Open Access Short Research Article

Impact of COVID-19 on SMEs and the Role of Digitalization

Ileana Hamburg

Advances in Research, Volume 22, Issue 3, Page 10-17
DOI: 10.9734/air/2021/v22i330300

Small and medium sized companies (SMEs) should be drivers for national economies, also providing opportunities for socio-economic participation and mobility. But SMEs, more than bigger companies, have experienced difficulties during Covid-19 due to less customer demand for goods and services, limited resources and problems with digitalization. All these facts require rapid change in SME strategies. Based on literature research and on work with SMEs undertaken by the author during European projects, the goal of this communication paper is to illustrate some difficulties experienced by SMEs due to COVID-19 and problems they have with digitalization and skill gaps, as well as measures which could help them. First, the impact of Covid-19 on SMEs and the role of digitalization in their recovery and further developments are presented. Second, certain structures required within SMEs and necessary skills and competences are described in this context. Proposals are then made for reskilling processes within workplace learning and other learning approaches to improve the skills and competences necessary for SME recovery processes.

Lifelong learning (LLL) plays an important role in addressing the skills gap between what students have traditionally learned in formal education and the needs of employers and the labor market. LLL should be more connected with other forms of training/learning, digitally supported, interdisciplinary and practically oriented in order to contribute towards achieving the new skills and competences necessary during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and to promote digitalization as a driver to success. The paper also presents examples of the work of the Study Group Lifelong Learning of the IAT, coordinated by the author, and conclusions.

Open Access Original Research Article

Transient Variations of Total Electron Content (TEC) Over a Terrestrial Point within Magnetic Anomaly Region

Rufus Sola Fayose

Advances in Research, Volume 22, Issue 3, Page 1-9
DOI: 10.9734/air/2021/v22i330299

This paper investigate the variability of Total Electron Content TEC over a terrestrial point within equatorial anomaly region using the NovAtel GSV 4000B GPS-SCINDA system at Akure (7.3°N, 5.2°E), Nigeria. This system is capable of tracking up to 14 GPS satellites simultaneously. Total Electron Content (TEC) over equatorial region using a real time data collected via a GPS-SCINDA facility were analyzed to study the ionospheric variations in terms of Total Electron Content (TEC) for the period of three years. Diurnal variations and Monthly mean variations of Total Electron Content within the equatorial anomaly region were examined. The diurnal variation of TEC showed pre-dawn minimum for a short period of time, followed by a steep early morning increase and then reached maximum value between 14:00 UT and 16:00 UT. The influence of solar activity on VTEC was investigated by taking the correlation coefficients between VTEC, F10.7cm radio flux index and sunspot numbers. The range of solar flux variation during the period of observation is very limited; there is high positive correlation (Correlation Coefficient 0.61) between daytime peak TEC and the solar F10.7 flux.

Open Access Original Research Article

Capability of Vetiver (Vetiveria Zizanioides), Guinea Grass (Panicum Maximum) and Organic Manures to Remove Total Hydrocarbon and Heavy Metals from Crude Oil Contaminated Soil in Port Harcourt

J. A. Chukwumati, O. J. Kamalu

Advances in Research, Volume 22, Issue 3, Page 18-29
DOI: 10.9734/air/2021/v22i330301

In a field study conducted at the Teaching and Research Farm of Rivers State University PortHarcourt, Nigeria, to examine the ability of vetiver and guinea grasses amended with organic manures in remediation of crude oil polluted soil; soil polluted with Bonny light crude oil at 0 and 2% v/w was subjected to a remediation processes using vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) and Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) amended with organic manures for a period of twelve months. Two weeks after pollution, poultry and rabbit manures were applied at 0, 10, 20 and 30 tons per hectare respectively. Vetiver and guinea grasses were planted two weeks later.  It was fitted in factorial split plots randomized block design.  Results of the study revealed that remediation of the soil with grasses degraded the Total hydrocarbon content (THC) to 23 and 21.2% for vetiver and guinea grass respectively, while the quantity of heavy metals removed from the soil were 28.4% and 25.9% for iron, 37.3 and 32.8% for zinc, 35.8 and 30.8% for lead (Pb) and 23.1 and 38.5% cadmium for vetiver and guinea grass respectively. Amendment of the soil with 30 tons’ /ha organic manures increased the quantity of THC degraded to 70.6% and 67.9% for vetiver and guinea grass respectively while the concentration/quantity of heavy metals removed from the soil increased to 58.4 and 54.7% for Fe, 66.9 and 65.1% for Zn, 69.4 and 66.6% for Pb and 80.8 and 71.2%, in Cd for vetiver and guinea grass respectively. The quantity and concentration of THC and heavy metals degraded in the soil was higher in vetiver than guinea grass plots and in vetiver amended with poultry manure than in guinea grass amended with rabbit manure. There was a significant (P<0.05) difference in uptake of THC and heavy metals in plant tissues between vetiver and guinea grass. Vetiver accumulated more of the contaminants in their tissues than guinea grass. Amendment of the soil with organic manures reduced the uptake of the contaminants (THC and heavy metals) from the plant tissues. Generally, both grasses have the capability to remediate crude oil contaminated soil. Augmentation of the two grasses with organic manures enhanced their capability.

Open Access Original Research Article

Community Health Services: Impact on Geriatrics and Widows

I. O. Akpalaba, F. F. Blackie, R. U. E. Akpalaba

Advances in Research, Volume 22, Issue 3, Page 30-41
DOI: 10.9734/air/2021/v22i330302

Introduction: Geriatrics and widows are neglected in the society. Geriatrics are seen as unproductive. Widows, on the other hand, are humiliated traditionally by their husbands’ family members and community. They face surmounting problems which shadow their urge to seek medical attention. 

Aim: To determine the burden of Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) and medical diseases in Geriatrics and Widows through identification of common ENT and medical conditions in them.

Methods: This was a 7months prospective study from September, 2017 to April, 2018. The study centers were Dagomo foundation home for the elderly in Benin City and St. Benedict Catholic Church, Obiaja in Edo central. Total population sampling technique was used. All the elderly and widows who gave consent to the study constituted the sample size. Health talk was given; history taking, Ear, Nose, Throat and general body examinations were done. Data on the disease burden identified were recorded. Those that needed further evaluation and management were referred accordingly. Data was statistically analyzed with SPSS Version 20. P value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Result: 50 geriatrics and 67 widows participated. Age ranged 60 – 90 years (mean age of 69.50±7.78years) and 36 – 85years (mean age of 59.61±9.36) for Geriatrics and widows respectively. Geriatrics were 13 males and 37 females while widows were 67. Seventeen (17) different ENT diseases were identified in Geriatrics while 7 ENT conditions and 12 medical conditions were identified in the widows. Predominant ENT diseases were Otitis Media with Effusion (34.9%), Left Cerumen Auris and Otomycosis in similar proportion (20.9%) in Geriatrics. Right Cerumen Auris predominated in widows (65.6%) followed by Left Cerumen auris (50.0%) and Otitis Externa (28.1%). Osteoarthritis was the commonest medical condition (90.6%) in widows. Tests of association were not statistically significant.

Conclusion: There is significant burden of Ear, Nose, Throat and medical diseases in the Geriatrics and widows.

Recommendations: Government should plan specialist healthcare measures to improve the quality of life of geriatrics and widows.

Government should ensure an educational policy to develop age-appropriate training protocols for children and young adults on the challenges associated with aging.

Open Access Original Research Article

Casualization in Occupational Settings: An Investigative Study

Kennedy A. Osakwe, Rachael E. Osakwe

Advances in Research, Volume 22, Issue 3, Page 42-50
DOI: 10.9734/air/2021/v22i330303

Introduction: This research explored the Effects of Casualization on the Welfare of Workers using a de-identified multinational oil company in Nigeria as a representative case.

Objectives: The objectives of the study were to examine the effects of casualization of workers, associated irregularity of work, and deprivation of workers’ right.

Methodology: A close-ended questionnaire was used to collect primary data. Out of 150 copies of the questionnaire administered, 122 were dully filled, returned and analysed using descriptive statistics.

Results & Discussion: Three hypotheses were proposed and analysed using multiple regression of ordinary least square (OLS) statistical method and tested at 0.05 level of significance for the hypotheses. The result showed that there were significant negative effects of casualization of workers for a short-term contract work, irregularity of casualization of work, and deprivation of workers right to negotiate.

Conclusion: Hallmarks of casualization of labour include short term contract work; irregularity of work; and deprivation of workers’ right to negotiate adversely affects the welfare packages of workers. These practices have inherent occupational health implication on workers.

Recommendations: Casualization of labour as seen in this study is a despicable model that should be discontinued. However, if it must be practiced, the human resources, industrial relations, labour union and occupational health experts in such organizations should repackage such contracts to include allowances, job security, negotiation rights, dignity, benefits and welfare clauses as in permanent full time employment.

Open Access Original Research Article

Histological and Histochemical Study of Radiofrequency Radiation effects on the Hippocampus during the Pre- and Postnatal Stages of Development

Joshua Oladele Owolabi, Olayinka Stephen Ilesanmi

Advances in Research, Volume 22, Issue 3, Page 51-64
DOI: 10.9734/air/2021/v22i330304

Background: The research was designed to model the exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) by habitual users of RFR-enabled devices and to observe possible aberrations in tissues that are attributable to exposures. The RFR exposure regimen modelled cases of continuous, and intermittent exposures in human conditions, using Wistar rats. The primary objective of the study was to study intrauterine and postnatal exposure to RFR and study its effects on specific brain structural and functional attributes.

Materials and Methods: Experimental Wistar rats were housed in facilities that enabled exposure to specific type of RFR source (the 4G RFR-emitting internet router) and for specific durations which included 21 days of pregnancy and 35 post-natal days, marking the point of puberty. Following exposure, animals were sacrificed to excise brain tissues for histological analysis using the haematoxylin and eosin technique, histochemical analysis using the Nissl technique, and immunohistochemical techniques including the IBA 1 and Caspase 3 techniques for inflammation and potential apoptosis. Representative histological and histochemical photomicrographs were analysed using principles of qualitative histology and histochemistry.

Results and Conclusion: Findings from the current research showed that RFR-exposure did not produce teratogenic or neurodegenerative effects within the hippocampus. This was evident from the study of the hippocampus’ histoarchitectural organisation, morphologies of the cells as well as their spatial distribution.  Functional integrity of cells in the different regions of the hippocampal formation, namely the CA 1-4 areas as well as the dentate gyrus also showed that Nissl substance expression, which is a marker of neuron functional integrity, was relatively normally expressed across the experimental animals.  This experimental modelling of human habitual exposure to RFR showed no evidence of prenatal teratogenic effects or postnatally induced extensive neurodegeneration up until puberty. However, it would be very important to indicate that RFR-exposure enhanced apoptotic potentials via the Caspase-3 pathway. The implications of this effect on later life mental health and neurological attributes will require further investigation