PTF begins training on COVID-19 prevention among Kano’s Almajirai

Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, says the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has commenced training on infection prevention and control specifically for the Almajirai in Kano State.
He said Kano and two other states currently account for 52 per cent of COVID-19-related deaths in the country.
He revealed this in Abuja on Monday, during the daily press briefing of the PTF.
“We have commenced infection prevention and control training, specifically for the Almajiri in Kano,” Ehanire said.
It may be recalled that, on May 5, the World Health Organisation noted that between April 11 when Kano recorded its COVID-19 index case and May 2, cases had skyrocketed to over 300.
To quickly contain the spread of the disease, WHO had deployed a Rapid Response Team to support Kano State Government in strengthening the already existing pillars of the COVID-19 response and repositioning of resources to address identified gaps.
“As part of the response strategy, WHO trained and deployed additional 88 Local Government Facilitators to support the ongoing COVID-19 response at the LGA level.
“The training, which lasted for three days (May 02-04, 2020), had in attendance 88 newly engaged surveillance assistants who will be deployed to the 44 LGAs, to strengthen active case search, reporting and contact tracing, risk communication and infection prevention and control,” WHO said earlier in the month.
As Kano’s COVID-19 infections continued to rise late April, Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said he was not surprised, noting that the risk of spread was in those towns where the population density was highest.
“We are all aware of the population density in Kano. The high number of cases we are now seeing in Kano is really not a surprise,” he had said.
Of the 216 newly recorded cases in 14 states and the Federal Capital Territory as of Monday, May 18, Kano alone accounted for 17 of them, representing 7.8 per cent of the entire national infection rate for the day.
Kano’j s confirmed COVID-19 toll is now 842, and it is among the top three Nigerian states with high mortality rate due to the global pandemic.
According to the NCDC, as of Monday, May 18, 695 coronavirus patients are currently on admission in Kano, with 111 discharged so far and 36 dead.
Speaking on reasons for the high mortality rate which critics said might also be due to other causes as no post-postmortems were done, a doctor at the Bayero University Teaching Hospital, Usman Bishir, told the Guardian that the lack of testing and protective equipment in Kano had forced health services to close.
“We didn’t even have a testing centre when this began, we had to go to Abuja — about five hours’ drive from here — to test samples.
“It was taking three to four days to get results, and medical professionals were vulnerable,” Bishir said.
According to health minister Ehanire, however, “the response has been restructured to be more responsive and positioned to effectively tackle the pandemic.”
“Mortality has significantly reduced. Our community engagement is paying off, as more people are submitting themselves for testing.
“Testing capacity has thus increased to about 660 daily from 250 last week,” added.
In terms of those who are vulnerable to the pandemic on account of social mobility or, the lack of it, the army of street children popularly called ‘Almajirai‘ is considered an at-risk group.
As of April 27, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Amina Baloni, said Almajirai kids ejected from Kano State were among the five new COVID-19 cases in the state.
By then, the Kano State government had resorted to sending the street beggars back to their home states as part of measures to curb the community spread of the contagion — just as each of the remaining 18 Northern states had also opted to do the same thing.
In Gombe, eight of the 48 children tested were positive. In Kaduna, 65 of the 169 tested were positive; while in Jigawa, 91 of the 168 tested had the virus.
Again, in Bauchi, seven out of 38 Almajirai tested positive to COVID-19. Even at that, the testings so far done were a tip of the iceberg, as hundreds of results were yet to be released, with thousands still waiting in quarantine camps for their test.
According to Wiki, citing secular and Islamic authorities, Almajiranci is a system of Islamic education practised in northern Nigeria.
“Colloquially, the term has expanded to refer to any young person from poor background who begs on the streets and does not attend secular school,” it adds.
According to a lecturer in Education and International Development at the University of East Anglia , Hannah Hoechner, in a scholarly article, as of 2014, approximately 8.5 million children attend Islamic schools in Northern Nigeria.
“There are approximately 300,000 Almajirai living in the state of Kano,” she wrote.
Last February 25, the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, announced a ban on street begging by the Almajirai.
His spokesman, Abba Anwar, said the effort was to enable the government to consolidate its free and compulsory primary and secondary schools education.
“The decision is meant to integrate the Almajiri system into the policy and address the lingering problem of street begging,” Anwar said.
A committee in Kano State said, as of Monday, April 20, it had identified 251,893 child beggars to send back home.
As the evacuation commenced on April 21, Kano’s education commissioner, Muhammad Sanusi Kiru, told AFP, “For now, we have a total of 1,595 children which we are going to evacuate.
“This is a gradual process; we are doing it in phases; we are picking them step-by-step.”
Meanwhile, the Jigawa Government has received a total of 524 Almajirai sent home by Kano State.

Receiving the pupils at the Gen. Yakubu Gowon NYSC Camp in Dutse, Governor Muhammad Badaru said they would be made to undergo medical screening, before their handover to their individual parents.

Source: Punch Healthwise

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