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World Widows Day: Foundation empowers 30 widows in Abuja

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Destined Child International Foundation (DCIF), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) on Saturday empowered 30 widows in Abuja to commemorate the 2019 International Widows Day.

Celebrated annually on June 23, International Widows Day is a UN ratified day of action to address challenges faced by widows and their dependents in many countries across the globe.

Mrs MaryRose Oduche, the founder of DCIF, said at the maiden annual conference of the group in Abuja that the idea was borne out of the need to rally round widows “by ensuring full implementation of their rights.”

Oduche added that the idea was also initiated to acknowledge the voices of widows and take note of the diversity of these women and the roles they played in their circumstances.

She said “there is need to rally round widows by ensuring full implementation of their rights, acknowledging their voices everywhere and taking note of their diversities, roles and circumstances as enshrined in the Beijing declaration.

“Today, we are marking the DCIF annual widows conference with the theme: ‘Honouring the Resilience of the Widow,’ in commemoration of International Widows Day.

“We have received many reports where widows were left to their fate to fend for themselves and families.

“In some more tragic situations, most often than not, widows were inherited by members of husband’s family as  commodity to be used at the discretion of in-laws.

“These are not fairy tales to draw sympathy for widows; sadly, it is happening in our communities as we speak,” she stressed.

According to her, DCIF, established in 2012 engages in pragmatic moves to change the narrative by creating awareness to end dehumanising situations and has continued to provide relief materials to widows.

Mr Ehimen Diagi, the Chief Medical Director, Healthstead Global Limited, Abuja, who was at the event to administer medicare on the widows, said that the company was able to discover five cases of congestive heart failure.

He added that the company also discovered many cases of high hypertension among the widows and called on other NGO’s to emulate the annual practice of DCIF by imparting in the lives of the less privileged.

He said “the major problem of hypertension is that it causes stroke, heart failure, kidney issues, chronic renal failure and other heart diseases.

“Most of these widows here are farmers who work under the sun, one of the aims of this medical care is to catch those who are silently going down healthwise.”

Diagi, however, urged government at all levels to continue to provide social amenities that would impact on the lives of people and cushion the effects of diseases.

Mr Stanley Nwankwo, the Programme Coordinator for DCIF, said that the essence of the programme was to encourage the widows in spite of their challenges “and to tell them that there are people who care about them.”

Nwakwo appreciated the widows for taking care of children which their husbands left behind and called on them to be focused in whatever they were doing.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that DCIF has pledged to take care of the children of some of the widows, drawn from Mpape, a community in Bwari Area Council of FCT, and Dakibiyu, Jabi, Abuja from Primary to Secondary school education.

NAN also reports that the group donated various relief materials such as: cash, clothing, and food items to the widows.

Health

State health insurance agencies target 50% coverage in 5 years

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Dr Niyi Oginni, the Chairman, Forum of CEOs, State Health Insurance Agencies in Nigeria,

says state governments are targeting to achieve 50 per cent enrollment into health insurance schemes in the next five years.

Oginni told Nigeria News Agency on Friday, on the sideline of the 3rd annual edition of Legislative Summit on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Abuja.

According to him, the eight states implementing the scheme have so far enrolled 1.1 million within a year, representing 0.61 per cent.

He said the agencies that started within a year in eight states had already started providing services to those who enrolled.

He added that “by the time the 36 states of the federation enroll all residents into states’ health insurance schemes, a great percentage of

health coverage would be achieved and within five years, we would be able to achieve 50 per cent coverage.”

The official said that the template for the enrollment would soon be domesticated in states.

Oginni, who earlier spoke on ”Health Insurance Decentralisation’’ during technical session on “Strategic Framework for UHC in Nigeria” at the legislative

summit, said that the journey to decentralise health insurance started in 2014.

He added that the National Assembly committees on health, development partners, civil society organisations and professional associations

in the health sector achieved the drafting of the National Health Act, passed into law and assented to in 2014.

He explained that “the key achievement in the reform is the establishment of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

“BHCPF is to comprise not less than one per cent of Federal Government revenues in addition to donor contributions and funds from philanthropists.’’

According to him, BHCPF is an intervention fund, a panacea to fund the health financing deficit in Nigeria and the principal funding vehicle for the Basic

Minimum Package of Health Services (BMPHS)

“So far, the single most important social security that can support Nigeria’s aspiration to achieve UHC providing coverage for the vulnerable.

“The purpose of the fund is to increase the fiscal space and overall financing to the health sector to assist Nigeria achieve UHC.”

The chairman said that the National Council on Health adopted the memorandum on implementation of State-Supported Health Insurance

Scheme (SSHI) in March 2015.

He noted that key resolutions from the council included: “health insurance must be mandatory for all; SSHIS should create a budget line to

cover those who cannot afford to pay premiums under an equity fund.

“Also, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) will develop a model legal template to be partly or wholly adapted by states.

“State laws must align with NHIS Act and the National Health Act 2014 should facilitate collaboration and composition of SSHIS boards to

include stakeholders such as NHIS, civil society.”

Oginni, who is the Executive Secretary, Osun State Health Insurance Agency, however, made some recommendations to achieving efficiency in

the implementation of SSHIS in Nigeria.

The recommendations are that NHIS should be proactive in its responsibility of providing technical support and capacity building for SSHIS.

“There is an urgent need for NHIS to convene the ICT summit for UHC.

“There is urgent need for the National Secretariat of the BHCPF to review its implementation to allow seamless alignment with SSHIS and the original purpose.

Edited by Shittu Obassa/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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PCN seals off 577 pharmacies, patent medicine shops in Anambra

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The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) has sealed off 96 pharmacies and 481 patent medicine shops totalling 577 medicine premises in Anambra for various offences.

The PCN’s Director, Inspection and Monitoring, Mrs Anthonia Aruya, made this known in Awka on Friday while addressing newsmen on the council’s efforts at sanitising the sector in the state.

Aruya said that a total of 779 medicine premises were visited after which 19 of them were issued compliance directives for various offences.

According to her, the offences range from poor handling of controlled substances, sale and dispensing of prescription drugs without the supervision of a pharmacist as well as unhygienic environment and poor documentation.

“The enforcement was in fulfilment of its mandate as stated in PCN Act, Cap P17, LFN, 2004 and also in line with the National Drug Distribution Guide of the Federal Government.

“The activities are geared at streamlining the drug distribution value chain to promote safe, effective and quality medicine distribution along registered and licensed premises.

“Pharmacies that opened at will without recourse to the Council cannot be guaranteed to have standards that will maintain the integrity of the products within such facilities, ‘’ she said.

Aruya said that the council and other regulatory agencies were working to relocate all open drug markets to coordinated wholesale centres for proper regulation.

The director advised the public to always seek registration status of facilities where they access medicines to safeguard themselves from patronising quacks.

Edited by Adeleye Ajayi

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Legislative Health Summit: N1bn Cancer Fund not enough – Panelists

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Panelists at the ongoing Legislative Health Summit in Abuja, on Friday,

urged legislators and stakeholders to increase the N1 billion Cancer Fund proposed by the Senate Committee on

Health toward tackling the spread of the scourge in the country.

The panelists, however, commended the initiative as announced by Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on

Health at the summit with the theme “Efficiency and Effectiveness in Nigeria Health: The Role of Legislators in Decentralised Democracy.”

Oloriegbe said the proposed N1 billion in the 2020 budget “is the starting point”, adding that stakeholders should discuss ways

to expand resources and manage the fund so that the poor and vulnerable could benefit from it.

Panelists who spoke at the Plenary Session of the summit on “ Innovative Financing for Non-Communicable Diseases in Nigeria – Setting up

Catastrophic Health Fund, said it would take combined effort of the three tiers of government, private and well-meaning Nigerians to make the fund efficient.

According to them, there is need to build the capacity of medical practitioners to manage equipment and support the private sector to complement

the efforts of stakeholders.

Dr Bello Abubakar, a Consultant Oncologist, National Hospital, Abuja, said cancer kill more people than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV combined.

He said “Nigeria, with a population of more than 180 million, will require 180 radiotherapy machines but we have only four of such machine

functioning.

“Also, the country requires 3,000 clinical oncologists to be able to manage those machines and administer chemotherapy.

“We have 70 clinical oncologists, out of the number, 10 left the country in the past three months for greener pasture.”

According to him, the situation is a serious one as patients cannot afford treatment, and 99 per cent of patients use out of pocket expenses to treat cancer.

“So, we must find a way to fund cancer treatment because the proposed N1 billion Cancer Fund is inadequate.’’

Dr Rahmatu Hassan, former National Coordinator, National Cancer Control Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, said the fund would not be

enough for treatment and to build the capacity of personnel handling the cases.

Hassan said the Federal Government should have trained and built the capacity of the medical personnel to handle the cases a long time ago.

She added that “without the requisite personnel on ground, we would not be able to provide the kind of treatment that should be given to cancer patients.

“We should have expanded the coverage of national health insurance to accommodate more patients.

“We should have had a special fund that would be used for investigation, treatment and routine check because all of these are expensive.

“Now that we are late, such fund should be created and stakeholders should contribute to provide treatment for cancer patients.”

While sharing his experience, Rep. Dachung Bagos, a member representing Jos South/East Federal Constituency of Plateau in the House

of Representatives, said he lost his mother to cancer.

Bagos said the experience made him to establish a foundation in honour of his late mother to create awareness and support cancer patients.

He advised Nigerians to go for routine check-up every six months, stressing that “cancer is deadly than and that is why we are

supporting the establishment of Cancer Fund; it is not about us, it is about the generation to come. Cancer is real; it here and we need to

address it.”

The summit is the 3rd annual edition of Legislative Summit on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), bringing both national and state lawmakers

to discuss and take decisions toward ensuring that all individuals and communities receive health services they need without suffering

financial hardship.

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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No plan to stop Basic Healthcare Fund — Senate

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Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, says there is no plan to stop the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund as rumoured by some stakeholders in the sector.

Oloriegbe gave the assurance when he co-chaired a panel on ‘’Innovative Financing for Non-Communicable Diseases in Nigeria- Setting Up of Catastrophic Health Fund’’ at the ongoing 3rd Annual Legislative Summit on Health in Abuja.

The theme of the summit is “Efficiency and Effectiveness in Nigeria Health: The Role of Legislators in De-centralised Democracy.”

The lawmaker said legislators had to look at what the constitution and the Guideline on the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) stated on modality for accessing the fund to enhance proper disbursement.

“ The executive proposal for 2020 budget has N44.5 billion for Basic Healthcare Provision Fund but our proposal to Committee on Appropriation is to make it N55 billion.

“For emphasis sake, we are not scraping and we are not stopping the fund,’’ he said.

He explained that the committee members had to consult with the stakeholders and the two health ministers on the grey areas to see that the guideline did not contravene the law.

“The guideline cannot contravene the law of the land and we are still waiting for reviewed guideline.

“What we are doing is to see that Basic Health Provision Fund work better and our function is to correct any flaw.

“I am encouraging you to get the law and the guideline online and read them.

“For instance, the five per cent we are talking about emergency, what did the law say? Section 11 and Sub Section 5 says five per cent emergency shall be spent by a committee set up by the National Council.

“But the guideline says that money will be in the Department of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health,’’ he said.

He said that N27.5 billion had been approved for disbursement and the money was still in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

“Once we have the draft, we will call National Council, that is what the law says. This is our position on Basic Healthcare Provision Fund.

“ National Assembly didn’t stop it and we want it to be efficient, effective and in line with the law,’’ he said.

He explained further that the Federal Government provision for healthcare was supposed to be the tertiary care, adding that most of the money was in the recurrent budget.

“The money for recurrent – payment of salaries for staff of the teaching hospitals in the country, and we have 54 of them, and 10 specialised hospitals in the country,’’ he said.

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Wale Ojetimi

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Group urges Kaduna Govt. to strengthen nutrition delivery system

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The Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) on Friday called on the Kaduna State Government to strengthen its nutrition intervention delivery system.

Mr Isaac Dare, CS-SUNN’s Project Assistant, made the call in Zaria at the ongoing five-day training, organised by Kaduna State Planning and Budget Commission, supported by CS-SUNN.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the training was organised to build the capacity of the State Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) on leadership, change management and effective nutrition coordination.

Dare described nutrition system as ‘the interactions among actors, sectors, disciplines and determinants of nutrition’, stressing the need to strengthen the component units to improve the effectiveness of the system.

He commended the state government for the various steps taken to address the scourge of malnutrition in the state, particularly the development and implementation of various nutrition policies and programmes.

He, nonetheless, called on the SCFN to apply system thinking and system approach to addressing malnutrition in the state.

According to him, the multi-factorial causation of malnutrition requires a multi-sectoral approach, adding that strong collaboration among several sectors and actors is needed to build a well-nourished society.

Also speaking, CS-SUNN Coordinator in the state, Mr Silas Ideva, said that the state’s nutrition system would remain weak if interventions by government agencies, development partners and other actors were not well coordinated.

According to him, strong coordination is required to unify and synchronize the efforts of all stakeholders in the quest to improve the nutrition indices of the state.

“Effective coordination of nutrition intervention, which is the major mandate of the SCFN is crucial in winning the war against malnutrition.

“This is because the committee is expected to bring all nutrition stakeholders together to act as an entity in responding to nutrition issues in the state.”

Ideva, therefore, advised that all categories of stakeholders; the core; the supportive; the periphery, and the involved should be engaged in the planning and implementation of nutrition intervention for maximum impact.

Similarly, Dr Zainab Muhammad-Idris, the state’s Programme Manager, Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria, decried the absence of Nutrition Information System (NIS) in most ministries, department and agencies in the state.

Muhammad-Idris described NIS as “a system of continuous collection and interpretation of nutrition-related data to enable timely decision making to improve the nutrition situation of a population.”

She added that the major objective of the NIS was to use nutrition data to support timely warnings for short-term prevention, preparedness and response.

On his part, Mr Kunle Ishola of CS-SUNN harped on evidence-based advocacy for improve nutrition funding in the state.

In a presentation entitled “Translating Research to Action”, Ishola urged nutrition-centred civil society organisation to use available research findings to engage policy makers.

“It is very important that advocates have a clear understanding of the kinds of research needed to get policy makers to take the right decision on issues around funding,” he said.

Edited by Abiemwense Moru/Ismail Abdulaziz

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WHO supports Nigeria’s legislative network to achieve UHC

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World Health Organisation (WHO) says  it is supporting Nigeria’s legislative network in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), through the collaboration of the European Union.

Dr Clement Peter, WHO Officer in Charge (OIC), made the disclosure in a goodwill message at the 3rd Annual Summit of the Legislative Network for UHC on Thursday in Abuja with the theme “Efficiency in the Health Sector and the Role of Legislators’’.

UHC is the ability of citizens to access quality healthcare services without going through financial hardships.

Peter said WHO would continue to leverage on its unique network to share lessons learnt from the country through the regional office to other countries of Africa.

He expressed the hope that the summit would generate consensus around the first- ever Legislative Health Agenda for UHC and catalyse increased legislative action for health at the national and sub national levels.

Kwabena Twum-Nuamah, Chairman, Ghana Parliamentary Committee on Health, said many constituents in African countries were unable to access healthcare because they do not have the means to pay out of pocket.

He said Africa was in a position to help its people if governments around the continent could implement the necessary programmes.

He added that “as parliamentarians, we stand to gain the most when we achieve UHC.”

Dr Olumide Okunola, the representative of the World Bank, said it was the responsibility of  legislators in the country to ensure that Nigerians received quality healthcare services, regardless of who was paying for them.

According to him, this gives hope for the future.

Dr Olamide Okulaja, the Director, Advocacy and Communications , PharmAccess Foundation, said healthy population was key to achieving Nigeria’s vision of improving the economic wellbeing of the nation.

Okulaja said  the legislative network promised to leverage on support from states and donor partners for health financing necessary toward the achievement of UHC by providing specific information to parliamentarians.

He added that the foundation would continue to leverage on digital platforms to improve access, quality and create innovative mechanisms in solving the financial challenges limiting the attainment of UHC in the country.

A don, Prof. Muhammed Yakassai, who identified funding as major factor affecting the attainment of UHC, added that the factor was discovered after a tour of several institutions.

He noted that “the issue with funding include inadequate funding for health in the national budget, leakages within the healthcare sector of the country.”

Nigeria News Agency reports that the summit is expected to set the tone for more inclusive legislative interactions at national and sub-national levels on health legislation, and enhance legislative roles for the advancement of a legislative agenda to achieve UHC in Nigeria.

Editing by Vivian Ihechu/ Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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