Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Drinking water prevents kidney stones – Dietician

A dietician, Mr. Aloysius Maduforo, has said that drinking plenty of water will lower the risk of kidney stones. He made this known in Abuja.

Maduforo said researchers have found out that drinking eight or more glasses of water daily reduces the risk of kidney stones significantly. He said: “The analysis shows that drinking water is an effective way to cut one’s risk for developing kidney stones.

“Kidney stones cause significant discomfort and cost, along with a potential to contribute to the development of kidney disease. “So, the confirmation of reducing risk or prevention through improved hydration is an important finding,” Maduforo added.

According to him, the current research looked at nine previous studies that included nearly 274,000 people with more than 550 people having a history of kidney stones. He said: “The review found that people who produced two to 2.5 litres of urine were 50 per cent less likely to form kidney stones than those who produced less urine.

“That amount of urine production is associated with drinking about eight to 10 ounce glasses of water a day, according to researchers. “Drinking lots of water keeps urine less concentrated with waste products as kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in the kidney from substances in the urine.

“Kidney stones may appear as grains of sand or pearl which may pass out of the body without help from a doctor or get stuck in the urinary tract, block the flow of urine and cause great pain.’’ Maduforo said “frequent urination means that stone-causing minerals have less opportunity to settle and bond in the kidneys and urinary tract’’.

“Increased fluid intake had long been suggested as a simple strategy for preventing kidney stones. “This large meta-analysis provides further support for this intervention to reduce the risk of kidney stones,” he said.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 11,  2015.

Drugs for extensively resistant Tuberculosis arrive Nigeria

•Treatment of XDR-TB receives boost

Strong indications have emerged showing that treatment of Tuberculosis (TB) patients that are already resistant to first and second-line drugs will be scaled up as Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has announced that the first batch of drugs for Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB) has arrived in the country. The drugs were provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Statistics from the WHO show that an estimated nine million new cases of TB occur globally, out of which three million cases are missed, either not diagnosed, not treated or diagnosed but not registered by the National TB programmes (NTPs). Researchers at NIMR are worried that Nigeria remains among 11 high TB burden countries that contribute 15 per cent of the three million missed cases of TB, globally. Decrying that it is unacceptable that Nigeria ranks third among the 11 countries, they said despite control efforts by the Federal Government, Nigeria does not meet any of the Millennium Development Goals, MDG 3 targets in reducing TB incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. 

They further lamented that the burden of TB in Nigeria was further made worse by challenges of HIV co-infection, drug-resistant TB and TB among children, adding; “We are even going beyond multi drug resistance TB cases as we are now having cases of Extremely Drug Resistant TB in Nigeria.” Head of the NIMR TB research group, Prof. Oni Idigbe, confirmed on Tuesday, that the first batch of drugs for XDR-TB has arrived in the country. Idigbe who made the confirmation in an interview had earlier given hint that the drug would soon arrive the country during the commemoration of the World Tuberculosis Day 2015, by the institute. He stressed that Nigeria had made steps to go beyond the Multi-Drugs Resistant TB (MDR-TB) and into the XDR-TB for effective treatment intervention. 

According to him, “Nigeria is on top of TB cases and we have donor partners that have been supporting us with drugs for MDR-TB. I just came out of meeting that has started ordering drugs for XDR-TB. Government is doing the very much they can do but 80 to 90 per cent of our support now are donor driven,” he said. Idigbe had explained that while first-line drugs are used for treatable TB cases, second-line drugs apply to cases that have developed resistance (Multi-Drug Resistant TB). But where there is resistance to MDR-TB drugs, the anti-XDR-TB is required.   He added that the world had in fact gone beyond anti-XDR-TB drug. The NIMR TB research group Head said: “TB organism in a patient can become resistant to treatment drugs if the patient fails to use the prescribed drugs religiously or if the healthcare giver does not prescribe the exact number of approved combination. “Drug resistance is very much with us. 

By 2013/14, the WHO has recorded about 480,000 cases of Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB). MDR-TB is also in Nigeria and we are concerned because those that have contacted it can no longer be treated with the first-line anti-TB drugs, which are quite cheap and less toxic. “They will now be treated with the second-line drugs. These are very expensive, very toxic and take longer period of treatment. You need between one and one-year plus for treatment, whereas it is six months in the case of susceptible TB. So, MDR-TB is a growing problem,” Idigbe noted. Continuing, he said, Nigeria had been able to come up with a national policy to diagnose and treat MDR-TB at the 14 wards dedicated to MDR-TB treatment across the 36 states. Because of the increasing number of cases now seen, Nigeria has also gone beyond the wards into adopting community-based management of MDR-TBs. 

He advised that all hands must be on deck to collectively tackle TB cases, often predominant in communities, by creating awareness and going for treatment in cases of persistent cough. Diagnosis and treatment of TB at the DOT centres are free. Notwithstanding several efforts to tackle the TB problem globally, Idigbe said achieving zero infection would be a tall order before 2025 or 2030. “This is so, because with all the money put into TB, we know we have diagnostic tools, drugs that can cure, structures for protective management, WHO still needs a minimum of $200b to be able to effectively carry out all the strategies on ground for TB.” The Director-General, NIMR, Prof. Innocent Ujah, said the death toll from the disease is still unacceptably high and efforts to combat it must be accelerated if the global targets, set within the context of the MDGs, are to be met. Ujah who also spoke during the commemoration of World TB Day, listed the ongoing strategies in conducting research on TB said 2015 marks a transition from MDGs to post – 2015 development frame, adding that within the context, the WHO has developed a post – 2015 global TB strategy called “the End TB Strategy”. 
The goal of the strategy is to end the global TB epidemic by 2035 with targets of 95 percent reduction in TB deaths and 90 percent reduction in TB incidence. The strategy also targets a zero catastrophic costs for TB affected families by 2020. NIMR boss emphasised the need to intensify efforts towards reaching those that have been infected but do not have the information on where to access the diagnosis and treatment. Ujah observed that it is important to also intensify outreach efforts in; at-risk communities and slums, screening of HIV infected individuals for TB, capacity building through training and research, adequate laboratory support system, treatment and funding. In his lecture tagged; “Efforts on Tuberculosis Control”, Dr Dan Onwujekwe of the Clinical Sciences Division, NIMR, noted that DOTS is still an assured strategy for TB control and that innovative non –DOTS modifications achieved high acceptance treatment success rate in NIMR as one stop shop facility for HIV/TB management. He noted that health workers managing TB/HIV should assess and factor in individual patient constraints in devising innovative ways of improving TB treatment outcomes. 

“We can reach, treat and cure TB through innovation approaches to improve treatment completion, working in collaboration with community – based organisations,” he added. Chief Research Fellow and Consultant Paediatrician, Dr. Nkiruka David, added that TB is also common among children, but doesn’t come with cough symptoms like it is the case with adults.   “They are often undetected and that is why we must raise awareness. It is treatable within six months, but it has to be properly diagnosed first,” David said. Meanwhile, the WHO is calling for “global solidarity and action” to support a new 20-year strategy, which aims to end the global tuberculosis epidemic. The world health body decried that an estimated 1.5 million people still die of tuberculosis each year. The disease frequently has devastating economic consequences for affected families, reducing their annual income by an average of 50 percent, and aggravating existing inequalities. 

“This is a matter of social justice, fundamental to our goal of universal health coverage. Each and every man, woman or child with TB should have equal, unhindered access to the innovative tools and services they need for rapid diagnosis, treatment and care,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. Speaking, Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General said 2015 is seen as a critical year for action to adapt and roll out the strategy in diverse country settings. Achieving success for the strategy will require the TB community around the world to work together to leverage alliances and resources.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 16,  2015.

Preventing constipation with natural food

Do not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.

When you have the urge to go, try not to put it off. Suppressing bowel movements will only put unnecessary burden on your digestive tract and nervous system. When both have worked hard to give you the urge to go, reward their efforts by going as soon as possible. Doing so will keep them alert and efficient.

Why is it important to overcome and prevent constipation? This is because the health of your entire body depends largely on a clean and well functioning digestive passage way. If your digestive passage way is blocked and dysfunctional, you increase your risk of developing a wide variety of health challenges, including but not limited to the following:

  • Hemorrhoids – enlarged veins in the rectal region
  • Anal Fissures – cuts in and around the anal sphincter that can be extremely painful and difficult to heal
  • Diverticulitis – inflamed pockets of weakened lining throughout the colon that can cause significant abdominal discomfort
  • Endogenous Toxicosis – production of toxins from microbial action on undigested food and waste materials that remain in the digestive tract for longer than normal

Adequate intake of healthy fats

All your cells, including those of your digestive tract and nervous system, require constant influx of undamaged fatty acids and cholesterol to remain fully functional. If you do not ensure adequate intake of healthy fats, your nervous system and the smooth muscles that surround your digestive passageway – both of which are responsible for creating peristaltic waves throughout your digestive tract – may deteriorate in function.

Also, intake of healthy fats is necessary for optimal absorption of fat-soluble vitamin A, which is critical to building and maintaining a healthy digestive tract lining, which indirectly, is another key to promoting optimal bowel function.

Some healthy foods that are naturally rich in healthy fats include avocados, coconuts, olives, organic eggs, oily fish like salmon and mackerel, nuts and seeds.

Furore over rumour of fresh Ebola in Nigeria

God forbid. Ebola will not return to Nigeria! It is not our portion; Ebola cannot come back to Nigeria! God who saved us from the satanic disease called Ebola has finished his work. These were some of the exclamations by avid social media fans in Lagos who were reacting to the purported rumour of Ebola’s return to Nigeria last weekend. 

The rumour, which began trending on the social media late on the night of Friday, April 10, caused an unusual stir among a wide section of the populace even as some residents threatened to leave the city. Reacting to the rumour, Edohasin Imako, a trader, said in smattering pidgin: “If Ebola don come back, I go dey do more business for Benin Republic than Nigeria, I no fit risk am ooh! Princewill Adoga, a public servant said: “Ebola again! That bad disease it is not easy to control; it was God that helped Nigeria last year. Let it just be ordinary rumour ooh! I don’t know where to run to with my children, if there is truth in the rumour.” It was learnt that a purported message titled, ‘Ebola Returns to Nigeria after Killing three and infecting 12,” continued to circulate on Facebook, WatsApp and Twitter, into Saturday, the day of the gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections held nationwide. 

Not even the anxious moments following the elections could prevent some group discussions over the rumours of fresh emergence of Ebola. According to the report, one of the alleged victims, Mr. George Lawal, showed major signs of the disease which caused neighbours to raise alarm. “He was immediately taken to an undisclosed hospital in Lagos where he later died. Doctors confirmed he was struck with the Ebola flu. They are believed to have made major contacts with at least 12 people who are on the large. Please, share the news and report any suspected victim to nearby authorities,” the message stated. But, dispelling the rumour on Tuesday, the Lagos State Government asked residents to disregard the speculation that the virus was reported at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and go about their legitimate businesses, while taking the necessary preventive measures. 

The state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, debunked the report of fresh Ebola case at a news conference he addressed alongside his information counterpart, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba and that of Special Duties, Dr. Wale Ahmed, among others. He said contrary to messages being circulated on social media, there is no fresh case of Ebola outbreak in Lagos. Dr. Idris said: “Recently, there was a rumour in the social media on the return of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to Nigeria, killing three and infecting 12 other persons. “According to the rumour, the deceased were returnees from Liberia and one of them was reportedly taken to an undisclosed hospital in Lagos.” 

The Lagos State Ministry of Health’s boss said findings revealed that the EVD rumour was generated from two different websites, explaining that the government swung into action to verify the source, quality and viability of the rumour, its author as well as embarked on social media campaign to debunk the news on its facebook site. Idris added that the second rumour concerning two Chinese visitors from Sierra Leone was posted on twitter @iChexo on 12 April, claiming that the two Chinese died of EVD at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) same day, saying that investigation carried out at LUTH revealed that the rumour was unfounded. He said: “Also, it was rumoured on twitter that two Chinese visitors from Sierra Leone have also died of EVD at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). 

“However, our findings revealed that these reports were completely untrue and that no new Ebola case has been confirmed in any facility in the state or in the country.” “We believe that the author of these materials simply wanted to generate traffic to their websites which would appear to have been successfully achieved. We wish to assure you that health workers have continued to maintain a high index of suspicion of EVD and other Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers. “The operations and surveillance activities of the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EEOC), have continued despite the containment of the EVD and the declaration of Nigeria as Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014,” he added. He stated that activities of the EEOC were still ongoing, such as screening of passengers at the point of entry, enhanced surveillance for EVD in all councils in the state, social mobilisation and communication activities at the community and council levels. 

Also, he added that there are trainings on enhanced EVD surveillance for Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs) ward local persons and community informants, among others. Idris restated that those at the highest risk include health workers, families and friends of infected persons in the course of feeding, holding and caring for them. “Members of the public are hereby enjoined to disregard the EVD rumour and go about their lawful businesses while taking preventive measures by observing good environmental and personal hygiene, especially regular hand washing and proper waste disposal. “Ensure thorough washing of fruits and other edible items before eating. 

Report any suspected case of Ebola or any known travellers from Ebola- affected countries with history of persistent fever by calling the help line: 080 EBOLA HELP (0800-32652-4357),” he stated. Idris said the state government would continue to collaborate with the Federal Government on border surveillance to check cross-border infections. The commissioner said government would also intensify campaigns against the EVD to keep residents safe. He said the Ebola Treatment Unit at the Mainland Hospital had been placed on alert to respond to the need for isolation of any new case. Idris urged residents to maintain good personal hygiene and clean environment to eliminate risks of infection. The commissioner urged residents and health professionals to report any suspicious case of the virus for speedy intervention. He said if people with symptoms like vomiting, bleeding from the ears and eyes, headache were responded to early, they could be saved from the resultant death. 

Also, the management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi- Araba, had earlier on Monday, refuted the claims about the death of two Chinese nationals with Ebola in the hospital. Speaking for LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, the acting Chief Medical Director of the hospital, at a news conference in Lagos, urged Nigerians to disregard what he called ‘the mischievous rumour’ as no such incident happened in the hospital. Similarly, a health official and Ebola expert, Dr. Lawal Bakare, described the message as malicious and a figment of the imagination of the originator. Bakare, who is Founder and spokesperson for “Ebola Alert,” the official Ebola notification body for Nigeria, added that the anatomy of the message in itself is false.

In an Official @EbolaAlert notification, Bakare remarked: “We found a fast-spreading false rumour of Ebola cases in Nigeria. The rumour was initiated by an irresponsible blogger who lied that there are cases of Ebola in Nigeria just to generate traffic to her website. We will need your powerhouse to help us tackle this rumour.” He added: “In order to prevent what happened during the Ebola outbreak where people were told to drink salt water and some ended up losing their lives, we are doing this to let you know ahead of this rumour and to also tell your friends and neighbours.

The rumour is false; there is no known case of Ebola in Nigeria.” Nigeria was declared Ebola free on October 20, 2014. A total of 20 cases were recorded of which seven died and 11 recovered. A total of 25,226 cases have been recorded so far worldwide, out of which 10,587 died.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 18,  2015.

Pharmacists hold education summit to improve healthcare delivery

To proffer solution toward better pharmacy practice in Nigeria as well as boost healthcare delivery in the country, the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAP) in collaboration with the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN) yesterday, began a three-day Pharmacy Education Summit. 

Speaking to journalist in Lagos on Monday, the President of the Academy, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said the aim of the summit is to carry out situation analysis, identify gaps and proffer solution towards a better pharmacy education and practice in Nigeria. He said the responsibility of the pharmacist have changed from mere drug dispensing to collaborative medication management with physicians and other health care professionals. “Approximately one-half of patients visiting a community pharmacy have complained of inappropriate drug therapy thus necessitating the need for the changes in the role of the pharmacist. 

The goal of this summit is to maximize the pharmacist’s role in direct patient care, thereby empowering the pharmacy team to take responsibility for medication use outcomes by improving health care team integration and promoting pharmacist training,” he said. Adelusi-Adeluyi, also said the Academy is a strategic organ of pharmacy in Nigeria and is made up of successful senior pharmacists who have distinguished themselves in the corporate world, in academia and public service and have contributed to nation-building. The summit which was the first outing of the Academy had all arrangements put in place to ensure great success, commenced with an official opening ceremony at UNILAG Guest Houses/Conference Centre, Akoka, Yaba, yesterday evening. 

Adelusi-Adeluyi, who is also a former Minister of Health, said the Academy provides expert opinion and thought leadership in the education and practice of Pharmacy, adding that NAP aims at promoting harmony and team spirit among members of the health team and other relevant professionals and networks with similar global ‘Academies and partners with relevant regulatory bodies and associations to ensure high ethical standards in the profession,’ he said. The NAP boss said the Academy champions transformational change and innovation through encouraging industry, research and development and seizing the several technological advancement opportunities open to Pharmacare. Adelusi-Adeluyi, who was represented by the Vice President, Ifeanyi Atueyi, said the Summit would carry out situation analysis, identify gaps and proffer solutions towards a better Pharmacy education and practice in Nigeria. 

In his remarks, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Olumide Akintayo, said: “Over the years, the practice of pharmacy has evolved with significant growth and development mirroring the trends in healthcare delivery. Traditionally, the pharmacist fulfilled the role of apothecary, druggist or chemist by extemporaneously compounding and formulating medicinal products for wholesale or personal use by consumers. These activities have become limited as a result of the emergence of large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing and the introduction of new regulatory standards. Olumide further said: “In recent years, the responsibilities of the pharmacists have grown from the traditional roles of dispensing and compounding, to collaborative medication management with physicians and other health care professionals to ensure optimal health outcomes. Collaborating earlier views, the PSN boss explained: “By some estimates, approximately one-half of patients visiting a community pharmacy or a clinic have experienced suboptimal or inappropriate drug therapy, thus, necessitating the aforementioned changes in the role of the pharmacists. 

“The transition of pharmacy practice from one focused on the provision of medication-centered care to one based on providing patient-centred care was heralded by the introduction of pharmaceutical care in the 1960s. “The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) defines patient-centred care as a practice involving the observation of the patient and his or her contribution to the selection, modification, and monitoring of patient-specific drug therapy through collaborative practice with other healthcare professionals. This model considers pharmacists to be essential members of the healthcare team and has led to an expansion in the scope of pharmacy practice, including legislature for collaborative drug therapy management in some jurisdictions,” he added. The PSN President further noted that the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative (PPMI) has established a movement towards advancement in the manner in which pharmacists practise within hospitals and health systems, with an emphasis on establishing standard patient care services consistently provided by all departments of pharmacy. 

According to Olumide, the goal of this initiative is to maximize the pharmacist’s role in direct patient care, thereby empowering the pharmacy team to take responsibility for medication-use outcomes by improving health-care team integration, promoting pharmacist credentialing and training and taking leadership in medication use. The implementation of this model relies upon advanced training and education of pharmacists.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 23,  2015.

‘Malaria costs Africa minimum of N2.388tn yearly’

Each year, malaria costs the African continent an estimated minimum of N 2.388 trillion (US $12 billion) in lost productivity and in some high-burden countries it can account for as much as 40 per cent of public health expenditure. 
The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) announced this ahead of World Malaria Day on Saturday, noting that the Roll Back Malaria Partnership has urged for increased investment for Global Malaria Elimination. A statement on Tuesday, signed by Oluseyi Soremekun, National Information Officer, UNIC, the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership highlights that progress made against malaria – while remarkable – remains fragile. The statement said: “As communities worldwide prepare to commemorate the last World Malaria Day under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) this Saturday, the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership highlights that progress made against malaria – while remarkable – remains fragile.” With just months before the MDGs expire at the end of 2015 and the world transitions to an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide efforts through 2030, RBM partners across sectors have taken this opportunity to mark the progress made while urging the importance of sustained commitment to build on the successes achieved since the turn of the millennium. “Malaria control has proven to be one of the smartest investments in health we can make. 

This is why it is one of my priorities,” the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “When we target our funds in proven malaria control interventions, we create healthier communities and more robust economies. Now more than ever, partnership will be crucial to ensure we can build on our successes and leave no one behind.” “We have come half the distance with half the funds,” said Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-TraorĂ©, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. “To beat growing threats like insecticide and drug resistance, we must re-commit ourselves and raise our ambitions. We must continue to tackle the unfinished business of the MDGs and aim for elimination in the next 15 years.” With more than half of the world’s population at risk of infection, malaria presents an alarming threat to global development. Each year, malaria costs the African continent an estimated minimum of US $12 billion in lost productivity, and in some high-burden countries it can account for as much as 40 per cent of public health expenditure. Malaria control interventions help advance broader development efforts by reducing school absenteeism, fighting poverty, increasing gender parity and improving maternal and child health. Lives saved from malaria control interventions have been linked to a 20 per cent reduction in all-cause child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000 and have helped drive progress against MDG4, while efforts to prevent malaria in pregnancy have averted nearly 95,000 newborn deaths between 2009 and 2012. 

These numbers represent an entire generation given the chance to live healthy lives and grow into strong, contributing members of their societies. Still, efforts continue to leave communities behind. In Africa alone, 10,000 women and as many as 200,000 infants are estimated to die annually as a result of malaria infection during pregnancy. In 2013, an estimated 15 million of the 35 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa did not receive a single dose of preventive treatment during their pregnancy to protect them and their unborn child from malaria. In response, the RBM Partnership has issued a global call to action to increase national coverage with preventive treatment in pregnancy. Adequate and predictable financing and innovations for new tools will be critical to scale-up interventions and continue progress toward ambitious malaria elimination targets. While total international and domestic financing peaked at US $2.6 billion in 2013, this remains significantly lower than the US $5.1 billion RBM estimates is needed annually to achieve universal access and meet global targets. Experts estimate that just more than US $100 billion is needed to completely eliminate malaria by 2030. A high price tag, this investment carries a significant return: a potential 12 million lives saved, nearly three billion cases averted worldwide and a global gain of US $270 billion if the disease is eliminated in sub-Saharan Africa alone. 

Later this year, the RBM Partnership will launch its second generation global malaria action plan – Action and Investment to defeat Malaria (AIM) 2016-2030: for a Malaria-Free World – which, together with the WHO’s updated Global Technical Strategy: 2016-2030, makes the case for eliminating the scourge of malaria over the next 15 years and avoiding the resurgence of the disease, with its associated crippling economic cost and avoidable deaths. “Over the past fifteen years, we have seen that we have the tools necessary to overcome malaria and unlock potential in communities around the world,” said Dr. Pedro Alonso, Director of the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Programme. “Now, more than ever, we must continue working together in partnership and making bold investments in malaria so that we can deliver on the promises we’ve made to the people of the world.” Instituted by WHO Member States during the 2007 World Health Assembly, World Malaria Day is celebrated on 25 April each year to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria control and elimination. The theme for the 2013-2015 campaign is “Invest in the Future. Defeat malaria”.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 23,  2015.

Lagos NIPDs exercise covers over 8.3m children

No fewer than 4.3 million children have been immunized against childhood preventable disease especially poliomyelitis in the recently concluded March National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs) exercise in Lagos, the Special Adviser on Health to the Lagos State Governor, Dr. Yewande Adeshina has said. 

Adeshina said this at her office in Alausa, weekend, ahead of the this month’s National   Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs) exercise which ended on Tuesday, saying the exercise   covered over four million children. The four days March NIPDs was adjudged successful with 96 per cent coverage based on the State Population figure. So, in all about 8.3 million children were covered in both the first and second rounds of NIPDS. The Special Adviser also said that the   Expert     Review Committee on Polio Eradication in Nigeria has recommended two rounds of NIPDs in March and April 2015, targeted at all children under the age of five years. She added that these children were immunized with two drops of supplemental oral polio vaccine, while the left little finger of all immunized children marked for ease of identification. 

“The significance of immunization campaigns such as these cannot be over-emphasized as it is known that immunization is the most cost-effective strategy in disease prevention among children under five years of age,” Adeshina stressed. She explained that Poliomyelitis; commonly called polio is a viral disease yet to be eradicated in the country, adding that it is one of the preventable childhood diseases which is highly infectious. The disease mainly affects young children, while the virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water and it multiplies in the intestine from where it can invade the nervous system. “NIPDs campaign is essentially a Polio campaign initiated under the Polio Eradication Initiative in Nigeria which aim to increase the number of children immunized by immunizing at least 95 per cent of children aged 0-59 months with Oral Polio Virus (OPV) in all LGAs, regardless of their previous immunization status; to reduce zero dose rate, that is children that have never received immunization before; to increase routine immunization coverage; and to promote integration of other child survival”, Adeshina said. 

She noted that the April NIPDs campaign which was conducted for only four days; from Saturday, April 25, to Tuesday 28 stressing that the campaign involved house-to-house, transit and fixed post teams, adding, that children at homes, markets, churches, mosques, major car parks and social event venues would be specifically targeted. “Though the first day of the April NIPDs coincides with the Environmental Sanitation Day, preparations are in place to ensure thorough fare for all the implementers and monitors. The coincidence with the Environmental Sanitation Day is in effect an added advantage to the success of the exercise as mothers and caregivers would be home with their babies”, Adeshina said. 

The Special Adviser stated that a target population of over four million children is were covered in tandem with Lagos State Population figure in the April NIPDs exercise. She ad that the house-to-house and transit components of the immunization teams will administer only OPV to children aged 0–59 months irrespective of their immunization status and encourage the eligible children in the houses to visit the immunization posts for the other antigens. “In all, Lagos State mounted 752 fixed posts, 2,189 house-to-house, and 1,712 transit Teams.” she explained. While noting that the immunization service is free, Adeshina appealed to parents and caregivers to ensure that all children under the age of five received polio vaccine, irrespective of their immunization status from health workers during the exercise which was conducted between Saturday, April 25 and Tuesday 28. 

Children requiring other antigens apart from OPV should were taken to the nearest primary healthcare centre where they received full vaccination from other childhood killer diseases. She further encouraged all Executive Secretary of the Local Government Areas and the Local Council Development Areas to be extremely committed and go the extra mile to ensuring the success of the campaign and promote good health of children by supporting the campaign with their attendance, especially at the daily review meetings, financially and morally. 

“Together, we can eradicate polio from this Great Nation, even as we have made giant strides in recent times with regards to this goal. The solution is to ensure that all eligible children are immunized” Adeshina stressed. 

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 30,  2015.

PSN urges FEC, minister to fast track approval for Pharm. D programme

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has urged the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to approve the Benchmark for Minimum Academic Standards (B-MAS) of the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) programme canvassed by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria. PSN urged Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, the Minister of Education, to fast track FEC’s approval for Pharmacy Doctoral Level training in Nigeria. 

The President of the society, Mr. Olumide Akintayo, made the appeal when he visited the minister in Abuja on Tuesday. Akintayo said: The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria solicits your immediate intervention and assistance to get the Federal Executive Council to approve the Benchmark for Minimum Academic Standards (B-MAS) of the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) programme canvassed by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria. It will be recalled that in January 2007, NUC stakeholders held a workshop on Pharm.D degree programme to chart the future direction of pharmacy education in Nigeria. 

Subsequently, the NUC in a letter with Reference number NUC/DQA/66 of April 10, 2007 addressed to the Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and titled, Approval for the Award of Pharm. D Degree Option, directed: Consequently, universities that are interested in establishing the programme are by this letter requested to make a formal application to that effect to the NUC using the approved format. Consequently, the University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, became the first institution offering the Pharm.D degree, which commenced in 2001. It is a six-year undergraduate programme. Prior to the commencement of the programme, the university offered a five-year Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm) degree programme, which commenced in 1970, but was gradually phased out in 2008. 

In the Pharm.D programme, students are given extensive didactic preclinical/professional clinical preparation as well as clinical training in pharmaceutical care in various hospitals in the city. The government’s regulatory agency for pharmacy education, training and practice, the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN), and the national professional body of pharmacists, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), have envisaged that in the near future, Pharm.D degree will become the minimum educational qualification for fresh graduates of Nigeria’s pharmacy schools to be registered/licensed to practice in the country. The Pharm.D programme is also a standard practice in so many countries all over the world including; Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Canada, United States, Brazil and Chile. 

Currently, Pharm.D is a six to seven years course being offered in Ghana, which started in the academic year 2012/2013 notably by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, leading to the award of Doctor of Pharmacy and a pharmacist licensure to operate. The University of Nairobi offers a six-eight year Pharmacist education programme. During the first four years, students focus on studying Pharmaceutical science. The last two years are considered clinical residency in which students practice clinical pharmacy at various hospitals and community pharmacies before they graduate. However, in May 30, 2014 NUC made a swift turn in its directive and withdrew withdrew its approval of the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) Degree, as a first degree for Pharmacy students. But, the PSN President, in a quick reaction had said that NUC did not cancel the Pharm.D programme, but rather withdrew its accreditation in UniBen, because the University refused to answer a query from NUC dated January 2014. 

Akintayo further said that the various stakeholders in the pharmacy industry were working to redress the dimensions of drawbacks to put in place a format that is procedurally acceptable to the NUC. Speaking at the Tuesday visit the Minister of Education, he appealed to FEC to facilitate speedy actualisation of Pharm.D programme in Nigerian Universities. His words: “It is also imperative that I strongly appeal to all members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to speedily approve the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) of this programme which is pending for their adoption.” Akintayo said the Pharm.D Programme does not seek to take anything away from any other health related discipline neither is it in conflict with any of the health disciplines, rather it complements the roles of the healthcare team members and provides a wide window of opportunities that can best communicate the new values, philosophy and vision of the profession. 

According to him, advanced training prepares pharmacists to assume patient care roles within the health care team in order to meet the increasing demands of health care delivery. In the US, the first major step toward educational advancement was the transition from the Bachelor of Science degree to Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) as entry-level for pharmacy practice. The Pharm. D curriculum provides pharmacists with specialised clinical training that focuses on the development of professional competencies and confidence in the provision of evidence-based patient-oriented care. While stressing the need for the approval of Pharmacy Doctoral Level training in Nigeria, the PSN boss reasoned that the practice of pharmacy has evolved over the years with significant growth and development mirroring the trends in health care delivery. Days are gone when the role of pharmacist was restricted to simple apothecary, druggist or chemist by extemporaneously compounding and formulating medicinal products for wholesale or personal use by consumers. 

Today, the sector has grown to become large-scale regulated pharmaceutical manufacturer. Akintayo said: Traditionally, the pharmacist fulfilled the role of apothecary, druggist or chemist by extemporaneously compounding and formulating medicinal products for wholesale or personal use by consumers. These activities have become limited as a result of the emergence of large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing and the introduction of new regulatory standards. He further explained that the responsibilities of the pharmacist have grown from the traditional roles of dispensing and compounding, to collaborative medication management with physicians and other health care professionals to ensure optimal health outcomes. He pledge that PSN will continue partnering with the Federal Ministry of Education as it champions education reforms in our country. 

Responding, Shekarau said that health was a serious issue while the services of pharmacist were vital to the survival of society, especially in regulating the use of drugs and checking drug abuse. Also, during a recent   courtesy call on the Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Julius Amioba Okojie, the Chairman PCN, Mr. Bruno Nwankwo, in his remarks on Pharm.D programme said: “As a regulatory body established by Act 91 of 1992 (now Cap P17, LFN, 2004) and charged with the responsibility of regulating and controlling pharmacy education, training and practice in all aspects and ramifications in this country, the Council considers it proper to make representation to the NUC on the issue. 

“It is instructive to note that the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin, Benin City complied with the PCN directive and has since commenced the programme while the PCN has formally communicated to the NUC to enquire for update on Pharm.D programme. ”Furthermore in December 2007, an NUC Resource Verification visit to the University of Benin took place and the institution was informed of additional resources that need to be put in place for Pharm.D programme,” he added. The PCN Chairman said the need to administer Pharm.D programme in Nigerian Universities became necessary for several reasons: 

* Internationally, because of the changing roles of the Pharmacist, the Federation of International Pharmacists (FIP) had since directed that Pharm.D programme should be the minimum registrable qualification to practice Pharmacy. 

*The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) held meetings involving teachers and practitioners of Pharmacy, Medicine and Nursing as well as their regulatory bodies (including those from Nigeria) and recommended to the WAHO Council of Ministers that Pharm. D degree should replace the B. Pharm. Degree in the universities in the West African Region, both anglophone and francophone countries; 

*The importance the World Health Organization (WHO) attaches to the role of the Pharmacist in healthcare gave birth to the famous resolution of the 47th World Health Assembly (WHA 47:12) held on the 10th of May, 1994 and titled Role of the Pharmacist in support of the WHO revised drug strategy. The resolution further recognized the need to place premium on re-orientation of pharmacists through training modalities to properly position them for emerging roles in public health and particularly in the field of medicines. 

Nwankwo said the changing roles of pharmacists have benefited several countries that have adopted Pharm. D degree in healthcare services improvement and the quality of lives of patients. He further explained: This is because Pharm.D programme emphasizes the patient rather than the product as the focus of the service. Hence, in such scenario, the pharmacist is physically present and professionally active to contribute to the positive outcomes of drug therapy. In addition, he is able to save drug costs and to avoid unnecessary wastages because of his intervention at the right time before drug administration. After drug administration, he also monitors the action of the drug and the response of the patient as well as making necessary interventions to minimize drug-related problems. None of these roles encroach on roles of other healthcare practitioners, including medical doctors. Former PSN President, Mr. Anthony Akhimien, also said recently: It should be noted that on announcement of the approval of Pham D in Nigerian Universities, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and their Private Medical Practitioners Group put up a protest that the approval was going to encroach into their practice. 

“The matter stretched into the public court through an interesting debate. “A publication by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and the positive response by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in the print and electronic media that Pharm.D is the norm as a first degree programme in most part of the world put the matter to rest.” However, PSN has insisted that there is urgent need for FEC to speedily approve the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) of this programme which is pending for their adoption. 

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 25,  2015.

Fish oil can improve heart health

There is evidence that fish oil may improve heart health. A 2009 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggested that people without cardiovascular disease should consume a minimum of 500 milligrams per day of the oils EPA and DHA to prevent coronary heart disease, and those with known coronary heart disease should consume at least 800 mg daily. 

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may also reduce the risk of sudden death in people without symptoms of cardiovascular disease, according to the results of a 2002 New England Journal of Medicine study. Fish oil and mental health Some evidence also suggests that fish oil may have mental health benefits. 

One study found that fish oil and exercise, exclusive of each another, improved people’s cognitive performance and protected against neurological lesions, according to the findings published in 2013 in the journal, Behavioural Brain Research. In another study, researchers found that patients who ate fish at least once weekly were 60 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who ate fish rarely or never, according to results published in 2003 in the journal, JAMA Neurology. 

Fish oil in the diet As with most things, if you are consuming an adequate amount of fish oil through your diet, there is no need to take a supplement in order to experience its health benefits. Moreover, if you are supplementing with fish oil, or anything else, it’s a good idea to fully understand the health benefits and potential side effects. 

As with all supplements, please discuss taking fish oil with your health care professional, especially if your physician has prescribed a blood thinner.

Nigeria accounts for quarter of malaria cases in Africa

•Lagos resorts to integrated  measures to tackle disease 

There are an estimated 300 million acute cases of malaria every year around the world, resulting in more than one million deaths. Approximately 90 per cent of deaths from the scourge occur in Africa, mostly in young children. 

Malaria in Nigeria, according to the Federal Ministry of Health (MoH), is responsible for 60 per cent of outpatient visits to health facilities; 30 per cent of childhood deaths; 25 per cent of deaths in children under one year; and 11 per cent of maternal deaths. Furthermore, the Federal Ministry of Health estimates a financial loss from malaria (in the form of treatment costs, prevention, loss of man-hours, etc.) to be roughly 132 billion Naira per year (approximately $838,564,000 USD). Nigeria accounts for one-quarter of malaria cases in Africa and there are more deaths caused by malaria in Nigeria than in any other country. 

To tackle the disease, the Lagos state government has said that it utilizes multiple approach including, vector control interventions, preventive therapies, diagnostic testing, treatment with quality-assured Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs), and strong malaria surveillance to control and eliminate malaria. The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said this over the weekend during a community sensitization campaign to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day at the Amu Market in Mushin Local Government Area(LGA). 

According to a statement signed by Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, Assistant Director, Press & Public Relations, the State government is using various integrated preventive measures to combat malaria. Idris further explained that Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs) have been deployed to communities, the statement said. He noted that nets are also distributed in public health facilities to children who had completed their immunization schedule and also to pregnant women who booked for antenatal care. The State Ministry of Health boss, also said that pregnant women are freely and routinely given in the prescribed manner Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine (SP) for Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria during ante natal clinics. 

“Another preventive strategy being deployed in the State is the Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) which is the application of long-acting chemical insecticides on the walls and roofs of houses to curtail malaria transmission, he said. “The sixth round in the series of IRS activities was implemented in seven LGAs namely Ojo, Ikorodu, Badagry, Amuwo-Odofin, Kosofe, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki LGAs in 2014 and approximately 650,000 rooms were sprayed,” Idris said. The Commissioner who was represented at the event by the Deputy Director in charge of Disease Control in the State Ministry of Health, Dr. Rotimi Agbolagorite added that the State Ministry of Health has also implemented Larviciding to prevent the development of the larvae to adult mosquitoes in Ikosi-Isheri and Agboyi Ketu local council development areas both within the Kosofe Local Government Area. Larviciding is the application of larvicides to bodies of water to attack mosquito larvae and prevent the development of the larvae to adult mosquitoes. 

Idris stated that the State government has also made available in all public health facilities in the State, Malaria case management which entails the compulsory diagnosis of malaria either by the use of the Rapid Diagnostic Test kits or microscopy and effective treatment with the use of Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) antimalarials.   According to him, all patients can access the service at no cost. He stressed: “It is important that the citizens in the State are equipped with the right information to enable them take appropriate actions regarding malaria control. 

To this end, information dissemination is carried out through jingles on the radio, community sensitization and mobilizations activities where information leaflets and fliers are distributed to the citizens”, the Commissioner said. He posited that the fight against malaria is a collaborative one among all relevant stakeholders that requires the commitment of everyone. Idris insisted that all residents must all be active in ensuring that their environment is clean and free of any collection of water that can serve as a breeding site for mosquitoes. He said: “Everyone should sleep inside a Long Lasting Insecticide net every night. Pregnant women should receive Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine (SP) for Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria during ANC clinics. “You should also visit the nearest health facility when ill and demand for laboratory testing prior to the administration of antimalarial,” Idris stated. 

The Commissioner also noted that despite the huge investments in malaria control and the significant impact in the decline in malaria morbidity and mortality, an estimated 198 million cases of malaria occurred globally in 2013 and 584,000 associated deaths were recorded according to 2014 World malaria Report. Tragically, most cases occurred in Africa, while most deaths affects children under five years, Idris lamented, adding that the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos and the abundant distribution of coastal areas encourage the availability of stagnant water resulting in breeding sites for the anopheles mosquito. 

Also, while speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of Mushin Local Government Area, Hon. Babajide Bello noted that keeping a healthy environment devoid of breeding sites for mosquitoes is one of the ways Malaria scourge can be fought. He charged residents of local government as well as market men and women of Amu Market to cue into various preventive interventions being put in place by the State government in fighting malaria. April 25th is World Malaria Day, a day set aside by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership to draw attention to the burden of malaria. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Invest in the future: defeat malaria” and aims to draw significant attention to the additional efforts required in achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 30,  2015.

U-Report launched in Lagos, targets one million reporters

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners on Tuesday, launched the U-Report, an innovative SMS-based platform that empowers Nigerians by enabling them to participate and engage in policy-making and governance and access real time information on key social issues. 

U-Report enables those who voluntarily register – known as U-reporters – to speak-out on what is happening in their communities, provides a forum to amplify their voices through local and national media, sends alerts to key stakeholders about the issues their constituents are facing, and feeds back useful information to the U-Reporters, so they are empowered to work for positive change and improvements in their localities. The platform provides decision makers a forum to listen to millions of voices through simple messaging. 

In the last one year with support from Airtel, MTN, GLO and Etisalat the number of U-reporters has rapidly grown to about 200,000 with thousands joining every month from all parts of the country. It is expected to top a million by the end of 2015. It has also attracted strategic partnerships with civil society organizations, UN agencies and Government Ministries, who contribute by selecting poll questions and promoting the platform to Nigerian citizens, as a tool for civic engagement and community empowerment. “Today more than ever before community journalism through communication technology can help engender good governance, accountability, social change and improve health standards,’ said Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. ‘U-Report platform provides a thrilling opportunity to contribute to positive social change in the Nigeria,’ she noted. 

About 15 million text messages were sent out through the U-Report platform while the Country battled Ebola. The awareness messages and real time responses via sms and on the U-report Social media platforms sent out during the Ebola outbreak were able to address mythical cures like bathing with hot water and salt , taking bitter kola to cure the disease . U-Reporters were informed on how to identify the disease, and how to keep safe. U-Report Nigeria has sent out more than 50 polls and 26 million messages over the past one year on Prevention of HIV/AIDS, unemployment, maternal and child health, safety and security in schools; child protection and security in general, electricity, water and sanitation hygiene, among others. 

UNICEF Nigeria is working closely with its partners; the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), National Orientation Agency (NOA) the Scouts Association of Nigeria, Boys Brigade and Girl Guides, Religious and Traditional leaders, the Media and Telecommunication service providers to scale up registration and increase impact. UNICEF strongly believes that through U-report communities can constructively contribute to the betterment of their standard of living and significantly contribute to transparency and accountability in the management of public funds, which is key to development. 

The support provided by AIRTEL, MTN, GLO, and Etisalat this past one year made u-report to grow to what it is today and we look forward to a continued collaboration with these companies as we strive to achieve our target of million u-reporters by the end of this year. To become a U-reporter in Nigeria text the word ‘JOIN’ to 24453. It is free.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on May 2,  2015.

WHO launches African Vaccination Week

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched the African Vaccination Week (AVW) in Lusaka, Zambia, under the theme ‘’Vaccination, a gift for life.’’ 

According to the WHO’s, website, the event marks the commencement of week-long immunisation activities from April 24 to April 30 across all 47 countries in the WHO African Region. “Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions but many children and adults still do not have access to many life-saving vaccines. 

“It is estimated that about three million children under the age of five years die each year in the African Region and a significant number of these deaths could be prevented by receiving immunisation,’’ the WHO said. The global world body noted that the AVW was designed to strengthen public awareness and demand for immunisation by communities, improve access for high-risk populations and isolated areas in the region. 

It added that the campaign would provide an opportunity to increase demand and utilisation for other lifesaving interventions particularly those targeting women under five. “Countries and stakeholders must raise the awareness of vaccine-preventable diseases, address barriers to vaccination, and make sustained investments to strengthen health systems and achieve universal immunization by 2020,’’ the WHO said. It urged countries in the African Region to reach out to all children during the AVW, adding that priority be given to children of vaccine-hesitant parents in areas that are difficult to access. 

The WHO, which observed that diarrhea and pneumonia were two most common causes of death in African children, recommended the use of rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) in its control. It recalled that the rotavirus vaccine and PCV were introduced in Zambia in 2013 in the framework of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD). “Measles, polio, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, meningitis, yellow fever, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, pneumonia and cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus are also preventable diseases through vaccination. 

“It is therefore important for parents to present their infants and children, including adolescents for all routine vaccination schedules,’’ the WHO said.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on May 9,  2015.

Insulin vaccine for type 1 diabetes under way

An international team of researchers from Bristol, Dresden, Munich, Vienna and Denver have successfully completed the first step in the development of an insulin vaccine to prevent type 1 diabetes. The Pre-POINT study has found a positive immune response in children at risk of type 1 diabetes who were given oral doses of insulin, an agency report said Tuesday. 

Adverse reactions such as hypoglycaemia were not observed. The findings, published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), support the need for a next phase of testing, which will determine whether an insulin vaccine can prevent the outbreak of the disease over the longer term. Children with type 1 diabetes require several insulin injections every day of their lives. This is because the body’s own immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas – the cells that produce insulin. This is a process that starts early. Instead of ignoring proteins such as insulin, the immune defences see insulin and other proteins in the cells as foreign and mobilise immune cells to destroy the beta cells. Normally, the immune system develops an immune tolerance to the body’s own proteins during the first years of life, therefore preventing this type of autoimmune response. 

This tolerance includes the training of immune cells that prevent destruction of the body’s own cells. The aim of the insulin vaccine is to help “train” this positive preventive immune response. In the Pre-POINT study, children at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes in Germany, Austria, USA and the UK were treated with oral insulin once daily over periods averaging half a year. The control group was given only a placebo with no effect. The active substance group ingested the insulin in powder form together with food at varying dosage levels that were increased in the course of the study. In the highest dosage (67.5 mg), the insulin powder then induced the desired immune response. Professor Ezio Bonifacio from the DFG Research Centre for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, who led the study, said: “We were pleased to see that there were no unwanted side effects and we were able to mimic what normally happens in children who don’t get type 1 diabetes. “Since insulin in this dosage form is broken down in the stomach it did not influence blood glucose levels.

We believe that most of the response is happening while insulin is still in the mouth.” Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler from the Institute for the Study of Diabetes in Munich explained: “The unique factor about this double-blind study is that the insulin was administered as a prophylactic vaccine to the children before they had developed an autoimmune response – that is before they produced autoantibodies. “This is a revolutionary way to prevent type 1 diabetes, but it is quite logical that if the body’s immune system doesn’t learn how to make the protective responses by itself, we need to give it a little help.” Julia Greenstein, JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Vice-President of Discovery Research in the USA, which provided supportive funding for the project, added: “The JDRF is very encouraged by the results of the Pre-POINT studyas a first step to potentially prevent type 1 diabetes in children that are at high risk for getting T1D. “This is a significant finding and given JDRF’s mission to achieve a world without type 1 diabetes, these study results are exciting and bring us one step closer to the potential of seeing an oral vaccination strategy to prevent this disease. 

“Polly Bingley, Professor of Diabetes of the University of Bristol’s School of Clinical Sciences, said: “The ultimate prevention of type 1 diabetes is the major research focus of our team in Bristol. With the help of many colleagues throughout the UK, we were able to screen and recruit young children at high genetic risk of type 1 diabetes to this study. The results are encouraging and we hope that they will provide the basis for a larger study in young infants in the future.” In follow-up studies, treatment will be given to a larger number of babies who are genetically at risk for type 1 diabetes. If the vaccine then succeeds in preventing the disease over the longer term, this would open the door to blanket coverage with the preventive vaccine.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on May 9,  2015.

Why simple strategies are not enough for bedwetting - Continued from last week

Continued from last week 

The new report was published recently in The Cochrane Library. For the review, Caldwell’s team reviewed 16 published studies involving more than 1,600 children, with about half trying simple interventions. Among them were fluid retention, rewards for dry nights (such as stars on chart), and lifting children and taking them to the bathroom after they have been asleep. 

No one simple strategy worked better than another, the researchers found. When they compared alarm training with the simple strategies, the alarm training was more effective. And treatment with medication alone was better than the simple interventions. However, the researcher noted that “the findings from this review should be interpreted cautiously due to the poor quality and small sizes of the trials.” The findings suggest that parents may want to start with simple treatments, Caldwell said, “then move to alarm training or medication if simple treatments do not work after trying for six months.” “Younger children generally take longer to respond to treatment,” she said. “Don’t get annoyed with the child, because bedwetting is usually out of their control.” 

While the alarm system, which sounds an alarm when drops of urine are detected, is effective, it is difficult to do, Caldwell said. Another downside she has sometimes seen is when children become dry on alarm training then develop sleepwalking or night terrors. “Bedwetting and night terrors and sleepwalking are all parasomnias (sleep disorders) and are known to be associated,” she said. The new findings mirror what U.S. expert Resnick has seen in his patients. “I’d say behavioural therapies work about 50 percent of the time,” said Resnick, who was not involved in the study. If simple treatments do not work, Resnick said he may consider medications, but he only prescribes them on an as-needed basis, since the medications have side effects.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on May 9,  2015.

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