The Bayelsa State Government has highlighted ways in which the United Nations can support its development activities to achieve greater results.
Commissioners from various ministries outlined these areas in a Technical Session on the “State’s COVID-19 Response and the Environment” with officials of the United Nations in Yenagoa.
Speaking on the COVID-19 response so far, the State Epidemiologist, Dr. Bio Belu Abaye, said Bayelsa completed its COVID-19 laboratory in August 2020, which greatly improved the state’s response.
He said the third wave of the virus is currently ongoing in the state with 195 confirmed cases so far, adding that over 22,000 people recieved the first dose of the Astrazeneca vaccine, and over 8,000 have taken the second dose.
Dr. Abaye said the state has recieved 2,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine and has begun distribution, noting that all these succeses are tied to the efficiency of the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC), who have been managing the response since last year.
He added that 50% of confirmed cases from the third wave are NYSC Corp members in the state orientation camp, and said multiple disease outbreaks have been a major challenge for the PHEOC.
He said they have had to simultaneously deal with cholera, monkey pox and measles, and called for support in the employment of more professionals, provision of work spaces/equipment, funding, payment of workers, among others.
Speaking on behalf of the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Iselema Gbaranbiri, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Waripamo Amatare said a major challenge is how to dredge the Epie Creek.
He said it will cost the government N15 billion, which makes it difficult for the state to embark on, adding that the inability of water to flow from the smaller creeks and canals into the Epie Creek causes flooding in the state capital any time it rains.
The Commissioner for Water Resources, Hon. Kemebradikumo Wariebi, explained that it has not been easy to provide safe water for all residents in the state because the iron content of the water is quite high in some areas.
He said the state plans to reactivate water schemes close to the IDP camp because if there is fecal matter in the water it leads to cholera and other diseases.
The Commissioner said there is the need to set up a well equipped laboratory to test water properly and refine it and the Ministry will put up a comprehensive report and forward to the UN.
The Commissioner for Mineral resources, Hon. Ebieri Jones while speaking, called for international cooperation for the protection and effecient utilization of the mineral resources in the state and Niger Delta at large.
He said mineral resources which is a blessing, is causing more harm to people in the state with many dying of cancer, stressing that other countries are paid better compensation than states in the Niger Delta when there is an oil spill.
In his response, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Edwars Kallon, said other killer diseases are being neglected because of COVID-19, which needs to be looked into.
He said neglecting other illnesses compounds the health crisis, as such they would engage in more discussions with the governor of the state to see how the response to other diseases can be greatly improved even as the fight against COVID-19 rages on.
He urged the Commissioners to push harder for solutions to their perculiar challenges, as the solutions are out there and can be implemented for results.