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ANHEJ plans conference on achieving UHC, SDGs 3



Association of Nigerian Health Journalist (ANHEJ) is set to hold an international conference on

achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3).

The information is in a statement issued by the President of the Association, Hassan Zaggi in Abuja on Tuesday.

He stated that the conference, scheduled for Nov. 28 in Abuja, would feature over 40 health journalists from across

the country, as well as stakeholders in the health sector.

He noted that the gathering is the third in the series, with the theme “Nigeria’s Increasing Population, Any Hope to Achieving

UHC and SDG 3.”

The sub themes are: “Outcome of Nairobi’s International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD),

the key issues for Nigeria, Understanding the economic impact of child malnutrition.

“Rally support for World Health Organisation (WHO) on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health facilities.”

Zaggi added that the sponsorship was flexible.

He explained that the association investigates, interacts with state and non-state actors to access, disseminate vital

information to the health sector in the country. (NAN)


Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu



COVID-19: Health journalists advise FG against accepting medical team from China



Mr Hassan Zaggi, President of Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), has advised the Federal Government against accepting medical team from China to fight Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Zaggi, who gave the advice in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja, said that Nigerian health experts could handle COVID-19.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, had on Friday at Ministerial Press briefing on COVID-19 announced that 18-man team of Chinese medical experts would soon be coming to support the country.

The medical team, comprising doctors, nurses and public health advisers, are coming to the country courtesy of a group of Chinese companies working in Nigeria.

“We appreciate China for accepting to come and support our effort in containing COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“However, in my opinion, I don’t think we need them; we do not need China.

“As it is now, our health experts are not overwhelmed; they are doing well as far as I am concerned in handling the pandemic in Nigeria.

“Even though our confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising on a daily basis, however, when you also take a cursory look at the efforts of our medical experts, you will discover that they are doing well.’’

Zaggi noted that some medical experts and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) had earlier called on the government to take a different approach in combating the disease.

He said that even though the Chinese doctors had some experience in handling COVID-19 because it originated from them, Nigerian doctors had been doing exceptionally well in managing the situation here.

“The only thing the Federal Government needs to do is to provide the enabling environment for our medical and health professionals in the country.

“There should be incentives that will motive them to put in their best.

“Considering the risk involved in managing the COVID-19, our medical experts should be given life insurance and good allowances, bearing in mind that they are currently working 24/7,’’ he said.

Zaggi expressed optimism that medical experts in the country which treated Ebola would do their best in curbing the pandemic.

“As I mentioned earlier, our medical experts only need enabling environment and motivation; with well equiped health facilities and secured environment, our medical team have the capacity to do wonders at this crucial moment.

“ANHEJ is excited with level of financial and material support coming from wealthy Nigerians, corporate organisations, including religious bodies, for fight against the COVID-19,’’ he said.

The official, however, called on the Federal Government to ensure the judicious use of the funds, block all avenues of wastages, misappropriation and even outright embezzlement

“State governments should also mobilise similar funds in their various states so that they can be fully prepared for any eventuality.

“States that are yet to record COVID-19 cases should tighten all loose areas and entry points and ensure that they sustain the tempo and continue to remain without a case.

“ They should prepare in case the unexpected happens,’’ he said

Zaggi also urged the Federal Government to recruit more hands to assist in contact tracing of all those who are suspected to have had contact with any suspected cases.

“I, therefore, call on all Nigerians to support all initiatives put forward by the government at both the federal and state levels in an effort to halt the spread of the disease.

“With our collective support and cooperation, very soon, COVID-19 will be a thing of the past,’’ he said.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi






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COVID-19: Association calls on FG to provide protective gears for journalists



The Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) has called on the Federal Ministry of Health to provide all the necessary protective materials to its members (journalists) covering coronavirus (COVID-19)

The association made the call in a statement signed by its President, Mr Hassan Zaggi and General Secretary, Ms Gloria Essien on Thursday in Abuja.

According to them, the journalists are at risk of being exposed to the virus if not well protected with necessary equipment.

The association expressed concern over the daily increase of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed seven new cases of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Five of these cases were announcedby 11:25 p.m. while two were announced about 7 a.m. on Thursday.

“The governments at both the Federal and State levels should develop ingenious ways of supporting people to alleviate their sufferings in the event that there is total shut down of activities in the country.

“We also call on the Federal Government to provide the necessary funding to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to enable it perform optimally.

“The Task force, should, on the other hand, partner with all agencies of government and the private sector for better result.

“ANHEJ is therefore, determined to work closely with all relevant government agencies, the private sector and the Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the way we did during Ebola crisis to provide our people with the needed information.’’

The association also called for urgent action as Nigeria gradually gets to community spread of Covid-19.

“Most worrisome, however, is that, a considerable number of the newly confirmed cases are not imported. What this implies is that our situation is gradually getting to community spread of the diseases.

“This is evident in the case of aides of some top government functionaries who are said to have come down with the illness without travelling outside the country. They contracted it from their bosses.

“Even though it is not time to apportion blames, as journalists covering the health sector, we have, at various media briefings organised by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, observed the need for forced isolation.

“We have observed the need for forced isolation instead of the current method of self-isolation being adopted by the federal government.

“We have severally argued that some Nigerians may not observe the voluntarily 14-days self-isolation, hence, the need to force them in order to prevent them from spreading the disease in the country.’’

The officials said the fears seemed to be coming true, emphasising on force isolation for anyone coming into the country is the way to go.

“ANHEJ, therefore, calls on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to, as matter of urgency, track all the people that might have had close contact with the top government functionaries who are currently down with the Covid-19.

“Nobody should be left out, no matter how high placed. They should be closely monitored for 14 days.

“Considering that most of the states in the country are closing businesses, the rural areas will definitely witness  influx of those coming from the city, hence, the tendency to have the disease spread to the rural areas.

The governments must, therefore, should intensify efforts to ensure that Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) have the needed workforce with the required skill to identify suspected cases and then report to the appropriate authorities for necessary action,’’ they said.

ANHEJ is a group of professional journalists assigned by different media organisations to cover activities in the health sector in Nigeria.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza

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Nigeria is committed to achieving SDGs health targets – Minister



The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has restated Federal Government’s commitment

to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal three and other national health targets in the country.

SDG goal 3, which has 13 targets, focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of people.

Ehanire said this at the opening of the 3rd Annual Conference of Association of Nigerian Health Journalists (ANHEJ) on Thursday in Abuja.

The minister said that the country was committed to meeting the targets by implementing policies and programmes that would ensure coverage

of women and children.

He added that “government would implement policies and programmes on women and children who were

most hit by deprivation and inability to access healthcare services.

“This is viable in budgetary provision for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

“BHCPF should be accessed directly by Primary Health Care facilities for direct impact on citizens at the grassroots.”

He, however, urged the association to continue to promote thorough, fact-based and progressive discourse in the heath sector.

Dr Gafar Alawode, the Country Director of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Health Policy Plus Project,

said Nigeria needed to do more to improve its performance toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

According to him, UHC means that all people and communities can use the preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative

health services they need without experiencing financial hardship.

He said “UHC cuts across all the health-related SDGs and it has a number of objectives which are: equity in access to health

services relative to need and not the ability to pay.

“The quality of health services should be good enough to improve the health of those receiving services and financial risk protection for all.’’

Alawode urged journalists to support the ongoing reforms in the health sector such as BHCPF and State Social Health Insurance by ensuring adequate coverage of activities.

He also called on the journalists to conduct investigative journalism to raise the accountability bar in the sector.

Mr Hassan Zaggi, the President of ANHEJ, urged government agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and international

organisations to partner with journalists for effective coverage of the sector.

He said “NGOs and international organisations should see us as reliable partners they could work with to get the

needed health information to Nigerians at all levels.

“As parts of efforts to motivate and encourage actors in the health sector to continue to work for the improvement of the health

status of our people, we have selected few exceptional Nigerians who contributed to the development of health sector over the years for award.

“We worked closely with these people and we know their works.

“We, therefore, call on Federal Government to continue to provide an enabling environment for medical and health experts to

put their best for the growth of the sector.”

Nigeria News Agency reports that ANHEJ awarded seven Nigerians who contributed to the development of the health sector

in the country.

Some of the awardees were Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Former Minister of Health, Mrs Moji Makanjuola, a veteran broadcast

journalist who worked and retired with NTA and Dr Godwill Okara, a renowned medical laboratory scientist.

The theme of the conference is “Nigeria’s Growing Population: Any Hope to achieving UHC and SDGs?.” 

Edited & Vetted By: Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu


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FG restates commitment to revive 10,000 primary health care centres



The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has reinstated the Federal Government’s commitment to revive no fewer than 10,000 primary healthcare centres in the country to cater for health of Nigerians.

Ehanire said this when some members of Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), led by its President, Mr Hassan Zaggi visited the minister in his office on Friday in Abuja.

He said the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari was trying to create a balance to provide health facilities for all Nigerians, even those in the rural areas, villages, and difficult to access areas.

“That is the reason that we should not forget those people by creating at least one health centre in every political ward of the country; almost 10,000 primary health care to be revitalised.

“Many of them are already there because they are neglected, they are being revived and modernised and the standard expectation of a primary health care now is that it should have modern facilities and infrastructure.

“We also expect digital service so we can be able to take care of many of the diseases that occur. We do it in partnership with States and the Local Governments.

“The Federal Government has been teaming with the local government to create the network; our expectation is that 60 per cent of diseases in the country can be taken care by the Primary Health Cares,’’ he said.

The minister told the journalists that their work was very important, saying“ you are the medium between the ministry and the public.

“It is important that information is passed on accurately and correctly. You must get your facts correctly. I assure you that we are always available to give you right information.’’

Similarly, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Minister of State for Health, urged the journalists to always get their facts correctly before publishing any report.

“We will definitely feel bad if you report us wrongly; I can assure you that the leadership of the ministry is willing to answer your query at any time.

“I can also assure you that we are media friendly and I am happy with this media partnership that we solidifying today.

“We will be ready to make clarifications when the need arises; I want to assure you that we will be having regular interactions with you now,’’ he said.

Also, Dr Jospeh Amedu, Director of Hospital Services in the ministry, assured the journalists of the ministry’s collaboration in covering its programmes and activities.

“If you look at the Federal Teaching Hospitals, they are making a lot of breakthrough in terms of providing health care to Nigerians.

“ We expect you to also publicise the good things that are happening in the sector,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Sani Gwarzo, a director in the minister’s office, advised the journalists to include lectures on communicating health in their forthcoming conference.

“The test of our relationship usually come when there is high risk communication period like Ebola period, when we have outbreak or sensational event arising.

“The partnership with the ministry this movement, when things are calm is coming at the right movement.

“On our part, we are also bracing up to ensure that health information comes across to you,’’ he said.

Earlier, Zaggi told Ehanire that expectations from Nigerians and stakeholders were high and that citizens were looking forward to see a new health sector.

“You should do your best to ensure that Nigerians get the best health care.

“As journalists covering this beat, we want to assure you that we will support you to be sure that your objectives and programmes are known to Nigerians.

“For us to be able to work with you and support you there should be an environment where both of us will understand each other.

“Our work is always time conscious; sometimes, a journalist will be under pressure to seek for clarification on issues and seek for information.

“ But if the information is not handy, he will be forced to use any available information, so we want to appeal to you to make your door open for us,’’ he said.

The official also appealed to the minister to give the members information when the need arises and in good time.

“ The pressure on us it so much; Nigerians are anxious to hear from us and our editors are anxious to get stories from us; we also request you to have regular engagement with us,’’ he said.

Zaggi, however, invited the minister to the association’s Annual Conference coming up on Nov, 28th to declare it open.

Edited by Felix Ajide


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2020 Health Budget: CSOs say immunisation to consume N32bn of N46bn capital allocation




Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has appealed to

National Assembly to ensure equitable distribution of funds in the health sector, saying

immunisation will consume N32 billion of the N46 billion 2020 health capital budget.

Dr Aminu Magashi, the Coordinator and Founder, Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) and Community

Health and Research Initiative (CHR), made the appeal during the maiden monthly interaction with Association

of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said about N46 billion was allocated to health capital projects in the proposed 2020 health budget presented to

the National Assembly by the President.

He added that of the amount, N32 billion, representing 72 per cent of the fund would go to immunisation.

He explained that “while this is good news for immunisation interventions in Nigeria, it has a budgetary concern

as many important areas such as Malaria, Family Planning, cancer control, among others, would have inadequate funds.

“We are not saying that money for vaccination should not be there, we are calling on government to

make more funds available to the health sector to carry out other projects.”

Magashi commended the Federal Government for capturing the Basic Health Care Provision Fund in the 2020

as statutory transfers as against in 2019 where it was captured as part of the service-wide vote.

He lamented that N44.50 billion was allocated as Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) in the 2020 budget,

stressing that he amount was short of more than N10 billion, as BHCPF should be around N56 billion.

He explained that the National Health Act 2014, which provides for the BHCPF stipulates that one per cent of the

consolidated revenue should be captured as BHCPF.

According to him, UBEC gets two per cent of the consolidated revenue and receives about N112 billion.

“We are calling on the National Assembly to increase the fund by more than N10 billion so that the appropriation

becomes full one per cent of consolidated revenue as provided by the National Health Act,’’ he said.

Nigeria News Agency recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari has proposed an aggregate expenditure

of N10.33 trillion for the Federal Government in the 2020 budget proposal, as presented to the joint session of the National Assembly.

The expenditure estimate includes statutory transfers of N556.7 billion, non-debt recurrent expenditure of N4.88 trillion

and N2.14 trillion of capital expenditure, excluding the capital component of statutory transfers.


Edited by Modupe Adeloye/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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CSOs demands implementation of N327m Emergency Medical Services



Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), and Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR), CSOs, have decried the non-implementation of ambulance services on the highways four months after disbursing N327 million to the Federal Ministry of Health for the programme.
Dr Aminu Magashi, the Coordinator and Founder, AHBN and CHR, said this known at the maiden monthly interaction with Association of Nigeria Health Journalist (ANHEJ) on Thursday in Abuja.
Magashi said ambulance together with Referral and Trauma Services were part of Emergency Medical Treatment (EMT) of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) provided by the National Health Act 2014.
He added that the operation manual of the BHCPF indicates that EMT carries 2.5 per cent of the total funding for (BHCPF) annually.
Magashi said the programme was domiciled with the Department of Hospital Services of the federal ministry of health.
According to him, the EMT got N327 million from the May disbursement of the BHCPF, adding that the money is to be used as start up for the services.
However, he lamented that four months after disbursement the services was yet to commence, hence the need for the new leadership of the ministry to commence full implementation of the programme.
“The money is available, the operational manual is available since the discussion on the matter has commenced we need to see ambulances on the six identified highways.
“ We also need to see the ambulances responding to patients and referring them to the nearby identified facilities,’’ he said.
Magashi recalled that over N13 billion representing 25 per cent of the Basic Health Provision Fund was released in May 2019.
He explained that the fund goes to National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Federal Ministry of Health.
He added that the 50 per cent of the money went to NHIS to provide health insurance at state level, 45 per cent went to NPHCDA to ensure that PHCs were working.
He said 2.5 per cent of the money went to NCDC to address disease outbreaks and emergency preparedness, while 2.5 per cent also went to federal ministry of health for emergency medical treatment.
Magashi said that additional 25 per cent of the fund was already credited to the CBN account of federal ministry of health but it was yet to be release to the benefitting agencies.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the BHCPF is the one per cent of the federal government Consolidated Revenue and contributions from donor grants set aside to fund the basic health needs of Nigerians.
It is the fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act and was appropriated for the first time in the 2018 budget since the Act was signed in 2014.
The federal government earmarked N55.1 billion for the CRF to the basket fund of the BHCPF, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed $2 million, out of which 1.5 million dollars has been released.
NAN also recalls that the federal ministry of health inaugurated an Emergency Medical Treatment (EMT) committee and National Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance Scheme (NEMSAS) on Feb. 5.
The committee was Chaired by the then Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, now the Minister of Health. (NAN)
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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NPHCDA adopts PPP for local production of therapeutic food



The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) says it will adopt Public Private Partnership (PPP) strategy to bring technology for the local production of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, said this at a one-day retreat organised by the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) in collaboration with International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) on Friday in Abuja.

The local production of RUTF was geared toward integrating the treatment of severe acute malnutrition at Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) to tame the rising cases of the condition in Nigeria.

The retreat had its theme as: `Facilitating the inclusion of child nutrition as a major component in the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF)’.

Shuaib, represented by Dr Oladimeji Olayinka, the Director, Primary Health Care Systems Development, said the local production of RUTF would remove the cost of shipping and ancillary expenses on the commodity.

He added that the local production of the commodity would also reduce the cost of the packet to about N1,500 from N6,000 its current price.

He explained that under this special arrangement, the RUTF would be affordable to be provided under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) through the BHCPF.

The executive director said the agency was reaching its partners such as Dangote group and other international partners to ensure that the technology was available in Nigeria and obtain necessary permissions to commence production.

According to him, childhood malnutrition is one of the public health challenges in Nigeria which is responsible for not less than 30 per cent of mortality of children under five years.

He also noted that childhood malnutrition was one of the major challenges in most states across the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said the degree of the severity spread however varies from state to state with North eastern states worst affected due to the activities of the insurgents in the region.

Similarly, the Executive Director of ISMPH, Mrs Moji Makonjuola, urged government and other relevant stakeholders to increase funding of nutrition activities in the country.

She also advocated for the local production of RUTF, stressing that the foreign RUTF is expensive.

Makonjuola said key stakeholders such as the ministry of agriculture, the private sector and scientists should ensure that the production of the ingredients needed for RUTF comprised quality materials.

She said United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that no fewer than 2.5 million children below the age five years suffer from severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria annually.

She noted that it was a shame that Nigeria was having severe acute malnutrition now and tasked the media to rise against the challenge.

Earlier, Mr Hassan Zaggi, the President, Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, said the media should raise public awareness on the effects of malnutrition to attract more investment to reduce the burden.

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NIPRD initiates pharmaceutical projects in states



National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) says it has initiated a multi-billion naira project that will improve Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of all states in the country.

Director General of the institute, Obi Adigwe, disclosed this when executives of Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said that the project, which was aimed at tapping  rich natural products with pharmaceutical value in each state,  had since commenced in 10 states across the six geographical zones of the country.

According to him, NIPRD conducted researches on  products and decided to start translating research findings into products while at the same time, improving access to healthcare and meeting other economic indices that stakeholders are interested in.

Kaduna State, he said, had gone far in the project.

He explained that “the project is called Eucalyptus, it is a multimillion dollar industry. We have started engaging Katsina State stakeholders for Azadirachta indica, fashioned after the Indian model.

“India makes one billion U.S. dollars every year from Neem but in Nigeria, we use our own Neem for shade. The Katsina State project is geared toward changing that.

The NIPRD boss said that the agency had mapped out and delineated the country for effective implementation.

“What we have done is that we have mapped out Nigeria, the country is very rich in terms of natural resources.

“There is nowhere you go to in Nigeria where you don’t have products that have rich pharmaceutical potential.

“We mapped out areas where the climate, the topography and other unique conditions within that area encourages a particular product.

“But that product has to have healthcare benefit, economic benefit, capacity building benefit to the people and potential to create IGR for the states.

“If properly harnessed and processed, the people in the area will also have their capacity built, while the product is being processed. That is what has guided us in developing our contextual processing protocol.”

Adigwe promised to collaborate with Nigerian media for the development of NIPRD and the health sector in general.

The President of the association, Mr Hassan Zaggi, said the aim of the visit was to seek collaboration and partnership for the growth of NIPRD.

He insisted that with the needed support from government, NIPRD had the potential to turn around the economy of the country.

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