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AU Chairman to attend G20 summit in Bali – officials

by Haruna Gimba
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By Asmau Ahmad

The African Union Chairman and President of Senegal, Macky Sall plans to attend an upcoming G20 summit in Bali, two government officials said on Friday.

Sall’s visit, first to a G20 summit, would follow his attendance at the COP27 UN climate meeting in Egypt, where he was one of the leading advocates for rich countries to contribute more cash to help Africa adapt to climate change.

The summit in Bali would hold from November 15 to 16, overlapping the second week of the COP27 conference.

Sall would have “two hats” at the meeting, representing both the African Union and Senegal, one of the officials said.

Senegal is in discussions with G20 members about a deal to support its transition to low carbon energy.

The so-called Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETP) were pioneered by South Africa’s deal last year with countries including the United States, Britain, Germany and France providing funding to speed up its transition away from coal power.

The official, however, said that one of the items he would want to discuss with G20 members is the Senegal JETP which was being negotiated at COP27.

Electronic waste exposure threat to women, children’s health – WHO

By Asmau Ahmad

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged government to regulate and manage Electronic Waste (E-Waste) exposure on women and children.

Dr Edwin Isotu-Edeh, the National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, WHO Nigeria, made the call at a Webinar on Electronic Waste and Public Health in Nigeria with the theme “Health Impacts of Electronic Waste In Nigeria: Are you a Victim or Perpetrator?”

According to him, Nigeria’s national disease burden is linked to risk factors from the environment through electronic waste exposure.

He said pregnant women and children working in e-waste dismantling sites are most vulnerable in impacts and exposure, as the country has high maternal and child mortality rate.

He added that “these e-waste materials pose tremendous challenge for global health security on maternal and child health, giving that Nigeria has high burden of under-five mortality.

“This stands at 128 deaths per 1,000 live births; there is an urgent need to address the issue of e-waste, especially on children who are the future of our nation.

“The sustainability of the intervention is key to protecting Nigeria’s gains in maternal and child health”

He said Nigeria needed to do more in reducing rising cases of cancers and other non-communicable diseases by protecting the environment and reducing toxic emissions.

He explained that low funding; low awareness of e-waste among government institutions and the absence of national policy and strategy were challenges of e-waste management in the country.

Isotu-Edeh, who stressed the need to coordinate and strengthen capacities on e-waste management, said “Africa is a dumping ground for electronic wastes largely from developed countries.”

He, however, acknowledged the committed leadership of the WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo in supporting the country to address the health impacts of e-waste.

Dr Shuaibu Bonji, the Director, Climate Change and Environmental Health, Federal Ministry of Health, restated Federal Government’s commitment toward public health safety.

Bonji, who was represented by Dr Jaggu Akolo, said that the ministry was working to end the challenges of e-waste across the country, calling for more sustained partnership from stakeholders.

Dr Kingsley Okpara, the Director, Research and Documentation, Nigeria Environmental Summit Group, said no fewer than 18 million adolescents were involved in informal e-waste collection sites.

He said that activities such as burning and dismantling of discarded electronic items had huge impact on those living around the areas.

According to him, many site workers form the habit of burning products at night when law enforcement officers have closed from work.

He added that “we discovered that most people just discard their e-waste without bothering to recycle it formally; this has led to pollution of water sources and the environment.

“Yes, there is a lot of money in it, but e-waste products contain about 1,000 harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, among others and are carcinogenic in nature.

“Pregnant women and children work and live at e-waste sites; this should not be. Informal e-waste workers are completely oblivion when it comes to the toxic nature of e-waste.”

He said Nigeria had delayed in enforcing the e-waste management regulation, adding that there was need for training of stakeholders to manage e-waste in the country.

Dr Chimere Ohajinwa, the Lead Consultant, C-Circle Research, called on tiers of government to invest in home-grown research and stop relying on foreign evidences.

She said with increasing dependence on technology, Nigeria would continue to increase e-waste products.

“More than 80 per cent of e-waste generated are not recycled in the country, we are worried about e-waste because it contains many toxic chemicals that are hazardous to our health.”

She said awareness creation on e-waste management must be stepped up; saying the practice among the informal sector must be addressed.

The webinar was part of the Phase II Nigeria National E-waste and Health Intervention supported by WHO.

Such activities include; institutional capacity assessment in states, awareness, training of healthcare workers and local government health educators, review of draft of National Policy.

According to the UN in 2021, each person on the planet will produce an average of 7.6 kg of e-waste.

This type of waste contains hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and beryllium and persistent organic pollutants.

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