The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
Nigerians should not be pushing against global COVID-19 vaccine inequity amid widespread looting of the national treasury. Credit: UNICEF/Nahom Tesfaye
- Nigeriaâs accountant-general, the administrative head of the countryâs treasury, has beenÂ arrestedÂ by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly stealing 80 billion naira ($134 million). This is a staggering theft in a country that has an estimatedÂ poverty rate of 95 millionÂ (48% of the population) and some of the worst health indices in the world.
As a universal health coverage and global health equity advocate, I know that Nigeria’s health system would be stronger and work better by blocking these leakages and channeling the funds to provide universal health coverage for every Nigerian.
Indeed, the stealing of public funds denies millions of people healthcare, which comes with severe health consequences. These include citizens living with chronic debilitating illnesses, loss of productivity, worsening poverty and even death. In our country, aboutÂ 58,000 women dieÂ during pregnancy and childbirth yearly; andÂ 1 in 8 childrenÂ do not live to witness their 5th birthday. Simply put, corruption is a matter of life and death.
These are five examples of how the missing 80 billion naira could improve the health of Nigerians if rechanneled.
First, 80 billion naira would fund President MuhammaduÂ Buhari’s plan to provide health insurance for 83 million poor Nigerians, as part of his implementation of the new National Health Insurance Authority Act that he recently signed into law.
Further, the missing 80 billion naira is 114 times the 701 million naira budgeted for the defunct National Health Insurance Scheme in 2022. It is unsurprising that the Scheme did not achieve a national health insurance coverage of up to 5% for the past 18 years.
A mandatory health insurance program is a way to achieve universal health coverage for Nigerians because out-of-pocket spending at the point of healthcare pushes people into poverty. Isnât it ironic that millions of Nigerians are pushed into poverty when they access healthcare and the accountant-general is alleged to have stolen 80 billion naira? This is a classic case of suffering in the midst of plenty.
Second, the stolen 80 billion naira can fund tertiary healthcare for millions of Nigerians who access care at teaching hospitals. Lagos University Teaching Hospital, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and Jos University teaching Hospital collectively have a budget of 78 billion naira for 2022.
Teaching hospitals do not just provide tertiary healthcare. They also provide primary and secondary healthcare services. In addition, they train medical students and other health professionals. They are also training institutions for doctors specialising to become consultants.
A group of Farmacoop workers stand in the courtyard of their plant in Buenos Aires. Members of the Argentine cooperative proudly say that theirs is the first laboratory in the world to be recovered by its workers. CREDIT: Courtesy of Pedro PÃ©rez/Tiempo Argentino.
- “All we ever wanted was to keep working. And although we have not gotten to where we would like to be, we know that we can,” says Edith Pereira, a short energetic woman, as she walks through the corridors of Farmacoop, in the south of the Argentine capital. She proudly says it is “the first pharmaceutical laboratory in the world recovered by its workers.”
Pereira began to work in what used to be the Roux Ocefa laboratory in Buenos Aires in 1983. At its height it had more than 400 employees working two nine-hour shifts, as she recalls in a conversation with IPS.
But in 2016 the laboratory fell into a crisis that first manifested itself in delays in the payment of wages and a short time later led to the owners removing the machinery, and emptying and abandoning the company.
The workers faced up to the disaster with a struggle that included taking over the plant for several months and culminated in 2019 with the creation of Farmacoop, a cooperative of more than 100 members, which today is getting the laboratory back on its feet.
In fact, during the worst period of the pandemic, Farmacoop developed rapid antigen tests to detect COVID-19, in partnership with scientists from the government’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet), the leading organization in the sector.
Farmacoop is part of a powerful movement in Argentina, as recognized by the government, which earlier this month launched the first National Registry of Recovered Companies (ReNacER), with the aim of gaining detailed knowledge of a sector that, according to official estimates, comprises more than 400 companies and some 18,000 jobs.
The presentation of the new Registry took place at an oil cooperative that processes soybeans and sunflower seeds on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, built on what was left of a company that filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and laid off its 126 workers without severance pay.
Edith Pereira (seated) and BlÃ¡cida Benitez, two of the members of Farmacoop, a laboratory recovered by its workers in Buenos Aires, are seen here in the production area. This is the former Roux Ocefa laboratory, which went bankrupt in the capital of Argentina and was left owing a large amount of back wages to its workers. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS
The event was led by President Alberto FernÃ¡ndez, who said that he intends to “convince Argentina that the popular economy exists, that it is here to stay, that it is valuable and that it must be given the tools to continue growing.”
Droughts represent 15% of natural disasters but took the largest human toll, approximately 650,000 deaths from 1970-2019, Credit: Guillermo Flores/IPS
- The message is clear: three-quarters of the worldâs population will be affected by drought by 2050. Does it sound too far in time? Well, your kids might be among the billions of humans living on a desertified planet.
But it is not about only them. Also you are already affected. In fact, around 1.700 billion of drylands, home to two billion people, are already covering 41% of the planetâs land surface.
Moreover, an additional 1 billion dryland hectares are now under threat.
A wide view of the Security Council Chamber as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (on screen) of Ukraine, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine. April 2022. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe
- Less than halfway through the year, the May 19, 2022 passage of more than $41 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine positions the country to become the largest single recipient of U.S. security sector assistance in 2022.
The latest funding includes at least $6 billion in direct military aid to Ukraine, and billions more for Ukraine and other European partners. Altogether, even a conservative estimate places the value of the military assistance Ukraine will receive in 2022 as equivalent to what the U.S. provided Afghanistan, Israel, and Egypt in FY2020 combined.
In the aftermath of Russiaâs 2014 annexation of Crimea, Ukraine had already become the most significant recipient of U.S. security assistance in Europe, receiving $2.7 billion in American military aid between 2014 and 2021. But now, those totals are being quickly eclipsed as the United States and its western allies rush billions of dollars worth of weaponry to Kyiv.
The unprecedented sum reflects both the strategic earthquake resulting from Russiaâs invasion as well as the Westâs evolving assessment of Ukraineâs prospects in its fight with Moscow. With such enormous quantities of weaponry now making their way to Ukraine, itâs worth reflecting on the evolution of this extraordinary surge in international military assistance and its consequences.
- A class war is being waged in the name of fighting inflation. All too many central bankers are raising interest rates at the expense of working peopleâs families, supposedly to check price increases.
Forced to cope with rising credit costs, people are spending less, thus slowing the economy. But it does not have to be so. There are much less onerous alternative approaches to tackle inflation and other contemporary economic ills.
Short-term pain for long-term gain?
Central bankers are agreed inflation is now their biggest challenge, but also admit having no control over factors underlying the current inflationary surge. Many are increasingly alarmed by a possible âdouble-whammyâ of inflation and recession.
Nonetheless, they defend raising interest rates as necessary âpreemptive strikesâ. These supposedly prevent âsecond-round effectsâ of workers demanding more wages to cope with rising living costs, triggering âwage-price spiralsâ.
In central bank jargon, such âforward-lookingâ measures convey clear messages âanchoring inflationary expectationsâ, thus enhancing central bank âcredibilityâ in fighting inflation.
They insist the resulting job and output losses are only short-term â temporary sacrifices for long-term prosperity. Remember: central bankers are never punished for causing recessions, no matter how deep, protracted or painful.
The Director of Education Cannot Wait, Yasmine Sherif, addressed a high-level panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos. She said private sector financing of education in crises was a critical component of ensuring quality education for all. Credit: ECW
- Against a backdrop of ongoing social changes, education is becoming increasingly important for success in life. But with disasters, pandemics, armed conflicts, and political crises forcing children out of school, a future of success is often placed far out of reach.
Despite data showing the number of children living in the deadliest war zones rising by nearly 20 percent, according to Stop the War on Children: A Crisis of Recruitment 2021 report, education in emergencies is a chronically underfunded aspect of humanitarian aid.
Haitians await news about their immigration status in the border city of Tijuana, in the northwest of Mexico. Credit: Guillermo Arias / IPS
- Illegal immigration in the 21st century poses a serious dilemma for the world. Governments in virtually every region of the globe appear to be at a loss on how to address the two central dimensions of the dilemma.
The first dimension concerns the continuing waves of illegal migration arriving daily at international borders. The second dimension of the dilemma centers on the presence of millions of men, women, and children residing unlawfully within countries (Table 1).