Saturday, 4 April 2015

Pictures of cerebral palsy survivors

The saying ‘Children are gifts from above’, can be said to be true in the case of Ediddiong, a talented child born to the family of the Williams in July 1999.

Like every other child she came into this world healthy and medically fit. But, within the first four months of her life, it became obvious that she was missing expected developmental milestone of a normal baby, such as; difficulty in breast feeding, not being able to control her neck, and then sit like a baby should, she began diminishing also, in size. This being a great source of concern for the parents, they were forced to visit several hospitals in search of proper medical intervention. After several recommendations and prescriptions, they were advised to enroll Ediddiong at a home (ModupeCole/Home for the Disabled). But, because of the love the parents had for her, they could not abandon Ediddiong and therefore, decided to take her back home where they continued to seek for possible ways to make her life better. They were later referred to Massey children Hospital where she’s booked for therapy every two weeks.

Being a unique child, she started developing gradually with massage and other therapeutic activities such that she could grab a cup, stand with little support and talk a little. This improvement made the parents to search for a school for her. But most schools rejected her due to her condition, eventually Ediddiong was admitted and started her educational journey at the age of 10 in Nursery one at Baptist Memorial Nursery & Primary School at Lagos Island. The educational environment has added a lot of improvement to her life as she walks to and fro school by herself unlike before. She began to listen and reply a little less audibly. In spite of her condition and challenges, she has pulled steadily and brilliantly through her primary education and is about writing common Entrance Examination to College, at the age of 15, defeating her all odds.

Ediddiong is just one out of 17 million people across the world living with cerebral palsy (CP) while another 350 million are closely connected to a child or adult with CP, making it easily, the most common physical disability in childhood. Cerebral palsy is also a complex disability in that one in four children with CP cannot talk, one in three cannot walk, one in two has an intellectual disability while one in four has epilepsy. According to Mrs. Alaba Gbadebo, Co-founder of Benola, A Cerebral palsy Initiative, the developed countries have a prevalence rate of two to four per 1000 births. With a prevalence rate of five to 10 per 1000 births, it is estimated that Nigeria currently has about 700,000 Children living with CP and an additional 3.5million, (including 1.4 million parents) that are closely connected to a child with CP. Gbadebo stressed that Cerebral palsy is real and it exists all over Nigeria, affecting all levels of society, but added that the health condition has no cure.

“As of today, the condition has no cure. It is the most expensive childhood disability to manage. Many families often abandon affected children which further complicate matters for mothers who already have little or no means of livelihood,” Mrs. Gbadebo who is a mother of 18-year-old child, Olaluwa, who is living with CP lamented. Bemoaning, high level of ignorance about cerebral palsy, Mrs. Gbadebo emphasized on the need for increased awareness about the disorder. She said: “The general lack of understanding of CP in Nigeria has led to stigmatization and all kinds of family and marital problems for many, mostly in our rural communities. Most children with CP are either born premature or manifest the symptoms in early childhood which calls for major improvements in antenatal, maternal and early child care, particularly in rural communities if we are to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary expenditure by parents who will try anything in their desperation for a miracle cure.

“Communities, especially rural ones, lack adequate support systems to sustain affected families,” she added.
Gbadebo relieving her 18 years experience in the management of CP, explained that the reality of the CP condition in Nigeria, the state of our medical facilities and the options available to families of children with the condition, made her organization- Benola to team with relevant experts and design a roadmap which is hope to help relevant authorities do that which is right and proper for affected children and their families. “The Roadmap which looked at challenges and constrains that form barriers to the management of CP in Nigeria also identified key issues, goals and objectives which tend to have negative affects the rights of children with CP,” Benola Co-founder added.

It further explored areas through which government, at all levels could take responsibility for leadership and ensure that necessary tools for effective management of CP are in place, she noted. Concerning treatment and management, she said: “As of today, there is no proven cure for CP. However, evidence points to a multi-disciplinary approach, where interventions are aimed at treating and preventing complications which are likely to occur as a follow up to the condition, as being the best form of management for CP. She observed that though brain damage in CP may change as the brain and body develops, the extent of damage to the brain itself does not increase. Therefore, Gbadebo said treatment in the life of a CP patient is primarily focused on preventing the damage in the brain from prohibiting healthy development on other levels.

According to her, relevant healthcare professionals are critical to the effective management of the condition.
She also said that the healthcare professionals who form the multidisciplinary team for the effective management of CP are; physicians and clinicians, pediatrics, neurology, orthopaedic, ophthalmology, audiology, ENT and psychology (developmental and clinical). Others are physio-therapists, occupational and speech therapists, nurses, counsellors, dieticians as well as special educators. She further said that early detection of CP is very important in order for appropriate intervention to start early. Detection should start in the neonatal period through thorough new-born examination that includes early features of CP such as lethargy or hyper-alertness, poor sucking reflexes, seizures cataracts. “In infancy, features such as persistence of primitive reflexes, stagnation of head growth, and hand preference before one year of age are signs that warrant further evaluation for CP. However it is important to note that some babies do not show obvious signs right away.

“In such cases, CP only becomes evident when the baby reaches developmental stages of between six to nine months where difficulties in movement such as the preferential use of certain limbs as well as asymmetric or gross movement delays become clearly evident,” she said. Early intervention is vital in the management of CP because the brain, not being concrete in its development up to about the age of eight years, has the ability to re-organise and reroute many signal paths which may have been affected by the initial damage, she explained. Therefore, the earlier it has help in doing this the more successful it will be because research has shown that the earlier treatment begins, the better the chances affected children will have in overcoming developmental disabilities or learning new ways of accomplishing tasks which challenge them, she observed.
She noted that Ediddiong is among the few examples of beneficiaries of early detection, intervention, effective and successful management of CP. Speaking recently, during the World Cerebral Palsy(CP) Day, Uchenna Ogochukwu Makueke and Oluwabusola Claudia Akinsola, both Benola CP Ambassadors and are living with the condition, corroborated “Cerebral palsy is not a disease but a condition. One can achieve whatever he wants in life.”

Akinsola, is a project officer with Children Development Centre (CDC), Surulere and Madueke, a teacher at Open Doors Special Education Centre, Jos, Plateau State. Busola, was born August 1, 1981, and holds a Master’s Degree in International Economics and Trade from the prestigious London Metropolitan University.
The self-motivated team-player who is keen to take on new challenges had her first degree in Economics from Babcock University, Nigeria. Busola who has a number of Research works to her credit, has been working with Children Developmental Centre (CDC), Surulere, Lagos, as a Project officer, Since March 2012. Uchenna was born in Jos, September 29, 1975, and had her primary education at University of Jos Primary School before proceeding to Tempest Comprehensive High School. She later attended the University Jos and graduated 2001, with a Diploma in Special Education with upper credit.

Uche, as she is fondly called then served from 1998 to 1999 as a teaching assistant at the Special Education Model Teaching Centre of the University of Jos and has been a teacher at Open Doors Special Education Centre Jos, Plateau State, since 2001. Uche, who is the founder of the CP Society of Plateau State, has authored a book about her life, titled; “Miss Courageous” to help encourage families of children with CP. In June 2009, she attended a conference in South Africa where people with disabilities from all over Africa learnt to tell the story of their life digitally. According to Uche, her objective in life is to encourage families of children with cerebral palsy. Uche and Busola are success stories of early detection, intervention, effective and successful management of CP.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 19,  2015.

Lagos stands still as residents march against ‘Endo’ pain

Lagos residents took the streets in solidarity for girls and women undergoing pain and trauma of endometriosis – an incurable gynaecological disorder that occurs when the endometrium (cells lining the uterus) grow in other areas of the body, weekend.

Clad in bright yellow as well as black T-shirts, the participants marched the streets distributing leaflets designed to educate and inform the general public about the campaign against the debilitating disorder – endometriosis. The parade which drew attention of residents saw avid women and men chanting songs and different slogans: ‘STOP ‘Endo’ Pain. “Ask Me About Endo Pain”; “You are not alone. Take a stand for your wives, sisters, daughters, because it matters!” Women with the disorder readily feel pain, irregular bleeding and have problems getting pregnant. The Endomarch is a platform to educate, empower, and effect change to the devastating disorder.

A walk tagged, EndoMarch 2015, held in Lagos weekend directed towards ending the pain of Endometriosis among women in Nigeria and the world at large. Inset: Cross-section of participants with Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, the Managing Director of Nordica Fertility Centre and organiser of the EndoMarch (fifth left on hat). Photo: Chioma Umeh
The marching crowd were participants in the “Million Woman March for Endometriosis Worldwide”, tagged EndoMarch 2015 which kicked off at 9am from City Mall Onikan, Lagos through Awolowo Road, Ikoyi and terminated at The Lagoon Restaurant, Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria, Island. The EndoMarch on Saturday which was facilitated by the Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN) a not-for-profit organisation (NGO) in conjunction with Nordica Fertility Centre, and Diamond Bank Plc was a continuation of the weeklong programme of the tenth year celebration of endometriosis advocacy. Some celebrities such as Funke Akindele also participated in the march against the cruel disorder, tagged, ‘Endo-pain.’

The Managing Director of Nordica Fertility Centre and organiser of the EndoMarch, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, after the sports walk said “Being physically fit goes a long way to prevent ailments, which is why we are marching, jogging this early to keep the body in good shape because there is a strong relationship between keeping fit and good health. Aside from all that sports is a great way of bringing people together.” Organised annually to unite women/families globally by taking a stand against endometriosis, the EndoMarch programme seeks to create awareness about the scourge called Endometriosis. It also helps to improve the living standard for females both young and old and the society at large. Ajayi, who is also the EndoMarch Country Affiliate Partner Representative and Lead Medical Consultant for ESGN, further said the group through the EndoMarch programme has managed to increase awareness about the health disorder thereby providing support for girls and women living with it.

The obstetrician and gynaecologist said: “The Endometriosis walk termed ‘the Million Women March for endometriosis’ is an annual event which brings together people all over the world propagating the cause. We believe women should not suffer for 10 years before they are diagnosed. They should not be told that their pain is imaginary, normal and ok, they should not be dismissed as ‘sensitive’ or ‘psychotic,’ and they should not be going through it alone. “The Million Women March for Endometriosis is so important because only few women understand endometriosis. We need this awareness so no woman feels confused or alone again,” he added. He lamented: “This cancer-like disease that causes extreme pain, possible infertility, organ dysfunction and failure as well as years of medical treatment gave us a lot of concern and led us to make the effort to raise awareness for this ignored disease, hence the birth of ESGN in 2005. We have since then been at the forefront, actively lobbying for better outcomes, education and awareness, care, treatment options and support for these women affected with the endometriosis condition.

Ajayi also said: “Endometriosis is a cruel, crippling, and incurable disease that affects an estimated one in eight women and girls. Yet, despite being so common, there is very little in the way of public awareness about the disease. Due to this lack of awareness in both the general public, as well as with medical professionals, it takes on average of six to ten years of unnecessary suffering and countless visits to doctor after doctor before patients receive a correct diagnosis. “As a result, women and girls suffer in silence and risk losing their organs, their pregnancies, and their fertility. Women even lose their jobs, friends and family support as a result of misunderstanding about this serious, yet invisible disease. You will always hear both medical professionals and the public say…suck it up and the pain will be over in days…you will be fine, it’s natural…just pop a pain killer and go about your duties…oh stop your whining, that’s not an excuse to shirk your duties, etc,” he added.

An endometriosis survivor, Olamide Oluwatuyi, who gave an account of her experience with the disorder, said it all began at the age 12 for her when she attained menarche. “I experienced the disorder at an early age, but didn’t know what it was. I had very painful periods and didn’t know why. Nobody knew why. “This went on for several years and I did not find solution until last year when I met Dr. Ajayi. I almost diagnosed myself. The doctor was kind enough to talk to me and my greatest fear was confirmed. He gave me the awareness, and the hope for lasting treatment. “I went through surgery (laparoscopic surgery) that is really not as bad as people think. So when you experience this kind of pain from endometriosis, you need to get it investigated. It is not the end of the world.”

ESGN is the first and only organization focusing on this condition in Nigerian and the West African sub-region.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 19,  2015.

Treatment of hepatitis with diet

Making changes to the diet is one of the easiest ways to naturally treat hepatitis. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and is usually caused by hepatitis, but it can be caused by other factors such as toxins, medications and infections. There are different types of hepatitis, but it tends to share the same types of symptoms. However, you need to know about dietary treatment of the acute hepatitis phase which occurs in hepatitis A, B, C, D and E and what can be done to manage chronic hepatitis conditions. A patient suffering from acute infectious hepatitis will experience severe loss of appetite or anorexia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, taste changes, fever and jaundice. All these symptoms complicate food intake and make it difficult to ensure that the patient is well nourished at a time when it is essential to provide the patient with a highly nutritious diet to prevent liver damage. There are essentials which your diet should include if you have acute hepatitis infection:

Appetite stimulation
Appetite stimulation to overcome anorexia – this is probably one of the most difficult challenges facing anyone who is trying to assist a hepatitis patient who may feel so ill and debilitated that they totally refuse to eat.Offer the patient his favourite fat-free or low-fat foods, for example, fruit juices and energy drinks (Lucozade). Make from fresh or canned fruit, fat-free milk or yoghurt and add flavouring, honey and fat-free milk powder to boost the protein as well as energy content.

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

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

  • Avoid saturated fats and hydrogenated oils. Both can stress both the immune system as well as the liver. Be especially cautious with fried foods, and solid fats like margarine. 

  • Avoid giving the patient the following foods: Full-cream milk, yoghurt, cream, cream cheese and fatty cheeses; biscuits, cakes, pies, etc with high-fat content and chocolate. 

  • The patient should not take more than three eggs a week; avoid fatty salad dressings, mayonnaise, sour cream and avocado.

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

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

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

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 21,  2015.

Nigerian Army Reference Hospital marches for oral health

As part of activities to celebrate this year’s World Oral Health Day, the 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Yaba (NARHY), Lagos, embarked on a walk on Wednesday, which was targeted to create awareness about good oral health.

The participants wearing white T-shirts and wine-coloured cap started from the Physiotherapy field of the hospital through Jibowu, Tejuosho market, Herbert Macaulay to Myhoung Barracks and terminated at the Physiotherapy field of the hospital, distributing leaflets designed to educate and inform the general public about the relationship between oral health and general well-being. Findings show that many Nigerians have lost their lives to preventable oral health related diseases due to ignorance. The World Oral Health Day is celebrated throughout the world on March 20, each year with a wide range of awareness-raising activities organized by dentists, dental students, the National Dental Associations (NDAs) and corporate partners to create awareness about the importance of good oral health.

The theme of this year’s event is: ‘Smile for Life,’ and is directed to remind people everywhere about the importance of looking after their teeth and gums. Commenting on the march among other activities lined up to mark the event by the 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Maj. Gen. Patrick Adebayo Falola; Commander 68 NARHY identified ignorance, poor awareness as bane of the country’s oral healthcare. Falola said: “The road show is part of the weeklong activities to sensitise our neighbourhood; we will also providing free dental check-up and a symposium on Friday where all issues concerning oral health will be discussed.” According to him, physical exercise is an integral part of the programme as it promotes good health. Good oral health prevents tooth decay as well as mouth odour which if not prevented, could lead to a negative impact on the general health and well being of an individual.

Lt. (Dr.) Mrs. Blessing Isoken George, Consultant, Oral and Maxillofacial as well as Head of the Dental Department, said oral health as an integral part of general health includes optimal functioning of the mouth and its tissues in a manner which preserves self esteem and enables an individual to contribute meaningfully to the society. George who stressed the need for Nigeria to develop sustainable strategies for national preventive and therapeutic oral health services to cope with the magnitude of oral health challenges in the country called on the government to invest more in oral health. She affirmed that based on available oral health surveys in the country, Nigeria has a serious oral health challenge especially with the problem of periodontal disease and dental caries (tooth decay). During an Oral Health Promotion Exercise held at the physiotherapy field of the hospital, the Consultant explained that the free dental screening was necessitated by the shocking discovery of the number of deaths caused by oral health related problems in the country.

“Nigerians die in their numbers due to oral health related problems. This is because many Nigerians don’t take adequate care of their mouths. However, these diseases are treatable if detect on time,” she lamented.
NARHY Dental Department boss further urged the people to always brush their mouths twice daily to remove dirt in the mouth and abstain from eating what he called in-between foods such as soft drinks, chocolates and peppermint, among others. According to her, taking such sugary foods regularly will increase the tendency of developing oral health problem. Parents should educate their children on how to attain and maintain good oral health and the benefits of brushing at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpastes. Also, George, who pointed that the mouth is the gateway to the body, added that many people are unaware of what it takes to ensure oral health and this necessitated the march and other programmes by NARHY to sensitise the people oral health.

She said: “When there is a problem with the mouth, it means the whole body system has a problem. This is because if a man who cannot eat within a few days, it will begin to show on him. So the state of health of the oral cavity and the surrounding tissues, not just the mouth and teeth is critical. “We have found out that the awareness of oral health is very poor. You are supposed to go for check twice a year. But you only see patients when there is problem and they present themselves late. We need to educate the people so there is need for oral education. So you need to visit your dentist; many people who have oral problem often report late to the hospital. If oral health problems are detected on time, it stops further health complications and casualties,” she added. “I am an Oral and Maxillofacial (OMF) Surgeon and specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck. So one needs to be mindful and ensure that what goes into the mouth is healthy,” the consultant said. In the views of Lt. Col. Akinyele Adetoun Akande, Principal Dental Technologist, 68 NARHY, tooth decay can be effectively prevented when people develop the right attitude to good oral health and also become careful about the type of foods they consume. 

Also, Akande, who pointed that the mouth is the gateway to the body insisted that it is important to ensure that what goes into the mouth is healthy. Corroborating earlier views, she said: “There is need for oral education and encourage people to visit the dentist; many who have oral problem report late to the hospital. It is important to detect oral health problems on time for effective treatment.” The Principal Dental Technologist urged Nigerians to embrace good oral hygiene and also wash their tongues thoroughly whenever they brush their teeth as coated tongues result in mouth odour. Lt. Mpapamieari Datonye West, Chief Dental Therapist, commenting said that brushing twice daily was a cost effective strategy to battling tooth decay.

According to West, debris from sugary foods often hides in the gums and if not removed via brushing, can clog the teeth and gums, leading to dental decay. Dr. Nagboya Mana, Chief Dental Surgeon 68 NARHY, further explained that the mouth normally has bacteria which work on refined sugar to produce a dilute acid, which results in dissolution of hard tooth tissue. Each time there is increase in high-refined sugar, it retains as substrate at different corners in our mouth and then the bacteria in our mouth feeds on them to cause havoc. Sometimes, it also results in swollen gum, which bleeds each time you touch it, she said. She noted that tooth decay could degenerate and lead to form abscess in the gums in serious cases.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 21,  2015.

Endometriosis: Experts celebrate 10 years of fighting health disorder

Ten years ago some concerned persons came together to create awareness about a debilitating disease called ‘Endometriosis.’ Their objective was to bring to an end the pains and trauma of girls and women who suffer from endometriosis – an incurable gynaecological disorder that occurs when the endometrium (cells lining the uterus) grow in other areas of the body. They debut with the name – Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN).

Since ESGN emerged in 2005, it has been at the forefront, actively lobbying for better outcomes, education and awareness, care, treatment options and support for women affected with the endometriosis condition.
Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, EndoMarch Country Affiliate Partner Representative and Lead Medical Consultant for ESGN said: “The cancer-like disease that causes extreme pain, possible infertility, organ dysfunction and failure as well as years of medical treatment gave us a lot of concern and led us to make the effort to raise awareness for this ignored disease hence the birth of ESGN in 2005.”

Penultimate week, ESGN marked the 10th year celebration of endometriosis advocacy in the country which was declared open by the Minister of Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan. The event received strong acceptance from members of the public who support the cause of relieving girls and women who go through the pains of the debilitating health disorder tagged: ‘Endo-pain.’ The programme was organised by Nordica Fertility Centre and Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN) in collaboration with Diamond Bank Plc. The minister was represented by Dr. Olusegun Oyeniyi. At a breakfast forum held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, to mark the event, the minister said: “I commend the humanitarian insight behind the advocacy against endometriosis being carried on for a decade by Nordica Fertility Centre. A decade is a long time to carry on a fight; this shows determinations and passion.”

L-R: Clinic Manager, Nordica Fertility Centre, Mrs. Tola Ajayi; Executive Director, Special Duties, The Sun, Mr. Bolaji Tunji; Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi; Dr. Olusegun Oyeniyi (representing the Minister of Health); President, Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON), Professor Brian Adinma; Head, Retail Directorate, Diamond Bank, Aisha Ahmed and Publisher of City People Magazine, Seye Kehinde, at the 10th year celebration of Endometriosis advocacy organised by Endometriosis Support Group, Nigeria, recently at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Lagos.
President of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON), Professor Brian Adinma, said: “This event is held every year to create awareness and support for this highly nagging problem that has affected our women. SOGON will like to encourage the organisers and also join in solidarity in this fight.”
The high point of the breakfast forum was the cutting of the cake to mark the tenth anniversary. There are series of other activities to mark the event throughout the month. For instance, people from all walks of life thronged the streets in Lagos, as early as 8:30am penultimate Saturday, to participate in the EndoMarch 2015 to keep fit and at the same time create awareness about the scourge called endometriosis.

Dr. Ajayi, who is both the managing director of Nordica Fertility Centre and coordinator of ESGN, said the event named, ‘Million Women March for Endometriosis’ is so important because so few women understand endometriosis. We need this awareness so no woman feels confused or alone again.” The fertility expert further lamented that endometriosis is a cruel, crippling and incurable disease that affects an estimated one in eight women and girls. Yet, despite being so common, there is very little in the way of public awareness about the disease. He also said women and girls suffer in silence and risk losing their organs, pregnancies and fertility because of the scourge. Women even lose their jobs, friends and family support as a result of misunderstanding about this serious, yet invisible disease, he added. Ajayi warned that women should not be told that their pain is imaginary, normal and Ok. Rather, they should not be dismissed as ‘sensitive’ or ‘psychotic,’ and they should not be going through it alone.

He also observed: “Just as HIV, cancer, etc have gained a lot of awareness over the years, this crippling disease that impair women from attaining their goals needs to be silenced. We would like to offer seminars, counselling and free/rebated treatments to sufferers of this disorder. “Some call endometriosis the ‘invisible disease’ because it is found within the body but the symptoms of endometriosis can be broken down into three: pain, irregular bleeding and infertility.” Continuing, Dr. Ajayi said: “There are some who have endometriosis but it doesn’t progress and others have it and it regresses. The problem is that you don’t know which course it will run but the most definitive diagnosis for endometriosis is through a Laparoscopy. Any other way is suspicion and in some cases many might have a baby or two and can’t have anymore.”
There was an interactive workshop on endometriosis at the Nordica Fertility Centres in Asokoro, FCT, Abuja, Asaba, Delta State and Ikoyi, Lagos last weekend.

Also, the endometriosis worldwide march will take place in Washington DC, United States of America this Saturday and this includes a walk in the morning and an evening ball where supporters from all over the globe and members of the US government congregate to network and chart the way forward in giving a better life to endo sufferers.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 28,  2015.

Myths about blood pressure, heart rate, debunked

Continued from last week...

Low blood pressure can be a bit trickier, especially in older patients and those with heart diseases. If you are in danger from low blood pressure, your body will tell you. It is really about how you feel. Are you dragging and feeling weak? The numbers on their own don’t tell the story; it is the numbers paired with how you are feeling and what symptoms you have.

High blood pressure or heart rate is more likely to be dangerous

True: Again, ‘normal’ varies. But, experts have enough clinical evidence to suggest that when blood pressure is even a little over your typical average over time, the risk of heart disease and stroke is high. The physical effects of high blood pressure take their toll on your blood vessels.

Elevated heart rate can be a sign of danger, too, but the cause-effect relationship is not so clear. Studies show that people who run faster heart rate are more likely to have cardiac problems and premature cardiac death. But, experts are not sure whether that is the cause of the problem or just a sign of what is going on.

When you measure matters
True: To measure your resting heart rate and blood pressure, pick a time when you’re feeling relaxed, experts have advised. Randomly sampling both measures throughout the day can also help you reach an average. Do not take your readings right after exercising – unless you are trying to establish a baseline for ‘active’ blood pressure and heart rate.

Which measure is more important depends on your health, too. For patients with atrial fibrillation, heart rate might be more important to watch, but many other heart diseases depend more on blood pressure. To be safe, measure both.

Almost all automated kits you buy at a drug store are going to give you blood pressure and pulse on the same readout, according to experts. It is convenient – and there is really no reason not to stay on top of both.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 4,  2015.

Myths about blood pressure, heart rate, debunked

Blood pressure and heart rate go hand in hand (or arm in cuff) in most people’s minds. After all, these two vital signs are measured together at the doctor’s office.

But the two measure distinct factors related to your heart health. Blood pressure is the force of blood flowing against the walls of your arteries, while heart rate (or pulse) is the number of times your heart beats every minute. However, experts have explained some key differences and refuted some common myths about the condition.

Blood pressure and heart rate are always linked

False: It is true that blood pressure and heart rate often rise and fall together. When you face danger, for example, your blood pressure and pulse may both jump upward at the same time.

However, if your heart rate rises, that doesn’t automatically mean your blood pressure will rise or vice versa. When the two are disconnected, you may be looking at a specific problem. For example, if your blood pressure is consistently high, but your heart rate stays in your typical range, we may need to look at treatment specifically for high blood pressure.

There’s one ‘normal’ for blood pressure and heart rate

False: There are guidelines, but what’s normal varies from person to person.
Optimal blood pressure is typically defined as 120 mm Hg systolic (the top number, which is the pressure as your heart beats) over 80 mm Hg diastolic (the bottom number, which is the pressure as your heart relaxes). For your resting heart rate, the target is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. But keep in mind that both heart rate and blood pressure are a customised fit. You need to work with your doctor to establish a baseline that’s normal for you.

Going ‘low’ always indicates a problem.
False: What’s healthy for one person may indicate danger for another. For example, a young, fit person may have a resting heart rate in the 50s or, in some cases, even in the 40s. It can actually be a badge, a sign of being in really good shape.

To be continued next week.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 28,  2015.

Psn rolls out healthcare agenda for incoming administration

...Calls for welfare package to curtail recurrent sector strikes

As Nigerians, groups, different public and private sectors felicitate and roll out their expectations for the in-coming administration led by General Mohammed Buhari (rtd), the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has called for a new agenda to improve healthcare in the country. Pharmacists under the umbrella of PSN, while urging the incoming the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to come up with specific action plans has also recommended that attention should be shown in the reflected areas including, the Universal Health Coverage which it said should fully incorporate Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP).

In a letter to General Buhari on Wednesday, signed by the PSN president, Olumide Akintayo, on behalf of the PSN’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the association said there is need for universal coverage, but insisted that this must harness and consolidate the philosophy of a managed care concept that is statute entrenched. The letter said that to achieve quality assurance in our version of social health insurance, it is important to ensure a consolidated healthcare funding which requires first line deduction of at least five per cent for healthcare delivery. According to the pharmacists, consolidated healthcare funding helps in funding the subsidy gap.

It further called for the promotion of the culture of corporate social responsibility by enlisting support of the banking, oil and gas and telecoms sectors which are the frontliners in the Nigerian economy. “The NHIS must partner the PSN and its appendages to champion a credible drug supply scheme by facilitating the involvement of major manufacturers and importers in the NHIS,” it added. PSN also recommended that the NHIS Governing Council must re-establish linkages with the highest level of government to nurture the required political will to ensure success for the scheme. The letter also called for massive advocacy to sell the new scheme to the health-consuming public and ensure a proper understanding of the workings of Health Insurance by the Nigerian public. It added: “We note that one of the major functions of HMOs is the establishments of quality assurance system as earlier mentioned and regret the near absence of the important function. This explains why providers not qualified for particular functions were allowed to offer such services at the detriment of the enrollee.”

Considering the important role cost containment plays in ensuring survival of the scheme, pharmacists recommended a set of incentives and sanctions to encourage providers to comply strictly with the operational guidelines. It also called for a well defined welfare package for health workers which redresses attendant stress junctions that have resulted in recurrent and perennial strike actions. The letter said: “An acceptable Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) initiative for some services in the health system to promote efficacy, boost competences and build capacity in the private sector. The PPP models must be worked out with the relevant professional associations and professional regulatory councils as they arise. “For the pharmaceutical sector, government at the centre must come up with reforms that will usher a petrochemical industry which is the precursor for genuine industrial revolution across board. The moment Nigeria comes up with benzene plants, then the inertia for primary manufacturing is established in contrast to the stuttering fortunes which we have continually witnessed in our country.

“At a time when we place emphasis on diverse sources of IGR because a mono-based economy comes with too much limitations and complications, government must exploit the vast expertise available in the pharmaceutical sector by making Nigeria a destination of choice for drug manufacturing in the foreseeable future,” it added. It also called for investment in research and development through substantial financial rates for the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD). “It is the shame of a nation that at time of national health emergences we depend entirely on other nations to provide vaccines and medicines for clinical disease states that are exclusive to the tropics. This must change in the envisaged new dispensation,” the letter stated. In the light of these suggestions, the PSN called on the incoming APC administration to organise consultative meetings which inculcates the stakeholders in health especially the professional associations and the trade unions. Such templates will foster unity and harmony as consensus positions can be effectively implemented by government, it said.

Meanwhile, the association in a its congratulatory message described General Buhari’s election as a well-deserved one. PSN was optimistic that the new President-elect has an impressive   pedigree and antecedents and would succeed in running the country. The association further drew the attention of the incoming President and his administration to the problems of the embroiled health sector which it blamed on the nature of the appointment of those who preside over the Federal Ministry of Health by the out-going government.
PSN faulted the appointment of two members of the same profession in a multi-disciplinary sector to to head the health ministry. They therefore urged General Buhari to be open minded to embrace global realities which have opened up the hitherto restricted borders in healthcare. According to the PSN the norm today is to appoint seasoned administrators and managers of cognate experience to run the business of healthcare which is similar to any other business. They warned him to avoid the tendencies of some political acolytes who have always had bias for only a group of professionals who play God and have been allowed to assume the tragic epitomes of emperors in healthcare in our country.

This is even as they urged his leadership to come to up with fresh ideas and new thinking to move healthcare forward. The association which submitted an its version of an agenda for healthcare to General Buhari has also pledged its willingness to partner with him to ensure the achievement of good health for Nigerian citizens.
While thanking God for his mercies and protection over the President-elect throughout the duration of the campaign, it also prayed to God to grant him the wisdom, knowledge and courage to continue to lead the country to enviable heights. The statement reads: ”Your impressive pedigree and antecedents confirm you will always succeed in running Nigeria. We at the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria would like to seize this opportunity to inform Your Excellency about our willingness to partner with you to ensure the achievement of good health for all citizens in Nigeria.

“Your Excellency, it is imperative that we begin to draw your attention to the tears of the major care providers in the perennially volatile health sector in Nigeria. The fundamental problem at least in the out-going dispensation stems from the nature of appointment of those who preside over the Federal Ministry of Health. In the current dispensation the thrust of the dislocation was the appointment of two (2) members of the same profession in a multi-disciplinary sector to prevail. This was unprecedented and logically the many aberrations that still dot our lives are also unprecedented. “We shall therefore encourage Your Excellency to be open minded to embrace global realities which have opened up the hitherto restricted borders in healthcare. Today the norm is to appoint seasoned administrators and managers of cognate experience to run the business of healthcare which is similar to any other business.”

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 4,  2015.

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