Saturday, 17 November 2018

‘Preventing Molecular, Genetic Illnesses Via Early Diagnosis’


Chioma Umeha

Deadly molecular and genetic diseases could be prevented if people do frequent visit labs for tests instead of waiting for symptomatic evidences of the ailments, according to studies.
Some of the diseases are, Hepatitis B and C, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, Human Papiloma Virus, breast cancer, cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, Down syndrome, Patau syndrome, Edwards syndrome and Sickle Cell Anaemia.
With over 20 million Nigerians are currently suffering needlessly from Hepatitis B while 10 million of them are estimated to have Hepatitis C, the country contributes two per cent to the global burden of Hepatitis, a scientific journal has shown.
This is just as researchers say that most of the current population of hepatitis cases in Nigeria will graduate to liver sclerosis, liver cancer or any of the liver diseases as Hepatitis is the leading cause of liver disease.
Regrettably, studies reveal that both variants of Hepatitis do not manifest any signs or symptoms until after 20 years of carrying the disease.
Confirming this, Dr Abasi Ene- Obong, the Founder and CEO of Stack Diagnosis, says, “So, people might actually be infected with Hepatitis but they might not know until 20 years down the line when they develop liver sclerosis or liver cancer or liver disease.”
Speaking during the flag-off of the first Nigerian molecular diagnostics and online personalised test ordering portal tagged, DiagnoseMe Africa in Lagos, Dr Ene-Obong laments that Nigeria is lagging behind in management of molecular and genetic diseases.
He explains that while liver transplant is a common medical exercise in most countries of the world and Nigeria lagging behind in the practice.
Late diagnosis of hepatitis coupled with poor medical facility for liver transplant exponentially double the cases of liver failure and death in the Nigeria, though hepatitis remains a preventable disease, he adds.
Bemoaning the high incidence of Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) in Nigeria, Dr. Ene-Obong notes that the deadly disease is preventable.
He also clarifies that HPV leads to cervical cancer, which is among the top three deadly cancers in the country though not in all cases.
If women between 20 and 65 years old undergo routine tests for HPV every three years, Ene- Obong discloses that they will completely eliminate chances of contracting the virus and by extension coming down with cervical cancer.
But he explains, “In Nigeria, one of the reasons we have issues of people dying of cancer is simply because we do not detect these diseases early.
“And because we cannot detect the diseases early we cannot take the steps to do something about them. This is why our people die of so many preventable diseases,” he laments.
On international practices in precision medicine, Dr Nchiewe Ani, a medical advisor says that the “hindsight of the genetic makeup of a patient can help to eliminate 50/50 errors in patient management, ultimately ensures high success rate in cases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, autoimmune and hormonal diseases.
“It also helps to eliminate issues of drug resistance especially with oncology drugs.
“It is as simple as analysing your saliva and we can tell you what cancer your gene carries or does not carry.”
According to Ene-Obong, the over 300 specialist tests including hereditary cancers, non-invasive prenatal test, paternity, gene mutation detection, hepatitis B and C viral load, water, will not only help doctors and patients nip preventable diseases in the bud, but also overcome the structural challenges in the country’s health sector.

US Amb Billed For Hubert Humphrey Association Seminar In Lagos


Chioma Umeha

Empowerment of Nigerian Youths for Political Leadership will top the agenda in Lagos at the 11th Annual Seminar of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association (HHHFAA).
United States (US).
According to a statement signed by Ms. Adeze Ojukwu, the PRO, HHHFAA, which was made available to DAILY INDEPENDENT, Ambassador, W. Stuart Symington, will deliver the keynote address on the theme “The Youth and Transformational Leadership in Nigeria.”
President of the Association Ms. Mojisola Onifade said the event which  holds at the BWC Hotel in Victoria Island on November 15, will explore issues on youth leadership, particularly on  policies for youth engagement  and  leadership development structures needed to groom young leaders.
The iconic occasion will be attended by accomplished Humphrey fellows, including Mrs. Anna Darius Ishaku, the First Lady of Taraba State, Hon. Justice Eniola Fabamwo, a High Court Judge in Ogun State and Prof Bola Ola, a consultant Psychiatrist at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM) and the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
The Humphrey Fellowship is a Fulbright exchange program established by the United States Congress in 1978 in honour of the late Senator and 38th Vice President, Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. – a national leader dedicated to promoting civil rights and mutual, intercultural understanding. It provides ten months of non-degree, graduate-level study, leadership development, professional affiliations, and related opportunities for cultural exchange.
 Humphrey Fellows are selected based on their potential for leadership and commitment to public service in either the public or private sector. Nearly 5,000 men and women from 157 countries have been honoured as Humphrey Fellows since the Program was established in 1978.
The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association in Nigeria was established as a platform for alumni of the Fellowship  to synergise and galvanise resources for national development and  societal progress.

Overpopulation Still A Major Challenge To Nigeria, Africa – Dr Appiah


Over population remains a major challenge to Africa and its peoples due to poor policies and implementation of family planning programmes. Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah, the Executive Director, National Population Council, the highest advisory body to the government of Ghana on population and related issues, in this interview with CHIOMA UMEHA, speaks on the far-reaching consequences of escalating population in many African countries including Nigeria and Ghana. Excerpts:

What is over population?

Over population is an undesirable condition where numbers of existing human population exceed the carrying capacity of the earth. This is because of reduced mortality rate, better medical facilities, industrialisation and improved public health and high fertility levels. Currently, Africa’s problem is the extremely rapid population growth rate that makes it extremely difficult for governments to supply the needed social and economic programmes to improve quality of life.  For example, the total population in Nigeria was estimated at 191 million people in 2017 and a net increase of about 14, 000 people (21,000 births and 7,000 deaths) daily or about  five million annually.  In 1960, Nigeria had 45.1 million people.  The United Kingdom on the other hand had a population of 52.2 million people in 1960 and was estimated at 66.2 million people in 2017, according to the latest census figures. Though UK had more people than Nigeria in 1960, Nigeria has about three times more people compared to UK in 2017.

Such high population growth rates lead to widespread food shortages, malnutrition, crowded and sub-standard schools, crowded hospitals, teeming slums, inadequate water supply, inadequate electricity supply, failing banks and security threats among others.  Afterall, nation building is by the people and for the people. There is therefore the need to balance the reproduction and production capacities of the citizenry through effective policies and programmes with the welfare of the people as the paramount goal. Healthy people are more productive while unhealthy, malnourished, stunted, poorly skilled people consume more than they produce.

Would you like to mention a few countries that have achieved success in population control?
Thailand within 15 years from 1971 halved its growth rate from 3.2 per cent to 1.6 per cent and increased use of contraceptives among married couples from 15 per cent to 70 per cent within the same period and number of births per woman reduced from 6 to 2 The population of Thailand in 1970 was about 37 million and increased gradually to about 68 million in 2016 with GDP per capita increasing from $570 in 1960 to $ 5901 in 2016.  In effect, Thailand produced fewer, healthier, happier and more educated people for national development.

Rwanda is another country which places emphasis on the harmonization of population growth in its Economic Development and Poverty Reduction vision 2020. The reduction of the main causes of mortality, reducing total fertility rate, decreasing infant and maternal mortality and ultimately reducing population growth as the thrust of the vision.  The vision identified high population growth rate as a major challenge and singled out Family Planning (FP) as a key intervention crucial for reducing birth rates and improving quality of life.

The programme has so far been successful that the contraceptive prevalence rate among married women increased from 4 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2005 to 45 percent in 2010 ( RDHS, 2005 & 2010) and the total fertility rate decreased from 6.1 per woman in her lifetime in 2005 to 4.6. In 2010, maternal mortality ratio reduced from 750 per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 487 per 100,000 live births in 2010 underscoring the important role of FP in addressing population growth and improving quality of life.

What are the major causes and consequences of this challenge?

The population growth rate which is a function of birth rate, death rate and migration acts as the supply of labour force for a country and the economic situation -the demand factor.  An imbalance between the supply of labour and demand gives rise to unemployment, underemployment and poverty. A vicious cycle generated by a high dependency burden associated with a young age structure leads to low savings and investment per capita by families and nations which in turn lead to low economic growth and a low standard of living.

High fertility rates in turn heightens the dependency burden perpetuating the cycle putting pressure on governments to spend more just to maintain quality of life. Some economists have stated that at one per cent population growth rate, nations need between 6.5 per cent and seven per cent of GDP to maintain the same quality of life. This is termed running to stand still. With Nigeria growing at over two per cent growth rate, how much of GDP is needed just to maintain quality of life?

What should be done to curb these negative trends?

This vicious cycle can be broken at only two points. First, is by introducing an effective family planning program and at the stage of low economic growth by adopting policies to accelerate economic growth. To be successful, both actions must be pursued simultaneously. Balancing reproduction and productivity is key to national development. Unfortunately, some of our leaders focus only on the productive part of education and job creation with little attention to the reproductive needs of their citizens thereby keeping a lot of women and girls under the bondage of involuntary reproduction and nations bearing the consequences thereof.

What is the situation in Ghana and Nigeria in terms of public acceptability and use of contraceptive?

Contraceptive use and unmet need for family planning are key to effective fertility management, improving reproductive health and ultimately health of all citizens worldwide. Contraceptive use helps couples and individuals realize their basic right to decide freely and responsibly if, when and how many children to have and remain a sustainable family. The use of contraceptive methods not only results in improvements in health-related outcomes such as reduced maternal mortality and infant mortality but also educational, employment outcomes and in reaping demographic dividend.

According to the world trends in contraceptive 2015 report, globally, the contraceptive prevalence rate for modern methods is 57 per cent. Within Africa, countries with contraceptive prevalence of 50 per cent or more are mainly islands (Cabo Verde, Mauritius and RĂ©union), or located in the north of the continent along the Mediterranean coast including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia as well as  in Southern Africa such as Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

Five countries in Eastern Africa including Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe also had contraceptive prevalence levels of 50 per cent or more in 2015. In contrast, 17 African countries including Nigeria had contraceptive prevalence levels below 20 per cent with high unmet need for family planning and corresponding high dependency ratio and pregnancy related morbidities and mortalities.  Ghana is doing relatively better than Nigeria because the population is far less and the fertility rate is also lower. Nonetheless, the government of Ghana also needs to reposition family planning to reduce fertility and dependency ratio for accelerated socio-economic development.

Advocating for the acceptability of contraceptives in Sub-Saharan Africa should be a socio-economic empowerment agenda spearheaded by our political leadership enlisting the support of all stakeholders including the religious leaders, traditional leaders, health workers, teachers, civil society, private sector, the media, school children and the international community. Reducing fertility through increased contraceptive uptake reduces expenditure in all sectors and set the stage for accelerated economic development of families and ultimately nations. Focusing on family planning education and access in an enabling environment should therefore be an agenda for African leaders. Afterall, good politics improves human lives, reproductive health rights and responsibilities also improves human lives, therefore improving reproductive health and rights in a responsible way is good politics.

India and China recorded huge successes in shrinking their demographics through giving incentives to families with one or two only children. Do you think that this approach can be adopted in this region?

Yes, China and India implemented population policies that worked for them though some aspects were unethical by forcing people or through coercion. Currently, China has a fertility level that is below replacement of 2.1 per woman and therefore has relaxed its policy to allow women to have at least two children. Population policies differ from country to country and at times within countries, like weight management. Just as people who are overweight should reduce their weight to within a normal BMI range, so should countries with high fertility rates have policies that gives incentives and encourages fertility reduction as most countries in SSA. Countries with fertility rates below replacement level fertility of 2.1 should have policies serving as incentives and encouraging women to increase their fertility to the replacement level and countries with fertility levels at the replacement level should maintain whatever they are doing.

Governments drive everything through the policies they implement. An example is Iran. In December 1989, the government of Iran introduced a family planning program with three major goals. First to encourage women to space their pregnancies between three and four years, discourage pregnancy among women younger than 18 years and older than 35 years and limiting pregnancies to three per woman. Iran therefore fashioned its policy around reducing high risk pregnancies through advocacy and free supply of contraceptives. In as much as citizens had the right to have as many children as they wish, the government made them responsible by making citizens bear the full cost of additional births after the third child. The total fertility rate declined from 5.2 births per woman in 1989 to 2.8 in 1996. There was reduction in maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, improvement in health care and educational outcomes among other advantages.

What roles should ECOWAS and AU play in strengthening member countries on adoption of more stringent policies and legislation in this campaign?

ECOWAS and AU member countries should support each other in breaking the poverty cycle by simultaneously implementing an effective family planning program in addition to all the economic activities.  After all, the World Bank talks about GDP per capita. This means, nations should help their citizens reproduce themselves healthily and work effectively and efficiently to improve the GDP per capita. ECOWAS and AU must focus on reproductive health rights and responsibility as equally as they focus on economic interventions because one cannot afford to forget the per capita part of GDP per capita and meet the SDG goals or the Africa Agenda 2063. Nigeria being the most populous African country with a high population growth rate with massive population momentum, should be targeted for support by ECOWAS to reposition family planning as a critical socio economic intervention to improve human lives in this generation and set the stage for improved life for the next.

What is your advice to  population control agencies in Nigeria and other countries?

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. It has over 40 percent of its population below 15 years and has a net annual increase of about 5 million people. That is about the population of Norway being added to Nigeria’s population annually. This is certainly not sustainable for sustainable socio-economic development.

Population growth dramatically increases the need for all services including job creation. Linden, writing in the New York Times in 2017, illustrates the burden of exploding population. He said per the population structure of the United States, on average 129,000 new jobs monthly were created in 2016 but an America-size Nigeria would have to produce 319,000 jobs monthly, without cease. How can we sustain this? Let us know that the might of a nation is not necessarily in its size but in the might of its people that is the human capital.

What are your final thoughts on these issues?

I believe that every pregnancy should be wanted, and every child cherished and nurtured to be a productive and proud citizen of nations. That is the only way any nation can develop since quality human capital accumulation is key for manufacturing durable assets for common good. Adequate investment in children from infancy through adolescence till they become productive is expensive and time consuming but that is the only way to transform our human resource to human capital for development.  Investing in reproductive health and rights have huge returns not just in terms of preventing high risk and unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and complication, but also improves nutrition for women and children, reduces risk of anaemia for women and children, increases survival and better health for mothers and children and fewer orphaned children. Investing in reproductive health in addition to reducing heath bill, frees up money for quality education of the citizens, thereby improving the status of all including women to contribute to economic growth. Investing in reproductive health saves money and helps nations produce healthy productive citizens for sustainable socio-economic development. The Africa we want, where no one is left behind.

As the former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on TV once, “if you don’t see what you should see, and you don’t do what you should do, you will become a victim of what you don’t like” .

I totally agree with him and urge all of us to see the importance of reproductive health rights and responsibilities as a developmental agenda and focus on it to enable us get the results we so desire. Let us see what we should see and do what we should do to get the results we desire.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Condemns Deadly Attack On idp Camp


Chioma Umeha

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, has condemned a deadly attack that took place on 31 October in a camp for internally displaced people just a few kilometers from Borno State capital Maiduguri. The camp hosts 12,600 civilians who are seeking refuge there after having fled the violence in north-east Nigeria in past months.
A non-state armed group carried out the attack on the camp adjacent to Dalori village and on four surrounding communities after dark, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens more, kidnapping women, and burning and looting homes, shelters and food stocks.  Hundreds have also been displaced as a result, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.
“I urge the Government of Nigeria to step up the protection of innocent people,” said Mr Kallon. “Attacks on camps for internally displaced people threaten these innocent women, children and men who have already fled their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict. Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims of this attack and we wish the injured a speedy recovery.”
The attack took place in one of the nine camps for internally displaced people in Dalori; the camps were set up from 2015 and are now home to 47,500 civilians. More than 20 aid organisations are providing assistance including food, safe water, sanitation, medicine and shelter to thousands of people. In January 2016 a non-state armed group attack Dalori village, killing more than 100 people and burning most of the village down.
The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east, that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today, with 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2018 in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and 6.1 million targeted for humanitarian assistance. Since the start of the conflict in 2009, more than 27,000 people have been killed in the three states, thousands of women and girls abducted and children used as so-called “suicide” bombers.


Mazi Ohuabunwa Is New PSN President

Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, the new President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in a hand shake with Pharm. Emeka Duru, PSN Secretary after the election of new national executives, while Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, former president of the society and others watch in admiration.

Chioma Umeha

Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa has emerged the new President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).
The emergence of Mazi Ohuabunwa took place at the just concluded Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) which held in Ibadan, after the election of new national executives.
As the former president of the society, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai took a bow at the conference; an election was conducted to replace him.
Out of a total of 2,223 votes cast at the elections, Pharm. Mazi Ohuabunwa had 1,065 votes. Other contenders for the position included, Pharm. Obalolu Ojo, who had 386 votes; Pharm. Anthony Oyawole, with 498 votes; and Pharm. Daniel Otakho Orumwense with 271 votes.
Giving his inaugural speech, the new president expressed his appreciation to God for the opportunity to serve. He also appreciated every member of the PSN for voting for him.
He stated that, “It’s an honour and privilege to be elected by peers to serve.”
Mazi Ohuabunwa also said that the election was a landmark for the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria – that has ushered in a new dawn to the pharmacy profession. He added that every pharmacist should be ready to work for them to achieve their vision of returning ‘the pharmacist’ to his sacrosanct position as the qualified dispenser of quality medicines.
He stated that he will work with all stakeholders in the health sectors to ensure that sanity is restored to the healthcare system in Nigeria. He also called on all Nigerians to note that medicines are not to be taken without the supervision of the pharmacist.
He assured the immediate past President, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai and other past presidents that he would not fail them considering the work that they had put in thus far.
The newly elected executives are: Pharm. Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa as President, Pharm. Munir Elelu as Deputy President North, Pharm. Foyibo Ejiro as Deputy President South, Pharm. Emeka Callistus Duru as General Secretary, Pharm. Odudu Samuel Akpaete as Assistant General Secretary, Pharm. Ijeoma Okey-Ewurum as Publicity Secretary, and Pharm. Adefolake Adeniyi as the Treasurer.
Others include: Pharm. Chinyere  Osakwe as the Financial Secretary, Pharm. Tosin Adeyemi as the Editor-in  – Chief, while Pharm. Albert Kelong Alkali and Pharm. Udeora Egbuna were elected as unofficial Executives.

Coca Cola, FG, Others Boost Safe Births

L-R: Mr. Clem Ugorji, Director, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola West Africa Business Unit; Dr. Bala Yusuf, Technical Director, Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs; Prof. Chinyere Ezeaka, Professor of Paediatrics, Lagos University Teaching Hospital Idi-Araba; Dr Adedamola Dada, Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta; and Mrs. Amaka Onyemelukwe, Head, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, during the Coca-Cola Stakeholders Parley on ‘Enabling Safe Births in Nigeria’

•Train 20 Biomedical Engineering Technicians

Chioma Umeha
Nigeria loses no fewer than 576 women per 100,000 childbirths and 37 newborn deaths per 1,000 live births.
The country is among the worst ratios for both maternal and newborn deaths globally, according to the 2013 National Demographics and Health Survey (NDHS).
A joint report entitled, “Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015 by World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), World Bank and United Nations Population Fund,” further estimates that with approximately 58,000 maternal deaths, Nigeria accounts for 19 per cent of the burden globally.
In view of the need to reduce maternal mortality to barest minimum, experts call for efforts at boosting capacity of health service delivery.
Consequently, Coca-Cola Nigeria has embarked on Safe Birth Initiative (SBI) to empower selected public hospitals through procurement of vital maternal and neonatal medical equipment and supplies.
The SBI covers training of biomedical engineering technicians to improve equipment maintenance and uptime; and reactivating a large stock of abandoned medical equipment wasting away in public hospitals.
The beverage company also says that SBI entails reactivating a large stock of abandoned medical equipment wasting away in public hospitals.
Coca-Cola made the disclosure at a workshop, tagged, ‘Enabling Safe Birth in Nigeria,’ which it organised for stakeholders. The event was held under the auspices of SBI sponsored by Coca-Cola in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals and an NGO, Medshare International Inc.
The aim is to support the attainment of the SDG targets on maternal and new-born deaths reduction, and reactivating a large stock of abandoned medical equipment wasting away in public hospitals.
The workshop also marked the completion of the maiden SBI capacity training for 20 biomedical engineering technicians from 10 leading medical institutions across the country, comprising university hospitals, federal medical centres and general hospitals.
The two-week training was conducted by US-based Engineering World Health (EWH) at the School of Biomedical Engineering, Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
In his opening remarks at the event, Clem Ugorji, Public Affairs & Communications Director for Coca-Cola West Africa, gave highlights of the SBI rationale and implementation plan.
Ugorji says, “In addition to completing the first batch of the biomedical engineering technicians training, the consignment of equipment and supplies required for the National Hospital, Abuja had been fully delivered.
“The consignments for Federal Medical Centres in Ebute-Metta and Owerri and General Hospital, Alimosho, Lagos were scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, while needs assessments were on-going at six other approved hospitals to determine their specific needs,” he adds.
Ugorji states that Coca-Cola’s commitment goes beyond donating equipment, through the SBI, noting, the company hopes to promote effective maintenance culture by empowering biomedical engineering technicians.
On his part, Prof. Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, in his remarks, says, “We have always believed that our healthcare would improve with active collaboration and partnership from the private sector.
The Minister who was represented by Dr. Adedamola Dada, the Chief Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, commended the initiative.
Dr. Dada says, “The Safe Birth Initiative is a good example of such a partnership. Meticulous planning and identification of the needs of the beneficiary hospitals have been carried out with active involvement of partners and beneficiaries.”
Dr. Bala Yusuf, representing Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, observes, “The Coca-Cola Safe Birth Initiative is working towards the third sustainable development goal – Health and Wellbeing for all, including our mothers and our children.
“This partnership is a classic example of what we can do when we combine our expertise and resources in support of the 2030 SDG agenda. We hope this event will strengthen our resolve to continue to work together as policy makers, development practitioners, academics, but more importantly as concerned citizens, in support of the 2030 agenda of the sustainable development goals.”
The official launch of the Safe Birth Initiative and inauguration of the first set of SBI equipment in the country will be performed by Professor Adewole, at the National Hospital in Abuja next week.

Curbing Molecular, Genetic Diseases Through Early Diagnosis – Expert

L-R: Dr Abasi Ene-Obong, Founder and CEO of Stack Diagnosis; Francis Osifo, CTO and Gatumi Aliyu, Head of Partnerships during the flag-off of the first Nigerian molecular diagnostics and online personalised test ordering portal tagged, DiagnoseMe Africa in Lagos, recently.

Chioma Umeha Research shows that deadly molecular and genetic diseases could be prevented if people do frequent visit labs for tests instead of waiting for symptomatic evidences of the ailments.
Some of the diseases include, Hepatitis B and C, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, Human Papiloma Virus, breast cancer, cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, Down syndrome, Patau syndrome, Edwards syndrome and Sickle Cell Anaemia.
Over 20 million Nigerians today suffer needlessly from Hepatitis B, 10 million Nigerians are estimated to have Hepatitis C, while Nigeria contributes two per cent to the global burden of Hepatitis, a scientific journal revealed.
Experts say that most of the current population of hepatitis cases in Nigeria will graduate to liver sclerosis, liver cancer or any of the liver diseases as Hepatitis is the leading cause of liver disease.
Unfortunately, studies reveal that both variants of Hepatitis do not manifest any signs or symptoms until after 20 years of carrying the disease.
Confirming this, Dr Abasi Ene- Obong, the Founder and CEO of Stack Diagnosis, says, “So, people might actually be infected with Hepatitis but they might not know until 20 years down the line when they develop liver sclerosis or liver cancer or liver disease.”
Speaking during the flag-off of the first Nigerian molecular diagnostics and online personalised test ordering portal tagged, DiagnoseMe Africa in Lagos, Dr Ene-Obong laments that Nigeria is lagging behind in management of molecular and genetic diseases.
He explains that while liver transplant is a common medical exercise in most countries of the world and Nigeria lagging behind in the practice.
Late diagnosis of hepatitis coupled with poor medical facility for liver transplant exponentially double the cases of liver failure and death in the Nigeria, though hepatitis remains a preventable disease, he adds.
Bemoaning the high incidence of Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) in Nigeria, Dr. Ene-Obong notes that the deadly disease is preventable.
He also clarifies that HPV leads to cervical cancer, which is among the top three deadly cancers in the country though not in all cases.
If women between 20 and 65 years old undergo routine tests for HPV every three years, Ene- Obong discloses that they will completely eliminate chances of contracting the virus and by extension coming down with cervical cancer.
But he explains, “In Nigeria, one of the reasons we have issues of people dying of cancer is simply because we do not detect these diseases early.
“And because we cannot detect the diseases early we cannot take the steps to do something about them. This is why our people die of so many preventable diseases,” he laments.
On international practices in precision medicine, Dr Nchiewe Ani, a medical advisor says that the “hindsight of the genetic makeup of a patient can help to eliminate 50/50 errors in patient management, ultimately ensures high success rate in cases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, autoimmune and hormonal diseases.
“It also helps to eliminate issues of drug resistance especially with oncology drugs.
“It is as simple as analysing your saliva and we can tell you what cancer your gene carries or does not carry.”
According to Ene-Obong, the over 300 specialist tests including hereditary cancers, non-invasive prenatal test, paternity, gene mutation detection, hepatitis B and C viral load, water, will not only help doctors and patients nip preventable diseases in the bud, but also overcome the structural challenges in the country’s health sector.



Lagoon Hospitals Walk To Promote Breast Cancer Awareness



Chioma Umeha 
Lagos – Nigerian women die of breast cancer due to lack of access to accurate information, affordable screening, and treatment options.
To this effect, the World Health Organisation in its 2014 reports recommended increased awareness, equitable access to early diagnosis and timely, effective, and affordable treatment needed globally.
Breast cancer is currently one of the leading causes of death among women even as research shows that late detection is a major factor.
Every year, the month of October is used for breast cancer awareness to support women battling with breast cancer. Women are also educated and advised on early detection with free cancer screening done for all women/
Lagoon Hospitals, one of Nigeria’s leading healthcare facility, recently conducted a Breast Cancer Walk in its immediate environs in commemoration of the International Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The goal of breast cancer awareness Walk was to raise the public’s awareness for breast cancer, its detection, its treatment, and the need for a reliable, permanent cure.
The 6.8km walk held on October 27, 2018., starting and ending at the Lagoon Hospitals Ikoyi facility. After the Walk, a Medical Outreach was conducted with a short talk on Breast Cancer and the essence of early detection by Dr. Ajibike Oyewumi, the Clinical Director for Lagoon Hospitals. Participants had the opportunity to examine breast moulds, and free breast cancer screenings were conducted for the women participants.

The CEO of Lagoon Hospitals, Mr. Rajeev Bhandari, commented, “We are delighted to hold such an event in honour of the breast cancer awareness month and to create awareness about the disease. Early detection is key, and as the leading healthcare service provider in Nigeria, we take it as our duty to educate the public, while also encouraging people to get screened.”
The Mr. Franklyn Ovbigbahon, Head of Business Development, Lagoon Hospitals, says, “We believed the Breast Cancer Walk would be a powerful and inspiring opportunity to unite with the community to educate and raise awareness in a fun but also intentional way.
“We understand breast cancer screenings can be costly and we felt the free breast cancer screenings conducted after the walk, would be a great way to make the screening more inclusive and accessible.
“Whatever your age it’s so important to get to know your breasts, and if you do spot anything unusual – be it a lump or redness – it is important to get it checked out by a doctor immediately. Currently, to make the service even more accessible, we have a 50 per cent discount on our Mammogram and Breast Scan services running till the end of November.”
Lagoon Hospitals has successfully pioneered ground-breaking medical achievements, most recently with a free surgery provided for a young boy with subdural empyema as part of its CSR activities.
In 2011, Lagoon Hospitals made history by becoming the first Hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa to earn accreditation from Joint Commission International (JCI), the worldwide leader in improving the quality of health care through voluntary accreditation.



Monday, 5 November 2018

Yakasai Performs Foundation Laying Ceremony For Multi-Million PSN Towers


Chioma Umeha

President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) on Friday performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the society’s multi-million naira eight-floor edifice tagged, “PSN Towers.”
The ground breaking ceremony came after a long struggle by the PSN to retrieve the land located in the eyebrow area of Victoria Island in Lagos.
The land which is estimated at 1,430 square metres was allocated to the society by the first Civilian Governor of Lagos, Alhaji Lateef Jakande at a time he was giving lands to professional bodies which applied for same.
It was learnt that the development of the land was contracted to two different contractors on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis but the contractors allegedly defaulted.
It eventually became a matter of litigation as the case was taken to the Land Tribunal in Lagos.
But when the President of PSN assumed the mantle of leadership, he explored every avenue to ensure the recovery of the land and through the intervention of prominent Nigerians especially the Oba of Lagos, Riliwanu Akiolu, the PSN was able to retrieve the choice land.
Performing the ground-breaking exercise signalling the commencement of work, Yakasai who is rounding up his tenure as the President of PSN recalled the tortuous battle to get back the land, saying the society almost lost the property.
He specifically thanked the Oba of Lagos for his intervention.
He said: “This is the PSN Towers, the commercial arm of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN). We have been trying to see that we build our own headquarters where most of the big organisations are situated, that is former AfriBank Street which is now called Church Gate.
“And by the grace of God after retrieving our land which was in court for many years, I thank God and I must appreciate and extend my gratitude to the Oba of Lagos for intervening to get this land back to us.”
“Today we are doing the ground breaking of building of eight floors, a big edifice that we will tag the PSN towers. By the grace of God we want to complete it within a record time.”
Yakasai who disclosed that the project would be self-financed said the building would be put to commercial use by renting it to banks and corporate bodies.
He did not however rule out the possibility of giving it out to investors on a win-win situation. “But if we have a big investor that is not selfish, that’s not greedy, that thinks about the win-win situation, definitely the door is open there,” he added. Arch. Akose Enebeli who explained the architectural proposition of the building said it is an eight – storey building comprising six floors and two level car parks with each floor having enough spaces for banking halls and other commercial purposes.
Dr. John Nwaiwu, Chairman of the Property Committee said, “This story is a long term story. It is been on and off. By the time we acquired it, some people came and had an arrangement with us. They couldn’t keep their own part of the bargain and so on and so forth. In fact we almost lost it.”
“Except for the hard work and greater commitment of the President, Ahmed Yakasai. He almost touched the sky to make sure we got the land back and kudos to him.”



PSN Moves To Ensure Safety Of Medicines

L-R: Prince Julius Adewale, Nigerian Pharmacist and legal practitioner; Pharm Ahmed Yakasai, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); Chairman, Pharm Lekan Asuni, Nigeria Pharmaceutical Industry IT, Platform Project; Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, Past president of PSN, during the launching of the Pharm iT NDDG online Platform, and PSNPay, Online Capitation Payment platform and unveiling of PSN Vision 2050 Strategy document held at Sheraton hotels, Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday.
R-L Pharm. Tosin Adeyemi, National Editor in Chief, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); Dr. Arinola Joda, Publicity Secretary, PSN; Rosemary Nikoro, Secretary, Board of Fellows, PSN; Pharm  Ahmed Yakasai, President; Pharm. Bolanle F. O. Adeniran, Chairman, PSN Lagos State and others,  during a press conference on the forthcoming 91st annual national conference of PSN scheduled to  hold from October 29 to  November 3, at lbadan Oyo state, held in Lagos, weekend.

•Launches Premier Pharma Industry IT Platform, Digitalised System Of Payment •It Would Be Largest Drugs Supply Chain System In Africa - Pharm. Asuni

Chioma Umeha

It was Publius Ovidius Naso, the ancient Roman poet, celebrated as Ovid in the English-speaking world who said, “Medicine sometimes snatches away health, sometimes gives it.”
Corroborating this old saying, the recent report of World Health Organisation (WHO) said; “More than half of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, and that half of all patients fail to take them correctly.
“The overuse, underuse or misuse of medicines results in wastage of scarce resources and widespread health hazards,” the world health body added.
Irrational use of medicines is a major problem worldwide. And acting in sync with the WHO’s findings, the Federal Government released a New Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) in 2012.
However, there are concerns among experts over the Federal Government’s delay in implementing the National Drug Policy, more so as they believe it will promote local drug production and reduce dependence on imported medicines.
In view of these, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has launched a pharmaceutical information technology (IT) platform.
According to PSN, the online platform will improve drug distribution channel and ensure safety of medicines in compliance with NDDG.
Known as Pharma IT NDDC Platform, it was launched in Lagos Tuesday, alongside the PSN Pay, a digitalised system of payment and collection of PSN annual capitation and other technical and interest groups of the society’s dues both in states and national.
Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, PSN President had earlier announced the launch at a press briefing in Lagos on the forthcoming 91st annual national conference of the society, saying, the online platform would improve the distribution channel and enhance the safety and efficacy of medicines.
Yakasai explained that the new IT platform would act as a regulator in the distribution and use of medicines among manufacturers and consumers, thereby improving the distribution channel and enhancing the safety and efficacy of medicines.
Yakasai said; “Pharmit is a pharma industry IT solution facilitated by PSN under our leadership to compliment implementation of the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG).
“Also, it will serve as a central repository and interface for exchange of information for the practitioners and practice, as well as, provide visibility to the Regulators (PCN, NAFDAC, etc) for control and fight against fake, substandard and falsified products, all around the real time dynamics of premises, products and practitioners involved in the distribution of medicines in Nigeria.
“The world is currently witnessing information communication technology (ICT) revolution and our industry should not miss the train.”
According to the PSN boss, the platform is open to all pharmacists and pharmaceutical outlets in the health-delivery value chain of the country.
“The platform will contribute immensely in the fight against fake, substandard and falsified drugs in the country because every batch of medicine in the country can be traced. The Pharma IT NDDG Platform and PSN pay are powered by Chams Plc.”

Concerning the PSN Pay, Yakasai said the existing collection process is manual, rigorous and prone to error which needs to be overhauled and digitalised, noting that this was part of his campaign promises.
However, the President explained that the new digital mode of payment would improve on the operation of PSN in collection of dues by its members and also reduce the stress of capitation payment by pharmacists.
He said; “Psnpay is going to digitalise the payment and collection of PSN annual capitation and other technical and interest groups of PSN dues for both states and national as powered by Chamsswitch.
“The existing collection process is manual, rigorous and prone to error which needs to be overhauled and digitalised as promised during my campaign.
“PSNpay is an end-to-end automated payment/ collection platform that will ultimately improve operational efficiency of PSN and its technical and interest groups.
“PSN pay will improve on the current manual process of collections made by PSN members and reduce the stress of capitation payment by pharmacists.
“It will enhance transparency and accountability. It will avoid reconciliation issues; enhance reporting system and also improve operational efficiency,” he noted.
Yakasai, further appealed to the government as a matter of urgency to take critical action to implement the National Drug Policy in order to promote local drug production and reduce dependence on imported medicines.
Yakasai said the implementation of the National Drug Policy, which would eliminate the present chaotic drug distribution system in the country, was key to ending Nigeria being made a dumping ground for all sorts of unwholesome and substandard imported drugs.
Concerning drug tracking and recall, he said being able to track drugs within the system, was necessary because of situations when medicines in circulation would be recalled to safeguard the health of the consuming public.
The PSN President urged Nigerians to be on the alert against any contaminated drugs imported into country from China.
On the forthcoming 91st annual national conference of the society, the PSN President stated that its theme is; “Innovative Disruption in Pharmacy in Emerging Economies: A Roadmap for Nigeria,” was carefully chosen to advance the national discourse on survival and significance in a time of fast and tempestuous transformation.
The PSN boss revealed that the conference which would hold from October 29 – November 3, 2018 in Oyo State, will witness the attendance of not less than 5,000 pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists nationwide as well as those in diaspora.
He also said that it would be a forum to exploit avenues to improve contributions from the pharmaceutical sector to the nation’s economy.
Yakasai said, “The theme has been carefully chosen to advance the national discourse on survival and significance in a time of rapid and turbulent change.”
According to the president of the PSN, “Whether you are disruptively innovating or defending against disruptive challenger, we must do things differently to move from good to great as a profession and as a country,” adding, “We must develop new model that would replace the old model.”
While the conference would be declared open by Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, as a special guest of honour, Abiola Ajimobi, the Oyo State Governor would be the chief host.
Pharm. Clare Omatseye, the President of Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN) and Chief Executive Officer/ Managing Director of JNC international Limited is expected to be the keynote speaker.
Similarly, the Olubadan, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji would be the royal father at the opening ceremony.
“We would also have our election during our annual general meeting (AGM) to vote in new leadership,” Yakasai added.
In all, a week-long activity have been planned to hold during the annual conference.
The health walk to be led by the wife of the Oyo State Governor, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi is tagged “Pharmacists Against Drug Abuse” would hold on Monday, October 29 after the arrival and registration of delegates.
Furthermore, he said there would be a Health Outreach at the Palace of the Olubadan in Idiarere.
According to the president of the PSN, “Nigerians should expect a positive force of disruption to emerge pharmaceutically after November 3.
Commenting, Pharm. Lekan Asuni, observed that the pharma industry will benefit greatly from IT solutions that ensure the right drugs are sold by the right practitioners at the right premises in view of the menace of drugs abuse and recurrent cases of counterfeit and unregistered drugs.
Pharm Asuni who is the Nigeria Pharma Industry IT Platform Project Chairman, explained that the project aims to be the largest drugs supply chain system in Africa.
He said, the major objective is to have a comprehensive IT driven industry from the source, local/import, to the consumer of medicines in the country.
According to him, the IT Platform will “Enable track and trace of medicine in the supply chain; Harness the information and interaction of registered practitioners and products on a single platform.
“It will also, create access for the consumer of health for information on products and their feedback; generate data for industrial use, among other things.
“Pharm IT establishes trusted and secure drugs supply chain guaranteeing that only registered products are distributed among practitioners in premises across the country.”


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