Wednesday, 24 June 2015

‘Lagos is committed to achieving 100% voluntary blood donations by 2020’

To say that blood is one of the most important parts of the human system is to state the obvious. Blood is the life wire of the body and human beings cannot live without it. Without blood, we cannot keep warm or cool off. We cannot fight infections because the circulating blood is what keeps our immune system healthy and our heart pumping. 

Blood transfusion is generally the process of receiving blood products into one’s circulation intravenously. Transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. Although blood transfusions can be life-saving, they are not without risks. Infections were once the main risk, but they have become extremely rare with careful testing and donor screening. Transfusion reactions and other non-infectious problems are now more common. A statement weekend, signed by Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, Assistant Director, Public Relations, Lagos State Ministry of Health, said that the State has been in the forefront of ensuring the safety of blood for transfusion. This is in line with the enactment of the Law No 10 of June 2004 which established the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee, the statement said. 
Blood Donor

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee (LSBTC), Dr. Adetoun Agbe-Davies has called on residents and individuals alike to support the drive at ensuring that 100 per cent of all blood for transfusion is from voluntary blood donors by donating and encouraging more people to donate blood voluntarily. Dr. Agbe-Davies who made this call at a media briefing in Lagos as part of activities to commemorate the World Blood Donor Day, noted that recruitment of voluntary blood donors is major activity of the LSBTC, stressing that this is in realization that safe blood starts with the voluntary donor. The World Health Organization (WHO) set a goal that by 2020, all the blood for transfusion should be 100 per cent from voluntary blood donors. When there are more voluntary blood donors, the issue of touts, antenatal donation and family replacement will not be an issue anymore. 

The Chairman stressed the need to meet the year 2020 World Health Organization (WHO) set goal that 100 per cent of all blood for transfusion should be from voluntary blood donors will go a long way in addressing issues of touting for blood donation as well as the demand for family replacement of blood through family donation for mothers at ante natal booking. Commenting, Dr. Alori Samuel of the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee (LSBTC) said since safe blood starts with the donor, recruitment of voluntary donors is a major activity of the committee. According to him, this category of donors has blood that is free from transmission transmissible infections and are often repeat donors and help to ensure that safe blood is available. Samuel said: “A major source of voluntary donors is the Club 25 in our tertiary institutions. These are a group of young persons between the ages of 18 and– 25 years who have pledged to donate at least 25 times before they attain the age of 25 years.” 

The medical doctor noted that the Lagos State Chapter was launched in 2009 by the former First Lady of Lagos State, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola. Samuel further said that voluntary donors are processed through the eligibility criteria before donation in line with the WHO goal. He said: “They must be between the ages of 18 –and 65 years and must be physically fit. They are referred for treatment if required and given heamatinics and vitamins. According to Samuel, Lagos State is committed to the WHO goal of ensuring that all the blood for transfusion should be 100 per cent from voluntary blood donors come 2020. There are eight screening centres where blood from both private and public facilities are screened and certified with the State logo, Samuel said, adding; “these centres test every unit of blood for HIV I &II, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis as mandated by WHO using the recommended Fourth Generation ELISA screening kits.” 

The   blood is also tested for compatibility with the blood of those who require transfusion and is also separated into various components in such a way that one unit of blood can save up to three lives, the medical doctor said. The World Blood Donor Day is a global event marked every June 14. The theme for this year’s campaign and celebration is: ‘Thank you for saving my life” with the slogan: “Give freely, give often, blood donation matters.’” The campaign focuses on thanking blood donors who save lives everyday through their blood donations and strongly encourages more people , all over the world to donate blood voluntarily.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 18, 2015.

Medical practitioners team up to support ambitious HIV treatment target

Over 20 medical doctors from a range of specialisations gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, last Friday, participated in a sensitisation workshop on the UNAIDS treatment target – the 90-90-90. 

The doctors from the Nigerian Medical Association(NMA) and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors(NARD) listened to presentations by facilitators from UNAIDS and UNICEF on the ambitious treatment target and shared their views on how best to fast-track and achieve it by 2020. The workshop organised by UNAIDS and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) was geared to sensitise participants on the treatment target which aims at ensuring that, by the year 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral load suppression. “Unless medical practitioners are fully engaged and take ownership of the 90-90-90 target, it will be difficult to attain. 
Funke Treasure Durodola, GM Radio One 103.5 FM Lagos with AVM Femi Gbadebo, Founder of Benola – A Cerebral Palsy (CP) Initiative, during third business luncheon organised by Benola recently, for health editors to mark the 19th birthday of Olaoluwa, whose life with CP forms the basis of the initiative at Lekki, Lagos.
They need to be in the driver’s seat for this process of testing, treating and retaining people on treatment to happen. When health care providers own the target, its success will be guaranteed in Nigeria,” said Dr Bilali Camara, UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria and UNAIDS Focal Point for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The 90-90-90 treatment target was launched at a high-level political session of the 20th International AIDS Conference held in July 2014 in Melbourne, Australia, when the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel SidibĂ©, called for a new set of treatment targets by 2020. This is the third workshop of its kind in Nigeria. 

A similar workshop involving vulnerable women and girls took place in March this year, followed by another held in May for journalists and people living with HIV. NACA, UNAIDS and UNICEF facilitated the workshop. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners to maximize results for the AIDS response.


This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 18, 2015.

Nestle’s $7m quality Assurance Centre: Delivers safe food to consumers’ door step

Over 200 diseases are caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, chemical substances It is estimated that two million deaths occur every year from contaminated food or drinking water. 

Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent food borne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. Food borne diseases take a major toll on health. Millions of people fall ill and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. Deeply concerned by this, WHO Member States adopted a resolution in 2000 to recognize food safety as an essential public health function. Consequently, the world health body devoted this year’s World Health Day to highlight the challenges and opportunities associated with food safety under the slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe.” Food safety encompasses actions aimed at ensuring that all food is as safe as possible. 
Cross section of journalists from Central Africa at the Agronomy Plant Sciences during the recent visit to Nestle Quality Assurance Centre, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Food safety policies and actions need to cover the entire food chain, from production to consumption. I don’t think most people are aware ofing that the food they eat is safe,” John O’Brien, Head of the Food Safety and Integrity Research Programme at the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, said recently. “It’s only when something goes wrong that they sit up and take notice.” To this effect, Nestle, one of the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, has stepped up efforts to maintain the safety of its products to consumers. Therefore, it’s Research and Development (R & D) Centre of the company in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, has been expanded by constructing a seven million-dollar state-of-the-art laboratory to thoroughly examine every product before bringing it to the doorstep of the consumers. The centre was established in 1991 and closed down in 2002, following the political upheaval in Cote d’Ivoire, but re-opened in 2009. 

It has fully bounced back with more innovative measures including the inauguration of the Nestle Quality Assurance Centre, first of its kind in the West Africa sub-region and second in Africa after South Africa. Conducting 20 selected journalists from West and Central Africa round the Quality Assurance Centre which was inaugurated in April this year, Dr. Owen Fraser, Head of the Centre, said that the laboratory would solely deal with the analysis of chemical contaminants such as mycotoxins, pesticides, heavy metals and other minerals which are dangerous to human health. “You know in Nestle, safety of our products and the well-being of our customers or clients are our topmost priority. We will forever do what it takes to ensure that safety is not compromised,” Dr. Fraser told the journalists. 

Responding to questions from journalists, the Head of the Centre said that the company decided to set up the centre in Cote d’Ivoire and not Nigeria or Ghana, which also produce cocoa and other raw materials used by the company, because of the reliability of power and water supply. The journalists also visited the Nursery, Sensory and Consumer Insight Department as well as the product development and culinary departments. Mr. Oliver Chmiel, Head of the Research and Development Centre, Abidjan, said the centre’s vision was to become a centre of excellence by developing five key areas – plant science, tropical agronomy and biofortification, packaging design development adapted to local needs, extrusion and roller drying technology, African consumer understanding, and nutritional products and ingredients development for African consumers. 

Chmiel also said that the centre presently focused on two of the areas, namely plant science, tropical agro-nomy and biofortification, as well as extrusion and roller drying technology. He commended the journalists for visiting the area to acquaint themselves with the operations of Nestle, and told them that as partners in development, they should not hesitate to draw the attention of the company (Nestle) should they (journalists) come across any of their products consumers complained about. The Head of the Research and Development Centre said: “We see you as one of our major stakeholders whose contribution is key for the progress of the company and safety of the people.”


This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 18, 2015.

Treating hepatitis with diet

•Continued from last week 

The patient should avoid fatty, fried meats, fatty fish, poultry skin, all processed meats and sausages. 

You should also avoid nuts, peanut butter, nut spreads, potato chips, vegetables smothered in butter or cheese sauces and fatty snacks or very spicy snacks Avoid all food preparation that increases the amount of fat contained in meals, such as frying in butter, margarine or oil. Rather boil, poach, grill and cook in a nonstick pan. Cut out junk food, alcohol and sugar. 

These foods can actually weaken the immune system. Appetite stimulation Appetite stimulation to overcome anorexia – this is probably one of the most difficult challenges facing anyone who is trying to assist a hepatitis patient who may feel so ill and debilitated that they totally refuse to eat. 

Offer the patient his favourite fat-free or low-fat foods, for example, fruit juices and energy drinks (Lucozade). Make from fresh or canned fruit, fat-free milk or yoghurt and add flavouring, honey and fat-free milk powder to boost the protein as well as energy content. 

Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Focus on eating five to six smaller meals throughout the day, rather than eating three larger meals throughout the day.


This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 20, 2015.

Treating hepatitis with diet


One of the easiest ways to naturally treat Hepatitis is by making changes to what we eat. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, and is usually caused by Hepatitis, but can be caused by other factors such as toxins, medications and infections. 

There are different types of Hepatitis, but Hepatitis tends to share the same types of symptoms. However, you need to know about dietary treatment of the acute hepatitis phase which occurs in hepatitis A, B, C, D and E and what can be done to manage chronic hepatitis conditions.

A patient suffering from acute infectious hepatitis will experience severe loss of appetite or anorexia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, taste changes, fever and jaundice. All these symptoms complicate food intake and make it difficult to ensure that the patient is well nourished at a time when it is essential to provide the patient with a highly nutritious diet to prevent liver damage. There are essentials which ones diet should include if you have acute hepatitis infection:

Foods to avoid
Reduce foods that are harsh on the liver, like fried foods, refined sugar and trans-fatty acids.

Avoid saturated fats and hydrogenated oils. Both can stress both the immune system as well as the liver. Be especially cautious with fried foods, and solid fats like margarine. Avoid giving the patient the following foods: Full-cream milk, yoghurt, cream, cream cheese and fatty cheeses; biscuits, cakes, pies, etc with high-fat content and chocolate. The patient should not take more than three eggs a week; avoid fatty salad dressings, mayonnaise, sour cream and avocado.

The patient should avoid fatty, fried meats, fatty fish, poultry skin, all processed meats and sausages. You should also avoid nuts, peanut butter, nut spreads, potato chips, vegetables smothered in butter or cheese sauces and fatty snacks or very spicy snacks

Avoid all food preparation that increases the amount of fat contained in meals, such as frying in butter, margarine or oil. Rather boil, poach, grill and cook in a nonstick pan.

Cut out junk food, alcohol and sugar. These foods can actually weaken the immune system.

Appetite stimulation
Appetite stimulation to overcome anorexia – this is probably one of the most difficult challenges facing anyone who is trying to assist a hepatitis patient who may feel so ill and debilitated that they totally refuse to eat.

Offer the patient his favourite fat-free or low-fat foods, for example, fruit juices and energy drinks (Lucozade). Make from fresh or canned fruit, fat-free milk or yoghurt and add flavouring, honey and fat-free milk powder to boost the protein as well as energy content.

Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Focus on eating five to six smaller meals throughout the day, rather than eating three larger meals throughout the day.


This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 13, 2015.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Fidson wins 2014 Frost & Sullivan Awards

Following its recent performance in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry, Fidson Healthcare Plc has emerged winner of the 2014 Nigerian Frost & Sullivan Award for Growth, Leadership and Excellence. The award ceremony held in the United Kingdom last month is in recognition of Fidson’s definitive vision and strong management, which stoked a growth rate of 26 per cent in 2013, acknowledging Fidson’s role in transforming the Nigerian Pharmaceutical industry. 

According to Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst, Danielle de la Mare, the Nigerian pharmaceutical market was estimated to be approximately US$1.19 billion in 2013, with year-on-year growth of 12 per cent. Fidson’s audited report for the same period shows revenue growth of 29 per cent from N7.2 billion in 2012 to N9.2 billion in 2013. Fidson grew its gross profit by 26 per cent, from N4.1 billion in 2012 to N5.1 billion to 2013, while it’s operating profit increased by 60 percent and operating margin by 3 per cent. Furthermore, Fidson is building a N7.5 billion biotech plant that will add a new product line, intravenous fluids, to its product portfolio, while doubling its production capabilities of existing product lines by 2015, thereby facilitating economies of scale. It will also enable Fidson to invert its manufacturing capacity and imports ratio from 40:60 to 60:40. Fidson is one of five local manufacturing companies shortlisted for the WHO Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) compliance. 

L-R: Corporate Finance Manager, Fidson Healthcare Plc, Mr. Imokha Ayebae; Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Frost & Sullivan, Mr. John Ruggles; Operations Director, Fidson, Mr. Abiola Adebayo and General Manager, Sales, Fidson, Mr. Abayomi Alli-Balogun during the Frost & Sullivan 2014 Growth Leadership and Excellence Award presentation in London, United Kingdom... recently.

“Meanwhile, Fidson has forayed into the IV infusions market, as it expects to increase its turnover by 20-25 percent in the next two to three years from this product pipeline,” observed de la Mare. “It also plans to expand geographically into West Africa within a few years, after it further entrenches its presence in the Nigerian market, which constitutes approximately 65-70 percent of the West African market.” Significantly, Fidson prices its products at retail value and leverages its economies of scale to compete with cheaper imports. The company has been able to bring down its factory overheads, passing on the savings to customers and simultaneously building its reputation as a company that is compliant with global standards, such as ISO 9001. Frost & Sullivan Global President and Managing Partner, Krishna Srinivasan said “the most exciting companies to partner with, or invest in, are those that have an inspirational zeal for growth. Fidson Healthcare has demonstrated such a focus in the Nigerian pharmaceutical market by investing smartly, competing effectively, and carving out a unique, sustainable market position.” 

Fidson has also shown keenness in leveraging technology, as is evident in its use of security technologies in product packaging to combat the spread of counterfeit drugs. Each Fidson product has a branded sticker on it with a number that the consumer can text toll free to verify the authenticity of the product. The company estimates that it currently has a market share of approximately nine-10 percent, while its closest local competitors have nearly eight percent. If this growth rate can be sustained or enhanced when the biotech plant becomes functional, the company could well become a fierce regional competitor in the future. This is not the first time Fidson Healthcare is winning the Excellence award in the last one year. 

The Healthcare Company also won the award for ‘Nigerian Pharmaceutical Company of the Year’ at the Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Awards, organised by Global Health Project and Resources (GHPR) in collaboration with Anadach Group, USA, last year. The award took place in March 2014 at the Eko Hotel & Suits, Lagos. It was organised to recognise and celebrate the best individual and organisation that have contributed remarkably to the Nigerian healthcare sector, as part of efforts to increase the visibility and successes of the industry. The Managing Director of Fidson Healthcare Plc, Dr Fidelis Ayebae, also emerged one of the top Chief Executive Officers of listed companies in Nigeria at this year’s edition of BusinessDay Top 25 CEO Awards for 2014 Financial Year. 

The Fidson boss had earlier emerged winner of the 2013 edition of the awards, following his company’s performance in the capital market and contributions to the country’s economy. Fidson enjoys a reputation of consistent profit record and value delivery to its shareholders and investors. Its recent revenue growth and 300 per cent Profit After Tax (PAT) in 2014 financial year lends credence to its growth sustainability. Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. 

It’s Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global markets for outstanding achievements in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis and extensive secondary research.


This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 20, 2015.

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