Category Archives: HEALTH

Australian scientists develop new test to detect skin cancer





Australian scientists said they have developed a new blood test to detect
melanoma cancer in its early stages, in a move that could save millions of lives and significantly reduce costs to the healthcare system.

The test works by detecting antibodies produced by the body in response to melanoma and identifying the skin cancer cells before they spread, according to a statement on the work by Edith Cowan University scientists.

They said the blood test was trialed on 209 people, 105 of whom had melanoma, and picked up early-stage melanoma in 81.5 per cent of the cases.

The team examined more than 1,600 different antibodies and identified a combination of 10 that were considered to be the most reliable in predicting the presence of melanoma.

Survival rates for melanoma are between 90 and 95 per cent if the disease is detected early, but if the cancer spreads, survival rates drop to below 50 per cent.

Currently, melanomas are detected visually by clinicians, with any areas of concern biopsied, but three out of four biopsies return negative results, said the researchers, whose findings have also been published in the Oncotarget biomedical journal.

“Biopsies are uncomfortable for patients and expensive,” with Australia spending more than 200 million Australian dollars (147.7 million U.S. dollars) annually, more than 70 million Australian dollars (51.7 million U.S. dollars) of which is accounted for by negative biopsies, they said.

Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world, with more than 1,800 Australians expected to die from the skin cancer in 2017 alone, according to the Melanoma Institute Australia nonprofit healthcare group.

Nigeria launches Technical Support Programme on health





The Nigerian government has officially launched the Technical Support Programme (TSP) on health.
The programme launched in Abuja is meant to strengthen the effective coordination of technical supports to states so as to ensure one health plan across the country. 
The minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole said, the TSP was approved at the National Council of Health meeting.
He said that investing in the Primary Health Care is the right way to go to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
He noted that the initiative will also help to address the various challenges in the health sector.
The minister said that Nigeria’s Primary HealthCare (PHC) gulps the largest chunk of the budget in the health sector.
He noted the fact that, 64% of the ministry’s budget goes to PHC, was a sign that the current administration pays premium to improving access to healthcare in the country.
“Investing in PHC is the right way to go. Over the last two years, we have changed the funding structure and the Executive Director will testify to the fact that the agency is gulping the largest chunk of our allocation. When we started it was from 18 percent and moved to 64per cent”, he said.
The health minister explained that much spending is going into PHC because previous spending on teaching hospitals have failed to achieve the desired result, hence the need to re-focus.
“Many of my colleagues were disappointed because they thought our primary focus will be teaching hospitals but I think we will be wasting our time and energy if we decide to go that way. We have done that already and we have not really achieved the desired result, so we need to turn things around to focus on primary health care where our people go to and that is the facility closest to our people,” he explained.
On his part, the Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib noted that states still struggle with challenges in the area of primary health care, which underlines the need for technical assistance from the Centre.
He said the TSP is designed to facilitate the effective delivery of support to State Primary Health Care Boards.
He said “today, states continue to struggle with cold chain maintenance, delivery of vaccines in the right quantity, to the right place and at the right time, shortage of human resources for health, just to mention a few”.
He added that the persistence of the challenges clearly highlights the need for the NPHCDA to improve on the delivery of its mandate to provide policy direction, technical and logistics support to states and local government areas (LGAs) to implement PHC services across the 36 states and FCT.

Group to train women on malnutrition




A Bauchi-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), called Women, Children and Youth Health and Education Initiative, has promised to train mothers in the state on the symptoms of acute malnutrition.

Dr Halima Muqadas, the Chief Executive Director and Founder of the NGO, made the promise when the organisation visited the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Ministry of Health.

Muqadas said that the initiative was designed to reduce the rampant cases of stunted growth in children.

She said that the state ranked among states of the federation with high statistics on stunted growth in children.

According to her, mothers required first hand knowledge that could help them to identify the phenomenon and ensure timely visit to health facilities for treatment.

She added that the NGO had articulated some health programmes, which would commence soon in the state.

Muqadas said: “Already, we have lined up 2018 programmes, comprising educating mothers on identifying acute malnutrition in children before accessing healthcare and exclusive breastfeeding. Others are sanitation, hygiene, women empowerment and adult education.”

She further said that the NGO would partner the Ministry for Women Affairs in identifying participants to be trained and mentored on different skills.

Responding, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Child Development, Mrs Rukaiya Kewa, underscored the benefits of skills acquisition among women.

Kewa said that training women in different skills would help to equip them to become self-reliant and managers of their businesses.

“The Bauchi state government has trained many women in various trades. We are exploring ways to add value to their products to make them competitive in the market,’’ she said.

Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Zuwaira Hassan, commended the NGO for its health initiatives aimed at complementing the health agenda of the present administration.

She assured the group of the ministry’s support and collaboration to ensure that the state became disease-free.

Experts explore ways for access to health across Nigeria



The second Annual Legislative Summit on Universal Health Coverage and Nutrition is holding in Abuja.

The summit has called on governments at all levels to make the attainment of Universal Health Coverage a reality.

The convener of the summit and chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Olanrewaju Tejuosho, said that the first summit was successful and has brought about changes to the health sector.

“The major achievement of this legislative network is the achievement of the one per cent of the consolidated revenue fund that has been included in the budget for 2018. This is an injection of about fifty five billion to the health sector. And we don’t want it to be business as usual. We have been budgeting for health for years and we still have complaints that we are not really progressing in the health sector. So, we want it to be different this time around. We want it to make sure there’s proper accountability. We want to make sure that the oversight functions of the leglistor is well achieved. So, we are trying to educate ourselves from the federal to the state levels to ensure that we have the synergy and we have a kind of corporation to ensure that all the primary health centres, the secondary hospitals that are going to benefit from this one per cent actually have it to quickly use,” he said.

Quality healthcare
He said that the most important thing was for the money to be appropriated while working on the process to make it statutory.

The health committee chairman also noted that the committee would ensure the release of the budget.

“The release we have to keep on the advocacy that this is very crusial to the health sector in Nigerians towards moving to the next level in the health sector. We have to keep talking to the executive to ensure that the release of 100% of the 1% is achieved,” Dr. Tejuosho added.

The Nigeria minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said that health was a key issue under this administration.

He said the focus of the governing APC was that all Nigerians had  access to health.

‘Our focus is that all Nigerians, especially the poorest have access to good quality healthcare and that the pregnant ones are able to deliver safely. That we do not have to treat them as if they were disposables. And also to ensure that children outlive age five and that they do not have to develop a second illness when they are ill,” he said.

The minister said Nigeria has not really made much progress in coverage as the poor, the rural dwellers are still not having the necessary health coverage as compared to the rich and those in the urban areas.

He said there was the need to profer a national solution to health care in the country.

The minister however noted that money is not the ultimate in the health sector.

“We need more than money to change the narative in the health sector. We need human resources, we need a new orientation, a new understanding, we need compassion. Money is not all in the health sector. It is important upfront to that we need to tell ourselves if we put all the money in the national budget in the health sector, if we the operators do not change, things would not change,” Professor Adewole noted.

He said there was also the need to strengthen institutions and ensure strict accountability.

The Deputy Governor of Sokoto state, Professor Hafiz Abubakar said that state governments needed to collaborate with the federal government for quick attainment of Universal Health Coverage.

A board member of the National Health Insurance Fund, Dr. Lekan Owenla, blamed lack of accurate data to the challenges in the health sector.

He said that the scheme was the driver to the achievement of universal health coverage.

Development partners at the summit agreed that the Universal Health Coverage was a journey which took its first step through budgeting resources to it which makes Nigeria to be on the verge of achieving success.

The National Coordinator of the Media Network for Universal Health Coverage, Mr. Hassan Zaggi, urged legislators at the conference to reach out to their localities and see how they can improve on healthcare delivery.

The theme of the Second Annual Legislative Summit on Universal Health Coverage, organised by The Legislative for Universal Health Coverage is “The Role of Lawmakers in the Implementation of 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund and Preparation for the Mandatory Contribution of Nigerians to Health Insurance.”


Sudan launches anti- polio campaign



Sudan’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday launched a polio vaccination campaign supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF targeting around three million children nationwide.

“The Sudanese government has undertaken the responsibility to keep Sudan free of polio to reach the global goal,” Sudanese Health Minister, Bahar Garada said in a joint statement with WHO and UNICEF.

The vaccination will cover 10 Sudanese states: Khartoum, Northern, Nahral-Neel, Red Sea, North Kordofan, West Darfur, South Darfur, North Darfur, East Darfur and Central Darfur.

Garada described the campaign as “very important,”.

He commended the efforts of all health workers, as well as the international community and health partners for supporting Sudan’s vaccination activities, in order to ensure the access of life-saving vaccines to children.

According to Naeema Al-Gasser, WHO representative in Sudan, she said the country had remained polio-free since 2009.

However, the danger remains because Sudan has received refugees from high-risk countries, Al-Gasser noted.

She said that vaccination is the responsibility of both individuals and countries, highlighting the vaccination of all target children.

Al-Gasser reaffirmed WHO’s commitment to meeting all campaign requirements including vaccines and vehicle fuel.

Meanwhile, Siddiq El-Tayeb, director of the immunisation directorate of Sudan’s health ministry, revealed that there would be another campaign in November covering 17 states.

UNICEF said in the statement that the vaccines used in the campaign amount to five million doses, along with five million doses of vitamin A.

It said the cost of the vaccines is four million dollars which was provided by the donor partners.

The WHO declared Sudan polio-free in 2015, where no polio infection case has been recorded since March 15, 2009.

However, Sudan remains a country exposed to polio as it shares borders with many countries where the disease spreads.

U.S. scientists discover new cure for leukemia


                             Leukemia Symptons


Leukemia is a deadly disease that knocks down patients as young as only seven years old.

In the study published in Journal Nature Medicine, the group of scientists from Stanford University and National Institute of Health (NIH) found that a molecule, called “CD22”, could serve as a potent target for the killer cells of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a common childhood cancer.

It came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved last August a cell-based gene therapy, namely the “CAR T-cell” treatment.

The CAR T-cell, is a therapy requires drawing blood from patients and separating out the T cells.

It works by genetically modifying a patient’s own immune cells to seek out and attack leukaemia cells that have a molecule called “CD19” on their surface.

Such a therapy relies on the patient’s own T cells a type of immune cell that could become a powerful killing machine.

Stanford oncologist Crystal Mackall and NIH’s paediatric hematologist Terry Fry discovered that a molecule called “CD22” can be a similar target.

Scientists treated 21 patients with treatment-resistant B-cell leukaemia who are aged seven to 30 to test the new “CD22-directed method.

Seventeen of them were previously treated with CD19-directed therapy and 15 of them had either relapsed or failed to respond.

They found that at the lowest dose level, one in six patients achieved complete remission after treatment, and with an escalated dose, 11 of 15 patients entered remission.

The new approach is helpful because the cancer cells of some patients who undergo CD19-directed therapy stop expressing the CD19 molecule on the cell surface.

The relapse rate of CD22-directed therapy also proves high.

The researchers hope that targeting “CD19 and CD22” simultaneously may produce an approach where cancer cells are unable to evade, thus leading to a new therapy for curing leukemia in the future.


One night of bad sleep can lead to Alzheimer ‘s Disease: Scientists



New research suggests that a single night of sleep deprivation can increase levels of beta-amyloid protein involved in the making of Alzheimer’s disease.

The discovery was made by scientists from the American National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Beta-amyloid — also known as amyloid beta — is a sticky protein that can accumulate between brain cells and form “plaques.” These plaques disrupt brain cell communication, and this is believed to play a key role in Alzheimer’s disease.

Study co-author Nora D. Volkow, of the Laboratory of Neuroimaging at the NIAAA, and colleagues recently published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive cognitive disorder characterised by memory loss and changes in behaviour. It is the most common form of dementia, affecting around 5.7 million adults in the United States alone.

Past research has associated disrupted sleep with an increase in beta-amyloid levels, but Volkow and colleagues note that there have been some shortfalls in research.

“Despite the evidence,” say the researchers, “that acute sleep deprivation elevates [beta]-amyloid levels in mouse interstitial fluid and in human cerebrospinal fluid, not much is known about the impact of sleep deprivation on [beta]-amyloid burden in the human brain.”

To help shed light on how acute sleep deprivation influences brain levels of beta-amyloid, the team studied 20 healthy adults aged 22–72.

Using positron emission tomography imaging, the researchers measured beta-amyloid burden in the brain after one night of rested sleep and after one night of sleep deprivation.

After a single night of sleep deprivation, the researchers noticed an increase in beta-amyloid levels in the right hippocampus of the subjects’ brains, as well as in the thalamus.

The hippocampus is the brain region associated with long-term memory, and the thalamus is a brain region involved in processing sensory information.

According to the authors, these findings provide “preliminary evidence for the role of SD [sleep deprivation] on [beta-amyloid] accumulation in the human brain.”

Volkow and her colleagues note that they are unable to say whether a night of rested sleep could negate the accumulation of beta-amyloid caused by a bad night’s sleep, but this is something that they plan to investigate in future research.

Still, they believe that their new study suggests that getting a good night’s sleep may be crucial to our brain health.

The authors conclude:”Our results highlight the relevance of good sleep hygiene for proper brain function and as a potential target for prevention of AD [Alzheimer’s disease].”


House passes Disease Control and Prevention bill




The Nigerian House of Representatives has passed Bill for an Act to provide for establishment of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is to Promote, Coordinate and Facilitate the Prevention, Detection and Control of Communicable Diseases in Nigeria.

This was coming barely four months after the Senate passed the Bill in March.

The Bill, if signed into law, would provide ”stable intervention and aid government’s medium and long term planning for the detection, monitoring and control of diseases with particular emphasis on infectious diseases.”

The bill passed third reading at the plenary on Tuesday. It will be harmonised with what the Senate passed early in the year before transmitting to the President for assent.

Objectives of the bill
If assented to, the bill would among others; Protect Nigerians from the impact of public health diseases, maintain the highest state of alertness in detecting and responding to disease outbreaks, public health disasters, mass morbidity and mortality due to pathogenic, chemical or biological agents.

It will also develop and coordinate measures and activities to control outbreaks and reduce the impact of public health disasters.

The bill will develop and coordinate an information network for reporting and notification of communicable diseases.

The bill will also develop and make accessible, guidelines and standards for relevant public health activities at all levels in the country.

The Disease Control and Prevention bill will assist in communicating with the public on the need to protect themselves from public health threats, facilitate the implementation of International Health Regulations and coordinate its participation in disease control activities.

Artificial ripening: NAFDAC to commence nationwide monitoring of markets

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control says it will commence immediate nationwide monitoring of fruit markets to check activities of some traders involved in artificial ripening of fruits .
The Director – General of NAFDAC, Prof . Moji Adeyeye, said this in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
Adeyeye stated that the agency decided to take the measure because it had become common practice among some desperate traders and farmers to hasten the process of fruit ripening using hazardous chemicals like calcium carbide .
She noted that “ NAFDAC has noticed the dangerous practice of sale and consumption of fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide .
“ As part of our mandate , NAFDAC is on high alert to respond to any practice or process that will jeopardise the health of the population .
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“ Fruits provide the body with micro -nutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits .
“ Fruit ripening is a unique aspect of plant development , which makes the fruit edible , softer , sweeter , more palatable , nutritious and attractive .
“ However , the consumption of fruits such as mango , banana , plantain , guava , orange , grape , etc or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health . ”
According to her , the effect of artificial ripening on fruit quality , including properties such as colour , taste and feel are lost considerably and does not give the natural aroma and flavour to the fruits .
The NAFDAC boss stated that these fruits , although possess uniform colour, were less juicy than when ripened naturally and have comparatively shorter shelf life .
Adeyeye added that artificially ripened fruits may be ripe on the skin but unripe inside .
She noted that calcium carbide , when sprayed with water, react chemically to produce acetylene , which act like ethylene and ripen fruits by a similar process .
She stated that calcium carbide generally contain impurities such as arsenic , lead particles and phosphorus, which pose a number of serious health hazards .
She added that “ these impurities may cause serious health problems when consumed .
“ The consumption of such fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer , heart , kidney and liver failure . ”
Adeyeye, therefore , warned farmers , traders and the public that ripening fruits with calcium carbide was dangerous to health and a criminal offence , and perpetrators would be prosecuted .

Group wants FG to release Basic Healthcare Provision Fund



Civil Society Organisations have called for the timely release of the N55.15 billion Basic Health Care Provision as statutory transfer, to scale-up key health interventions to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The group made the appeal at the end of the training organised for journalists by United States Agency for International Development – Health Finance Governance (USAID -HFG) project.

The training was in collaboration with Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (LNUHC) and International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) held in Nasarawa state.

Senior Health Finance Advisor, USAID-HFG project, Dr Sylvester Akande, said the National Health Act 2014 provides for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) as statutory transfer.

Akande explained that the 2018 approved budget captures BHCPF as capital expenditure not as statutory transfer as provided by the National Health Act.

The Chief of Party of USAID- HFG, Dr Gafar Alawode, said public financing of the health sector was important, if universal health coverage was going to be achieved.

Alawode expressed concern over the low public investment in health in Nigeria, adding that “we need the media to engage government for more investment and efficiency in the health sector’’.

He noted that the media should play an important role in passing the message across and letting the policy makers know the issues, gaps and problems of achieving and realising the aims of universal health coverage.

“The media has an important role in the area of accountability, holding government accountable for the policy statements they have already made in the health sector and financing the health sector.’’

The co-convener of the programme, Mrs Moji Makanjuola, Executive Director, ISMPH, said most of the diseases, which afflict Nigerians particularly in the rural arrears were preventable.

She said a lot of people in the rural setting do not have information about health and the media had a vital role to play in disseminating correct health information.

She explained that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund was included in the 2018 budget, which the National Health Act provides that 45 per cent would go to National Primary Health Care Development Agency, while remaining 55 per cent would go to Federal Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Scheme.

“We need to track these and know how they use the fund, we need to know how they intend to build infrastructure that will create demand and supply. We need to know the things that are going to be scaled up for Nigerians in the health sector. We also need to see if these facilities will build the needed confidence in the health system that will ensure that Nigerians actually seek treatment from public health facilities,’’ she said.

The training is part of deliberate efforts geared towards reforming health care financing, to improve advocacy for health financing reforms in Nigeria.

The training is also targeted at improving the knowledge and awareness of media practitioners on the basics of health financing and components of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).



Osinbajo Faults Efforts to Tackle Lead Poisoning



Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo have faulted the ongoing efforts by various stakeholders in the mining sector towards curtailing the acute lead poisoning which has killed over 400 children in Zamfara and Niger states,
The Vice President, while declaring open in Abuja recently, the second International conference on lead poisoning, associated with artisan gold mining in Nigeria, said regrettably, five years after the Zamfara outbreak, another outbreak of severe lead poisoning was recorded in April 2015 in two villages in Niger state.

According to him, “As with the outbreaks in Zamfara State, this new outbreak was precipitated by environmental lead contamination from artisan gold mining activities, nearly 30 children died from severe lead complications and many more were poisoned.”
The VP, said: “We must start by admitting that the current efforts in tackling lead poising in artisan gold mining have not been adequate, what better evidence do we have for that than the fact that the Niger State outbreak happened 5 years after we though we have contained that problem.
“Indications of re – contamination in previously remediated sites in Zamfara compel us to rethink and refocus our commitment and strategy to protecting our vulnerable children and communities at large.”

He added,  “I am aware that the first international conference on lead poisoning was a joint effort of the Federal Ministry of Health and Medicines San Frontieres and that was held here in Abuja in May 2012.
“The 2012 conference covered technical aspects, environmental management and the treatment of poisoned children. But today’s event has been organised by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in collaboration with Medecins San Frontieres, and it would provide a platform for key national, regional and international stakeholders to come together to develop a multi – sectoral disciplinary and pragmatic national strategy for forestalling future outbreak of lead poison associated with artisans gold mining, and to prevent the re – contamination of previously remediated sites.”
He explained that, while the federal government has pursued a National Gold Purchase Scheme as well as the development of a National Gold Policy, “gold mining in Nigeria has been heard repeatedly is currently dominated by artisans miners using rudimentary mining methods and crude processing techniques.

“The obvious consequence is the exposure of miners, environment and local communities to serious dangers in areas where gold ore contain high concentration of heavy metals like lead, exposure to the dust released by these methods lead to serious health consequences to the person directly involved in the mining, and also for all the neigbouring areas. Children, of course are the ones most at risk of death and disability.
“Many will recall the outbreak of lead poisoning that occurred in Zamfara State and that has also been repeated many times today, in 2010 as a result of the processing of lead-rich gold ore by artisan gold miners in residential compounds and village squares.”
Osinbajo, observed that, “Studies carried out in the affected village at that time showed that more than seventeen thousand people were severely exposed and an estimated four hundred to five hundred children lost their lives due to acute lead poisoning.

“The combined efforts from various international agencies including the Mediceins san frontiers, the US centere for disease Control and prevention, the WHO, the Telegraphics international foundation, government of Zamfara State and the Federal Government helped to bring that tragic episode under control.”
Continuing, he said: “I am informed that this is the largest group of children under-5 years of age with severe intoxication anywhere. Unfortunately, treatment does not reverse the debilitating effects of lead poisoning it only accelerates the rates at which the body expels the lead in other to prevents further damage or death, so that the thousands of children who did not die of lead poisoning in Zamfara and Niger State, may therefore has to live with cognitive and other deformities.

Kwara State Launches Compulsory Health Insurance Scheme



The  Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed launches the Kwara State Health Insurance Scheme (KHIS), making it compulsory for all residents.

Speaking at the event in Ilorin, Ahmed called on residents to register and take advantage of the scheme to access affordable healthcare delivery in the state.

He maintained that the launching had taken the state closer to achieving the dream of universal health coverage by making the scheme compulsory to all citizens and residents.

Ahmed disclosed that an initial N200 million had been set aside as the state’s capitalization of KHIF to ensure the scheme is well funded.

The governor noted that the state would be contributing one per cent of the annual Consolidated Revenue Fund to subsidise premiums and service delivery to the masses in the society.

He also said that 40 per cent of the funds was received through the “Saving One Million Lives Performance for Results Initiative”—an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Health.

The programme, which was being supported by the World Bank, would also be part of the fund for the KHIS.

“I have no doubt that this scheme is primed for success not only because it is guaranteed to be sustainable, well-funded and well managed, but also because it will leverage digital technology to promote efficiency, and transparency,” Ahmed said.

He said the Kwara Health Insurance Law also provides for the establishment of the Kwara Health Insurance Fund.

“KHIF will pool resources from various sources including premium contribution from residents, the State Government subsidy for the poor, multi-lateral grants, donations, support from the Federal Government and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),” added.

In his remarks, the Deputy Ambassador of the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Mr Michel Deelen promised that the Dutch government would strengthen its partnership with the Kwara Government to achieve universal health coverage in the state.

Also speaking, the Lead Health Sector Specialist and Head of the World Bank Group’s Health in Africa Initiative, Professor Khama Rogo announced that over $4 million had been earmarked to strengthen the state’s healthcare service delivery.

Rogo, who noted that many African leaders wanted to carry out health insurance scheme without success, described the scheme as a restoration of dignity to the people.

In his address, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Professor Yusuf Usman promised to partner with the state to guarantee the success of the scheme.

The Executive Secretary, Kwara State Health Insurance Scheme, Dr Bunmi Jetawo-Winter explained that the scheme was a well thought-out and carefully planned scheme to ensure affordable and accessible health care service delivery across the state.

She added that residents that enroll for the scheme would pay N25 premium per day.

Nigerian youth launch Coalition for Universal Health Coverage



The Youths Coalitions for Universal Health Coverage,  NYC4UHC, has been launched in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

The coalition is to place youths in places of authority where universal health coverage is discussed.

It is also supposed to follow up and achive full implementation of UHC in Nigeria.

Speaking at media briefing in Abuja, the Chairperson of the Nigerian Youth Champions for Universal Health Coverage (NYC4UHC),  Nita Byack George Iruobe, said that the sluggish progress in achieving “Health for all Nigerians” has necessitated Youths from the six geo-political zones of the federation to join efforts in stimulating necessary action at National, State, and local levels towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage as enshrined by the Sustainable Development Goals.

Universal Health Coverage according to WHO is defined as ensuring that all people have access to needed health services (including prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation and palliation) of sufficient quality to be effective while ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.

It aims at ensuring that more Nigerians, particularly the poorest and vulnerable population have access to quality health care services without undergoing financial hardship.

The chairperson urged the Nigerian government to fully implement the National Health Act (NHA) which was passed into law in 2014 as part of actions towards the Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.

It is no news today that the state of the health system in Nigeria is worrisome and has over the years been characterized with challenges ranging from: lack of policy implementation, inadequate/delayed annual budget release leading to poor immunization coverage compromising the lives of Nigerian children. Infrastructural decay especially at the primary and secondary care leading to people using out of pocket to pay for health, Inadequate human resource for health leading to pregnant women been delivered at facility without a skilled personnel or giving birth at home”, Ms Iruobe said.

She noted that it was worrisom that more young people who constitute the future of the nation are faced daily with diverse health challenges in a system that pays very little attention to their access to quality and youth friendly services.

“While we commend the National Assembly and Mr. President for appropriating 55.15 billion naira for Basic Health Care Provision Fund in the 2018 budget, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the 55.15 billion naira is captured in the statutory transfers schedule in order to protect against budget short falls”, She added.

Another member of the group, Mrs Chika Offor, said that the group is a youth led coalition of vibrant, passionate and resourceful young individuals, joining efforts to advocate for quality and accessible health services towards the attainment of UHC in Nigeria.

She said that being an electioneering season in Nigeria, it would be easier to get politicians to pay attention to the issues of health in their localities.

On his part, Mr Monday Osasah, urged government to increase access to health for the citizens.

He also appealed to the state and governments to join efforts with the federal government to achieve the desired goals.

The mission of the organization is to engage policy makers and relevant stakeholders to accelerate deliberate actions toward the attainment of UHC through advocacy, media engagement and multi stakeholder partnership.

NACA, partners laud youth response to AIDS



The National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), the United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAIDS) and other partners have said that youths participation in HIV/AIDS response is key to the elimination of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
This was the consensus at the meeting with key stakeholders working on HIV response in Nigeria as well as members of the private sector, held in Abuja.
The meeting focused on the role of private sector using its influence to drive change in the society.
Speaking at the meeting, the Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said that 10% of the adolescents living with HIV globally reside in Nigeria.
He noted that the poor knowledge of HIV preventive methods contributes to the increase in HIV prevalence and new infections.
He noted that only a third of young people in Nigeria could correctly identify prevention methods.
The number of new infections continue to be quiet significant. Large proportions of our new infections occur in particularly females between the ages of 15 to 24. The reasons for this is quite clear, in 2016 alone we estimate that we have about 46,000 new infections in females and 34,000 new infections in young men. We did a survey where only 2% of young females and 4% of young men had tested for HIV in the last 12 months of the survey. By 2020 we expect that 50% of the adolescent population should have tested for HIV the NACA boss said.
He urged development partners, the private sector to join hands with NACA to come up with initiatives to engage the youths and find the most effective way of tackling HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Aliyu urged the private sector to as part of their cooperate social responsibility, invest in the implementation of the Adolescent and Young People initiative to achieve demographic dividends.
He added that it was time young people were made to contribute to the programming on HIV in Nigeria.
On his part, the Country Director of the United States Agency for International Development, Mr. Erasmus Morah, said young people are always being left behind in the planning of policies.
He noted that being young is an opportunity that must be harnessed for national development.  
Dr. Morah urged the government to invest in social media to reach out to the youths in Nigeria.
Also speaking, the UNICEF Country Representative, Mr. Muhammed Fall, said that it was time governments all over the world see young people as engines of development.
He said that often times, youths are seen as parts of the problem rather than part of the solution.
Dr Fall added that UNICEF based on its mandates would standby Nigeria in its bid to involve young people in the efforts to curb the spread of HIV.
The President of the Association of Positive Youths, Mr. Muhammed Isa, said that young people need all the encouragement they can get towards access to treatment, to discuss their status and discuss openly.
Speaking on behalf of the Nigerian Business Coalition Against Aids, Mr. Gbenga Alabi, said that the strategy to be used to reached the youths must be well thought out.
He added that the private sector would support all the youths engagements.
The meeting identified that country has the second highest burden of adolescent HIV and it is not preventing new infections, enrolling and retaining young people in treatment fast enough, saying that with their strong drive, idealism and fresh ideas, young people can introduce new solutions to the challenges.
The event culminate in the award ceremony of the winners of the Adolescents’ and Young People’s HIV Challenge in Nigeria, where three deserving youths groups were presented with a cheque of  one million naira each.
The competition, organised by NACA, Population Council and UNICEF, was held to enable meaningful participation of adolescents and young people in the HIV response in Nigeria.

NHIS tasks healthcare managers on proper treatment of enrollees




The Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Usman Yusuf, has tasked the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) on proper treatment of enrollees in the scheme for effective healthcare provision.


Yusuf said this during a courtesy and inspection visit to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), in Ilorin on Friday.


“HMOs are not doing their job, and we cannot be complacent and allow less treatment of our enrollees,” he said.


HMOs are private or public incorporated company registered by the NHIS scheme solely to manage the provision of healthcare services through healthcare facilities accredited by the scheme.


Yusuf warned that HMOs must change their attitude in the treatment of their services to people.

The executive secretary cited non-payment of funds to hospitals as at when due for effective treatment of enrollees as one of the complaints against the HMOs.


He also frowned at lack of machinery put in place by HMOs to sensitise and enlighten enrollees on their rights to get effective healthcare services.


“The NHIS is built on the premise of serving the ordinary citizens in area of healthcare provisions. Enrollees are our people and we must impact positively on their lives,” he added.


The NHIS boss explained that about N55billion had been  budgeted for primary healthcare in order to prioritise  basic health commodities such as vaccines.


According to him, such funds will be accounted for equitably to ensure it gets to the ordinary citizens through the provision of healthcare.

Yusuf said that every Nigerian was entitled to quality healthcare services, adding that the scheme would do all it could for the ordinary Nigerian to benefit from it.


He therefore appealed to healthcare providers in the country to shun going on strikes and try to address their issues through dialogues.


The Chief Medical Director of UITH, Professor Abdullahi Dasilva, said that the Tertiary Hospital would soon commence its UITH Community Health Insurance Scheme.


He promised that the UITH would do its best to promote quality healthcare delivery in the state.