The Enugu State Ministry of Health says it has stepped up its pro-active preventive mechanisms against possible outbreak of yellow fever in the state.
Dr Chinyere Ezeudu, Enugu State Chief Epidemiology Officer, spoke with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Enugu.
NAN reports that the state had three council areas sharing common boundary with Ebonyi, which recently recorded cases of Yellow fever outbreak.
Ezeudu said the ministry recently sensitised health surveillance facilities focus persons and health information focus persons on the case definition of yellow fever as stipulated by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
She said that the ministry had been working with its partners to strengthen routine immunisation through using polio immunisation to administer yellow fever vaccine on children from nine months old.
Ezeudu said: “The ministry is quite aware of yellow fever outbreak in Ebonyi. We have notified doctors in the state through the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association to watch out.
“We have taken all necessary proactive steps health-wise to put our disease surveillance officers at both local government, community and health facilities levels on alert and train them on case definition of yellow fever as stipulated by NCDC.’’
She said that the ministry had started using the mass media, especially radio with local languages to sensitise residents of the state on yellow fever.
“On the radio, we have told them not to panic as yellow fever is not transmitted from human to human.
“We sensitise against self-medication and advise our people to visit a healthcare facility immediately they fall ill.
“We talk of the need for them to keep their environments clean and free of stagnant water to discourage the breeding of mosquitoes,” Ezeudu said.
According to her, a special kind of mosquito spread the highly fatal viral disease, which could be prevented for life by a single vaccination.
“The symptoms of the disease are yellowness of the eyes, sudden fever, headache and general body pain,’’ Ezeudu said.
NAN recalls that the NCDC and Ebonyi Public Health team had commenced investigation on suspected cases of yellow fever since July 31.
Three cases tested positive to yellow fever at NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory, which triggered an immediate response.
It was, however, discovered that between May 1 and Aug. 7, and there had been suspected cases that fit into the case definition for yellow fever and 20 deaths recorded in Izzi Local Government Area of the state.
The latest NCDC inquiry indicated that the outbreak might have been ongoing for a few months undetected by local health authorities and workers.
Elderly persons urge FG to pass National Policy on Ageing
Some elderly persons in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have urged the Federal Government to pass a national policy on ageing that would ensure the provision of social services to senior citizens.
They made the plea in separate interviews with the Nigeria News Agency on Monday in Abuja.
The senior citizens said such a policy would guarantee their security, healthcare services, housing, and legal assistance.
Mrs Lydia Gambo, a retired Police Officer, regretted that Nigeria had no functional national policy on the care and welfare of older persons.
Gambo noted the changing demographics in Nigeria, in addition to the breakdown of the family structure as well as the absence of a social security system, presented a unique challenge to the elderly in Nigeria.
She said there was need for government to promulgate policies that would promote well-being of the elderly in Nigeria as they faced challenges from retirement, ageing, and social isolation.
“Many people envisage the idea of retirement as a stage of leisure, no troubles, carefree living, relaxation, and traveling. However, this vision of retirement does not happen too often in Nigeria.
“The abrasive reality is that most of the elderly in Nigeria find it very difficult to adjust to life after retirement.
“Apart from money, another part of retirement challenge is adjusting to life without a job. Work provides many people not only with income, but also with social interaction and a sense of purpose,” she explained.
Mr Umar Maiwada, a retired civil servant said that the policy should aim at improving access to quality healthcare for the elderly to reduce poverty.
Maiwada said the policy should be designed to cover the healthcare needs of retirees and ageing persons in Nigeria.
According to him, the Vital Contributor’s Social Health Insurance Programme (VCSHIP) that is designed to cover the healthcare needs of retirees and the aged Nigerians, cannot work effectively for all.
“A programme that allows me to pay N15, 000 annually as my own contribution, I have four adults without jobs in my house. How much is my pension?
“My children are not working talk more of contributing to my healthcare. I see my doctor every Monday and Thursday and I do not spend less than N30, 000.
“Spending my pension that does not come early enough on health and feeding of my family is a sad thing.
“This is why I am calling on the Federal Government to pass a national policy that will benefit the ageing. I am 76 now, still suffering and struggling to my grave,” Maiwada said.
He said the government had failed pensioners because they had expectations that there would be implementation of existing pension regulation schemes in the country.
“These our expectations are borne from the need to have a sustainable standard of living in retirement, and payment of our benefits as at when due.’’
Mrs Veronica Magaji, a retired Principal, said the Federal Government should put a policy that would evaluate data for a well-designed programme intended for the elderly.
Another elderly person, 82 year-old retired engineer, Mr Francis Kalu, urged the Federal Government to take seriously the issue of welfare of the elderly in Nigeria.
Kalu said that at the domestic level, the government should formulate and implement policies that would improve the lives of the elderly.
He said that there should be a framework and role for all state institutions in advancing the welfare of the aged, as Nigeria had the highest out-of-pocket health spending and poorest health indicators in the world.
“This was the propelling force for the initiation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which aimed at universal health coverage and targeted at providing comprehensive health care at affordable costs to employees without considering retirees.
“It is important for the government to draft a national policy and launch its implementation that will benefit all.
“If the policy makers are young today, they will become old tomorrow and also benefit from this policy the elderly are crying for today,” he noted.
Mr Adetunji Yakini, a retired civil servant said that one of the greatest problems of Nigeria was leaders’ inability to keep their word, as well as failure of managers of the pension scheme to also keep their oath of office.
“Many elderly people who depend on pension, suffer to get their pension, many even die before the pension starts coming. Some of the elderly, who are retired, cannot even pay their rent.
“Some who retired and moved to the rural areas, die immediately they get home because of suffering,” Yakini said.
According to him, since poverty remains a major challenge in the country, elderly persons who have retired from the productive phase are most vulnerable to experiencing economic hardship.
He said that the elderly were being forced to cope with hardships as a result of dwindling financial resources, increased health challenges, and the rise in medical expenses.
Experts laud WHO’s efforts on more effective new Ebola treatment drugs
Medical experts in Lagos have lauded the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the newly developed “more effective” new Ebola treatment drugs, calling for community sensitisation on acceptance of such drugs.
They are a Medical Researcher, Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, and Prof. Akin Osibogun, a Professor of Public Health, and former Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos.
Others are Dr Okunola Olusola, the Deputy Director, World Safety Organisation in Nigeria and Mr Clement Olaifa, Lagos State Chairman, Association of General Private Nursing Practitioners.
The experts spoke with the Nigeria News Agency on the WHO’s recent announcement that two of four Ebola treatment drugs have been determined “more effective” than the others.
They also advised Nigerians to maintain a state of continued watchfulness to combat infectious diseases, including Ebola virus.
WHO had, in a statement said that two of the four Ebola treatment drugs, REGN-EB3 and mAb114, were determined to be more effective in treating Ebola than the other two in trial.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a rare, but severe, often fatal illness in humans.
The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
Iwalokun, also the Head, Immunology and Vaccinology Research Department, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, said that community sensitisation was very important.
He said there was need to sensitise the public on the need to accept such drugs, adding acceptability and understanding of what the drugs could do, goes a long way.
Iwalokun said they need to know the effectiveness of the drugs, adding that such drugs would not be available at the pharmacy store because they were trial drugs.
“Community sensitisation is going to sensitise them more on Ebola virus and change their behavioural attitude, and how they seek health treatment, so they would not consult unofficial healthcare centre.
“After the level of sensitisation at the community, the healthcare professionals that form a critical stakeholders in the handling of the prescription and monitoring of the efficacy of the drugs, also need to be sensitised.
“They need to be educated on the mechanism of the action of the drugs, because the Chemistry in Ebola drugs is different from the common drug.
“Researchers also need to be sensitised by raising research questions,” Iwalokun said.
He said that the trial of two effective Ebola drugs in Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR) was a good thing which researchers in Nigeria should imbibe.
“Nigeria researchers should also participate by knowing the clinical implant that determine the effectiveness of the drugs.
“We need to know the clinical implant beyond reducing the viral load and eventually killing the virus.
“It is a very rare progress that two drugs to treat Ebola virus are more effective through clinical trial and showed efficacy.
“For countries that has been experiencing Ebola outbreak and still at risk, by virtue of border porosity, should look into those drugs.
“It will help them to strengthen preparedness on recurrent of Ebola outbreak in their countries,” Iwalokun said.
He said that Nigeria was still at risk of Ebola virus which means awareness on those drugs should be regulated with preparedness of ethical approval.
Commenting, Osibogun said a state of continued watchfulness was the way Nigeria could combat infectious diseases, including Ebola virus disease.
Osibogun, who works at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said: “This is really good news, suggesting we are making progress.
“These drugs have been used in clinical trials ongoing in the Democratic Republic of Congo to curb Ebola epidemic.
“In one of the drugs, mortality in Ebola is brought to as low as six per cent provided the patient reported early.
“While this is good news, I should point out that drugs may not be widely available immediately and prevention is still the preferred approach.
“As a country, we are part of the global community; so, if there is any development anywhere, it will benefit humanity in general.
“But, as a country, with regards to Ebola outbreak, we need to maintain watchfulness; we cannot think that because they have found something and, therefore, relax.“
He also said that the best way to maintain watchfulness was to educate the local health workers in particular, as they were closer to the community.
“So, health workers in the primary healthcare centres, once they suspect any case, they must alert the appropriate authorities immediately, and then, we can institute measures to control such an outbreak,“ Osibogun said.
Speaking, Olaifa urged Nigerians to prevent themselves from being infected.
“It is a cheerful news that we can now have a relief that any person who contacts Ebola hemorrhagic infection will not be getting a death sentence.
“But, let me emphasise that prevention is better than cure.
“The drugs are still undergoing clinical trials and still regarded investigatory therapies by administering either an antiviral drug called remdesivir or one of the three drugs that use monoclonal antibodies,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the Deputy Director of World Safety Organisation, Nigeria Chapter, Dr Okunola Olusola, said the pronouncement had brought hope to people.
“It is a good news, the beauty of it is that there is now hope that we can curtail an epidemic, and we can curtail an infection and prevent it from becoming an epidemic.
“If those who are exposed to an ill person are given the drugs, they have almost 100 per cent chance that they will not die from the disease, because the drugs that they are given is almost 90 per cent, if they are given early.
“So, it means that anyone who suffers from Ebola, the whole family does not need to be wiped out.
“But, we know that it is still in experimental stage, at the stage where there is hope,’’ he said.
Edited by By Lydia Ngwakwe/Olagoke Olatoye
Group strengthens CSO’s advocacy, leadership skills to fight malnutrition in Kaduna
Jessica Bartholomew, the group’s secretary in the state, explained that CS-SUNN mission was to mobilise non-state actors to advocate, generate evidence, build capacity and stimulate communities to scale up nutrition in Nigeria.
Medical practitioner advocates awareness on dangers of open defecation
The TIDEy Project is a social and behavioural change communication and action project targeted at Nigerian schools and universities, powered by Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) Nigeria and partners.
Kwara Agency begins immunisation for children
A visit to Yusjib Industrial Medicare, along Ajase Ipo Road, Ilorin, one of the accredited centres for the programme by the Nigeria News Agency , revealed that parents came out in their numbers for the exercise.
Commenting on the development, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), of the hospital, Dr Yusuf Abdulraheem, said the programme is organised by the Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency.
According to him, children under the age of 0 to 59 months are to be vaccinated for IPV, OPV, PCV, BCG, PENTA, Hep B, Measles and Yellow fever.
He said his hospital was chosen as one of the pilot centres as the health workers are expected to move from streets to streets to get the children immunised.
As at the time of filing this report, no fewer than 60 children have been vaccinated.