Monday, 28 November 2016

High Consumption Of Potato Increases Risk Of High Blood Pressure – Study

Scientists has said that high consumption of potatoes (whether fried, boiled, baked, or mashed) is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure.

The research which was published in the British Medical Journal suggested that replacing one daily serving of potatoes with other, non-starchy vegetables could reduce the risk of developing hypertension.

The researchers, from Harvard Medical School in the US, followed over 187,000 men and women from three large US studies for more than 20 years. They measured dietary intake, including frequency of potato consumption, with a questionnaire. Blood pressure was measured by a health professional.

After taking into account other risk factors for hypertension, the researchers found that four or more servings a week of potatoes was associated with an increased risk, compared with less than one serving a month. However, consumption of crisps was not found to increase risk.

The researchers wrote: ‘These findings have potentially imparted public health ramifications, as they do not support a potential benefit from the inclusion of potatoes as vegetables in government food programs but instead support a harmful effect that is consistent with adverse effects of high carbohydrate intakes seen in controlled feeding studies.’

The authors point out that, as potatoes have a high glycaemic index, they can trigger a sharp rise in blood sugar levels, which could partly explain their findings.

When Childbirth Puts Woman’s Life In Danger

“I came here because my bladder busted when I went to deliver my baby many  years ago and since then  my health  condition has  not remain the same due to pains and discomfort l go through on a daily basis.”

These were the words of  Lucia Ofoegbu, 63, from Anambra  State. Lucia is among the women who were recently treated of Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF ) at the National Obstetrics Fistula hospital Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

 Lucia said she was thrown out of her matrimonial home, because she came down with VVF, 50 years ago, following a ruptured  bladder. In this story which will bring tears to most eyes, Lucia in an emotion-laden voice, which contrasts with the joy she now feels, told a team of health reporters on a facility visit to the hospital, the first National VVF hospital in the country, that the condition took away her pride.

The facility visit was part of a three-day training for health reporters, sponsored by Engender health, an international non-governmental organization implementing a USAID funded Fistula care project in Nigeria.
According to Lucia: "It happened 50 years ago and I was managing it throughout the period, because I did not know where to go to. I was pregnant of twins – two boys. I laboured for three days, before they took me to Okwuzuuzor, Anambra state. After everything, I lost both babies and came down with Fistula.”

Health workers describe Obstetric Fistula or VVF as a medical condition in which a fistula – hole develops between either the rectum or vagina. When the link is between the rectum and the bladder, it  called is Recto Vagina Fistula  (RVF). They say either of these conditions are caused by obstructed prolonged labour due to childbirth. Medical workers say this is pronounced in situation where access to adequate medical care is not available.

While Lucia’s VVF case appears to be like one of the consequences of early marriage and prolonged labour, there are other examples in the centre at Abakiliki which are problems of having too many children.

Dr. Suleiman Zakariya, Clinical Associate, Fistula Care plus, says  that a labour can be described to be prolonged when it is beyond eight hours. Research has shown that when women have too many children over a short period of time they are exposed to life threatening complications such as fistula during delivery. Zakariya  also  notes   that women who adopted any of the various Family Planning (FP) methods can have as many children as they want with minimal risk.

If only Lucia had known, as she told her story, she could not hold back her tears. Her sullen eyes captured her regrets not knowing of any Family Planning  method earlier. None of her interviewers could control their emotions as Lucia recounted her pains following rejection and humiliation from her husband and in-laws. She said: “A year after, my husband went to the city and came back with another woman and they have been treating me so badly. They threw me out of the house,” she said amidst sobs. Regretting   the  condition , she says  it left her childless without any husband.
“Succour only came when my relatives came to my husband’s house and took me back to my father’s house for rehabilitation.”

Zakariya says some major elements of fistula damage is urinary or faecal incontinence. In addition to these physical problems, VVF and RVF cause acute social problems studies have shown. Due to constant leaking of urine or faeces and the accompanying smell, many communities consider these women outcasts and cut them off from all social activities. Commuting in public transport and engaging in social activities such as weddings and naming ceremonies becomes difficult.

Zakariya says: “If the fistulae are not repaired, their husbands may divorce the women. Some leave their families to roam in the cities where they are not known as the outlook for them remain bleak in the community.” Lucia fits into this gloomy picture. It took the intervention of a Catholic Priest for Lucia to access care and treatment at the National Obstetric fistula centre, Abakiliki, where her dignity has been restored by well-trained surgeons with specialization in fistula repair.

Talking of the priest who directed her to the hospital, Lucia said: “The person that brought me here was a priest. He noticed me because I normally don’t come close to where others are. On one occasion, he called me and said what was the problem and after I narrated my story he was the one that brought me to this place. Now I have been discharged today. I am actually waiting for the Priest to come and take me back. She said since coming down with fisula, the priest is one of the few people she can identify as a relative. “Even all these period I have been here, my husband never asked of me and my co-wife never asked of me. It has been hell for me all these years.”

Lucia story is just one out of the millions of the estimated 150,000 million Nigeria women who for one reason or the other are suffering the condition called, fistula. The health condition has been identified by experts as a silent killer of millions of women of reproductive age worldwide.
In Nigeria, health experts say fistula is now a major public health condition responsible for the growing numbers of maternal and child  mortality, morbidity as well as neonatal death rates.
The centre at Abakiliki, is one of the 13 fistula centres in the country supported by Fistula Care Plus established in  2010, to address the issue which experts describe as a public health crisis.

Dr. Kennneth Ekwedike, Chairman, Medical Advisory Council of the hospital, who was represented by Dr. Yakubu Emmanuel, a Consultant Gyneacologist,  describes  obstetric fistula as one of the various challenges women face in the process of child birth.
Dr. Emmanuel attributed the growing incidence of fistula in the country to poverty. The next is ignorance, he said,  adding that the condition is prevalent among women who have many children over a short period of time.

Commenting on the services of the centre, he notes that over 40 cases of fistula clients have been repaired in the first quarter of the year, which shows a reduction in the number of cases repaired by the same time last year, which is not an indication of decrease in the national average. Jumoke Adekogba, a reproductive health and FP advisor with Engender health also agrees that when women have too many children over a short period of time they are exposed to life threatening complications. Corroborating earlier views, she said: “With family planning women can have as many children as they want without the risks of VVF.”
Also in agreement with this view is, Veronica Nwaoefe, Matron at the Abakaliki Centre, submits that family planning shares a link with fistula, noting that it is a preventive measure against VVF. To her, family planning also helps women who are successfully treated to wait for a while so that they will heal and totally recuperate before planning for another pregnancy.

“When children are properly spaced it ensures the health of the mother and child thereby reducing fistula as a rare event for future generations, ”Nwaoefe adds.
Nigeria has a backlog of between 120,000 to 150,000 fistula cases with an increase of 12,000 new cases occurring annually, according to Fistula Care Plus. However, the numbers of fistula facilities in the country are very few. The project also says the number of qualified doctors who can professionally repair fistula clients are about only 23 with 174 nurses to man the facilities.

The project therefore, stresses the need  for government, the private sector and donors to act together and stop the condition by encouraging family spacing, regular antenatal care and hospital deliveries.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Trained Manpower, Appropriate Technology Will Reduce Misdiagnosis.

The recent alarm on rising global incidence of cancer by the World Health Organisation (WHO) should worry African countries, including Nigeria, where the disease is becoming prevalent. Available statistics show that Nigeria accounts for  10,000 cancer deaths annually, while 250,000 new cases occur yearly. Prof. Innocent Ujah, Director- General of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)Yaba, Lagos, in this interview with Chioma Umeha, announced that  the prevalence study for Humanpapilloma Virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer will be out this year. Excerpt:

The issue of misdiagnoses is a serious problem in this part of the world. How do you think we can improve on laboratory services, especially as concerns Cancers?
Diagnosis involves the technician that is manpower development. The next is the technology.  Are we using the appropriate technology? If we are using the updated technology, then with trained manpower, we should be able to reduce misdiagnoses to barest minimum. The other thing is the technique. Are we using the right technique? If we are using the right technique, then we will get the right answer. We need to train because capacity development is very important. We also have to continue to calibrate our equipments; otherwise it may give the wrong diagnosis.

What is  your assessment on  NIMR’s effort in cancer research on Human Papillomavirus, malaria among other tropical diseases and their national prevalence?
The institute is also involved in nationwide cancer research concerning Human Papillomavirus and its national prevalence. The centre is equipped with a specialize machine, Cobalt 4800 for the characterization of the subtypes of Human Papilomavirus (HPV).
Another area of study is drug resistance to malaria and mosquito resistant insecticide treated nets. One of the researchers is doing the study with a grant from World Health Organization, (WHO) and some private partners. So, we want to track Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) that have been in use and study and confirm the magnitude of resistance and discover what to do to prevent this.

The institute commissioned a cancer centre last year.  When will it take off and what would be the areas of focus?
The cancer research centre has already taken off. As soon as we carry out research, the findings will be made known to the public, just as we will provide brief to the government through the Federal Ministry of Health and this will help to shape the magnitude of the problem, to develop a policy issue regarding a specific modalities of treatment and train more people. The truth of the matter is that apart from equipment, we need training and it should be regular as it is practiced in Europe and America.
The problem Nigeria has is funding and research is not being taken seriously. Funding for health is about five or six per cent and that really cannot do anything considering the country’s population. Look at National Institute of Health of America (NIA), they have billions and they even give grants to developing countries like Nigeria. The Centre for Disease and Control (CDC) form that we are using is from NIA and Medical Research Council (MRC) in the United Kingdom and they vote a lot of money for research. We believe that the government of Nigeria should vote substantial amount of money to health sector. And as for the outcome, health is capital intensive, health research is even more capital intensive, the equipments are not cheap.

Your institute has a mandate and it is to carry out research for National development. Can you say that it is on track in fulfilling its mandate?
Yes, NIMR,  has a mandate and it is to carry out research for National development. We are to research into diseases of public health importance communicable and non -communicable. In addition, we are to disseminate our research findings and carry it to the public and this is done through scientific publications and policy brief for government and creating awareness to the public.

What do Nigerians hope to expect from NIMR?
The goal of the institute is to position itself   in the area of dissemination of findings from many ongoing researches and also do policy brief to the government through Federal ministry of health. Once we finish collecting data, we need to analyze the data, we do not want to hurriedly put something in place, we want to be sure that whatever we say is what it is. Research is an ongoing process. We intend to build capacity of many of our researchers this year and other support staff. We will recruit in some areas where we do not have sufficient manpower. At the moment, we are trying to get approval from National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to train in the areas of Bio-medical engineering and technicians  as well as award some Diplomas in specific areas of Bio-technology and Bio-medical  training.

Specifically what kind of work are you doing to address the issue of drug resistance  to malaria?
We have researches going on in this area with a focus to manage and incubate mosquitoes. We have a very strong malaria research group. I earlier discussed about tracking the malaria resistance, ACT drugs, of course you know that the essence of insecticide treated net is to kill the mosquitoes once they touch the net.
But, the drugs are now Malaria resistant…
It used to kill mosquitoes, but it is becoming resistant. It will just demobilize the mosquitoes for a while that is why we talk about genetic mutation. We are to study further on that, so that we overcome it. That is the essence of research, we are doing that and we are in the field.

What stage is the institute?
We are in the stage of doing a laboratory work, the laboratory studies on mosquitoes. We do this with mosquitoes and also on the parasite itself and in that case, at the end of it all, we will be able to come up and say, this is the degree of prevalence of the resistance to insecticide treated net; this is the degree of prevalence of resistance to ACT and then of course we begin to discuss how we can overcome it, then compare our efforts to other centers and countries so that we can also key in and work together in collaboration.

Many countries of the world, for instance, Thailand is expecting to achieve malaria elimination  by 2030. What is the situation in Nigeria?
There has been increased momentum on the areas of malaria prevention since 2002 till date. The federal government has a programme for this. What the institute is doing is to conduct research to follow up and to track because initially when the ACTs emerged, nobody was talking about resistance but, we have been tracking it and the insecticide treated net. We have an out station in Maiduguri to study trans- border diseases, including malaria and their own type of mosquitoes there, but, because of the insurgency we cannot go there.

Is that the only place we have trans-border disease control Centre?
We cannot have stations in every border, but, we use that as a model to study trans- border diseases. We have another station in Kainji to study neglected tropical diseases.

What is the place of medical research in the National Health Act which was signed into law by former President, Goodluck Jonathan?
In fact, the National Health Act has captured very strategically health research. So in terms of its role it has the whole section of research committees. What we are looking for is the implementation. Several other committees are working to see how we can start the implementation process. We will also ensure that the National Health Act is monitored thoroughly.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Expert Urges Infertile Couple To Seek Medical Assistance

A fertility expert and Consultant gyneacologist, Dr. Taiwo Orebamjo has called on couple who are infertile to seek help from gyneacologist than visiting quacks that could jeopardise their chances of delivery as it records it’s first In vitro Fertilisation (IVF) baby girl.

In a chat journalists in Lagos, Dr. Orebamjo  who  is the Medical Director/CEO of Lifeshore Fertility Centre, a subsidiary of Parklande Specialist Hospital, Surulere, Lagos, warned couples who are facing challenges of infertility to stop patronising those who will take advantage of them like herbalists and native doctors.

He explained that there are different forms of IVF, but insisted that one cannot know what suits a couple until a fertility expert is consulted, adding: “When you see fertility expert, he will now decide the right treatment to be given, the ultimate is IVF. But, sometimes it could be simple treatment that is required and if that is not successful, you then go on with IVF.

Visibly elated that his clinic which began IVF treatment barely a year now has recorded its first success, he said: “ This couple have been trying for about five years or so and they came to us and then we gave them our services and God bless them through the work of our hands and today she has a lovely baby girl and that’s our first baby.I feel very happy and  thank God for the success recorded.”
Dr. Orebamjo said that investigations were carried out on the couple and nothing was wrong with both of them, even as treatment was done on the woman and then she got pregnant.

He further observed: “Even though the fertility of woman may reduce as her age is advancing, there are still techniques that can be used for them. For instance egg donation programme which sometimes if the age of a woman is advanced we use the egg donation programme which is not more than age of 34, probably who has had a baby before and we know that she is fertile.”

“A woman in her 40s or 50s can still come for treatments. She can still get assistance in form of IVF. Most of the time, usually from 45 and above, such a woman will probably need egg donation programme.”

He encouraged couples to seek help on time adding that the problem with that is the people that you meet may not have enough knowledge to be able to treat you. They may also not have enough knowledge to also give you the options that are available for you for treatment.

He listed other complications that could also be associated with infertility such as  endometriosis which is quite common and is associated with infertility. “Sometimes, it is very difficult to diagnose except the individual go to proper centres or a speciality scan, adding that diagnosis is usually by telescope to take a look to find this endometriosis,” he said.

Orebamjo also said a lot of times one can still get pregnant with cyst in place, but if you have huge cyst in place, then obviously it occupies a place that pregnancy will occupy, and therefore you will not be able to get pregnant with the cyst in place. “ What matters the most is that if you have any gynaecological problem then go to a gynaecologist.”

He said: “Sometimes it is difficult to be able to know who is a gynaecologist is because I have ask my patients sometimes whether they know how to know a gynaecologist, they say it is when a doctor conducts delivery  or they see pregnant women or expectant ones with a doctor. They rely on other people to be able to tell them and once that information is wrong from the source it just continues like that.

Orebamjo, however added that ultimately all children come from God, but through the services of men he could bless anybody.

Poor Funding Hinders Malaria Research – NIMR

Following World Health Organisation (WHO) latest survey which shows that not less than 51 million Nigerians, equivalent to 30 per cent of the population, tested positive to the malaria parasite in 2015, researchers have decried growing paucity of funds required for research which is impeding the roll out of malaria interventions and others.

The researchers who are from Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR),Yaba, Lagos, while noting that the highest number of Malaria cases occurred in the North West and North Central zones of the country, raised alarm that Nigeria is not on track for malaria elimination.

Lamenting, the Deputy Director (Research) and Head, Malaria Research Programme (NIMR) Dr. Sam Awolola, said with such high malaria burden, and continued reliance on foreign intervention, the country is far from being on track to end the malaria scourge.

Awolola, who raised the alarm at a forum organised by NIMR in commemoration of this year’s World Malaria Day, said the theme: “End Malaria for Good,” was not meant for a country like Nigeria which he said was far from pre-elimination not to talk of elimination.

His said: “The 2014 and 2015 World Malaria reports testify to this fact. The Nigerian National statistics shows that malaria accounts for 60 per cent of hospital out-patient visits, 25 per cent infant deaths, 30 percent of all under-five deaths and 11 per cent of maternal mortality annually.”

“Unless our government funds research by creating enabling environment, putting the right infrastructure in place and human capacity to do research, we cannot make progress.”
According to him, although there has been improvement in malaria interventions, but the parasites indices remain high and that shows how far Nigeria is from elimination.

He noted that if nothing is done, many of the gains and progress made in the field of malaria research and control will be lost, as “defeating malaria today is investing in our tomorrow.”
He cited the instance where NIMR had to drop a research work on the characterization of sites for malaria test vaccines due to lack of funds, saying vaccines cannot just be brought into the country without testing them.

“We cannot equally develop vaccines without research, because it is research that develops vaccines, and if money is not invested, how do we get results,” he asked rhetorically.

Currently, NIMR is carrying out site characteristics for the testing of a new malaria vaccine in Nigeria, but he noted that the Institute should have advanced beyond that.

Awolola explained; “research has a key role to play in the quest towards malaria elimination, as findings from research works are needed to guide policies, yet very little is done by government to improve on research funding.”

Research he said is not a jamboree because it requires the right infrastructure, human capacity and the right environment so unless government investments properly in it, “our health research institutions will remain what they are.”

He told Independent that though he can no give figures on government support, but “for the last five years I have been the head of the malaria department, I can tell you Research funding has been very poor, not only malaria research, but generally.”

He stressed the need to accord the importance of research in developments, “we are in a country where research is not recognised,” he added.

“Nigeria has a vaccine development laboratory but for many years, no money has been made available to run it. The American government has put close to $20 billion in developing genetically modified mosquitoes in the last 20 years, and up till now they have not been successful, but with us here, within one or two years we want results. Research is a long term venture, but result will definitely come at the end,” Awolola lamented.

The malaria group boss pointed out that external bodies fund most research in Nigeria, “When foreigners fund research they want their results and this affects us negatively.”
“And as long as our researches and interventions are donor driven, he that pays the piper dictates the tunes,” he expressed.

Corroborating, WHO Malaria Containment Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Tolu Arowolo, in her presentation confirming the recent malaria prevalence conducted across Nigeria, and published in April 2016, said it shows that the North West and North Central zones have high prevalence of malaria cases.

Her words: “North West has 37 per cent; North Central, 32 per cent; North East, 26 per cent; South South, 19 per cent; South West, 17 per cent, and South East 14 per cent. But when you look at the 2010 Malaria Indicator Survey result, it was the opposite, because the South West appeared to have the highest malaria burden, but now it has changed.

“Currently, Nigeria is at 27 per cent, by the time we would repeat the survey by 2020, it is expected to be less than five per cent and this is achievable because our prevalence in 2010 was 42 per cent and now we have 27 per cent which is about 15 per cent reduction.”

She however canvassed for robust integrated data management to reach out to population at risk, accurate diagnoses of all person at risk, activities that will encourage use of material that prevent malaria, availabilities of commodities in all healthcare facilities among others.

Arowolo told Independent that malaria eradication is possible in Nigeria: “We have tools, interventions and strategies like our malaria strategic plan which targets pre elimination in the country by 2020 through deploying all the current evident based interventions to scale.

In the same vein, Arowolo noted: “we are also seeking to increase generation of funds to be able to conduct research as well as put in place good accountability mechanism in place to coordinate the plan.”
Arowolo stated that new studies about insecticide and drug resistance are ongoing since it’s been constantly reported that mosquitoes are getting resistant to them.

She identified the challenge of people boycotting interventions like the use of long lasting mosquito nets due to epileptic power supply as studies has shown.

On his part, the Director General of Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Prof. Innocent Ujah lamented the high percentage of deaths caused by malaria.

“In spite of the global effort to end malaria, it is still a major public health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria in particular which the 2014 and 2015 world malaria reports testify to this fact,” the DG said.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Pharmacy Marred By Lack Of Teaching Aids, Research Grants

Olumide Akintayo, a member of the National Executive of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and the immediate past President of the society, in this interview addresses the challenges of practicing pharmacy, fake drug distribution, among other issues bugging the sector.

According to media reports, you decried the state of pharmacy practice in Nigeria during the just concluded annual health week of the Pharmacy Academy of Nigeria Students (PANS), University of Benin (UNIBEN). Mention challenges which pharmacy professionals are facing.

Stating that pharmacy has continued to thrive in an atmosphere of confusion is an understatement. Uncertainties have become the unenviable cross of the Nigerian Pharmacist.  An evaluation of the various sectors of pharmacy practice shows that some aspects epitomize a mass of putrefying sores.

Academic pharmacy is marked with unending tales of woes which have manifested in lack of teaching aids and research grants for the academic pharmacist.  The dearth of chemicals, properly equipped laboratories and absence of conducive teaching environment characterize the darkness which has of late enveloped this important sector of the practice.

Even when hospital and administrative pharmacists have enjoyed pay increases like other health personnel, all is still not well in relative terms. This is because pharmacists face discriminatory salary wages, while beautiful packages are unduly skewed in favour of other privileged group of professionals in the same sector.

Industrial pharmacy is not spared of the rotten basket of fruits because, sharp practices in the manufacturing and sales of drugs have destroyed a sector which used to be buoyant .

Community pharmacy practice appears to be hard hit as this sector which embraces drug distribution from the manufacturer to the consumer is ravaged to a great extent by the fake drug syndrome. What is your take on that ?     

It is worrisome that a profession which should be a celebration of excellence sometimes does not live up to this billing. However, pharmacists still maintain their potentials despite all odds.

You also mentioned that pharmacy practice sometimes derail from set goals and objectives in Nigeria and  that this has ethical perspective. Can you explain  more on that ?

Pharmacy practice has its peculiarities as a profession with substantial commercial plenitude. This makes it prone to ubiquitous exploiters both within and outside the profession. This lingered for many years before we challenged the status-quo. At a time, narcissism was the order of generations of colleagues who found themselves at the hierarchy of the profession in the public sector to the detriment of others.

What do you consider as major challenges in today’s pharmacy practice?
Perhaps, the most fundamental of the problems in contemporary pharmacy practice in Nigeria is the insanity that pervades drug distribution in Nigeria.  The ‘Frankenstein Monster,’ called unregistered or illegal premises remains the most challenging affliction of practitioners and by extension the citizenry, yet it is often ignored.  It all started in the Second Republic when entrepreneurs motivated by purely profit motives invaded pharmacy in the import licence era.  This invasion marked the advent of sales and manufacturing of spurious and fake drugs.  The leadership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria of that era protested this unpalatable situation.  Government had also shown its concern by placing drug matters on the Exclusive list for legislation and responded by promulgating Decree 21 of 1988 as amended by Decree 17 of 1989.  This Decree has since metamorphosed to Act 25 of 1999. Specifically, Section 2 of Act 25 of 1999 is aimed at ameliorating the problems of illegal drug sales points which remain the crux of the matter in drug distribution.  Listed in this category are drug markets, kiosks, buses, ferries, train etc.  Section 6 of this same law vests the legal authority to deal with this retinue of illegal sales points on the Federal Task Forces and its allies in the 36 States.  28 years after, the first set of laws on illegal sales points and the establishment of task forces were put in place; it is a matter of historical importance to document that they have not succeeded.

The recently amended National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDGs) which now seeks to open legitimate frontiers of practice to operators in open markets is a reform that must be allowed to work as it gives genuine indigenous entrepreneurs in these localities another opportunity to get it right. The Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and their supervisory ministry, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) must continue to work together to get it right this time in the public interest.

Recently, the Pharmacy Technicians in Nigeria went to court over their struggle not to be regulated by Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN). What is the situation?

Recently, there have been challenges with the regulation of Patent & Proprietary Medicines Vendors Licence (PPMVL) holders and Pharmacy Technicians in Nigeria. Pharmacy Technicians in Nigeria do not want to be regulated by Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and went to court. The ineptitude of a former Registrar of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) which did not make representation in court made it possible for the court to grant reliefs to the Technicians. This curious judgment has been bandied and circulated in government circles causing some structural aberration in the relationship of key segments in hospital pharmacy.

The PPMVL matter has also been a major albatross in our practice as untrained hands were legally empowered to dabble into drugs sales, distribution and dispensing. The many years of resistance hopefully will now be rested following the recent triumph of the PCN over National Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers (NAPPMED) vis a vis Federal High Court Kaduna verdict that the PCN has an approbation in law to regulate PPMVL holders in Nigeria.

Leadership must therefore be proactive and sometimes forceful especially in professions in the throes of degeneration that we find ourselves in pharmacy.

Internal bickering among different health worker professionals has continued to worsen effective delivery in the volatile health sector. The issue recently played up in the appointment of CEO for a National Cancer Center.  How do you  assess  the situation ?

At its recent public hearing on the draft bill for a National Cancer Center, sections of the bill provided that only a medical doctor could be Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the centre.

This is inconsistent with the 1999 constitution and the rules of the appropriate arm of the National Assembly (NASS) guide the public hearings and its’ Section 42 which gives an inalienable right to freedom from discrimination to citizens.

I therefore submit that it is revoltingly illogical and unconstitutional for the National Assembly to take a discriminatory position of entrenching in a statute in these modern times that only a doctor can be CEO of a cancer research center. We often mouth global best practices when it suits us and it is a reality today that some of the most prolific researchers in the medical sciences are not doctors. Recall with some passion that even 60 per cent of the contemporary winners of the Nobel Prize in medicine are not doctors.

At a time of great advancements in the dynamic value chain the sciences offer, it will be too destructive to enact a highly defective statute of this magnitude in Nigeria today. We therefore call on NASS to immediately amend that proviso of exclusive rights to doctors in a multidisciplinary health sector.

What is the expected role of pharmacy students and new generation pharmacists?

Today’s pharmacists must ensure steadfastness, forthrightness and positive radicalism, which must be balanced with maturity.

It would amount to a comedy of errors if I do not paint the picture of pharmacy and Nigeria today. However, this is not to discourage those who are prospecting pharmacy as a chosen career. The theme for this year’s seminar, “Advancement of pharmacy profession – Role of young pharmacist,” is special and best addresses the industry needs. The theme marked a departure from the previous ones which focused on drug distribution endeavours. As professionals, ethical considerations relevant in pharmacy practice and this should remain the focus for every practitioner. For those at the helm of affairs of our noble society, they should  provide good leadership and an output that borders on excellence, ethics must remain the watchword.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Junk Food Damages Kidneys- Study

Eating junk foods such as burgers, fries, biscuits and fizzy drinks may cause as much damage to the kidney as diabetes, a new study has warned.

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and the number of cases are rising worldwide at an alarming rate, an online report said. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or does not react to it.

This causes an accumulation of sugar (glucose) in the blood, which can have severe long-term consequences for organs, including the kidneys, where it can lead to diabetic kidney disease, researchers said.

Hence, finding a way to block glucose re-absorption in the kidneys could offer a potential treatment for lowering blood sugar levels, they said.
For the study, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK used animal models of diabetes and models of diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance to see how insulin resistance and too much sugar or fat affect glucose transporters in the kidney.

The rats were fed junk food consisting of cheese, chocolate bars, biscuits and marshmallows for eight weeks, or a rodent chow high in fat (containing 60 percent) for five weeks.
Researchers then tested the effect of these diets on blood sugar levels and the different glucose transporters in the kidneys. The effect of the diets on these transporters was compared with the changes also seen in rat models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

They found that certain types of glucose transporters (GLUT and SGLT) as well as their regulatory proteins were present in a higher number in type 2 diabetic rats. But a high fat diet and junk food diet caused a similar increase in those receptors.

“The Western diet contains more and more processed junk food and fat, and there is a well-established link between excessive consumption of this type of food and recent increases in the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes,” said Havovi Chichger from Anglia Ruskin University.

“In our study, type 1 and type 2 diabetes both induce changes in glucose transport in the kidney, but junk food or a diet high in fat causes changes that are very similar to those found in type 2 diabetes,” said Chichger.

“Understanding how diet can affect sugar handling in the kidneys and whether the inhibitors can reverse these changes could help to protect the kidneys from further damage,” she added.
The findings were published in the journal:  Experimental Physiology.

Nature & Living

Simple Ways To Reduce Stress

Here’s how you can get more out of each day…

 Have a laugh

 While working and carrying family responsibilities, stressing out too much about them will simply cause more grief  both mentally as well as physically, according to experts. However, there are several ways you can unwind –  watch your favourite comedy, catch up with close friends and talk about funny memories. Research says that every time you laugh out loud, increased oxygen flows to your organs, blood flow increases, and stress automatically reduces.

 Spend time with your pet

Pets are known not only to give you unconditional love, but spending time with them is actually good for your health. Studies say that when you pet your dog/cat even for just a few minutes, your body releases feel-good hormones like serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and also decreases the amount of the damaging stress hormones. This results in lower blood pressure, less anxiety and even better immunity.

 Get rid of the clutter

Are you surrounded by too many things in a not-so-very big space? Having too much stuff can leave you feeling overwhelmed and bog you down, eventually leading to stress. Living in constantly messy surroundings brings on unwanted anxiety. Therefore, experts say you need to de-clutter to de-stress. Don’t start by wanting to clear up everything at once. That will only stress you out further. Begin with a small space and gradually move to bigger things. A space that is uncluttered can feel satisfying and soothing.

 Do the housework

While this might seem like a mundane, everyday chore, try to do things a bit differently. Put on your favourite music or TV show in the background, make a list of all that needs to be done, and get down working. Not only will you burn calories and get your work down, you won’t be tired and stressed out at the end of it.

 Drink juice

Researchers say that the vitamin C present in orange juice can actually help you manage stress better because it lowers levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Remember that vitamin C-rich foods such as orange juice, grapefruit juice, strawberries, or sweet red peppers boost your immune system.

Sing out loud

When was the last time you sang loudly to your heart’s content? Turn up the radio and start singing. No matter how bad you think you sound, studies show that singing can actually make you feel happier and feel less stressed. Singing also benefits your breathing, heart and immune system.

Breathe deeply

Invest in some lavender or rosemary scents and take a deep whiff — it will instantly put you in a more relaxed state and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. If you prefer not to use scents, practice the act of deep breathing regularly. This sends oxygen surging through your bloodstream, helping to calm down and beat stress.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Nigeria Renews Strategy To Achieve Zero Malaria Deaths In 2020

About three billion US dollars is lost to malaria yearly due to out of pocket treatment and prevention costs.  This amount could pay the annual salaries of 2.2 million Nigerians on minimum wage.”

This statistics is based on a recent report from experts working with a public health non-profit making organization, the Society for Family Health (SFH).

The SFH experts also say that the socio-economic and health burden of malaria is high. The disease constitutes “a major cause of absenteeism in schools, offices and markets, and affects the national economy.”

Malaria accounts for about six out of 10 out-patient visits and three of 10 admissions in healthcare facilities. They further state that malaria accounts for 11 per cent of maternal mortality and three of 10 deaths in children less than five years.

The trend is worrisome to experts who say that Nigeria accounts for one-third of global malaria deaths.

According to them the disease is also responsible for a quarter of all infant-related deaths and one-third of deaths in children less than five years.

Meanwhile, studies by organisations that work in several areas of public health also show that a significant contributor to malaria’s deadly count in Nigeria is inadequate knowledge and information on the part of caregivers and the citizenry.

Only two of 10 caregivers use Artemisinin Combination Therapy, the gold standard, to treat malaria in children that are under five years. Only three out of 10 children received treatment within 24 hours when they had malaria.

Even with the treatment, the statistics show that only one out of 20 children was tested before treatment. The situation was the same with adults.

Less than half of all households own recommended Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLIN). Even worse, only 35 per cent of family members slept inside LLIN

where available.

Against this backdrop, the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) has adopted a strategic plan to ensure total elimination of malaria in Nigeria by 2020.

Announcing this, was a top official of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Perpetua Uhomoibhi, at a forum with health writers in Lagos, weekend, while making her presentation titled: “Media Health Editors as Advocates to Malaria Elimination in Nigeria.”

Uhomoibhi, who is the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of NMEP in the ministry, says the strategic plan was now focusing on reducing the malaria burden drastically.

“Our national elimination programme strategic plan now is focusing on bringing the malaria burden to pre-elimination level by 2020 and reducing the malaria death to zero by 2020.”

She explains that NMEP would collaborate with the media to ensure that effective information and actions required to eliminate malaria got to Nigerians.

Uhomoibhi represented the National Coordinator of NMEP, Dr Audu Mohammed.
She insists that it was necessary for the media to be equipped with adequate information on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria.

Uhomoibhi and Mr. Bright Ekweremadu, Managing Director of the Society for Family Health, jointly urges players in the media ecosystem to consider it a social responsibility to draw the attention of Nigerians to the scourge of malaria.

The SFH and the NMEP further insists on a nationwide alert on the consequences of neglecting malaria and urges the media to prioritise the disease and make it a matter of national concern given the effects of the ailment.

Nollywood star Kate Henshaw signed on to support the malaria advocacy programme at the event held at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel.

Kate Henshaw decries the attitude of Nigerians who look down on the sickness or consider it with condescending familiarity despite the harm it causes.

Kate Henshaw states: “In those days, people spoke about malaria as if it belonged to them with expressions like ‘I have malaria,’ ‘my malaria’ and ‘ordinary malaria.’ Surprisingly, after many years, these terms are still common place among family members, colleagues, and friends, irrespective of class or level of education.”

She declares: “I have committed myself to support the fight against malaria in Nigeria by letting people know the benefits of sleeping inside the Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets, especially for children under  five and pregnant women. It is also very important to have a Rapid Diagnostic Test done or microscopy done to be sure it is malaria before administering treatment with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy – (ACT).”

SFH also enlisted the cast of Papa Ajasco and Company, the comedy group run by Wale Adenuga Productions, as well as Nnenna and Friends, also from the same stable in the malaria advocacy programme.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Experts Decry Stigma Against Women With Infertility

As ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ Campaign Debuts In Nigeria

There was serious outrage by many people across the world when the news broke recently over a husband in Kenya who hacked his wife’s hands off with a machete for failing to conceive after seven years of marriage – though he was impotent.

Jackline Mwende was brutally slashed by  her husband, Stephen Ngila, 34,  at her home in Masii, Machakos County after he told her ‘Today is your last day.’

Mwende, 27, was also left with horrific injuries to her head. The case had sparked outrage in Kenya.
Mwende who is now being supported by “Merck More than a Mother” initiative to empower and enable her to become an independent productive member in society throughout the rest of her life represent millions of African women with similar tragedy.

Winifred (not real name) graduate,   married in 2005 at the age of 27, to her seemingly heartthrob in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT). She engaged in various forms of petty-trading ranging from selling soft-drinks, ice-blocks, moi-moi among others to support her husband, Tony, an applicant then.

Ten years later, she was subjected to brutalising treatments by her husband for failure to conceive. Tony, who later started working in a blue-chip government parastatal, labelled Winifred all sorts of names, and even accused her of being a witch that eats up the babies in her womb.
Despite medical test confirmation that Tony was infertile, he abandoned Winifred in the hospital after a tumour surgery, married a second wife, fled from their home and moved into a new apartment in an undisclosed area.

Similarly, Agnes Ubani, 29, after eight years of marriage with her husband, Nath, both were based in Enugu state, East of Nigeria, lost almost all her teeth and one eye to  incessant battering from the later because of failure to become pregnant.

There are millions of Nigerian women suffering various forms of abusive for their inability to conceive.  In most cases, it is for no fault of theirs, even when their male partners could be impotent or having other infertility problems.

A recent statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) says more than 180 million couples (one in every four couples) in developing countries suffer from primary or secondary infertility. WHO says infertility in Africa is caused by infections in over 85 per cent women compared to 33 per cent worldwide which emphasize the importance of prevention programmes in Africa.

In view of this, the world’s foremost pharmaceutical and chemical company, Merck, has launched the Nigerian version of “Merck More than a Mother,” an initiative aimed at combating infertility and the stigmatization associated with it in the country.

The launch which took place first in Lagos and then in Abuja, brought together women leaders, policy makers, parliamentarians, academics, fertility experts among others to chart the way forward towards combating, identifying and implementing strategies to improve access to effective, safe and regulated fertility care in Nigeria and to define interventions to decrease social suffering arising from infertility and childlessness.

Speaking at the launch, in Lagos, Chief Social Officer, Merck, Dr. Rasha Kelej, said: “Merck More than a Mother” initiative is imperative in Africa as the consequences of infertility are much more dramatic in developing countries and can create more wide ranging social and cultural problems compared to Western societies, particularly for women.

According to Kelej, “A central difficulty associated with infertility is that it can transform from an acute, private distress into a harsh, public stigma with complex and devastating consequences.
“In some cultures, childless women still suffer discrimination, stigma and ostracism. An inability to have a child or to become pregnant can result in being greatly isolated, disinherited or assaulted. This may result in divorce or physical and psychological violence.

“Through the “Merck More than a Mother” initiative, all stakeholders together including women leaders, policy makers, parliamentarians, academia, fertility experts, community and media will challenge the perception of infertile women.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Lanre Tejuosho confirmed: “It’s a fact that out of four Nigerian couples, we have a couple with infertility challenges. This statistics means that infertility needs urgent attention and we need to focus on how we can make health institutions accessible for infertility management.

“Most importantly, there is a lot of stigma against women with infertility challenges in Nigeria. We want to stop it. We also want to increase the advocacy against the notion that it is only women that suffer infertility.

“People must know that 50 per cent of infertility issues are caused by men. We want to let the men to have the courage and also they must come out together with their wives, to seek treatment and to ensure that the focus on women must be directed accordingly, and not a misplaced direction. So, it is more about awareness and education.”

Tejuosho announced: “Currently, there is an introduction in the National Assembly, an Assisted Reproduction Technology Bill, to ensure the law guiding technology of IVF, as well as fertility intervention and surrogacy is well guarded, so that the owner of the sperm or the womb will be the father or mother of the child and not the surrogate mother.”

Tejuosho added that there are also many other laws coming up that will tackle the issues of inheritance for mothers that are childless or have just females as children.

Similarly, infertility advocate and member Kenyan Parliament, Hon. Joyce Lay disclosed that what inspired her to lead the campaign against stigmatising women with infertility issues in Kenya and Africa was because she had a personal experience, having had difficulty having a child after she got married.

Lay said: “I was pregnant at an early stage, and going to give birth in hospitals not equipped resulted to child birth complications for me. Later on, I developed problems with my Fallopian tube and had to undergo surgery. Later on, I had more complications which led to heavy bleedings and closure of my cervix. This led to another surgery of removing my womb.

“I couldn’t carry my child myself, so, when I got the opportunity to get to the Kenyan parliament, I started advocating for education, creation of awareness, prevention and treatment for infections.
“This is because most men and women with infertility issues are caused by untreated infectious diseases.

“So, lack of information, as well as lack of access to better medical and healthcare services contributes largely to cases of infertility in Africa. As a member of parliament, I discover in Africa, governments commit funds in the budget for family planning programmes, but none for infertility.
Also, the mind-engaging discussion at the launch saw as panelists the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Lanre Tejuosho; member, Parliament of Kenya, Hon. Joyce Lay; President, Nigeria Reproductive Society, Dr. Faye Iketubosin; President, Africa Fertility Society (AFS) Professor Oladapo Ashiru and former President, International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) Prof. Joe Simpson.

Others were the Head, Intercontinental Region, Merck, Yiannis Vlontzos; President, North and West Africa, Merck; President, SOGON, Prof. Brian Adinma; Secretary-General, SOGON, Dr. Chris Agboghoroma and President, IFFS, Dr. Richard Kennedy; Dr. Karim Bendaou; Chief Social Officer, Merck, Dr. Rasha Kelej and Commissioner for Health, Ogun State, Dr. Tunde Ipaye.

Also, at the launch were Chairman, Garki General Hospital and Vice Chairman, Nisa Fertility Hospital, Dr. Ibrahim Wada; Vice President, Africa Fertility Society, Dr. James Olobo-Lalobo among others.

Meanwhile, as part of its efforts to take the advocacy message across the country, Merck has also partnered with Future Assured, the pet-project of wife of Senate President, Toyin Saraki. Recall that the “Merck More than a Mother” campaign had successfully been launched in Kenya, Uganda, among other sub-Saharan African countries.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Family Planning Prevents Prolong Obstructed Labour, Fistula – Umma-Bala

Over half of Nigerian married women aged between 15 and 49 want to avoid pregnancy and plan their families, but, lack access to modern contraception according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). This challenge of non-availability of family planning (FP) supplies in the country’s various health facilities is worsened by the myths and misconceptions about FP which women contend with in their various communities. But, a Reproductive Health/Family Planning, FP, Adviser to Fistula Care Plus, based in Sokoto State, Mrs. Amina Umma Bala in this interview with Chioma Umeha dismisses the myths, declares it number one step out of poverty for couples  saying, it gives couples opportunity to delay, space and choose number of children they want. Excerpts:

There are various perceptions and misconception about family planning. For instance, in some communities, it is believed that if a woman uses a method of family planning, she will not be able to get pregnant again, when she wants to.
Well, myth is myth and misconception is misconception. So by myths, you know these are not true. It is rumours that are being spread by people in the community. So no myths or misconception is true. They are just false. For instance, some women say they cannot use family planning as long as they are breastfeeding. They believe that they won’t conceive based on their previous experience. This is very wrong because anything can change at any time. Nobody can rely on that. Just because she didn’t conceive during her previous encounter does not mean that she will not conceive next time. It is a false belief. Women should not rely on this belief. Some women claim they do not want to space their children because of inheritance. Some will tell you that they and their husbands space their children naturally, because they do strenuous work which weakens their sperm. Some will say, ‘I am afraid to resume sexual relationship while breastfeeding, because it may harm my baby. All these are myths. They simply don’t understand what family planning means.
So, what is family Planning?
Family planning is the initiation and use of natural or modern contraceptive methods to delay space or limit future pregnancies. If a woman uses a method of family planning, she will not be able to get pregnant again until when she wants to. There are different types of family planning. These includes ;Lactational Amenorrhea Method, LAM, Pills, Injectables, Condoms, Implants, IUD, Tubal Ligation and Vasectomy.
LAM is a temporary natural, contraceptive method that uses a pattern of breastfeeding to suppress ovulation and prevent pregnancy. It has more than 98 per cent contraceptive effectiveness and it is provided and controlled by the woman. It is also important for breastfeeding mothers to use contraceptive methods that have no effect on breastfeeding for a breastfeeding baby and mother.
How safe is FP?
Family planning is safe only that there is individual difference in using family planning. The way one individual tolerates family planning is different from another individual’s tolerance to FP. There are some people that can use family planning without showing any sign of adverse effect and there are some women that you can notice very easily that they are having challenges with that particular method.
What is the success rate?
All the family planning methods have its own efficacy. Some are 97 per cent effective; some are between 85 and 93 per cent. Every method has its own efficacy, none of them is 100 per cent reliable and what we mean by that is in 100 women using that method seven women can become pregnant after using that method consistently and effectively.
At what age should a girl adopt family planning?
As soon as that girl is matured, what I mean by matured is at least if the girl is 18 years, she has the right to access family planning. As long as a woman is of age, whether married or not married, she has the right to walk into family planning unit because we have to weigh the implication of not allowing them to access family planning. We have to weigh the risk. What about if they become pregnant and they are not married? So we have to weigh the risk. We are talking about 18 because she can decide on her own. If she is less than 18, the provider should always look for somebody, like the mother or a relation that can verify on her behalf. But, once she is 18 she can just walk in and have it.
Can you describe the link between family planning and obstetric fistula?
Family planning is one of the strategy that is used to prevent the occurrence of fistula, in the sense that when you use family planning it allows one to prevent unwanted pregnancy and it is only when you are pregnant that you would have prolong obstructed labour during delivery and you will also have fistula. So if you didn’t even allow the pregnancy to occur, you won’t have fistula.  That is one of the ways you can use family planning to prevent the occurrence of fistula.
What have been the responses of Sokoto women to FP?
Oh, fantastic, we recently conducted an outreach section, and I was highly impressed honestly with the way people were turning out from every corner, coming to access family planning. Some were even fighting to get it. And what surprised me most is they go for the long acting and permanent methods.
What are the benefits?
For the nation; reliable contraception is an extremely good value because it enables people to avoid pregnancy long enough to enter gainful employment and stable family relationships without depending on public assistance. For families, it gives couples the ability to choose the number and spacing of their children. It also ensures healthy spacing of pregnancy, increase chances of healthy outcomes for both mother and baby. Also, healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy improves the health of the mother and reduces infant, newborn and child deaths. It reduces the chance of problems during the next pregnancy and allows mothers to breastfeed for two full years.
What is your advice to husbands?
My advice is let our men think it over again. Let us see FP in a different perspective not the previous knowledge or explanation about FP. Family planning is just saying we should plan our family for better health, family health and better community health. We are just saying or telling mothers to space their family at least not less than two years apart. The problem of family planning lies in the men, because men involvement that is where we always have problems. We want our men to understand and share this burden together with their women. Let them understand the concept of family planning, because it is for their own good, the family good, not just the woman’s good. They should understand that it should be a collective responsibility between couples.

This story was published in Independent on Sep 4, 2016

NCDC Confirms Lassa Fever Spread To Four States, One Death
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed five more cases of Lassa fever across four states in the last 11 days.
Two cases were reported from Plateau State, one from Rivers, and one each from Bauchi and Gombe, NCDC said in a statement Friday night.
Four of the infected people are alive, but the fifth case, from Gombe, died on August 22.
“We commend the early detection and reporting of the most recent cases, as it significantly improves the likelihood of survival for the cases and also reduces the risk of further transmission,” said NCDC chief executive officer Chikwe Ihekweazu.
“We also urge all States to report cases immediately for Lassa fever while improving on the timeliness of their reporting generally.”
Ministries of health in the respective states, the NCDC and the Nigerian Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme are investigating and managing those infected.
An NCDC advisory recommends steps states have to take to prepare for and respond to all cases of Lassa fever and other haemorrhagic fevers.
NCDC has opened communication lines where suspected cases can be reported, including its twitter handle @NCDCgov, Facebook Messenger and a phone line 080097000010.

This story was published in Independent on Sep 4, 2016

FG, WAMCO Renew MOU On Dairy Development Programme

Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and one of the country’s leading dairy companies, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, makers of Peak, Three Crowns and Friso brands of milk have renewed their memorandum of understanding (MoU) on dairy development in the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief AuduOgbeh, and the Managing Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Mr. Rahul Colaco, signed the MOU at a ceremony held in Abuja, recently.
WAMCO is the first dairy company in Nigeria to sign such a pact with the Federal Government. The Minister and his team had visited the Netherlands earlier in the year, to see how the Dutch dairy chain is organized from “grass to glass” and how FrieslandCampina guarantees the safety and quality of her products.
A statement issued by the company’s Corporate Affairs Director, Ore Famurewa, explained: “This is an enormously positive development for FrieslandCampina WAMCO and we see our partnership with the Federal Government as key in rolling out new dairy programmes designed to safeguard food and nutrient security in Nigeria.
“Five years ago in 2011, we signed an MoU with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to improve dairy farming and we made good progress in areas such as networking of milk suppliers, training of dairy farmers and improving the quality of raw milk. “Today, we are restating our mutual commitment to developing the Nigerian local dairy industry by creating a sustainable value chain that contributes to food security, provides jobs and prosperity,” she said.
Famurewa confirmed the company’s decision to invest N3 billion in its small holder dairy farmer programme in Nigeria and has also agreed to provide support to a FMARD subsidiary, Milcopal, in Kaduna.
The Dairy Development Programme (DDP) is an initiative of WAMCO Nigeria PLC. It is a private-public partnership that will trigger growth in the agro-economic sector of Nigeria.
The DDP is significant  in the history of FrieslandCampina WAMCO “and we believe it will enhance dairy farming in Nigeria as it affirms our unwavering commitment to the provision of quality dairy nutrition to Nigerians,” Famurewa said.
The signing ceremony was attended by the Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development, Chief AuduOgbeh; the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Shehu Ahmed; Hon. Mohammed Monguno, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture Production and Services, National Assembly; Dr. Danazumi Mohammed Ibrahim,   Director General National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion; Chairman, Board of Directors, WAMCO, Mr. Jacobs MoyoAjekigbe and the Managing Director, WAMCO, Mr. RahulColaco.

This story was published in Independent on Sep 4, 2016
Ambode’s Wife Pledges Support For Adolescents Living With HIV
The wife of the Lagos State governor, Mrs Bolanle Ambode has expressed concern over adolescents living with HIV in the state, and pledged to support them to actualise their potentials.
Addressing journalists at an “Adolescent Advocacy Meeting with policy makers on the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents living with HIV in Nigeria, the representative of the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, Mrs Rhoda Ayinde, said the state has put in place vocational skill centres that will foresee to the training of adolescent living with Human Immune Virus, adding that it will not rest on its oars.
She however stated: “I will team up with other governors’ wives of states like Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Benue, FCT and Kaduna. We will empower and sensitize these adolescent and also involve all stakeholders to see that HIV is totally eliminated. The two weeks summer camp from August 23 to  September 2,  is geared towards these course ”
Also speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, said the state has 344 health facilities to prevent Mother to Child Transmission of HIV in Lagos State, adding that 104 of the health facilities are private hospitals.
The PS however said that Lagos State has established adolescent and youth centres and care givers have been trained to keep matters of these HIV-positive youth confidential.
She said the awareness of the virus has increased across board but access to treatment is slim, commending the Lagos State Action AIDS Control Agency (LSACA) and called on the youth present living with the virus to continue in the line of determination to achieve their desired goal.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) HIV Specialist, Dr. Victoria Isiramen stated that, “about 196,000 of adolescent living with HIV in Nigeria and globally accounts for 10 per cent of adolescent living with disease.”
Isiramen added that no society should neglects its youths, stating that, “UNICEF launched ‘The All In Initiative’ in 2015 which means that all hands must be on deck to ensure adolescent are brought to ground level and meet with the needs of all adolescent living with HIV.”

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