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‘Side effects from family planning could be managed’

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‘Side effects from family planning could be managed’

Dr. Omasanjuwa Edun is the Lagos State team lead for the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI). In this interview, he discusses the effective management of side effects arising from using some family planning methods, how to address cultural and religious barriers to family planning, the importance of awareness and education that could empower women in making informed choice on the birth control methods to adopt, among others. He spoke with APPOLONIA ADEYEMI

 

Many people still reject family planning (FP) based on claims that it is not suitable to the body. What’s your take on side effects from Family Planning?
Like we always say, there is no family planning (FP) without side effects. Just like any other drug, even paracetamol has side effects, but then, what are the benefit of adopting family planning? Does its benefits outweigh its side effects? Let’s not forget that each of these side effects has ways that it can be managed. For instance, what we advice people to do is: if you take up a method that is not suitable for you, you have the option of going back and care providers will access the situation.
If we find out that it is really not good for you, we can change the method for you and give another method that is most suitable for your body. So, it’s not compulsory that you must stick to a particular method that your body cannot tolerate.
What you need to do is take it out or change the method and if the side effects are mild or moderate, we have various means by which we can manage these side effects. We have drugs that we can use to manage these side effects. After a while, it becomes normal. Some side effects that users experience overtime will disappear on their own without having to take anything. But the thing is, we need to educate these women to expect these side effects, which are not a threat to life, but when it gets to a point where it becomes intolerable, then instead of having to complicate it with going to a somebody who is not trained, they should go back to the service provider that gave them the family planning service in the first place or go to a trained service provider that is closest to them to report the case so they can be treated and and the problem addressed properly.

Some hinderances against family planning is entrenched in culture. How do you convince people in this group that using family planning is good?
Like you rightly said, some of the barriers against family planning are cultural, which is basically that some people or some school of thoughts believe that our culture is against family planning. Some religious cultures, for instance claim that: “God is the one that gives and God is the one that takes”. Based on this school of thought, the believe is that we should not play God by using family planning.
However, we need to understand that part of our culture is bringing up responsible children. To this end, we should not confuse number of children with quality of children that we bring into this world.
In as much as we want to give birth to children, the real advice in family planning is that we should be looking at bringing in children into these world that we can take care of responsibly in such a way that when these children grow up, they are responsible enough to take care of us in the future. So, we have come to realize that some of the things we call culture are actually unfounded.
For instance, if you hear people saying, “You need to give birth to all of the children that God has destined you to produce.” What this means is that you should keep on having children as much as you can, but looking at it critically, we should understand that it doesn’t work that way because we cannot give birth to all the children in our womb. You are aware that a woman has millions and millions of eggs and it is practically impossible to have one give birth to all the children, I mean all the eggs that her tummy/womb reproduces. We know that culture is information that have been passed down from generation to generation, but you should also understand that it might not necessarily be true.
On the contrary, what we should ask always ask is: what value are these children going to bring to these families? Are we having children for the sake of having children? Or we are having children we are going to make provisions for, and provide them with qualification, livelihood and wellbeing, in such a way that when these children grow up, they are responsible and they can take care of us in our old age?
Gone are the times when we needed a large family to cultivate our land. We are now in a modern age where number of children does not necessarily determine the strength of a family. In any case, you will find out that the more children you have, the higher the tendency of your potential to remain in poverty if you are in poverty.
Consequently, we must realize that time is changing and the environment which we live in is also changing. We also have to change as individuals and our culture also has to change. We ought to realize that culture is dynamic and culture changes, and we need to move with the times to be able to realize that family planning is something that we need to embrace. Our culture has to change. So, we need to start educating the community that we need to start thinking proactively and progressively. If you are going to give birth to children that you cannot take care of, it is going to be detrimental to you as a person and a man. Culture is good and I believe that we should hold on to our culture, but we also need to realize that there are some cultures that needs to be changed because times are changing.

The Catholic Church is known to advocate the use of the Billing’s method of family planning only for its members. Beyond this natural method, should citizens be exposed to other family planning techniques?
There is nothing wrong with the Billing’s method of family planning. The Billings method of birth control is a type of natural family planning which uses the evaluation of cervical mucus to predict ovulation. This, and other fertility awareness method of birth control can be used both to help prevent pregnancy and to predict ovulation when a woman wishes to conceive.

What we are encouraged to tell people is that family planning is about uniformed choice and it is entirely voluntary.
The Catholic group should give its members or congregation the option to choose what they, as individuals decide is best for them.
On the contrary, the church should create the opportunity for members to choose whatever family planning method they want.
The church can promote a particular method which it believes is most efficient or effective, but limiting their members to just that method without actually informing them that there are other methods is not really a good idea.
It can promote a particular one because, probably that is actually what that church stands for, but also, it should also them the option of whatever methods that are available.
Every woman at one stage in her life should plan her family through whatever means, whether natural or modern method.
Whatever means you want to plan your family with, be it abstinence or however you want to do it should be adopted, meaning that citizens should practice family planning because, in the absence of family planning, the consequences are grave.

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Kano: Dangote, Gates restate commitment to polio eradication

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Kano: Dangote, Gates restate commitment to polio eradication

‎The Dangote and Bill & Melinda Gates foundations, have restated their commitments to sustaining the fight against polio in Kano State.‎

This was contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Malam Abba Anwar, on Saturday in Kano. ‎

‎According to the statement, Dangote and Gates reiterated their promises via a video teleconference on a mid-year review meeting on ‎strengthening strategic routine immunisation held at the Government House in Kano.

‎Anwar added that the two rich men also commended Ganduje, for being serious about health care delivery in the state.

They further reiterated commitment towards aiding many more success stories to come out from the state.‎

‎The statement also quoted the Executive Secretary of the state’s Primary Health Care Management Board, Dr Tijjani Hussaini, as saying that system strengthening efforts have evolved over the years with the primary aim of improving Primary Health Care (PHC) service delivery.‎

Hussaini said efforts were expanded from Routine Immunisation to broader health in agencies under the state’s ministry of health.

“By the year 2021, most public health programmes would have been covered by the Kano health system strengthening efforts.

“From January to June 2019, parts of our priority areas included scaling up of fruitful synergy between primary and secondary health facilities,” he said.‎

‎He said Kano State had not recorded any case of wild polio virus since 2014, saying that only three environmental cases were identified in Tarauni LGA since the outbreak in July 2018.‎

According to Anwar, Ganduje commended Dangote, Gates and all other stakeholders for finding it worthy to support the state’s health sector.

He also said that his administration’s partnership with all stakeholders was being strengthened.

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Child blindness, a treatable, preventable condition

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Child blindness, a treatable, preventable condition

No child deserves to be needlessly blind. However, lack of adequate eye health services, ignorance and traditional practices have cost many children their sight from conditions and diseases that could be treated. REGINA OTOKPA explores the causes, possible treatments and preventive measures to control child blindness

 

An individual can be termed as blind when there is an inability to see anything including light. In technical terms, it is a visual acuity of less than 3/60 in the better eye with the best correction or corresponding visual field loss to less than 10 from fixation.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate, out of the 30 million people who are blind globally 1.4 million are children with three quarter of them found in the poorest regions in Asia and Africa. This obviously means that Nigeria and the rest of the African and Asian continent is home to the highest number of childhood blindness in the world.
There are a group of diseases and conditions which occur in childhood or early adolescence which if left untreated, could result in blindness or severe visual impairment that are likely to be untreatable later in life. Unfortunately, besides accounting for a higher rate of death compared to their sighted counterparts, children or young adults who are visually impaired are confronted with a lifetime social, mental, physical, emotional and economic difficulties due to their disability.
Although child blindness or visual impairment can be hereditary in some cases, the causes are known to vary from one region to the other; lesions of the optic nerve and higher visual pathways are the most common causes in developed countries, whereas the use of harmful traditional eye remedies, ophthalmia neonatorum, rubella cataract and corneal scarring due to measles or vitamin A deficiency are the common causes of childhood blindness in developing or low-income countries like Nigeria. In addition to the list; trauma, accidents, poorly treated infection, predisposition to a diabetic mother or a mother who uses drugs like steroids during pregnancy and exposure to X-rays causes blindness in a child
Research has proven that the index of child blindness in countries like Nigeria with poor socioeconomic development and under-5 mortality rates could be as high as 1.5 per 1000 children, while in high-income countries with low under-5 mortality rates, the prevalence rate is around 0.3 per 1000 children.
Sadly, childhood blindness and visual impairment takes a toll on the physical, mental and social development of the child. Often times, the child struggles to access education, get around safety or fulfil his or her potential. More worrisome is the fact that these set of special children have a shorter life expectancy rate; they are likely to die, and their survival risk is shorter. Besides A blind child could have other associated problems such as albinism or down syndrome, thus requiring an additional special form of care.
In some parts of the country, parents exploit their blind child or children for money making ventures by using them as beggars or as a tool to solicit for social service care support. For such parents, the idea of seeking a solution is absolutely not on the table for discussion probably because they are ignorant on the right steps to take.
But again, some other parents might have been wrongly advised to wait until when the child grows older before getting medical treatment or a surgery, or they might just have accepted the condition as God’s will.
However, experts have argued that surgeries and other forms of treatment can be carried out on a child. Not only are some causes of child blindness such as glaucoma, retinopathy or prematurity (ROP), corneal ulcers and uvetis, all treatable, but sight can be restored in the cases of cataract and selected cases of corneal scarring.
Naturally, the prevention and treatment are disease specific including processes such as provision of vitamin A supplements, a properly planned and implemented national measles vaccination programme, availability and affordability of screening and curative services, as well as early treatment of some eye diseases.
An Opthalmologist, Dr. Dora Salihu, who noted that in developing countries, seven to 31 per cent of child blindness were avoidable and 10 to 58 per cent treatable, said all sorts of fear, ignorance, contradictory advice, inability to recognise visual loss in a child, lack of counselling services, inadequate manpower and financial constraint, are part of the numerous barriers affecting child eye health in the country.
“Recent data has shown that we have about 1 to 500,000 candidates. There is no standard rate but at least 1 to 20. There is inadequate manpower to meet the demand and the cases are increasing.”
However, she argued that the word blindness is commonly used as a relative term to signify low vision or visual impairment, which could range from mild to severe. Low vision is visual acuity less than 6/18 and equal to or better than 3/60 in the better eye with best correction. This means that early intervention and treatment of cataract and glaucoma can be beneficial, even as the use of low vision devices could help children with residual vision.
Corroborating this fact, the Programme officer Seeing is Believing (SIB) Initiative under the Health and Development Support Programme, (HANDS) Mr. Abalis Dasat, revealed that not every child found in special schools dedicated to cater for the peculiar needs of visually impaired children are blind.
Riding on the wings of the N1.8 billion SIB programme in 11 Nigerian states divided into four clusters, the project funded by the Standard Chartered Bank in the United Kingdom (UK) and channeled by Brien Holding Vision Institute and Christoffel Blindenmission, the eye needs of not less than 100,000 children have been screened and taken care of with close to 2,000 surgeries successfully conducted for supposed blind children at no cost.
The programme according to Dasat, covers three areas of competencies; surgical intervention, provision of eye glasses and provision of eye medication.
“The challenges of childhood blindness in developing countries like Nigeria are very avoidable. Some of them arise from unhealthy practices such as using harmful traditional high medications or concoctions that are very corrosive and end up destroying the eyes.
“There are some unhealthy traditional practices too like putting breast milk in the eyes of children, taking drugs outside prescriptions and even the wrong use of eye drops; all these complicate into blindness.
“The right thing should be done, if a child has issues with the eyes. Take him to the hospital and we can assure you any child that goes to a hospital where SIB is running can get free glasses or free surgery. For example, under my cluster we use the University of Jos Teaching Hospital (UNIJOS). We do not only take care of the treatment, but also the accommodation and other needs, especially for those coming outside Jos.
“There are some children who were sentenced for being blind and carried to a blind school but given the opportunity the blindness could be corrected. Some of them just had problems their parents didn’t know the help exists. What some of them needed is just to use glasses; and some just needs minor surgeries to see.
“We have removed some of these children from the blind school, taken them to hospitals, operated on their eyes given them glasses or inserted glasses in their eyes and they have gone back to main schools to be trained as regular students.
“Presently, we go into schools of the blind, screen the eyes of the children and establish blindness in all of them. We have been able to identify some of them as not being necessarily blind there is a state of compromised vision that is known as low vision but the low vision has the capacity to render your inability to read prints. You can see the road with minimal risk compared with the blind person,” he said.
Consumed with a passion to see more Nigerian children saved from blindness, Dr. Chinenye Ohuabunwa has called for preventive strategies and policies such as an increased measles immunisation, health education, provision of tertiary level eye care facilities for conditions that require specialist management, access to prenatal care, an effective primary health care system and good nutrition.
According to her, there is also the need for specialised paediatric ophthalmology units, systems for early identification, referral and follow-up, and increased public awareness.
“If we have policies in place where a child is checked when born and at mandatory intervals, we will be able to pick out some if these issues on time and address them.”
Proffering further solutions, Abalis Dasat noted that contrary to the classroom arrangement of having taller students sit at the back, children should sit based on their eyes and not by height. For example, a tall child with an eye defect must sit in front to measure up with peers educationally even if he or she is the tallest in the class while appropriate measures were taken to correct the sight.

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‘Using bed nets could reduce under-5 deaths by 20%’

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‘Using bed nets could reduce under-5 deaths by 20%’

Samson Katikiti is the programme officer and Data Manager at the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA). In this interview with APPOLONIA ADEYEMI, he discusses the efforts of ALMA in driving activities that could end malaria from global community, the impact of data on the fight, measures to cut insecticide resistance, the gains of malaria elimination, among others

 

 

The work of African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) in fighting malaria
As you can see, we now have significant increase in the number of countries that have malaria insecticide-resistant management plan.
If you go to the score-card of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), you can see the countries that have malaria insecticide-resistant management plan, which countries don’t have and the ones that are in the process of developing the plan.
Just to outline to you the thinking and how we have approached this problem of making more countries where malaria is endemic and others that still harbour malaria to work to eliminate disease, is to consult with partners in the network. Similarly, we track the activities of our members on malaria including progress and present to them issues to do with malaria policies, finances, monitoring resistance, the implementation of malaria interventions and issues to do with whether affected countries have had impact.
The work that former President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete did to tackle malaria under ALMA, he certainly did it as the president of the United Republic of Tanzania, but also he had a strong passion for ending malaria, as the chair of ALMA between 2009 and 2012. So, I know these for sure about the job he started, which his successor inherited.
We have in the Republic of Tanzania, there are also works on the microbial larvicides in cooperation with the Cuban Government.
Microbial larvicides are bacteria that are registered as pesticides for control of mosquito larvae in outdoor areas such as irrigation ditches, flood water, standing ponds, woodland pools, pastures, tidal water, fresh or saltwater marshes, and storm water retention areas.The works that president Kikwete and his successors did are still continuing in Tanzania up till today. The use of microbial larvicides is one of the malaria interventions still being used in the African continent.

Data gathering
On data and certification, the data that we use in communicating on issues of malaria with countries comes from either the World Health Organisation (WHO) or from partners. The secretariat of ALMA is not directly involved in the collection of data, but is involved in the compilation of the selected indicators and this is what is shared with countries. We are certainly very grateful for the support we get from many different partners in the provisions, cross-checking and availing the data to us.
Countries respond to the data and we share it with the institutions that supplied us with the information. So, every time we produce the score-card we do it with the support of the WHO and when we get any clarifications that need to be clarified, we get back to the WHO and partners to give us the clarifications that the countries seek.

Malaria-free certification
In terms of the certification, the institutions that is responsible for certifying countries whether they have malaria, are malaria-free or have eliminated malaria is WHO and they use their different expert committees to verify whether the countries are indeed in three years in a row whether they have malaria. This is what was done in the certification of Algeria and Argentina in May, 2019 and the many countries that have been certified.
In terms of efforts by other countries to reduce malaria, we hope that countries will put in place systems that will make it easy when that time comes to be certified malaria-free when that time comes, to be able to confirm that there hasn’t been any indigenous malaria for a sustained period of time. We hope that will happen in many countries. These countries include Eswatini, Cape-Verde and Botswana.
The biggest motivation we for have for making sure we eliminate malaria is to ourselves. When we eliminate malaria from our country, our children will be not be sick with malaria; hospitals will not be filled with patients suffering malaria; and there will be more time that people have to engage in economic activities.

Sanctions for non-performance
On sanctions, we don’t have sanctions for non-performance. What we can do is to continue to engage the countries to make sure that they achieved the objectives that they set for themselves.

Malaria insecticide resistance
On insecticide resistance, this is an area that is receiving a lot of attention from the WHO. They have a plan of what countries should have in place to mitigate the effects of insecticide resistance and strategies of what countries should do to reduce chances of resistance emerging and how to manage that situation.
In anticipating resistance for countries in terms of what countries can do, there are many strategies that the WHO has recommended so that they can reduce the probability of having insecticide resistance.
The term insecticide resistance is defined as the ability of an insect to withstand the effects of an insecticide by becoming resistant to its toxic effects by means of natural selection and mutations. It is very clear that the gains so far recorded by some African countries could be threatened by emerging resistance to insecticides among Anopheles mosquitoes. Left unchecked, insecticide resistance could lead to a substantial increase in malaria incidence and mortality. However, these are well articulated in the documented technical guidelines to address this problem. I will direct you to people in WHO who are working in that area.

Using bed nets to prevent mosquito bites
On improving use of Insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) in communities, this is an area that is receiving a lot of attention from all of us. Insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) are a form of personal protection that has been shown to reduce malaria illness, severe disease, and death due to malaria in endemic regions. In community-wide trials in several African settings, ITNs were shown to reduce the death of children under five years from all causes by about 20 per cent, according to the United States (US) Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Bed nets form a protective barrier around people sleeping under them. However, bed nets treated with an insecticide are much more protective than untreated nets.
We hear a lot about advocacy on behaviour change to make people in communities use bednets to prevent mosquito bites and we see it in the results of country surveys that monitor such activities. We hope that this shall be addressed with interventions we have in place in various countries that are working to eliminate malaria from their environment.

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Severe eczema could cause anxiety, depression – Coker

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Severe eczema could cause anxiety, depression – Coker

 

“Those skin rashes make me ugly and irritates me. They hinder me from mingling with my peers as they always make fun of me,” said 15 year old Sandra. Similarly, she explained how has tried not to ignore every single prescription given to her by her doctor including the application of creams like Funbact A, Nixoderm, Epiderm, Skineal. among others. Using the creams has ended up causing her face more harm than good, she said.
Similarly, lamenting her ordeal occasioned by eczema, 21 year old Stefenay also expressed her unhappiness about the state of her face. I can barely go out without makeup for the fear of being mischievously stared at nonstop. I spend most of the time in front of a mirror, applying different suggested concealers and makeups so as to look a little presentable when I go out, she explained.
Speaking in the same vein, 20-year old Lola said that at some point, she used up all her savings in a bid to rid of the rough itchy blisters on her face. “I can barely sleep comfortably with those blisters. They itch me almost every time. Also, they make it difficult for me to attend classes and other social activities with my peers and course mates because I end up sitting alone as no one would sit close me for the fear of being infected.”
These are the lamentations of some adolescents that suffer eczema, a medical skin condition where patches of the skin become inflamed, red, itchy, cracked and rough. Blisters sometimes occur.
This unpleasant skin condition can occur in both male and females, especially children, infants, teenagers and adult between age 12 to 30 years.
On the psychological effect of eczema on sufferers, a Consultant Psychologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr. Olurotimi Coker said they include low self esteem, lack of confidence and consequently, low quality of life.
He further said that the disfigurement makes young ones to feel ugly because of their facial condition and it affects their social life. This skin condition can also affect the physical and mental health of its sufferer.
This skin condition is long lasting (chronic) and tends to flare up periodically.
The specific cause of eczema remains unknown but it is believed to develop due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Genetically, studies have shown that children were more likely to develop eczema if a parent has had the condition or another atopic disease. If both parents have an atopic disease, the risk is even greater.
Environmental factors such as, irritants (soaps, detergents, shampoos, etc.), allergens (pets, pollens, dust mites), microbes (viruses, bacteria, certain fungi), hot and cold temperatures, foods (eggs, nuts etc.), stress and hormones, are also known to bring out the symptoms of eczema.
Some other psychological conditions associated with this skin condition according to Coker, include, sleep disturbance, generalised anxiety, symptoms of depression, social withdrawal and isolation because others may be making fun of them.
Eczema is not contagious. Though not curable as proven by research, treatment for this condition aims to heal the affected skin and prevent flare ups of symptoms.
Other medical advice to help ameliorate flare ups are , taking lukewarm bath, applying moisturisers within three minutes of bathing to lock in moisture, wearing cotton and soft fabrics and keeping fingernails short to avoid breaking the skin from scratching.

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First patient diagnosed with Ebola in Congolese city of Goma dies

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First patient diagnosed with Ebola in Congolese city of Goma dies

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have appealed for calm after an evangelical preacher died of Ebola in the eastern city of Goma, the first recorded case of the disease in the key urban hub in a nearly year-old epidemic.

“Unfortunately, I can confirm that the patient died,” the governor of North Kivu, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, told reporters on Tuesday.

Goma, a border city with a population of one million, lies next to the Rwandan town of Gisenyi and has transport links to other parts of the DRC and beyond.

The UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) described the case as a “potential game-changer” and said it would reconvene a key panel to see whether the outbreak required a heightened global response.

Rwanda, meanwhile, said it would step up border monitoring and urged its citizens to avoid “unnecessary” travel to the eastern DRC.

Earlier, Nzanzu Kasivita issued a statement saying the new case had been “detected at an early stage but also was isolated immediately, avoiding any further contamination”.

But, he added, “I call on the population of the city of Goma and its outskirts to keep calm… (and) cooperate with response teams, by observing hygiene and prevention measures and notifying any suspected case of Ebola,” he added.

According to the latest health ministry figures issued on Saturday, 1,655 people have died from the haemorrhagic virus since August 1 last year, when the disease broke out in North Kivu and spread to neighbouring Ituri.

Nearly 700 people have been cured, and more than 160,000 been vaccinated, reports France24.

But efforts to roll back Ebola have been hampered by insecurity in a region plagued by militia groups, who have attacked treatment centres.

Local hostility to health workers trying to trace and isolate people in contact with Ebola patients is another hurdle.

Two more Ebola workers were murdered in their homes in the North Kivu town of Beni, the ministry said.

Evangelical preacher

The Goma patient was described as a pastor who had been on a trip to another town, Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the outbreak.

There, he preached at seven churches and regularly touched worshippers, “including the sick”, the health ministry said Sunday.

His symptoms first surfaced last Tuesday, it said.

On Friday he took a bus back to Goma from Butembo, along with 18 other passengers and the driver.

He went through several health checkpoints on the road “but did not seem to show signs of the disease. However, at each checkpoint, he wrote down different family names and forenames on the passenger list, which probably indicates a will to hide his identity and state of health,” the ministry said.

When he arrived back in Goma on Sunday morning, he went to a clinic because he had started to become feverish, the ministry said.

“Given that the patient was quickly identified, as well as all the passengers on the bus from Butembo, the risk of the disease spreading in the city of Goma is low,” it said.

The pastor was swiftly taken back to Butembo, which is better prepared for handling Ebola cases than Goma, the authorities said.

The WHO said response teams had so far identified 60 people who had been in contact with the preacher, 30 of whom had now been vaccinated.

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‘Curb rising population growth with family planning’

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‘Curb rising population growth with family planning’

Nigeria’s population is currently estimated at 190 million.  Experts claim that if nothing is done about the unusual population explosion in the country, by 2050 it could hit above 400 million. But adoption and use of family planning by more people in the reproductive age group could curb the trend, APPOLONIA ADEYEMI reports

 

 

As the world community marks the 2019 World Population Day today, Thursday, July 11, the major worry is how to reduce the exponential population growth, especially in Africa and many parts of Asia where available resources do not match the large number of persons that should be catered for. For instance, today, as the world marks the 30th anniversary of the World Population Day, an annual event established by the United Nations in 1989 – when there were a mere five billion people on Earth, attention is now focussing on the urgency of tackling the impending population crisis.

Today there are about 7.7 billion men, women and children on Earth, a staggering figure given that a century ago, there were only 1.9 billion. One of the factors behind current worry is that although populations have stabilised in many regions, particularly in Europe and North America, figures released by the United Nations (UN) this month show global numbers were now growing at the alarming rate of about 100 million every 14 months.

Based on the estimate, by 2050, the Earth’s population will have hit 9.7 billion and it will continue to rise, reaching a figure of about 10.9 billion by 2100.

Today there are about 1.2 billion Africans and by 2100, there will be more than four billion people. That of Nigeria, which rose from 150 million to 170 million and currently estimated at 190 million remains a contentious issue and has been on the front burner.

Highlighting his concern about the exponential growth of Nigerian population at a media roundtable in Abuja recently, Country Director of Jhpiego Nigeria, Prof. Emmanuel Otolorin attributed the current economic recession and multifaceted conflicts/crime ravaging the country to uncontrolled population.

At the event with the theme “Family Planning and Maternal Health,” he cautioned that if nothing was done about the unusual population explosion in Nigeria, by 2050 the nation’s population could hit above 400 million and that, according him would increase the problem the nation was experiencing already.

He said, “Nigeria’s large, uncontrolled population growth was a recipe for national and regional conflicts. The large bulge, high youth unemployment rates make young Nigerians more susceptible for recruitment into crime, insurgencies and terrorism.”

“Internal migration and population growth differentials within the geopolitical divide have often been implicated in the political destabilisation” he added.

Otolorin therefore called on all Nigerians to voluntarily embrace family planning in order to reduce current high population growth rate, saying, “leaders and policy makers at all levels must support investments by budgeting adequately for family planning commodities, consumables and services.

He said, “Family planning providers must stop under-the-table user fees, which frustrates governments effort to provide free family planning.

“We must ‘de-stigmatise’ family planning in some parts of the country where it raises suspicion.”

Otolorin observed that the use of contraceptives reduces maternal and newborn mortality and explained that about 95 per cent of causes of maternal mortality in Nigeria were caused by seven preventable conditions such as: haemorrhage(bleeding), pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure with convulsions), infection, unsafe abortion, obstructed labour, malaria and anaemia.

In his opinion on how the nation found itself with the current population, Chairman, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), Dr. Ejike Oji  said there was a disconnection between what the nation was currently doing and what it was supposed to do in terms of policies and the actions being taken.

For example, he noted that the country currently has a demographic crisis: 64 per cent of the nation’s population is under the age of 25 years and  45 per cent of the population is under the age of 15 years, making them a largely dependent and largely unemployable.

According to him, the only place that these categories of persons can be employed is in the agrarian industry, adding that although, the Federal Government was doing a lot to improve that sector, it was not paying off, considering that people could not return to the farms based on increasing insecurity in that sector.

Secondly, Oji cited the examples of Nigerian professionals migrating to overseas, where they were seeking greener pastures. Over 40,000 Nigerians are practising medicine abroad. “This is just a tip of the iceberg,” Oji said, adding that there were many in Europe, Canada and elsewhere.

Similarly, Oji noted that the one that was mind boggling was what was happening with the nation’s unskilled migrant population, given the risk to their lives while crossing the Mediterrenean Sea into Europe.  He cited the example of nine Nigerians that were killed recently at migrant camp in Libya.

The latest examples, he said was evident in what is happening in the country where nationals were killing nationals: militancy in the south west, kidnappings in the Niger-Delta, ethno-religious crisis in the Plateau, Boko Haram in the north east, banditry in the north west and farmer-herders crisis taking place all over the federation.        

Placing these background  in perspective, the chairman of AAFP said these are the kind of activities that could happen when a nation’s youthful populations were largely unemployed, saying they would be easily recruited by mischief makers, religious bigots, kidnappers, robbers, among others because they got nothing doing.

Highlighting other factors hindering Nigeria from curbing its population at an appreciable rate, he said in the 2019 appropriation, family planning budget was slashed by over 80 per cent. Instead of $4 million dollars, what the federal government released was about $980,000 dollars as counterpart funding, meanwhile the country needs about $26 million dollars to purchase  family planning commodities. “That is why I said there was a disconnection between what we are doing and what we are supposed to be doing”.

Besides, Oji blamed a lot of state governments for inaction. While the Federal Government purchase family planning commodities, he lamented that most of the state governments that were supposed to buy the consumables with which to administer the family planning commodities do not have budget lines. “This is why the prevalence of family planning uptake in the country remains low at 12 per cent, going the 2019 NDHS.”

While family planning prevalence in the country for about 10 years was 10 per cent of women in their reproductive age 15 to 45 years, Oji lamented that unmet need  is about 19 per cent of people in their reproductive age. “This is very low and calls for worry,” he said. Unmet need is the number of women of reproductive age who want to use family planning, but are not getting the services due to one reason or another.

Oji said, “There is no way the populace can get democratic dividends until we reduce our fertility rate.”

On the way out, Oji called for extra-budgetary allocation to make up for family planning budget that was under-funded. He also urged state governments to come together and put money into the common basket that the federal government use, which could be given to the UNFPA to increase the commodities that is purchased for the country.

According to Oji, the real disaster would happen next year because the country does forward-buying. “The UNFPA pays for the family planning commodities one year in advance.

“Sadly, this year, we have a shortfall of about $8 million dollars. If that shortfall is not met, it means that next year, we will not have commodities.

“There will be a great shortage of family planning commodities next year. That is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Oji lamented that the country already has an unmet need of 19 per cent. Nineteen per cent of women in the reproductive age 15 to 49 years are saying: we need this family planning, but we are not getting it.”

Oji said if the country invests in health, appropriate education, provides an environment of justice, peace and tranquillity and creates at the atmosphere that would create jobs, “Nigeria will transform to be a very rich country. But, if we do not, it is anarchy.

“That is why at this time the country is in crisis; there is no place in the country that is safe.”

Speaking further, Oji said family planning is not only reducing the number of children one has. It is also spacing the children and giving birth to the number of children an individual could afford to cater for.”

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Sanusi hails LARDI for fighting drug abuse

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Sanusi hails LARDI for fighting drug abuse

Former Central Bank Governor and Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II applauded members of the Legal Advocacy Response to Drugs Initiative (LARDI) for offering free legal services to indigent persons arrested for drug and substance abuse.

Also, Sanusi has commended the Federal Government for banning some drugs including codeine-ladden cough syrup linked with drug abuse in the country.

Receiving LARDI members in his palace in Kano during the “International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking,” the Emir said: “I would like to commend the Federal Government for taking the step of banning Beneline-with-codeine, which for a long time we thought would go a long way in reducing the spread and to also commend the State Government for setting up a special task force to deal with issues of drugs.”

A statement by Bar. Emeka Nwadioke, LARDI’s Secretary General & Head of Publicity, noted that Sanusi singled out Kano and Jigawa States as the “nerve centre or the centre of gravity” of drug menace in Nigeria, adding that the drug problem is “widespread, with a very large number of young people including married women now abusing not just hard drugs but substances like codeine and Benelene cough serup, among others.”

Saying that every suspect deserves fair hearing in our courts, Sanusi said: “Organisations like yours are important for giving legal assistance to those who are under trial because even if you are a suspected criminal you deserve legal representation. People can be unfairly or inappropriately convicted because they do not have legal support.

He also applauded lawyers under the aegis of Legal Advocacy Response to Drugs Initiative (LARDI) for offering free legal services to indigent persons allegedly involved in drug and substance abuse.

Sanusi applauded LARDI members for offering free legal services to indigent persons  arrested for drug and substance abuse, saying that every suspect deserves fair hearing in our courts. His words: “Organisations like yours are important for giving legal assistance to those who are under trial because even if you are a suspected criminal you deserve legal representation. People can be unfairly or inappropriately convicted because they do not have legal support.

On how to contain the menace of drug abuse in a sustainable manner, Sanusi said: “We need to go to the root cause of the problem which is go back to our families and our family values, child spacing, focus on education and so on. The business community should invest in rehabilitation centres. After rehabilitation, we have to find employment for them otherwise they go back to the very same situation they were before rehabilitation. Parental upbringing, guidance counseling, family structures – all of these have to be looked at.”

Speaking earlier, LARDI’s National Coordinator, Bar. Chinelo Uchendu commended Sanusi for his “strong advocacy” against drug abuse. She said the organization was desirous to collaborate with key stakeholders towards fashioning a sustainable framework for a drug-free society.———————————END

Uchendu noted that LARDI was established with technical support and funding from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and European Union (EU) respectively under the “Response to drugs and related organized crime in Nigeria” project, adding that its 120 members are spread across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. The organization recently embarked on advocacy visits to several States where it interacted with key stakeholders such including the Federal High Court, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Prisons Service, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Nigeria Police and State Attorneys-General.

United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres had in a statement to mark the day said: “The world drug problem is one of the most challenging issues we face. It has wide-ranging impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities, as well as on the security and sustainable development of nations.

“Therefore, preventing and addressing drug challenges in all their complexity is essential to delivering on a fundamental global pledge, enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals: to leave no one behind.”

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Dosage, blood group important in herbal medicine treatment – Eno

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Dosage, blood group important in herbal medicine treatment – Eno

Dr. Eno Abasi, a graduate of Hotel Management, Hospitality and Tourism Management, is today a certified doctor of natural medicine, with speciality in aromatherapy. In this interview with REGINA OTOKPA, she discusses the importance and conditions of an effective health therapy, using herbs and plant-based oils

 

 

How did you become a doctor of natural medicine?

It is a calling from God Almighty. When I was living in Lagos, I met the late Mrs Elizabeth Kafaru, the author of herbal books. While assisting to sell her books, I was not only reading them but I put the knowledge to use. I picked information from it and was administering it to people by telling them what to do with herbs and garlic. Calls started coming in from all over to tell me the herbal recommendations were working. Shortly after, I learnt about the College of Natural Medicine under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology at Kofo Abayomi in Victoria Island from Quincy Ayodele. I enrolled, got my certificate and since then, it has been testimonies all around.

 

For how long have you been engaged in traditional medicine practice?

I have been into Natural medicine for over 20 years. When I started I was still working but along the line, I had to leave and focus on making a difference in peoples’ lives.

 

Would you say life as a doctor of traditional medicine in the last 20 years has been worth it?

When God sends you to do a thing he will always be there for you. The Holy Spirit always guides me and God always shows me things that I should do. Sometimes, I come down with an ailment, God shows me what to apply and it always works. When I come across people who are afflicted with that same ailment I apply same treatment for people and the results have been amazing. What most people do not know is that the use of natural medicine is in the Bible and Koran. I didn’t write the Bible or the Koran and the pages are right there as proof that in those days, they used natural plants to address health challenges

 

Does every tree and plant have a cure for an ailment?

Yes, indeed God has blessed mankind but even though plants, flowers, roots, tree barks, seeds, fruits or leaves can be used to treat lots of ailments, we need to be cautious by consistently embarking on in-depth research to ascertain the plants that are poisonous and to know what and what not to combine. Also, the dosage and blood type are very important in natural medicine treatment. A medication that will work faster for an O blood group patient may not work for another patient with AA, O or B type blood group. Natural Medicine or the conventional medicine are effective in their own ways but I always lay emphasis on the importance to first detoxify the organs before any treatment. When you are detoxifying you are even healing your organs from the brain down to the feet. In the process of detoxifying you have done a whole lot for the body in terms of removing excessive gas, free radicals, fats, toxins and parasitic worms that are in the system. When you detoxify, you will glow from the inside to the outside. Once the organs are oxygenated and the PH level is okay through the detox, it becomes easier to take care of the outside but the inside must be taken care of first.

Most persons who believe in the potency of herbs go ahead to self medicate without a guide. How safe is this?

Before the orthodox medicine came into being, our forefathers were deep into using natural medicine to cure all manner of ailments and diseases. They know the combination and dosage to bring relief; so any one who decides to self medicate is free, but the person must know the dosage to be applied based on the person’s age and blood type.

With these conditions, would you prescribe the use of guides by lovers of natural medicine?

Yes, you need a guide. There are some people who have the God given gift. They don’t need to go to school to learn what plants, roots or leaves should be combined to treat a particular ailment. There are others who went to school and are today professionals as far as natural medicine is concerned. Rather than find yourself in a worst situation, it is better to seek the counsel or allow yourself to be treated by those verse with the knowledge of natural medicine to avoid complications.

 

What is the difference between a herbal clinic and the roadside vendors of herbs?

Herbal clinic practitioners are licensed professionals who have gone through school, carried out research, sourcing for the herbs and take time to deliver a well packaged drug. I won’t say there is much difference because if those people you see on the streets hawking herbs, get a sponsor they will do better. People must understand that besides the use of herbs and oils, there are other treatments a herbal clinic has to offer its patients. One good example is the use of acupressure mat to boost the circulation of blood Also, we need to learn how to eat right rather than sticking to the habit of consuming anything we see simply because its free food. We eat more of fried food, which is not good for the system. Elders should run away from beef, but make sure they eat more of fish, snail, chicken, vegetables and fruits.

 

Are there are implications with the consumption of herbs?

If you know your blood type and you take the required dosage they won’t be any implication but if you take a specific herbal medicine simply because someone else used it, if it doesn’t go with your blood type or you applied wrong dosage there could be implications.

How receptive are Nigerians to natural medicine?

The pharmaceutical people have to sell their products but Nigerians know what is good for them. I am happy that a lot of Nigerians are beginning to look inward; they don’t allow people brain wash them any longer. Those things that they keep asking people not to take are the things that are even most beneficial to the body system. For example, Cayenne pepper cures ulcer if you know the dosage but they will tell you it is bad for your health. They discourage people from taking anything that will affect their patronage and sales under the guise “its not good for your health”. Nobody should take a treatment for life. Individuals who know the benefit of herbal medicine will continue to patronise herbal medicine no matter what they say.

 

How big is the natural medicine market, and can it reposition the nation’s economy?

China, India, United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK)are into natural health, eating right, getting closer to natural and plant-based food and fruits. In India they have orthodox and natural medicine hospitals and individuals patronise the one they want freely. Here in Nigeria we wash bitter leaf and throw the water which is the most important aspect away but Americans are now doing bitter leaf capsule and they send it to us in Nigeria to buy. Also, most of the drugs we get from the western world are plant-based; there are also different types of oil extracts even from salt, water melon and so many other plants that can be used to soothe the nerves and bring relief for so many ailments. We now have machines in Nigeria that we can use in extracting oils. Personally, I prepare plantbased oils that cures any type of skin disorder or headaches including migraine.

 

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PSN’s Board of Fellows to rehabilitate drug abuse victims

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PSN’s Board of Fellows to rehabilitate drug abuse victims

Board of Fellows (BOF) of the Pharmaceutical Society of PSN said it was unveiling a wholistic approach to tackle the problem of drug abuse in the country as a strategy to reduce the scourge. The organisation also said it would partner with organisations within communities to ensure the rehabilitation of victims of drug abuse with a view to curb the menace.

While addressing the media on the 2019 BOF’s PSN Mid-Year Public Lecture, the Chairman of BOF, Prof. Mbang Femi- Oyewo said, “Nigerian youths must say no to drugs,” adding that the BOF of the PSN would collaborate with other groups in the six geo-political zones to monitor youths and curb their illicit use of hard drugs and other psychoactive substances. “The aim of the exercise, which will run in the next two years is to ensure that youths run with vision and that they depart from Illicit drug and substance abuse.”

While lamenting the youths abuse tramadol, inhale burnt sanitary pads, coachroaches, perfumes, among others to get high, Femi-Oyewo said the BOF would not only monitor the youths to guide them away from hard drugs, it would build rehabilitation centres to address those that were already hooked to drugs and substance use. Femi-Oyewo said, “It is no longer news that the incidence of drug/substance abuse in Nigeria has assumed an epidemic dimension especially among children/adolescent and youths, which calls for widespread intervention. As a result of the threat posed by the scourge.

“As you are all aware, pharmacists are custodians of medicines which include drugs, vaccines. It has therefore become very necessary for the BOF to get involved in checkmating this menace through Advocacy, Campaign against Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation of victims of Drug Abuse.”

The astute scholar and distinguished academic said the essence of the lecture and mid-year meeting of the BOF was to afford the Fellows an opportunity to examine the positions of the Board, PSN and profession and strategise for their better positioning. While about 500 fellows were expected to attend the programme, 111 members would emerge as new fellows during this year’s mid-year meeting.

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Health benefits of walnuts

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Health benefits of walnuts

Do you know a plant that grows in Nigeria and is nicknamed natural Viagra? The name of the plant is Walnut. Yorubas call it ‘Awusa’ or ‘Asala’, while Igbos call it ‘Ukpa’. If you know the local name in your own language or dialect, please share it here on this platform. We are compiling a list of local Nigerian plants with their local names.

The reason is that in most places in Nigeria and Africa, people no longer know the local names of the common medicinal plants in their locality. Even the elderly ones no longer remember the names of the plants growing around them. It’s a pity indeed.

I was once invited to a health seminar for high ranking executives. The topic which I was given to talk about was stress and the impact on human health. However, most of the executives called me to one corner and asked: ‘Father, please do you have medicine for power failure?’

I replied that I am not an engineer or a staff of Nigeria Electricity provider, or NEPA, as we used to call it. They told me that they are referring to weak erection, not electricity failure. I ended up talking about ‘power failure’ rather than stress.

Walnut is an effective remedy for weak erection in men and low libido or lack of sexual urge in women. Weak erection, which in medical parlance is code-named erectile dysfunction, is a widespread problem among couples. It is a common problem with broad implications: it brings frustrations, depressions and strain on the relationship between husband and wife. Walnut is an effective remedy for weak erection. Walnut is in season. If you are among those experiencing such challenges, this is the season for walnut. Eat a lot of walnuts. It’s as simple as that.

Walnut is also very good for diabetes, prostate enlargement, high cholesterol, bedwetting and urinary incontinence (lack of voluntary control over urination).

The omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts help protect the body from cardiovascular diseases by preventing erratic rhythms in the heart, making the blood less likely to clot inside the arteries, and improving the ratio of good to bad cholesterol.

Walnuts are rich in protein and high in potassium and other minerals such as zinc and iron. hypertension or diabetes, or (those) who have recently had a heart by passes, adding that some of the volunteers had undergone bypass surgeries.

Fresh raw walnuts are rich in amino acid l-arginine, and monounsaturated fatty acids (72%) like oleic acid. It also contains essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and arachidonic acids. The inclusion of these nuts in any diet can help prevent coronary heart diseases by favouring a healthy lipid supply.

Consuming walnuts is said to significantly lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol and increased the level of HDL (good) cholesterol. Walnuts help you feel full, which means that they increase satiety.  This makes walnuts a healthy snacking option.

Walnuts are said to contain copper and phosphorus both of which are essential in maintaining optimal bone health. Essential fatty acids found in walnuts secure the bone health of the body. They may increase calcium absorption and deposition while reducing urinary calcium excretion.

The omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts can help improve memory and focus. Omega-3 fatty acids, coupled with iodine and selenium ensure optimum functioning of the brain.  Walnuts have also been found to give relief in cases of cognitive disorders like dementia.

Walnuts are next to blackberries in the ranking list of ‘antioxidant-rich’ foods.  The rare,  powerful antioxidants such as quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin present in walnuts have remarkable free-radical scavenging power. These antioxidants also help prevent liver damage due to chemicals.

Walnut provides minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium to the body. These minerals help contribute to metabolic activities like growth and development, sperm generation, digestion, and nucleic acid synthesis.

People suffering from diabetes should consume walnuts regularly since they contain a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Researchers say that the intake of nuts is inversely proportional to the risk of developing type-II diabetes. However, make sure to eat this nut in moderation.

Walnut helps to clean the internal digestive tract, aiding in detoxification by removal of toxins and waste. It also cures constipation because of its probiotic properties.

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