Saturday, 5 March 2016

Child malnutrition endangers thousands in northern Nigeria

• Experts vow to nip it in the bud

Irked by the country’s worsening indices of malnutrition, especially in the North, a group of experts who have vowed to take the bulls by the horn, announced in Abuja, on Thursday morning, that they will dig to the root of the cankerworm.

The professionals who are from the federal and state governments, development partners, civil society and academia believes that child malnutrition is critical to reducing the staggeringly high rate of child malnutrition in northern Nigeria.

There are approximately 1.7 million severely acutely malnourished children under-five in Nigeria, accounting for a tenth of the global total. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under- five and maternal mortality due to acute malnutrition in the world.

Nearly a thousand Nigerian children die of malnutrition-related causes every day a total of 361,000 each year. Acute malnutrition also leads to stunting of children causing life-long physical limitations and can reduce intellectual capacity.

The experts were concluding a two-day meeting to discuss the results of research on activities carried out by the Working to Improve Nutrit ion in Northern Nigeria (WINNN) programme in the states of Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Yobe, and Zamfara.

As a result of malnutrition, 58 per cent of children under-five in these states suffer from stunting, meaning their physical and mental development have been impaired. An estimated 370,000 children with severe acute malnutrition in these states will require lifesaving treatment this year. Without such treatment, some 70,000 of those children are likely to die.

While treatment for severe malnutrition remains essential and has been the focus of State Governments’ activities, the participants at the WINNN meeting said increased attention should be paid to prevention, which is critical to addressing the problem in the long term. Research presented at the meeting confirmed that many mothers do not understand the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and that even giving water to a baby under six months old can lead to illnesses and malnutrition.

The WINNN group of experts recommended increasing activities to prevent malnutrition such as encouraging women to attend health facilities for antenatal and postnatal care where they can be given guidance on how to best feed their children, especially the most vulnerable children under two years old. Husbands, families and community members, including traditional and religious leaders, all have a role to play, the experts agreed, and should be informed about how best to encourage and support women to breastfeed exclusively and to feed children under two years old appropriately. Communities should be educated about problems associated with harmful traditional feeding practices that can reduce an infant’s growth and development, and messages on good feeding practices should be carried on the radio, the experts agreed.

The experts also recommended that preventing malnutrition should be a matter addressed at a wider level than present, involving coordination with ministries of health; agriculture; women’s affairs and social development; and water resources. They also called for greater training and deployment of health workers.

Applauding the increase in State and Federal Governments’ and partners’ commitment to resolving the problem of child malnutrition over the past several years, as well as the more than US$47.9 million investment by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) in the WINNN programme since its inception in 2011, the participants at the meeting highlighted the need for all stakeholders to invest further.

They called on all levels of government to provide greater leadership, better coordination and increased transparent funding to scale up the lessons learned from the WINNN programme, providing sustained action to improve the nutrition, health and future prospects of women, adolescent girls and children in northern Nigeria.

The WINNN programme, implemented by the Nigerian Government with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Save the Children and Action Against Hunger, is funded by DFID and works in three LGAs in each of the five states.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 5, 2016.

Lemon water: Helps digestion, stimulates, purifies liver

Starting your day off with warm lemon water is thought to have a ton of health benefits – and it has been an Ayurvedic practice for a long time. Here are more health benefits of drinking lemon water first thing in the morning.

Lemon fruit

Aids in digestion
Not only does warm water help to stimulate the GI tract, the lemons are believed to stimulate and purify the liver. It also helps digestive acids with digestion and elimination.

Supports immune function
Citrus fruits like lemon are high in vitamin C and ascorbic acid. Vitamin C can help fight colds and ascorbic acid helps iron absorption which also plays a role in immune function.

Alkalizes the body
If your body is in a chronic pH imbalance, it’s susceptible to disease. Even though lemons seem acidic, they are extremely alkalizing and a great way to ensure your pH balance is where it should be especially if your diet is heavy in meat, cheese and/or alcohol.

Helps Detox
Lemon water is a natural diuretic, which means it helps your body flush liquid and toxins along with it. The citric acid can also help maximize enzymes which stimulates the liver.

It’s an energizer
The combination of water and lemon helps to hydrate and oxygenate the blood, leaving you feeling great.

Keeps skin beautiful
Chronic dehydration can leave skin looking dull. So start your day on the right foot with lemon water. Vitamin C plays a critical role in maintaining healthy skin and antioxidants can combat aging factors.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 5, 2016.

Traditional, religious leaders seek govt attention on child, family health

The Bauchi State Traditional Ruler, Emir of Dass, Alhaji Usman Bilyaminu Othman has pledged that traditional and religious institutions in the State would continue to be advocacy champions for child and family health to ensure government’s commitments to achieve it. The traditional ruler said this known during a dialogue session on child and family health with the media organised by Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN) under the aegis of Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH) in Bauchi state, during the weekend.

He said: “The traditional, religious and community leaders will intensify advocacy efforts to ensure sustainable routine immunization, management of childhood killer diseases, apart from encouraging the communities to embrace appropriate nutrition status. Also, Islam is not against family planning and immunization. I therefore encourage parents to immunize their children to build a healthy society.”

free health screening for patients
In a paper titled, “PACFaH: A Roadmap to Achieving Effective Child and Family Health in Nigeria”, Abdullahi Ibrahim representing FOMWAN discussed four issue areas which concerns PACFaH’s objectives— family planning, nutrition, routine immunization, and childhood killer diseases.

The presenter noted that 576 women out of every 100,000 live births die as a result of pregnancies and childbirths. This figure translates to 111 women and young girls dying daily or five women every hour,   meaning that up to 30 per cent of these are deaths can be prevented by increasing access to and uptake of contraceptives.

He lamented that budgetary provisions for FP in Nigeria is grossly inadequate to allow individuals and couples to actualise their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births.

Ibrahim urged the traditional and religious leaders to advocate for policy makers to provide adequate funding for family planning programmes implementation.

The presenter also urged the traditional and religious leaders to engage in intensive advocacy to ensure the implementation of the National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) 2014-2019 at every level, with emphasis on maternal and child nutrition by government in the state.

He called for increase domestic budget for RI and timely release of funds for vaccines procurement and logistics; promote access to needed health care and establishment of vaccine intervention fund (VIF).

Ibrahim urged traditional and religious institutions to pressurise government to take concrete steps in ensuring the reduction in the death of children under the age of five through: adoption of Amoxicillin Dispersible tablet (DT) as the first line therapy (FLT) in the standard treatment guideline for childhood pneumonia and its inclusion on the Essential Medicines List (EML); adoption of Zn/ORS as First Line Therapy for the treatment of childhood diarrhea; creation of a specific budget line for Amoxicillin DT/Zn/ORS in the Ministry of Finance; and increase (funding, procurement and distribution) of the child health commodities-Amoxicillin DT & Zn/ORS co-packed.

Responding, the Chief Imam of Bauchi Central Mosque, Ustaz Bala Ahmad Babban Inna explained that Islam is not against family planning, but recommends exclusive breastfeeding for two years. He said: “The essence of family planning is to secure the health of the mother and child before going for another pregnancy. Religious Leaders will continue to support all efforts to secure lives of mother and child through enlightenment and education during sermons and other fora.”

Also, the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Bauchi State Chapter, Reverend Ray Maina represented by the Association’s Youth Chairman, Reverend Mako Gwamis promised that CAN will organize similar exercise for Christian faithful on the need to embrace all policies and programmes aimed at improving child and family health.

Similarly, a representative of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Abdulrahaman A. Ghani reiterated the Muslim Community’s commitment to family planning and other child and family health related issues. He called for concerted efforts toward proper upbringing of children to enable them attain their full potentials to become better citizens.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 5, 2016.

Inadequate Opiods: NAFDAC raises concern for treatment of serious pain

Inadequate opoid for the treatment of serious pain and lack of access to narcotic drugs for the management of similar conditions have remained a major health concern especially people suffering from these health conditions.

The Acting Director General of National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mrs. Yetunde Oni expressed this concern at the presentation and dissemination of the 2015 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) at NAFDAC corporate headquarters in Abuja.

In a statement, signed by Ephraim Anjembe, Public Relation Unit (PR Unit) NAFDAC, Mrs. Oni said the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC with the support of INCB have made tremendous progress toward meeting the country’s requirements of opiods.

She noted that under the National Drug Control Master Plan, provisions have been made to decentralize the distribution of narcotic drugs by the establishment of zonal drug distribution centres in the six geo-political zones to enhance access to these drugs for licit purposes.

Speaking further, Mrs. Oni said the Agency is conscious of the persistent and emerging challenges regarding drug problem in Nigeria and is working assiduously with relevant stakeholders, National Authorities and international organizations to address this challenge.

Particularly, she noted that the National Drug Control master plan developed under the auspices of EU-Funded NGAV16 project implemented by UNODC has provided a robust framework for drug control and given the National Authorities a window for closer collaboration and co-ordination.

This collaboration according to her is what the Agency has adopted in monitoring of legitimate trade in precussors, using the Pre-Export Notification Online (PEN Online), an initiative of INCB.

Delivering a keynote address at the event, Chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Col. Muhammad Abdallah (Rtd) said some cases of diversion of imported precursor chemicals have been detected by his agency leading to arrest of some culprits, stating that, the discovery and dismantling of 10 clandestine laboratories in Lagos and Anambra states by NDLEA between 2011-2015 attests to the illegal diversion of these products.

He regretted the upward trend in the use of Tramadol over the years which has led to significant seizures of the drug and arrest of suspects involved.

Reviewing the report, the Country Representative of United Nations Office on Drug and Crime UNODC, Ms. Cristina Albertin said the 2015 Annual Report focuses on the health and welfare of mankind: challenges and opportunities for international control of drugs.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 5, 2016.

Experts say water unnecessary during exclusive breastfeeding

Nutritionists and paediatricians have reaffirmed that giving water to babies in their first six months when they are undergoing exclusive breastfeeding is unnecessary.

The experts, made the declaration at a one-day symposium orgaanised by Promasidor Nigeria Limited on Tuesday in Enugu. The theme of the symposium was ‘The Nutrition Wisdom of Infant Feeding Choices.”

They include Professor (Mrs.) Ngozi Nnam, the President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Dr Ngozi Ibeziako, President of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Mrs. Stella Umunna, a retired Deputy Director/ Head of Nursing at Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital in Anambra State and Dr Patrick Eze, former National President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).

They also called on husbands, mothers-in-laws, government and the society in general to support women to exclusively breastfeed their babies in the first six months and apply wisdom in introducing alternatives afterwards.

While stressing on the need for massive enlightenment campaigns for women and their husbands on the importance of breastfeeding, Mrs. Stella Umunna insisted: “They should be made to understand that water is not necessary when a child is being exclusively breastfed in the first six months.”

Her position was supported by Ibeziako, who stated that parents should understand that 80 per cent of breast milk is water. She also appealed to health workers to assist in informing women on the benefits of breastfeeding, while also advocating for baby-friendly hospitals and work places.

Delivering the lead paper earlier, Prof. Nnam averred that exclusive breastfeeding is a complete nutritional source for infants for the first six months of life, because breast milk contains all the essential nutrients, bio-active compounds and anti-infective factors needed by the infant for the first six months of life.

Her words: “Human milk contains water, fat, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, some hormones, enzymes, growth factors, essential fatty acids and immunological factors that play vital roles for adequate development and growth of the infant.”

According to her, the nutrients contained in breast milk are adequate in quantity and quality to promote optimal growth and development of infants. She explained that composition of breast milk has been designed by nature to provide all the nutrient needs of the infant, make for easy digestion and assimilation by infants.

In his welcome address, Mr. Kachi Onubogu, Commercial Director, Promasidor Nigeria said the company produces quality and affordable nutritional products that are good for all categories of people. He also stated that the company was organising the event because it wants Nigerian children to be well nourished and strong. It would be recalled that the first edition of the symposium took place in Lagos about a month ago.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 3, 2016.

Endometriosis : ESGN, MBGN, Nordica collaborate, take campaign to Queen’s College

Though the word, Endometriosis is tongue twisting, the health disorder is common with one in every 10 women of reproductive ages, suffering from its unbearable pain. Regrettably, there is poor awareness among many women concerning the disease. Even some of those in the medical world began only recently to identify the symptoms and pay proper attention to the health condition.

In view of this, a Non –Governmental Organisation (NGO), Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN) in collaboration with Nordica Fertility Centre and the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) 2015, has taken awareness of the health disorder to Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos.

Central to the objective of the sensitization exercise, according to the Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, and ESGN representative, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, was to educate the girls about the devastating health implications of Endometriosis and the need to seek early medical intervention for those affected.

Addressing the students during their morning assembly on Monday, Ajayi who is a fertility expert said the awareness exercise was crucial for better management of the condition, more so, that it has no cure for now.

According to Ajayi, Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb is found elsewhere – most commonly on the ovaries, in the recto-vaginal septum, bladder and bowel.

Unoaku Temitope Anyadike, the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) 2015 (centre) Dr. (Mrs.) Lami Amodu, Director/Principal, Queen’s College, Lagos; (3rd left) Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos (2nd left), and ESGN representative and some of the students of Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos, after a sensitisation programme on Endometriosis organised by Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN) in collaboration with Nordica Fertility Centre and the MBGN, at the college, Monday.
That tissue he noted behaves like the lining of the womb, bleeding every month, and can cause severe and chronic pain.

He told the students not to joke with any issue relating to Endometriosis, because it has some unbearable health consequences, such as   chronic pain, painful sex and infertility just to mention a few and that it affects women in the prime of their life.

Giving further insight into the condition which he said affects over 200 million women worldwide, Ajayi noted: “ Often dismissed as ‘women’s troubles’, Endometriosis affects one in 10 women of reproductive age, yet a lack of research and funding means sufferers can live in severe pain, unable to work or socialize. The hidden toll and extraordinary neglect of this disease affects millions of women around the globe, causing many to suffer a life of pain and debilitation and sometimes infertility. Unfortunately, often their primary care doctors do not know what it is and the specialists to whom they are sent are not just thinking of it.”

He also pointed out that Endometriosis is not a lifestyle disease though; its causes are unknown while stressing the need for early diagnosis.

“It is not a disease you get later in life. It attacks teens, young women when they should be out being active, working, having children, having sex – 50 per cent of them are struggling with sex because it is too painful. Endometriosis has existed in the twilight for centuries because of society’s reluctance to discuss what was euphemistically known for so long as “women’s troubles”, he said.

To avoid delay or possible misdiagnosis of the condition, Ajayi appealed to the school authority not to treat with kid gloves, any student who complains of painful menstruation and whose monthly periods keeps away from regular academic activities as those could be some possible signs of Endometriosis.

He also enjoined the students to take the awareness to their parents and friends as well as seek medical intervention from gynaecologists whenever they have symptoms of Endometriosis, assuring them that the disorder can be managed like other health conditions like diabetes, hypertension among others when detected early.

In her speech, MBGN 2015 winner and former student of the college, Unoaku Temitope Anyadike, said she was in her Alma-Mata, to educate the students about the condition as a result of the general lack of awareness about Endometriosis among Nigerians.

Anyadike, who is a graduate of Psychology, University of Ibadan, said she chose raising awareness about Endometrosis as her pet project because at some points in her life, she thought she had the condition owing to painful and terrible menstruation.

The 21-year-old queen who hails from Anambra State, said though she was not diagnosed of Endometriosis after seeing a doctor, assured that she would   continue to raise awareness about the condition until it gets the attention it deserves from relevant authorities especially the government.

Expressing delight over the visit, Director/Principal, Queen’s College, Lagos, Dr. (Mrs.) Lami Amodu, commended management of Nordica Fertility Centre for the programme, adding that with the information they have gathered   from the exercise , they will be in a better position to manage some of their students who often complain of painful menstruation.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 3, 2016.

Zika Virus: Experts push for vector control, effective surveillance

To avert possible local transmission of Zika virus in areas where Aedes mosquitoes are more active, the Federal Government has been urged to institute proper vector control and effective surveillance throughout the Federation.

Making the call during a special presentation on Zika virus in Lagos, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Prof. Innocent Ujah, said although a serological study carried out on Nigeria showed that 40 per cent of the urban population had neutralising antibodies to Zika virus there is need for an informed policy to combat any disease outbreak.

According to Ujah, even if one person dies of the virus, it is significant to the country as efforts should not be about statistics but human beings.

He stressed the need for government to identify areas of high risk and put vector surveillance measures in place.

“The virus is contracted from Aedes aegypty mosquitoes and there is need for Nigerians to maintain healthy environment, personal hygiene and sleep on insecticide treated mosquito nets. Our environment must be clean to reduce possible transmission that probably would occur,” he added.

“This is a call for us to sanitize our environment and ensure reduction of mosquito breeding sites, by draining or discarding sources of standing water,” Ujah warned.

Corroborating his views, an Entomologist with NIMR, Dr. Sam Awolola, who noted that that there is possible local transmission in areas where Aedes mosquitoes are more active said disease surveillance should also include informing women of reproductive age about the risk of travelling to areas with such outbreak and evaluating those who travelled to such places while pregnant.

“There is a need to be aware of possible local transmission in areas where Aedes mosquitoes are more active.

“Disease surveillance should also include informing women of reproductive age about the risk of travelling to areas with outbreak, and evaluating those who travelled to such places while pregnant.

“It should also include evaluating fetus and infants of women infected while pregnant for possible congenital infections”, he said.

On why it is difficult to eradicate the aedes mosquitoes, Awolola explained that it was due to the fact that they have high resistance to insecticides, adding that, vector control measures such as spraying insecticide, fumigation, and fogging can help reduce the mosquito and possible infection.

“The eggs can hibernate for three months; it can withstand draught and desiccation. It can breed anywhere-indoors and outdoors, and bites daytime and night time, so it is difficult to completely eradicate”, he added.

On his part, Chief Researcher, Consultant and Obstetrician Gynaecologist at NIMR, Dr. Gregory Ohihion, also called for vigilant at the port. “Even though the virus has no cure and no vaccine, the main concern is for pregnant women because of the possible link between the virus and microcephaly. Although this link has not been proved scientifically, it has been proven though that the virus can be transmitted through the placenta to the baby, and during delivery.

“Microcephaly on its own is not a problem if it affects menopausal women or men, because many do not develop symptoms at all. For those who fall ill, they have minor symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pains, red eyes, headache and muscle pain lasting up to a week. But no deaths had been reported”, he added.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 3, 2016.

NAFDAC secures seven years prison term against fake lady drug manufacturer

A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos yesterday sentenced a lady, Clara Onah, 35 to seven years imprisonment over manufacture, distribution and sale of fake drugs.

Onah was charged by the National Agency for Food, Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria on five count charges bordering on possession and sale of fake drugs.

A graduate of Microbiology of the University of Nigeria and a postgraduate student of Mass Communication, Onah resides at No 12, Mosalashi St., Alagbado Lagos.

In the charge, the accused was said to have committed the offence on January 26,2016.

The prosecutor,Umaru Shamaki told the court that the accused sold fake brand of 200 mg of Amazon Amagyl a brand of Metronidazole tablets to members of the public.

When the accused was arraigned and the five count charge read to her in the earlier sitting, she had pleaded guilty to all.

Shamaki had therefore urged the court to remand the accused pending the review of facts.

At yesterday’s hearing, Shamaki reviewed the facts of the case and presented the laboratory analysis of the confiscated drugs which showed that it was fake. The analysis, according to him showed that instead of 200 milligrams, it contains 20 milligrams, apart from the fact that it is fake too.

Counsel to the convict, Mr. Chinedu Moore in his allocutus pleaded for leniency and urged the court to temper justice with mercy. He submitted that apart from the fact that the convict was sick, she was a first offender who did not have the intent to manufacture or sell fake drugs.

The convict, amid sobs also pleaded for mercy, saying she didn’t know the drugs were fake.

But, the prosecution urged the court to award maximum sentence on her according to the law because she did the unlawful act intentionally. He added that the convict dribbled investigators endlessly; refusing to name her suppliers until she took them (investigator) to her house where incriminating materials were found indicating that she manufactured the drug herself.

He said that the convict is a graduate of Microbiology, and therefore knew what she was doing; adding that apart from drug labels, the other material found in her house was a weighing scale.

“When she was asked to show the operatives of NAFDAC where the drugs were being manufactured, she took the investigators to an unknown address, an address that does not exist. When they eventually got to her residence, they discovered items she uses in the manufacturing of drugs such as weighing scales and labels.

“With all intent and purposes my lord, she was manufacturing them herself. Therefore, I urge my lord to award maximum sentence as provided by law so as to serve as deterrent to others”, he prayed.

In his judgment, Justice (Prof) Chuka Obiozor said: “I will give you a second chance as a first offender but those who took your drugs and died have no second chance”.

He reprimanded the convict for being a 2:1 graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and chose to deal on fake drugs instead of staying in the village to find something worthy to do, if she could not get a decent job in Lagos.

The judge said: “Clara Onah you are hereby sentenced to seven years imprisonment at the women wing of the Kirikiri maximum prison on each of the count charges. They are to run concurrently starting from January 26, when she was arrested and detained.

“The convict is also fined N50, 000 on count five. The prosecution should hold on to the exhibits pending the elapse of the time of appeal of this judgment. At the elapse of appeal window, the prosecution should destroy it.”

The offences contravened the provisions of section 1(1) (a), 3, and 3 (1) of the Counterfeit and fake Drugs Unwholesome processed Foods, (Miscellanous Provision) Act Cap 34, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 3, 2016.

Govt proposes special status for essential medicines –Minister

…PSN inaugurates new boss, pledges support  for local  industries

It was a historic event with pleasant memories for the new President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, as the elites of the health industry, friends and colleagues gathered at the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, to witness his inauguration and the investiture of new fellows of the society which took place penultimate Thursday.

70 new fellows were inducted to the board of fellows of the society, the same day. Yakasai, the 20th President of the 89-year-old association was elected at the 88th annual national conference of PSN November, last year.

While delivering his inaugural address, Yakasai promised to serve humanity through public health, expansion of the knowledge base of Pharmacists and protection of the rights of the patients.

He emphasized the need for cooperation among all healthcare professionals and urged the Minister of Health to organize an inter-professional workshop for physicians and pharmacists to discuss the challenges of the health sector for the ultimate goal of guaranteeing the patient’s wellbeing.

He said PSN will encourage patronage of the local industry, as more World Health Organisation (WHO) compliant pharmaceutical companies emerge.

He further said that he will support the local pharmaceutical industries to manufacture qualitative and standard drugs to reduce high cost of drugs in the country.

L-R: Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Chairman of the occasion and Executive Chairman Juli Plc, Pharmacist, Julius Adelusi- Adeluyi; President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Pharmacist, Ahmed Yakasai; : Immediate Past President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria . Pharmacist, Olumide Akintayo; and Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, during the investiture of ­Ahmed Yakasai as the new President of PSN in Abuja.. . penultimate Thursday.
He said: “We plan in the months ahead our local pharmaceutical industry will be vigorously supported to come up with good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant factories as prescribed by the WHO, through the evolving satellite pharmacy concept.”

Pharmacist Yakasai added that his administration will also expand the knowledge base of pharmacists in Nigeria through some core programmes, by providing a standard National Medicines Information Centre of international repute in collaboration with UK Medicines Information Centre.

He said pharmacist in the country are contributing to healthcare by developing new ways to support patients in their use of medicines and as part of the clinical decision making across the range of ailments.

“This is the major reason why the PSN continues to champion the dire need for a consultancy cadre in public service pharmacy practice. Professions exist to serve society, therefore our mission as pharmacists must address the needs of society, our duty is to work and ensure that the added value we bring to healthcare and our potentials are taken into account and respected by policy makers and other health professionals,” he said.

The new PSN boss said that his vision is to foster team work among practitioners from other health professional bodies, noting that there is a lot of competition, confrontation and distrust in the sector.

Yakasai said that this situation must give way for collaboration, consultation, cooperation in the interest of the health consuming public, stressing: “We must open our hearts and minds to allow the team concept to rule our worlds in healthcare delivery.”

According to him, the cost of fighting against disease and preserving health will continue to increase in spite of constant control and intervention, adding that there are manifold reasons and benefits for wishing to create a genuine cooperation between pharmacists and other healthcare providers.

“Pharmacists will therefore provide leadership to ensure unity among all the stakeholders in healthcare delivery. One very clear vision is that I am here to raise the bar of pharmacy practice in Nigeria and bridge inter-professional gaps,” Yakasai insisted.

In his address at the inauguration, at the weekend, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, charged pharmacists in the country to explore innovative strategies that would support local production of essential drugs that are required for its efficient universal health coverage programme.

Adewole also called on stakeholders in the industry to partner government in its efforts to prepare Nigeria to cultivate pharmaceutical infrastructure that will ensure the availability of affordable, efficacious, quality and safe medicines.

The Minister announced that government plans to establish a Centre for Pharmaceutical Advancement and Training. He also announced plans to establish a Bioequivalence Centre.

Both centres, he said would be channelled to further build the capacity of manufacturing pharmacists, quality assurance personnel and regulatory agency staff.

Adewole said, “I will like to throw a challenge to PSN members tonight on President Muhammadu Buhari’s Universal Health Coverage agenda. The aim is to deliver basic healthcare to about 100 million Nigerians using one primary healthcare per ward strategy.

“My challenge is that PSN should work and collaborate with the Federal Government of Nigeria to implement this ambitious health service delivery for the country.”

He promised government’s support to supporting indigenous pharmaceutical industries to be given special status so that essential drugs would be regarded as security items.

“The pharmaceutical manufacturers are hereby encouraged to work in close liaison with the Department of Food and Drug Services to build a strong advocacy on this matter and make the pharmaceutical sector a priority as well as protection of the industries within the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (ECT). This is to help improve trading along the West African Sub-Region,”Adewole said.

He added: “The Nigerian government through the Federal Ministry of Health has made efforts to build a strong pharmaceutical infrastructure, promote the growth of the profession and the industry as well as strengthen the health system for increased health outcomes.”

In his remark, President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Kayode Obembe said his organisation through its National Committee on Inter-professional relations, has developed a platform which will provide a synergy between Medical Doctors and Pharmacists towards providing an effective health care delivery system in line with International best practices.

He added that the NMA will give a helping hand to PSN to enhance effective health care delivery system in the country and to move the health sector forward.

The ceremony was well attended by members of the National Executive council of the PSN, leaders of the various technical industries in Nigeria, high ranking government officials, groups of PSN, friends and relatives of inductees, captains of the Pharmaceutical traditional rulers and other eminent Nigerians.

In attendance were, the Speaker and Chairman of the National Assembly, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Minister for Health, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole; Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje; former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Uwais; the serving Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Barrister Babatunde Raji Fashola; former Governor of Kano state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau; High Commissioner of Pakistan; the former DG of NAFDAC, Dr Paul Orhii; President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Dr. Kayode Obembe among other dignitaries.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on February 25, 2016.

Tough times await fake, substandard labs

Imagine a patient reporting to a hospital with lymphoma, a potentially curable disease. Unfortunately, given its clinical similarities to tuberculosis (TB), lymphoma was misdiagnosed and the patient treated unnecessarily with potentially harmful TB medication.

Research has shown that about 70 per cent of the indices required for effective disease management or surveillance emanating from the medical laboratory.

A patient who visits the hospital expects that the symptoms presented will prompt the proper diagnosis, leading to a successful treatment and recovery. But, negligence leads to misdiagnose of a condition, creating additional health concerns for the patient.

The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) has therefore embarked fresh regulatory exercise towards achieving quality laboratory diagnosis across the country. MLSCN has also restated its vows to shut down any facility which are illegally operating without the council’s certification and below its standards.

Already, 28 laboratories have been sealed in Lagos, while four persons are now under the police net for failure to meet the council’s minimum operating standards, following the inspection of 116 facilities in one week.

Announcing this on Tuesday in Lagos to journalists, was the Chairman, MLSCN Task Force on Laboratory and IVDS Inspection, Dr. Lawrena Okoro, who confirmed that of 116 facilities inspected in one week, the council shut down 28 laboratories with four arrests due to non-compliance to the council’s guidelines.

Okoro who said it will no longer be business as usual as quality medical laboratory services is the benchmark for international best practices.

According to the Chairman of MLSCN, “It is important to reiterate here that the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria is the only agency empowered by law as enunciated in Cap M25, LFN, 2004 to:    Inspect, regulate and accredit medical laboratories, including those in hospitals and adjoining clinics.

‘’ It also determine from time to time the standard of knowledge and skill to be attained by persons seeking to become Medical Laboratory Scientists, Technicians and Assistants. It regulates the practice of Medical Laboratory Science in Nigeria as well as regulates the production, importation, sales and stocking of in-vitro diagnostics.’’

She said that the recent pronouncements of the National Industrial Court (NIC) have also reinforced the sanctity of this mandate, adding that, to achieve the foregoing mandate, the council has articulated and launched a set of various guidelines and standards for services and practice.

She stated that the National Guidelines for Setting up a Medical Laboratory in Nigeria includes the following; ‘’Regulations for Registration, Approval, Monitoring and Accreditation Guidelines to Medical Laboratory Continuous Quality Improvement and Accreditation and for Laboratory Design, its MLSCN Approved Guidelines.

‘’These tools have been deployed to guide stakeholders accordingly and also to ensure that there are no justifiable reasons for any practitioner, or any facility, to engage in unethical practices. It can no longer be business as usual in the medical laboratory services sector,’’ she added.

Dr.  Okoro said that the Task Force, which is poised to go round the country, is already in Lagos with the intension to lead from the front, and to actualize as soon as possible the goal of irreversible transformation of the medical laboratory services sector.

She however pointed out that quality service delivery is the hallmark of every strong, robust and prosperous healthcare sector, ‘’more than ever before, we must be resolute in our commitment and drive towards its achievement. This is at the heart of Council’s vision of becoming a world acclaimed regulatory agency. In this regard, we are already combing the nooks and crannies of this mega city, flushing out quacks that have no business being in any medical laboratory; we shall rid facilities and markets of fake or substandard reagents, kits, chemicals, equipment and consumables.

‘’In doing so, we have sometimes encountered encumbrances along the way, including the nefarious operators that bolt away on sighting members of the task force, and those who remove their signs and pretend they never really existed. Some of the facilities were also found to be operating without regard for the approved guidelines.”

Collaborating, Mr. Godwin Aikpitayi, Deputy Director and Team Leader for Lagos Task force on In-Vitro Diagnostic medical Devices (IVDs) Inspection, said that every single result or report originating from any medical lab facility in this country should be accurate, reliable and reproducible. It is also to ensure that the right policies, processes, personnel, environment, equipment and of course iÍn-vitro diagnostics are deployed towards accomplishing these standards so that patients can expect the best outcomes in the management of their ailments.

He also said that these efforts have become necessary considering that research suggested that about 70 per cent of the indices required for effective disease management or surveillance emanate from the medical laboratory.

He also confirmed a total of 116 facilities were visited out of which 28 were sealed for failing to meet minimum standards, or for operating without Council approval or both within the first week of the National Task Force working in Lagos. He added, four persons were arrested for quackery and impersonation.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on February 25, 2016.

Lagos State commits to ending violence against children

Lagos State Governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode today at the Federal Palace Hotel Lagos launched a groundbreaking campaign to end violence against children. By doing so, Lagos became the first State in Nigeria to respond to the call of the President and Commander in Chief of the country, Muhammadu Buhari, for every State to initiate their own campaigns during the national Year of Action to End Violence against Children, which was launched on September 15, last year.

Yesterday’s launch was collaboration between Lagos state, the US Mission in Nigeria, UNICEF and other development partners.  “We have a clear moral, legal and economic imperative to end violence against children” says Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, “We cannot allow the findings or the priority actions to remain on paper.”

Millions of children suffer violence every year in Nigeria – approximately six out of every 10 children experience some form of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18 years, according to the Nigeria Violence against Children Survey, carried out by the National Population Commission, with support from UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

R -L: Hon Sanni Eshinlokun - Deputy Speaker Lagos State House of Assembly (representing Governor Akinwunmi Ambode), Dr. Howard Kress - US Centers for Disease Control, Mrs. Lola Akande – Commissioner Lagos state Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Ms. Marta Santos Pais – Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence against Children, Eze Duruiheoma (SAN) – Chairman National Population Commission, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode – Wife of the Executive Governor of Lagos state at the launch of the state’s Response Plan of Action to End Violence Against Children (VAC) held in Lagos, Wednesday.
The survey, which was presented to the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais at the Lagos State launch by the Chairman of the National Population Commission Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), found that: one in two children experience physical violence; one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence; and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence. The majority of children do not tell anyone what has happened to them and fewer than five per cent receive the help they need to recover.

“The study is a remarkable example of how research can bring to light the hidden face of violence against children” said Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais. “Making the true extent of violence visible is critical to mobilize public support and generate steady action towards its elimination.”

At the launch of the campaign, Lagos State announced the priority actions to be taken by state and non-state actors in short-term and long-term to effectively prevent and respond to violence against children. These priority responses were developed by a multi sectoral Technical Working Group from the State Ministries for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Education, health, Social Welfare, Justice, Information and the National Orientation Agency, Prison Service, Police, Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Based Organizations and Faith Based Organizations.

“While national level commitments are important, how these commitments are translated into action at state, local government area and ward level is critical” says Ms. Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. “UNICEF congratulates Lagos on setting an example for the rest of Nigeria. We hope that where Lagos has led the way, other States will follow.”

“We have made progress in this fight but much still remains to be done” added U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, Maria E. Brewer. “All children must be protected from abuse, violence, exploitation, and neglect. Violence against children is never justified. Violence is preventable”.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on February 25, 2016.

We’ll work out modality to accommodate health revenue fund – Hon. Jibrin

The Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, has said that the one per cent health provision from Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in the National Health 2014, was not too late for current appropriation, stating that the committee would critically scrutinise the budget to work out the modality to accommodate the allocation to provide for effective health care services at all levels.

The Chairman made this known during an advocacy visit to Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and a developmental partner, primarily to advocate for fund mobilisation and adequate budgetary allocation to child and family health in the country.

“While the whole essence of advocacy is to educate and inform the legislature of important issues affecting the country, the issues affecting budgetary allocation to child and family canvassed by the group have informed the Committee to without further delay, constructively work out modality and prioritise the  one per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) to the Health Sector as stipulated in the National Health Act, 2014,” Hon. Jibrin added.

The official handing over of the former Director General National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Dr. Paul Orhi to the most Senior Director of the agency, Mrs. Yetunde Oni in Abuja , penultimate Tuesday.
The group was received by Deputy Majority Leader, Chairmen of House Committee on Appropriation, Health, Agriculture, Women Affairs, Finance, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Rules and Business, CSOs and Developmental Partners, Petroleum Down Stream as well as the Director General of National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).

Speaking during the visit, the group said it has a mandate to support the Government to identify and assist in scaling up of high impact solutions that could help people lift themselves out of poverty and build better lives. It charged the House on exhaustive oversight to ensure effective implementation of the National Health Act.

The group said: “We aim to reduce the number of preventable deaths by improving access to healthcare, particularly for women during pregnancy, by strengthening childhood immunization programs; and work with Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations to advocate to policy makers and raise public awareness in child and family health.

“We also collaborate with smallholder farmers to increase the yield of priority crops, such as yam, cassava, sorghum, cowpeas, and rice, and improve the agricultural productivity of livestock.”

The Speaker of the House represented by the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Buba Jubril, commended the group on its research and evidence-based advocacy in the health and agricultural sector, advising that the group should also consider advocating to the executives to ensure effective implementation of the Health Act at all levels.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on February 25, 2016.

Nigerians applaud Astymin, as more winners emerge in ‘Get Alert’ Promo

As more winners continue to emerge every day in the Astymin Get Alert Promo, more accolades have continued to trail the Astymin brand from many Nigerians, including winners who emerged and are being rewarded by the brand.

The promo which commenced on the 1st of February to reward Nigerians for their loyalty and support, as part of the celebration of its fifteen years of existence in the country, has seen many Nigerians smiling to the bank courtesy of the promo.

Many of the winners believe that Astymin is not only delivering positively on their health and well-being through its essential amino-acid and multivitamins; it is also putting smiles on their faces by subtly touching their lives where it matters.

One of the lucky winners, InuolajiBukolaAjara shared her experience on the Astymin Get Alert Promo and how she intends to improve her business with her prize reward. She said she has been using Astymin with her family after trying it the first time, following doctor’s recommendation. Since then, Astymin had been their regular daily multivitamin for her entire household.

Apparently excited by the reward, another winner, Pastor Mrs Esther Fekumo from Igbalu area of Ikorodu, Lagos said she got to know about Astymin over a year ago.

According to her, the brand has consistently delivered on its promise of quality amino acid-enriched multivitamin that boosts the body immune system and enhances general well-being for her family.

“I tried it, it is very good. It kept my body very fine. My daughter also took this same Astymin sometimes ago and it boosted all the vitamins that were needed in her body. That is why we have been using it continuously in our family”, Pastor Fekumo said.

Mr. Isaac EwubaEdafe from Benin-City, who is also a winner, corroborated Bukola and Fekumo’s claims, saying that apart from the on-going Promo which is an additional reward to its customers, Astymin has remained a top-notch multivitamin for his family.

“Astymin is what I buy for my entire family because it is very good. It is totally different from other multivitamins in the market. When you start taking it, you will immediately feel the effect on your body generally. This promo is just like an additional bonus for me because I and my family are already enjoying the benefits of Astymin on our health,” he said.

The Astymin Get Alert Promo, which has been doling out N100, 000 to lucky winners every day since the commencement of the promo, is an engaging brand experience that will deliver both health and financial value to Nigerians. It is the brand’s way of rewarding consumers with total well-being for their bodies, money in their pockets and smiles on their faces.

The Astymin Get Alert promo is a year-long campaign that allows interested participants to win instant cash prizes by simply buying Astymin from any nearby pharmacy and checking the body of the bottle pack for the Astymin Get Alert seal with a scratch box. The box is scratched to reveal an entry number, which will be sent to the short code, 1393 for confirmation. Instant SMS reply will confirm the entry with further instructions. Draws will be done daily and ten winners will be selected by the system.

The prize reward will be sent to the winners either through online transfer or hand collection at the Fidson Head office. Winners’ list will be published on the ASTYMIN website’s landing page, social networks, as well as on the Punch and Guardian newspapers every month.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on February 25, 2016.

Nescafé celebrates social media week

Nescafé , a brand of Nestle products, recently identified with social media week in Lagos, Nigeria to boost and share ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture worldwide.

A statement signed by Dr. Sam Adenekan, Head of corporate communications, Nestle Nigeria plc, said that the fourth West African edition of the annual international conference takes place from February 22-26, 2016, highlighting this year’s theme of ‘The Networked African: Technology’s Impact on Africa (and How We Can Harness it for Good)’.

Social Media Week brings together global brands, agencies, publishers, start-ups and platform companies to promote engagement through creative ideation and strategy, experiential design, original content, product and brand integration, campaign launches, video production and community management from across the continent.

As part of Nescafé’s partnership with Social Media Week, the brand will lead a session on February 23 on ‘Harnessing Digital Innovation for Social Good: The Nescafé Get Started Initiative’.

The session will focus on the brand’s regional scheme that aims to inspire young African entrepreneurs to generate innovative ideas to create value for society. In 2015, more than 1,900 young people shared their dreams to make a difference in Africa before the 2015 Get Started winner was chosen to receive financial and mentoring support from Nescafé to help fulfil their project.

Panel speakers include ToyosiAkerele-Ogunisji, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RISE Networks, an African social enterprise that looks to build a generation of Nigerian leaders with knowledge and skills in economic independence, and exemplary performance in business and governance systems.

At the event, Nescafé will also launch its interactive website on microblogging and social networking site Tumblr, to drive consumer-first communication and e-Commerce on mobiles and tablets.

Nescafé – which is already Nestlé’s top-performing brand on social media with more than 35 million fans worldwide – will also showcase its latest innovative approaches in technology.

The brand recently teamed up with Facebook to launch an immersive video that pioneered a new technology release for the platform. Nescafé invited fans to celebrate the morning with its global campaign ‘Good Morning World’, launched in Africa in November 2015.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on February 25, 2016.

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