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Staying Active during Coronavirus Self-Isolation

Ahe extensive social distancing policies put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 mean most people will have to spend much, if not all, their time at home. Self-isolation means far fewer opportunities to be physically active if you are used to walking or cycling for transportation and doing leisure time sports. But equally worryingly, the home environment also offers abundant opportunity to be sedentary (sitting or reclining). While self-isolation measures are necessary, our bodies and minds still need exercise to function well, prevent weight gain and keep the spirits up during these challenging times.

Exercise can help keep our immune system become strong, less susceptible to infections and their most severe consequences, and better able to recover from them. Keeping active everyday is good for your body, mind and spirit especially during these stressful times. And more physical activities you do can improve your sleep which is also important for good health. Being active means engaging your body in more physical activities in order that you remain healthy within this lockdown period and afterwards.

How much physical activity?

Global recommendations are for all adults to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

Any activity is better than none, and more activity provides more physical and mental health benefits.

As several countries are already under lockdown, it is uncertain for how long you can go outside for a walk, run or cycle. The key question is how can people meet these guidelines when restricted to the home environment?

Sitting, standing and movement

Take regular breaks from continuous sitting in front of your computer, tablet, or smartphone every 20 to 30 minutes. For example, you could take a few minutes break to walk around the house or take some fresh air on the balcony.
There are many great resources for such indoor bodyweight exercises for people of all ages online. Aim for at least a couple of own bodyweight sessions per week, with each session involving two to four sets of eight to 15 repetitions of each strength-promoting exercise. Make sure you take a two to three minutes rest between sets.

Just do something! Left unattended, the self-isolation imposed by COVID-19 will likely skyrocket sedentary time and will drastically reduce the physical activity levels for many. Our suggestions are only a few examples of ideas that need no special equipment and can be done within limited space.

For more ideas take a look at the online resources of reputable organisations such as the World Health Organisation. The end goal during self-isolation is to prevent long term physical and mental health damage by sitting less, moving as often as possible, and aiming to maintain fitness by huffing and puffing a few times a day.

Stay active and ahead of COVID19!

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In December 2019, a cluster of acute respiratory illness cases was reported in Wuhan, China all with a link to Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale market. The affected citizens were presenting with fever, dry cough, and other respiratory signs. By January 1st, 2020, China announced that the affected citizens tested positive for the coronavirus and immediately shut down the market. It spread fear and panic throughout China. People began to avoid human contact, stay indoors and sanitize their environments. By January 23, 2020, Wuhan City was locked down with restricted internal movement and all travel in and out prohibited.

Regardless, figures of cases and deaths escalated and the virus spread to other countries. As of 20 February 2020, a cumulative total of 75,465 COVID- 19 cases were reported in China. According to journals, bats appear to be the reservoir of the virus and it is spread via droplets and fomites. In weeks, several European countries (Including Italy, Spain, and France) had reported cases of COVID 19 (name as announced by WHO in February).

In weeks, China had rolled out what WHO has described as “the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history” with the immediate aim of controlling the source of infection, blocking transmission and preventing further spread. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the Director-General of WHO on March 11, 2020.

In Nigeria, life as we know it is taking a different turn. The President called for a lockdown in Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun states respectively after addressing the nation on the pandemic. The Osun state government has imposed a 6am to 7pm curfew on the state. Times are changing and we are struggling to adapt, but that will by no means deter us.


Prevention Works Best

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID- 19. The recommended preventive method is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

  • Wash your hands regularly: Luckily for us, coronaviruses are easily killed by disinfectants. Soap and water are most effective for handwashing but an alcohol-based hand sanitizer works in the absence of Soap.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid crowded places.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell: Protect others by avoiding possibilities of spreading the virus. Wear a facemask if you happen to be around other people
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables: Complications of COVID-19 are more serious in immunocompromised individuals. Take Vitamin/Mineral supplements, eat balanced meals, get adequate sleep daily and boost your immune system.

Young People Are Not Invincible

Although older adults and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions that compromise their immune systems are at higher risk for grave complications from the virus, young people have been reported to need hospitalization after infection.

Speaking at the COVID-19 media briefing, the Director-General said: “Although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared. Data from many countries clearly shows that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization”.


Watching the news and monitoring the rate of occurrence of cases and the number of deaths can get one paranoid. Your mind will play lots of tricks on you during these times. You might suddenly find it frightening to even sneeze. It’s important to be able to identify the typical COVID-19 symptoms and report for treatment immediately.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are nonspecific and the presentation ranges from no symptoms to respiratory conditions and death. Based on reported cases so far, the symptoms include: Fever, dry cough, fatigue, sputum production, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, chills, nausea, diarrhea, in descending order of occurrence in the cases.


These are uncertain times and a lot of individuals are currently slipping into depression. Canceled plans, social isolation are sending people spiraling with fear, anxiety, and loneliness. Maintaining a positive state of mind coupled with an attempt to stay productive in these times could be helpful. Also, adopting healthy routines that build the immune system like:

Eating balanced meals.

Taking vitamin supplements.

Staying physically active; Do exercises.

Limiting alcohol and sugary drinks

Avoiding smoking.

Getting adequate sleep.

The Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) is working daily to keep us updated and safe. They can be reached on Whatsapp at 07087110839.

Stay AHEAD of COVID-19! This too shall pass.

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Press Briefing Development Meeting – Project AAYRHAN

Academy for Health Development and Lagos State Ministry of Health with the support of The Partnership for Advocacy in Child Family Health at Scale present Project AAYRHAN – Advancing Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health Advocacy in Nigeria

Video excerpt from the Project AAYRHAN Press Briefing Development Meeting

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AHEAD Nigeria: Diabetes Awareness

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2019 is Family and Diabetes.

AHEAD Nigeria is raising awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected, and promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.

A lack of knowledge about diabetes means that spotting the warning signs is not just a problem for parents, but is an issue impacting a cross-section of society. This is a major concern, due to the signs being milder in type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent form of the condition, responsible for around 90% of all diabetes. One in two people currently living with diabetes are undiagnosed. The vast majority of these have type 2 diabetes.

What is diabetes mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that prevents your body from properly using the energy from the food you eat. Diabetes occurs in one of the following situations:

  • The pancreas (an organ behind your stomach) produces little insulin or no insulin at all. Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone, produced by the beta cells of the pancreas, which helps the body use sugar for energy. OR
  • The pancreas makes insulin, but the insulin made does not work as it should. This condition is called insulin resistance.

To better understand diabetes, it helps to know more about how the body uses food for energy (a process called metabolism).

Your body is made up of millions of cells. To make energy, the cells need food in a very simple form. When you eat or drink, much of your food is broken down into a simple sugar called glucose. Glucose provides the energy your body needs for daily activities.

The blood vessels and blood are the highways that transport sugar from where it is either taken in (the stomach) or manufactured (in the liver) to the cells where it is used (muscles) or where it is stored (fat). Sugar cannot go into the cells by itself. The pancreas releases insulin into the blood, which serves as the helper, or the “key,” that lets sugar into the cells for use as energy.

When sugar leaves the bloodstream and enters the cells, the blood sugar level is lowered. Without insulin, or the “key,” sugar cannot get into the body’s cells for use as energy. This causes sugar to rise. Too much sugar in the blood is called “hyperglycemia” (high blood sugar).

What are the types of diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2:

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (beta cells) are damaged. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, so sugar cannot get into the body’s cells for use as energy. People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin injections to control their blood glucose. Type 1 is the most common form of diabetes in people who are under age 30, but it can occur at any age. Ten percent of people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 1.
  • In type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes), the pancreas makes insulin, but it either doesn’t produce enough, or the insulin does not work properly. Nine out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2. This type occurs most often in people who are over 40 years old but can occur even in childhood if there are risk factors present. Type 2 diabetes may sometimes be controlled with a combination of diet, weight management and exercise. However, treatment also may include oral glucose-lowering medications (taken by mouth) or insulin injections (shots).

Other types of diabetes might result from pregnancy (gestational diabetes), surgery, use of certain medicines, various illnesses and other specific causes.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes occurs when there is a high blood glucose level during pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses, the developing baby has a greater need for glucose. Hormone changes during pregnancy also affect the action of insulin, which brings about high blood glucose levels.

Pregnant women who have a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes include those who:

  • Are over 35 years old
  • Are overweight
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Have a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome

Blood glucose levels usually return to normal after childbirth. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

What causes diabetes?

The causes of diabetes are not known. The following risk factors may increase your chance of getting diabetes:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • African-American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian-American race, Pacific Islander or ethnic background
  • Being overweight
  • Physical stress (such as surgery or illness)
  • Use of certain medications, including steroids
  • Injury to the pancreas (such as infection, tumor, surgery or accident)
  • Autoimmune disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels
  • Age (risk increases with age)
  • Smoking
  • History of gestational diabetes

It is important to note that sugar itself does not cause diabetes. Eating a lot of sugar can lead to tooth decay, but it does not cause diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

The symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger (especially after eating)
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
  • Weak, tired feeling
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Slow-healing sores or cuts
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Frequent yeast infections or urinary tract infections

What are the symptoms of low blood sugar?

Most people have symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) when their blood sugar is less than 70 mg/dl. (Your healthcare provider will tell you how to test your blood sugar level.)

When your blood sugar is low, your body gives out signs that you need food. Different people have different symptoms. You will learn to know your symptoms.

Common early symptoms of low blood sugar include the following:

  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling hungry
  • Trembling and feeling shaky
  • Sweating
  • Pounding heart
  • Pale skin
  • Feeling frightened or anxious

Late symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Feeling confused
  • Headache
  • Feeling cranky
  • Poor coordination
  • Bad dreams or nightmares
  • Being unable keep your mind on one subject
  • Numbness in your mouth and tongue
  • Passing out

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed with fasting sugar blood tests or with A1c blood tests, also known as glycated hemoglobin tests. A fasting blood sugar test is performed after you have had nothing to eat or drink for at least eight hours. Normal fasting blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dl (5.6 mmol/l). You do not have to be fasting for an A1c blood test. Diabetes is diagnosed by one of the following (see chart):

  • Your blood sugar level is equal to or greater than 126 mg/dl (7 mmol/l).
  • You have two random blood sugar tests over 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l) with symptoms.
  • You have an oral glucose tolerance test with results over 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l).
  • Your A1c test is greater than 6.5 percent on two separate days.

An A1c test should be performed in a laboratory using a method that is certified by the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP) and standardized to the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) assay.

  • Fasting Glucose Test
    • Normal: Less than 100
    • Pre-diabetes: 100-125
    • Diabetes: 126 or higher
  • Random (anytime) Glucose Test
    • Normal: Less than 140
    • Pre-diabetes: 140-199
    • Diabetes: 200 or higher
  • A1c Test
    • Normal: Less than 5.7%
    • Pre-diabetes: 5.7 – 6.4%
    • Diabetes: 6.5% or higher

How is diabetes managed?

There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be treated and controlled. The goals of managing diabetes are to:

  • Keep your blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible by balancing food intake with medication and activity.
  • Maintain your blood cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) levels as near the normal ranges as possible.
  • Control your blood pressure. Your blood pressure should not go over 140/90.
  • Decrease or possibly prevent the development of diabetes-related health problems.

You hold the keys to managing your diabetes by:

  • Planning what you eat and following a balanced meal plan
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking medication, if prescribed, and closely following the guidelines on how and when to take it
  • Monitoring your blood glucose and blood pressure levels at home
  • Keeping your appointments with your healthcare providers and having laboratory tests completed as ordered by your doctor.

What you do at home every day affects your blood glucose more than what your doctor can do every few months during your check-up.

What are insulin pumps?

Insulin pumps are small, computerized devices, about the size of a small cell phone that you wear on your belt, in your pocket, or under your clothes. They deliver rapid-acting insulin 24 hours a day through a small flexible tube called a cannula. The cannula is inserted under the skin using a needle. The needle is then removed leaving only the flexible tube under the skin. The pump user replaces the cannula every 2-3 days.

It is important for pump users to frequently monitor their glucose levels either with a continuous glucose monitor or a fingerstick monitor. The pump delivers a continuous flow of insulin that can be adjusted if needed for things like exercise and stress. A pump user regularly enters information about their food intake and blood sugar levels into the pump so it can help them calculate insulin doses for food intake and high blood sugar levels.

Benefits of an insulin pump include fewer insulin injections, a more flexible lifestyle, and a more consistent and adjustable delivery of insulin.

Can I take both pills and insulin to control my blood sugar?

Yes. The combination of insulin and an oral medication, when taken as directed by your healthcare provider, is very safe and effective in controlling blood sugar. A typical combination therapy consists of taking an oral medication during the day and insulin at night.

Once you begin taking insulin, you will need to monitor your blood sugar more often to reduce the risk of low blood sugar reactions. Combination therapies are often helpful for people who have type 2 diabetes. If you have been taking an oral medication, your doctor may change your treatment plan to include insulin injections. This change is often made to help people with type 2 diabetes gain better control of their blood sugar.

Can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

Although diabetes risk factors like family history cannot be changed, there are other risk factors that you do have some control over. Implementing some of the healthy lifestyle habits below can improve these modifiable risk factors and help to decrease your chances of getting type 2 diabetes:

What are some of the long-term complications of high blood sugar levels?

  • Retinopathy (eye disease): All patients with diabetes should see an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) every year for a dilated eye examination. Patients with known eye disease or symptoms of blurred vision in one eye or who have blind spots may need to see their ophthalmologist more often.
  • Nephropathy (kidney disease): Urine testing should be performed every year. Regular blood pressure checks are also important because management of high blood pressure is essential in slowing kidney disease. Have your blood pressure checked at every visit with your healthcare provider. The American Diabetes Association recommends keeping blood pressure below 140/90 for most adults. Persistent swelling in the leg or feet also may be a symptom of kidney disease and should be reported to your doctor.
  • Neuropathy (nerve disease): Numbness or tingling in your feet should be reported to your doctor at your regular visits. Check your feet every day for redness, calluses, cracks or breakdown in the skin tissue. If you notice these symptoms before your scheduled visits, notify your doctor immediately.

Other long-term complications may include:

  • Other eye problems, including glaucoma and cataracts
  • Dental problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks and strokes
  • Sexual health problems

In Nigeria…

Diabetes epidemic is an evolving phenomenon in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. Most African Governments need to reverse the current trend where Diabetes occupies very low priority in the national health care agenda. Diabetes must compete for political attention and financial involvement. Information on the humongous costs of diabetes care (direct, indirect and total costs) in Nigeria and other developing nations needs to be evaluated and documented, such that policy makers and policy drivers will appreciate the need to focus on introducing early, cost effective interventions for both primary and secondary prevention. Diabetes programmes must be integrated and evidence based, highlighting the scale of the problem and areas for effective intervention. This will help trigger shifts in current public health priorities and augment comprehensive efforts from multiple stakeholders – countries, international organizations, academic institutions, civil society and the private sector – in combating the still evolving diabetes epidemic.


  • The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. What is Diabetes?Accessed 11/5/2018.
  • American Diabetes Association. A1C and eAG.Accessed 11/5/2018.
  • Oguejiofor O, Odenigbo C, Onwukwe C (2014) Diabetes in Nigeria: Impact, Challenges, Future Directions. Endocrinol Metab Synd 3: 130. doi:10.4172/2161-1017.1000130

Further reading:

Prevalence and Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus in Nigeria: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5984944/

Diabetes on the rise in Nigeria https://www.dw.com/en/diabetes-on-the-rise-in-nigeria/a-36372041

Diabetes in Nigeria: Impact, Challenges, Future Directions https://www.longdom.org/open-access/diabetes-in-nigeria-impact-challenges-future-directions-2161-1017.1000130.pdf

This information provided is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about your specific medical condition.

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StaRS Project: AHEAD Organises Curriculum Training for Teachers

On the 22nd and 23rd of October 2019, teachers from Oranmiyan College, Anglican Central and St Stephen’s Middle School came together for the training on the chosen curricula of Water and Sanitation Hygiene, Bullying and Violence and Gender. This training was a crucial step in the continuation of the implementation phase of the Starting Right at Schools (StaRS) project. The aim of the training was to teach the teachers with the curricula that they would use in training the students on the selected issues. It was also an opportunity for them to get familiar with the material, understand how to contextualize it to their schools and to work out whatever ambiguity they may face in the course of implementation.


The presentation of the Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) curriculum was delivered by Ms. Sola Olanrewaju, the Head, Program Development and Implementation at the Academy for Health Development. The modules of the WASH curriculum include washing hands, personal hygiene, hygiene and sanitation, puberty and menstrual hygiene management and how basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival and development of children.

The WASH manual will serve as a practical guide to be used by teachers and school health assistants who are involved in the promotion of water, sanitation and hygiene practices (WASH). It is designed to provide the necessary background to WASH topics for teachers and school health assistants. The objectives of the manual include

  • To raise knowledge and awareness of good WASH practices.
  • To inculcate good water, sanitation and hygiene practices in our children.
  • For girls and boys to understand puberty and associated body changes.

The presentation was filled with stories and activities like washing hands to a song, role playing and storytelling.


Ms. Seun Davies, the Senior Program Associate, Program and Capacity Development at AHEAD presented the curriculum on Bullying and Violence. The curriculum covered the different forms of violence and bullying, how to recognize and address them, how to self-assess oneself to determine if one bullies, how to advocate against bullying and the roles of the teachers in bullying situations.

The curriculum also included an anti-bullying pledge to be taken by the students and the institution of anti-bullying clubs and ambassadors who would work with the teachers to identify and mitigate acts of bullying and violence.

The presentation was made interesting with the use of tests, checklists and role-playing.


The Program Associate, Program Development and Implementation Mrs. Olamide Akanbi presented the Gender Curriculum. The curriculum includes modules like understanding gender and gender division of labour, Knowing your body and Gender-based violence

The curriculum highlighted the difference between gender and sex, how their perceptions influence attitudes, behaviours and expectations and addressed terms like gender equality and gender equity. The objectives of the curriculum were

  • To assist the school management in addressing gender issues at the school level
  • To impart gender responsiveness and sensitivity training to teachers at high schools in the intervention site.
  • To equip the students with the concepts, skills and attitude needed to facilitate equal participation of girls and boys in schools

The curriculum was rich in storytelling activities.


At the end of the training, the Middle Schools’ Director who was present to give support to her colleagues, thanked the Academy for Health Development and her sponsors for the empowerment of the teachers and she encouraged the teachers to be fine conduits of the information they had received. She emphasized the need for them to not only cater to the academic needs of their students, but to ensure the students also enjoyed emotional and psychological support from them.



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Cheering news – Involvement of young people in family and life planning in Nigeria


The Advancing Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health Advocacy in Nigeria (PROJECT AAYRHAN) is a collaboration between the Academy for Health Development (AHEAD) and Partnership At Scale (PAS). Partnership At Scale (PAS) is a Health accountability project with a timeline of 2017-2022 whose issue areas are Family Planning, Routine immunization, among others. Academy for Health Development (AHEAD) is a non-for-profit research and health development organisation with a mission to improve health systems and health development. AHEAD engages in health system strengthening, research, programme implementation, capacity building, and translating knowledge into effective policies and programmes.  Adolescent development is a priority at AHEAD.

PROJECT AAYRHAN is aimed at empowering young people to advocate for family planning policies in Lagos. We believe that if the capacity of young people and organizations with potentials for impact in the Adolescent and Youth Sexual Reproductive Health field is built in identifying, tracking and advocating for youth focused family planning policies in Lagos state, then there would be (i) More empowered young people with the capacity to drive relevant changes and influence their peers;  (ii) Awareness and monitoring of the implementation of youth related family planning policies in Lagos; and (iii) Effective implementation and accountability of youth related family planning policies in Lagos State. These we hope to achieve by implementing evidence-based family and life planning initiatives.

The overarching aim of the workshop was to initiate the development process of 40 Family Planning Youth Advocates in Lagos State. The objectives were to:

·         Expose the young people to field experience in Adolescent Health and Family practices in Lagos State.

·         Create a linkage among PROJECT AAYRHAN, Family planning Youth Advocates in Lagos State and the Adolescent Health Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Health.

·         Train the Youth Advocates on developing high impact action plans

The workshop held between the 24th to 27th of September 2019 at the Bible Guest House, Palm Groove, Lagos State and was targeted at 40 young persons from 9 different youth organisations in Lagos State that focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health of young people.

The workshop had presentation sessions on topics related to key issues in Adolescent family planning and Action plan development were held.

At the end of the workshop, the participants were able to develop two high impact action plans for advancing advocacy on young people family planning policies in Lagos State. They also showed creativity by making a short video to support contraceptive effective policies in Lagos State in support of the World Contraceptive day.

The workshop also birthed positive outcomes like building a collaborative link between the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Youth groups in Lagos and AHEAD-PAS project.

The next steps for PROJECT AARYHAN are to provide funding for the implementation of the two Action plans drafted by the young people and technical support for the implementation of the Action Plans and to ensure continuous engagement of the committed young people in the AARYHAN Project.

Access Workshop Materials Here

During the workshop, our youth advocates commemorated the World Contraception Day by lending their voices on Sexual and Reproductive Health Right issues; contraceptive commodities and condition in Nigeria. See video below

Some youth advocates at the event shared their experiences from the Workshop. See below.


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