Friday, 10 August 2018

HIV: Free Baseline Investigations Will Reduce Infant Infection – Experts


Chioma Umeha

Experts have stressed the need for the Federal Government to restore free baseline evaluations, noting that this will promote effective access to Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for People Living With HIV (PLWH).
Some of the experts who spoke were those from the National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NASCAP).
They were making presentations at the opening of a two-day communication strategic review workshop by Journalists Alliance for Prevention of Mother to Child transmission of HIV (JAPiN) in Lagos state, recently.
According to them, the goals of the initial evaluation are to confirm the diagnosis of HIV infection, obtain appropriate baseline historical and laboratory data, ensure PLWH understanding about HIV infection and its transmission.
Others are to initiate care as recommended in HIV primary care guidelines and guidelines for prevention and treatment of HIV-associated opportunistic infections.
Research has shown that every HIV-infected person entering into care should have a complete medical history, physical examination, and laboratory evaluation and should be counseled regarding the implications of HIV infection.
The experts further said that the initial evaluation also should include introductory discussion on the benefits of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the PLWH health and to prevent HIV transmission.
According to them, “Baseline information then can be used to define management goals and plans.
“In the case of previously treated PLWH who present for an initial evaluation with a new health care provider, it is critical to obtain a complete antiretroviral (ARV) history – including drug resistance testing results, if available, preferably through the review of past medical records.
“Newly diagnosed persons  living with HIV should also be asked about any prior use of ARV agents for prevention of HIV infection.”
They reasoned that  many of the PLWH cannot  afford  cost  of transportation more so  the charges  for baseline investigations which is  between  N5,000  and N6,000.
The experts therefore urged the Federal Government and donors, specifically the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to make baseline investigations for HIV free.
“Nigerian government and the US PEPFAR   should look into the idea of bringing back free baseline investigations before starting new PLWH on ARV drugs. Many of them cannot afford cost of transportation talk less of paying for baseline investigations that amount to about N5,000  and N6,000,” NASCAP said.
According to the experts, one of the reasons new Persons Living With HIV do not start ART is due to lack of fund for the payment of baseline investigations.
Corroborating these views, Dr. Sunday Aboje, National Coordinator, National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NASCAP), in a related development said that baseline investigations and effectiveness of ARV drugs usage is critical to the elimination of Mother to Child transmission (eMTCT).
Aboje stated that currently, 380,000 children are HIV positive in the country and added that the country is committed to the goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive by 2020.
The National Coordinator, who spoke recently at JAPiN strategic meeting in Calabar, Cross River state was optimistic that there is a renewed hope of viral suppression that would provide the potency to stop further transmission as a prevention tool while prolonging the lives of the infected persons.
Dr Aboje, who was represented by Assistant Chief Scientific Officer of the agency, Taiwo Olakunle, stressed that free baseline investigations coupled with improved access of ARV drugs would fast-track the achievement of e-MTCT goals.
“The country has come a long way in its effort to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly in PMTCT. Beginning with the pioneer 11 PMTCT-provider tertiary health facilities in 2002, the country now has 7,265 health facilities providing PMTCT services at all levels of the health care system.”
Aboje, however, stated that Nigeria’s target on eliminating new HIV cases in children among other things for 2018 was to ensure 50 per cent of HIV-exposed children have access to HIV prophylaxis treatment and early infant diagnosis services.
He also identified inadequate political commitment, and funding at federal, state and LGA levels as well as weak health infrastructure as some challenges against eliminating new HIV cases in children. Prompt release of 100 percent budget for AIDS control, prevention, and treatment for the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) would make a difference in the lives of people living with the disease, Dr. Aboje stressed.
In a related development, Mrs. Kadiri Oluseyi, Executive Director, Centre for Positive Health Organisation, Lagos State under the platform of Abidjan – Lagos – Corridor, tasked government to increase funding for child HIV elimination programmes.
Oluseyi called on government to support People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and partners working on HIV awareness in line with the global campaign for safer motherhood and HIV-free babies.
According to her, support from the government through increased funding and access to anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs will help to ameliorate the challenges of PLWHA, especially pregnant mothers and help in actualising the eMTCT of HIV.
Oluseyi spoke when members of Journalists Alliance for Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV in Nigeria (JAPiN), Lagos state Chapter made the special investigative visit to the office of Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organisation, in Badagry General Hospital, Lagos, recently.




Causes, Treatment Of Enlarged Uterus


By Chioma Umeha
A woman’s uterus is the size of a clenched fist but can grow as big as a soccer ball or larger during pregnancy. In addition to pregnancy, there are many other reasons why a woman’s uterus may become enlarged.
An enlarged uterus can be the result of a medical condition that not only causes it to grow but also to bleed and become painful. A condition that results in an enlarged uterus may require treatment.
Causes
A woman can be unaware that she has an enlarged uterus. Most often, women discover they have a problem during a pelvic exam.
It is possible a woman may notice a bloated belly or that clothes seem too tight, but for most, a diagnosis of an enlarged uterus is unexpected.
There are multiple reasons why the uterus may become enlarged. An enlarged uterus may be more common in menopausal women, but women in their childbearing years can develop this condition too.
Fibroids
Fibroids are one of the most common causes of an enlarged uterus. Fortunately, fibroids are noncancerous. Fibroids are small lumps that can weigh up to several pounds. They are found along the walls of the uterus.
According to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, between 20 or 80 percent of women develop fibroids before the age of 50. They are most common in women who are in their 40s and early 50s.
Fibroids may be asymptomatic, or may cause pain and heavy menstrual cycles.
Fibroids also put pressure on the bladder and the rectum, causing frequent urination and rectal pressure. If they get too big, fibroids may cause the uterus to become enlarged.
Adenomyosis
Adenomyosis is a noncancerous condition that mimics symptoms of fibroids. It results in the lining of the uterus becoming embedded directly in the muscle wall of the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, the cells of the muscle bleed, causing pain and swelling.
The adenomyoma is the swollen part of the uterine wall. Upon examination, the adenomyoma feels like a fibroid, and it may even be confused with one on an ultrasound.
Adenomyosis may not cause any symptoms. In other severe cases, it can lead to heavy bleeding and cramping during menstruation.
One study of 985 women reported in the medical journal Human Reproduction found that adenomyosis was present in approximately 20 per cent of participants.
However, all participants in the study had attended a gynecology clinic with existing symptoms. It is possible, then, that the prevalence of adenomyosis is higher in the general population.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) also causes an enlarged uterus. It is the result of hormonal imbalances in menstruation and the shedding of the endometrial lining of the uterus. It affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age, according to the OWH.
The body typically sheds the endometrial lining during the menstrual cycle, but in some women, the lining is not entirely discarded and interferes with their monthly cycle.
The accumulation of the endometrial lining causes inflammation and enlargement of the uterus.
Endometrial cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), endometrial cancer is most often diagnosed in women ages 55 to 64. The NCI estimates there will be 61,380 new cases in 2017.
One of the symptoms of endometrial cancer is an enlarged uterus, although it can also be an indicator of advanced stage cancer.

PZ Wilmar Partners NCF Walk For Nature


As part of its social responsibilities to sustainable initiatives, investing in the future of local communities and the environment, PZ Wilmar, maker of vegetable oil Brand, Mamador and Devon King’s cooking oil, has joined in the sponsorship of the 2017 edition of the annual Walk for Nature (WFN) event.
The goal, according to the  to the vegetable oil company is to demonstrate the importance of healthy living and the conservation of nature.
The Walk for Nature event themed, “Cleaner Lagos which was jointly organised by the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) held recently, in Lagos.
During the occasion, the foundation for sustainable ecotourism urged participants to imbibe and cultivate good environmental practices for nature conservation and sustainable environmental management.
Acknowledging the support from partners such as PZ Wilmar, Commissioner for Environment Lagos State, Samuel Babatunde Adejare in a statement described the partnership as rewarding and hugely commendable.
“The major gospel of today’s event is walking, which is an effective means we have consistently promoted towards combating health and environmental challenges. We must form the habit of walking to distances that are not too far, this actions improve our health as we do so.”
“To a large extent it behooves on us as a people and a nation to form a global partnership to care for the earth. Overcoming the environmental challenges now confronting us requires effective management of our environment through the concerted efforts of all and sundry in order to preserve nature and our natural resources” he said.
On her part, Abiola Laseinde, PZ Company Secretary and Head of Corporate Services, Africa, thanked the NCF and the Lagos state ministry of Environment for such a laudable initiative, saying, “We are also committed to a cleaner Lagos, and as a business our practices are environmental friendly, the preservation of nature is very important and it has to be a collective responsibility, which is one of the reasons we decided to be part of this event.”
PZ Wilmar was on ground to provide health check for participants, and education on healthy eating and living habits, courtesy of premium cooking oil brand, Mamador.
Participants who arrived at the Marina ground, venue for the event were made to undergo free health checks; BMI, BP and heart healthy lifestyle tips.
The event also provided PZ Wilmar the opportunity to further promote its Million Heart Mission campaign, powered by Mamador premium cooking oil, which aims at promoting heart health across the nation.
The “Walk for Nature” is an annual programme of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation designed to create awareness among the people about Nature Conservation and Good Environmental Practices in Nigeria.



2017 Science Prize: NLNG Awards $100,000 To Three Winners


The Advisory Board of the Nigeria Prize for Science and Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) Thursday announced three research works as joint winners for the 2017 edition of the prize after two years intensive search for innovations in the fight to end Malaria.
The award comes with a cash prize of $100, 000.
The announcement was made by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Science Prize, Professor Akpoveta Susu at a press conference in Lagos.
“Improving Home and Community Management of Malaria: Providing the Evidence Base” by Ikeoluwapo Ajayi, Ayodele Jegede & Bidemi Yusuf; “Multifaceted Efforts at Malaria Control in Research: Management of Malaria of Various Grades and Mapping Artemisinin Resistance” by Olugbenga Mokuolu; and “Novel lipid microparticles for effective delivery of Artemether antimalarial drug using a locally-sourced Irvingia fat from nuts of Irvingia gabonensis var excelsa (ogbono)” by Chukwuma Agubata were announced as the winning research works from 27 entries for this year’s edition of the prize.
Reacting to the verdict, the General Manager, External Relations at NLNG, Kudo Eresia-Eke, said “This is not just a great milestone for the prize and NLNG. It is a great milestone for the people of Nigeria and Africa. Today’s result is two-pronged. Firstly, we finally have a winner for the Science Prize and secondly, we have some commendable research works that have contributed significantly to the body of knowledge on the disease and even provide some interesting opportunities for local approach to defeating malaria. It is truly a day to celebrate. But the hard work must not stop. The winners will need support to translate this to real benefits for Nigerians. We are calling on the government and corporate Nigeria to support this initiate and bring it to life,” he said.
He remarked further: “I commend the Board and the panel of judges for giving hope to science and scientists alike by announcing winners after a long stretch of no-winner verdicts. NLNG will not relent in using this prize to impact positively on Nigerians, and helping to build a better Nigeria.”
According to Professor Susu, “We acknowledge the difficulties associated with scientific research in developing countries including Nigeria, where infrastructure deficit could deal a debilitating challenge. Our hope is that the award of this prize would in its own little way, provide a spark that would reinvigorate the passion of our budding scientists in finding solutions to our everyday issues.
“We congratulate the winners for a job well done and for achieving this feat in the midst of an impressive array of entries. This is indeed a call to do more so that the identified potentials could be realized,” he stated.
He also announced “Innovations in Power Solutions” as the Advisory Board’s pick for 2018 prize theme.
According to the judges’ report, the work “Improving Home and Community Management of Malaria: Providing the Evidence Base” was adjudged one of the winning entries because of its contribution to malaria in the community. The panel stated that the submission consists of many publications which systematically evaluated and demonstrated the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) – the ACT of choice in Nigeria for home management of malaria.
On the co-winning work, “Multifaceted Efforts at Malaria Control in Research: Management of Malaria of Various Grades and Mapping Artemisinin Resistance,” the panel remarked that the work contributed significantly to the area of management of severe malaria and monitoring of molecular markers of artemisinin resistance.
The panel also added that “Novel lipid microparticles for effective delivery of Artemether antimalarial drug using a locally-sourced Irvingia fat from nuts of Irvingia gabonensis var excelsa (Ogbono)” demonstrated how novel lipid microparticles can be effective for the delivery of artemether antimalarial drug using a locally-sourced Irvingia fat from Ogbono, which is grown in Nigeria.
The number of entries for the 2017 edition exceeded the 2016 entry numbers of 15, showing increasing awareness and interest in one of Africa’s most prestigious science and technology prizes.
The decision on the winning entry of The Nigeria Prize for Science was reached by a panel of judges, led by Professor Catherine Falade, a professor of pharmacology, at the University of Ibadan. Other members of the panel include Professor Sunday Ene-Ojo Atawodi, Professor of Biochemistry at Ahmadu Bello University and Prof. Obioma Nwaorgu, a public health parasitologist and epidemiologist from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa.
Other members of the Advisory Board for the Science Prize, besides Professor Susu, a past winner of The Nigeria Prize for Science, are Professor Michael Adikwu, Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja and also a past winner of the science prize; Professor Elijah Mshelia, a nuclear physicist; Professor Barth Nnaji, renowned scientist and former Minister of Power; and Chief Dr. Nike Akande, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and two-time Minister.
The first winner for the prize in 2004 was Professor Akpoveta Susu and his then doctoral student, Kingsley Abhulimen. In 2005, there was no winner. Professor Michael Adikwu won the prize in 2006. In 2007, as it was in 2005, there was no winner, however, in 2008, Dr. Ebenezer Meshida emerged winner.  Professor Andrew Nok and Professor Akii Ibhadode won the prize in 2009 and 2010 respectively. There has been no winner since 2010.





Mobile app To Reduce Medical Tourism Launched In Lagos


Chioma Umeha

From January 2018, Nigerians will have access to doctors all over the world via a telemedicine mobile app expected to be freely available for all users next year.
Speaking at the launch of the Dokita247.com app at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos on Tuesday, Dr Richard Afonja, the app developer, said the mobile app will reduce medical tourism as well as the number of hours spent at hospitals across the country.
The app, he said, will give also Nigerians access to specialists, who hitherto take weeks and months before they could be seen or reached physically.
According to Dr. Afonja,  the app which can be downloaded on Google Playstore and Apple store, is currently in use in the United States of America but will be available in other African countries later this year.
He added that using the app may extend the lifespan of Nigerians as they can seat in the comfort of their home and office for the consultation, laboratory tests and drug prescriptions.


‘Stop Contraceptive Stock-Out To End Unplanned Pregnancies’


By Chioma Umeha

Research shows that effective population control measures are the need of the moment. Studies  have also confirmed that birth rate is mainly responsible for rapid population growth, hence experts have endorsed family planning as one of the most effective measures to reduce birth rate. CHIOMA UMEHA writes.
Worried by stock-out of contraceptive commodities and consumables, experts at the Performance Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) 2020, a recent family planning (FP) review, advocated increased funding for FP by state governments.
In view of high incidence of unplanned pregnancies, Funmi Olaolorun, the Co-Principal Investigator, PMA 2020, stressed that increased funding by state governments would  tackle  stock-out of contraceptive commodities and consumables in many states.
According to Olaolorun, many women who are unable to access contraceptives at the FP clinics end up with unintended pregnancies following commodities out-of-stock.
Many youths who are involved in such unplanned pregnancies procure illegal abortions as abortion is permitted under the laws of Nigeria only when the life of the mother is in danger as a result of the pregnancy; only then, can a medical abortion be done – to save the life of the mother.
Unintended pregnancies are pregnancies that are mistimed and unplanned at the time of their conception.
Unfortunately, many Nigerian teenagers, adolescents and married women find themselves with pregnancies that were never planned.
Figures from the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), it is estimated that 6.8 million pregnancies occur in Nigeria annually, and for every four of these pregnancies, one is unplanned.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a woman in developing nations including Nigeria dies of complications arising from an unsafe abortion every eight minutes.
Every year, worldwide, about 42 million women with unintended pregnancies choose abortion, and nearly half of these procedures, approximately 20 million of them, are unsafe.
Also, 68,000 women die from unsafe abortion annually, making it one of the leading causes of maternal mortality across the world. In Nigeria, unsafe abortion contributes 13 per cent of maternal deaths.
Of the women who survive unsafe abortion, five million will suffer long-term health implications. Unsafe abortion is therefore a pressing public health issue, according to medical experts.
Similarly, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) statistics shows that more than one-third of all pregnancies in the country are unintended, and one in five end in abortion.
In addition, the FMOH figures shows that two-thirds of unintended pregnancies occur among women who were not using any method of contraception.
Olaolurun therefore reasoned, “The way out of unintended pregnancies is to prevent contraceptive stock-out by making FP commodities easily accessible all year round to those that need them.”
Presently, the contraceptive prevalent rate (CPR) of Nigerians in the reproductive age bracket is 15 per cent. What this means is that of the total number of women in this age bracket needing contraceptives only 15 per cent accesses and uptakes these live-saving commodities.
Dr. Habeeb Salami, Assistant Director for Reproductive Health & Family Planning at the Pathfinder International, described the current CPR in the country as very low, bemoaning that this has been increasing unintended pregnancies, often resulting in unsafe abortions.
The Federal Government has intensified the campaign to increase uptake of FP with the formulation of the new policy to increase the CPR to 36 per cent by 2030.
The goal is to improve the CPR uptake with a view to tackle unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions
Presently, the Lagos State Government is executing a policy that targets the achievement of 70 per cent CPR in its domain.
Habeeb who is a medical doctor with a specialisation in obstetrics and gynecology, blamed many state governments for stock out of contraceptive commodities, adding that their lack of commitments to making FP commodities available all year round was at the centre of the problem.
According to him, although, the Federal Government has paid for FP commodities, imported them and stored same at the Central Stores in Oshodi, Lagos, the failure of some state governments to transport the products to their states and point of delivery ultimately creates scarcity of same products that sometimes waste away at the Central Stores.
Habeeb  said; “Federal Government procurers all FP commodities and sends them to the Central Stores; the state governments don’t pay.
“It’s so bad that when the Federal Government procures and sends them to the  Central Stores in Lagos, a lot of states have difficulties in picking them up from Lagos.
“The Federal Government goes the extra mile to send these products to State warehouses; yet, there are still challenges from the States to get these commodities from the State warehouses to the health facilities where they are needed.
The Assistant Director for Reproductive Health & Family Planning explained; “The Federal Government and its partners are still working on getting those commodities to facilities where they will be used
“The Federal Government has done so much that the states need to complement those efforts.
“Based on the Federal Government procurement, FP commodities in all states should be free. What a  client that needs them is expected to do is simply walk into a FP clinic, discuss with the provider, agree on a method, they give it to the fellow and the person walks away.”
However, the set back is that the states are not able to buy consumables including cotton wools, gloves, all of which the providers need to deliver the services.
“These are the things that should be available which states need to provide funding for so as to ensure that FP services are provided free,” he added
The assistant director for Reproductive Health & Family Planning at the Pathfinder International, painted a picture of how citizens are denied the contraceptives which the Federal Government has provided free.
He lamented that when people who need FP services arrive to access them, FP commodities are available but consumables are lacking and they are told to pay for the consumables which may be as little as N200. “A lot of women can’t still afford the N200; so, they walk away.”
Based on what plays out afterwards, Habeed said, “The next time you see these women they are pregnant, not because they want to be pregnant.”
However, some factors hinder these group of women from uptaking FP services , he said, stressing that it is stock out which is either occasioned by non-availability of FP commodities in facilities where they are needed and lack of consumables.
Another factor hindering uptake of FP commodities is financial barrier, he added.
  Confirming that Lagos state is trying to earmark some money for consumables, Habeeb said “but it is not enough.”
He noted that there is need for budgets on consumables by local government councils and Primary Health Care Wards in Lagos state, adding that this will ensure that there is no out-of-stock.


Health Budget: NASS Considers 1% Of Consolidated Revenue Fund – Hon Usman


By Chioma Umeha

Hon. Mohammed Usman, the Deputy Chair, House Committee on Health Services, has lamented that Nigeria budget has not been able to actualise one per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) allocation to health as stipulated in the National Health Act of 2014.
He said that the legislators  have been trying to work out the modality of meeting the allocation to provide for effective health care services at all levels in the country   since 2016 till date, adding that this may be captured in the 2018 budget.
Hon. Usman said this in Abuja at the Primary Healthcare Advocacy Civil Society Organisations Learning Dissemination Meeting organised by  Mamaye E4A.
He expressed optimism that with the introduction of public hearing, CSOs can come and scrutinise the budget.
It would be recalled that the NH Acts states that one per cent of consolidated revenue of the country be made available to provide basic healthcare services to all Nigerians especially the poor.
It also stated that 50 per cent of the revenue be given to the National Health Insurance Scheme as basic minimum health package (health for all) while 45 per cent of the funds be given to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency for provision of essential drugs and vaccines, Laboratory equipment and Logistics and also for human resources for its activities.
The other five percent is to be given to the federal ministry of health for emergency medical treatment.
Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr Faisal Shuaib said there is an improvement from the driving efforts of our various partners.  We are achieved a lot with so many challenges.
According to the NPHCDA Boss, who was represented at the occasion by Dr. Abdullah in Bulaga Garbage s few states have full component of PHC.
Speaking also at the event, the NURHI2 Portfolio Director, Dr. Mojisola Odeku said we started PHC under one roof,  but was lost  due to lack of leadership and commitment.
Meanwhile, the Country Director, MamayeE4A, Dr. Tunde Segun in his address of welcome said the ultimate goal of health care is for effective, efficient and coordinated PHC services can be delivered to the citizens especially the vulnerable women and children.
According to him, the organisation has supported Civil Society Organisations in nine states to get involved in advocating for the implementation of specific pillars of Primary Health care Under one Roof (PHCUOR) as a novel strategy.





Plans To Produce Local Vaccines Being Sabotaged – PSN


*National Drug Rehabilitation Centres Underway –Senate

Pharmacists under the auspices of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have alerted that the Federal Government decision to roll out the first locally produced vaccines in July 2019 may not be practicable.
Announcing this recently was Ahmed Yakasai, President, PSN at a press briefing in Lagos.
According to Yakasai, the plan was aimed at producing vaccines against Yellow fever, Tetanus Toxoid and Hepatitis B.
He said: “It is unbelievable that there are so many intrigues. Some people want the process to fail. There are so many interests, even from international bodies. To some, it is either they are involved or it fails. But everything is stabilising now, as the plan is still on, but delayed.
“I have visited the Yellow fever vaccine plant in Yaba, Lagos and work is ongoing. The project is capital intensive, but to make it work better, we are encouraging partnerships.”
May and Baker Plc, an indigenous pharmaceutical industry, had in June 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government to begin the production.
The plan also included developing a centre of excellence for research and development of vaccine technology and other biologics.
Yakassai disclosed that the Senate was planning to establish at least, one National Drug Rehabilitation Centre in each of the six geopolitical zones in the country.
On drug abuse especially among the youths, he said: “The uses of cough syrup with codeine, tramadol, rohypnol, and others have experienced an exponential increase.”
The PSN boss said the PSN had been a strong advocate for local manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and the need for government to create a friendly environment for the sector.
According to Yakasai, the local production of vaccines and drugs would help the country to respond better to emergencies, generate increased internal revenue and raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He identified the challenges facing the sector to include poor funding, delayed and unlawful appointments in regulatory agencies and poor composition structures in the health sector.
Other challenges are the lopsided appointments in federal health institutions, as well as poor cultural attitude to research and development.


PZ Wilmar Partners NCF Walk For Nature

L-R back- L-R front- Chioma Mbanugo, Category Marketing Manager PZ Wilmar; Dipo Dawodu, Finance Director, HPZ (PZ Cussons); Mohammed Tahir, General Manager, External & Regulatory Affairs PZ Cussons; Abiola Laseinde, Company Secretary/Head Corporate Services, Africa PZ Cusson and Dr. Samuel Babatunde Adejare, Commissioner for Environment, Lagos state, during the recent PZ Wilmar Partners NCF for annual Walk for Nature Event 2017.

Read more https://independent.ng/pz-wilmar-partners-ncf-walk-for-nature/

As part of its social responsibilities to sustainable initiatives, investing in the future of local communities and the environment, PZ Wilmar, maker of vegetable oil Brand, Mamador and Devon King’s cooking oil, has joined in the sponsorship of the 2017 edition of the annual Walk for Nature (WFN) event.
The goal, according to the  to the vegetable oil company is to demonstrate the importance of healthy living and the conservation of nature.
The Walk for Nature event themed, “Cleaner Lagos which was jointly organised by the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) held recently, in Lagos.
During the occasion, the foundation for sustainable ecotourism urged participants to imbibe and cultivate good environmental practices for nature conservation and sustainable environmental management.
Acknowledging the support from partners such as PZ Wilmar, Commissioner for Environment Lagos State, Samuel Babatunde Adejare in a statement described the partnership as rewarding and hugely commendable.
“The major gospel of today’s event is walking, which is an effective means we have consistently promoted towards combating health and environmental challenges. We must form the habit of walking to distances that are not too far, this actions improve our health as we do so.”
“To a large extent it behooves on us as a people and a nation to form a global partnership to care for the earth. Overcoming the environmental challenges now confronting us requires effective management of our environment through the concerted efforts of all and sundry in order to preserve nature and our natural resources” he said.
On her part, Abiola Laseinde, PZ Company Secretary and Head of Corporate Services, Africa, thanked the NCF and the Lagos state ministry of Environment for such a laudable initiative, saying, “We are also committed to a cleaner Lagos, and as a business our practices are environmental friendly, the preservation of nature is very important and it has to be a collective responsibility, which is one of the reasons we decided to be part of this event.”
PZ Wilmar was on ground to provide health check for participants, and education on healthy eating and living habits, courtesy of premium cooking oil brand, Mamador.
Participants who arrived at the Marina ground, venue for the event were made to undergo free health checks; BMI, BP and heart healthy lifestyle tips.
The event also provided PZ Wilmar the opportunity to further promote its Million Heart Mission campaign, powered by Mamador premium cooking oil, which aims at promoting heart health across the nation.
The “Walk for Nature” is an annual programme of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation designed to create awareness among the people about Nature Conservation and Good Environmental Practices in Nigeria.



Lagoon Hospitals Upgrades, Commissions Ikeja Facility


By Chioma Umeha
As part of its efforts to increase demand for quality healthcare services, one of Nigeria’s leading healthcare facility, Lagoon Hospitals, has re-commissioned its Ikeja Awolowo Road facility.
The hospital which was established as a mother and child facility has now evolved to accommodate a broader spectrum of health care services, offering multiple specialties to its clientele.
Among the infrastructural changes within the healthcare facility is the addition of a newly built ultra-modern theatre with increased capacity for more surgeries, such as laparoscopy, gastroscopy, colonoscopy and urological procedures.
The next new upgrade in the Ikeja facility of the Hospitals includes the expansion from a 22-bedded facility to a 40-bedded facility.
Similarly, the Sick Baby Care unit has been expanded to a seven-bedded unit with facility for Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
In addition, a new orthopaedic and physiotherapy suite with improved facilities, Health Assessment Clinic with state-of-the-art equipment including, facilities for mammogram services, exercise, stress testing, Spirometry and Digital X-ray.
In line with its commitment to deliver excellent service in the healthcare industry, the hospital has also improved its in-house staffing to include an in-house Neurologist, a Neurosurgeon, Urologist and a Nephrologist, supplementing the available range of clinical services in the facility.
Dr. Jide Idris, Commissioner of Health for Lagos State, who was the special guest of honour at the ceremony, while unveiling the upgraded facility said it is a significant achievement which will help stem the tide of medical tourism in the country.
Idris was optimistic that Lagoon Hospitals will continue to advance medical excellence by integrating clinical care and research to shape medicine for the future in the country and beyond.
Commending the upgraded facility, the Commissioner of Health praised the management of Lagoon Hospitals for constantly delivering on quality healthcare.
On his part, Max Coppoolse, the Chairman of Hygeia Nigeria Limited, noted in his address that “the new improvements mean we can continue providing modern, high quality care, while focusing on patient comfort, and dignity.
“Our patients will benefit from bigger, brighter, purpose-built rooms and upgraded technology. There will also be exciting possibilities to further improve our patients’ experience with the innovation Lagoon Hospitals has come to be known for.”
Mr. Rajeev Bhandari, the Chief Executive of Lagoon Hospitals who spoke on behalf of Lagoon Hospitals, said; “The new facilities at the hospital are poised to improve the quality of service and infrastructure for patients and staff, both in the immediate future and in the years to come. This is a step towards our journey and commitment to provide healthcare of international standards.
Also in attendance at the event were the founders of Lagoon Hospitals, Professor and Professor (Mrs.) Elebute, as well as other healthcare personalities.
Lagoon Hospitals Ikeja is reputable for its focus on patient care and quality. Driven by this principle, the hospital continuously strives to provide international standards of health care, which has led to the recent upgrades within the Ikeja facility.
Lagoon Hospitals has successfully pioneered ground-breaking medical achievements since its establishment in 1986.
In 2011, Lagoon Hospitals, Apapa and Ikeja, made history by becoming the first Hospital 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. This accreditation certified that the quality of care offered in Lagoon Hospitals met international standards.
In 2014, Lagoon Hospitals was the first private hospital in the country to successfully perform an open-heart surgery.
Lagoon Hospitals is part of the Hygeia Group, Nigeria’s foremost private integrated healthcare services provider.


Rotary Club Provides Free Eye Surgery To 436 Kano Residents


About 436 Kano residents recently, benefitted from a free eye surgery carried out by Rotary Club of Lagos Island, Rotary International in collaboration with the Geeta Ashram Nigeria in Kano.
The exercise, which was conducted under Rotary’s Free Eye Operation Camp, tagged “Vision 2020 – “the right to sight”, recorded mass turnout of people.
Beneficiaries at the just- concluded Camp, called on political office holders and other wealthy Nigerians, to help ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians with eye- related problems by providing access to free medical screening and treatment.
Two of the beneficiaries,  a 75-year -old Trader, Mrs. Christiana Ogunmola, who received her two eye sight after suffering for over 10 years, as well as a 62 Year Old Business Woman, Mrs. Justina Obi, described blindness as  a shameful disease.
Speaking, an Ophthalmologist from the ECWA Eye Hospital, Dr Ugbede Idakwo who also conducted the surgery along with Dr. Mayor Atima extolled the virtues of the sponsors on their moral, financial  and committment  to the Programme.
He urged Nigerians especially the poor masses, to be conscious of their health, as any neglect of such could result to untimely and instalmental death or blindness.
The duo, pleaded with the Federal government on the need for continued support to  meaningful NGOs to give hope to the hopeless who usually stay away from hospitals due to huge hospital bills.
In their remarks, the Coordinator, Rotary Club of Lagos Island, Chief Anil Gopwani, and a member of the Trustees of Geeta Ashram, Mr Manu Lalwani expressed their  profound appreciation to the medical team of the ECWA Eye Hospital Kano led by the Director of teh hospital, Dr Mayor Atima, and other paramedical staff.
It could be recalled that Geeta Ashram, an NGO started the projects in 2001 to date and subsequently partnered with the Rotary Mega Club of Lagos Island to actualize 2017 project.


PSN Foundation To Promote Research, Development


By Independent

To support research, development and tackle growing challenges in the country’s healthcare delivery system the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria (PSN) recently launched the PSN Foundation and inaugurated its Board of Trustees in Abuja.
Speaking at the inauguration, Prof. Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, said that such new partnership like PSN Foundation will help in achieving optimum health, especially for the vulnerable ones within the society.
Adewole,who bemoaned the disease burden in the country, identified maternal and infant mortality, low uptake of contraceptive, Tuberculosis diagnosis, immunisation as some of the challenges in the health sector.
The Minister explained that without collaboration with non-governmental organisation (NGOs) among other stakeholders, no government can solely address all existing disease burden.
“One of the purposes of setting up this foundation that strike me most is to support and collaborate with other organisations in the field of human health development.
“Nothing has dramatically changed in the past five years but to provide the needed change and create changes we need new partnership, we need to do things differently and diverse ways which is one of the surest ways.
“To drastically reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria we need new partnership, we must do things differently.
“To really increase our ability to diagnose TB where we can really diagnose one in every six cases we need partnership, to increase contraceptive uptake we need partnership.
“We need partnership to prevent our young ones from dying,” the minister said.
Adewole, who described the PSN Foundation as first of its kind, commended Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, its President, for the laudable initiative.
On his part, Ahmed Yakasai, President PSN, at the event said the PSN Foundation will promote research and development, promote education in the expansive field of pharmacy practice in Nigeria, it will also carter for the welfare of pharmacists and Nigerians at large and provide scholarships to deserving pharmacists and their children, and promote national development.
Yakasai said the PSN Foundation will have the mandate to impact on the welfare and well-being of all Nigerians. He said the impact on the general public shall be delivered through well articulated public health campaigns and programmes, fight against fake, substandard and falsified drugs, drug abuse, emergency response (humanitarian assistance), advocacy for childhood and family health diseases, like nutrition, pneumonia and diarrhoea, routine immunisation, Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), malaria prevention and treatment, non communicable diseases and maternal and child health.
SEE ALSO: Why Ibom Specialist Hospital Was Shut – Health Commissioner
Yakasai said the Board of Trustees shall be chaired by the former President of PSN, Mohammed Yaro Budah; while Lere Baale (Vice Chairman), Remi Adeseun (Secretary), Ike John Igwu (Treasurer) and Margaret Ebigwelu-Ibru (Public Relations Officer). Other members of the Board of Trustees include Ibrahim Umar Babangida, Clare Omatseye, Joke Bakare, as well as the National Treasurer of PSN and the President of PSN.
Also, Yakasai, at a press conference ahead of the Society’s 90th Annual National Conference schedule to hold Umuahia, Abia State, from November 6 to 11, 2017, said the event is an opportunity to showcase the organisational capacity of the PSN widely perceived as one of the oldest and best organised professional bodies in Nigeria.
The theme of the conference is “Medicines Availability and National Security.”
The PSN President said to enrich the plenary session, Prof. Isa Hussain Marte, of University of Maiduguri and Professor of Cancer Pharmacology will talk on “Nigerian Medicinal Plants: Sources of Anticancer Agents.”
Yakasai said the PSN shall also continue to promote its relationship with the distinguished Fourt Estate of the realm through the Ben Ukwuoma Memorial Award instituted two years ago.



Safe Water: Increase Access To Meet SDGs Goal – UNICEF


By Chioma Umeha

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal six by 2030, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said that Nigeria must intensify efforts in ensuring access to portable water supply.
The United Nations body is worried that 15 million Nigerians still drink water from rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and irrigation canals and have tasked the Federal Government to improve access to safe drinking water.
Moustapha Niang, UNICEF specialist, who spoke recently, during a two-day media dialogue on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene WASH, organised by UNICEF in partnership with the Child Right Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Ministry of Information, expressed concern over lack of safe drinking water in the country.
Niang said that 57 million Nigerians lacked access to potable water supply and added that more than half of this figure lives in rural areas.
He noted that accessibility to safe water can save the lives of most under-five children that die annually from water-borne diseases.
With most of these diseases caused by poor access to safe water, the UNICEF specialist warned: “If the government do not put in more effort to ensure access to safe water supply, Nigeria is unlikely to meet the Sustainable Development Goals six target.
“We need to do 20 times more of what we are currently doing in terms of policies and funding in providing safe water to the people,” he said.
“For example, in 1999, 12 per cent of the population has pipe access to their homes but this percentage declined to two percent as at 2015.”
The SDG goals six aims at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Mr Udom Emmanuel, the Akwa Ibom state governor, in his remarks, noted  that the state government was providing new strategic policies that would ensure provision of potable water across the state.
Emmanuel who was represented at the event by Mr. NseEde,  the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources, observed that the state government was not only doing this for the people of Akwa Ibom state,  but for the whole South South region.
Martha Hokonya, UNICEF WASH Specialist, in her presentation enumerated the benefits of provision of potable water and urged journalists to do the needful in prompting the government to invest in provision of potable water.
Hokonya, also said such investment  in addition to job creation, reduces diseases and mortality rate, improves  productivity and also provides time for women to engage in other activities like child care and others activities which brings women together.



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