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Adventist Church sponsors 350 free surgeries in Eastern region-Official



The National Council of Eastern Nigeria Adventists (NACENA) says it has sponsored no fewer than 350 free surgeries within four years in South East and South/South zones of the country.

The Administrator of NACENA, Mrs Victoria Imo disclosed this on Monday in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency (NAN), in Umuahia during the 2019 Medical Mission to Nigeria.

Imo, who is also the team leader of the United States of America (USA) based organisation, said that the free medical mission was in collaboration with United Africa Seventh Day Adventist Church, Houston, with support from Babcock University, Nigeria.

She said that the surgeries ranged from minor ones such as removal of cyst and bumps to major ones such as appendicitis, hernia, myomectomy with emphasis on fibroid removal and total hysterectomy.

The administrator said that the medical mission to Nigeria which began in 2013 became necessary following the unfortunate health condition of many Nigerians, especially, the less privileged.

“It all started with a personal experience. My mother was hospitalised in a medical facility in Nigeria. I discovered that the treatment was substandard and I felt the need to help our people in this area.

“This culminated into this yearly medical mission and NACENA agreed to take up the project in collaboration with a local church made up of 90 per cent Africans based in Houston,” she said.

Imo said that services rendered during the free medicare were based on availability of medical personnel including doctors and their areas of specialty.

She said: “From our findings, a lot of people have eye problems. We make arrangements for eye specialists who also carry out eye surgeries.

“The health condition of Nigerians is sad and that is why we have been coming and God is using us to save lives.

“There are much that need to be done in the area of the health of Nigerians, especially, those who cannot afford the needed help.

“These are the people we come for and we pray God to help us to provide the needed care they deserve,” Imo said.

One of the beneficiaries of the free health care, Mrs Glory Kalu expressed joy for the opportunity granted her to participate in the programme in order to take care of her health needs,” she added.

NAN reports that the free medical mission was used to inaugurate the state-of-the-art Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Apumiri Ubakala in Umuahia South Local Government Area of the state.

Pastor Bassey Udoh, the President of the church in Eastern Nigeria, comprising states in South East and South South regions, while inaugurating the hospital, said that the facility would offer physical healing to patients.

Udoh said that the efforts of the medical team from the USA would not be in vain.

NAN also reports that no fewer than 500 persons attended the free medical exercise.

Some of the dignitaries that attended the event included wife of the state governor, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, and the President, Abia North-Central Conference of the church, Pastor Enyinnaya Uguru among others. NAN)


Edited by Abiodun Esan/Maureen Atuonwu




NGO advocates SRH education for adolescents to access services



An NGO,  AVAC 2019 Fellowship, has stressed the need to integrate Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) education in the school curriculum to enable adolescents access available services.

Mr David Ita, AVAC fellow for the organisation, said this in Abuja on Tuesday at a round-table on integrating SRH education in the school curriculum and age of consent to access SRH.

The conference was organised by the New HIV and Vaccine Microbicides Advocacy Society in collaboration with GADO Agency LTD Nigeria and AVAC 2019 Fellowship.

The  AVAC 2019 fellowship programme  is a community centered advocacy programme focused on empowering adolescents  and young persons through training and mentorship to make significant changes in communities.

The organisation also creates awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health and Right(SRHR) while addressing HIV prevention needs of community members.

Ita said that the organisation also worked with policy makers in Lagos State and Federal Capital Territory to create a path way to reduce age of consent for adolescent’s use of SRH services without parental consent.

According to him,  the HIV prevalence in Nigeria is stabilising but new HIV infections continue to rise among adolescents and young people.

He said beyond HIV and AIDS, adolescents and young persons had the greatest concerns and needs of preventing unwanted pregnancy.

”This is of high priority to them because of its visible negative impact and associated stigma in the community.

”Women are (most)  affected by both pregnancy and HIV infection. It is therefore important to reach out to adolescents and young persons to address both the HIV needs…,’’ he said.

Ita said that the organisation would  create awareness on the adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs, rights and independent access to HIV and sexual reproductive health services among health care providers, advocates and adolescents.

” There will be improved adolescents access to HIV tests and their negotiation skills for condom use,  prevention of unwanted pregnancy and their awareness and demand for PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) .

”AIDS is the leading cause of death among young people (aged 10-24) in Africa, and second  leading cause globally

“Young women are twice as likely to acquire HIV as young men.

”A youth bulge in Africa threatens to increase new HIV infections further; unprotected sex is the most common route of HIV infection among young people.

”Low HIV and sexual health knowledge is a key barrier to reducing HIV infections among young people.

”A ‘life-cycle’ approach to HIV prevention can help respond to the changing challenges people face at different ages,” he said.

Ita said that there was an absence of youth friendly services to address the needs of young people as very few centres existed in the country.

Edited by Chukwudi Ekezie

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NYSC, catalyst of national development- Gowon



Retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, a former Head of State and Founder, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), has described the scheme as “a catalyst of Nigeria’s socioeconomic development”.

Gowon gave the commendation on Tuesday, when the Director-General of NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.

Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, in a statement quoted Gowon as saying that the scheme was “a catalyst of Nigeria’s socioeconomic development”.

Gowon recalled that the scheme, which was initially rejected at inception, had turned out to become the largest youths mobilisation agency in Nigeria.

He commended the management of the scheme for grooming successive batches of corps members for national development.

Gowon also lauded the NYSC management for providing youths with necessary platform to contribute to the national development through health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and other national assignments.

He said that the security architecture that was provided for corps members during their recent participation in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections was laudable, noting that there was no casualty involving any of the corps members.

The former Head of State said the introduction of Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme into the orientation course content was another feat recorded by NYSC management.

He described it as an effective tool for youths empowerment and direct answer to youths unemployment.

Gowon lauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry and other stakeholders that had assisted enterprising corps members with loans.

He said the loans had helped the corps members to establish their businesses, thereby transforming them into wealth creators and employers of labour.

While briefing Gowon, the director-general said that NYSC management had intensified efforts aimed at sanitising the scheme’s mobilisation process.

Ibrahim said that this was to eliminate the prospects of unqualified Nigerians from being mobilised for service.

He added that some of the unqualified graduates that were arrested during the 2019 Batch ‘B’ Orientation Course had been handed over to the law enforcement agencies for prosecution.

The NYSC boss further disclosed that during the last verification of credentials of foreign-trained graduates, out of over 20,000 that uploaded their certificates, only 3,420 showed up for the exercise.

Ibrahim attributed the non-presentation of these graduates to having been forewarned to steer clear of the exercise if they paraded questionable credentials.

He added that the scheme had also intensified efforts at sensitising the various tiers of government on their obligations to NYSC Scheme, particularly in respect of establishing NYSC State Governing Boards.

The director-general said that the scheme had enlightened state governments on the need for provision of befitting orientation camps and regular maintenance of the facilities, which would ensure hitch-free orientation course.

He hinted that awareness was also being created on the NYSC Act and the need for qualified foreign and Nigerian-trained graduates to make themselves available for service immediately after graduation as enshrined in the Act.

The NYSC director-general said that he would like to leave behind a scheme that the generality of Nigerians would be proud of and happy to identify with.

Edited by Oluyinka Fadare/Olagoke Olatoye

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Former Reps member Nnenna Ukeje seeks constitutional amendment for GEO bill



Mrs Nnenna Ukeje,  a former House of Representatives member, has called for the amendment of  section 42 of the Nigerian constitution, which condemns discrimination of all kinds, to accommodate the Gender and Equal Opportunities bill (GEO).

Ukeje, made this call during the Voice of Women (VOW) Conference and Awards held in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to her, section 42 of Nigeria’s constitution was what encouraged the passage of the Child Rights Act and Persons with Disabilities Act, regretting that same constitution has refused to recognise the GEO bill.

“ Section 42 of the constitution says there should be no discrimination against anybody and we have consistently tried to amend the constitution that is our argument, our justification for more inclusion of women.

“ However, the opponents of the bill will argue that section 42 states that there shall be no discrimination, therefore, when we want to have more inclusion they say it is against the state and the letters of the same constitution.

“ So for us, we have come to realise that section 42 rather than work for us works against us. The argument is that the constitution is self evident but not self enacting and that is the reason we have subsidiary legislation.’’

She, therefore, recommended that the law on Federal Character should include the Gender Character.

“There is the Federal Character Bill that is in the constitution, so we are saying that expand the law on federal character and just add gender, so that all areas will be covered.

Similarly, Austin Aigbe of the Centre for Democracy and Deveopment (CDD), called for the establishment of Gender Character Commission, to further empower women to take positions in governance and other leadership levels.

“It is time to have a gender character commission legislation that empowers women to take positions. We can form a movement on GEO bill just like the Not too Young to Run.’’

On her part, Toyosi Ogunsiji, Founder Rise Networks, stressed on the need to invest in girl-child education, while calling on older women to make conscious efforts to carry younger women along.

Dr Muhammad Mustapha, Director, Dispute Resolution and Development Initiative, encouraged more women to participate in politics, to enable them address the challenges facing women and girls.

The  Chairman, Board of Directors, Women Radio 91.7, represented by Igbokwe Ogechi, stressed the need to focus on the role of women in elevating Nigeria.

“Educating the girl-child will unleash the total potential we have as a nation, to give her the opportunity to develop her full potentials, while contributing to our national development.

“ We must not continue to limit our ability to compete globally by limiting opportunities for women and limiting opportunities for women and limiting opportunities for the girl-child by not educating her.’’

The Nigeria News Agency reports that some persons were conferred with awards for their outstanding support in addressing the plight of women and girls.

Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of the President, while declaring the conference open, stressed the role of women in nation building.

She said women had begun to speak out and find their voices, hence the need to put more efforts in advocating for women’s rights.

While, receiving the award for “Woman of the Year’’ for her campaign on women and girl-child education, Mrs Buhari, said she was dedicating it to all women with strong character.

Others conferred with awards were Kwara State governor, notable personalities and organisations.

Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Ifeyinwa Omowole

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UCH requires N100b to upgrade decayed facilities – CMD



Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, Chief Medical Director (CMD), University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, has said that the hospital will required not less than N100 billion to upgrade its decayed facilities.

Besides, the CMD also urged state governments in Nigeria to rejuvenate secondary and primary healthcare to lessen the burden on tertiary health institutions.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Otegbayo stated this on Tuesday in Ibadan during a press briefing marking the hospital’s 62nd Foundation Day.

NAN also reports that Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, had earlier inaugurated the two sets of dialysis machines, worth N10 million, which he donated to the hospital.

Otegbayo listed the top priority needs of the hospital to include equipment, water regulator, uninterrupted power supply, training of staff locally and internationally as well as building of infrastructure.

He said that facilities at the health institution had been overstretched, adding that if the state governments had woken up to their responsibilities, tertiary hospitals would have been able to face their mandate and provide quality care for patients with advanced cases.

“For instance, we have the only Accidents and Emergency (A&E) Department in the whole of Ibadan, with its population and in the whole of Oyo State, apart from Bowen University Teaching Hospital that has a much smaller A&E department.

“We receive patients from all over. Our clinics are now congested; people are there standing, doctors and nurses work more than they should do.

“We also need extension of the wards and we have lands, but we need good-spirited people to help us.

“Government cannot do it alone; even in overseas, it is not government alone that does it; most of the hospitals our people go to are either privately-owned or owned and run by a group of people.

“We will continue to do our best to offer best care within the limit of what we have,” he said.

The CMD said that since he assumed duty with his management team, service delivery had greatly improved in the hospital.

“If you go round the ward, the A&E department and wards now have stainless chairs for the use of patients’ relations. This has put a stop to relatives sitting on bare floor or on staircases while caring for their sick.

“Welfare of members of staff is also a priority and we have been doing a lot to make true our promise.

“Also we have been able to raise a team of influential Nigerians to be on the board of trustees of a body named “Oritamefa Health Foundation”.

“We believe this will help improve the services and facilities at the hospital,” Otegbayo said.

The UCH boss expressed appreciation to Adeboye for the donation of dialysis machines, stating that the hospital was in dire need of the machine, as kidney was an essential organ in the body.

“We look at the people who access our services all over the country; some of them don’t have money to pay for this, because it costs about N40,000 per week.

“The disease is rampant and it is increasing; so we are very grateful for get something that will be beneficial to mankind and we glorify God for that,” Otegbayo said.

In his remarks, Adeboye said that he was delighted to have contributed to the care of kidney patients, considering the nature of the disease.

“When I was growing up, everybody looked up to this hospital. At a time, people never thought of going abroad for treatment because they believed that when they get to UCH, their problems would be solved.

“With the enormous need of UCH, I know we can start from somewhere. Though I know it is going to take billions of naira to bring back the lost glory of the hospital, if human beings can’t help us, we can go to the all-sufficient God.

“Kidney is a very vital organ in the body. I have seen people with kidney problems; mere looking at them is heart-rending,” he said

The RCCG general overseer promised to donate two more dialysis machines to the hospital before the end of the year.

Editing by Oluyinka Fadare and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Fitness expert decries attitude of Awka residents to physical exercise



Mr Joe Onwuakpa, the Managing Director of X-Fit Aerobics and Fitness Centre, Awka, has expressed concern over the “poor attitude” of residents of the capital city to physical exercise.

Onwuakpa made the remark in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Awka on Tuesday, saying that residents of the town preferred eating and drinking as ways of spending their leisure time.

He said that the centre was brought to the town to make fitness and wellness facility more accessible to the people.

He said that independent research showed that only about five per cent of Awka population engaged in regular exercise, adding that sedentary lifestyle was on the increase.

Onwuakpa said: “Fitness is good as long as we are alive because it helps us to stay healthy and strong.

“Most people here in Awka don’t reckon with keeping fit or engaging in exercise.

“They believe so much more in eating and drinking here as a means of leisure.

“X-Fit is trying to change the narrative in Awka by encouraging the attitude toward healthy living through regular exercise and fitness.

“I am worried with the lifestyle. We don’t know what should be done that is why we brought this concept of fitness centre.

“A situation where only about five per cent of the population of the town engage in exercise is not impressive,” he said.

Onwuakpa said he was planning a fitness carnival at the end of November, where experts would lecture and drill guests on simple exercises.

He called on residents of Awka and its environs to be part of what he called the “life changing session” with fitness experts.

(Edited by Sam Oditah)

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Fertility decline imperative for achieving demographic dividend – Don



Fertility decline has been described as “very imperative’’ if Nigeria must achieve a balanced productive ratio, otherwise called demographic dividend.

Prof. Olanrewaju Olaniyan, of the Department of Economics, University of Ibadan, said this at the 7th Annual Population Lecture Series (APLS), held on Tuesday, in Abuja.

The lecture had as theme: “Nigeria’s Population Issues: Harnessing 21st Century Innovations to achieve Demographic Dividend”.

Olaniyan said that only innovations in reproductive health would ensure that men and women were able to take responsibility for the quantity and quality of children they brought into the world.

He explained that building human capital was also paramount in ensuring that children, and the rest of the population, had access to universal health care, as well as equality and relevant education for all.

The don, who said that only 26 per cent of Nigerians were working, called for good governance and elimination of corruption to achieve demographic dividend.

He identified urbanisation as one of the problems militating against the achievement of demographic dividend, saying that it often ended up creating two cities in one city.

“Mass emigration from rural areas to urban areas, has created a city of prosperity and poverty in one city,” he said.

Olaniyan who pointed out that about 14.6 million Nigerians were out of school, called for drastic and innovative policies on the part of government, to address the issue by transforming children into an asset population.

Also speaking, Dr Haliru Yahaya, Emir of Shonga, called for responsible parenthood as a way to go in achieving demographic dividend.

Yahaya explained that it was wrong for a man to procreate up to 14 children that he could not cater for.

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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