Thursday, 15 June 2017

Doctors, Pharmacists Pledge To Bury Differences ..Resolve To Give Healthcare Delivery Priority

To usher a new dawn in healthcare where the interest of patients will be paramount, doctors and pharmacists in the country under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) respectively, have pledged to bury their differences.

The goal according to them is to boost the country’s healthcare delivery system by offering quality and effective healthcare services to patients   through a harmonious relationship and teamwork.


To this effect, the leadership of the two professional bodies, said it had set up some committees on inter- professional collaboration to ensure the implementation of the decision among healthcare professionals.

The committees will ensure a smooth working relationship among all the various professional groups in the health sector, including nurses, laboratory scientists, among others.

Disclosing this during an interactive session in Lagos recently, Dr. Mike Ogirima, President of NMA and Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, his PSN’s counterpart, said the essence of the committees, was to instill collaboration, communication, cooperation and teamwork in the health sector in the interest of patients.

Ogirima explained during the interactive session: “ We are here to tell the whole world that the pharmacists and doctors are one. We all receive the same lecture in pharmacology and the way the world is going, we should not have a dichotomy.”

According to him, “The welfare of the patient is our uppermost concern”, adding that they have resolved to work together as a team like their counterparts in the Diaspora.


It would be recalled that over the years, the Nigerian health sector had witnessed unhealthy rivalries, including battle for supremacy among the various professional groups in the sector. Now, the groups are embracing better relationships to put an end to any rifts among them.

The NMA President stated that the interactive session was a follow-up to the symposium on inter professional collaboration organised in Lagos, recently by the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm), in collaboration with PSN.

In his remarks, the PSN president said: “In abroad, doctors and pharmacists work in harmony. They organise and share conferences together. We will be happy to have such a relationship here.”

Yakasai also said: “Whatever we are doing, the centre should be the patient. And for the patient to enjoy quality healthcare delivery there must be team work and mutual respect for one another.”

He explained that the committee on inter professional collaboration is headed by the Publisher of PharmaNews and Vice President of NAP, Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi.

Yakasai, president, PSN, expressed his happiness with the interactive session saying it is a further proof that the cordial relationship among healthcare professionals that the doctors and pharmacists saw in Las Vegas, USA, last year, can be replicated in the country.

He commended the NMA president for his commitment to enhancing the spirit of teamwork among healthcare professionals, noting that the NMA boss since his assumption of office has consistently demonstrated his dedication to ensuring there is mutual respect for all members of the health team making invaluable contributions to healthcare delivery in the country.

Pharm. Yakasai stated further that the inter-professional committee from both PSN and NMA will collaborate to further deepen the cordial relationship now existing between the two professionals in the country.

Reasons Nigeria Should Study Cuba’s Model Of Infant HIV Elimination

Experts have continued to strongly canvass for Nigeria to study Cuba’s model of infant HIV elimination since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Cuba as the first country in the world to eliminate Mother-To-Child Transmission (eMTCT) of HIV and syphilis to replicate same in the country.

Indications are rife that Nigeria would one day succeed in eliminating Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and syphilis infection from mother-to-child.

Confirming this experts reason that if Nigeria adopts policies like Cuba which made history in June 2015, emerging the first country in the world to eliminate MTCT of HIV and syphilis she will achieve the same result.

The Joint United Nations programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) and World Health Organization (WHO) declared Cuba the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

WHO in a statement sent through an international delegation drafted from the joint United Nations programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) and Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) who were in Cuba in March 2015, it (the world health body) certified the country as having met the criteria.

In 2013, only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and five with syphilis, the statement said.

The PAHO and WHO credited Cuba with offering women early access to prenatal care, HIV and syphilis testing, and treatment for mothers who test positive. The two organisations began an effort to end congenital transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba and other countries in the Americas in 2010.

“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.

Commenting, Dr. Dan Onwujekwe, Chief Researcher, Clinical Division, NIMR, said: “Ending MTCT of the deadly virus is achievable, it is doable. It is not rocket science, it is what we can do especially, if everyone knows their HIV status; if every woman, who is pregnant, knows her HIV status and is aware of the Prevention of MTCT HIV programme and begins treatment to suppress the viral load before she delivers. We need to also teach them the kind of breastfeeding practice to adopt after delivery, so that the virus is not transmitted to the baby.”

Onwujekwe also said: “The only different thing that Cuba has done is signing people for treatment early and making sure they manage them in labour and after delivery; that is all. It is doable, it is not magic. The whole world can achieve it.”

Similarly, Dr. Oliver Ezechi, the Deputy Director, Research & Consultant Obstetric gynaecologist, NIMR, reasoned, that if all pregnant women in the country can be reached with HIV test, with drugs administered on those found positive, apart from advising them on what to do, then the babies will come out negative as long as they adhere to instruction.

“Once we can reach a pregnant woman, we go ahead to carry out an HIV test on her. If she is positive, we administer a drug, advise her on what to do; if she follows it, that baby comes out negative. It is doable,” Ezechi said.

However, the Deputy Director, Research lamented dearth of research and accurate data. He said: “But we don’t even know the number of people who are pregnant in Nigeria: this is where we have to start. We don’t have HIV counseling and testing units in villages.”

He also stressed: “We should also put laws in place, like imprisonment for those that infect others with the virus; knowingly or unknowingly. This is the reason why Cuba is the best country in the world. They have very tight rules and they know the consequences of deliberately exposing a child. If it were in Nigeria, they would go to court to say it is a breach of their fundamental human right.”

Commenting, in an online interview, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) HIV Specialist, Dr. Abiola Davies, said this is good news; it means that elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (eMTCT) of HIV is achievable.

“It means if the appropriate policies and plans are put in place by a committed government, we shall also see better results in Nigeria,” Davies said, adding that a government-led programme with evidence-based plans at state and LGAs that is fully resourced will enable the country to achieve eMTCT of HIV. However, she regretted that most of HIV programmes are donor driven.

Family Planning; Women Share Experiences.

To help residents to attain quality life and improve access to family planning services in Lagos State (NURHI) began a 72-hour renovation and equipping of clinics in 50 state selected public health facilities in 2016.

Journalists who embarked on a  recent  visit to the family planning clinics established by the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) in selected Primary Healthcare Clinics (PHCs) in Lagos State confirmed that safe childbirths have improved in the areas that benefitted from NURHI gesture.

A 42-year-old mother of three, Mrs. Yetunde Idowu, said that she was happy to access family planning at Itire-Ijesha PHC. Speaking to journalists during the tour which was organised by an NGO, Development Communications (DEVCOMS), Idowu said the clinic is now more conducive.

“I feel at home being counselled and given my preferred method in the clinic.” She also observed that her body did not accept the implant method and that she had to opt for pills having been tested and counselled.

She encouraged many women in her neighbourhood to go for family planning as it would help to make the quality of their lives better and they should what ever family planning commodities given to them..

Rukayat Abdullahi told journalists that having accessed a family planning method from the renovated family planning clinic at Ibafon PHC; she had no fear of unwanted pregnancy during sex with her husband.

According to her, she is using implants. Abdullahi said that she already had four children and wanted a break before thinking of whether to have more.

For Maria Udoh, she was convinced to use a family planning method by a community mobiliser, shortly after the inauguration of the clinic.

“The mobiliser told me of the importance of family planning and she made me to understand that it will not stop me from having more children if I wanted.

“Rather, family planning will give me time to recover from the wear and tear of my previous pregnancies and also give me time to work and save money.

“She informed me that family planning will make me to have more time for my children and husband; I talked to my husband and he accepted too.

“My husband is even using condoms while I am using the Intra-Uterine Device (IUD).

“The good thing about this clinic is that the commodities are available and free,’’ Udoh said.

Mrs Chika Ohaeri, a mobiliser at Ibafon and a user, said: “One day, my husband went out to meet friends and somebody talked about family planning.

“He returned and told me to go to the PHC. I went and asked questions.
“I was not aware of family planning prior to that time; it was after my fifth and last child that my husband told me about it. I eventually got an implant that will expire in 2019.

“Initially, I had complications; I bled for two months and eight days; I complained to the PHC and was assured that it was normal.
“Now, I go out to tell people about family planning; many of my friends have embraced it now,’’ she said.

Sade Alade, a 35-year-old mother of two also said that the establishment of the family planning clinic had been helpful to her.
According to her, she accessed a method after counseling and testing.
“Before the renovation of the family planning centre, it was not encouraging coming here. “There was no privacy and the commodities were not usually available,’’ she said.

“But now, we have a separate room to discuss with the family planning provider and she will tell us the options available to us.

“My husband is in support of my using a method because we do not want to be having children every year, especially when our resources are not robust.

“I advise other women to always go to a PHC and talk with a trained family planning provider before using any method; they should not act based on the experience of other women,’’ she said.

Mrs Cecilia Oluborode, Chief Nursing Officer at Ibafon PHC, told Independent: “There has been an increase in awareness about family planning and its benefits, especially in an economy that is faced with recession.

“Due to the overwhelming increase in the country’s population coupled with limited resources to provide for the needs of the people, there is dire need for family planning advocacy.

NURHI, which is on its second phase with Lagos State as one of its target locations is partnering with the Ministry of Health in this advocacy.

“So far, the NGO has engaged some of the primary health centres within the state in sensitising the communities on family planning and the response has been commendable’’.

She added: “With the makeover that NURHI gave to the family planning clinic in this PHC, people are now visiting here regularly to access one method or the other.

“Prior to now, we would see three or four persons per month coming to access a family planning method but now, we attend to 15 or more people monthly.

“The men who are also interested in family planning come here and they want to know how they can access it for themselves or their partners.

NURHI also provided the clinic with free consumables thereby making the family planning procedure free for members of this community.

“This has further encouraged more people to willingly come for counselling, testing and to access any of these planning methods that are free’’.

Also, Ms Sylvia Utulu, a Social Mobilisation Consultant for NURHI in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Council Development Area (LCDA), lauded the people’ response to family planning, hoping that it would offer them quality life.

“The people’s willingness is overwhelming; as a result, there is little difficulty in reaching them.

“When they hear it is free, it just becomes easy to convince them to use a family planning method.

“Generally, the men request for condoms while the women go for implants which can last up to three to five years.

“The benefits of family planning to the society are enormous and they include fewer cases of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

“The people’s financial well-being is also improved and this translates to economic growth,’’ she said.

Research has shown that when women give birth continuously over a short period of time, it leads to complications.

Such include much loss of blood, weakness, and higher risks of having miscarriages as the body becomes weak to carry the foetus and may even cause death.

These are among other major causes of maternal and neonatal mortality; however, family planning has over time provided a means of curbing these worrisome incidences.

Commenting, Dr Edun Omasanjuwa, Lagos State Team Leader of NURHI, told journalists that NURHI embarked on the project because of the connection between family planning and quality of life.

He defined Family Planning as “childbirth spacing and having the number of children one can cater for, which is of immense value to maternal health, the economy, sexuality and family life generally.

Under the programme, NURHI took up the facilities in phases, working during the weekends to get the sets ready for inauguration by the following Monday.

Some of the facilities include the Anikulapo PHC in Mushin, Ketu Alapere PHC in Kosofe, Sango PHC in Agege and the Ajeromi General Hospital, Tolu and Layeni PHCs in Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA.

Others are the Shomolu General Hospital, Orile Agege General Hospital, Ibafon PHC in Ajegunle , Itire Ijesha PHC and Lakowe PHC.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Reproductive Health: Osotimehin Death, Is Big Loss

Reproductive Health Journalists Grieve Over Osotimehin;
Says His Death Is Big Loss

The Network  of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN) has commiseratd  with the Nigerian and global health community on the demise of the Executive Director, United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), Professor Babatunde Osotimehin which occurred penultimate Sunday.

NRHJN  which is the foremost  body of journalists  with passion   on Reproductive Health and Rights reporting, described  Prof . Osotimehi's death  as a colossal loss to the global and local health industry.

A statement jointly signed by Mr. Roland Ogbonnaya and Mrs. Yinka Shokunbi, the President and Secretary of  NRHJN respectively,  said, "Until his death, Professor Osotimehin was a pillar of support to our body."

He gave necessary encouragement to NRHJN to remain forthright in the reportage of issues around women and children with special attention on young people, the statement said.

"We recall with nostalgia his unequivocal response to the reproductive health care and needs of the first 21 abducted Chibok Girls who were released in October 2015 during a meeting with our members.

"It was Professor Osotimehin who first broke the news to the media through the NRHJN, that some of the girls were pregnant and pleaded that the rights and dignity of the young school girls should be respected, especially with regards to their choices on what to do with the pregnancy.

Through his office as the Executive Director, UNFPA, customised dignity packs were procured and provided for the healthcare and needs of all the women and girls in all camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across the country.

Osotimehin’s immeasurable contributions to promoting the rights and equity of young people all over the world have so far remained unrivalled at the global arena especially as a champion of advocacy in getting family planning commodities to the end users.

On the local arena, late Osotimehin was instrumental to the launch of the Save-One- Million-Lives (SOMIL) Initiative by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in October 2012 and equally got the political commitment of the Federal Government to budget $11.5m for the purchase of essential 13 specific lives saving commodities for women and children in the country.

Professor Osotimehin, until his first appointment as the fourth Executive Director UNFPA from January 2011 to June 2017, was the Health Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between December 17, 2008 and March 17, 2010.He was also the first Director General of the National Agency for Control of AIDS which he transformed from being a committee in the Ministry of Health to a full-fledged Agency.

Prior to the appointments that elevated him into international arena, Professor BabatundeOsotimehin was a former Provost at the prestigious University College Hospital, Ibadan where he had studied Medicine between 1972 and 1978 and then proceeded to the University of Birmingham in 1979 for his doctoral degree in Medicine.He was later named a Professor at the University of Ibadan in 1980 where he became Head of Department of Clinical Pathology.

An erudite Scholar and writer, Osotimehin wrote and co-authored several books.His book, ‘Male Responsibility in Reproductive Health: the reconstruction of Manhood in Nigeria: (1999) Phase 1’, remained one of the best sellers in social sciences till date.

In 2005, Late Professor Osotimehin received the award of the Nigerian National Honour- Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).

Born on February 6, 1949 in Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu-North Local Government Area of Ogun State, BabatundeOsotimehin had his first education in his home town before proceeding to Igbobi College Lagos between 1966 and 1971.


He is survived by his wife, Funke whom he met in Ibadan and both had five children and grandchildren.We remain committed to continuing Prof. Osotimehin’s vision for women and young people and his unshakeable stand for reproductive health, human rights and dignity of all particularly the most vulnerable adolescent girls.May his gentle soul rest in peace.

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