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New UNAIDS chief, Ebola drugs, others dominate health stories last week

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Science and health recorded major feats last week with the success of new drugs for the treatment of two deadly diseases – Ebola and Tuberculosis. Two new trial drugs passed the test for Ebola treatment while there was a breakthrough in treatment for drug-resistant TB.

Also, UNAIDS appointed a new executive secretary, Winnie Byanyima

PREMIUM TIMES brings you a roundup of some of the major health stories in the news last week.

Meningitis: Over 26 million children at risk in Nigeria

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) said 26.7 million children aged between one to seven years face the risk of meningitis in 25 Nigerian states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

An official of the agency, Adetunji Adeoye, stated this on Friday in Akure, the Ondo State capital, at the flag-off of the introduction of meningitis vaccination (Men A) into routine immunisation given to nine months old.

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Mr Adeoye said vaccines are the only way to prevent serious disease like meningitis, adding that Men A vaccine would protect children against the disease.

WHO, others want global action against tuberculosis

Nearly one year after the first United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis, world leaders have been called upon to implement immediate action on their commitments towards eradicating the disease globally.

This call was made by the Stop TB Partnership, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Health Organization in a press statement on the Global Funds website.

To curtail the menace of the disease, heads of states and government, last year October, at a Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Fight against Tuberculosis for 2018-2022, drew up some targets and financial commitments to fighting the disease.

Ebola: NCAA demands vigilance from airlines

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has directed all operators, especially airlines operating regional and international flights into the country, to exercise a high level of vigilance.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier declared the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in line with International Health Regulations.

The directive which has since been sent to all airline operators was signed by NCAA Director-General, Muhtar Usman.

Burundi launches Ebola vaccination campaign

Burundi Ministry of Public Health and AIDS Control on Tuesday kicked off the vaccination campaign for frontline staff against the Ebola virus disease. The campaign started at the Gatumba entry point at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The campaign is part of Burundi’s preparation for a possible case of Ebola. The campaign will be implemented under the leadership of the Ministry of Public Health and AIDS Control, with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO). GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, is providing financial support for the exercise.

Burundi has received doses of the Ebola vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV) to provide protection against the Zairian strain of the virus, which is currently affecting the DRC.

Ekiti govt. shuts five illegal hospitals

No fewer than five hospitals were on Thursday shut by the Ekiti State Government for operating illegally.

The Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, announced the closure during an unscheduled visit of the Medical Anti Quackery Committee set up by the state government to the hospitals.

She said that the state government would not tolerate quackery in medical practice in the state and would deal decisively with anyone caught in the act.

WHO approves two highly effective Ebola drugs

Two new treatments have offered a dash of hope in the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The World Health Organisation committee in charge of monitoring the efficacy and safety of the therapeutics recommended moving forward with REGN-EB3 or mAb114, after preliminary data from close to 500 patients showed that those who received these drugs had much higher chances of survival than those given ZMapp and remdesivir.

Responders are hopeful the positive results will encourage more people to go to treatment centres and seek early care. Many patients continue to stay in their communities, exposing more people to the virus and delaying their treatment, said Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, during a telebriefing on Monday.

UNAIDS gets new executive director

Winnie Byanyima has been appointed as the new executive director of UNAIDS, the United Nations body announced last week.

Ms Byanyima was the only woman shortlisted for the UNAIDS leadership position and was chosen over four other candidates: Chris Beyrer, Salim Abdool Karim, Bernard Haufiku, and Sani Aliyu.

Ms Byanyima has a tough to-do list which includes tackling some serious internal governance issues at the embattled U.N. body, whose leadership and organisational culture were put under the spotlight after a damning report in December 2018 described how the agency’s leaders failed to prevent and respond to harassment allegations.

There are also external challenges, with recent data showing an increase in new HIV infections in several countries and declining donor support for the AIDS response.

New drug for multidrug-resistant pulmonary TB

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved an anti-tuberculosis drug, called pretomanid, to treat patients suffering from extensively drug-resistant, treatment-intolerant, or treatment non-responsive multidrug-resistant pulmonary TB.

Treatment for these cases has typically involved multiple daily drugs and injections for over a year, a lengthy regimen that can be too complex and toxic for patients.

Global health advocates are hopeful the simplified regimen — which consists of only three drugs and a shorter treatment length of six months — could improve cure rates.

Yellow Fever: Ebonyi to conduct mass immunisation of residents

Following a recent outbreak of Yellow Fever in Ebonyi State, the state government on Monday said it will soon begin mass immunisation campaign against the disease in the 13 local government areas of the state.

It said the programme will be implemented in conjunction with all United Nations agencies and other partners.

The outbreak in the state began July 15 and with some deaths recorded.

The immunisation exercises will target residents of the state between the ages of 9 months and 44 years.

Nigeria

Gov AbdulRazaq urges youths to shun drug abuse, other vices

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Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has called on Nigerian youths to shun drug abuse and other vices that could hinder them from realising their lifetime ambitions.

AbdulRazaq made the call on Wednesday when he received members of the state chapter of Scouts’ Association of Nigeria (SAN), led by its Commissioner, Deacon Olabisi Afolayinka, at the Government House, Ilorin.

The governor, who recalled, with nostalgia, his days as a scout boy in Capital School, Kaduna, said that the organisation had contributed immensely to nurturing youths to become good citizens and contribute to the development of the country.

“This is an association that prepares youths on how to be good citizens and how to relate with their fellow countrymen.

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“These are virtues that the youth of today should maintain. In our own days as youths, there were no rampant cases of drug abuse,” he said.

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The governor urged the youth to use their energy for productive ventures and join the organisation to make positive contributions to society.

AbdulRazaq, who was made the organisation’s Ambassador of Peace, promised to live up to expectations by giving necessary support to the body through relevant government agencies.

Earlier in his remarks, Afolayanka said that the constitution of the body automatically made the governor of any state its patron and the president grand patron.

He commended AbdulRazaq for the audience granted the association, saying that this was the first time any governor would be hosting them in the state in the last 21 years.

Afolayanka said that the association was founded to build young boys and girls to make useful contributions to the country.

The SAN commissioner noted that cultism and other vices were not rampant in schools in the past when the scouts held sway.

He urged the governor to continue to support the association for effective discharge of its responsibilities in the state.

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Nigeria

NYSC: Bwari assures Corp members improved welfare

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The Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Mr John Gabaya has assured members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) of his administration’s readiness to improve on their welfare.

Gabaya gave the assurance when representatives of the FCT NYSC Secretariat, and some members of the NYSC 2019 Batch B’, paid him a courtesy visit on Wednesday in Abuja.

Gabaya, who appreciated the team for the gesture, said that it was the duty of the council, as host of the NYSC Orientation Camp in the city to ensure it gave the Corps maximum support.

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He acknowledged the fact that the camp in Kubwa, was faced with infrastructure challenges, adding that efforts would be made to amendments it and bring succour to the corps members.

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“The council, in its capacity, alongside the management of the scheme, would meet and discuss how it would make the development feasible including our best effort to add a little raise to their allowance,” Gabaya said.

Earlier, the NYSC FCT Coordinator, Mrs Waleeda Isa, said the visit was to acquaint its officials with the new administration of the council as host of the orientation camp.

Isa decried the sorry state of infrastructure at the NYSC camp, saying “their lodge in the camp is dilapidated and needs attention”.

“Also, it would go a long way for those who serve under the council, if your administration can kindly add a little to their allowance to augment what the Federal Government is giving them.

“We will be honoured if you make these efforts so that we feel your presence and know that you have us at heart,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NYSC 2019 Batch B’ corp members have reported and would be inaugurated at the orientation camp on Aug. 22.

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Nigeria

Lagos govt boosts MCC services in Eti-Osa Tribune Online

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THE Lagos State Government says it has completed yet another Maternal and Childcare Centre (MCC) located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state to increase residents’ access to qualitative maternal and child healthcare.

The state Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made this known on Wednesday in Lagos during an advocacy meeting with community leaders and residents of Badore.

Abayomi was represented by the Director of Projects, Ministry of Health, Dr Olusola Oduwole.

He said that the continuous implementation of strategic maternal child survival interventions, policies, programmes and projects by the government was geared toward the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the state.

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According to him, the local and national statistics of maternal and child mortality and morbidity rate are of utmost concern to the government hence, the adoption of various strategies to combat it.

“One of these strategies is the construction of MCC, a specialised healthcare centre for mothers and children.

“It is aimed at taking maternal and child healthcare closer to the people by reducing the travel time and improving the quality care to the highest possible standard,” the commissioner said.

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Abayomi said that the MCC was located on Ogombo Road along Abraham Adesanya Estate in Eti-Osa local government area.

According to him, the facility is a four-floored 110-bed complex designed to respond to maternal and child health issues.

“It will provide quality services for the restoration, improvement and promotion of the health and well-being of women, babies and children in the local government area and adjoining communities.

“It has two theatres where surgeries can be done; consulting rooms; treatment rooms, antenatal and postnatal wards; baby nursery; pharmacy, laboratory and offices, among others,” he said.

Abayomi said that the construction of MCCs in the state was designed to stem the tide of maternal deaths which occurred as a result of delivery by unskilled birth attendants, haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour and malaria, among others.

He said that women should not die in the course of life procreation process.

“The concept of the construction of MCCs was mooted with the conviction that these interventions will impact positively on the health indices of our mothers and children who constitute a significant percentage of clients attended to at public health facilities.

“The Eti-Osa MCC will commence operation before the end of the week and will serve as a referral centre to all primary health facilities in Eti-Osa local government and accompanying communities.

“It will yield the much desired and anticipated impact towards the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the area,” the commissioner said.

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Nigeria

Psychiatric resident doctors vow to continue strike %

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THE Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, has resolved to continue its ongoing indefinite strike demanding for optimal mental healthcare for patients.

The President of the association, Dr Afeez Enifeni, said in a statement on Wednesday, in Lagos, that the strike would continue until the management addressed the work experience of the overworked doctors.

Enifeni said that the doctors had on Aug. 19 held a meeting to review the current industrial action.

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The doctors accused the hospital management of being insensitive to the plight of the in and outpatients, who according to him, are receiving suboptimal mental health services.

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“The hospital management has blatantly refused to replace the annual exit of resident doctors for the past four years.

“Instead, they have let patient load and clinical work increase significantly for hapless resident doctors whose health and academic pursuits have suffered irreparably.

“In light of the above, the management’s insistence on employing only five locum doctors is highly provocative of our demands.

“It hardly improves the status quo which already puts overworked resident doctors at the brink of academic failure, health challenges and malpractice suits,” he said.

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the hospital’s management to do the needful in line with the administration’s next level agenda.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the resident doctors had embarked on an indefinite strike on July 31 over non-employment of more resident doctors at the hospital.

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Nigeria

AIDS: Society says self-stigma more destructive than HIV/AIDS

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THE Coalition of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (COCSNHAN) on Wednesday said that self-stigma was more destructive to people living with HIV than the disease.

Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, first Co-chairman of the society, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that it was the major reason people living with HIV default from treatments.

Nwakamma, who called for the incorporation of mental health services in the national HIV programme, said it was imperative to rescue patients from the dangers of self-stigma.

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“Very important, the issues of self-stigma is hardly talked about and that is even more destructive; it is the major reason people living with HIV default in their treatment,” he said.

The society’s co-chairman explained that mental health would make people living with HIV become co-managers of their health.

According to him, mental health problems among people living with HIV is the new epidemic and we must deal with it squarely.

Nwakamma restated the plans of the society to set up a monitoring system that would capture and report cases of stigma and discrimination in health facilities.

He promised that any identified case would be used to send a strong warning to others.

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