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Hepatitis B more infectious than HIV – Expert



Dr Bello Kumo, a consultant Gastroenterologist with Ahamadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, says Hepatitis B

Virus (HBV) is more infectious than HIV.

Kumo stated this in a paper entitled “Face to Face with Hepatitis B: Cost and Burden”, presented at a public lecture organised by Kashim Ibrahim Fellows (KIF)

in Kaduna on Thursday.

The consultant, who expressed concern that not many people have knowledge about the disease, added that

multitude of patients were not identified early enough and managed.

He explained that the virus could be transmitted through contact with blood and body fluid, adding that it could infect nearly everyone that came into

contact with anyone suffering from it through sharp objects and open wounds.

According to him, there is no known cure for chronic HBV, stressing that prevention remains the best option.

He added that “but to prevent, people must first know their status so that if they are negative, they can be vaccinated, which gives up to 95 per cent prevention.

“And those who tested positive can begin treatment and managing the virus to avoid its spread.”

Dr Muhammad Saleh, a medical doctor, described HBV as a silent killer, stressing the need for massive awareness campaign.

Saleh said in his lecture on “Hepatitis B: Finding the Missing Millions”, that not much would be achieved if  infected persons were not located and placed on treatment.

He noted that “HBV has been silently ravaging the country’s population. There is need for prevention through awareness, community sensitisation and scaling-up of

screening services.”

Gov Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State commended KIF for organising the lecture, saying that the efforts would give people living with HBV a voice and raise the needed awareness

on prevention.

El-Rufa’i, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, said HBV had been neglected for long, overlooked by governments and misunderstood by the public.

He said “I commend KIF for supporting our government to draw attention to the scourge of the virus and ways to treat, manage and prevent its spread.

“Each activity we undertook takes us a step further toward eliminating the virus in our communities and raising awareness is a crucial window to treatment, management and prevention.

“Active collaboration is central toward eliminating HBV, as such, we all have a part to play and dedicating a whole week to create awareness and draw attention of stakeholders

is truly a great step.”

The governor explained that the one-year KIF programme was initiated by Kaduna State Government to improve the capacity of young people and build a

new crop of leaders for efficient public service in the country.

He said his administration would continue to provide opportunities for the youth to excel through people-oriented policies and programmes.

One of the KFI fellow, Michael Medubi, explained that the public lecture was part of a five-day KIF community service to educate and sensitise people on HBV.

Medubi said that the fellow had on Monday sensitised, counselled and provided testing services to students and staff of Kaduna Polytechnic and on Tuesday,

trained 120 hairdressers and barbers on best practices.

“On Wednesday, the foundation sensitised people at Sheikh Abubakar Gumi Central Market, Kaduna, on ways to prevent infection.”

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu


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



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



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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General news

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



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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Media, CSOs harp on capacity building of members



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



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


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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Army provides free medical services to community in Ondo



The Nigerian Army on Sunday provided free medical services to people of Ugbo community in Ilaje Local Government area of Ondo State.

Brig. Gen. Zakari Abubakar, the Commander of 32 Artillery Brigade, said that the gesture was part of on-going exercise of Crocodile Smile lV in the area.

He said that the gesture was to enhance the life of the people in the area.

According to Abubakar, it is also to cement the relationship between the military and civil populace.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Nigerian Army had earlier donated some computers, printers, exercise books, generators, stationary and sporting materials to schools at Atijere community in Ilaje Local Government area on Nov.13.

NAN also reports that the gesture was part of civil-military activities as Crocodile Smile IV  flag off in the southern part of Ondo State will last from Nov.8 to Dec. 23, 2019.

Abubakar said that the medical services delivered included services at the general outpatient department for general consultation, general eye examination, health education, oral care, laboratory investigations, issuance of free mosquito nets and drugs.

He thanked the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and General Officer Commanding 2 Division,Ibadan, Maj. Gen. Anthony Omozoje, for they exemplary leadership and for finding the Brigade worthy of hosting the exercise and approving the civil-military activities.

“The COAS is particularly  concerned about the health and well being of our community knowing fully that health is wealth. It is in this light that he has taken by his step to provide this medical outreach.

“The objective is for you to embrace peace and shun every act of violence and criminality.

“COAS believes with peace, come development. There will not be development without peace,” Abubakar said.

,Maj. James Agbe, the Commanding Officer, 32 Artillery Brigade Medical Centre, Akure, said that one of the services rendered was to teach people on how to brush.

“We also rendering free eye care handled by specialists, free toothpaste and brushes, free drugs for common ailment in the community, free mosquito net to prevent mosquito bite considering the environment in which they living as riverine area.

“Community should take the advantage of the services being provided by COAS to make maximum use of the services and drugs effectively, ” Agbe admonished.

In his welcome address, Oba Akinruntan Obateru,Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom, who was represented by the High Chief Hosea Iperepolu and Chairman of Ugbo Council of Chiefs, commended the gesture.

He said that the gesture would bring cordial relationship between the Nigerian Army and the community.

“The exercise is laudable one because we all know that health is wealth.

“This will bring cordial relationship between civilian and Nigerian Army. People are always afraid of Army, but with this new development, people will not see them as their enemy.

“When Army starts to come nearer to the people like this, people will be able to interact with them and it will reduce the rate of insurgency, kidnapping and all unnecessary crime in the societies,” he said.

Obateru charged the community to see the Nigerian Army as their friend and admonished the Army to continue with their good relationship so that people would not see them as their enemy.

The monarch promised Nigerian Army that Ugbo kingdom would continue to support and cooperate with them so that the issue of kidnapping, pipeline vandalism and many other crimes would reduce in the area.

One of the participants, Mr Akin Adetuo, a 60-year-old farmer with eye problem, thanked the Nigerian Army for the gesture.

“I am here with my eye problem so that I can see very well, but with the service rendered by Army today am very happy. May Almighty God help them as they choose to help us,” he said.

Mr Maigba Israel, who said that he came from the neighboring town near Ugbo kingdom for stomach ache and eye problem, urged the Nigerian Army to continue to support civilians, especially on health related issues.

“I am not from Ugbo kingdom, but I am from Ugbo-Nla town.

“I believe this services will go a long way for our people, especially for me because I don’t have money to go to hospital that is why when I heard that Nigerian Army is giving free eye service, I left my food to benefit from the services,” he said.

Edited by Tajudeen Atitebi

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