Nigeria reports 557 diphtheria cases, 73 deaths

Nigeria has confirmed 557 cases of diphtheria across its states and 73 deaths since the beginning of 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported Wednesday.

The death toll has also risen to 73 with a case-fatality ratio of 13%.

“From May 14, 2022, to April 9, 2023, 1,439 suspected diphtheria cases were reported from 21 states in Nigeria, with the majority (83 per cent) of cases reported from Kano (1,188), Yobe (97), Katsina (61), Lagos (25), Sokoto (14) and Zamfara (13). Of the 1,439 suspected cases, 557 (39%) were confirmed (51 laboratory-confirmed, 504 clinically compatible, and two epidemiologically linked), 483 (34%) were discarded, and 399 (28%) are pending classification.

Recently, Priscilla Ibekkwe, official of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, assured that, in order to contain a diphtheria spread, labs are increasing their capacity for early diagnosis.

The states, on the other hand, where cases have been reported are being presently supplied with anti-toxins and other types of medication, Ibekkwe said.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease that spreads between people mainly by direct contact or through the air via respiratory droplets. The disease can affect all age groups, however, unimmunized children are particularly at risk. It is potentially fatal.

Source: Lao News Agency

Laos, GIZ discuss co2 reduction efforts

The National Inception Workshop on Green Climate Fund (GCF) Project 2 – Implementation of Governance, Forest Landscapes and Livelihoods (I-GFLL 2) was held on May 4, in Vientiane.

Co chaired by Mr Sousath Sayakoummane, Director General, Department of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and Ms Barbara Schweiger, Deputy GIZ Country Director, the meeting was attended by representatives of international organisations and relevant authorities.

The meeting aimed to brief the participants about the progress of I-GFLL and officially kick-off the GCF Sub-Project 2 (I-GFLL 2), Mr Sousath Sayakoummane told the opening ceremony of the meeting.

Implemented in Huaphan, Luang Prabang and Xayaboury since 2020, I-GFLL 1 has been benefiting 15 districts (240 villages) in the three northern provinces.

Financed with a grant assistance package of EUR 16.16 million from the government of Germany, the project promotes forestry management, land use planning and the establishment of village funds, according to Mr Sousath Sayakoummane.

Some activities are not completed as planned so we have to request 32 more million EUR from GCF so that we will be able to continue the project activities.

To prepare for the implementation of I-GFLL 2, BMZ has provided over 4 million EUR to and signed an MOU on cooperation with GIZ to Laos.

I-GFLL aims at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through promoting sustainable management and conservation of forest resources and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, said Ms Barbara Schweiger, GIZ Deputy Country Director.

This will be achieved through strengthened institutional and regulatory systems for low-emission planning and development and improved management of forest and land areas.

Source: Lao News Agency

Vietnam sees 41 new projects abroad licensed in last four months

In the first four months of this year, Vietnam saw 41 new projects abroad licensed with the investment from Vietnam reaching 140 million USD, a decline of 51% compared with that of the same period last year.

Investment capital adjustments were made at 11 projects, increasing by 13.5 million USD in capital.

Vietnam’s foreign investment consisting of both new investments and adjusted ones reached 153.5 million USD in the first four months of this year, a drop of 53.2% year on year.

According to the General Statistics Office, in the first four months of 2023, investment capital from the State budget was estimated at 131.2 trillion VND (5.6 billion USD), equaling 19% of the year plan and increasing by 17.9% over the same period last year.

Meanwhile, total foreign investment capital registered in Vietnam as of April 20 reached 8.88 billion USD, marking a year-on-year decrease of 17.9%.

Foreign direct investment capital in Vietnam in the first four months of 2023 was 5.85 billion USD, down 1.2% over the same period last year.

Source: Lao News Agency

DPRK: Ordinary Workers Tell a Story of Love

Today, we celebrate the May Day – the international holiday of the working people around the globe.

Ever since 1890 when we started to commemorate the May Day, the working masses in every part of the world have made strenuous efforts to eradicate all sorts of exploitation and pressure and to enhance their social status. However, they have yet to realize their desire to fully enjoy the right to existence, democratic freedom, and independent life.

But the situation in our country is different. Thanks to respected Comrade Kim Jong Un and his great policy of loving the people, all working people are taking active part in social and political activities as masters of the state and society, enjoying the right to labour to their hearts’ content, as well as being preferentially ensured every conditions for living.

Through the story of love received by the ordinary workers at the Pyongyang Kim Jong Suk Textile Mill, we can know what a dignified life the working people of the DPRK are leading.

Mun Kang Sun, who was a weaver at the Pyongyang Kim Jong Suk Textile Mill, accomplished the annual plans ahead of schedule every year and also completed 2-year and 3-year tasks early. She has now become a labour innovator, Labour Heroine and deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly known throughout the country.

When Changjon Street was built in the centre of the capital city, respected Comrade Kim Jong Un saw to it that a new fine apartment is allocated for her before anyone else though she just got married at that time. He also visited her new house and blessed the future of the newly married couple.

He visited the house even before their parents, presenting them with many gifts including household goods necessary for them. They enjoyed the day with respected Comrade Kim Jong Un who meticulously took care of their newlywed life. It was indeed an atmosphere of a sweet family with father and mother.

Not just the Mun Kang Sun couple, but all the workers of the Textile Mill received the blessings of love of respected Comrade Kim Jong Un.

One day in October 2013, respected Comrade Kim Jong Un visited the Pyongyang Kim Jong Suk Textile Mill. Before hearing about the production, he first acquainted himself with the living conditions of the factory workers including their housing and hostel to the last detail. He then said that he would personally take responsibility for building a wonderful hostel, and dispatched a powerful construction team of the KPA and solved all problems arising in the construction.

Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un visited the workers’ hostel which was built within just a six-month-period and said with affection that this hostel is not a workers’ hostel but a “workers’ hotel” and “workers’ palace”. He also saw to it that a grand banquet for workers was held in this hostel in celebration of the May Day.

Under the exceptional attention of the Party and government, a workers’ banquet, unparalleled in the world, was held in the “workers’ palace” on the meaningful May Day and ordinary weavers received congratulations from all people. This dreamlike story clearly proves the high position of our workers under the socialist system of our country which regards the popular masses as the masters.

Every year in many countries, on the occasion of the May Day, people continuously stage public protests calling for an end to the society which only serves for the rich, 1% of the population and for the creation of the society which serves for the working masses, 99% of the population. However, our people significantly commemorate this day with an exceptional pride of being a socialist worker who do not spare their efforts for the prosperity and development of the state and society.

Source: Lao News Agency

The Time is Now: Collective Investment in Midwifery for a Healthier, Safer World

Improving maternal and newborn health is a critical part of the Sustainable Development Goals, where we, as a global community, commit to ending preventable maternal and newborn mortality. The United Nations has consistently highlighted the crucial role midwives play in achieving these targets. Despite the need for increased investments in midwifery, the profession remains critically underfunded, with devastating consequences for mothers, children and whole societies.

Globally, the need for skilled maternal and newborn health care is immense. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 287,000 women died during pregnancy and childbirth in 2020, with 94 per cent of these deaths occurring in low-resource settings. Every day, around 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. This grim reality is a reminder that investing in midwifery is not merely a choice, but an urgent necessity.

Last week, I visited the Makoi Maternity Hospital on the outskirts of Suva, Fiji – the first midwifery-led maternity facility in the country. It was an honor to meet the midwives there who have dedicated their lives to ensuring every pregnancy and childbirth is safe. Midwives possess the skills and expertise to provide essential care for women during a critical period in their lives, and it is so important that investments are continued in their up skilling and training, especially in managing complications during pregnancy, and during and after childbirth.

A substantial scale up in midwifery care could avert over 40 per cent of maternal mortality by 2035. Yet, according to the State of the World’s Midwifery report (2021), the world is facing a shortfall of 900,000 midwives, with the existing workforce operating under challenging conditions.

To close this critical gap, the UN and its partners have launched initiatives to strengthen the midwifery workforce. Projects like the Alliance to Improve Midwifery Education advance quality sexual and reproductive health services by prioritizing training, education and professionalization of midwives.

There is much more to be done. The global community has yet to adequately invest in the education, regulation and deployment of midwives as in many low-resource settings, midwives are often poorly trained, unsupported, and underpaid.

Beyond the immediate health outcomes for mothers and babies, a well-trained and supported midwifery workforce can strengthen health systems and contribute to economic development. Every dollar invested in maternal and newborn health care brings a return of $9 in high-mortality countries, according to the World Bank. Midwives also help advance gender equality, as they are uniquely positioned to advocate for women’s rights and bodily autonomy. The evidence is clear: investing in midwives and midwifery can save lives and transform communities.

Governments, the United Nations, NGOs, and private sector partners need to work more closely together to prioritize investments in midwifery. This means developing and implementing more midwifery education programmes in line with international standards. It also means strengthening regulatory frameworks for quality midwifery care. Getting to zero maternal and newborn deaths requires well trained, properly paid and supported midwives, along with deployment plans to remote parts of countries where women are too-often neglected and unable to access care.

Empowering midwives can create lasting positive outcomes by saving lives, creating healthier families, and fostering stronger communities. The time for collective action for midwives is now.

Source: Lao News Agency

Stakeholders Gather to Strengthen Child Protection Systems and Protect Rights of Lao Children

The annual meeting of the Child Protection and Assistance Committee (CPAC) facilitates collaboration and discussion towards better protecting the rights of children in the Lao PDR.

The National Child Protection and Assistance Committee (CPAC) this week held its annual meeting, presided over by Lee Pao Yang, Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and President of CPAC, and Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR.

The CPAC plays a crucial role in safeguarding the well-being and rights of children in the Lao PDR, coordinating and implementing efforts to protect children from abuse, exploitation, and all other forms of harm. According to a 2017 national survey, nearly 70 per cent of children aged 1-14 in the Lao PDR experienced some form of violent discipline within the last month of participating in the survey, underlining the need for a strong child protection system in the country.

The meeting was an opportunity for partners to present and discuss the activities in 2022 and plans for 2023, including the presentation of the new National Plan of Action for Child Protection System Strengthening 2022-2026. Over 100 participants attended the meeting including Vice Provincial Governors from across the country, CPAC at the central level members and representatives from development partners.

“In 2022, several achievements have been made while we still face some challenges. In this regard, today’s meeting will serve as a platform to discuss ways in which the child protection system can be strengthened and able to be implemented at the local level and integrated effectively across all sections” remarked Lee Pao Yang.

The Vice Minister further stressed the importance of building a strong child protection system in the country, while also recognizing the notable progress achieved in safeguarding Lao children. He also noted however that there is still much work to be done to ensure a better future for them.

In recent years, the Government of the Lao PDR has made significant achievements in protecting children, including undertaking the first comprehensive process of strengthening the Child Protection System and developing the Social Service Workforce in the region.

Such endeavours include the assessment of the Child Protection System in the Lao PDR in 2019, the development of a Core Recommendation for Child Protection System Strengthening, which was endorsed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in 20230, the National Plan of Action for Child Protection System Strengthening 2022-2026, and National Strategy for the Social Service Workforce development in the Lao PDR.

“The launching of the first-ever National Plan of Action for Child Protection System Strengthening is an exemplary result of the strong partnership between the Lao Government, UNICEF, and development partners. As we celebrate UNICEF Laos’ 50th anniversary this year, we pledge to continue supporting the Lao Government in fulfilling its development goals and ensuring that all children in the country have a safer future,” said UNICEF’s Dr. Pia Rebello Britto.

During an earlier technical meeting on Apr 26, Vice Presidents of Provincial Child Protection and Assistance Committees, along with technical staff from relevant Ministries and agencies, exchanged experiences and ideas. Their discussions centred around strengthening the capacity of CPAC and the Village Child Protection Network. Together, they agreed upon a comprehensive set of actionable measures aimed at making a significant impact and achieving these objectives.

These achievements were made possible with the support of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Programme (ANCP).

Source: Lao News Agency