Saturday, 12 May 2018

HIV/AIDS: Stakeholders Strategise On Way Forward For Adolescents



By Chioma Umeha
In a effort to build capacity for the implementation of HIV strategy for Adolescent and Young People, (AYP), stakeholders are brainstorm on its content and programmes.
Addressing journalists in Lagos the Senior Special Assistance to the governor of Lagos State on HIV/AIDS, Dr. Fisher Oladipupo  said “it is due to the high percentage of prevalence among young people living with HIV that informed the need to carry out intervention.”
Oladipupo further said that these group of young people are critical in addressing the spread of the virus and so the need to focus on them in reducing and mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS in the state.”
Lending her voice, Mrs Ezinne Okey-Uchendu who represented the Director, Programme Coordination Department of National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Dr. Akudo Ikpeazu for the Director General Dr. Sani Aliyu said at the national level, the HIV plan for Adolescents has been launched and the agency will ensure that the plan is been adopted by all states of the Federation.
Aliyu said the strategy covers different areas for implementation and the plan includes; HIV treatment services, prevention programme for AYP,  we also have programmes targeting the pregnant AYP and also activities using the minimum intervention package in addressing the AYP.
He also added that the drugs are accessible using the different hospitals that are both comprehensive HIV services site  ?and as well as the primary health care facility in different states.
In terms of stigmatisation, Aliyu added that? NACA and state agencies on HIV/AIDs are working to ensure that awareness is created  and also ensuring that people get to know the AYP and prevention strategies going forward.
With the gradual withdrawal of donor agencies from Nigeria, Dr. Aliyu stated that NACA is currently funding Taraba and Abia state ?but there are other activities going on in other state.


When Is Donor Sperm Necessary In Infertility Treatment? (Part 1)



By
 Chioma Umeha
Many infants are conceived each year using Donor insemination (DI) method. Couples use donor sperm when the husband/partner has no sperm or a very poor semen analysis (azoospermia, oligospermia, poor motility), or when there is a genetic problem which could be inherited from the male. Single women who want a biological child also use DI.
What is DI?
Donor insemination (DI) uses sperm from a donor to help the woman become pregnant.
Sperm donors are screened for sexually transmitted diseases and some genetic disorders. In DI, sperm from the donor is placed into the neck of the womb (cervix) at the time when the woman ovulates.
DI – IUI uses intrauterine insemination with donor sperm.
Donor sperm can also be used for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
How does DI work?
1.            Using donated eggs
Donated eggs can be used in either in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Before treatment takes place, you will need to complete various consent forms.
The procedure for using donated eggs varies depending on your clinic and the fertility treatment you are undergoing. A typical procedure may involve the following steps:
For women:
            You and your donor will be given medication to synchronise your menstrual cycles. You will also be given medication to prepare the endometrium lining of your womb for embryo transfer.
            The donated eggs will be fertilised using IVF or ICSI.
            When the embryos begin to develop, they will be transferred to your womb as in conventional IVF. As the eggs will be from donors aged 35 or younger, no more than two embryos will be transferred.
Alternatively, the embryos may be frozen after they have been fertilised. This avoids the need to synchronise your menstrual cycle with that of the donor and may reduce the stress of the treatment.
For men:
            Unless you are using donor sperm, before treatment takes place you will give a sperm sample to check that your sperm are healthy and active.
            On the day that the eggs are collected, you will give another sperm sample.
            The sperm sample is mixed with the donor eggs in vitro to fertilise them, or fertilised by ICSI and then transferred to the womb.
Using your eggs in your partner’s treatment
If you are in a same sex female couple and you want to use your eggs and your partner carry the baby, the process for collecting your eggs will be as follows:
            After being screened for sexually transmitted diseases and some genetic disorders, you will be given a series of hormone injections to help develop and mature the eggs within the ovaries.
            Once the eggs are matured, they are collected while you are sedated by inserting a needle into the ovaries through the vagina.
The eggs will then be fertilised, usually using IVF.
2. Using donated sperm
Donated sperm can be used in intrauterine insemination (IUI) (known as donor insemination) or IVF. The treatment you have will depend on your individual circumstances.
3. Using donated embryos
Embryos can be donated by people who have completed their fertility treatment or by those who cannot use them in their own treatment.
How does using donated embryos work?
Before treatment takes place, you will need to complete various consent forms. The donated embryos will have previously been frozen.


FG Roll Out Plan For Northeast


By Chioma Umeha

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said that a high-powered task force is to be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari to implement a six-month Marshal Plan to rebuild the Northeast in four critical areas.
The minister explained that the Marshal Plan is to address the massive destruction of facilities in the water, health and environment sectors by Boko Haram insurgents in the three most affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
Prof. Adewole, disclosed this at the weekend in Maiduguri; while delivering an address on Operationalization of Saving One Million Lives Programme for Results (SOML-PFR) workshop in the Northeast.
He said the president has already approved the inauguration of a Task Force for the Northeast saying, “The task force is the sub-unit of the Presidential Committee on the Northeast.”
The Minister said that the Task force would work under the umbrella of the Presidential Initiative for the North-East which would be inaugurated by the President Muhammadu Buhari soon.

Winners emerge in Indomie Consumers Awards


By Chioma Umeha

In line with its commitment to its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative for children, Dufil Prima Foods Plc, makers of Indomie Instant Noodles has unveiled and rewarded three more lucky winners who emerged at this year’s Indomie Independence Day Awards (IIDA). Each awardees went home with NI million scholarship for social, physical and intellectual bravery categories, in addition to donations from kind-hearted individuals and corporate organizations.
With the emergence of this year’s set of winners, a total of 27 children have now been rewarded over the nine years of existence of the initiative.
Fourteen-year-old Salisu Ibrahim, one of the winners is a visually impaired pupil of Special Education Centre, Bauchi. He has been blind from birth. He is a cobbler, who puts the legs of the able bodied persons in shoes. Another winner of the categories was a nascent inventor, Babatimileyin Daomi. He is 15, but has creatively invented a vacuum cleaner, a phone bank, a portable fan, self watered flour vase and a functional radio.
The third winner was a 15-year old Favour Unwene. She came from Ikono, in Akwa Ibom State to clinch her N1,000,000 scholarship award in the social bravery category.
Favour saved a life. According to her, she visited her friends to see how they were faring, only to discover assassins had killed two of the family members. Her timely intervention saved the life of the third person who as well would have been killed.
While giving his welcome address, the Group Managing Director, Dufil Prima Foods, Mr. Deepak Singhal, said the ninth edition of the landmark event is targeted at expanding the initiative into categories to identifying, recognising and rewarding children, who have done well in distinguishing themselves by carrying out exemplary heroic acts in each category that have touched the lives of others positively.
“This event is noteworthy as it seeks to fill the gap that exists in celebrating and rewarding the positive efforts, strong character, and achievements of many young children who have exhibited various acts of courage and heroism at one time or the other within the country.”
According to Singhal, Dufil Prima Foods would always celebrate children who serve as change agents in their respective communities and beyond.
He added that the winners indeed deserve to be celebrated for scaling the strict standards of the panel of judges who followed laid down guidelines as has always been the norm since the inception of the awards.
Before their stories crossed the major hurdles to be deliberated on by the judges, they were verified by the research team after which eyewitnesses were interviewed to ascertain the authenticity of their stories.
Managing Director of The Education Partnership Centre (TEP Centre) and an education policy expert with several years of research experience spanning academia and private sector research, Dr Modupe Adefeso-Olateju, delivered the keynote address at the event.
In her keynote speech titled, “The Nigerian Child: Our Biggest But Yet Untapped Resource,” Dr Adefeso-Olateju, emphasised the need for the empowerment of the Nigerian Child.
She said: “We need to get things right with the Nigerian Children and only then can they be an asset to the nation. We need to create an environment where they can develop their natural talent. They must be given a chance to contribute to their societies, and thus to economic development and the growth of the nation.
It is apparent that for any nation to develop economically there is need to improve the nation’s human capital by investing heavily on education. The current state of our education system needs to be overhauled to focus on the needs of the most important stakeholder group – the Nigerian child.”
Addressing the winners as “the resource for national development,” she commended Stanbic IBTC Bank and DAAR Communications Plc, for partnering with Dufil to make the event successful and charged more organizations to toe the line of Dufil Prima Foods by also contributing efforts similar to this, which is bound to ensure a more secure and blissful future for our kids.
The Group Public Relations & Event Manager, Dufil Prima Foods Plc, Mr. Tope Ashiwaju congratulated the winners of this year’s IIDA awards and reiterated the company’s commitment to the developmental growth of the Nigerian child.
Ashiwaju further said: “Having come this far with many success stories since inception as it relates to the children that have emerged winners, I make bold to say that the editions to come will be more memorable than the previous ones.”
On hand to felicitate with Dufil Prima Foods Plc and the winners were Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, Former CBN Governor, Chief Joseph Sanusi noting that the landmark event was a message of hope to minors nationwide that their best efforts were appreciated.



Buhari Launches Campaign to End Violence against Children by 2030


By Chioma Umeha

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday launched a campaign tagged “End Violence Against Children by 2030,” a move that will check cases of violence against the young ones.
The campaign, which was launched at the State House Conference Centre, is an ambitious programme geared towards bringing to an end violence perpetuated against women and children.
According to UNICEF, “Millions of children suffer some form of physical, emotional or sexual violence every year in Nigeria.”
A survey carried out last year by the National Population Commission, with support from UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, revealed that approximately 6 out of 10 Nigerian children experience one of these forms of violence before they reach 18.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, Buhari said:  “I say to children in Nigeria – on this historic day, we make a pledge. We commit to protecting each and every one of you from violence.
“The Year of Action has created a wonderful momentum to end violence against children. We have a clear moral, legal and economic imperative and a global obligation to take action to end the suffering of children who live under the shadow of violence.”
The 2030 End Violence Against Children Campaign, supported by UNICEF and USAID, builds and expands on the success of just-ended Year of Action to End Violence Against Children, launched by the President in September 2015.



Forex Shortage Creating Drug Scarcity – Yakasai


Ahmed Yakasai, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), is a veteran practitioner of almost 35 years’ experience and a two-time past Commissioner in Kano State for eight years. Yakasai , former PSN Chairman, Kano State Branch as well as one-time First Deputy President at national level, in this interview, shares his perspectives in pharmacy and health management with CHIOMA UMEHA. Excerpts:
The scarcity of foreign exchange (forex) must be affecting the pharmaceutical sector like other sectors of the Nigerian economy. How is the PSN managing this situation in conjunction with the Federal Government?
After a careful evaluation of the impact of the current paucity of forex in the country which is gradually grinding operations in drug manufacturing and importation outlets to a halt in the days ahead, I appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene to prevent an impending national calamity which will lead to morbidity and outright mortality of consumers of health in Nigeria.
We reason that empty warehouses of a plethora of the pharmaceutical companies due to inaccessibility to forex to directly source finished products, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and others percipients would naturally breed out of stock syndrome in the inventory of life saving drugs. This has obvious consequences in the days and weeks ahead, as most companies will exhaust the leftover stocks from last year.
Also, it is impossible to transact pharmaceutical inclined business at the rate of $1 to N400 as the drug products from such transactions will be completely unaffordable. Consequently, this will defeat the goal of the National Drug Policy that advocates the availability of safe, efficacious and affordable drugs in the health system at all times. We therefore call on the federal government to facilitate better access to forex to pharmaceutical companies as a matter of priority in view of the security dimensions of the out of stock syndrome. The current situation can boost the fake drug syndrome as charlatans will certainly exploit the vacuum created by a lack of basic drugs.
What are you doing to stem the tide of the renewed influx of fake drugs in Nigeria?
The sale of drugs in open markets is a despicable act, which the law forbids. Unfortunately, we did not manage a few things well in the past. In the immediate past dispensation, Pharmaceutical Stakeholders, including operators in open markets resolved to restructure the entire drug distribution chain to provide for Mega Drug Distribution Centres (MDDCs), State Drug Distribution Centres (SDDCs), regular wholesalers and coordinated wholesale centres (CWC). This will be a metamorphosis and complete transformation of market structures to neat enclaves which PCN and NAFDAC can regulate.
We are working on this and the major players in markets are making progress to meet the August 2017 deadline set by Government. In a nutshell open markets will be closed after this deadline and drug distribution endeavours will be professionalized in this clime.
Do you believe that Government will abide by July 2017 commencement date of the implementation of the amended National Drug Distribution Guideline (NDDG).
In this regard we are on course absolutely. The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) is collaborating with pharma stakeholders to achieve this.  The pharma stakeholders include, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Association of Nigerian Representatives of Overseas Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (NIROPHARM) and Association of Pharmaceutical Importers of Nigeria (APIN). Others are, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) and representatives of non-pharmacist wholesalers who are expected to move to the proposed Coordinated Wholesale Centres (CWCs). We are in one accord to change the unhealthy status quo we have allowed in the country.
The Coordinated Wholesale Centres are already being constructed in some parts of the country. You will agree with me that this is very strategic to our overall success. It is my belief that when PCN and NAFDAC structure are fully established, we shall mobilize to consolidate our present level of commitment and gains. The PSN remains committed to decorous drug distribution channels and I assure the consuming public we shall not fail in this regards.
We have had appointments in most parastatals, including some in the health sector, what do you expect with notable appointments in the pharmaceutical sector?
You must continue to reckon and remember that it is the prerogative of the federal government to carry out these appointments whether at Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), NAFDAC or National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), which I believe you are referring to. I, however, presume that your question is based in public interest especially, the value of such appointments proper healthcare delivery.
Our first priority is to ensure lawful appointments on all pharmaceutical platforms, because we certainly do not pray for the type of disruption in equilibrium we experienced at Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) when representatives of PSN were compromised due to a distasteful manipulation by an interested party.
We had similar scenario at National Agency for Food, Drugs and Administration and Control (NAFDAC), which degenerated to a court action in another dispensation.
We shall continue to believe that an administration that abhors corruption like the incumbent government has practically demonstrated will be seriously mindful of appointing elements who have antecedents that are tainted with corruption or other negative vices in previous positions they held in public or private sector. It is instructive to put on record too that to appoint regulators especially in our sector, such must be premised or built around persons who are conversant with the terrain to be regulated. I therefore appeal to the federal government to give us lawful and befitting appointments in the pharmaceutical sector in the days and months ahead.
The 89th annual national conference of PSN holds in Minna from November 7 to 12, 2016. What do we expect?
This conference has as its theme “Pharmaceutical Industry Contributions to National Development.” The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is expected to declare it open as a special guest of honour, while the Governor of Niger State is chief host and the Minister for Health will be the guest of honour. Our nation needs to develop an efficient manpower base in the quest for self-sufficiency and economic growth. This unique conference will therefore exploit avenues for this much sought after maxims as it concerns the pharmaceutical sector of the economy.
It is a peculiar gathering of pharmacists and other scientists nationwide as well as the diaspora, so you can only expect a new positive force to emerge pharmaceutically speaking after November 12, 2016.
 Do you have any update in the quest to improve welfare of health workers in Nigeria?
We wish to appeal to the President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government to give immediate attention to the clamours of health workers including pharmacists to redress some pressing welfare demands.



NAFDAC Urges Sustenance On National Fortification Alliance


By Chioma Umeha

The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has called for expansion and sustenance of food fortification programme in Nigeria.
According to the agency, this call becomes imperative considering the devastating effects of malnutrition and poor dietary intake in the country. Mrs Yetunde Oni, the acting Director General of NAFDAC, made the call during a National Fortification Alliance (NFA) meeting in Lagos, recently.
Speaking at the occasion, Oni noted that out of about 21 widely known micronutrients, five of them – vitamin A, Iron, Iodine, Zinc and folic acid – are of public health significance.
The NAFDAC boss said that they contribute significantly to good health and are necessary for proper growth and development of the body and for human survival.
According to her, infants, young children, teenagers, pregnant and breast feeding mothers are prone to malnutrition hence require additional nutrients all the time.
She emphasised that one in four children under the age of five suffers from vitamin A deficiency and that 31 per cent of mothers in Nigeria are iodine deficient.
She further said available statistics show that nutrition contributes to over 50 per cent child mortality in Nigeria. These statistics, she noted, make it unimaginable to question the importance of micronutrients to achieving the socio economic development of any country and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Oni said that in order to meet UN’s set targets, NAFDAC developed the Vitamin A Food Fortification Regulations in 2005.
The acting NAFDAC boss said that among other contents, the regulations address issues ranging from prohibition of manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution and sale of any designated food vehicle that is not fortified with vitamin A and other elements as prescribed.
The NAFDAC DG also said that the regulations address control of advertisement of vitamin A fortified foods – to be censored and given permit before use.
Others are: Labelling requirements for vitamin A fortified foods; Logo on all packaged Vitamin A fortified food-an eye with letter ‘’A’’ inside it; packaging specifications and interpretations.
Also, regulations also covers penalty for non-compliance, which includes administrative fines and prosecution legislators without penalty for violations, will be futile.
She acknowledged that the support of international organizations and relevant development partners such as Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Micronutrient Initiative (MI), Nigeria has attained remarkable success in addressing micronutrient deficiency problems.
These successes include: Certification of Nigeria as Universal Salt Iodization (USI) compliant in November/December 2005 and celebrated in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 17, 2007; packaging of table salt in smaller pack sizes of 1Kg, 500g, 250g and 100g;identification and procurement of iodine test kits for rapid quality monitoring.
Others are: Upgrading of a laboratory for Reference Standards at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan. This serves as Iodine Laboratory for Nigeria.
The next is institution of functional Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD)/ USI Taskforce.
While pledging NAFDAC’s support towards the success of the National Fortification Alliance Programme, Mrs Oni tasks stakeholders to be committed to the mandate of the NFA.


Nigerians Still Ignorant Of IVF Treatment – FAAI


By Chioma Umeha
Mr. Omoz Evborokhai, president of Fertility Awareness Advocate Initiative (FAAI), a non-profit support group, has rued the ignorance among the public on the treatment for In-vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
IVF is the most common and most effective type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to help women become pregnant. It involves fertilizing the egg outside the body.
He explained that the ignorance has resulted to couples with such health challenges walking in the dark and finding treatment difficult to get even when it is not.
Evborokhai said this during the launching of FAAI in Lagos at the weekend.
He stated that the group’s aims and objectives include the promotion of awareness on treatment for infertility as well as offering counseling support to those undergoing fertility treatments, and assisting in breaking the myths and misconceptions surrounding infertility in Nigeria.
“Over time, we have discovered that there is ignorance in the populace as to IVF treatment options and as a result a number of couples grope in darkness and go through hell in seeking help.
“We at FAAI believe that people should get to know that there is hope at the end of the tunnel and that they can have babies through legitimate processes.
“FAAI promotes enforcement of regulatory standards in the treatment of infertility in Nigeria and collaborates with organisations with similar objectives.
According to Evborokhai, the counseling process affords FAAI the opportunity to build hope on the patients with information that they are not alone in the challenges as others have gone through similar part.
“By offering counseling support, we let couples on the fertility journey know that others have gone through this same route and achieved successes. We also share our experiences which goes a long way to inspire them.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Folasade Ogunsola, a Professor of Medical Microbiology and current Provost, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, said applauded FAAI for its efforts.
She said that the College of Medicine of the university has also come a long way in the fight against infertility.
Ogunsola advocated for continued research on the causes and ways to control infertility in order to make Invitro Fertilisation (IVF) and other certified treatments more affordable to couples who are being confronted by such health challenges.
“We have come a long way in infertility treatment, and we need to continue to demystify it.
She, however, urged couples who have benefitted from the treatment to share their stories in order to encourage others.
“We are also encouraging couples that have benefited from the treatment procedures to come out and share their stories,” she said.
The don went down memory lane at LUTH, recalling when there was little or no hope for infertility treatment, saying that people who went to the clinic at that time had no solution to their problems.
“It was such a miserable time and I was really moved. We felt that even if we could do the O (Obstetrics) without the G (Gynaecology), it would not be enough. At the infertility clinic at LUTH, the same people were there in year after year; there was no solution.
“It is great that we are having solutions now and that those that have availed themselves of the solutions are happy to talk about it so that others can benefit.
Ogunsola also urged collaboration in the fight against this dreaded medical defect with huge emphasis on research and finding other methods through which the burden of treatment can be reduced.
“As you create awareness and counsel, I would also want you to think about when this group is matured so that it will collaborate with the universities to expand frontiers of knowledge through research as alternate methods of finding out ways that we can reduce the burden and cost of treatment.”
On his own during the launching, Dr Abayomi Ajayi, Medical Director/CEO, Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, Abuja & Asaba, noted that through hearing the success stories of others, people suffering from infertility will have a different perception of the disease.
He further said that such success stories will remove any fear they would have injected into their systems, while also saying that they need to be enlightened on the Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART).
“Having children is the ultimate goal for most married couples. At Nordica, we discovered that most of our patients crave support and need to be enlightened about Assisted Reproductive Treatment, ART.
“They also need to hear the success stories of others in order to help them overcome their fears and also unmask any negative perception they might have towards seeking fertility treatments.
“The search for a solution gave birth to this support group called FAAI, which has the goal to reach out to the public and enlighten them about ART.




Nutrition: Nestlé Advocates Balanced Diet For Mothers


By Chioma Umeha

As part of efforts to continue meeting the needs of Nigerian child and mothers Nestlé Nigeria has urged pregnant breastfeeding mothers to feed on adequate nutrient that are beneficial.
Addressing journalists at the Nestlé media workshop on ‘Good Nutrition a Way of Life’, held at Agbara, Ogun State, the President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Dr. Bartholomew Brai, defined nutrition as the science of interpretation and interaction of the food consumed and its function in the living organism.
Brai said the importance of early nutrition and long term health, nutrients were divided into the macro and Micro nutrients, adding that macro nutrients includes; carbohydrates, protein, fat and oil while the micro nutrients are Vitamins and minerals.
He also added that balanced diet should be eaten by the mother in the right amount during pregnancy which the nutrient includes; Iron, folic acid, Iodine, calcium, vitamin A, stressing that the foetus is solely dependent on the mother for nourishment.
According to him, the normal weight prior to pregnancy and healthy weight gain during pregnancy should be encouraged, saying that it is essential to note that from birth to six months, exclusive breast feeding is required without adding any other solid or liquid.
Listing the health benefits of breastfeeding, Bartholomew said:  “It supplies essential nutrients needed for baby’s cognitive development. It slows infant weight gain and lowers risk of obesity.
“It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Breast feeding prevents half of deaths caused by infections in children aged six to 23 months. It makes the baby more active. It prevents diarrhoea, excessive weight gain in childhood after the age of two years.
He said the first 1000 days includes pregnancy which is 270 days, first year 365 days, second year, 365 days which sums it to 1000 days. From the foetus to infant two years, adding that from six to 23 months for infants, appropriate complimentary feeding plus breast milk should be given to babies.
Complimentary feeding should be timely and frequent, adequate with high quality and quantity, safe which is of good hygiene, then gradual introduction to family foods.
He lamented that issues undermining nutrition in the first 1000 days are linked to poor access to adolescent health services, poor parenting and life skills for early child development, early marriage before 18 years.
The company seized the opportunity to present to the media its contribution to consumers’ nutrition, health and wellness such as cooking classes for kids, nutrition education programmes for women and offering tastier and healthier products which are fortified with micronutrients.
In Nigeria, Nestlé sells daily over 100 million Maggi cubes fortified in iron reaching over 18 million households.
Nestlé Healthy Kids programme has reached over 62,000 pupils in 112 schools across four Nigerian States and through the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa.
Similarly, health care professionals have been empowered with nutrition information through various nutrition programmes organised by the institute.



Institutionalise Consultancy Pharmacists In Public Health – PSN Urges FG


By Chioma Umeha
Pharmacists under the aegis of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have called on the Federal Government and the other 35 states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to urgently integrate and inaugurate the Consultancy Pharmacist philosophy in the public health interest.
Making the call during press briefing ahead of the 89th annual national conference in Minna, Niger State from November 7 to 12, 2016, was the National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Pharm Ahmed  Yakasai,  who noted that only Niger State has recognised this status.
Citing the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists definition, the PSN boss said a Consultant Pharmacist is “a Pharmacist who is paid to provide expert advice on the use of medications by individuals or within institutions, or on the provision of Pharmacy services to institutions.”
He further noted that definition implies that Consultant Pharmacists must have requisite expert knowledge; must be appointed and go through a structured selection process.
Yakasai also said that a Consultant Pharmacist must enjoy benefit of adequate remuneration.
Following unprecedented systemic failure in the health system, the PSN President, said it is critical to structure the position of Consultant Pharmacists around four major functions.
This include: Expert practice; research, evaluation and service development; education, mentoring and overview of practice; professional leadership and expert practice.
His words: “In view of the evolving hi-tech procedures in medicine therapy, the main purpose of the Consultant role is delivery of high-level professional expertise.
“The Consultant Pharmacist will drive professional development and play a pivotal role in the promotion of evidence based practice.
“The Consultant Pharmacist will demonstrate a high degree of professional autonomy, dealing with complex issues or situations including circumstances of considerable uncertainty.”
In view of Research, Education and Service Development, Yakasai said: “The Consultant Pharmacist will provide an essential clinical governance role by leading and contributing to audit, service evaluation, research, education and training.

“The Consultant Pharmacist helps to develop and strengthen links between research and practice. Ultimately the Consultant Pharmacist helps to increase capacity and to develop a workforce that is research oriented.”
Concerning education, mentoring and overview of pharmacy practice, the PSN boss maintained: “Consultant Pharmacist will play a key role in mentoring pharmacy personnel as well as contribute to Human Resource Development in the Health Sector. Engagement in Universities and teaching Hospitals will particularly promote this goal based on need assessment periodically.
“Consultant Pharmacist undertakes teaching in his area of competence thereby enhancing links between practice and professional bodies.”
In terms of professional leadership, he said: “Consultant Pharmacist will be effective leaders and communicators who motivate and inspire across the borders of various health specialties in the public and private sector.
“Consultant Pharmacist will appraise existing structures and prescribe needed organizational and professional barriers which inhibit service delivery.
“ The pool of expertise available to the Consultant Pharmacist will compel contribution to the development of service strategies which will drive change in health and social care.”
Similarly, the society urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that members are appointed to head relevant agencies such as the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the Nigerian Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), insisting,  that this will guarantee better health care delivery in the country.
Yakasai said: “We reckon that it is the prerogative of the federal government to carry out appointments at PCN, NAFDAC, and NIPRD which are major agencies in the pharmaceutical Sector. Our concern is predicated in public interest especially in the value such appointments can b “Our first priority is to ensure lawful appointments on all pharmaceutical platforms because we certainly do not envisage or pray for the disruption in equilibrium we experienced at PCN when representatives of PSN was compromised due to a distasteful manipulation by an interested party in 2009. We once had the same scenario at NAFDAC which degenerated to a court action in another dispensation.”
Yakasai said to avoid an unpalatable discourse the PSN has since recommended its representatives to the Honourable Minister for Health as provided for in Section 3 (1) F of the PCN Act. He reminded the Federal Government that Section 1 of the PCN Act provides for perpetual succession which ordinarily should exclude the PCN from recurrent dissolution alongside other boards of parastatals.
Yakasai said it is therefore imperative that government appoints a chairman for the PCN as most of the other slots are statute bound by virtue of the law and that the Federal Government is also familiar more than ever before with the condition precedent to appoint substantive Director Generals (DGs)/Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) for NAFDAC and NIPRD.
The PSN President said NAFDAC is yet another strategic agency in the workings of the health sector in view of the need to continue to ensure a safety mandate in the quality of medicines and foods offered for sale in Nigeria.
He said government must appreciate that the management of NAFDAC led by a substantive Director General/Chief Executive Officer and the full governing council led by a seasoned chairman will play complimentary roles to consolidate some modest gains in the overall value chain the NAFDAC output epitomises and brings to bear on public health endeavours.


The New Policy Shift In Malaria Treatment Recommends Combination Therapy – Uhomoibhi


Dr Perpetua Uhomoibhi, Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) in the Federal Ministry of Health, in this interview with CHIOMA UMEHA highlights the activities of NMEP in the fight against malaria, saying that the Programme has adopted several measures to reduce the scourge. Excerpts

What is the ministry doing to combat malaria in the country?
 There is a policy shift in that the drug for the treatment of malaria that is now recommended is a combination therapy. We no longer use the mono therapy, which is only one drug treatment for malaria, due to resistance.
So we have shifted to Artemisini-base Combination Therapy. You must use Artemisinin and another drug for the treatment of malaria; so that is a shift from what was obtained in the past.
The National Council on Health has banned the use of mono-therapy for the treatment of malaria, and we also are trying to eliminate malaria from Nigeria because its spread is so rapid.
Increased malaria prevention and control measures are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places.
Malaria is a serious disease which can often be fatal; hence the need to refrain from saying “ordinary malaria” should be sustained. It is caused by parasites that infect specific mosquitoes.
What is the global outlook of malaria?
According to the latest estimates from World Health Organisation (WHO), there were 214 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015 (range 149–303 million).
The African region accounted for most global cases of malaria (88 per cent), followed by the South-East Asia region (10 per cent) and the Eastern Mediterranean region (two per cent). 
In 2015, there were an estimated 438 000 malaria deaths (range 236 000–635 000) worldwide. Most of these deaths occurred in the African Region (90 per cent), followed by the South-East Asia Region (seven per cent) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (two per cent).
While Nigeria accounts for 1/3 of global malaria deaths, it is responsible for 1/4 of all infant-related deaths and 1/3 of deaths in children under five years
But now, globally, there has been a gradual decrease in both the morbidity and mortality due to malaria. Similarly, in Nigeria we have also been able to achieve a lot to reduce the national malaria prevalence from 42 per cent in the survey we did in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2016. That is a significant decrease.
What are the intervention strategies that NMEP is using to reduce malaria scourge?
What the programme is doing in collaboration with the malaria partnership – the roll back malaria partnership in Nigeria – is that they are bringing out different interventions in terms of the prevention, case management and other cross-cutting issues such as advocacy, monitoring and social mobilization among others.
In terms of prevention, we are promoting the use of   Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLIN)
for malaria and at the same time, we are promoting the use of intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in pregnancy, in which we give drugs to pregnant women during their ante natal to prevent them from getting malaria.
Another strategy in the prevention of malaria, is the use of indoor residual spraying in the whole house, as well as seasonal malaria chemo prevention, which is a relatively new strategy in the control of malaria in Nigeria, and it is targeted to the Sahelian region in the north, where you have very limited peak transmission season for malaria, about four months in a year.
There is every need to reduce the disease burden to a level where it is no longer a public health problem.
Also, efforts should be geared towards interrupting local mosquito-borne malaria transmission in a defined geographical area that is zero incidence of locally contracted cases even though imported cases will continue to occur. Continued intervention measures are required
All in all, the signals are promising and the current tools are effective. New tools and ideas are needed to further accelerate current gains.
As I said earlier, we have reduced malaria to about 27 per cent in the last couple of years but critically, malaria will never be eliminated by a single quick fix method.
It has to be a sustained and highly integrated and coordinated strategy.
What is the place of media in this fight against malaria?
There is no doubt that malaria is a moving target. While evidence supports tremendous progress in the global efforts and the efforts in Nigeria, this is the time to redouble our efforts.
Media is a critical partner in malaria fight because achieving our goals of attaining malaria-free society will hinge heavily on the media.
For instance, media was central to the victory on Ebola; media was central to the knowledge density on HIV/AIDS and media will be the backbone on which the final success of malaria fight will depend.





Hand Washing: Panacea For Diarrhea, Pneumonia


By Chioma Umeha
IDONGESIT ASHAMERI
UYO
Two of the common causes of child mortality in rural communities in Africa, Nigeria, the Niger Delta Region and Akwa Ibom State inclusive, are diarrhea and pneumonia.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, these avoidable diseases had been responsible for a yearly mortality rate of about 1.8 million for children under the age of five, especially in rural communities without primary healthcare facilities.
In some rural communities with functional health care facilities, the highest number of in-patients is children plagued with either diarrhea or pneumonia. Some of the children, according to medical personnel, arrived the clinic already too weak with very slim chances of survival.
As deadly as the diseases might be, their preventions are simple and extremely affordable for all classes of persons, irrespective of community, social status and levels of education, as these can simply be prevented by hand washing with soap or ashes and running water to avoid contact with germs.
It therefore became necessary for a global advocacy to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of hand washing with soap and running water, as easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
First celebrated on October 15, 2008 in over 70 countries across the world, the Global Hand Washing Day has within the past eight years gained accelerated momentum, spread and acceptance as over 200 million people the world over have embraced the programme and made it a yearly event.
The programme sponsored by European Union (EU)/UNICEF was intended to foster and support a global and local culture of hand washing with soap; shine a spotlight on the state of hand washing around the world; raise awareness about the benefits of hand washing with soap; and assist in the control and prevention of diseases and conditions caused by failure to wash hands with soap and running water.
Targeted at schools across the Niger Delta Region, the programme seeks to assist primary school pupils in rural communities to fight diarrhea and pneumonia through a simple routine hand washing at critical times such as after using the toilet or before contact with food.
To assist communities and schools without running water to still maintain the culture of consistent hand washing, pupils from the two pilot schools in Akwa Ibom State have been enlightened on how to construct and carry out group hand washing using Tippy Taps methods.
Celebrating the 2016 Global Hand Washing Day in the two pilot local government areas, Obot Akara and Nsit Akara, with the theme, “Make Hand Washing a Habit,” Elder Effiong Essien, the General Manager of Akwa Ibom Rural Water and Sanitation Agency (AK-RUWATSAN), the facilitating agency in Akwa Ibom State, said for the theme of this year’s celebration to be effective, hand washing must be practised consistently at critical times as already established.
He said, “For hand washing to be effective, it must be practised consistently at critical times such as after using the toilet or before contact with food. While habits must be developed over time, this theme emphasises the importance of hand washing as a ritual behaviour for long-term sustainability.
“Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and water.”
Essien hinted that the two benefiting local government areas – Obot Akara and Nsit Atai – have since 2013 enjoyed support through AK-RUWATSAN towards the provision of safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) from the Niger Delta Support programme under the assistance of European Union (EU)/UNICEF.
He therefore called on pupils, teachers, parents and indeed the entire public to arise and make hand washing with soap and water an ingrained habit to remove germs, prevent diseases and ensure that Akwa Ibom people are healthy to contribute to the development of the state and nation at large.
Speaking on the occasion, Mrs Cecilia Imadu, the facilitator for Obot Akara Local Government Area, said the programme was intended to promote healthy hygiene among school pupils with a view to reducing outbreak of germs-related diseases among school children, who are in turn are expected to take such healthy habit into the communities they belong.
Speaking on behalf of participating schools, Mr. Sunday Asuquo Idem, Head Teacher of Sacred Heart Primary School, Ikwen, Obot Akara Local Government Area, applauded the initiators, sponsors and facilitators of ?the programme and acknowledged that its implementation in schools within the communities had to a very great extent reduced outbreak of diarrhea among children of school age.
The teachers unanimously pledged to continue to instill the hand washing habit among school pupils as deliberate measure to promote healthy living among the children and communities?.
The highpoint of the celebration was demonstration of hand washing by Elder Effiong Essien, the General Manager, AK-RUWATSAN, teachers, stakeholders in the communities and pupils of select schools across the benefiting local government areas.




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