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Nigeria Health Watch

Top Ten News Items on Health out of Nigeria

ThisDay, 16 March 2017
UNICEF scales up intervention in malnutrition by 400% in North-east

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Wednesday revealed that it is scaling up its support plan for children suffering from malnutrition in the North-east by 400 per cent. UNICEF had enrolled 12,000 children in its malnutrition treatment plan, but has decided to increase the number to 48,000. Speaking in Maiduguri, Borno State, after leading a team to the state to assess the success of intervention in humanitarian crisis in the state, the Deputy Executive Director, Programmes and Emergencies of the United Nations Children’s Fund, Mr. Omar Abdi, revealed that the agency has scaled up its treatment to about 48,000 children suffering from malnutrition at all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the state and the North-east sub region of Nigeria. Abdi also disclosed that UNICEF has mapped out support for the education of children at the IDPs camps and rehabilitation centers towards improving the standard of children’s education especially the girl child.

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News Agency of Nigeria, 15 March 2017
FG disburses $500m maternal, child fund

The Federal Government has inaugurated a committee to supervise the $500 million grant disbursement to the 36 states of the federation and FCT to address maternal and child health challenges in the country. The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, inaugurated the committee during a retreat organised by the federal programme management unit of the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) Programme for Results (PforR) on Wednesday in Abuja. “The fund is expected to address five disbursement linked indicators which are increasing utilisation of high impact reproductive and child health and nutrition interventions. “Increasing quality of high impact reproductive and child health and nutrition interventions, improving monitoring and evaluation and data utilisation. “Increasing utilisation and quality of reproductive and child health and nutrition, in addition to increasing transparency in management and budgeting of primary health centres,” he said. Adewole said that the ministry would not interfere with the activities of the agent in any way. 

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Voice of Nigeria, 15 March 2017
Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control to get legal backing

The Nigerian government has commenced the processing of a legal framework for the establishment of the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC. Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole made this known to journalists, while briefing them after Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari. The Minister said the Council took the decision in order to move the country’s agenda on public health intervention forward. “Council today took a conscious decision to further project government’s agenda on public health intervention. What is known internationally is that there will always be another epidemic or disease outbreak but what we don’t know is when and where it will happen. But as a government, what we need to do is to prepare for the next epidemic and that is what we are doing through the National Centre for Disease Control,” he said. The Minister further explained that NCDC which was established in 2007 and patterned after that of the US needs to have the legal backing to function more effectively.  

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Premium Times, 16 March 2017
Nigeria’s Health Minister calls for urgent meeting over Sprite, Fanta crisis

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the health implications of Fanta and Sprite drinks produced in Nigeria. Mr. Adewole directed the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, to collaborate with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON in addressing Nigerians on the safety of Coca Cola products. He also called for an urgent meeting with SON on Friday, saying the issue goes beyond the legal aspects of a court verdict. “It is about morality; Nigerians can trust us to put their safety first. God bless”, he said. The directive comes three days after a Lagos High Court ruled that NAFDAC should give the Nigeria Bottling Company, NBC, 90 days to include on all bottles of Fanta and Sprite that the content cannot be taken with Vitamin C. The judgment was on a suit filed by a Lagos-based businessman, Emmanuel Adebo, and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, against NBC Plc and NAFDAC. In his suit, Mr Adebo urged the court to declare that NBC was negligent to its consumers by bottling Fanta and Sprite with excessive levels of benzoic acid and sunset additives. He had tried to export Nigeria-produced Fanta and Sprite to the UK, where they were described as poisonous by authorities there and destroyed. Benzoic acid is a white, crystalline powder with a faint, non-offensive odour. 

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Punch, 17 March 2017
LASG advises indefinite shutdown of Queen’s College 

The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) has approved 10 new colleges as training institutions for medical laboratory technicians. A statement from the council said it also gave full accreditation to eight other colleges. They approved colleges are: Aminu Dabo College of Health Science and Technology, Kano; Olivet College of Health Technology, Azuba, Nasarawa North Local Government Area Nasarawa; and Fabotas College of Health Sciences and Technology, Ado-Ekiti, among others. Some of those given accreditation in 2017 include: Medical Laboratory Technician College of Health Science and Management Technology, Aba, Abia State, Medical Laboratory Technician College of Health Technology, Ilese, Ogun State and Medical Laboratory Technician College of Health Science and Technology, Tsafe, Zamfara State. Presenting certificates of approval and accreditation to the schools, Acting Registrar of the council, Mr Tosan Erhabor said the institutions were established to reduce the shortage of middle-cadre manpower in the country, adding that it was in line with government’s policy of making primary health care closer to the people. 

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Premium Times, 13 March 2017
Experts react as Buhari administration fails to appoint heads of Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals

Shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari came into office just before the end of May in 2015, he dissolved the boards of federal parastatals. The action was not unusual of a new administration. But close to two years after, the vacancies created by the dissolution of the boards are yet to be filled, showing a pattern of lethargy in decision making for which the president has received widespread criticism. The delay by the federal government in appointing Chief Medical Directors, CMDs, to run some tertiary health institutions across the country is generating mixed reactions among health professionals and stakeholders in the sector. Currently, out of the 52 tertiary health centres across the country, about 20 have no CMDs. These institutions have been run by interim heads for between six months to two years, against the provision of the Acts that established them. The establishment Acts do not envisage that any of them would be run by interim head beyond six months at a time. Health centres caught in this breach of law include psychiatric hospitals, Federal Medical Centres and Teaching Hospitals across the country.

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Daily Trust, 14 March 2017
70% of Nigeria’s HIV response from donors — NACA 

The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Sani Aliyu said 70 % of funding for the national HIV/AIDS response in the country is done by donors. Speaking when he visited the head office of Media Trust Limited, publisher of Daily Trust and other titles yesterday in Abuja, he said only 27 % is from local funding. Aliyu said: “This is amazing, for a problem that is a Nigeria problem and here we are depending solely on external funds. Only about 27 percent comes from local funding, partly from Federal Government and from few States, and the private sector provides about two percent. That shows that if we have problems with our partners, and we are cut off, that means about 700,000 people will be off treatment and that is a national security risk.” He said it costs about N50, 000 to deliver HIV care to a patient in a year, adding that the agency was pushing for HIV inclusion in the States Health Insurance Scheme. Dr Aliyu said the country faces the challenge of sustainability of the whole programme, and that the agency is working with National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the office of the Minister of Health for a sustainable arrangement. 
 
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Guardian, 15 March 2017
Lagos to launch health insurance scheme in June
 
The Lagos State government is to begin the much-awaited Community Health Insurance Scheme in June this year. Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, who disclosed this at the 2017 Eko Health Mission conference in Alausa, Lagos, explained that the state government was working to ensure that all modalities are put in place before the commencement of the scheme. “Come June we will start the soft launch of the health insurance scheme. We planned to start sometime last year but certain things stopped us. We are using both private and public facilities, that is why the modalities is taking quite a while because we have to get the technical aspect right. For instance, anybody that wants to participate in the scheme must conform to certain requirement. They have to be accredited. When accredited, we have to go and observe their facilities. The insurance agencies also have their own modalities. Let me say again, if anybody has a problem with the facilities, they should let us know so we can shut it down immediately. From now we have to start publicizing it, telling people what to do, how to go about it,” he explained.
 
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Leadership, 16 March 2017
Akwa Ibom Govt. earmarks N59m to tackle malnutrition

The Akwa Ibom State government has expressed its readiness to partner the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) in the promotion of good nutritional regime for the young ones. In line with this policy, N59million has been budgeted for micro-nutrient supplement under the Save One Million Lives (SOML) programme of government. Towards effective implementation of the policy, the wife of Governor Udom Emmanuel, Martha, has said she would soon launch a State-wide enlightenment and sensitization programme across the 31 Local Government Areas, “where all mothers will be educated and empowered to feed the growing child correctly”. She spoke yesterday in Uyo, the State capital at the opening of a two-day advocacy meeting for women policy makers and wives of policy makers organized by the State government in partnership with UNICEF. The Governor’s wife, who was inducted as the number one nutrition champion in the State, said through her pet project, the Family Empowerment and Youths Re-orientation Programme (FEYREP), said she was embarking on mechanized farming for food sufficiency and affordability.
 
Nigeria Health Watch, 15 March 2017
The silent thief of sight: Early detection can prevent blindness from Glaucoma

In Nigeria, one out of every 20 people above the age of 40 will be affected by glaucoma in their lifetime. Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the optic nerve which is at the back of the eye. It is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, and happens when the pressure in the eyeball (intraocular pressure (IOP)) is too high for the normal functioning of the nerve. This disrupts the nourishment of the eye and the optic nerve, killing the cells and leaving fewer nerve fibres to transmit the information of vision from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma causes gradual loss of vision in one eye before the other. One out of every five people who have glaucoma are blind in both eyes, and by the time they seek care in a hospital, about half of glaucoma sufferers are already blind in one eye. About 5 per cent of affected people are aware that they have the disease in its early stages. In total, one in every 100 people are affected with this silent disease. The silent and gradual nature of the disease is especially worrisome for a population where routine medical check-ups are not the norm, as highlighted by these stories from patients:

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