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Feature: The Devastating Effects of African Leaders’ Unappeasable Appetite for Foreign Healthcare

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In the past few days, Nigerian social media has been awash with stories about President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical trip to London. Agitations continue to get rife daily as people call on the 78-year-old leader to return home and fix his country’s poor health system instead of seeking medical attention overseas.

Buhari flew to London on 30th March for a “medical check-up” and is billed to return home in the second week in April. Since he came to power in 2015, the retired general has flown to the British capital several times and spent more than 175 days seeking health care. In 2017, he spent over 150 days receiving medical care in the U.K. after temporarily handed over power to his vice Yemi Osinbajo.

This regular occurrence has been the reason for many Nigerian’s outcries, especially as his state of health has become a sensitive topic in the country. Of course, it is hard to blame Nigerians for venting their frustrations, given the 2010 experience when one of their former presidents, Umar Musa Yar’Adua, died while on medical attention in Saudi Arabia.

Yar’Adua’s state of health was shrouded in secrecy, leaving Nigerians in doubt of his capability to lead the most populated country in Africa. His absence, health, and eventual death almost created a leadership vacuum in the country, as he didn’t hand over power to his then-vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, who later became president and ruled the country for five years.

Interestingly, this insatiable appetite for foreign medical care isn’t peculiar to Nigerian leaders. Health tourism has become a common trend among several African leaders. Many past and present presidents have shown that they prefer overseas to local health care. Presidents Ali Bongo of Gabon, Patrice Talon of Benin Republic, former presidents Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria and Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola are other African leaders known for this practice.

During his time as Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe was also a regular visitor to health facilities abroad, snubbing his country’s health system. The 95-year-old leader, who left power in 2017 after ruling the south African country for 37 years, later died in a Singaporean hospital in September 2019.

Other African past leaders who died while seeking medical treatment abroad include two Zambia’s presidents Levy Mwanawasa 2008 in France and Michael Sata 2014 in Britain, Gabon’s Omar Bongo December 2009 in Spain, and Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi August 2012 in Belgium.

Many African leaders have neglected their country’s health system for years. And this explains the poor conditions of facilities across the continent. The year-long negligence has left the health sectors in many African countries in a sorry state. Many hospitals lack basic facilities such as beds and personal protective equipment (PPE).

For this reason, African leaders don’t have faith in the system they provide and oversee. This explains why they and their families fly abroad for even the most basic medical treatment. Apart from a very few countries, such as South Africa, which has been improving its health sector, it is hard to find the state of the art medical facilities in many African countries.

 

The continent loses a huge amount of money to this high rate of health tourism. For example, Nigerians spend $200 on health tourism every year to India alone, and their overall annual medical tourism spending is estimated to be $1 billion. In 2016, findings showed that Africans spent a whopping $6 billion seeking healthcare abroad. Medical tourism is a luxury that can only be enjoyed by few people.

Those suffering the greatest burden of this year-long negligence of Africa’s healthcare are its citizens, most of whom are low-income earners. They are left with no choice but to use the deplorable facilities at home while their leaders get the best care abroad.

Consequently, the effects of these disappointing practice include high child and maternal mortality rate, high cases of infectious diseases, and low life expectancy, which have become perennial challenges across the continent. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, malaria still accounts for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Africa, and most of these deaths are in children ages 5 and below.

A World Bank’s child mortality report shows that 1 in 13 sub-Saharan African children die before they reach the age of 5. Many African countries, especially the sub-Saharan African region, also have alarmingly high maternal mortality ratios. In Nigeria, for instance, the maternal mortality ratio is 814 per 100,000 live births. In most developed countries, the lifetime risk of a pregnant woman dying during the stage of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum or abortion is 1 in 4,900, but in Nigeria, it is 1 in 22.

The continent is also home to countries with the lowest-ranked life expectancy. On the global ranking, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Lesotho, Chad, and the Central African Republic occupy the bottom five, with 55.92, 55.75, 55.65, 55.17, and 54.36 life expectancy, respectively. The figures show a huge difference when compared with countries like Hong Kong, Japan, and Switzerland with an average of 85 years old.

Poor infrastructure is another problem in the system. In 2019, there were reports of bare-handed surgeries by physicians in Zimbabwe because of the nonavailability of gloves. At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there were reports of ventilators shortage across various African health facilities, and this further revealed the year-long rot in the system. Somalia’s health sector had nine ventilators, and only three were available in the Central African Republic. And in Nigeria, with over 200 million population, there were only 100. Most African counties also lag far behind in the WHO’s recommended hospital bed per population ratio.

The system also experiences a shortage of medical professionals. According to the WHO, the ideal doctor per population ratio is 1:1000, but in Africa, the current reality shows 1:10,000. This shortage is projected to reach 4.3 million by 2035. On top of that, many of the few available professionals migrate daily to Europe, the Americas, and Asia in search of greener pasture, as the condition at home is anything but favourable to healthcare workers.

For example, in the U.K. medical care sector, 1 in 10 physicians are from Africa. Many of them have settled in the European country for years and have been granted indefinite leave to remain – an indication that Africa has permanently lost those talents to another country that value them more. Other countries like the USA, Australia, and Canada also have several African trained professionals in their health sectors. These nations with some of the best medical system in the world gain yearly from Africa’s investments in doctors. Unfortunately, their gain is Africa’s loss. Findings show that it costs African countries an average of $21,000 to $59,000 to train a doctor. So, putting together these figures, Africa loses billions of dollars to those countries where its doctors migrate to in droves. And the more this continues, the more the continent will keep suffering a shortage of skills in its health system.

Just like other basic amenities, good healthcare has been an unaffordable and inaccessible luxury for most Africans. It is high time African leaders started getting their priorities right and improve their countries’ healthcare. They also need to stop galivanting across various overseas health facilities and use the same system their citizens use. There must be a significant improvement in the continent’s healthcare funding to bridge the gap that has left the system in critical condition. This will restore people’s faith in Africa’s healthcare and reduce the high volume of medical tourism.

Olusegun Akinfenwa is a political correspondent for Immigration News, a news organization affiliated with Immigration Advice Service London. IAS is a leading U.K. immigration law firm that helps people migrate and settle in the U.K.

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Thabo Mbeki to lead Commonwealth observers for Nigerian elections

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Former President of South Africa, H.E. Thabo Mbeki, will lead a team of Commonwealth election observers to Nigeria, which will be holding Africa’s largest democratic exercise later this month when it holds general elections on 25 February 2023.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, constituted the Commonwealth Observer Group following an invitation from Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission.

As of January 2023, an estimated 93.4 million registered voters will have the right to cast ballots for presidential and national assembly candidates in 176,846 polling units across 774 local government areas.

Announcing the group, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said:

“The Commonwealth remains a committed and reliable partner in Nigeria’s continuing journey towards peaceful democratic governance. Since 1999, we have observed all six general elections in Nigeria and the deployment of this observer group is a testament to the Commonwealth’s enduring support for the promotion of the culture, processes and institutions of democracy in Nigeria.

“In accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter, the work of the group seeks to promote transparency, strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and protect the right of the people of Nigeria to participate in credible, transparent and inclusive elections to shape their society.

“This month’s elections hold immense significance not just for Nigeria, but for the entire African continent and the wider democratic world. It is, therefore, essential that all stakeholders in Nigeria reaffirm their shared commitment to ensuring a peaceful election environment which is conducive to the free exercise of people’s franchise and in which fundamental freedoms and rights are respected.”

She also expressed her appreciation to President Mbeki for accepting her invitation to lead the group and to each observer for agreeing to undertake this important assignment on behalf of the Commonwealth.

The mandate of the group, which is independent and impartial, is to observe the preparations for the election, the polling, counting and the results process, and the overall electoral environment. The observers will assess the conduct of the process as a whole and, where appropriate, make recommendations for the strengthening of the electoral system in Nigeria.

Before deployment to different parts of Nigeria, the group will also have briefings with the electoral authorities, political parties, law enforcement agencies, the media and civil society groups representing women, youth and people with disabilities.

Upon completion of its assignment, the group will submit its recommendations in a report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will forward it to the Government of Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the leadership of political parties taking part in the elections and all Commonwealth governments. The report will be made public afterwards.

The Commonwealth Observer Group comprises 16 eminent persons from around the Commonwealth, including politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender equality and election administration. The full team is listed below.

The observers will be in Nigeria from 18 February to 2 March 2023. They will be supported by a staff team from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Joshua Setipa, Senior Director of the Strategy, Portfolio, Partnerships and Digital Division.

The Commonwealth Observer Group members, in alphabetical order by country name, are:

  • H.E. Thabo Mbeki (Chairperson), Former President, South Africa
  • Ian Browne, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Electoral and Boundaries Department, Barbados
  • Hon. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs,Botswana
  • Dr Andrew Knight, Distinguished Professor, Fulbright scholar and expert in terrorism and security, Canada
  • Tara Chetty, Human rights and gender expert, Fiji
  • Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director, Institute for Democratic Governance, Ghana
  • Dr Mohamed Chambas, Former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Ghana
  • Hon. Amina Mohamed, Former Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture, and former Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Kenya
  • Linda Bonyo, Legal and data analytics expert, Kenya
  • Seabata Motsamai, Chairperson, Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, Lesotho
  • Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga, Speaker, East African Legislative Assembly, Rwanda
  • Hon. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, Former House Assembly Speaker, Former Minister for Women Affairs and Former Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Saint Lucia
  • Dr Gregory Mills, Director, Brenthurst Foundation, South Africa
  • Josephine Karungi, Journalist, Uganda
  • Dr Alex Vines, Director, Africa Programme, Chatham House, United Kingdom
  • Kryticous Nshindano, Former Chief Electoral Officer, Zambia Electoral Commission, Zambia

 

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How to mute someone on Instagram?

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Are you looking to limit your interactions with someone on Instagram or Do you want to stop hearing notifications every time someone messages you on Instagram, Have you had enough of their posts cluttering your feed? Then you’re in luck! In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at how you can mute someone on Instagram so that you can keep your newsfeed clean and tidy.

Muting someone on Instagram is easy, and you can quickly silence the notifications from someone without having to block them. This allows you to keep up with their posts without being bombarded with notifications

In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to mute someone on Instagram. We will also explain how to unmute someone if you decide to do so in the future. So, let’s get started!

How to mute someone on Instagram?

If you are new to Instagram and want to get more followers, you can buy Instagram followers to increase their count. Also, Instagram makes it easy to mute people and conversations so you don’t have to see their posts or messages. 

Here’s how to mute someone on Instagram.

Step 1: Tap the chat with the person you want to mute/unmute. You can find chats in your inbox or by tapping the speech bubble icon in the top right of your Instagram home page.

Step 2: Tap the three-dots icon in the top right of your chat.

Step 3: Tap Mute or Unmute next to Mute Messages to mute/unmute someone.

Once you’ve muted someone, you’ll no longer receive notifications for their posts or messages. You can also mute group chats by tapping the three-dots icon in the group chat and tapping Mute.

That’s it! Muting someone on Instagram is a great way to keep your feed and inbox free from unwanted posts and messages. Just remember to unmute that person if you change your mind and want to see their posts or messages again.

You can increase your post visit by buying Instagram followers. To know in detail, visit – Buy Instagram Likes.

Conclusion

Muting someone on Instagram is a great way to manage your conversations and keep your inbox organized. All you need to do is open the chat with the person you want to mute or unmute, tap the top right of the chat, and tap the mute or unmute button. 

This will allow you to have more control over your conversations and help you stay on top of your notifications. With this feature, you can communicate with people without having to be bombarded by their messages.

Muting someone on Instagram is a great way to keep your conversations organized and your inbox clutter-free. Try it out today to have more control over the messages you receive.

 

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Jumia appoints Sunil Natraj as new Ghana CEO

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Jumia, the leading e-commerce platform in Africa, has announced the appointment of Sunil Natraj as Ghana’s new Chief Executive Officer. He takes over the leadership mantle from former CEO, Tolulope Thomas.

“I am very excited to take up this enormous responsibility to lead such a great team of enthusiastic professionals. E-commerce is fast growing in Ghana, and I believe the time to drive growth and impact lives in Ghana through the internet is now. I look forward to a successful journey of sustainability and profitability, and I believe that together with all our stakeholders, we will achieve amazing things.” said Sunil Natraj upon his appointment.

 

Sunil brings with him a wealth of experience; He joined Jumia in 2022 with extensive experience in Sub-saharan Africa. In Jumia, he has been handling the Jumia Express logistics business as VP of Sales and Marketing. In his short time at Jumia, he has worked towards cost definitions and reduction, price definition and standardization, and business development. He has managed and built brands in the region and has handled large businesses with turnovers in excess of USD 150mn per annum. He has been based in Ghana for over 9 years, where he worked for GBFoods – a large food-producing multinational with operations in Europe and Africa. Sunil holds a B.S in Engineering and an MBA from The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.

He looks forward to driving growth in Jumia’s Ghana operations while working closely with all stakeholders to ensure partner development and consumer satisfaction as the company scales toward profitability.

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Jameson Widens The Circle With Jameson Connects GH 2023: A Celebration of Freedom and Creativity

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Jameson Connects Gh is back and this year’s edition promises to be better elevated and more connected. (more…)

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Guest Blog: Is religion becoming Ghana’s new parliament?

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When religion begins to influence policies that affect every single person, then there is a problem. Religious beliefs are private and personal, but laws are not,” says Alex Kofi Donkor. (more…)

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MTN Ghana Reviews Tariffs Upward

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NOEL KOJO GANSON CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER MTN

Scancom PLC (MTN Ghana) has announced an upward review of the tariffs of its products and services effective February 07, 2023.

The review is as result of two changes. Firstly, the implementation of the 2.5% statutory adjustment of VAT from 12.5% to 15% across all services. This will impact both Prepaid and Post-paid customers. Secondly, MTN Ghana is proceeding with a 15% average upward review of its mobile data tariffs which was originally announced in November 2022 and was subsequently put on hold. The increase in mobile data tariffs will impact both Pay Monthly and Pay-As-You-Go users. The review in mobile data bundle offers cover products available on the short codes 138 & 170, as well as on purchases through Electronic Voucher Distribution (EVD), MTN Pulse, and Data Zone except for XtraTime.  The data tariff increases do not apply to Fiber Broadband and Fixed Wireless Access (4G Router / Turbonet) customers.

With this review, voice users will receive less airtime due to the VAT implementation, and mobile data customers will receive less data bundle allocations for the same price purchased before the tariff increase was made.

The Chief Commercial Officer for MTN, Mr. Noel Kojo-Ganson, explained the impact by giving an example of how the new pricing will work. He said, following the review, a three cedis airtime purchase before the VAT increase, which previously gave customers 24.4 minutes will now give customers 23.9 minutes, whilst a three cedis data bundle which previously gave customers 471 MBs will now give customers 401 MBs.

Explaining the reason for the upward review of the Data Bundle prices, Mr. Noel Kojo-Ganson said the review was necessitated by the recent economic shifts leading to increasing cost of operations largely due to continuous increase in inflation. “These economic shifts have impacted us directly and for us to ensure we have the right balance for sustaining growth and investments into the network, we have had to consider price increases in various segments of our business.”

Mr. Kojo-Ganson added, “MTN recognises that we are in very tough times and would like to assure our customers that we will continue to offer them the convenience and flexibility in the purchase of data bundles at their desired price points via the MTN Flexi and Non-Expiry Bundles. Also, customers will continue to enjoy the 50% bonus incentive on mobile data purchases via MyMTN App & MoMo (valid for 7 days) for 4G customers”.

MTN remains committed to investing USD1 Billion by 2025 to continue its network expansion and improve the network experience for customers. In line with our Ambition 2025 strategy, our purpose is to lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress.

For more information on the revised prices for the data bundle offers, visit www.mtn.com.gh.

 

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