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Community advocates rights for women living with HIV/AIDS in West Africa

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President of the community, Astou Diop, made the group’s position known  in a statement in Abuja on Friday.

Diop stated that a meaningful engagement of women and adolescent girls living with HIV in planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes toward checking the spread of the scourge would guarantee women’s right to health.

She urged governments at all levels in West Africa to fulfil the highest attainable standard of health for all citizens, especially women living with HIV.

She noted that governments should ensure that women were consulted to make informed decisions and choice of preference with respect to Anti Retroviral (ARV) regimen.

Diop noted that political leadership, dwindling funding for HIV and AIDS, the lack of patient centred care, respect for human rights were responsible for the region’s backwardness in the fight against AIDS.

She called for strengthened partnership of Joint UN Programmes on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), World Health Organisation (WHO) and Nigeria’s Ministry of Health to support the leadership capacity of Community board members.

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Early, quality antenatal care can reduce birth of preterm babies – Paediatrician

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A medical expert, Dr Gbemisola Boyede, Consultant Paediatrician and Founder of “Ask The Paediatricians Foundation”, an NGO, stressed the need for early and quality antenatal care to reduce complications affecting preterm babies.

Boyede disclosed this in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Sunday, in commemoration of the World Prematurity Day, annually celebrated on Nov. 17 to raise awareness on preterm birth and concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.

The theme for 2019 World Prematurity Day celebration is “Born Too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place.’’

Preterm babies, also known as premature, are babies born before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy.

A 2018 World Health Organisation (WHO) report states that premature birth is a leading cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide and may lead to health issues with long term health problems that may affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.

According to the medical expert, the day is set aside to increase awareness on preterm births, as well as deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple proven cost effective measures that can prevent it.

She said “it is important to prevent prematurity because of the difficulties babies go through to survive. The most important strategy is essential and high quality antenatal care.

“Experienced mothers, don’t do ‘too-know’ and wait unti last trimester before registering for antenatal care because each pregnancy is different. Early registration will help doctors to pick out high risk pregnancy that needs more specialist care.”

She explained that mother’s age, multiple gestation, excessive maternal activity/stress, infections and substance abuse are some of the risk factors that may lead to preterm birth.

She added that acute or chronic maternal illness, abnormalities involving the womb, detachment of the placenta, low economic status, black race, previous preterm birth, abnormal trauma/surgery are other risk factors that could contribute to preterm deliveries.

The paediatrician noted that most preterm babies’ organs were not fully matured and had sub-optimal function, hence they often encounter difficulties in adapt ing to life outside the womb.

“ These problems are also related to the degree of prematurity, the more preterm the more the likelihood of problems. Some of these problems are early and some could be long term,’’ she said.

She noted that some of the early difficulties of preterm babies may include birth asphyxia with hypoxia (inadequate oxygen) especially to the brain, jaundice, poor control of body temperature, low blood sugar, infections, bleeding in the brain.

According to her, poor growth, learning disability, behavioral disorders, hydrocephalus (big head), epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing and visual impairment, intellectual disability and increased risk of child abuse and neglect were possible long term complications.

Boyede stressed the need for antenatal care in high risk pregnancies and their deliveries in hospitals to access specialists and appropriate care for mothers and babies, which would enable them to manage challenges that might arise.

She added that “preterm babies, especially the very small ones born less than 32 weeks, must be managed in hospitals neonatal intensive care and placed in incubators.

“They will be managed by paediatricians until they are fit to be left alone with the mother.”

She, therefore, advised mothers with preterm babies to ensure regular follow-up visits at the hospital, maintain excellent care and hygiene in the home environment, regulate temperature by wearing appropriate clothing, feed according to paediatrician’s directives.

Boyede encouraged pregnant women to ensure they receive Tetanus Toxoids (TT) immunisation, anti-malaria, iron and vitamin supplements, use insecticide treated bed net and avoid smoking and alcohol.

She called on government to invest more in newborn intensive care resources, which would promote access to better care.

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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Experts urge govt, parents to adopt strategies to prevent preterms’ deaths

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As the world marks the 2019 World Prematurity Day (WPD), experts have advised government and parents with preterm babies to adopt strategies that would help prevent deaths.

The experts gave the advice during a WPD Walk and Preterm Party organised by Outreach Women and Children’s Hospital, Festac Town in Lagos on Sunday.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that WPD is marked globally on Nov. 17, annually, to call attention to the heavy burden of death and disability, pain and suffering that preterm births cause.

The theme for 2019 is: ‘Born too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place.’

A premature birth is one which occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

The Chief Operating Officer of the Hospital, Dr Segun Ebitanmi, said the Walk was to inform the populace about the solutions available to reduce the deaths and sufferings for preterm babies.

“One out of 10 babies born is premature and one out of four will die.

“These children don’t need to die because there are ways and techniques, tools and technologies that can be used to keep them alive,” he said.

Also, the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Efunbo Dosekun, noted that the burden might be more in Nigeria, considering that preterms born in home-based care were not usually accounted for.

Efunbo added that innovations in neonatal service delivery were already being adopted in developed countries for the care of preterm babies.

She urged governments to work with specialists in the private sector so that the health system could be more responsive to the needs of babies born prematurely.

“Science has created devices, strategies that can help these babies live and it’s high time we imbibe it; because they are born too early does not mean they should die.

“We need to be able to rise to this challenge, other countries that are not so well endowed as Nigeria have been able to have better outcomes,” she said.

One of the participants, Ms Aramide Shokunbi, a marketer, said the Walk gave her hope for families with preterm babies because of the solutions available to them.

“I met a woman during the Walk who is a survivor, she was born prematurely though she said her twin died.

“I think it’s because of the time she was born. Now the world is evolving and there are equipments that can help preterm babies survive,” she told NAN.

Mrs Aisha Abari, a mother whose baby was born prematurely, said it wasn’t easy for her watching her baby passed through all the pain she did but expressed joy in being able to take her baby home.

According to her, she had a history of miscarriage, so abstained from sexual intercourse during pregnancy and had a cerclage – a surgical procedure to stitch the cervix to prevent miscarriage – but still had her baby at 29 weeks.

“During the pregnancy, I would go to the hospital for every little pain; I was very careful and so sure nothing would go wrong but at the end of the day, it still happened,” she said.

Abari advised parents with premature babies to ensure they go to a good hospital with specialists and keep praying.

According to UNICEF, every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely, more than one in 10 of all babies worldwide and one of the leading causes of death for children under the age of five.

About 75 per cent of fatalities are preventable if adequate care is given in terms of information and treatment.

Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that babies born too early may face long-term health problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.

Edited by Wale Ojetimi

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Jigawa Govt targets 1.8m children for measles, meningitis vaccination

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The Jigawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA) says it will vaccinate no fewer than 1.8 million children against measles and meningitis in the state.

Dr Kabiru Ibrahim, the Executive Secretary of the agency, made this known during an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Dutse on Sunday.

Ibrahim said the state government had provided enough doses of vaccines for smooth conduct of the eight-day exercise scheduled to commence Nov.16.

He explained that about 5,000 trained ad-hoc workers had been engaged to administer the vaccines at designated centres across the 27 Local Government Areas of the state.

The executive secretary pointed out that the gesture was to ensure all the targeted children were vaccinated against the diseases.

Ibrahim, therefore, urged parents in the state to take their children and wards to the nearest vaccination centres in their respective communities in order to get them vaccinated.

“We have commenced measles and meningitis vaccination campaign yesterday being Nov. 16 and the programme will last for eight days.

“We are calling on all parents in nooks and crannies of the state to ensure that their children are vaccinated.

“This, if achieved, will facilitate quick response to the diseases and other emergency situations in the state,’’ he said.

Ibrahim also urged stakeholders, particularly traditional rulers and religious leaders to assist in mobilising people to participate in the exercise.

“We seek the support of all stakeholders in mobilising people to make their children available for the vaccination.

“We are also appealing to parents and other stakeholders to cooperate with the health workers in order to facilitate smooth conduct of the exercise,” he said.

Edited by Martins Odeh/Adeleye Ajayi

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Medical women’s association restates commitment to fostering health maintenance for Nigerians

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The Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Lagos branch, says it is still committed to fostering health maintenance for Nigerians.

The association’s President, Dr Frances Ajose, said on Sunday in Lagos that the association would adopt new strategies toward health maintenance for resilience, noting that as usual, Medical Women were in the forefront.

She said the legacy and achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provided valuable lessons and experience that should enhance a more successful Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which replaced the MDGs in 2016.

The SDGs target everyone rich, medium and low income with all 17 SDGs interconnecting.

“This means success as one supports the success of the others.

“Health, for instance, impacts the success of the other 16 goals as better health will eradicate poverty, improve the economy, reduce inequalities, and foster peace, among other benefits.

“It stands to reason therefore, that promoting synergy of all sectors of the SDGs is a critical means of improving our health in the 21st century.

“This informed the choice of the theme of our biennial conference, `Inter-sectoral Synergy for Health’,’’ Ajose said in a statement made available to the Nigeria News Agency .

She said that Nigeria held the unenviable world record of the 2nd to the highest maternal mortality rate with equally abysmal infant mortality.

The association’s president said this maternal mortality was highest among first-time mothers and women with multiple pregnancies and that children of first-time mothers are also more vulnerable.

“So, where else to start the intervention but in the communities where we have the most congregation of potential first-time mothers and fathers, the schools, and the congregation of multiparous women, the markets,’’ she said.

Ajose said that consequently, during our two-year tenure, MWAN plans to equip five million adolescents in our schools with skills and tools to mitigate poor maternal and infant mortality.

“Equally depressing is the recent study that places Nigeria at the top of the Stroke prevalence scale.

“What is not being trumpeted, however, is that the wives of the Nigerian Stroke victims often die before their husbands.

“For this reason, we are targeting a million Lagos State market women for education not only on means to reduce Maternal and Infant Mortality, but also on Stroke prevention and management for their own and their husbands’ self-preservation,’’ she said.

Ajose said that the Lagos MWAN owns a property at Ebute Metta which was old and dilapidated and no longer sufficient for its activities in spite of the fact that its maintenance constantly consumes most of the association’s resources.

She said that the association was looking toward a replacement and had already secured an offer of free architectural services from one of the best architectural firms in Lagos.

She disclosed that MWAN was discussing with a giant construction company that promised it building materials and trusted their dear state Governor for allocation of the land to build a new edifice, The MWAN Lagos Well-Woman Centre.

The president said that the three major targets were concurrent with its existing mandate of control of preventing cancers in women and health promotion in children.

She therefore, appealed to all for personal reasons and for the sake of wife, sister, mother and daughter, father, husband, brother, son et al. to overstep the rhetoric and join MWAN in its pragmatic approach to remove Nigeria from the list of the world poorest health indices.

NAN reports that Ajose was recently inaugurated as MWAN president during its 21 biennial conference in Lagos for 2019 to 2021.

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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Health

Media, CSOs harp on capacity building of members

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Some media practitioners and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) officials have emphasised on capacity building of their members and legislators to report and monitor the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.

The officials shared their views in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Abuja, after the just concluded Legislative Summit  UCH.

Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole, National President, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), emphasised on capacity building for journalist to be able to interpret, understand and report UHC.

“If you need people to interpret whatever you are doing, you need to first educate and build their capacity to be able to understand.

“If they don’t understand you, they will be misquote you and misinform the public,’’ she said.

According to her, anyone who wants to cover the health beat should get trained because they are trends in the health sector on a daily basis.

Omowole said the media had a lot of role to play in democracy, saying “the role of the media is to interpret the work of the legislature to the masses.

“For the media to effectively do that, they need to interpret what Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is about?

“They need to know the effort of the legislators to achieve it and where to access health care facility.

“From the first step, the legislators have to involve the media; they have to help build the capacity of media to understand the bill they want to pass.

“When they understand it, it will be easier for them to interpret for the masses,’’ she said.

In her views with NAN, Ms Chioma Kanu, Programme Manager Health, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) said that the nature of CSOs made them to be in a better place to engage the legislators and the citizens.

“We realised that there is a wide gap between the CSOs, the citizens and the legislators; the role of CSOs is continuous advocate to fill the gap.

“Also, the CSOs have a role of monitoring the programmes of the legislators, but unfortunately some citizens are not aware of some of the programmes.

“In addition, we also expect the CSOs to build the capacity of the legislators; we understand that their job is not a career one.

“We expect CSOs to build the capacity of those newly elected legislators so that they will begin to understand the developmental issues.

“For Instance, they need to understand, the Basic Health Provision Fund (BHPF) and once they do, they will be able to do their work effectively,’’ she said.

Also speaking, Ms Mary Ajakaye, an official of Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) said, the CSOs were meant to be the voice for the voiceless.

“We are to serve as a bridge between the legislators and the public.

“We are to bring synergy to whatever the legislators are to doing; they should carry the CSOs along to be able to be their foot soldier,” she said.

Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, in his closing remarks at the summit, said the media and CSOs needed to build their own capacity.

“I see deficit in capacity of Civil Society operating, particularly for media – media don’t have capacity to help the system, I am saying this with due respect,’’ he said.

Oloriegbe said the media and CSOs should have the knowledge to set health agenda of the legislators and inform the citizens about it.

“For instance, the Basic Health Provision Fund we are talking about, the guideline did not go in line with the law.

“We did not see any CSOs and media bring the two of us — Legislature and Executive to book and inform the citizens about it,’’ he said.

He, however, called for more coordination and continuous engagement among the legislators, media and CSOs to achieve UHC.

The three- day health summit organised by the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage ended on Friday with more commitment by the national and state lawmakers to achieve UHC in the country.

The theme of the summit is “Efficiency in the Health Sector and the Role of Legislators in a Decentralised Democracy”.

UHC means that all people and communities can use the preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need and ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.

Edited by Saidu Adamu/Kayode Olaitan

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Pharmacist cautions against storing sachet, bottled water, soft drinks under sun

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Pharmacist cautions against storing sachet, bottled water, soft drinks under sun

Caution

Jos, Nov. 17, 2019 A  pharmacist and lecturer with the University of Jos, Mrs Rotkang Okunlola, has cautioned people against keeping water(sachet, bottled and dispensing jugs) and soft drinks under the sun.

Okunlola gave the caution in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Jos on Sunday, saying that the habit could be detrimental to human health in the long run.

She said when they got hotter, most plastic items released a tiny amount of chemicals into the beverages or water they contained.

“The hotter it gets the chemical bonds in the plastic increasingly break down and chemicals are more likely to seep into the content,” she said.

She, however, said that the amount of the chemicals that entered the content were too little to cause immediate health problems, but that the long-term effects of consuming drinks or water with small doses of plastics could add up in a big way in the long run to cause grievous health challenges.

The pharmacist said that antimony was used to manufacture the plastics, and when such plastics were kept under the sun, the antimony seeps into the content and could be toxic in high doses.

She said in the long run when the plastic contents built up in the body it could be very hazardous and very detrimental to health as it could cause various incurable ailments.

She advised that all consumables, especially those in plastic containers, should not be kept directly under the sun as this leads to various chemical reactions in the content.

Okunola also advised that such items be kept in cool places away from strong odours or anything that could contaminate them.

She recommended that people should insist on purchasing soft drinks and water that were well kept.

Edited by Abdullahi Yusuf

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