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Scale up exclusive breastfeeding activities in Bauchi State, UNICEF urges stakeholders

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UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged parents and other stakeholders to

show more commitment toward the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding in Bauchi State.

Mr Bahnu Pathak, the Chief Field Officer of UNICEF in the state, made the call during an event

to mark the 2019 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) on Wednesday in Bauchi.

Celebrated annually between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7 in more than 120 countries across the globe, WBW was inaugurated in 1991 to

raise awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding to nursing mothers and babies.

The theme for this year is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding Now and the Future.”

Pathak said “breastfeeding provides total food security for infants. It is readily available, affordable, nutritious and sufficient

for infants from birth till two years.

“It helps to prevent diseases and allergies for children, while for mothers it reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, increases

bonding and helps in birth spacing.

“UNICEF, therefore, calls on parents, community and religious leaders, policy makers and stakeholders to support the practice

of exclusive breastfeeding in the state.”

The wife of state governor, Mrs Aisha Mohammed, explained that breastfeeding promotes better development of the

brain and nervous system of infants in the first five years.

She said “breastfeeding provides a unique mix of nutrients and antibodies necessary for baby’s good health.”

Represented by the wife of the state’s House of Assembly Speaker, Hajiya Hauwa Abubakar, the governor’s wife

urged mothers to give their babies only breast milk in the first six months of their lives.

Mrs Bulak Afsa, the Chairperson of Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in the state, said

exclusive breastfeeding boosts and strengthens the immunity of children.

She donated wrappers, pampers, children’s shoes and flasks to the first, second and third  nursing mothers

and children adjudged the best in practicing exclusive breastfeeding.

The Chairman, Primary Health Care Development Agency, Mr Mustapha Bello, called for stronger partnership

among stakeholders to further scale up exclusive breastfeeding in the state.

He called for strong partnership between government and non-governmental organisations to promote breastfeeding among women.

 

Health

Expert says Nigeria capable of handling Ebola case

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A medical expert, Dr Ademola Lawal, has said that Nigeria has the capacity to handle any case of Ebola in the country with its experience on the Lassa fever challenge.

He also gave the assurance that the country has taken all necessary steps, and was prepared to detect and curb any case of Ebola that could come into the country.

“Our in-country improved capacity to prevent, detect and respond to Lassa fever will ensure that any case of Ebola that sneaks into the country will be detected.

“Ebola and Lassa fever belong to the same class of diseases called Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers; they have similar signs and symptoms.

“For it to get to Nigeria, an infected person has to come to Nigeria; through our borders; just like Mr Sawyer did in 2014, travelling through our airport from Liberia.

“The Nigerian government, with support from partners like World Health Organisation (WHO), is currently strengthening the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Port Health Department of the Federal Ministry of Health.

“This is to enable them effectively screen persons entering Nigeria through air, land and sea ports,’’ he said.

Lawal said that capacity of most Nigerian communities was also being built to ensure that symptoms of the disease are detected and reported without delay.

He added that hundreds of Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs) have been posted to all local government areas in the country.

“On a continuous process, the capacities of almost all communities are being built to report any unusual disease or health related occurrence. Same applies to health workers.

“We have 780 DSNOs, one for each LGA and the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory, to coordinate activities at the LGA level.

“This is to ensure that everyone knows, if they “see something’’ health related, who they should “say something’’ to,’’ he said.

The epidemiologist said that all health facilities, pharmacies and patent medicine stores within each LGA had contacts of DSNOs posted to their localities to be used for emergency notification when the need arise.

“That is the disease notification that is in place, not just for Ebola or Lassa fever, but all notifiable diseases,’’ he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is grappling with an Ebola scourge, which has claimed many lives.

The scourge in DRC necessitated her neighbours, as well as other African countries, including Nigeria, to take precautionary measures to prevent the disease from entering their countries.

KAE/IS

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

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Why we chased away polio immunisation officials — Kano community

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Members of Makuntiri community in Bunkure Local Government Area of Kano State, on Friday gave reasons for chasing away health workers drafted to conduct polio immunization in the community.

The angry community members who spoke to the Nigeria News Agency said that they took the action to draw government attention to their plight.

According to them, the road leading to the community is in terrible condition while the bridge linking them to other areas had collapsed.

Malam Ahmad Ubale, a resident, said they had done all that was necessary to notify government about the state of the road leading to the community, to no avail.

“To show you that we have been left out, people hardly come to visit our community until polio periods; so this time we have to chase the workers away.

“We did that because government has given priority to immunization more than anything else, so our rejecting it is to draw government officials attention to our condition,” Ubale said.

Another resident, Malam Mudi Bala, expressed concern over the collapse of economic activities in the community as people hardly visit to transact businesses because of the collapsed bridge.

“You have seen it yourself,  the community isn’t easily accessible especially with vehicles. Whenever we go out of the community, it’s always difficult coming back.

“Our people suffer from other ailments and we are expected to take them to the hospitals which are far from here; how do we cope with the situation,” he said.

Bala, however, appealed to the government for prompt intervention to improve their living condition, saying they were not asking for too much.

NAN reports that the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Health, Alhaji Usman Bala, later led the immunization team back to the community and got the children immunized.

He noted the grievances of the community but warned the residents to desist, henceforth, from injecting politics into health related issues.

NAN reports that Bunkure Local Government had targeted about 62,000 children below the age of five for immunization in the just concluded August Immunization Plus Days.

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Health

Meningitis: Over 26m children at risk in Nigeria – Agency

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The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) says 26.7 million children aged one to seven years are at risk of meningitis in 25 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), of federation.

Mr Adetunji Adeoye, the representative of the agency, stated this during the flag off ceremony of introduction of meningitis vaccination (Men A) into routine immunisation given to nine months old children on Friday in Akure.

Adeoye said that vaccines are the only way to prevent serious disease like meningitis, adding that it remains a great health challenge in Nigeria.

He explained that Men A vaccine would prevent children against the disease, assuring that it is safe and effective without any negative effects on children.

According to him, health workers have been trained to diligently administer the vaccine to all eligible children.

Dr Wahab Adegbenro, the state Commissioner for Health, said that the state government had not relented in ensuring that all residents, especially children, were in good health.

Adegbenro noted that measles, meningitis and yellow fever could kill children but said that there is vaccination to combat them.

The commissioner stated that the vaccination would be given to eligible children free of charge in all government health facilities in the state; hence there was no excuse for parents not to make their children available for the immunisation.

According to him, the vaccine has been tested and proven safe for children’s usage.

The commissioner said that the state government was doing a lot in the sector, working and collaborating with the Federal Government.

“Our contributory health insurance scheme will commence hopefully in November this year and this will afford everyone access to good healthcare services with just a token.

“Under the scheme, pregnant women and children aged five years below will be given privilege to access healthcare services free of charge,’’ he stated.

Adegbenro, therefore, commended the federal government for making the vaccines available, appreciated NPHCDA, UNICEF and World Health Organisation (WHO) for their support, asking them to do more.

Similarly, Dr Ajibayo Adeyeye, the Special Adviser on Health Matters to the state governor, commended all the development partners for their contributions in eradicating the killer diseases.

Adeyeye, who was represented by Dr Francis Akanbiemu, the Executive Secretary, Ondo State Primary Healthcare Development Board, however solicited more awareness on the vaccine.

The special adviser commended the state governor for investing heavily in the sector toward achieving a healthy society.

Mr Tunde Ayoade, the representative of UNICEF, said that no eligible children should be denied from taking the vaccine.

Ayoade urged health workers to ensure good relationship with their communities for proper and adequate vaccination.

Mr Gbenga Olaniyi, the Caretaker Chairman of Akure South Local Government Area, also commended the federal and state governments as well as all development partners for the success of the exercise.

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Meningitis: 26.7m children aged 1-7 at risk in Nigeria – NPHCDA

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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), has said that 26.7 million Nigerian children between one a seven years of age are at risk of contracting meningitis.

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, revealed this on Friday in Calabar in a message during the introduction of “Men A” vaccine into routine immunisation in Cross River.

In the signed message, made available to journalists at the occasion, Shuaib said that Nigeria had 25 states and the FCT that fell within the meningitis belt.

He said that use of vaccines was the only way to prevent meningitis for now.

“The introduction of “Men A” vaccine into the EPI schedule will provide protection against Neisseria Meningitis Serotype A,” Shuaib said.

In his speech, Prof. Ivara Esu, Deputy Governor of Cross River, said the state had trained hundreds of health workers to ensure the success of the exercise.

Esu said that since Cross River was among the 25 states that fell within the belt, the government would do everything possible to ensure that every eligible child was immunised.

“Immunisation remains the protection against Meningitis. Meningitis is a devastating disease that affects children.

“We will ensure that every eligible child in the state is immunised,” he said.

The deputy governor urged all women to take their children within 15 months of birth to the nearest government health facility for immunisation.

He expressed appreciation to all the partners in the fight against meningitis, including World Health Organization (WHO) United Nation’s Children Education Fund and the NPHCDA.

Also, Mr Rilwan Raji, the State Coordinator of WHO in Cross River, appealed to the state government to ensure the vaccines were well protected.

Raji said there was need for periodic review of routine immunisation in the state.

He appealed to traditional rulers, religious and opinion leaders to sensitise their subjects and followers on the need to take advantage of the exercise to immunise their children.

NAN reports that a lot of children were immunised during the occasion. .

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Rape: Expert advises traditional, religious leaders to sensitise followers

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Dr Christopher Laima, a Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecologist, Federal Teaching Hospital (FTH), Gombe, has called on traditional and religious leaders to sensitise followers on the dangers of rape.

Laima, who is also the Focal Person for Gender Based Violence FTH, gave the advice on Friday in an interview with newsmen in Gombe.

He said the leaders have vital roles to play towards reducing the rate of rape cases in the state and country at large.

“Our traditional and religious leaders, we need to know that in our society, rape has is now being considered as a normal thing.

“There are many people that are raping persons; they don’t know that it is rape. So, we need to enlighten them.

“Apart from enlightenment, we need to help our youths to understand some of the risk factors that lead to rape,” he said.

According to him, they discover that people who are raped mostly are girls under the age of 15 and majority of them don’t stay with their parents.

He added that some of them are usually people that have been brought from their villages and street hawkers who do not go to school.

Laima advised parents to be very careful about where their children go to in the evening as majority of rape occurs in the night in uncompleted buildings.

“If there are uncompleted buildings around, they should be under surveillance, because they drag victims to those places and rape them there,” he advised.

“So, if the traditional rulers and religious leaders understand these issues, they will begin to put their eyes to the ground.

“When these things occur and it is kept hidden, some people will keep doing it. That is why it is the place of the police to take such cases to court.’’

According to him, if perpetrators are punished, it will go a long way to instil fear and discipline in even those that have intention to commit such crime.

He further said that rape leads to unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, physical injury, spread diseases such as Hepatitis and HIV, among other illnesses.

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