Sunday, 21 July 2019

D-8 Consultation Re-Energises Member Countries’ Commitment To Health Development

Says Political Will Apparent For Achievement Of SDGs

Deputy Ministers of Health and experts from Nigeria and other member states of the D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation (D-8) have resolved to strengthen their commitment towards the implementation of the organisation’s Health and Social Protection Programme (HSP ). 
This was part of their resolutions in a communiqué issued after the inaugural consultative meeting of the programme organised by the D-8 Secretariat and the federal government in Abuja.
The D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation (D-8), is an organisation for development co-operation among eight developing countries in the Muslim world. 
They are: Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Turkey.  It was established in 1997 and aimed at sustainable economic development, and uplifting the standards of living of member states.
The inaugural consultation was organised to enable solidarity and cooperation for health and social protection as well as amplify linkages between investment in health and overall social and economic development of the D-8 countries
“The gathering outlined the urgent need to accelerate improvement in health outcomes, and broker collective economic development through improved wellbeing, which will help the countries achieve health SDG and its Universal Health Coverage (UHC) target” said Dr Ado Muhammad, Special Adviser, Head Health and Social Protection Secretariat.
Inadequate and sustainable financing constrain achievement of health SDGs, and the UHC target, as well as constrain overall social and economic development within and across member countries of the D-8 were identified by participants as key challenge for member countries.
The consultation also highlighted building new narratives in innovative and sustainable financing for health, unprecedented cooperation towards trust and solidarity for collective action among its members.
A cursory look at the diversity of health burdens, access to services and health systems architecture helped countries to understand areas of alignment and potential collaboration across the 8 countries, as well as opportunities of shared learning.
“The D-8 group of countries has been successful in energy, transportation, industrial cooperation, and agriculture and food security since the last two decades but the health sector lagging behind, we organized the consultation to enable us  develop a robust Health and Social Protection Programme” Ado said.
Lancet series of 2018 on progress and key determinants of Reproductive, Maternal. Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health in Muslim Majority Countries (MMC) suggests that despite notable reductions between 1990 and 2015, MMCs compared with a global estimate of all countries including MMCs had higher mortality rates, and MMCs relative to non-MMCs within Countdown countries also performed worse.
“Coverage of essential interventions across the continuum of care was on average lower among MMCs, especially for indicators of reproductive health, prenatal care, delivery, and labour, and childhood vaccines. Outcomes within MMCs for mortality and many reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health indicators varied considerably.” the report said.
The lancet findings also suggests, “ Structural and contextual factors, especially state governance, conflict, and women and girl’s empowerment indicators, were significantly worse in MMCs compared with non-MMCs within the high-burden Countdown countries, and were shown to be strongly associated with child and newborn mortality within low-income and middle-income MMCs.”
As its support to member countries, the consultation concluded that it would mobilize resources and assets to improve health. It will also build country programmes in health and social protection along the 7 pillars of the D-8 HSP Programmes, harnessing the achievements and strategies within existing global health initiatives and programmes.

Wives Of Governors Partner Roche On War Against Cancer

Some wives of Nigerian Governors, under the aegis of Wives of Governors Against Cancer (WOGAC), has formed strong alliance with Roche Nigeria as part of their efforts to win the war against cancer in Nigeria.
Roche, an international organisation with headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strength in pharmaceutical and diagnostics, and is also the world’s largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS.
Roche’s personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health quality of life and survival of patients.
WOGAC’s partnership arrangement with Roche which took place during a round table meeting held at Belanova Apartments and Suites, Maitama, Abuja, with the theme; TOGETHER FOR HER, promises to yield results that will change the  narrative on cancer control and care in Nigeria.
Ondo first lady, Chief Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, founder, Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, and first ladies of Niger, Cross River, Enugu state, Her Excellencies,  Dr Amina Abubakar Bello, founder Raise Foundation, Dr Linda Ayade, founder, Mediatrix Development Foundation, Mrs Monica Ugwuanyi, founder, Ugo’s Touch of Life Foundation (U-TOLF), respectively were present at the meeting.
Others who were represented at the meeting include wives former governors of Kwara and Oyo state, Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed, founder LEAH Foundation, and Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, founder, ABC Foundation, respectively.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Mrs. Akeredolu, who is also a breast cancer survivor, stated that early detection, which is driven by awareness, increases the chances of the patient to survive and reduces the cost of treatment, but noted that some patients cannot even afford the little amount at that stage and therefore called on Nigerians to be their brother’s keepers by supporting Cancer-based NGOs in raising funds.
The event also featured lectures on  BCPJ Study delivered by Dr Razaq Oyesegun, an Oncologist from National Hospital and “Catastrophic Health Fund; the role of WOGAC” by Dr Olumide Okunola of World Bank.

Lagos Govt Committed To Ending Maternal Deaths From Unsafe Abortions – LASUTH CMD


rof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), has disclosed that Lagos State government was committed to saving women’s lives from unsafe abortion that has killed millions annually and at a great cost.
Speaking at a training programme of the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and SAFE ENGAGE in collaboration with the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists (NRHJN) in Lagos recently, Prof. Fabamwo said the state government was working assiduously to improve access to safe abortion within the extant laws of the land.
He said that statistics shows that unsafe abortions account for roughly 5,000 maternal deaths every year in Nigeria, or on average, 14 maternal deaths each day, while unsafe abortions are also costly to women and the health care system.
He added that 50% of deaths due to unsafe abortion are adolescents while 60% of abortions are done by quacks.
The LASUTH CMD noted that restrictive abortion laws, prohibitive costs, poor access to safe health services, and intense social stigma were barriers that prevent women from accessing safe and legal abortion.
He said the Lagos Ministry of Health was planning to give effect to the 2011 Criminal Code that allows for legal abortion to protect the physical health and life of a woman and requires that safe abortion services be provided within the full extant the law.
Prof. Fabamwo advocated safe abortion done by qualified personnel while the drugs should be strictly prescription drugs in order to avoid abuse.
Calling on other states of the federation to emulate Lagos State, he said there were opportunities to adopt the nationally approved clinical guidelines on safe abortion for legal indications and the 2015 Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.
The VAPP Act, he explained, protects girls, women, and marginalised communities from abuse, and ensures comprehensive medical services for victims of rape and incest.  
Dr. Funmi Ola Olorun, Co-Principal Investigator, PMA2020, in his own presentation said that abortion occurs among women of all ages and socioeconomic status.
Stakeholders were of the opinion that there was need to step up public awareness on causes and consequences of unsafe abortions and the dangers of not having access to legal and safe abortion.

Save The Children Donates Relief Materials To Collapsed Ita Faji Building Survivors


Some of the Survivors of Collapsed Ita Faji Building Survivors at the event. Inset: Some donated Items by Save The children International

Worried over the fate of accident victims and families at the Ita Faji building collapse in Lagos earlier in the year, health experts have called for support to ensure that adequate healthcare and rehabilitation is provided for them.
Among those who made the call penultimate Tuesday in Lagos was the Area Operations Manager for Save The Children International, Kayode Ajumobi, when the organisation made a donation of some relief materials to the victims.  
Ajumobi further urged public-spirited individuals, and government at all levels to come to the aid of the victims of the collapsed building, reasoning that many of them are still in pitiable conditions and yet to recuperate.
For instance, Nine-year-old Joy Ikwueze has been at Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos, for over three months, where she is receiving medical attention to enable her walk again.
Lamenting, Joy’s mother, Ifenyinwa Ikwueze, said, “My daughter is among those that got hurt on the March 13, 2019 due to the collapsed building in Ohen Nursery and Primary school Ifaji, Lagos Island.
“After the incident, I took my daughter to Gbagada, where we spent two months and three weeks. During that process, my daughter went through dialysis and surgery. We are still battling over health, but for now she cannot walk, I believe God that soon she will start walking though she is still receiving treatment.”
Joy is one of the many children that sustained serious injuries at the Ita Faji building collapse in the state.
The plight of joy and other children has attracted the attention of government officials and international communities for support.
Worried about accident victims and families, Ajumobi urged society, policy makers and government at all levels to see the safety of children as paramount.
The expert also called for adequate healthcare to be provided for them as well as their reintegration into the society.
Reasoning that every member of the society has a role to play in child protection, the Area Operations Manager said, “Everyone has a role to play in protecting children, it is not left to government alone, and it is left to everyone within the society and community. Similarly, everyone overseeing building construction should abide by proper regulations, oversight, monitoring and evaluation. With these in place and everyone playing their part, I believe we would make a great difference.”
Still on the Ita Faji building collapse, he said, “If parents had seen noticed abnormalities in the structure prior to the its collapse and had taken it up to the appropriate authorities and the later had also taken it up with the owner of the building, it is very likely that there would have been fewer victims when the incident happened.
“So every Nigerian has to play a role to make sure that incidents like this never happen again in the country to avoid the tragedy. We call for social safety to be put in place by government at all levels.”
Speaking with Comrade Kamal Salau-Bashua, Chairman, Lagos Island, Local Government Area (LGA) in an interview told DAILY INDEPENDENT that the occasion was significant to them in Lagos Island, and especially to the survivors of the ugly incident.
Salau-Bashua while appreciating Save The Child gesture, stressed that prevention is cheaper than cure.
 He said that the incident has forced the state government and partners to boost safety measures to prevent similar tragedies in future.
‘The advocacy is on-going and we can see many illegal houses and buildings that have being demolished all over the state. This has resulted to developers and property owners moving ahead of government to destroy their building by themselves for proper rehabilitation. This is because they know that government is on the trail of such buildings,” he added.
He further appealed to citizens to abide by the laws and rules for the safety of Lagos state.
He also urged corporate bodies to partner with Save The Children so that government’s burden will become lighter, saying that it is a collective responsibility to support the victims of  the collapsed Ita Faji building.
Ita Faaji building collapse led to the lost of many lives and displacement of many families on March 13, 2019.

JOHESU Urges Ministry To Address Unresolved Labour Issues

Pledges Improved Health Sector


Com. Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, Chairman, Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), has urged the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to comply with all judgments of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) issued on March 28, 2019 pertaining to the payment of outstanding 2018 salaries to members and actualising the adjustment of CONHESS Scale pending for many years.
Josiah made the appeal when he led a delegation of JOHESU/ Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) national leadership on a courtesy visit to Abdullahi Abdulkadir, the Permanent Secretary, FMoH last Thursday, in Abuja.
He told the Perm Sec that contrary to the pervading impression that JOHESU does not believe in dialogue, members had always excelled in the finest tenets of rules of engagement to ensure the stability and growth of the health sector.
He then intimated him of some of the lingering welfare challenges of JOHESU members which include implementation of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) consent judgment; payment of withheld April and May, 2018 salaries of members; adjustment of CONHESS salary structure and implementation of the ADR reached between JOHESU and the Federal Government.
He said, “We wish to bring you tremendous goodwill from the National Secretariat of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA), which constitute over 95 percent of workforce in the health sector.
“JOHESU further draws your attention to the very important subject matter which is germane to the career, progress and wellbeing of all health workers under the umbrella of JOHESU.  An undiluted implementation will go a long way to return the lost harmony which in turn would enable effective, efficient and affordable healthcare delivery to the masses of Nigeria.  You will observe that the Federal Ministry of Health has been mandated through specific intervention plans with timelines to ameliorate the restiveness of our members.
“This development is a product of many years of rigmarole taking us through negotiations with the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FML&E) and a complete complement of other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).  Our members have noted the relative inactivity that ensued after the consent judgment of the NICN and therefore humbly request that the FMoH immediately put necessary machinery in motion to actualise the various ADR resolutions which have now become a judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).  The reality as it stands now is that the Federal Ministry of Health has violated the judgment of the NICN because many of the timelines have expired.”
Josiah told the Permanent Secretary that JOHESU specifically demands that the FMoH  immediately sets up the reflected structures in line with the NICN judgment, Central Internship Placement Committee for all eligible health professionals (timeline 4 weeks from execution of ADR) March  28, 2019; the FMoH liaises with CMDs/CEOs PICA & IPPIS to effect payment of promotion/skipping arrears;  Staff Audit Committee including members of JOHESU to critically examine concerns of understaffing and irregular employment affecting members of JOHESU (Execution of the exercise to be within 2 to 4 weeks from date of execution of this term (March 28, 2019); and implementation of the five-man committee report on Specialist Allowance for Health Professionals.
Others are that the FMoH presents a fresh memo to the National Council on Establishment (NCE) on the review of the retirement age of health workers.  It demands that in writing such a memo, the FMoH should take cognizance of the resolution at ADR which counseled that the FMoH should make it clear in its new originating memo that the beneficiaries are healthcare workers in the Federal Health Institutions.
It also includes that FMoH in line with agreements to ensure appointments shall be in line with enabling statutes ensures that representatives of Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and PSN are appointed to fill vacant membership slots at the Specialist Hospitals (National Eye Centre and National Ear Centre) and that the FMoH should as a matter of urgency begin the processes to implement the 30th September, 2017 Agreement on Adjustment of CONHESS Salary Structure.
On withheld salaries of JOHESU members in April and May, 2018, JOHESU chairman said, “We find it extremely necessary to draw your attention to the challenge of withheld salaries of our members in April and May, 2018.  This was hinged on a selective ‘No Work No Pay’ resolution of the Federal Executive Council.  It is on record that the controversial ‘No work No Pay’ policy of the Federal Government has never been applied in any sector of the economy. 
He said, “In one instance ASUU was on strike for at least three months, yet their salaries were never withheld.  Even when medical practitioners (medical doctors) were on strike, no such obnoxious policy was used against them (Resident Doctors in LUTH for six weeks in 2018).
“Once again we refer the FMoH under your watch to the 2017 Terms of Settlement we had with the Federal Government on September 30, 2017 which forbade victimisation of those who participated in the April and May 2018 strike which was a direct consequence of the failure of the Federal Government to implement the Terms of Settlement within five weeks of signing same.  Sir, our teeming members expect that after this visit, your kind intervention will make way for a breakthrough.”
On adjustment of CONHESS Scale as was done to CONMESS Scale, Josiah said that in 2009 the Federal Government committed itself to a MoU on relativity in the two salary scales that were introduced via CONHESS for all health workers except doctors and CONMESS for doctors.  The express implication of the MoU was that any adjustment on any of the scales would transcend to the automatic tinkering of the other scale by a commensurate percentage.
“Since 2014 when the Federal Government adjusted the CONMESS Scale holistically, it has further adjusted selectively in 2017.  During negotiations on this matter with a team of Federal Government officials led by the erstwhile Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, and the Minister for Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who incidentally are Medical Doctors.
“At the peak of negotiations with this Federal Government team, it offered N6.5 billion which we rejected because it was grossly below the N22.6 billion prepared by NISWC as agreed in the 2017 Terms of Settlement.  An intervention was also brokered by the erstwhile President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who promised to accommodate Federal Government approvals for CONHESS through supplementary budget. 
“An unofficial source had also hinted during the Senate President intervention that the Federal Government was willing to increase the appropriation for CONHESS to N8.25 billion, and that the balance should be provided for in the 2018 supplementary budget.
“These moves were never sealed before events took us to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centre of the NICN, where to the chagrin of the JOHESU leaders, the FMoH claimed it could only offer N2B billion at a time N6.5 billion had been earlier rejected.  At this stage, it was obvious the FMoH team to the mediation which stretched proceedings to over three months on flimsy excuse of seeking the Health Minister’s approval for a realistic vote was playing games to wear us out which was why the matter of CONHESS adjustment suffered a deadlock at the ADR Centre,” the JOHESU chairman explained.
Josiah also spoke about the Anti-corruption Policy at FMC Owerri. He said JOHESU fully subscribes to the anti-corruption policy of the Federal Government which motivated it to enlist members to ensure whistle blowing at FMC Owerri to expose the monumental corruption of the erstwhile management of the facility led by Dr. Angela Uwakwem.
“Surprisingly, this has turned out to be an albatross to our members who provided information in this direction as they have been denied their salaries for four months in 2017, promotion opportunities in 2018, in addition to losing benefit packages tied to whistle blowing.  This is most discouraging and we strongly urge the Permanent Secretary to device remedies in this regard.
“We therefore, call on you to stand to be counted by dispensing justice to members of JOHESU and actualising the adjustment of CONHESS,” he said.
Josiah called on the Federal Ministry of Health FMoH to set up the Sub-Committee on the critical labour matters and the Central Standing Committee to address the various pending issues assigned to them via the consent judgment of the NICN, adding that the Sub-Committee should have JOHESU leaders as members.
Replying, Abdullahi Abdulkadir, the Permanent Secretary, FMoH, thanked Josiah and his team for the courtesy visit and assured them of maximum cooperation.
Abdulkadir promised to set up a committee of relevant stakeholders from FMoH and JOHESU to tackle the matters arising.

Why Role Of Parents In Managing Autistic Children Is Crucial – Ndolo


Autism is a simple behavioral disorder and disability that can be managed so that the affected person can connect with the society and reach their highest potential in life, according to Mrs. Dicta Ndolo, a United States-based Behaviour Analyst who has dismissed beliefs that the condition is a disease. She also advised parents of children living with Autism to break the silence by seeking the answers to their wards disability, instead of shying away, noting that would not be of help. Mrs. Dicta Ndolo who also is creating massive Autism Awareness campaign in Enugu state, told DAILY INDEPENDENT in an interview that symptoms of Autism can be identified in children through their communication, social behaviour and speech challenge, just as she admonished parents to be on the lookout for these signs. ‘Autism is a developmental, neurological disability that affects one in 87 children and for every five kids affected, four of them are boys and one is a girl’ Giving further details on health condition, she said, “Autism is a complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors. Because of the range of symptoms, this condition is now called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It covers a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels
of impairment. ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care. “Children with autism have trouble communicating. They have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch.” “A child with ASD who is very sensitive may be greatly troubled – sometimes even pained – by sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem normal to others. “Children who are autistic may have repetitive, stereotyped body movements such as rocking, pacing, or hand flapping. They may have unusual responses to people, attachments to objects, resistance to change in their routines, or aggressive
or self-injurious behavior. At times they may seem not to notice people, objects, or activities in their surroundings. Some children with autism may also develop seizures. And in some cases, those seizures may not occur until adolescence.” She also explained, “Some people with autism are cognitively impaired to a degree. In contrast to more typical cognitive impairment, which is characterized by relatively even delays in all areas of development, people with autism show uneven skill development. They may have problems in certain areas, especially the ability to communicate and relate to others. But they may have unusually developed skills in other areas, such as drawing, creating music, solving math problems, or memorising facts. For this reason, they may test higher – perhaps even in the average or above-average range – on nonverbal intelligence tests.” She further advised parents to be on the lookout for a behaviour expert for their children who will provide help to such disabilities, reasoning that Mr. Bill Gates, the Microsoft CEO had Autism, yet he still made it to the peak of his career. “Symptoms of autism typically appear during the first three years of life. Some children show signs from birth. Others seem to develop normally at first, only to slip suddenly into symptoms when they are 18 to 36 months old. However, it is now recognised that some individuals may not show symptoms of a communication disorder
until the demands of the environment exceed their capabilities. Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls. Being an adult with Autism is not a terrible thing except the person involved was severely affected during childhood,” she said. “Autism has three main characteristics and minor ones. The main ones are difficulty in communication, difficulty with social skills and difficulty with the sensory response,” she added. She explained that difficulty in communication signifies that some of them may likely not speak or if they speak, one might not understand their pronunciations. Some may not understand spoken languages which will mean those using gestures and sign language. While some talk, but might have problem with volume, others scream, and the rest may whisper. Concerning social skills, she said that though children with Autism don’t play properly with toys, it is nothing to be ashamed of. During the awareness which was held at Bush House Arena Nza Street, Enugu on Saturday, July 6, Mrs. Dicta lamented that children get affected with Autism when they are born and don’t get help which makes them grow into an adult with autism. She went further to pleaded with parents to stop hiding their children living with Autism because some of them starve to death after being abandoned and ostracised. Many of them are classified as mentally challenged persons as a result. “Every child is a gift from God,” she stressed

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