-19 beside their known clinical challenges.”

Apart from the doctors, about six members of the Kano State task force on COVID-19 were also infected with the virus. Prominent among them were co-chairman AbdurRazaq Garba Habib, the secretary of the committee Imam Wada Bello, and state commissioner of health, Aminu Tsanyawa.

Cleaner, billing official, 32 other health workers test positive for COVID-19 at AKTH

A total of 34 additional health workers at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) had contracted the COVID-19 virus at the time of filing this report.

This was revealed by the chairman of the hospital’s branch of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), Murtala Umar.

Mr Umar listed the infected health workers to include 12 nurses, five medical laboratory scientists, three technicians, two medical record officers, one billing officer, one hospital attendant and one cleaner.

He added that eight members of the union had earlier contracted the coronavirus.

Kano government reacts

Despite health workers outcry of inadequate PPE in public hospitals, Kano State commissioner of health, Aminu Tsanyawa, said the government had taken adequate measures in protecting front line healthcare workers working in response team and those at facilities.

“His Excellency is keen about protecting front line healthcare workers and other healthcare workers that are working in our facilities,” he noted. “His Excellency has come up with the strategies and intervention to ensure that our healthcare workers are protected as they are doing their work of protecting the people of Kano.

“First and foremost is orientation and training at various level of healthcare workers to ensure that those working directly at response team are protected, and to also ensure that those working at facilities providing services are protected.

“They were trained on infection prevention and control (IPC). Many of our healthcare workers were trained to ensure they keep safe. This is one singular intervention that is important in safeguarding our healthcare workers.”

13% of Kano residents tested for COVID-19 were positive

About 13 per cent of Kano residents tested for COVID-19 tested positive for the virus, according to an official report.

The report released by the Kano State Ministry of Health was titled “COVID-19 response update: Kano laboratory overview.”

It indicated that as of June 20, the state had collected 9,103 samples, 8,948 results were retrieved, 155 samples pending and 1,191 confirmed positive cases.

The Kano positive rate is less than the overall for Nigeria where about 19 per cent of tests have come out positive.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which coordinates the COVID-19 testing and treatment across the country, does not, however, provide a regular state by state breakdown of the tests done.

However, over 40 per cent of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Nigeria are in Lagos, indicating the state also has the highest number of people tested.

The Kano data

The breakdown of the data by the Kano health ministry showed that from March 20 to April 20, the state collected 1,765 samples and recorded 219 positive cases.

Between April 20 and May 20, the state collected 2,930 samples with 735 testing positive.

Also, between May 20 and June 20, the samples collected doubled to 4,408 while the number of positive cases dropped to 237.

According to the data, the samples were treated at five NCDC designated laboratories with a combined total of 530 testing capacity daily.

The laboratories are Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital with 90 testing capacity daily, Bayero University, Kano (180), 54Gene (90), IFRAN (80) and EHA (90).

Controversial deaths

The update provided on Kano State ministry of health’s twitter handle showed that the total samples collected as of Saturday, December 26, 2020, was 57,484; the confirmed cases were 2,169 with 284 active cases and 1,825 persons have been recovered and discharged.

The twitter handle revealed that so far 60 persons who tested positive of COVID-19 in Kano had lost their lives.

The 60 recorded deaths were separate from the mysterious deaths recorded in the state, about 500 of which were suspected to be from COVID-19.

The northwestern state had in April experienced a spate of about 979 unexplained deaths, including first-class traditional rulers, health workers and academics.

Abbatoir Cemetery

The health minister, Osagie Ehanire, had said about 60 per cent of the “mysterious deaths” recorded in Kano State may have been triggered by COVID-19.

“With regard to unexplained deaths in Kano which occurred in April over a five-week period, the team confirmed that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in eight municipal LGA in the state at a rate of 43 deaths per day,” Mr Ehanire said.

“The peak was in the second week of April. By the beginning of May, the death rate had reduced to 11 deaths per day it used to be.

“The verbal autopsy revealed that about 56 per cent of deaths had occurred at home while 38 per cent were in a hospital.

“Investigation suggests that between 50-60 per cent of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19, in the face of pre-existing ailments.”

A verbal autopsy is carried out to find the cause of death when the corpse is not physically available or has been buried.

The Kano government, however, disputed the federal government’s report, saying its findings showed that only about 16 per cent of those strange deaths could have been from COVID-19.

Kano State government findings

Kano State government report was presented to the public at Kano Government House by Mukhtar Gadanya, a Consultant Public Health Physician at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital AKTH.

Mr Gadanya who read out all parts of the report said: “A retrospective study of mortalities was conducted over two weeks (27th April – 15th May, 2020), across eight metropolitan local government areas (Gwale, Fagge, Tarauni, Kumbotso, Ungogo, Nassarawa, Kano Municipal and Dala).”

According to him, the mortalities in the identified LGAs “were line-listed, which made a provision for the questionnaire to be administered house to house.”

He revealed that, as part the committee’s scientific approach, “mortalities reviewed were for a period of 1 month (1st April to 2nd May 2020).”

“Relatives of those who passed away were interviewed by respective Ward Focal Persons (WFP), using a structured questionnaire into an electronic platform (ODK), he said.

“Data from the questionnaire were reviewed for categorisation into most probable causes of mortality by medical specialists using “two-symptoms’ criteria (at least presence of two of any of fever, cough and shortness of breath).”

According to Mr Gadanya, “an inter-play of various factors contributed to the mysterious deaths, causes this study shed light on. Mortality in community is cyclical and vary by seasons and months.”

Mr Gadanya disagreed with the earlier report by the minister of health saying that, “COVID-19 might have contributed 15.9% of the cases of mortality, but within the limitations of the verbal autopsy method, that cannot provide confirmation.”

He added that, “Some deaths may be related to disruption of medical care and socio-economic activities due to fear of contracting COVID-19, which usually happens during epidemics.

“If the mysterious deaths were COVID-19 related, the deaths could have come more from local governments that have more COVID-19 cases.

“Tarauni Local Government for example, with 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases is the first in pandemic ranking, but in the mysterious deaths it is rated 7th.”

This investigation was commissioned by the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) as part of its whistleblowing initiative under its Corruption Anonymous project supported by the MacArthur Foundation. Published materials do not reflect the views of the MacArthur Foundation.

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Dangote says Company’s projected $30bn revenue will boost the Naira value

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, on Sunday stated that his company’s aim is to become the leading supplier of foreign exchange in the FX market soon, as it targets $30 billion in revenues by the year 2025.

KANO FOCUS reports that during a tour of the Dangote Petroleum Refinery & Petrochemicals and Dangote Fertiliser Limited with media executives at the weekend, he said the plan is to attain independence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in forex sourcing, highlighting a strategic shift in revenue composition within the cement business from the current 75 percent to 15 percent in the future.

The expected significant inflow of forex into Nigeria through his businesses, will automatically boosts the value of our local currency and make Naira regain its value in the comity of international currencies all over the world.

According to Dangote, the refinery began full operations in 2024, initially focusing on refining intermediate products such as polypropylene, naphtha, RCO, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

He explained that the refinery entered its steady-state production phase in March 2024. Additionally, he anticipates production ramping up to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) with 15 crude cargoes per month by August, increasing to 550,000 bpd by the end of the year, and aiming for 650,000 bpd by the first quarter of 2025.

“Petrol production is to commence in July with sales from August,” assured Dangote.

Dangote also hinted that the group intends to list both Dangote Petroleum Refinery & Petrochemicals and Dangote Fertilizer Limited on the Nigerian Exchange Group in the first quarter of 2025. He said that this initiative would enable Nigerians to participate in the ownership of these companies.

“Due to the nature of our business with both the refinery and the fertilizer, we are aiming to list them by the end of this year. However, depending on circumstances, worst-case scenario, we anticipate listing them before the end of the first quarter of next year. This will allow us to offer shares for sale and enable Nigerians to participate as shareholders,” Dangote stated.

The Dangote Refinery, which will process 650,000 barrels per day (BPD) at full capacity, stands as Africa’s largest oil refinery and the world’s largest single-train facility, while the Dangote Fertiliser Limited operates Africa’s largest Granulated Urea Fertiliser complex. Presently, Dangote Cement is Nigeria’s most capitalised company.

While noting that the total storage capacity of the refinery is 4.5 billion litres, sufficient to cover 20 days of Nigeria’s crude requirement and store products equivalent to 15 days of Nigeria’s petrol consumption, he stressed that the refinery would produce 53 million litres of petrol per day and 1.1 million tonnes per day.

He added that the refinery is equipped with dedicated loading gantries featuring 86 loading bays, alongside specialized marine facilities for the offloading of crude and the loading of petroleum products. Additionally, the facility, he said, includes a 900-kilotonne per annum polypropylene plant, with production capacities of 36,000 tonnes per annum for sulphur and 585,000 tonnes per annum for carbon black.

Dangote said that over the past four decades, the operations of Dangote Group have evolved significantly from a commodity trading company to a diversified conglomerate. He emphasised that this transformation was driven by the overarching goal of achieving self-sufficiency in key sectors and bolstering Nigeria’s economy.

He noted that the group, which began as a trading company in 1978, has expanded into a diversified conglomerate with investments spanning cement, agriculture, fertilizer, petrochemicals, oil & gas, auto assembly, infrastructure, and other sectors.

He said the group is driven by the idea that Africa’s future prosperity hinges on its ability to harness its own resources and capabilities. Dangote stressed that the continent inadvertently imports poverty and exports jobs by exporting raw materials and importing finished goods.

The Vice President, Oil and Gas, Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, reiterated the commitment of the company in enhancing local capacity in critical sectors of the economy.

He said Dangote Industries Limited has empowered young Nigerians to assume key roles across its operations, with many even becoming expatriates in other nations.

Edwin stressed the refinery’s status as the world’s largest single train complex constructed entirely by a Nigerian company, highlighting a significant achievement in local engineering and construction capabilities.

Noting that most refineries were built by foreign companies, he said it is a thing of pride that a Nigerian company, acting directly as Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor, designed and built the world’s largest single train refinery complex. He said this has enhanced the capacity of many Nigerians involved in the process and that a Nigerian company can build a refinery anywhere in the world.

“It is a thing of pride that the largest single train refinery in the world is 100% designed, engineered, and constructed by a Nigerian company as EPC contractor,” he said.

While expressing gratitude to the media executives, Group Executive Director of Commercial Operations at Dangote Industries Limited, Fatima Dangote, reiterated the company’s dedication to creating a positive impact on the economy. She commended Aliko Dangote’s steadfast commitment to advancing the continent’s development.

“He (Dangote) is committed to ensuring the success of Nigeria and Africa as a nation and a continent. Our focus extends beyond profit to solving problems and achieving self-sufficiency across all sectors in Africa. By meeting global standards, we have positioned ourselves to export our products to every continent in the world,” she said.

Fatima pointed out that the group is not only the largest private employer of labour but also consistently ranks as one of the top taxpayers in the country each year, adhering to all relevant tax laws and regulations.

“We are known as one of the largest employers of labour. However, we are also conscious of ensuring our workers enjoy a good living standard. This is reflected in our inclusion in the list of top paying firms in the country. Our impact on employment generation extends to creating thousands of indirect jobs in the various communities that we operate in,” she added.

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Kano Govt, PLANE hold Education Sector Performance Review meeting

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

The Kano state government has conducted a three day education sector review meeting in Zaria, Kaduna state. 

KANO FOCUS reports that the meeting was conducted with the support of Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria (PLANE). 

Speaking at the occasion the state commissioner of education Alhaji Umar Haruna Doguwa said the Abba Kabir Yusuf led administration attached priority attention to education and would utilise its resources to revive the sector.

According to him, the present administration under the leadership of Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf is concerned about the dilapidated condition of education and would redouble efforts to achieve the desired objectives.

He emphasized the need for collaboration saying that the ministry operates an open-door policy that is always open to receive inputs aimed at improving education.

“As part of efforts to revive the sector, the ministry would install solar panels to enable uninterrupted service delivery “

The State Team Lead, Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria PLANE Malam Umar Lawan said that PLANE is committed to supporting Kano state in taking education to a greater height.

He said PLANE is a 7-year education program funded by FCDO that engages with state and non-state actors within the basic education sub-sector to strengthen systems for improved delivery of inclusive, good-quality foundational learning, with a focus on marginalized groups, especially girls and children with disabilities.

He said “PLANE works at the federal level and in five states (Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Yobe, and Borno.”

Representative of the Kano State Accountability Forum on Education, (K-SAFE) Hajiya Mairo Bello, expressed appreciation to PLANE for extending the invitation to them and pledged to do the necessary advocacies and media engagement to inform relevant stakeholders.

Others who spoke at the occasion include Chairman State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) Alhaji Yusuf Kabir, Executive Secretary Kano State Private and Voluntary Institutions Board (KSPVIB) , Alhaji Baba Umar, Hajiya Ladidi Sani Fagge from HILWA among others.

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Dangote Refinery imports additional 11m barrels of US crude oil due to domestic supply shortage

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

 

Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals has issued a tender for an additional 11 million barrels of US crude oil over the next six months due to Nigerian crude oil producers’ inability to meet its feedstock requirements.

KANO FOCUS reports that the 650,000 barrels per day refinery has already received 9 million barrels of West Texas Intermediate crude from the US since the beginning of 2024 to offset unreliable domestic supplies. The new tender, closing on July 21, aims to procure two million barrels per month of WTI Midland crude for the world’s largest single-train facility located in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, for the next six months starting in August.

In a tender reported by Bloomberg, Dangote Refinery purchased five million barrels of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland crude for delivery in the upcoming months of August and September. Additionally, the company initiated a tender process to acquire an additional six million barrels of American crude for September.

This reliance on US crude highlights Nigeria’s challenges in meeting its own refining needs, attributed to issues such as crude theft, aging infrastructure, and underinvestment, which have led to a decline in production. In April, Nigeria’s daily output was only 1.45 million barrels, well below its capacity of 2.6 million barrels per day. The country recorded an estimated 30 million barrels underproduction in the first four months of 2024.

Dangote Refinery, crucial to Nigeria’s goal of becoming a net exporter of petroleum products, has found it necessary to import crude to sustain operations amidst insufficient domestic supply.

President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, stated during the Africa CEO Forum 2024 that the refinery will need to continue importing crude as production scales up and alternative supply contracts are sought.

“It also makes economic sense for us to tender for crude. If we could source 100 percent Nigerian crude, then fine, but we can’t wait,” said Dangote.

Commenting on the challenge with sourcing crude locally, Dangote added, “there is a bit of a problem for us to source the entire volume of crude that we’re looking for domestically because we need different types and mixes. Unless crude production improves – which we pray and hope for – we need to go elsewhere.”

The refinery took in more than 41 million barrels of feedstock in the first half of the year as it completed test runs and gradually increased processing rates, tanker-tracking data show. Of that, about a quarter has been American supply.

According to CAS, the refinery took delivery of 11 WTI cargoes, or 9 million barrels, between February and May, contrasting with around 18 million barrels of Nigerian crude deliveries.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), NNPC has struggled to meet its 300,000 barrels per day obligation to the refinery due to operational constraints.

International financial analytics corporation, S&P Global, recently described the Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals company as capable of resolving Nigeria’s foreign exchange (forex) issue and its huge pressure on the local Naira currency, while also catalysing the country’s economic development.

S&P Global, headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, disclosed this during an onsite visit to the refinery as part of its sovereign credit ratings assessment of Nigeria. The team from the international rating agency were accompanied by officials from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

S&P noted that the refinery would bolster Nigeria’s oil sector and, more importantly, also have a positive impact on its growing economy.

Currently operating at 350,000 barrels per day capacity, Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), Devakumar Edwin, recently disclosed that the refinery would scale up to at least 500,000 barrels per day capacity by July/August, commencing the refining of petrol and ultra-low sulphur diesel.

He noted that the refinery, designed to process a wide range of crudes including various African and Middle Eastern crudes, as well as US Light Oil, conforms to Euro V specifications. In addition, it is designed to comply with US EPA, European Union (EU) emission norms, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) emission/effluent norms, and the African Refiners and Distribution Association (ARDA) standards.

While noting that most refineries were built by foreign companies, he said it is a thing of pride that a Nigerian company designed and built the world’s largest single-train refinery complex while acting directly as its own Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor. The refinery which also incorporates a self-sufficient marine facility capable of handling the world’s largest vessels, can meet 100% of Nigeria’s requirement of all liquid products (Gasoline, Diesel, Kerosene & Aviation Jet) and have surplus of each of these products for export.

 

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