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 .