Saturday, 10 October 2015

Provision of adequate healthcare, a challenge to govt – Akintayo, PSN president

Nigerian pharmacists and other stakeholders in the health sector joined in the global celebration of World Pharmacists Day, last week Friday. Olumide Akintayo, President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) who during the occasion addressed myriads of issues that impinge on Good Pharmacy Practice called on government to reconstitute the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) which was recently dissolved alongside the boards of other parastatals. CHIOMA UMEHA (HEALTH EDITOR) provides the excerpts:

Why is access to medicine critical in health care practice?

Health is a fundamental human right; indispensable for the exercise of many other rights in particular, the rights to development and necessary for living a life of dignity.

From a human right perspective, access to medicines is intrinsically linked with the principles of equity, non-discrimination, transparency, participation, and accountability.

For this reason key issues related to access to medicines must be taken into account. These issues will include: Sustainable financing, Availability, Affordability, Price and quality, Efficacy of medicines, Dosage, Procurement practices, Supply chain management and Ethics/pharmaceutical care.

What is the significance of this year’s theme? What is its link with good pharmaceutical practice and growing demands of better health in the country?

For many years, FIP has recognised that access to medicines is a major issue in many parts of the world and pharmacists play a key role throughout the whole supply chain towards improving access to medicines.

However, access to medicines itself will not result automatically in optimal health outcomes.

Indeed in 2012, a study quantified that 500 billion US Dollars could be saved every year if responsible use of medicines were achieved, and pharmacists have been identified as a strong and under-utilized asset to achieve responsible use of medicines.

The perfect combination is therefore access to medicines and pharmaceutical expertise, or in other words, to pharmacists.

In 2010, it was estimated that 13 per cent of the visits at a community pharmacy are concluded with advice only (and without sales of any products), highlighting that pharmacists are the most accessible and trusted healthcare professionals in many countries throughout the world.

Discuss how partnership can help in responsible use of medicine

Medicines must go hand in hand with pharmaceutical expertise, or in other words, with pharmacists. This is a partnership essential to the responsible use of medicines. But other partnerships are also important. Every day three million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists around the world act as partners to patients, other health care professionals and other scientists, throughout the whole supply chain and with the shared vision of better health.

Across the globe our profession is clearly demonstrating all the requirements of great partnerships; shared goals, commitment, vital skills and rapport, as well as the ability to have difficult talks and to overcome obstacles.

Give details of PSN efforts to guarantee Good Pharmacy Practice

As the nation’s custodian for drugs and medicines and a strong advocate for safe medicines, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and the Nigerian pharmacists look forward to the full realization of Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) to optimize wellness of consumers of health.

We are indeed aware that Section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to the dignity of every Nigerian. It is common knowledge that right to dignity of a human person is only feasible when we can guarantee some basic rights to access to quality medicines, shelter and food.

What is PSN doing to address and meet the needs of complex patients?

Devising strategies to treat complex patients and tailoring pharmacy education to optimize patient care must be part of future initiatives in pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences all across the globe. Change is sweeping through pharmacy and healthcare on a global scale.

A new era of healthcare development brings with it much hope. As more solutions become available to patients – whether they are medicines, therapies or services provided by healthcare providers – pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists can help with their ever more complex care. The understanding and treatment of human diseases is complicated and challenging because patients themselves are complex.

Inadequate access to essential drugs and other healthcare commodities is the bane of Nigeria’s health sector?

Providing adequate healthcare to their citizens remains a major challenge for governments in Africa. Unsatisfactory and inadequate access to essential drugs and other healthcare commodities is a key limitation that impacts on people’s health in most developing and least developed economies.

Pharmacists are in a prime position to help patients take their medications in a timely and appropriate manner to ensure that they receive the full benefit of therapy. The pharmacist can help increase adherence to drug regimens by providing patients with additional information about individual drugs, identifying potential adverse drug reactions and interactions, and supplying appropriate drug containers or compliance aids.

Adherence to medicines is essential in improving the health and wellbeing of population, what is the situation in Nigeria?

A recent survey reveals that with an average of 120 patients served per day in a pharmacy, and one out of six of those asking for advice without buying a product, patients already benefit from asking their pharmacists for advice on medicines and health in general. We need to build on this and have a more structured approach to providing medicines use reviews. Nigeria needs to catch up fast and be in line with our global counterparts.

Our pharmacists need to move away from the traditional role of just dispensing medicines to helping patients use their medicines more efficiently with the ultimate goal of optimising the impact of medicines, minimising the number of medication related problems and reducing waste.

Our pharmacists need to be empowered to provide this much needed service to people in the community. Government bodies and other healthcare professionals need to understand the impact that pharmacists can have in promoting and increasing adherence to medicines and give their full support and collaboration to improve the health and wellbeing of the population.

Pharmacists will devise strategies to help complex patients and tailor pharmacy education to optimise patient care as part of future initiatives in meeting global and international standards.

PSN is calling on every Nigerian to celebrate our profession this September and to use World Pharmacists Day to promote the valuable role we play – and could play – in bringing about great health for all.

Reconstitution of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria wishes to call on President Mohammadu Buhari, to reconstitute the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) which was recently dissolved alongside the boards of other parastatals. Our practice environment has gotten to a most wretched level which logically cannot afford another vacuum in terms of regulatory control.

Disciplinary procedures must be a continuous phenomenon on erring pharmacist or pharmaceutical company. The absence of PCN Governing Council in a strategic profession like ours boosts the fake drug syndrome albeit tragically. The situation in our profession is replicated in some other healthcare professions which are now justifiably issuing ultimatums.

Other statutory functions like the accreditation of training facilities for pharmacists and support staff in pharmacy are almost jeopardized. The routine practice matters in the area of monitoring and control are not in the best of health as it has also been impossible to get council to strategize to boost efforts of the Registry of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria.

We implore the federal government to halt the drift in the operational efficiency of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria by reconstituting it now and subsequently invoking the spirit of the law that provides for perpetual succession in the enabling act.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on October 3, 2015.

Infants that sucked breast longer have higher IQs – Study

Infants who were breastfed as infants scored higher on intelligence tests than formula-fed kids, and the longer and more exclusively they were breastfed, the greater the difference, said Harvard University researchers in a study published Wednesday in JAMA Pediatrics.

This study added “to the body of literature of the association between duration of breastfeeding and cognition,” said NBC news diet and health editor Madelyn Fernstrom. But does breastfeeding make your child smarter? Fernstrom said this study showed an association, not cause and effect.

The researchers analyzed 1,312 expectant mothers enrolled between 1999 and 2002 in Project Viva, a study in eastern Massachusetts examining pregnancy and child health, and the children they delivered.

The researchers found that seven-year-olds whose mothers had done any breastfeeding during the child’s first year – exclusively or in combination with formula – gained a little more than a third of a point in verbal IQ for each month of breastfeeding compared to children who were never breastfed. That means if the mother did any mix of breastfeeding for the entire 12 months, the gain would be 4.2 verbal IQ points.

The association between breastfeeding and intelligence was stronger when researchers broke out children whose mothers exclusively breastfed during the first six months. Those seven -years-olds showed an increase of four-fifths of a point in verbal IQ each month over children who were never breastfed. That translates into a 4.8 point gain in verbal IQ if exclusively breastfed during their entire first six months of life. The results were similar although smaller in magnitude for non-verbal IQ.

Georgieff praised the study’s design. There is really good evidence that breastfeeding reduces ear infections, diarrhoea and eczema in infants, he said.

The Harvard study, unlike most past studies, controlled for these and other variables, including the mother’s intelligence, education level, and any postpartum depression; family income and home environment; and the child’s race, ethnicity, sex and birth weight.

“As a result, we felt we were able to get a reasonable estimate of what the relationship is between the length of breastfeeding and the IQ of the child at school age,” said Dr. Mandy Belfort, lead author and assistant professor of paediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
The study results show that “exclusive breastfeeding is becoming more and more important,” said physicist Sean Deoni, head of Brown University’s Advanced Baby Imaging Lab and lead author of a recent brain imaging study that linked exclusive breastfeeding to enhanced brain development in children.

Belfort said researchers do not know for sure why breast milk may increase cognition. “All the nutrients we know that are important for infants are also in formula, but there may be others that we don’t know about yet that are responsible” for this small but significant effect.

For example, beneficial fatty acids found in breast milk have been routinely added to formula in the United States since about 2002. But a class of carbohydrates called oligosaccharides found in breast milk and thought to be beneficial to a baby’s health and brain development is not yet found in formula, said Georgieff.

In addition, it is difficult to make cow’s milk mimic human milk because “you just never get the entire matrix right – all the proteins and fats and all the live cells that are in there,” said Georgieff. “We are only starting to learn now what all those things are and how they work together.”

The findings support the current breastfeeding recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics: Babies should be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months of life, meaning no additional foods or fluids unless medically indicated.

Babies should continue to breastfeed for a year and for as long as mother and baby desire, says the academy. Also, The World Health Organization’s (WHO) facts on breastfeeding stipulates that breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on October 3, 2015.

Implement NHIS for all Nigerians, ban health tourism NMA tells Buhari

Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has charged the federal government to “urgently carry out necessary reforms in the health sector to achieve universal health coverage for all Nigerians under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)”.

In a communique containing eight-bullet points for the President Muhammadu Buhari on the health sector NMA, Lagos Chapter, the association summarised the challenges of the country’s health sector with hopes that his government will ensure the necessary change.

In the 5-page document, which was made available to journalists during a press briefing on weekend at the Federal Neuropsychiatrics Hospital Yaba, the chairman of the Lagos State branch, Dr. Tope Ojo, berated the government for failure to meet the needs of the primary health sector.

In what he termed as “criminal negligence”, Ojo, described Nigeria’s inability to provide primary health care services to its citizens. He pointed out that less-advantaged countries have reached 70-100 per cent coverage, stressing that it is criminal for citizens to be denied such basic rights as primary healthcare.

He also enjoined the federal government to “formulate policies that will ensure that political office holders are prevented from seeking medical care overseas” as this will check health tourism that is prevalent among politicians as well as induce more infrastructural and manpower development in the health sector.

Dr Ojo noted that limited medical equipments in Nigerian hospital accounts for the increase in the number of death in hospitals as patients often die while waiting their turn to use available equipment.

NMA has also asked the federal government to put paid to incessant medical workers’ industrial strike actions as the non-payment of workers’ salaries and allowances by teaching hospitals in Lagos and other federal government-owned hospitals rob badly on the competence and professionalism of health workers in the country.

Also, the association called for the immediate removal of the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Chris Bode over his attainment of the 60 years mandatory retirement age in line with civil service rule.

The association has further resolved that the current Medical Director of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba (FNPHY), Dr. Rahman Lawal should step down because he has similarly attained 60 years in service. These were contained in a communiqué issued by the NMA at the end of its AGM, which held in Ikeja, Lagos, on September 11.

Ojo observed that LUTH has recently been bedeviled by incessant strike actions which have escalated during the tenure of Bode. Legitimate security agents in LUTH have been used to harass workers, “apart from the non-payment of arrears of various emolument of doctors, examination fees, update course fee, promotion arrears, etc., has been frustrating some associations, the recent being the stoppage of the legitimately deducted union dues payable to the doctors association (Association of Resident Doctors in LUTH) by their members.

The AGM thereby noted that these observations cast doubt on the competence of Bode.

Similarly, Tope Ojo lamented that the “FNPHY has witnessed a lot of crisis relating to staff welfare, security and emolument issues for which the workers have been persistently restive, resulting in incessant strike actions. There is “contention about the eligibility of the current medical director of the FNPHY to continue in same office since he is over the mandatory exit age of 60 years.”

Furthermore, Ojo noted that if the FNPHY boss fails to step down, “the NMA will use all means possible to ensure that this is achieved.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on September 24, 2015.

Maggi fortified to address dietary deficiency in Nigeria – Nestle CEO

To further confirm the recent micro-nutrient fortification of Nestle’s Maggi seasoning brand, journalists on tour of the factory recently, were provided the opportunity to take on the roles of cooks to experience product-in-use and feel the brand first-hand by cooking simple but healthy delicacy: Fish in green sauce, seasoned with Maggi cubes.

During the occasion, Nestlé, one of the foremost Nutrition, Health and Wellness Company reiterated its commitment to help reduce malnutrition in Nigeria through micro-nutrient fortification. Addressing journalists at the Agbara factory of seasoning brand, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Nestlé Nigeria, Chief Dharnesh Gordhon said in 2012, Nestlé introduced a new range of fortified bouillon cubes by adding iron to the already iodine- fortified Maggi brand seasonings. He said in 2014, Nestlé reached 18.3 million households in Nigeria with iron-fortified Maggi cubes.

Chief Gordhon said that Nestlé has a huge stake in rural communities in Nigeria, sourcing agricultural raw materials from many farmers in the country. He said in 2014 alone, the company purchased 9,660 tonnes of soybean from local farmers in Nigeria. Soybean is a key element in the ingredient mix in Maggi production to provide a distinctive fermented flavor.

Also speaking during the tour, Nordine Meguini, Category Business Manager, Culinary said in addition to improving the nutritional value of Maggi by adding micro-nutrients, Maggi product portfolio also promotes home cooking and consumption of vegetables through the home garden initiative and Maggi Star Kitchen.

He said that Maggi Star Kitchen travels to towns and cities week by week, providing information about balanced diets, micronutrient deficiencies and the importance of culinary hygiene through interactive cooking demonstrations, women’s forums, group discussions and presentation on micronutrient fortification. Meguini said that in 2014, 

Maggi Star Kitchen reached 2.3 million people in Nigeria, while about 15,000 women are benefiting from the home garden initiative.

In the course of this visit to the factory, members of the media had the opportunity to a firsthand view of the production process. The Factory Manager, Mr. Rakesh Verma, used the opportunity of the visit to share the secret of the decades of success of Maggi brand in Nigeria which can be attributed to the special ingredients in the product which is prepared in a unique way that only Maggi knows – best quality, locally sourced soybean which is a key element in the ingredient mix to provide a distinctive fermented flavour.

Commenting on the quality of Maggi, Rakesh said the company has put in place a strict quality management system to check the quality and safety of products throughout the manufacturing process, from the raw materials to the finished products. Each Maggi cube undergoes up to 300 quality controls during the manufacturing process.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on September 24, 2015.

HIV: Lessons Nigeria can learn from Cuba

There are strong indications that Nigeria would one day succeed in eliminating Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and syphilis infection from mother-to-child.
Confirming this are experts who agree that if Nigeria adopts and implements policies like Cuba, which recently became the number one country in the world to end mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV, she will achieve the same result. 

Recently, and Joint United Nations programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) and World Health Organization (WHO) declared Cuba the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

In a statement which WHO sent through an international delegation who were in Cuba in March, it (the world health body) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) certified the country as having  met the criteria. In 2013, only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and five with syphilis, the statement said.
The PAHO and WHO credited Cuba with offering women early access to prenatal care, HIV and syphilis testing, and treatment for mothers who test positive. The two organizations began an effort to end congenital transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba and other countries in the Americas in 2010.

“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.

Reacting to this, Dr. Dan Onwujekwe, Chief Researcher, Clinical Division, NIMR, said: “Ending MTCT of HIV is achievable, it is doable. It is not rocket science, it is what we can do especially, if everyone knows their HIV status; if every woman, who is pregnant, knows her HIV status and is aware of the Prevention of MTCT HIV programme and begins treatment to suppress the viral load before she delivers. We need to also teach them the kind of breastfeeding practice to adopt after delivery, so that the virus is not transmitted to the baby.”  

A cross section of women waiting for counseling during the unveiling of 
Mrs Abimbola Fashola, wife of the former Governor of Lagos State, 
as face of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV in the 
State in Ikeja, recently. PHOTO: CHIOMA UMEHA
Concerning NIMR’s effort in the control of MTCT of HIV, Onwujekwe said: “Since we started the treatment on pregnant women, none of them has delivered a HIV positive baby. The only different thing that Cuba has done is signing people for treatment early and making sure they manage them in labour and after delivery; that is all. It is doable, it is not magic. The whole world can achieve it.”
Corroborating, Dr. Oliver Ezechi, the Deputy Director, Research & Consultant Obstetric gynaecologist, NIMR, reasoned, that if all pregnant women in the country can be reached with HIV test, with drugs administered on those found positive, apart from  advising them on what to do, then the babies will come out negative as long as they adhere to instruction. 

“Once we can reach a pregnant woman, we go ahead to carry out an HIV test on her. If she is positive, we administer a drug, advice her on what to do; if she follows it, that baby comes out negative. It is doable,” Ezechi said. 

However, the Deputy Director, Research lamented dearth of research and accurate data. He said: “But we don’t even know the number of people who are pregnant in Nigeria: this is where we have to start. We don’t have HIV counseling and testing units in villages.”

He also stressed: “We should also put laws in place, like imprisonment for those that infect others with HIV; knowingly or unknowingly. This is the reason why Cuba is the best country in the world. They have very tight rules and they know the consequences of deliberately exposing a child. If it were in Nigeria, they would go to court to say it is a breach of their fundamental human right.”

Commenting, in an online interview, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) HIV Specialist, Dr. Abiola Davies, said this is good news; it means that Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT) of HIV is achievable.

“It means if the appropriate policies and plans are put in place by a committed government, we shall  also see better results in Nigeria,” Davies said, adding that a government-led programme with evidence-based plans at state and LGAs that is fully resourced will enable the country to achieve EMTCT of HIV. However, she regretted that most of HIV programmes are donor driven.

The Director- General, NIMR, Prof. Emmanuel Ujah, observing that Nigeria is a big country with distinct socio cultural differences noted, “It is not going to be easy but we are moving; we are on the right path. After all, NIMR has reduced maternal to child transmission of HIV/AIDS to less than one per cent. In my opinion, we will do well as long as we remain focused. But it would take some time because Nigeria is a very large country.”

This story was published in Newswatch Times on September 24, 2015.

Rotimi, 28, seeks N0.28m for urgent eye surgery

Unless there is urgent intervention, Rotimi Michael Sowemimo might go blind following a complicated eye problem which the medical doctors handling his case at the Eye Foundation Hospital described as Rhegmategenous Retinal Detachment.

Rotimi needs a total N280, 000 to have his eyes checked and operated on. Unfortunately, Rotimi who has no one to support him cannot afford to pay the hospital bill.

According to a medical report signed by a Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr. A. Samuel, it was obvious the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) could not handle Rotimi’s problems, before Rotimi was referred from LUTH to the Eye Foundation, Ikeja. Samuel also said that when Rotimi was presented at LUTH, the posterior segment in the right eye revealed Chorio Retinal Scar, Large Retinal detachment, while the left eye has complicated cataract with posteriors.
A breakdown of the cost of treatment by a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon/Vitreo Retinal Specialist, Mrs. Chastmier Ejorh of the Eye Foundation, Rotimi requires further investigation which will cost him N250, 000, Laboratory test, N10, 000, theatre fee, N10, 000 and other miscellaneous expenses N10, 000.

Rotimi’s problem began after he suffered Conjunctivitis (Apollo) that did not subside.

“When the Apollo started, I went to the hospital and the doctor gave me an eye drop which I used. After applying the eye drop the problem became worse. When the problem continued after four days, I went back to the Isolo General Hospital, Lagos, from where I was referred to LUTH. Since that time I have been begging from friends and relatives to foot my bills. I have exhausted every avenue I could to raise money that is why I come out to beg Nigerians to help me restore my sight,” he said.

Rotimi called on Nigerians, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode to come to his rescue.

If you are touched by Rotimi’s plight please send your donations to this account number: GTB 0014440305, Rotimi Micheal Sowemimo or call 08091823418.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on September 24, 2015.

Modification of nutrition, lifestyle critical to disease prevention

Wigerians have been urged to maintain adequate nutritional diets, as well as abstain from lifestyle that predisposes one to health issues like diabetes, cancer, respiratory disorders, among others, as a method of curbing high incidence of   Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) in the country.

Making the call are experts who spoke at a one-day workshop organised by Coca Cola Nigeria in Lagos, recently, tagged: ‘Adequate Nutrition and Lifestyle : Essential for Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases,’ who stressed that Nigerians must make deliberate attempts to prevent the numerous health issues in the country.

A Consultant Nutritionist and Dietician, Dr Chika Ndiokwelu, who spoke at the workshop, said that eating unhealthy diets have been discovered to cause a number of preventable diseases, even as she said that, processed foods contain more harmful elements than the well known African foods and vegetables which the country was used to.

While stating that poor food intake, smoking, harmful use of alcohol and sedentary lifestyle were risk factors responsible for NCDs, she advised that eating of fruits, legumes, vegetables, engage in regular physical exercise, reduction of salt intake, reduction in alcohol intake, as well as quitting smoking, would help a long way in preventing NCDs.

 She described NCDs as chronic but non-contagious medical conditions which could lead to deformity or death. “NCDs represent a major threat to health and development in the 21st century, as they account for 60 per cent of all deaths and 43 per cent of disease burden globally,” she said.

She listed four major NDCs to include; cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes mellitus, adding that, these four were the world’s biggest killers as they account for 36 million deaths annually.

“With the increasing level of NCDs, if proper measures are not taken, the country may be forced to allocate more than three per cent of its healthcare cost for the management of the diseases within the next 10 years,” she said.

Ndiokwelu, called on the Federal Government to develop a national policy and action plan on food and nutrition, including the control of diets related to non-communicable diseases. She urged manufacturers and producers of food products to provide accurate nutritional information on their products to help consumers make informed choices.

In his speech, a Research Fellow, National Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Bartholomew Brai said with improved healthy lifestyle and right diets, NCDs will reduce drastically in the country, adding that, Nigerians must shun risky factors that predispose them to various kinds of health issues.

He charged health writers to continue to educate the public on ways to preventing diseases and general health education.

Meanwhile, the Director of Public Affairs and Communication, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Mr. Clem Ugorji, said that the company has been striving to provide clear nutritional values, offer low calorie or non-caloric beverages to the public.

Ugorji said the workshop was organised to educate the public on issues of nutrition as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR).

“The recipe of coca-cola has remained unchanged for 129 years, with more than 3,600 products in several countries and over 500 brands. ‘’This was achievable due to our acceptance by the public. We shall continue to support and provide the public with health information because a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.

‘’The only way to reach the public is through the media which is why we are organising this workshop for them to relate and know our level of acceptance in the public. The media also have a role to play by ensuring that they publish accurate and factual information so as not to misinform the public, ‘’ he said.

The forum had in attendance over 40 health journalists across the country, who also had a tour of the company’s plant facility in Ikeja.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on September 24, 2015.

Crisis looms as Edo health workers protest over new pay structure

Crisis looms in the health sector of Edo State as primary healthcare assistants yesterday protested over alleged exclusion from the new Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) for their contemporaries at the local government, accusing the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and the Local Government Service Commission for the development.

However, efforts to reach state chairman of ALGON, Mrs. Itohan Osahon-Ogbeide, were futile as calls placed to her phone were unanswered as at press time yesterday.

But addressing journalists yesterday under the aegis of Health Assistants and Attendants Association of Nigeria, the workers said they had been denied hazard allowance under a “mischievous guise” that they are not professionals and therefore should not be paid the perk.

A member told The Guardian that “few days ago, I assisted a doctor in conducting a caesarean operation and my hand gloves got torn unknown to me. Only for us to discover that the patient is HIV positive, yet these people say we should not be entitled to hazard allowance and other payments as provided by CONMESS and CONHESS. They do not even provide basic needs for our work. We buy our hand gloves ourselves and some other work tools,” he lamented.

President of the association, Ogbeide Osagie in a press briefing alleged that the leadership of the local government councils was brandishing a purported letter from the state government where they were allegedly excluded from the CONMESS and CONHESS.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on September 24, 2015.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Infertility: Five indigent couples to receive free treatment from FTSF

Five Nigerian couples with the challenge of infertility stand to benefit from fully-funded fertility treatment cycles as the Fertility Treatment Support Foundation ( FTSF ) kick starts the 2015 series of funded fertility treatment campaigns for indigent Nigerians.

In this year’s programme, 15 couples will stand a chance to receive the free screening while five couples will receive the full treatment. This will be done via an electronic raffle draw.

A registered non-profit organisation based in Lagos, FTSF provides financial support and services for infertile couples, in partnership with Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos/Asaba/Abuja, with the goal of enabling Nigerian couples with the challenge of infertility, to access full assisted reproduction technology, ART, services, in form of Free IVF treatment cycles.

In addition to providing opportunity for infertile couples to have their own biological children completely free of charge, the FTSF campaign also serves to heighten awareness about the availability of treatment for infertility in addition to presenting a support system or platform for interaction.

Formerly known as Expanded Access to Reproductive Treatment (EART) Foundation, FTSF was established in 2008 as a result of the increasing prevalence of infertility in the society.

The free fertility treatment contest began on Thursday with a press briefing at the Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, which flagged off entries for the competition. Entries for the competition will close on October 18, while a draw event and announcement of winners is to take place October 25.

L-R: Dr. Abayomi Ajayi , Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Clinic, Lagos, Asaba and Abuja; Debowale Sangosanya, ACT Marketing ; Omolara Amubieya, Cosse TTL; Mrs. Tola Ajayi, Cleric Manager; Mama Esther Adigwe, Lead Counsellor for FTSF and Mr. Dotun Adebowale, Brand Shepherd during press briefing to kick-off the free treatment programme at the Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos... Thursday.

To participate in this year’s edition, infertility challenged couples are to send SMS/text to 09081190600 or 08080800156. SMS should be titled: FREE IVF and followed by your phone number and name of couple (Mr. & Mrs. XXX).

Infertility is one of the leading causes of social frustration and marginalization, particularly in developing countries. It affects over 20 per cent of couples worldwide, with male infertility contributing for about half of the cases.

With research stating that one in five couples are face fertility challenges, the need for assisted reproductive treatment is on the rise. However the affordability of the treatment is one of the major common causes for concern of the fertility-challenged couples and in order to keep the dreams of the fertility-challenged couples alive, FTSF was born, a statement from the foundation explained.

The foundation over the years has provided free fertility screening and treatment to over 126 less-privileged couples as her contribution to helping them realize their baby dreams. It also educates and enlightens programmes to the public and the medical professionals.

The statement further said that Q3 2015 edition of “Little Miracles” an initiative of FTSF is open to all indigent and infertility challenged couples (Nigerians only) from all regions of the country, adding that only two entries are allowed per couple using two different telephone numbers in order to increase their chances

The statement from the Foundation explains that entries should be sent via SMS only and stressed: “Only two entries are allowed per couple using two different telephone numbers in order to increase their chances.”

The statement said: ‘The ‘Little Miracles’ contest, Q3 2015 will start on September 17 and end October 18, while the draw event takes place at Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Victoria Island, while the ‘Little Miracles diaries’ will run from November 2015 to 2016.”

The ‘Little Miracles diaries’ covers the period of treatment for infertile couples, conception and delivery, serving as a method of measuring the success rate.

Mrs. Tola Ajayi, Head of Clinics, while speaking at a briefing to kick-off the free treatment programme, tagged: “Little Miracles,” explained the whole idea is to explain the miraculous nature of conception.

According to her, ‘the evolution of conception is indeed a miracle from God.’ The Clinic boss said: “Little Miracles”, an initiative of FTSF will be giving away free fertility screening and treatment to couples on Sunday October 25, via an electronic draw. All you have to do is send a text with the title: ‘ Free IVF, your names, and phone number to these numbers – 09081190600 or 08080800156.’

Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Clinic, Lagos, Asaba and Abuja, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, remarked: “People should come out of their shells to address the issue of infertility.” He said from research, one out of every four couples is fertility-challenged, thereby, informing the appreciable demand for ART, solutions.

Ajayi argued that affordability of treatment is a common cause for concern of fertility-challenged couples and it is to keep the dreams of fertility-challenged couples alive, that FTSF was born.

“Having children is the most natural process, but today, due to diverse challenges faced by couples, the process to conceive is being paid for,” Mama Esther Adigwe, the Lead Counsellor, FTSF, explained, adding “this is why the foundation each year supports couples by giving free treatment and screening to the fertility challenged couples.

She called for support for couples with infertility problems. Her words: “We enjoin everyone here to spread the word of hope to couples. And we at FTSF will continue to provide the much needed support system or platform for those couples who are fertility challenged to interact and share their problems.”

Similarly, the Lead Counsellor who is also a mother, grandmother and retired Head nurse also said the programme is tagged, ‘Little Miracles’ in line with its goal to put smile on the faces of many couples.

She said: “On Sunday, October 25, the foundation would like to bring joy and happiness to a lot of couples by giving away free fertility screening and full treatment to the fertility challenged couples via the “Little Miracles” contest. 15 couples will stand a chance to receive the free screening while five couples will receive the full treatment. This will be done via an electronic raffle draw.”

“The foundation in her seven years of existence has provided free fertility treatment and screening for over 126 couples, because it is targeted at providing fertility assistance to indigent Nigerians who have been under intense emotional pressure due to our cultural norms as regards child bearing as well as not having the capacity to undertake a fertility procedure, due to its cost implication.”

Debowale Sangosanya, ACT Marketing, enjoined Nigerians to join in the efforts to address infertility in the society just as she told couples with success stories of IVF treatment to share it.

Sangosanya explained that the programme is tagged ‘Q3 2015’ because it is taking place in the third quarter of the year and added FTSF hope to hold the programme quarterly.

She said: “We need to continually champion this cause and encourage couples to speak out on time. So they are better educated and given the needed assistance. It is the desire of the foundation to make available this free treatment on a quarterly basis as funds avail.”

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

Consumers advised to eat foods enriched with micronutrients

Consuming food rich in nutrients such as soybeans have been identified as a way to build rich culture of good nutrition in diet.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive of Nestle Nigeria Plc, Chief Dharnesh Gordhon, reiterated this at a recent media tour at the company’s Agbara factory.

Gordhon noted that products from the stable of Nestle such as the Maggi food seasoning are enriched with soybean to help improve the quality of the good consumed.

Soybeans is described as the richest plant source of protein and the highest amongst all legumes as it contains 43 percent protein unlike other leguminous plants that contain 20 to 25 percent protein.

Under guidelines adopted by The World Health Organisation for evaluating protein quality for children and adults, soy beans is rated as first and second to none. This is to say soy bean is equal to the protein found in meat and milk.

“At Nestle we have a history of delivering regardless of the external environment, this is because of the strength of our brands, our consumer understanding and our programme of continuous innovation and renovation of our products to ensure they are the best products available in the market.

“Another way Maggi delights the consumer is by helping to reduce the risk of under- nutrition through micro nutrient fortification.”

Gordhon said: “Our work with Maggi focuses on tackling nutrient deficiencies with popular products aimed at those who need them most. Two examples of these nutrients are iodine and iron. Inadequate dietary iodine is a common and serious deficiency affecting one third of pre-school children in Nigeria. Lack of iodine is the major cause of preventable brain damage. Severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in mental retardation of an infant or miscarriage.

“To help address the problem, we implemented relevant innovation especially targeting the needs of low-income consumers most likely to suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. In 2012, we introduced a new range of fortified bouillon cubes to Nigeria by adding, iron to the already iodine-fortified Maggi brand seasonings.

He added: “In 2014, we reached 18.3 million households in Nigeria with iron-fortified Maggi cubes. Each serving (that is a meal for 6 people prepared with six cubes or two tablets) provides for over 30 per cent of the recommended daily allowance of iodine and 15 per cent of the recommended daily allowance of iron.

“In addition to improving the nutritional value of our products by adding micronutrients, our Maggi product portfolio also promotes home cooking and consumption of vegetables through the Maggi Star Kitchen,” he added.

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

Simple remedies for constipation

Constipation refers to any irregularity in, or absence of, bowel movements. The slow movement of food through the large intestine and the amount of time the waste remains in the colon are factors that contribute to constipation. More and more water is absorbed while the waste is in our body and the stool becomes drier and bulky, thus more difficult to pass.

Regular bowel movement is necessary to remove waste and toxins from the body. Some people have movements daily, others three times a week, this is normal, although some doctors consider a person moving bowels less than once a day to be constipated.

Constipation can be cause by lack of exercise, too much junk food, poor diet, painkillers, antidepressants and/or pregnancy. However serious diseases can cause constipation as well, including thyroid problems, circulatory disorder, colon malfunction (fistulas, tumours, and obstruction). Here are natural ways of returning the balance to the body:

Eat fruits, vegetables and other high fibre foods to increase your amount of fibre intake. Eat lots of fruits, green vegetables cabbage, peas, carrots, garlic, sweet potatoes; all these are high in fibre. Aim for at least 24 to 38 grams of fibre a day. Constipation results from over consumption of fats, refined sugar, and dairy in comparison to fibre from whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Increase the intensity of fibre. If a week-long vegetarian diet doesn’t fix the problem, a three-day fast of some high-fibre vegetable like cabbage is recommended.
Cabbage is particularly good because it’s not only high in fibre but it has enzymes which encourage the entire digestive tract to “flush.” This is also a good liver cleanse for a build-up of liver toxins.

Hydrate well. Constipation can also be caused by insufficient hydration. Generally drink a minimum of 10 to 20 ounces (1.5-2 litres) per day, or more depending on your size, the weather, or amount of exercise.

If trying to relieve a bout of constipation, increase your water consumption for three to four days, starting with a big glass in the morning and drinking regularly throughout the day.

As a matter of routine, you should be drinking at least ten glasses of warm water daily. Water is one of the best liquids that wash waste and toxins from our body. You cannot replace water with other drinks, such as juice and soda regardless of how healthy or natural they are, because they tend to contain excessive sugar that could actually exacerbate constipation.

Try the banana cure for mild occasional constipation. This requires that you eat a banana with a glass of warm milk, chewing the banana carefully.

When going through a bout of constipation, avoid sitting down for ten minutes and keep your body moving. Moderate to rigorous physical exercise is preferred, but even taking a low-key 30-minute walk will help your body promote healthy bowel movements.

Take folic acid. An insufficient intake of folic acid can lead to constipation.

Ginger tea is a great home remedy for constipation. It helps start bowel movement.

Exercise often; a simple stroll in the park can relieve constipation.

Health tip: It was believed that castor oil was a good remedy for constipation, but, latest studies have shown that it can cause dehydration and mineral imbalance.

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

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