Thursday, April 25, 2019
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Malaria vaccine to be launched in Malawi and administered to 360,000 African children

Malaria vaccines

WHO welcomes the Government of Malawi’s launch of the world’s first malaria vaccine today in a landmark pilot programme. The country is the first of three in Africa in which the vaccine, known as RTS,S, will be made available to children up to 2 years of age; Ghana and Kenya will introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks.

Malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes. Most of these deaths are in Africa, where more than 250 000 children die from the disease every year. Children under 5 are at greatest risk of its life-threatening complications. Worldwide, malaria kills 435 000 people a year, most of them children.

“We have seen tremendous gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria in the last 15 years, but progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas. We need new solutions to get the malaria response back on track, and this vaccine gives us a promising tool to get there,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children’s lives.”

An innovation milestone, three decades in development

Thirty years in the making, RTS,S is the first, and to date the only, vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children. In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to prevent approximately 4 in 10 malaria cases, including 3 in 10 cases of life-threatening severe malaria

“Malaria is a constant threat in the African communities where this vaccine will be given. The poorest children suffer the most and are at highest risk of death,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “We know the power of vaccines to prevent killer diseases and reach children, including those who may not have immediate access to the doctors, nurses and health facilities they need to save them when severe illness comes.”

“This is a day to celebrate as we begin to learn more about what this tool can do to change the trajectory of malaria through childhood vaccination,” she added.

The pilot programme is designed to generate evidence and experience to inform WHO policy recommendations on the broader use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. It will look at reductions in child deaths; vaccine uptake, including whether parents bring their children on time for the four required doses; and vaccine safety in the context of routine use.

The vaccine is a complementary malaria control tool – to be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention, including the routine use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying with insecticides, and the timely use of malaria testing and treatment.

A model public-private partnership

The WHO-coordinated pilot programme is a collaborative effort with ministries of health in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi and a range of in-country and international partners, including PATH, a non-profit organization, and GSK, the vaccine developer and manufacturer, which is donating up to 10 million vaccine doses for this pilot.

“We salute WHO and Malawi for their leadership in realizing this historic milestone,” said Steve Davis, President and CEO of PATH, “and we look forward to the start of vaccination in Ghana, and then Kenya later this year. A vaccine for malaria is among many innovations needed to bring an end to this disease, and we proudly stand with all countries and our many partners in progressing towards a malaria-free world.”

The malaria vaccine pilot aims to reach about 360,000 children per year across the three countries. Ministries of health will determine where the vaccine will be given; they will focus on areas with moderate-to-high malaria transmission, where the vaccine can have the greatest impact.

“Delivering the world’s first malaria vaccine will help reduce the burden of one of the most pressing health challenges globally. This novel tool is the result of GSK employees collaborating with their partners, applying the latest in vaccine science to contribute to the fight against malaria,” said Dr Thomas Breuer, Chief Medical Officer of GSK Vaccines. “We look forward to seeing the results of the pilot, and in parallel, are working with WHO and PATH to secure the vaccine’s sustained global health impact in the future.”

NAFDAC raises alarm over prevalence of drug addicts

NAFDAC-DG-Prof.-Moji-Adeyeye

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder due to what it described as the high rate and prevalence of drug addicts across the country.

Prof Mojisola Adeyeye said it was shocking that Nigeria was leading even beyond the international coverage of drug abuse globally. The Director, Public Affairs, NAFDAC, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, said this on Saturday while speaking with newsmen in Ilorin. Jimoh said the agency has an average conservative estimate of about 15 million people who are on drugs and 3 million of them could be conveniently called drug addicts. Nasarawa Govt urges students to shun cultism, other negative acts According to him, this development had forced the agency to conclude that the level of drug abuse has led to the high level of violence, kidnapping, terrorism, armed robbery and even dangerous driving by some Nigerian drivers. He said most youths under the age bracket of 19 to 22 and even parents, both male and female, have seriously engaged in taking hard concoction. Jimoh recalled that NAFDAC had recently destroyed billions of Naira worth of containers loaded with tramadol and other related hard drugs which if it had ordinarily gone into circulation would have destroyed several lives. He also disclosed that NAFDAC had shifted away from being just a mere regulatory agency of public health institutions, but now a key driver in the present transformation agenda in changing the diversification of the economy. He said that NAFDAC was controlling the chemicals imported by the petrochemical industries into the country. He said the agency has now been laying emphasis on the promotion and development of the Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SMEs).

UNICEF to inaugurate global campaign on vaccines safety April 24

Unicef
UNICEF

In view of growing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, the United Nations Children’s Fund says it will inaugurate a new global campaign from April 24 to 30.

The campaign, according to the organisation, is to emphasise the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users.

Mr Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization. said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

He said that the campaign would go alongside World Immunization Week from April 24 to 30.

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The campaign tagged #VaccinesWork, according to Nandy, will spread the message that collaboration with communities, including parents can protect everyone through vaccines.

Nandy noted that UNICEF will use social media in its campaign to show that most parents trust vaccines to protect their children.

According to him, vaccines save up to 3 million lives yearly, protecting children from potentially deadly, highly infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, cholera and diphtheria.

Nandy further noted that fewer people died from measles between 2000 and 2017, adding that polio is on the verge of being eradicated.

“This year, UNICEF is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, and Global Alliance for Vaccines and the Vaccine Alliance to encourage even greater reach.

“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute USD$1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork this month up to USD$1 million, to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they need.

“Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tool ever invented – every USD$1 spent on childhood immunization returns up to USD$44 in benefits.

“We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral.

“Vaccines are safe and they save lives. This campaign is an opportunity to show the world that social media can be a powerful force for change and provides parents with trustworthy information on vaccines,”

Breaking: Buhari Calls Bill Gates, lauds him for supporting eradication of Polio, HIV in Nigeria

Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari, has phoned Bill Gates to commend him for his consistent and generous support to public causes around the globe. Buhari the president, in a telephone conversation with Gates, specifically lauded him for supporting the eradication of polio and HIV diseases in Africa and Nigeria in particular. Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said Gates on his part, congratulated the President upon his resounding election victory for a second four-year term of office. The presidential aide quoted Gates as saying that he was happy to be associated with the President. Tender your WAEC certificate if you have any, PDP challenges Buhari He said Gates restated his “commitment to the success of the administration as well as the progress, prosperity and well-being of Nigeria. “He expressed willingness to do more for the country.’’ President Buhari reiterated his opinion that Gates’ wealth had benefited Nigeria’s development, and expressed appreciation for the call.

FG insures 48 tertiary health institutions

48 tertiary health institutions

The Federal Ministry of Health has provided insurance cover for 48 tertiary health institutions towards protecting the facilities and diagnostic equipment for optimal health care delivery services.

Dr Joseph Amedu, the Director, Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health, disclosed this during a sensitisation workshop on the implementation of assets insurance of parastatals under the ministry on Wednesday in Abuja.

The workshop was organised by the ministry in conjunction with the Consortium of Insurance Companies and Brokers.

Amedu noted that over the years, the federal government had invested huge amounts of money for building facilities, procurement of diagnostic equipment, vehicles and other essential commodities in 74 tertiary health facilities under the ministry.

He added that the ministry set up an Asset Insurance Scheme in 2011 to ensure that these investments in the health sector were protected against natural disasters and total loss.

According to him, the government appointed a number of underwriters to manage the scheme with Niger Insurance Plc as a Lead Underwriter (insurance underwriters evaluate the risk and exposures of potential clients).

He said a survey of the assets of the 74 tertiary health facilities under the ministry was conducted by the insurance companies and brokers.

Amedu said President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the payment of premium for the insurance of critical assets of parastatals under the ministry, stressing that the presidential approval was affected by Federal Ministry of Finance.

“The policy is effective from December 7, 2018, to December 6, 2019, and covers buildings and other critical equipment from fire, flood and other natural disasters,’’ he said.

Mr Jonah Nedanmanya, Head Northern Operations, Niger Insurance Plc, said in December 2018, Niger Insurance took up a policy for fire and burglary and theft for the asset of the health institutions under the ministry.

“We are here with the stakeholders to sensitise them on insurance.

“When you take up insurance you need to understand what the cover is all about, and understand how to respond in the event of unforeseen events that could happen in their various locations,’’ he said.

He added that the workshop also aimed to empower the participants on the best ways to respond to claims, document processing for a seamless relationship with them.

Nedanmanya, who did not disclose the premium involved for the insurance cover, however, confirmed that the consideration had been paid.

He added that only 48 out of 74 tertiary health institutions had keyed into the programme because at the beginning all the tertiary health institutions were asked to provide their information and subscribed.

He said only 48 were able to provide information and subscribed to it, however, “we are not saying that the rest cannot join but when we get their information, we can slot them into the programme”.

Bill to stop/control expensive funerals passed by Anambra Assembly

Bill to stop/control expensive funerals passed by Anambra Assembly

The Anambra State House of Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill to stop expensive funerals in the state.

The bill, which was sponsored by the representative  of Anaocha II Constituency, Charles Ezeani, now makes it an offence to hold funerals for more than one day in the state.

 Before the bill was passed, communities held funerals for at least three days.

Ezeani said, “The Burial/Funeral Control Bill is aimed at cutting down the cost of burials in the state.”

The bill   says   in the event of death “no person shall deposit any corpse in the mortuary or any place beyond two months from the date of the death, while burial ceremonies in the state shall be for one day”.

The bill   makes it an offence to destroy property, fire gunshots, block roads during funerals in the state.

 The bill also says “no person shall subject any relation of a deceased person to a mourning period of more than one week from the date of the burial”.

It added that during  funerals the family of the deceased “shall provide food for their kindred, relatives and other sympathisers at their own discretion.”

Ezeani told reporters that    a monitoring and implementation committee would be set up by the Assembly to enforce the law after Governor Willie Obiano had signed it.

US OKs drug for post-partum depression

US post-partum medication

 US authorities approved the first medication designed specifically to treat post-partum depression, an illness that affects about one in nine new American mothers. The drug is called brexanolone from a company called Sage Therapeutics and one advantage is that it works quickly, in two days, whereas traditional anti-depressants can take weeks or months to kick in.

Adding that, the drug’s trade name is Zulresso. It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But it needs to be administered intravenously in a hospital over the course of 60 hours because of the risk of fainting that was observed in some women during clinical tests.

However, Post-partum depression is a serious condition that, when severe, can be life-threatening. Women may experience thoughts about harming themselves or harming their child, said Tiffany Falchion, acting director of the division of psychiatry products in the FDA’s Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research. This approval marks the first time a drug has been specifically approved to treat postpartum depression, providing an important new treatment option,” she added.

Furthermore, the most common secondary effects include drowsiness and dryness of the mouth. Sage Therapeutics said the medication will be available in late June in the US. US media say the treatment will cost $34,000 a year for people without health insurance. Insurers get it at a discounted rate. The full rate is without the cost of the hospital stay for administering it. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention say 11.5 percent of new mothers suffered from post partum depression in 2012.

Reasons why LUTH cancer centre has yet to begin operation- Prof Chris Bode Chief Medical Director

Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof Chris Bode
Chief Medical Director, has said the equipment at the new Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority/LUTH cancer treatment centre is undergoing necessary calibrations and fine tuning to align with international standard before the centre begins operation.

Bode, during the visit of the acting Director of the United States Trade and Development Agency, Mr Thomas Hardy, to the centre, said the facility would open for patients on May 1, 2019.

The CMD said the machines would perform optimally for the next 10 years as payment had been made for maintenance, routine services, and breakdowns.

Bode noted that once the centre began operation, it would reduce medical tourism to other countries, adding that the services at the new centre would be affordable than travelling abroad for cancer treatment.

Hardy, in his response, said the facility was a testament to the good leadership of the hospital’s management.

Hardy said the agency he represented was interested in investing in people that had a similar vision and ability to achieve great things.

“The leadership of LUTH came to the United States of America; we introduced them to American technology and cancer treatment solutions in a bid to transform Nigeria’s health care system for accessible and quality care. We will continue to be in contact with the team to find other opportunities,” Hardy said.

UNTH gets machine for brain surgery

University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu State

Relief may have finally come the way of Nigerians with neurosurgical cases as the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu State has taken delivery of Ceiling Mounted Operating Microscope machine that could enable it to deal with complex and deep brain surgeries.

The Chief Medical Director of the UNTH, Dr Christopher Amah, noted that UNTH had been known for its first-class services in thoracic surgery following its resuscitation of open heart surgery.

He added that the new medical equipment would enable the management to position the hospital as the best in the country in any field of medicine.

“Now, problems in the base of the skulls, brain spinal and stem tumors, among other deep-seated brain cases, could be operated upon,” he said.

The CMD added that a team of neurosurgeons from Sweden, which was on a medical mission at the hospital, had performed eight successful neurosurgical cases with the new equipment.

“We have neurosurgeons but the challenge had been that of having the right equipment to deal with some of the complex deep regions of the brain. This is the problem we are solving with this particular mission.

Dr Magnus Tiseil, who led the Swedish experts, said the mission was borne out of a strategic collaboration that began with the hospital two years ago, explaining that they were impressed with the facilities at the UNTH.

A neurosurgeon with the UNTH, Dr Enoch Uche, stated that such facilities were not available in government hospitals.

ECOWAS, WAHO move to stop fake drugs in W’Africa

Fake and substandard drugs have remained a public health concern in Nigeria and other African countries.

According to the World Health Organisation, one in 10 drugs sold in Africa is falsified or substandard.

Also, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in 2017 said 90 per cent of pharmaceutical products in Nigeria were fakes and that Africa recorded at least 100,000 deaths annually from drug-related ailments.

In a bid to ensure that people living in the West Africa have access to safe, quality and affordable drugs, the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) says the implementation of the ECOWAS harmonised Common Technical Document (CTD) will help local drug manufacturers in the region to meet the standard expected of them by the international community.

A pharmaceutical and Quality Assurance Analyst at the West Africa Health Organisation, Mrs Sybil Ossei-Agyeman-Yeboah, in an interview with our correspondent said there was the need to build the capacity of local drug manufacturers in the region so that they could compete with their counterparts in developed countries.

Speaking on the sidelines of a three-day training of local drug manufacturers in Lagos last week, Ossei-Agyeman-Yeboah said the CTD was aimed at harmonising the requirements for registration of medicines in West Africa.

“A common technical document has been developed and we want to ensure that every member state uses the same document across the region. The issue is not just about counterfeit medicines, the issue is about quality, safe and accessible medicines.”

Also, a pharmaceutical assessor at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Mr Emmanuel Alozie, in an interview with our correspondent said the harmonised CTD would help local manufactures of drugs to be able to market their drugs across the 15 West African countries.

“It will increase the stream of business for Nigeria. Our local manufacturers will not only need to produce drugs to sell in our region, it will increase GDP for Nigeria if we start exporting drugs manufactured in Nigeria to other West African countries.

“The CTD is a document that was harmonised by the International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use; the same CTD that is applicable in Nigeria is applicable all over the world; the same submission we use here is what is being used all over the world,” Alozie said.

He added that regulators in the region were interested in seeing that drugs produced by local manufacturers were safe for consumption.

Also, a member of the export working group at WAHO, Mr Uchenna Moronu, said the knowledge of the registration of drugs was an evolving science which must not be taken for granted by local manufacturers.

“Over time we have come to understand that drugs cannot only save lives but they can also kill people. The science is now evolving and regulators are asking more questions.

“There are ways to make drugs properly, and there are things we need to look for that will ensure that the manufacturers can make these drugs consistently. The coming of the CTD will help to standardise how the drugs are made and give us that window to look at what the manufacturer is doing and to ensure that he is doing the right thing,” Moronu said.

He said if the drugs were made properly, they would be safer and people would be assured of its efficacy.

“We need to be able to tell the world that when drugs are made in Nigeria, they are safe for anyone anywhere to consume. If they can see what we have put into registering these drugs, they will trust these drugs and that will help our local manufacturers because their products will be trusted. Nobody will trust a drug because it was made in Nigeria, they will trust it if it was made properly and we can verify what the manufacturer has done and we are sure that he can do it over and over without changing anything about the product,” Moronu added.

For People over 50-years Alcohol may be less Harmful

For people over 50-years Alcohol may Be less harmful

A recent study examines the health impact of consuming alcohol at different ages. The authors conclude that, for people over the age of 50, the health risks may be less severe.

If alcohol does have protective effects, they are not distributed evenly across all ages.

Heavy drinking is linked to a range of serious health consequences.

These include certain cancers, liver and heart disease, and damage to the nervous system, including the brain.

However, as it has been covered in the popular press, drinking in moderation might have certain health benefits.

Recent study have concluded that drinking alcohol at a low level could have a protective effect.

One study, for instance, found that light and moderate drinking protected against all-cause mortality, as well as mortality related to cardiovascular disease.

It is no surprise that these stories have been well-received and widely read, but not all researchers agree, and the debate is ongoing.

A recent study led by Dr. Timothy Naimi, of the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts, adds further fuel to an already rampant blaze.

The authors take aim at the methodology used in earlier studies, and they published their findings in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs earlier this week.

The researchers argue that the way earlier studies measured alcohol’s impact on health might be flawed. Specifically, they note that the studies are generally observational and usually recruit participants over the age of 50.

The authors argue that this is problematic because it excludes anyone who might have died due to alcohol before the age of 50. As they rightly point out, “Deceased persons cannot be enrolled in cohort studies.”

Dr. Naimi first outlined his concerns about this inherent selection bias in a paper published in the journal Addiction in 2017.

“Those who are established drinkers at age 50 are ‘survivors’ of their alcohol consumption who [initially] might have been healthier or have had safer drinking patterns.”

Dr. Timothy Naimi

According to the authors, almost 40 percent of deaths due to alcohol consumption occur before the age of 50.

This means that the vast majority of research into the potential risks of alcohol do not take these deaths into account and could underestimate the real dangers.

To reinvestigate, the authors dipped into data from the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Application which is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, this application “provides national and state estimates of alcohol-related health impacts, including deaths and years of potential life lost.”

The difference of age

The analysis showed that the level of an individual’s alcohol-related risk was heavily influenced by age.

In total, 35.8% of alcohol-related deaths occurred in people aged 20–49. When looking at deaths that were prevented by alcohol consumption, the scientists found only 4.5 percent in this age group.

When they looked at individuals aged 65 or over, it was a different story: Although a similar 35 percent of alcohol-related deaths occurred in this group, the authors found a huge 80 percent of the deaths prevented by alcohol in this demographic.

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A worldwide study of alcohol use concludes that the safest level of consumption is zero.

The researchers also saw this stark difference between age groups when they looked at the number of potential years lost to alcohol.

They showed that 58.4 percent of the total number of years lost occurred in those aged 20–49. However, this age group only accounted for 14.5 percent of the years of life saved by drinking.

Conversely, the over-65 group accounted for 15% of the overall years of life lost, but 50% of the years of life saved.

The authors conclude that younger people “are more likely to die from alcohol consumption than they are to die from a lack of drinking,” but older people are more likely to experience the health benefits of moderate drinking.

Although the conclusions are not explosive, they bring us a more complete understanding of alcohol’s impact on health: Moderate drinking may benefit people of a certain age group, but heavy drinking is harmful to all.

1.9 million Nigerians living with HIV – NACA boss.

HIV VIRUS

The Nigerian HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) indicates that about 1.9 million Nigerians are currently living with the disease, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has said.

The Director-General of NACA, Sani Aliyu, said the percentage of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Nigeria, among the age group of 15-49 years, is 1.4 per cent (1.9 per cent among females and 0.9 per cent among males.)

He also said viral suppression among PLHIV aged 15 to 49 years old with access to treatment stands at 42.3 per cent (45.3 per cent among women and 34.5 per cent among men).

Tunisia’s mysterious baby deaths rise to 15

An infant died under unclear circumstances at a hospital in Tunisia, bringing the number of unexplained baby deaths at a hospital in the country to 15 since last week, a judicial official said on Wednesday.

Recently, the Tunisian health minister, Abderraouf Cherif, resigned over the deaths at the Rabta hospital in Tunis after 11 newborns were initially reported dead.

The acting Health Minister, Sonia Ben Cheikh, said samples taken from the maternity section at the hospital were being analysed at three laboratories to ascertain the cause of death.

Nigeria improves on HIV ranking, now fourth worst hit country — Minister

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, says Nigeria has moved to the fourth position among countries worst hit by the HIV epidemic.

With an earlier estimate of about 3.2 million people living with HIV, Nigeria was ranked second after South Africa which ranks first with about 7.1 million people living with HIV.

Speaking after the announcement of the Nigeria HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) result on Thursday, Mr Adewole said Nigeria has now moved to the fourth position after South Africa, India and Mozambique following the findings of the survey.

In 2016, a report by the World Health Organisation stated that Nigeria had the second largest HIV epidemic, with over 196,000 adolescents representing 10 per cent of the global burden epidemic.

About 18 Nigerians die of tuberculosis every hour – Expert

At least 18 Nigerians die from Tuberculosis (TB) every hour, a TB expert, Lovett Lawson, has said.

Mr Lawson, the Board Chairman of Stop TB partnership Nigeria, said Nigeria has the highest burden of the disease in Africa and the third highest burden in the world after India and Indonesia.

He lamented that over 75 per cent of Nigerians with the disease are yet to be diagnosed or receive any form of treatment.

This, he blamed on the lack of awareness about the disease among the communities and the social stigma attached to those diagnosed with the ailment.

Prevention, best way to manage kidney diseases

In view of the increasing incidence of kidney diseases, the Renal Dialysis Centre (RDC), Ikeja, Lagos, says the best way to manage the condition is through prevention.

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John Okoh, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RDC, said that from clinical observations and available statistics, more people were coming down with kidney disease.

Mr Okoh said: “One of the prescribed ways of managing the disease now is actually prevention, protection and early detection and to do the things to keep the kidneys healthy.

More women die from caesarean delivery in Africa – Research

More women die from caesarean delivery in Africa than in high-income countries, a study published in the Lancet medical journal revealed on Friday.

Cesarean section (C-section) is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus.

The study found the maternal mortality rate for C-sections in Africa is substantially higher than expected at 5.43 deaths per 1,000 operations compared to just 0.1 per 1,000 operations in Britain.

“One in six women in Africa also develops complications during surgery, almost three times that of women in the U.S.

WHO urges govts to enforce ban on tobacco adverting

WHO is urging governments to enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship at sporting events, including when hosting or receiving broadcasts of Formula 1 and MotoGP events.

WHO also urged all sporting bodies, including Formula 1 and MotoGP, to adopt strong tobacco-free policies that ensure their events are smoke-free and their activities and participants, including race teams, are not sponsored by tobacco companies.

These calls come in the light of tobacco companies establishing new partnerships with motor-racing teams.

WHO urged governments to implement their domestic laws banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in the strongest possible ways? This may include issuing penalties applicable under domestic laws and taking preventative action, such as by preventing the screening of events that violate domestic laws

#AHAIC2019: Nigerian delegation holds session to bridge child, family health funding gaps

#AHAIC2019

To bridge financial gaps of Child and Family Health, the Nigerian delegation at the 2019 Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) is holding a session this afternoon, the second day of the event.

The Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC) in collaboration with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPPS led the Nigerian delegation for the conference holding at the Kigali Convention Center in Rwanda.

Themed ‘2030 Now: Multi-sectoral Action to Achieve Universal Health Coverage in Africa’, the three-day event is co-hosted by Amref Health Africa and the Ministry of Health of Rwanda.

Speakers at the opening ceremony of the conference yesterday included Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health of Rwanda; Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa among others. They expounded the urgency of accelerating efforts to reach Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in African countries by 2030.

According to Bill and Melinda gates Foundation, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth and 4th country with the worst maternal mortality rate.

This is majorly because of poor funding for health.

Nigeria hosted the 2001 conference now known as “the Abuja Declaration”, where African leaders pledged at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to their health sectors.

But this is yet to become a reality today in Nigeria. The highest percentage since the declaration was in 2012 when 5.95% of the budget was allotted to health.

Also, the joy that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund – a major funding mandate of the National Health Act was added to the 2018 annual budget was short-lived.

To date, funds appropriated under the 2018 and Q1 of the budget for BHCPF have not been released. Also, the BHCPF has not yet been made a Statutory Transfer, meaning there is no guarantee of its continuity.

On the other hand, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is supposed to lead the charge in reducing out-of-pocket spending on health services is Stifled by administrative, legal, political and technical encumbrances coupled with a poor social accountability implementation framework.

It is against this backdrop that the Nigerian delegates led by DRPC and NIPPS would be holding today’s panel session.

Nasirdeen Usman, the Secretary General of the Alumni association of NIPSS, would head the panel discussion themed ‘Unlocking the potentials of Universal Health Coverage as a domestic resource base to meet child and family health funding gaps in Nigeria’, by 3:45pm. at AD 4 hall inside the Kigali convention center.

A series of strategic engagements and panel discussions would follow until 5:10p.m. When organizers planned to wrap up the session.

Those expected to participate in the session among others include Enyantu Ifenne, Chairperson NHIS; Dogo Muhammad Waziri, Past Executive Secretary NHIS; Kyauta Bulus Tanyigna (NIPPS); Nneka Orji-Achugo, Health Economist at the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health among others.

Lanre Tejuoso, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health is also expected to be at the session.

3:50 Kigali Time: 2:50 Nigerian Time – Nasirdeen Usman, the Secretary General of NIPPs, the anchor of this afternoon’s session takes stage.

First to be welcomed on the high table by Mr. Usman is Mr. Tejuoso who played a significant role that saw to the approval of the BHCPF in the Nigerian budget for the first time in 2018.

He was followed by Mrs Ifenne, the chairperson of the NHIS governing council and Mr. Mohammad-Dogo, a former Executive Secretary of the scheme. Other panelists are now on stage.

Mr Usman starts by reeling out the grim statistics of the NHIS coverage in Nigeria. He says only 5 percent of Nigerians are covered under the NHIS. Of that 5 percent he said only 4 are in the formal sector with only one percent in the informal sector.

“It is as bad as that. In view of this we want to interrogate why we still have serious deficit in our journey to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

He says Nigeria is falling behind in achieving the 15 percent commitment of the Abuja Declaration.

The first part of the discussion starts with the policy angle of achieving UHC.

Kyauta Bulus Tanyigna of the NIPPS sets the ball rolling on the policy discussion.

Mr Tanyigna, a professor says the role of policy in achieving UHC is very fundamental. He goes down memory lane when President Abulsalami Abubakar signed policy for the UHC. The coming of the Olusegun Obasanjo regime he said heralded the inception of the NHIS.

He says all these where achieved through policies but “we are yet to make reasonable progress in implementation.”

He speaks about the percent allotted to health in the Nigerian annual budget. He listed some African countries that have achieved the 15 per cent Abuja declaration.

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He says through good policies, the 15 percent benchmark is achievable and can also chart the road-map in achieving UHC.

Senator Tejuoso speaks for the first time. He says to achieve UHC has been a tough road in the senate. He says there so many unimplemented laws in Nigeria.

He explains the pivotal role he played in the implementation of the National Health Act. “First of all I had to educate and lobby my colleagues on the need for health financing. I started with the senate president. i told them let us consider the Basic health Provision Fund.

“In 2016 and 2017, nothing happened, but in 2018 per advocacy amplified. With help of PACFAH we formed what we called the legislative network. We were able to bring in so many legislators and it was the game changer.”

The BHCPF is the fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act and was appropriated for the first time in the 2018 budget since the Act was signed in 2014.

Oyo sets pace in mandatory health insurance

Access to health care

Access to health care remains a challenge in Nigeria. This single challenge has escalated high rates of child and maternal mortality and morbidity across the country. Although 14 years ago, the country worked towards improving access in its bid to achieve universal health coverage established the National health insurance, NHIS, sadly, less than 5 percent of Nigerians are covered under the scheme. However, despite the NHIS failure, many states including Lagos, Kwara, amongst others have also established their own state’s health insurance following successes recorded in improved healthcare by most countries of the world. Unlike at the national level, one state that is making a different in health insurance currently is the Oyo State where the citizens are currently enjoying mandatory but affordable health insurance system.

In Oyo, beneficiaries can pay as low as N8, 000 to get enrolled in the scheme. To ensure a successful scheme, Oyo State Health Insurance Agency developed different healthcare plans to cover all categories of residents of the state in order to ensure that they have access to good healthcare services. These plans include: standard plan which is designed with the aim of achieving universal health coverage. It is designed for formal sector, Informal sector, vulnerable group like pregnant women, children under five, prisoners, retirees & aged, communities & rural dwellers. The top-up plan which is for two different categories of standard plus & standard peak are to provide alternatives for the formal sector segment and to generate subsidy for the vulnerable group. HEALTH AGENDA: NMA organizes debate for Lagos governorship candidates The students & tertiary institutions plan is also ages 5-18 and segments of the populace in tertiary institutions.

According to the Executive Secretary, Oyo State Health Insurance Scheme Agency, OYSHIA, Dr Olusola Akande the rationale behinds the government commitment to health insurance in the state was to improve health service utilization as well as provide financial protection against huge medical bills among citizens of the state. The Oyo State Health Insurance was established in 2015 and passed into law November 2016, assented to by Governor Abiola Ajimobi in December, 2016 and flagged off on 25th May, 2017. The scheme was also through legal frame work made mandatory for all residence of the state. Speaking recently during a two day media dialogue organized by United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF in collaboration with the State Ministry of Information, Akande said: “We have lots of testimonies from beneficiaries since the scheme started. It makes patients to see their doctors when nothing is wrong with them and also improve their health seeking behaviour,” he said. Noting that there was a very strong connection between Social Health Insurance and community empowerment, he said over 100,000 people has been enrolled in the mandatory scheme. Stating that the over 10,000 children less than 5 years and pregnant women are on the scheme, he disclosed that 350 vaginal deliveries and 78 Caesarean sessions carried have been carried out under the scheme. “We are upgrading the facilities in the state. Already, Primary Healthcare Centers accredited for the scheme have been fully upgraded to offer best quality healthcare services to the people, he added. He further explained that OYSHIA is being funded with 2 percent consolidated fund from the State’s

Internally Generated Revenue, IGR. Akande said they are also procuring grants, premium, and philanthropy, adding that the scheme has been rated very high in terms of performance. He stated that the agency would not relent in making sure that the people of the state enjoy quality healthcare without spending their last savings on medical bills. Speaking, a UNICEF Health Specialist, Dr. Adebola Hassan said health insurance is very necessary to prevent avoidable death particularly among children. Adebola in a presentation tagged: Leaving No Child Behind”, added that the benefits of health insurance are enormous particularly in attaining UHC

HIV Cure: London patient might be second to be cured of HIV

HIV VIRUS

A second person has experienced sustained remission from HIV-1. Some scientists believe that the “London patient” has been cured of the viral infection, which affects close to 37 million people worldwide.

The new case report comes more than 10 years after the first case, known as the “Berlin patient.” Both patients were treated with stem cell transplants from donors who carried a rare genetic mutation, known as CCR5-delta 32, that made them resistant to HIV. The London patient has been in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people,” said Ravindra Gupta, lead author of the study and a professor in University College London’s Division of Infection and Immunity.

READ MORE:FDA approves two new HIV oral drugs

Gupta added that the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies. He and his colleagues will continue to monitor the man’s condition, as it is still too early to say that he has been cured of HIV.

Almost 1 million people die annually from HIV-related causes. Treatment for HIV involves medications that suppress the virus, known as antiretroviral therapy, which people with HIV need to take for their entire lives.

2 men face trial over alleged operation of fake clinic, impersonation

Two men, Paul Kahomen and Ettenne Hounsa, who allegedly set-up a clinic and impersonated as doctors, appeared before an Ogudu Magistrates’ Court in Lagos. The defendants, Kahomen, 30, and Hounsa, 20, who both reside at Ferry Street, Oworonshoki, Lagos, are facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, unlawful possession of medical instruments/drugs and impersonation.

Read More: Why Lagos health insurance scheme is mandatory for residents

However, they pleaded not guilty to the charge. The Police Prosecutor, Insp. Lucky Ihiehie, had told the court that the defendants committed the offense on February. 4 at the Oworonshoki area of Lagos. Ihiehie said the defendants were found with medical instruments and drug.

Furthermore, they operated an illegal clinic, where they admit patients, carry out abortions, administer dangerous pills and deliver pregnant women of their babies. This practice had resulted in the death of many innocent people,’ he said.

Why Lagos health insurance scheme is mandatory for residents

Why make the state’s health insurance scheme mandatory when some residents are already under the NHIS?
For those contributing to the NHIS, we are not going to force them to join us as it might create unnecessary problems out there. We are going to focus on the people who don’t have at all. And most of the people contributing are in the formal sector because it is easier to get their contribution.

How do you intend to take care of those in the informal sector, since they are not on salary?
The pay is flexible, but if an enrollee fails to contribute on time, it is going to affect other people. If you want to pay monthly or quarterly, there are provisions for that. We have to be reasonably sure that enrollees will pay or else they would be cheating other people. After breakdown, the entire amount went to as low as N500 per person per month. This is so because we do not want a situation where a person has to fall ill before visiting the health facility or paying his/her premium. Doing so would defeat the whole essence of the scheme.

READ MORE:Six states to benefit from N23.3b UK malaria intervention project

What becomes of residents of rural and riverine communities, who do not have public and private healthcare facilities in their domain?
We have about 120 wards in the state with no public primary healthcare facilities at all. We also know that our budget can’t cover all those places because of many things we need to do. In those communities, there are private facilities and there is a payment scheme in the works, at least when they provide services to the people, the healthcare providers are sure of getting paid, which is what the insurance scheme is going to ensure.

Smoking more than 20 cigarettes daily can damage your vision

Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day can damage your vision, a study co-authored by a Rutgers researcher finds.
The research appears in the journal Psychiatry Research.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 34.3 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes and that more than 16 million live with a smoking-related disease, many of which affect the cardiovascular system.

The study included 71 healthy people who smoked fewer than 15 cigarettes in their lives and 63, who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day, were diagnosed with tobacco addiction and reported no attempts to stop smoking. The participants were between the ages of 25 and 45 and had normal or corrected-to-normal vision as measured by standard visual acuity charts.

READ MORE: What are the Causes of Unemployment in Nigeria?

The researchers looked at how participants discriminated contrast levels (subtle differences in shading) and colors while seated 59 inches from a 19-inch cathode-ray tube monitor that displayed stimuli while researchers monitored both eyes simultaneously.

The findings indicated significant changes in the smokers’ red-green and blue-yellow color vision, which suggests that consuming substances with neurotoxic chemicals, such as those in cigarettes, may cause overall color vision loss.

They also found that the heavy smokers had a reduced ability to discriminate contrasts and colors when compared to the non-smokers.

“Cigarette smoke consists of numerous compounds that are harmful to health, and it has been linked to a reduction in the thickness of layers in the brain, and to brain lesions, involving areas such as the frontal lobe, which plays a role in voluntary movement and control of thinking, and a decrease in activity in the area of the brain that processes vision,” said co-author Steven Silverstein, director of research at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.

“Previous studies have pointed to long-term smoking as doubling the risk for age-related macular degeneration and as a factor causing lens yellowing and inflammation. Our results indicate that excessive use of cigarettes, or chronic exposure to their compounds, affects visual discrimination, supporting the existence of overall deficits in visual processing with tobacco addiction.”

Although the research did not give a physiological explanation for the results, Silverstein said that since nicotine and smoking harm the vascular system, the study suggests they also damage blood vessels and neurons in the retina.

Silverstein said the findings also suggest that research into visual processing impairments in other groups of people, such as those with schizophrenia who often smoke heavily, should take into account their smoking rate or independently examine smokers versus non-smokers.

‘Why did we keep silent for so long? Nun condemns Catholic church over clerical abuse

A nun has condemned the Catholic Church’s hierarchy for its failure to tackle the scourge of clerical sexual abuse, saying leaders must concede that their “mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency” has brought the church to a “disgraceful place”.

In her speech, delivered at the Vatican’s unprecedented summit on the issue, Sister Veronica Openibo from Nigeria said the church was in a state of “crisis and shame”.

“We proclaim the Ten Commandments and parade ourselves as being the custodians of moral standards, values and good behaviour in society,” she said. “Hypocrites at times? Yes. Why did we keep silent for so long?”

READ ALSO:Smoking more than 20 cigarettes daily can damage your vision

Openibo, one of only three women to address the event, went on to say the scandal had “seriously clouded the grace of the Christ-mission”.

“Is it possible for us to move from fear of scandal to truth? How do we remove the masks that hide our sinful neglect?” she said.

Vatican abuse summit shines light on long fight for justice

Read more: No More Doctors’ Strike Without Permission – NMA

She said that while preparing her speech, she recalled the sadness felt after watching the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, which told the story of the Boston Globe journalists whose investigation exposed sexual abuse of minors by clergy and showed how most of the accused priests were simply moved to other parishes.

“How could the clerical church have kept silent, covering these atrocities?” she asked. “The silence, the carrying of the secrets in the hearts of the perpetrators, the length of the abuses and the constant transfers of perpetrators are unimaginable.”

Openibo, who has worked in Africa, Europe and the US, said: “Too often we want to keep silent until the storm has passed,” she said. “This storm will not pass by. Our credibility is at stake.”

Opening the event on Thursday, Pope Francis said church leaders had a responsibility to deal effectively with the crimes of priests who rape and molest children and called for “efficient and concrete measures” to be established.

The pontiff and the 190 bishops and cardinals in attendance watched videotaped testimony from survivors of abuse telling of their trauma and the cruel indifference shown by church leaders.

One woman from Africa told the summit that a priest who had begun raping her at age 15 forced her to have three abortions, and beat her when she refused him sex. A survivor from Chile told the bishops and religious superiors they had inflicted even more pain on survivors by discrediting them and protecting priests who abused.

A list of 21 “reflection points” written by the pope is expected to provide the basis for the development of new anti-abuse procedures for bishops.

What are the Causes of Unemployment in Nigeria?

Unemployment is one of the major issues affecting Nigeria’s economy due to the fallout from the economic challenges. Nigeria currently are facing different aspect of unemployment which are frictional unemployment which is caused by industrial friction. There are jobs but people can’t fill them because they don’t have the skills or are unaware of the existence of the jobs. This occurs due to ignorance, immobility of labor, shortage of raw materials and even break down in machinery. There is also the residual unemployment that is caused by old age, physical or mental disability, irresponsible attitude towards the job and inadequate training.

Unemployment in Nigeria is also caused by structural unemployment which is caused by the shift in the county’s economy causing a mismatch between the skills required by employers and the skill proposed by employees. Cyclical unemployment also led to people not being employed because it is as a result of decrease in the demands for goods and services which often caused by the economy recession that forces companies to terminate a number of workers in order to reduce the costs.

The unemployment rate in Nigeria are caused mainly by the high and rapid growth in population, this is so because there have being an increase in the growth of the labor forces alongside with the inadequate supply of jobs. This rapid growth in population are coupled with rural urban migration which has led to the increase in cities thereby raising the level of unemployment.

Another key issue is poor leadership where by the government have failed to perform their constitutional duties which has resulted to the high level of unemployment. Most youth are graduates but because Nigeria lack quality education most employers now believe that Nigerian graduates are unemployable. The result of the educational program which usually include theories and lack of practical use of knowledge has led to unemployment because most tertiary educational courses lack entrepreneurial training.

Recession is another aspect that has led to unemployment in Nigerian due to the worsened decline in the country’s economy. A lot of people have been laid of work. While new jobs were not created and most companies laid of employees because they can’t afford a lot of workers and cause of this has made people became unemployed. The increasing rate of unemployment Nigeria has led to the adverse effects on both the economy and the society and such consequences are reduction in the output of goods and services, increased rural urban migration, high level of poverty, increase in the number of dependent people and high rate of crimes.

To overcome the crisis of unemployment in Nigeria, government must be effective in performing their duties, industrial friendly environment such as government should consider each sector of the economy and provide the necessary infrastructure and industrial friendly environment. Nigerians also needs to play their part in reducing the level of unemployment in the country by changing our attitude to the future of the country during the election and also understand our responsibilities. Unemployment can be reduced if only we take the right decisions.

INTERNATIONAL CONDOM DAY 2019 THEME: Safe Sex Practices

The international condom day is an informal holiday that seeks to promote the use of condoms as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancies and sexual transmitted diseases or infections (STDs). Condoms are thin rubber covers that a man wear on his penis during sexual intercourse as a contraceptive or as protection against STIs. This year’s international condom day theme is about Safe Sex Practice which main aim is to reduce the spread of HIV through safe sex practices although many do not like the use of condoms, international condom day tries to place condoms as a healthy lifestyle choice.

International condom day is promoted by the AIDS Healthcare foundation in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV through safe sex practices.it has been an informal observance celebrated in conjunction with Valentine’s Day. Studies have shown that 65% of high school students will have engaged in sexual intercourse, and one in five sexually active teens will have had four or more sexual partners. This is why students need to know the importance of safe sex practices and should be advised about the various sexual transmitted disease out there. It is never too early to educate a child especially when you start noticing changes in them. This campaign helps not just adults but adolescents as well to know that Condoms are essential and should not be lacked at home or where ever you go because when the need arises it will be needed in order for you to avoid been infected.it has shown that condoms have helped to reduce the rate of HIV patients by the day. The purpose of this day international condom day, is to let individuals know the importance of condom and how it helps them from being infected by various sexual transmitted diseases. Save yourself today by practicing safe sex.

No More Doctors’ Strike Without Permission – NMA

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has warned medical and health workers to desist from what it describes as indiscriminate and incessant resort to industrial action as a means of resolving disputes, saying the continuous use of strike will worsen the nation’s healthcare services. Addressing a news conference in Abuja on the outcome of the association’s national health summit, the President of the NMA, Dr Osahon Enabulele, said all affiliate groups, state and the Federal Capital Territory branch of the association must henceforth get the approval of the national body before embarking on any strike action. The association, however, added that unavoidable strike actions must conform to extant laws and the provisions of the code of medical ethics as any violation will be met with appropriate sanctions.
However,Dr. Enabulele also advised the leadership of the various health institutions to pro-actively prevent industrial actions in their institutions in order to strengthen the nation’s healthcare delivery system. Last year witnessed a number of industrial actions by doctors over wage demand in states such as Lagos, Edo and Delta.
The association further warned health practitioners who refer patients abroad through commissioned agents for reasons of financial returns to desist from such practice.

NAFDAC DG: No More Registration of Alcohol product in Sachets

NAFDAC-DG-Prof.-Moji-Adeyeye

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it will no longer approve new registration for alcohol packaged in sachets. Alcohol The Director-General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, made this known on Tuesday in Ibadan at an interactive session with stakeholders in food and drugs manufacturing. The NAFDAC boss said that alcohol packaged in sachets had greatly contributed to increasing drug and alcohol abuse in society. Adeyeye said that the agency would also phase out the use of pet bottles used in the packaging of alcohol to address the increasing spate of abuse in the country

READ MORE: ‘African cherry effective in the management of Weight loss, heart diseases’

 She said: “The agency remains undaunted in its efforts to reduce the incidence of substandard and falsified products as well as the smuggling and abuse of various products”. Adeyeye also said that in order to encourage local manufacture of herbal medicines, the agency was collaborating with traditional herbalists and researchers. “The agency is keen on having herbal medicines widely accepted as safe, hence we will continue to test them for clinical efficacy before giving full registration status. “We are also on a mission to turn herbal medicines into products that can be commercialised through collaboration between traditional herbalists and academic researchers. “In encouraging local manufacturing of medicines that are usually imported, the agency will enforce a five- year importation permit given to manufacturers with a mandate that they produce five years plan geared towards local manufacturing upon renewal. “In addition, the agency will also give five-year exclusive rights to companies to market their products without competition if they develop food and drugs that show demonstrable research and development innovation. “This development will be effective before the end of the first quarter of the year,” she said.

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