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‘No proof’ red meat causes cancer, controversial study claims



‘No proof’ red meat causes cancer, controversial study claims

A controversial new study has claimed people should continue to enjoy steak, sausages and bacon as there is no proof red meats cause cancer.

Researchers branded the evidence linking red meat with serious health problems as weak and that eating up to four portions of red and processed meat per week on average posed no risk.

Their new guidance flies in the face of recommendations from health organisations including the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which warns to avoid processed meat altogether or eat very little of it, while limiting red meat to about three portions a week.

The WCRF gathered a team of organisations – including from the World Health Organisation – to hit back at the latest findings, saying there is good evidence of a link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer.

At present, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) recommends that anyone who eats more than 90g of red or processed meat per day should try to cut down to 70g or less, reports the Evening Standard.

In 2015, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said consumption of red meat is “probably carcinogenic” to humans, whereas processed meat is considered “carcinogenic”.

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How bad roads, ambulance shortage cause more deaths



How bad roads, ambulance shortage cause more deaths

Despite the volumes of money dedicated to their repair by successive governments annually, the deplorable state of roads have become death traps for millions of road users. REGINA OTOKPA reviews the absence of ambulances on the highways and government’s present position




With the rate of accidents occurring everyday, one would expect that emergency medical services, ambulances and referral centres, should be made available by the federal and state governments in strategic locations for rescue operations on every  highway across the country as witnessed in other parts of the world. Alas!, the opposite seems to be the case.

Meaning, it is rare to find an operational ambulance on Nigerian highways, their services have been relegated for undertakers’ services, which usually come with at a fee.

Even though we find stationed ambulances within some cities where there is a National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) post or at Federal Road Safety Corps outposts found in very few places, majority of the time you find accident victims dead or alive being rushed to hospitals in private vehicles or in a police open van.

Under normal circumstances, an ambulance is part of the medical service infrastructure of a society.

In the developed world, no wonder about two years ago, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who was Minister of State for Health at the time, lamented that Nigeria had less than 1,000 functional ambulances, which attended to medical emergencies, further revealed that many of the vehicles were not functional, adding that it was part of the reason the country had been recording poor response to medical emergencies in the face of an increased level of road crashes due to negligence and carelessness both on the part of government and drivers as the case may be.

Federal Government had at the time while launching an operational guidelines for national ambulance services and national policy on emergency to structure and harmonise Emergency Medical and Rescue (EMS), said the country needed at least 5,000 ambulances to meet its emergencies.

Ehanire had said, “Nigeria currently has about 1,000 registered ambulances in both government and private operations. The number is clearly insufficient to achieve the desired average response time for our population and road network.  However, most of them are connected to an emergency service network, but sit idle in hospital premises or by the roadside and may be used for purpose other than emergency.”

To help in reducing the rate of preventable deaths on the nation’s highway, the Senate had one time called for the  establishment of ambulance service on major highways in the country even though many have continued to argue that establishing ambulance service on the highways is the duty of states through their ministries of health. But establishment of ambulance on the highways is something that ordinarily should not be taken for granted had Nigeria’s federal system worked in truth and the states had not become mere appendages of an overbearing central government.

Only recently, the Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR), both raised concerns over the non-implementation of ambulance services on the highways four months after disbursing N327 million to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) for the programme.

The programme, which is domiciled with the Department of Hospital Services of the FMOH is captured in the operation manual of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), which indicates that Emergency Medical Treatment (EMT) carries 2.5 per cent of the total funding for BHCPF annually.

According to Dr Aminu Magashi, the coordinator CHR, based on the BHCPF provided by the National Health Act (NHA) 2014, ambulance, referral and trauma services were part of EMT.

He explained that the EMT got N327 million from the May disbursement of the BHCPF, to be used as start up for the services but about five months after the disbursement,  Nigerians were yet to see ambulances, referral or trauma services on the highways.

“The money is available, the operational manual is available since the discussion on the matter has commenced we need to see ambulances on the six identified highways.

“We also need to see the ambulances responding to patients and referring them to the nearby identified facilities.”

However, according to the  Permanent Secretary in the FMOH, Mr Abdulaziz Mashi, there were a lot of administrative bureaucratic frameworks that have been set up by the ministry to ensure an effective take off of the EMT programme.

While giving assurances that the programme would soon kick off to safe guard lives involved in automobile accidents on the highways, he explained that the emergency fund was a five per cent of the BHCPF, which was further subdivided into 2.5 per cent to the Department of Hospital Services of the ministry and the remaining 2.5 per cent went to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“We are still coming up with emergency management committee team to ensure that we block all the leakages and get it right before we take-off. Just a little more patience, I know we will be there.”

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‘Govt must scale up nutrition intervention to save more children’



‘Govt must scale up nutrition intervention to save more children’

The nutrition team lead, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),  Sanjay Kumar Das, has been in the North-East for about three years passionately responding to the malnutrition crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. In this interview with REGINA OTOKPA, he draws attention to the factors instigating nutrition crisis in the areas and called for increased funding from government




What is the state of child nutrition in the Northeast,  especially Borno State?

It is still in a horrible and pathetic state that requires urgent local and international attention. In fact, the nutrition situation in the region has long assumed emergency situation and there is need for collaborative effort to salvage the lives of children in the northeast particularly Borno State. One way of doing this is urgently scaling up nutrition intervention to rescue the situation.

What are the factors responsible for the high indices of malnutrition in the North East?

It’s a cumulative effect of many factors. Although there have been cases of malnutrition in the northeast, it has been worsened due to the prolonged activities of Boko Haram insurgents resulting in the destruction of communities, farmlands and other sources of livelihood, thereby forcing thousands of people into different Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps with poor living conditions.

Many of the farmers have deserted farming due to the security issues and If they don’t farm the result is inadequate food at the household level and in the region.

Another major factor is inadequate health services in the region is that majority of pregnant women and low birth rate children who are already malnourished, are unable to access health services such as constant checkup because  many of the health facilities are still not functional because the infrastructure have been damaged.

Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and disease outbreaks, are some of the other factors contributing to malnutrition and so even after we treat and discharge them, in the next five to six months they may come back with severe malnutrition because they were not feeding well when they went back home due to inadequate food.

The worst thing is that people in these places are illiterates who have poor knowledge of hygiene and diet. They don’t take hygiene serious and that has been responsible for periodic disease and epidemic outbreak;

Are these many factors reasons why the situation has been tagged as an “emergency”?

There is global threshold and other parameters used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to determine whether a country or a particular location has nutrition emergency. 

Not only are these parameters in the three northeastern states, they have reached the global threshold. Once the malnutrition record of children under the age of five reaches 10 per cent, WHO declares nutrition emergency in that country or location.

Currently, there is a high record of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) among children under the age of five in northeast. 11 per cent of children in Borno state are severely malnourished, 13 per cent of the children in Yobe state are severely malnourished while Adamawa state accounts for six per cent.

This indicates a high level of malnutrition in Borno and Yobe states and more investments is needed to address this problem to bring it to an acceptable level.

How does this problem of malnutrition affect  children in the north East?

Malnutrition poses a serious problem for the socioeconomic development of the nation because it damages the brain of the children and when their brain is damaged it will affect their school performance  because their cognitive development has been reduced as such, they lack skills, good innovative knowledge to do something for themselves, their families, their community  or the nation.

How are you helping to address malnutrition in these states?

Our interventions and that of other local and international partners, and the states government have been effective and can be seen in the improved records available.

We are working in two directions; to prevent new malnutrition cases and at the same time when the child has become malnourished we arrange services for them to start treatment to save the lives of those children because if we cannot provide treatment on time those children may die.

In all these process we are closely working with state primary health care development agencies, our partners in Borno State with the support of Department for International Development (DFID) who are our donors.

In last two years, we have seen a consistent drop in the number of SAM cases. In 2018, an estimated 440, 000 boys and girls of under the age of five in three northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, suffered SAM. In 2019, we projected an estimated 317, 000 to suffer SAM. The figure is expected to drop to 258, 950 children in 2020. Obviously, the figure has been on the downward trend and that could be attributed to increased access to drugs, hygiene and Ready for Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), which had played great role in improving the nutrition in the war ravaged areas. We are hopeful that more children won’t fall back into SAM after treatment and that is why we need to extend care so that new cases will not come on board.

How many SAM children have these interventions  treated in these states?

For 2019, we have treated over 165, 000 children of SAM. We are working on some measures to prevent new cases of SAM. We are working assiduously to ensure that children that are down with SAM are given adequate attention starting with the provision of RUTF and those who are out of SAM are closely monitored to ensure they don’t fall back again

How do you intend to address the alleged misuse or sale of the RUTF by mothers and other caregivers?

We don’t have any documented record for this but sometimes we see the RUTF being sold in shops and in the market. This is largely because the mother and care givers are illiterate and do not understand that the RUTF will save their children’s life, improve the cognitive development of the child and improve their school performance. If she knows the importance of RUTF in a malnourished child, she won’t even think of doing that. She will take the matter seriously and judiciously administer the RUTF to the child.

Sometimes the situation is that they don’t have food in the house so they just compromise among themselves. The problem is that even if we catch any care giver selling RUTF, we cannot stop giving them RUTF because it will affect the children, the children may die so we are in a dilemma situation. However, we are partnering with community and religious leaders to monitor and control people that are allegedly engaged in such act.

Do you think the government is doing enough to support funds from donor agencies to tackle malnutrition?

Although there are some kind of support from the government, more support is needed from them  to address the serious problem of malnutrition because it is a complex issue that cannot be solved by one sector or donor agencies alone. Collaboration, hard work, better planning and allocation of resources is needed to tackle this problem.

What challenges have you encountered in delivering services?

We have so many challenges in delivering services; security is still volatile sometimes it impacts on our services in some of the remote areas in Borno and Yobe. We are trying to strengthen our preventive component of malnutrition so that there won’t be so many new cases coming up but it is taking more than we thought. We are not getting adequate funds on the mission programme and it is affecting the malnutrition status

How much do you think is needed to address this issue of malnutrition?

For the comprehensive programme we need around N5 billion for 2020. We have 258,000 children we are expecting to be severely malnourished in 2020 and for the prevention part we are targeting about about 771,000 care givers of children under two years.

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Underutilisation of nurses impacts patients negatively – AGPNP



Underutilisation of nurses impacts patients negatively – AGPNP

President of the Association of General Private Nursing Practitioners (AGPNP), Mr Balogun Ajiboye has raised the alarm over underutilisation of nurses in the country, saying Nigerian patients suffer as a result of the trend.

Ajiboye who disclosed that the situation was contributing significantly to the poor health indices being recorded in the country, however urged the Federal Government to come up with clear policies on nursing practice that were devoid of ambiguity, to enable nurses position themselves for the provision of quality care.

He made the call at the 8th Annual General Meeting/9th Annual Scientific Conference of the AGPNP with the theme ‘Strengthening Qualitative Primary Health Care Through Private Nursing Practice in Nigeria’.

During the event in Lagos last week, Adeboye cited examples in the country where midwives were not allowed to take delivery, whereas in the United States (US) and the United Kindgom (UK), it was the midwives that took delivery.

He described some policies of government as obnoxious such as a recent one that barred midwives from transfusing blood on patients.

On the contrary, he said nurses have 22 competences, the tenth of which states: “A nurse can diagnose and treat commonly occurring medical and surgical conditions in all settings

He said, “It is the law of the Federal Government. So, no state can change that because it is on the exclusive list.”

Ajiboye noted that if the government failed to  utilise the nurses optimally, the country was losing. He therefore  appealed to the government to “utilise nurses for what they are trained to do.”

He said most of the medical cases could be handled at the primary health care (PHC) level by nurses. “If the nursing professionals are able to address these problems at that level the conditions would not graduate to serious medical challenges.”

The Chairman of AGPNP in Lagos State, Olaifa Clement, debunked claims that when nurses diagnose and treat commonly medical and surgical illnesses in line with their curriculum, they were taking over the roles of other care professionals. He said, “When I make prescription and attend to patients am not taking over anybody’s role. 

“The only thing is that I have a level of what I can do. The scope of practice has a limitation and it is applicable to every profession.”

The chairman of AGPNP in Lagos said information on the role of care professionals was not clear.

However, he said, “Nurses should be allowed to practice their profession in accordance with their curriculum.”

In his speech, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said in order to harness the contributions of the private sector into public care services, nurses should avoid capitalist tendencies in their cost recovery.

Ehanire, who was represented by Prof. Wasiu L. Adeyemo, the chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), said in developing guiding principles for partnering with the private sector, the government has strategically emphasised quality assurance of service and the principle of health service as ‘a social contract,’ which recognises health as a right, not a priviledge.

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Cancer: Sanwo-Olu seeks donation for children in need of surgery



Cancer: Sanwo-Olu seeks donation for children in need of surgery

The wife of the Lagos state Governor, Dr.  Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu has appealed to public-spirited individuals and corporate organisations to donate to children in need of cancer care, saying that the government alone could not fund the medical needs of all its residents.

She called for investment in patients, doctors and nurses to enable them to deliver good healthcare to residents in the state and described investment in personnel as key pillars of the development agenda of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State governor,  for a greater Lagos.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) as part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Mrs Sanwo-Olu said that cancer drugs were very expensive and government might not be able to provide everything. She said that was why COWLSO  was contemplating establishing endowment fund.

To defray the cost of paediatric surgeries for needy babies, she also said that plans were underway to launch endowment fund for needy babies of Ayinke House of LASUTH, Ikeja.

Sanwo-Olu who is the Chairman of the COWLSO, said it was important to make the right investment in healthcare delivery to play up the health of the people, and also support the needy.

Sanwo-Olu, who was accompanied by the wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs Oluremi Hamzat and hundreds of COWLSO members, also embarked on ‘Awareness Walk’ from LASUTH to Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, as part of efforts to further inform residents on the forthcoming National Women Conference of COWLSO scheduled to hold from October 22 to 24, 2019 at the Convention Centre of Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

She said the present administration in Lagos State had identified healthcare as a major sector to be massively supported in line with efforts to ensure a greater Lagos.

According to her, “We decided to do our CSR here; this is Ayinke House in LASUTH. We are hoping that we will send the message down to the people that there was a need for us to invest in our patients, as well as invest in our doctors and nurses so that they could deliver good healthcare to our people in Lagos State, which was one of the key pillars of the development agenda of the government of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for a greater Lagos.”

“We have come here and we have identified something we can take up as our project and that is endowment fund for the paediatric surgeries that are being done here. Already, the Lagos State Government is doing 0-12 free healthcare for children but we need to also partner with them to do endowment fund and encourage a lot of people to also partner with us.”

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JOHESU, AHPA: Healthcare must remain social welfare service



JOHESU, AHPA: Healthcare must remain social welfare service

The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association (AHPA) have urged the Federal Government to allow healthcare provision in the country to remain a social welfare service for consumers of health.

In a joint statement by JOHESU and AHPA, signed by the Chairman of JOHESU, Comrade Bio Joy Josiah, the two groups condemned and rejected the approval of the concessioning of health facilities by Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

They however described the approval as a hurricane that would catalyse a descent to a bottomless pit of fruitlessness and unproductivity in healthcare.

According to both groups, majority of Nigerians live in poverty, hence could not access or afford health care.

“Any attempt to concession facilities in public health institutions compromises the lives of the vast majority of Nigerians and compounds their existing woes,” said Josiah, adding, “As a matter of fact, concessioning, privatisation or mutilated public private private (PPP) agenda at this point in the evolution of health endeavour in Nigeria is a direct invitation to morbidity and mortality.

Josiah cited the example of the exploitative propensities of the Private Hospitals as the pricing index of drugs when private sector facilities were compared to public sector pharmacies and private sector pharmacy facilities. “World Health Organisation (WHO) studies reveal that there is a 193 per cent and 188 per cent differential in the baseline pricing of drug prices in Private Hospital facilities over what is obtainable in Public Sector Pharmacy facilities and Private Pharmacy facilities.”

According to JOHESU and AHPA, this expressly defeated the goals and objectives of the National Drug Policy 2005, which advocated accessibility, affordability and efficacious drugs in our health system.

At a time the life expectancy of a Nigerian is 54.5 years because of prevailing challenges in health, he stressed that the situation would only get worse because more Nigerians would not have access to affordable and efficacious drugs.

“In similar vein, life expectancy will be jeopardised when the cardinal goal of National Health Policy, which also seeks accessible and affordable healthcare services was truncated,” added Josiah.

The chairman of JOHESU noted that a scenario whereby presumably state of the art health facilities cannot be afforded by consumers of health makes them inaccessible contrary to the goals of the National Health Policy.

Deriving experience from the global perspective, Josiah said a report of the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), the Business Faculty, University of Greenwich, London, United Kingdom (UK) titled ‘Financing Healthcare: False Profits and the Public Good’ gave a most incisive and revealing insight into the un-endless demerits of Concessioning and Privatisation arrangements in Healthcare.

The report stated that financial consolidation, escalating healthcare costs and demographic changes were placing universal public health care under increasing pressure. In this environment, the idea that the Private Sector was more efficient, effective and better able to fund healthcare than the public sector has been promoted.

However, after almost 30 years of privatisation in the healthcare sector, the chairman of JOHESU said evidence shows that these claims do not reflect the evidence.

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Nourish yourself with pineapple (2)



Nourish yourself with pineapple (2)

The consumption of pineapple regularly has been shown to help fight against arthritis, indigestion and worm infestation. Pineapple contains small amount of Vitamin A and beta-carotene. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required in maintaining healthy skin and is essential for good vision. Studies suggest that consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps the human body to protect itself from lung and oral cavity cancers. In addition, Pineapple is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like floats, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like copper, manganese and potassium.

Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, and helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is a helpful co-factor for red blood cell synthesis.  High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.

A higher intake of pineapple fruits (three or more slices per day) has also been shown to decrease risk  and progression of age-related macular degeneration.   The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of pineapple daily. As indicated above, a high amount means three or more slices. Try to eat your pineapple when it is very ripe so that you can enjoy it better. When pineapple is harvested before it is fully ripe, the taste is never the same as the ones harvested when fully ripe. Many people find it difficult to eat more than a slice of pineapple in a day because of its strong pungent taste. If you find the taste too strong or acidic, you can extract the juice and dilute it in water. It is worth all the trouble. 

The high level of potassium in pineapple makes it very useful in controlling high blood pressure. Increasing potassium intake by consuming high- potassium fruits and vegetables can help with lowering blood pressure. The recommended daily intake of potassium is 4700 mg, and less than 10 per cent of Nigerians meet this target. A high potassium intake is said by experts to be associated with a 20 per cent decreased risk of dying from all cancers.

As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C, pineapples can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.

Diets rich in beta-carotene may also play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and has been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in Japanese population.

There are studies suggesting that bromelain (found in pineapple) and other such enzymes may be used with standard cancer treatment to help reduce some side effects (such as mouth and throat inflammation due to radiation treatments). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21 to 25 g/day for women and 30-38 g/day for men. Because of their fiber and water content, pineapples help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract. Fruits with high antioxidant activity like pineapples that battle free radicals are recommended for those trying to conceive.  The antioxidants in pineapple such as vitamins C, beta-carotene and the vitamins and minerals and copper, zinc and foliate have properties that oost both male and female fertility.

Some studies have shown that bromelain, the enzyme found in pineapples, can reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain associated with injury and surgical intervention. Bromelain is currently being used to treat and reduce inflammation from sprains, strains, and other minor muscle injuries as well as swelling related to ear, nose and throat surgeries or trauma. Pineapple can also help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution, reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.

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PAN takes one egg per day campaign to schools



PAN takes one egg per day campaign to schools

The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), on Wednesday, took its one egg per day campaign to government schools in Mararaba, Nasarawa State to sensitise children on the need to consume egg instead of snacks.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more than 3,000 eggs were distributed to the students and pupils during the campaign.

This is coming against the backdrop of the world egg day marked on October 11.

Mr Lawson Okafor, the Chairman, PAN of the state chapter, called on the students to inform their parents on the need to give them one egg per day.

According to him, most parents are ignorant of the value of egg and instead they buy junks as snacks for them to eat.

He stated that egg was most valuable than meat pie, adding that parents should learn the significance of egg for their children in order to help them grow well.

Dr Boje Egboja, the PAN Coordinator, said that the distribution of eggs to the student was part of the activities to mark the world egg day.

She said that it was to tell the children the importance of egg in their system, adding that egg consumption would help their growth and also boost their immunity.

She added that it would also help to aid their intelligence quotient and save the children the hurdle of having to visit the hospital often, as it would improve their health status.

Also, Mr Peter Angbashim, the Principal of GSS, one of the schools, lauded the gesture, adding that egg consumption was imperative to the children’s growth.

He noted that though, the school was yet to benefit from the social intervention programme of the Federal Government through school feeding, he had no doubt that the school would soon benefit.

The principal said that the state was involved in the school feeding programme but it had been in batches and the school hoped to be part of the next batch.

Some of the students, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria, lauded PAN, stating that such move would encourage them to consume egg.

Abdulqudus Sodiq, a primary six pupil, said that he had learnt that egg was valuable to health to aid their growth, keep them fresh and make them strong.

Also, according to one of the students, Gloria, egg contains some vital nutrients that can boost immunity.

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Kwara NMA demands decriminalisation of suicide



Kwara NMA demands decriminalisation of suicide

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has called on the Federal Government to decriminalise suicide in the country.

The Deputy Chairman, Kwara NMA, Prof. Baba Issa, made the appeal at a news conference on Monday in Ilorin.

He said that anyone who attempted suicide obviously needed help, which was not gotten.

Issa was speaking in commemoration of the 2019 Physician’s week holding from October 12 to 19.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Care of the Unknown Patient: Policy Overview and Review”.

The event has other sub-themes like: “Curbing the Increasing Trend of Suicide in Nigeria: The Role of the NMA’’ and “The Doctor as an Entrepreneur”.

Issa noted that suicide was now the second leading cause of death among those in the age bracket of between 15 and 29 years with many unreported cases.

“And too bad, people are being jailed in Nigeria for attempting suicide.

“Any person who attempted suicide in the first place needed urgent help and would probably not have resulted to suicide if help was gotten.

“Also, government should regulate the distribution and availability of organophosphate chemicals that have recently become a cheap means of committing suicide,” Issa said.

He however said that parents and the media also have roles to play in curbing the increased trend.

“Responsible reportage of suicide is important to avoid copycat suicide as media should avoid sensationalising cases of suicide.

“The media should avoid details of methods and location and emphasising the negative consequences and impact on people left behind.

“And for the parents, they should avoid stigmatisation of suicide, instead encourage people to always seek help and support.

“Let us sacrifice time to know more about our children and wards, and learn to know their strength and weaknesses.

“We should also teach them self-esteem and vocation, and always take helpful cues from their non-verbal communication,” Issa said.

He further said that a person contemplating suicide should never be left alone at any point in time as the next few seconds without help might be too late.

Issa said there were organisations that help persons contemplating suicide with the following help lines: 09080217555, 09034400009, 08111909909, 07013811143, and Hausa – 08142241007.

Issa also listed Kwara State Health line challenges as 07062961307, 07030659980, 08033559293, 08035307683, 08165353198, 07032589606, 08034340230 and 08037211707.

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Congo to start using Ebola vaccine November



Congo to start using Ebola vaccine November

Health authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo will introduce a Johnson & Johnson Ebola vaccine in November in the country’s eastern provinces, to counter the current outbreak, they said.

The J&J vaccine will complement another vaccine manufactured by Merck, which has been administered to more than 225,000 people. It requires two injections eight weeks apart, unlike the Merck vaccine, which requires a single shot.

A first batch of 500,000 doses of the J&J vaccine should arrive in Congo next week, the authorities said in a statement. The inoculation process will start in Goma in early November and then be extended to other provinces, reports Reuters.

Congolese health authorities had announced the deployment of the vaccine last month, but had not specified when the campaign will take place.

Since it first started in August 2018, the Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,100 people, second only to the 2013-16 outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,300.

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Poor funding limiting access to family planning



Poor funding limiting access to family planning


A major barrier to accessing family planning commodities in the country is the out-of-pocket cost of consumables, especially at the local government supported primary healthcare centres (PHCs). But increasing budget lines for family planning as well their timely release would make needed services more accessible. APPOLONIA ADEYEMI reports


Living in Nigeria with a growing population estimated at 198 million by the National Population Commission (NpopC), it is common to hear about advocacy groups promoting the use of family planning to curb the exponential population.
Such advocacies are usually hinged on curbing population growth, which experts said was growing beyond available resources; it is also geared to highlight numerous health benefits that are associated with adopting and using family planning.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines family planning as something that “allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods.”
For instance, pregnancies that are too early, too close, too late or too many carry extra hazards not only for the health of the woman but also for the child. Based on these benefits and more, advocates of family planning raise the current level of awareness in this regard, while speaking positively for the adoption and use of family planning.
The highlighted points above are some of the issues discussed at the World Contraceptive Day 2019 Media Dialogue on Family Planning in Lagos State, which was organised by Pathfinder International Nigeria.
The World Contraception Day is a worldwide campaign observed annually on September 26, with the aim to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
The media forum sought amongst other issues, to unpack the significance of contraception, drive conversation with key cross-sectoral stakeholders in the Adolesecent and Youth Sexual Reproductive Health (AYSRH) space with a view to securing more efficient funding for AYSRH in Lagos State.
Among family planning experts at the media dialogue were Senior Reproductive Health Officer at the Ministry of Health in Lagos State, Mrs Idowu Okanlawon; Rasheedat Umar who is the Youth Development Officer at the Ministry of Youth and Social Development in Lagos State; the Assistant Reproductive Health Programme Officer at the Primary Health Care Board (PHCB) in Lagos State, Dr. Abimbola Folami; Chairman of Public Health Sustainable Initiative Advocacy (PHSAI), Barr. Ayo Adebusoye; Abiodun Ajayi, coordinator of LPAY in Lagos, among others. The programme similarly had in attendance other key members of PHSAI and members of the Media Advocacy Working Group (MAWG) in Lagos State.
Part of the big issue raised on that day was that if used effectively, family planning could save lives.
For instance, with a maternal mortality ratio at 546 deaths per 100,000 live births (amounting to 40,000 pregnancy-related deaths annually), Nigeria accounts for 14 per cent of the global burden of maternal deaths, 95 per cent of which are caused by seven preventable conditions, including unsafe abortion.
Each year, it is estimated that between 610,000 and 1.2 million abortions are procured by women aged 15 to 44 years. Experts said that if all females who need family planning had access to the commodities, 44 per cent of all maternal deaths in Nigeria could be averted.
However, what plays out in the country is that about 85 per cent of women and 95 per cent of men report that they know contraceptive method, but just 15 per cent were using it.
The unmet need of women willing to stop or delay births but not using contraception is 18 per cent, according to the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS).
In his presentation, Adebusoye said going by the Lagos State contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) target to increase its family planning uptake from 48 to 74 per cent by 2018, the target of which has now been revised after the 2017 London Summit be effective by 2020, the increase in CPR alone would have saved an additional 657 mothers and the lives of 8,500 children by 2018.
Similarly, Lagos State would have saved an additional N3.5 billion (approximately $10 million) in direct healthcare expenses by 2018.
However, Adebusoye said these achievable targets will not be possible without eliminating current barriers to family planning methods, choice and use, adding that a major hinderance to accessing family planning commodities is the out-of-pocket cost of consumables, especially at the local government supported primary healthcare centres (PHCs).
While family planning commodities including injectables, implants, intra uterine devices (IUD), condoms, among others, are provided free by the Federal Government with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the shortage and sometimes the non-availability of consumables such as cotton wool, gloves, syringes, spirit, plaster, gels, creams, among others, used to administer the commodities on clients, could limit access to family planning uptake.
Demand from most clients of low-income families, as little as N500 usually ended in ‘no-deal’ for most poor clients seeking to use family planning.
These category of women don’t have money for consumables, no matter how little. When such women depart a family planning clinic with the promise to return on a future date because of lack of money for consumables, often they do not go back there.
According to a family planning expert, Dr. Salami Habeeb, when next they are seen at the health facility, they are already pregnant. Habeeb is a consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist and consultant with the Pathfinder International Nigeria.
Poor budgeting and sometimes, delay or lack of budget release have been largely blamed for shortage of consumables. For instance, available records show that the family planning budget at the Lagos State Ministry of Health in 2018 was N103 million. Also, the budget for family planning consumables at PHCB in 2018 was N50 million, but none of the above budgets were released that year.
To prevent delays in release of budgeted funds as well as ensure the provision of improved family planning budget, Adebusoye said PHSAI members have engaged sole administrators of local government council areas in Lagos, heads of local council development authorities, medical officers of health (MOH), and chairmen of community development committees.
Based on findings that many local government council area chairmen lack the understanding of how accessing family planning could be successful, Okanlawon said more frequent advocacy visits to the chairmen of local governments should take place to educate them on the importance of providing funds for family planning consumables.
“If we really want to achieve our objective of getting increased funding for consumables, we should pay more courtesy visits and conduct more awareness campaign to the chairmen,” she said.
On her part, Umar explained that the Ministry of Youth and Social Development in Lagos State where she is a desk officer, has a budget line for HIV/AIDS, but the UNFPA funds most of the ministry’s activities around sexual reproductive health (SRH).
She said: “For my ministry, we have a budget line for HIV/AIDS, but sometimes, we try to inject SRH into it. Hence, we are still trying to find a way of merging both.”
Umar said UNFPA was supporting the ministry by giving providing condoms, adding, “We don’t go beyond giving condoms because we are youth officers.”
Asked what was done when young persons need more than condoms, Umar said they were usually referred to health facilities.
On unfriendly officers, she said: “We are improving on that while ensuring that most officials on that beat were young persons who the youth clients could trust. “This could help to achieve a youth-friendly atmosphere,” she added.
Based on the high risk sexual behaviour among young people, which is responsible for the increased teenage pregnancy, out of school girls, baby dumping, post abortion complication and death in Lagos State, Ajayi called for increased discussion around adolescents and youth SRH/family planning.
In addition, he called for sustained increase in the budgetary allocation for Adolescent Youth and Sexual Reproductive Health (AYSRH) in the 2020 Budget in Lagos. If the highlighted recommendations could be carried out effectively in Lagos and other states, experts and other stakeholders agreed that these could increase uptake of family planning in the country.
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