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Mental Health: Don calls for FG intervention on physical, mental health for elderly



Dr Ibrahim Wakawa, a Neuropsychologist, has called for

Federal Government’s intervention toward the physical and mental health of the elderly in the country.

Wakawa, also the Chief Medical Director, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri, made the call in an interview with

Nigeria News Agency on Thursday on the occasion of the World Mental Health Day.

Celebrated annually on Oct. 10 to raise awareness on mental health, the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day

is “Prevent Suicide.”

The Day is for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma, first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative

of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.

Mental health is the level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. It is the state of someone who

is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment.

The chief medical director, therefore, stressed the need for government to adopt a multi-pronged approach in addressing

the health needs of the elderly in the country.

He said “a robust social security package that caters for the needs of the elderly is highly essential, especially their mental health.

“The Health Insurance Scheme should incorporate them and tackle their needs.”

He decried the low number of experts in the field of geriatrics, adding that there was need to train more professionals

to handle the challenges faced by the elderly. (NAN)


Edited by Zainab Garba/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu










Foundation offers free medical care to 1,000 patients in Zaria



A Non Governmental Organisation, Waziri Foundation on Sunday offered free medical care to cover over 1,000 patients suffering from different ailments in Zaria, Kaduna State.

Its founder, Dr Aliyu Dahiru-Waziri, who is also a Consultant at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, made the disclosure in an interview with Journalists in Zaria.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Dahiru-Waziri spoke on the sideline sidelines of the exercise held at Bello Aliyu LGA Primary School, Kofar Doka, Zaria.

He said: “Our target is to treat more than a thousand today and to also do free genotype test for more than 100 people and after the genotype testing, we will follow it up with counseling, so that we tell them the implication of even having the sickle cell gene in them.

“This is a community outreach, which we try to organise in order to reach out to indigent patients whom we know that genuinely cannot afford some medical drugs.

“Also, some cannot genuinely even transport themselves to health facilities, so, we prefer taking the healthcare facility to them to be able to make diagnosis and treat them appropriately.”

The medical practitioner said the focus was on patients suffering from all forms of sicknesses, ranging from hypertension, diabetes, malaria among others.

Dahiru-Waziri said the exercise gave special attention to those suffering from sickle cell.

“We gave them special treatment with medications and everything, and for those patients we cannot treat at this point, we referred them to the nearest health facility for them to get the best of treatment,” he said.

He said the foundation was primarily established to look into the issues of health and education in the society with a view to complementing government efforts in ameliorating some of the challenges.

According to him, the ultimate goal of the foundation was to ensure that people get the necessary care to live healthy and pursue their daily activities.

On education, he said the foundation was stepping efforts to reduce the illiteracy level especially in Northern Nigeria.

“That’s why we are also involved in other activities like quiz competition, debate and public lectures and other related areas.

“Our hope and aspiration is to extend the gesture to other areas, however, our main problem is finance, as you can see, the programme we are holding today didn’t happen just like that.

“It occured as a result of collaboration with various quarters, including Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) who donated some drugs.

“We also have Frontier Hospital Kaduna, Sickle Cell Foundation, Sickle Cell Aid and Ahmadu Bello University Medical Students Association. They all came together, assisted us in making sure the programme is successful,” he noted.

He said that the foundation was unable to provide some needed drugs to the beneficiaries due  to financial constraints.

“But in terms of expertise, we have all sort of Doctors from Consultants to the most junior Doctors, everybody is here. My appeal is for wealthy individuals of the society to come in and assist.

“Our door is always open, they should come and partner with us so that collectively we can complement government efforts towards serving the society better,” he pleaded.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that patients started trooping to the venue as early as 7:00a.m. to access medication.

A cross section of the patients interviewed said they decided to come very early in order not to miss the opportunity as they had no money to visit hospitals.

They appreciated Waziri Foundation for what they described as gigantic humanitarian gesture targeted at the less privileged members of the society.

Edited by Saidu Adamu/Maharazu Ahmed

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



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



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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