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International Women’s Day: NGO advocates peaceful society

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Mrs Anisa Ari, the WRAPA Senior Programme Coordinator, while speaking on the occasion of the International Women’s Day (IWD) in Abuja on Friday, urged Nigerians to see the occasion as a “celebration of humans’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the IWD was first celebrated in New York on Feb. 28, 1909 as “National Women’s Day, by the Socialist Party of America.

The theme of the 2019 celebration is: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’’.

The theme focuses on innovative ways to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

Ari advised harmonious relationships between the male and female gender in the societies.

She said: “As we celebrate women all over the world today, we call on everyone to take it as a celebration of humans.

“It is also a day to reflect on how we can exist in a way that is better than normal.

“Let us walk side by side with men and boys; women and girls to normalise balance for all in both public and private places.

“Disgusting societal norms and traditions that are hindering the progress of women in the society should be discarded.’’

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Workshop to explore multiple funding mechanisms for health sector

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 The four-day workshop in Abuja for 18 states of the federation with the theme “Strengthening Health Financing at the Frontlines” will help to provide indepth assessment of different health financing mechanisms in the states.

Dr Emmanuel Meribole, the Director, Health Planning, Research and Statistics, made this known in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Thursday on the sideline of the workshop,  organised by Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH).

Meribole said that the workshop would also work out ways to support the states health financing arrangement at the sub national level.

The director said that various attempts to examine health financing mechanisms in Nigeria revealed that there was no single mechanism that fits all contexts and people.

He said it was important for stakeholders to understand the current status of health financing in the country, especially in comparison to national, regional and global goals.

He explained that health financing was one of the building blocks of health system, which level of functionality had direct effect on the overall functioning of the system.

He added that “a major weakness of the country’s health system is the poor functioning of the health financing building block.

“It is characterised by low public spending, very high levels of out-pocket spending, high incidence of catastrophic health spending and impoverishment due to the spending.”

According to him, this knowledge will be invaluable in shaping Nigeria’s policy and programmatic choices that can improve health financing and accelerate the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.

He noted that opportunities abound for the country to increase coverage with social health insurance and other financial risk protection mechanisms to substantially improve the functioning of the health system with healthy citizens.

Meribole said that the ministry was working with the 36 states of the federation, local and international partners to improve health financing to expand coverage of healthcare service delivery.

The director said that the 18 states present at the workshop were the second batch that the ministry would be engaging on the reform efforts.

He added that the efforts were aimed at providing successful implementation blueprint for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and aligning leadership and support to all states.

Meribole said that the workshop would access designed policies that were responsive to states’ needs, implement effective capacity development programmes, ensure necessary budgetary allocations, and provide overall guidance and oversight.

He said that the workshop would sensitise state governments on the need to support their efforts to strengthen their Primary Health Care (PHC) systems and improve their finances for health.

“Understanding the effectiveness of different health financing mechanisms and the modifications in their functions that are needed to ensure improvements in financial risk protection are important.

“It is also useful to understand the bottlenecks that constrain the implementation of financing mechanisms such as social health insurance that can ensure financial risk protection to most Nigerians.

“These will help to significantly increase the level of financial risk protection in Nigeria, in line with the requirement for achieving UHC,” he said.

Meribole noted that the National Health Act (NHA) of 2014 presents a valuable opportunity to fast track progress toward UHC.

The director said “multiple state governments have either passed, or are in the final stages of passing State Sponsored Health Insurance Bills (SSHIS).

“The SSHIS will provide financial risk protection and access to quality care for residents,” he assured.

He said that states had also started implementing the Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR) policy.

He noted that “the policy aims to integrate all PHC structures and programmes at sub-national levels, under one state level body, and in the process, improve the implementation of the BHCPF through PHCs.”

NAN reports that the 18 states attending the workshop are; Akwa Ibom, Borno, Kebbi, Nassarawa, Cross River Enugu, Gombe, Taraba, Imo, Kogi, Yobe, Zamfara, Lagos, Jigawa, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, and Sokoto states.

The workshop is also being attended by stakeholders in the health sector to develop common understanding of major health financing constraints in the country.

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)

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NMA says integrity of medical profession critical in healthcare delivery

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Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) says the integrity of the medical profession and societal confidence in medical and dental practitioners are critical to healthcare delivery in the country.

The President of the association, Dr Francis Faduyile, said this in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Thursday in Abuja.

He called on Nigerian Universities Commission, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, National Post Graduate Medical College, West African Postgraduate Colleges and other

stakeholders, to work toward broadening the scope of medical

education and training to meet current professional and academic realities.

He said that although there was nothing wrong with the core content

of the medical curriculum, there was need to review areas where inadequacies exist.

This, according to him, will be in line with current professional and academic realities, while expressing dissatisfaction with the slow pace in the implementation of the Residency Training Act.

He called on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to work in

unison to fast track the implementation of the Act.

He added that the federal and state ministries of health should ensure uniform implementation of the Act in post graduate training institutions in the country.

He observed that most practitioners were yet to fully appreciate the need for consciousness of ethical requirements and regulations at all times.

Faduyile said there was need for legislators to provide the appropriate legal frameworks that would facilitate quality healthcare delivery in the country.

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)

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Rape, Abuse: Chairman urges protection for blind children

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Mr Danlami Basharu, the Chairman, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on Thursday, urged government to protect blind children from rape, other forms of abuse and discrimination.

He made the call at a news conference in Abuja.

According to him, an alleged case of sexual assault on a girl in 2018 by a staff in a boarding institution, as well as the death of a boy who fell from a bed, necessitated the call for more protection for people with disabilities.

He said “I cannot be Chair of the UN Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities when impunity of this nature happens.

“Nigeria has not yet sent its initial report on implementation of the Convention to the Committee, seven years after it was due.

“We witness discrimination on daily basis against persons with disabilities in spite of the passage of the Disability Act.”

Basharu, therefore, urged government to immediately make official the report of the investigation and recommendations on the alleged sexual abuse in FCT School of the Deaf, Kuje and FCT School of the Blind, Jabi.

The chairman also said that a monitoring mechanism should be put in place to oversee activities in the schools, as well as investigate alleged cases of discrimination against blind workers.

Ishaku Adamu-Gombe, the National President of Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), said all culprits in rape cases and other forms of abuses should be dealt with according to the law.

He called on FCT authorities to immediately investigate happenings in the Kuje and Jabi schools and make public the reports of the previous committee instituted to conduct the probe.

He said “there is need to investigate human rights abuses in the schools and a kind of monitoring mechanism put in place to ensure that such issues are prevented from recurring.

The Programme Officer, Disability Rights Fund, Mr Theophilus Odaudu, called on government to address challenges bedevilling blind children.

He said “I want to appeal to government to get to the root causes and see if there is administrative lapses or measures that should have been put in place to prevent any molestation of such students.

“There is need to ensure that culprits are brought to justice.”

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)

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Ministry stresses need to promote complementary, alternative medicine

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says continuous awareness will be given to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as means of providing comprehensive healthcare for the vast rural population.

Ehanire said this on Thursday while inaugurating Colour Energy Health Machines assembled by Luminar International College/Centre for Health and Alternative Medicines, Awgu in Enugu State.

The occasion was also used for Appeal Fund Raising for the establishment of First Aid Alternative Medicine/Energy Health Science and Technology University and Specialist Teaching Hospital in Africa located in Awgu, Enugu State.

The minister, who was represented by Mr Christian Nnaji, Senior Pharmacist in the ministry, noted that it was estimated that about 80 per cent of the population living in rural areas used traditional medicine and CAM as their first source of healthcare.

He added that “the establishment of a full-fledged Department of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) in the ministry provides opportunity for rapid development and integration of TCAM into the healthcare delivery system which is seen as integrative medicine.

“Patients should be able to exercise their rights and have the choice to access their preferred healthcare services as seen in countries like China and India,’’ he said.

The minister said that government was willing to support researchers and stakeholders in the various fields of healthcare, including CAM in ensuring access to quality healthcare to all citizens.

He explained that “consequently, the ministry is planning a CAM Stakeholders Forum from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29.

“The event will feature Ministerial Press Briefing, symposium, lectures by experts in the field of CAM, exhibition by the various specialists of CAM practitioners and provision of free CAM services as means of increasing awareness.

“The overall goal of the forum is to harness the potential of this group of health practitioners toward improving delivery in the country.”

The President of the Centre/College, Prof. Joseph Akpa, lauded both the federal and Enugu State governments for creating CAM departments in their health ministries, adding that it would assist in involving holistic healthcare for all.

He said “however, I am appealing to the minister of health to vigorously pursue the Ministerial Executive Bill on Complementary and Alternative Medicine now with the National House of Assembly for immediate passage.”

He thanked the department of CAM in the Federal Ministry of Health for its programmes to promote CAM integration into the nation’s healthcare system, as well as setting up of the Ministerial Committee on CAM and for organising the CAM Week in the ministry.

Igwe John Ibe, the Traditional Ruler of Ekpulambo Mgbowo community, thanked the centre for the free medical care given to over 400 residents of his community and beyond.

Ibe also thanked the various levels of governments for the recognition given to the centre; but called for financial assistance to help it to grow.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)

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Minister advocates stiffer penalties against perpetrators of gender violence

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The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Paulen Tallen, has advocated stiffer penalties against perpetrators of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country.

She made the call at an interactive session on Gender Based Violence (GBV) with journalists by UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Abuja on Thursday.

Tallen, who was represented by Mrs Funke Oladipo, the Director, Women and Gender Affairs, Ministry of Women Affairs, said Nigerian women were demanding for capital punishment for perpetrators of GBV.

She said only stiffer penalties would put an end to the incessant bestial attitude of some men against women.

According to her, rape is on the increase and the appropriate measure to check it is through capital punishment.

She commended the UNFPA and other stakeholders for their committed efforts in addressing the challenge, especially in the North East.

Ms Christie Apio of UNFPA restated the commitment of the fund in addressing challenges associated with GBV and outlined the roadmap as “Call to Action”, which she said had priorities of strengthening coordination with major actors in the North East.

She said that UNFPA’s  “Call to Action” also had priorities of ensuring access quality services, as well as strengthening and expanding capacity and engagement with local partners.

According to her, funding is imperative, sufficient resources secured through strengthened leadership coordination and advocacy.

Dr Mathew Onoja, also of UNFPA, explained that there had been tremendous success so far in addressing the challenges of GBV.

Onoja said that the success was achieved with partnership of about 44 states and donors who were also determined to help to mitigate the challenges.

NAN reports that the UNFPA “Call to Action” is an initiative designed to transform the way humanitarian actors address GBV emergencies.

The pilot programme for Nigeria begun in 2017 and subsequently in DR Congo.

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)

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CONMESS: Anambra doctors says no going back on strike unless…

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Medical consultants at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COUUTH), Awka have said there was no going back on the Nov. 30 deadline to embark on indefinite strike if their demands were not met by Anambra Government.

Some of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) members who spoke to newsmen anonymously said nobody should blame them for the impending shutdown and its consequences on the public health sector in Anambra.

It will be recaledl that the MDCAN, COOUTH Chapter, had on Nov. 5 issued an ultimatum that it would embark on indefinite strike on Nov. 30 over non implantation of Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) without further negotiations.

According to the notice signed by Dr Chukwudi Okani and Prof. Obiora Ejiofor, its chairman and secretary, the MDCAN members have shown maturity and patience for four months in spite of being promised that the issues will be resolved

in one month.

The doctors who spoke journalists on Thursday said they were surprised that four months after a panel was set up in July to resolve the issues, there had yet to see the content of the report or its implementation.

“MDCAN has taken a position in the matter, remember there was a promise to increase our salary on April 1, which made it to embark on strike in June but because the government pleaded we had to call it off.

“In July a panel was set up but up till now nothing has been heard on its report, that is why we issued strike notice on Nov. 6, that come Nov. 30, we shall stop work indefinitely.

“That strike is avoidable but only payment of CONMESS can stop it; I am glad the governor is back from travel, I want to beg him to act and help prevent the negative effects this strike will have on public health in Anambra.

“The morale in COOUTH is low, our nurses and other health workers are grumbling over the non-implementation of CONMESS but they are not talking, it is important that the public know some of these things,” the source said.

When contacted, Okani said the Nov. 30 deadline remained and there had not been any communication between MDCAN and Anambra Government since the notice was issued.

He said it would not be correct to say that nothing was being done by the government toward meeting their demands and expressed the hope that the strike would be averted by the implementation of CONMESS.

The chairman said the demand was for better healthcare sector in the state as medical workers and patients would benefit if there were improved working conditions and equipment.

“We have not been communicated but I cannot categorically say that government is not doing anything because I wouldn’t know if they are working underground.

“The hospital is not patient-friendly, we don’t have enough doctors to attend to patients; doctors come and before you know it, they have left,” he said.

Mr C-Don Adinuba, Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, had appealed to the doctors to shelve their threat as government was looking into it.

Adinuba confirmed that the panel report was ready and would received the attention of Gov. Willie Obiano who was out of the country whenever he returned.

“I appeal to MDCAN to exercise patience so that the governor who is out of the country can act on the report when he returns in the next few days.

“There is a report which has been submitted to government for the governor to go through, things like that are not sent by e-mail,” he said.

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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