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COVID-19: FCTA seeks partnership with NAN on awareness campaign

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The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has expressed willingness to enlighten the public about the risk factors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Mohammed Kawu, Acting Secretary, FCTA Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), made this known when he  received  the Director of Admin and Human Resource Management of NAN, Alhaji Abdulhadi Khaliel, on a courtesy visit to the secretariat  on Tuesday in Abuja.

Kawu said that the secretariat needed the support of the media, in this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the secretariat would offer to train NAN on the COVID-19 Pandemic “so that they will be able to deliver what we want to the public.”

According to him, many people still don’t believe that COVID-19 is real including some health workers.

“In this pandemic, we need the media more than any other group.

“So, if there are people that we want to work with at this time, they are the media; certainly NAN is one of the priority media organisations to us.

“We really need to work with the media on the risk communication to bridge the gap and increase the awareness.

“As we all know,  COVID-19 is a public health disease that is communicable. People get it; and if they do certain things they will not contract it; and it is also fatal.

“A lot of people are dead as a result of the disease besides the morbidity that is associated with it and other economic and social challenges associated with the disease.

“I request the support of NAN especially as you have wide network of reporters across the country to really work on COVID-19 enlightenment.

“Probably, when we visit we’ll come with the Emergency Operation Response Team that have pillars including risk communication so that we discuss with the Managing Director of NAN,” he said.

Earlier, Khaliel, had solicited the support of the secretariat to assist the agency revive its monthly health talks to educate NAN staff members on how best to look after their health.

He also sought the intervention of the secretariat to deploy some health personnel to man the NAN staff Clinic at its headquarters.

“We are here to seek for the secretariat’s intervention. We normally used to have monthly health talks where we invite health professional that specialise on different fields to come and educate us about healthcare.

“Because NAN is an agency where people work round-the-clock, especially the Editorial Department that has no fewer than 500 newsmen.

“Out of which 50 per cent of them are on the desk in the offices not only in Abuja but also in Lagos, Plateau, Bauchi, Rivers, Enugu and Kaduna states.

“We realised that we really need to be talking to ourselves on our health.

“We want to revive the monthly health talks to enable us to ensure regular medical check ups; this is why we decided to approach the secretariat and seek intervention so that we can restore the monthly health talks.

“We are here to also solicit the support of the secretariat to manage our staff clinic,” he said.

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Health

Ogun enforces measures to prevent Cholera outbreak in Schools

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The Ogun State Government has directed school heads to ensure good health and safety of all learners and staff to prevent the spread of cholera within the school communities.

Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, in a statement on Wednesday, said preventive measures have been put in place to control the spread of the disease in schools in the state.

According to him, the measures take effect from Wednesday, 19th June, 2024 as schools resumed from the mid-term break and the Eid-el-kabir holiday.

Some of the measures include comprehensive health talks on cholera prevention among learners and staff, including information on symptoms, transmission routes, proper hand hygiene, and safe drinking water practices;

Ensure availability of clean water and soap for hand washing ni school premises;

Encourage regular handwashing, especially before eating and after using the restroom;

Promote the use of hand sanitisers with at least 60% alcohol content as a support to hand washing;

Regularly inspect and maintain water sources within school premises to ensure that they are safe for drinking;

Instruct learners and staff to consume only boiled or chlorinated water and avoid consuming raw or unwashed fruits and vegetables;

Maintain clean and hygienic school environments, including proper disposal of waste and regular cleaning of toilets and common areas;

Collaborate closely with local health authorities and follow their guidelines for cholera prevention and control measures;

Ensure safe food preparation by making sure that they are properly cooked and covered when not consumed immediately;

Monitor closely the food vendors and ensure that they collect letters from health facilities certifying their fitness for the job;

Designate Health Officers within the school to monitor learners and staff for any symptoms of cholera (like frequent watery stooling, etc) and report any suspected cases immediately to the nearest Health Care Centre and ot the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

“By adhering strictly to these preventive measures and maintaining a high level of vigilance, we can collectively safeguard our health and well-being during this critical period,” the statement added.

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Sickle Cell Day: FG to integrate care, services into maternal, child healthcare

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The Federal Government says it will integrate Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) care and services into maternal and child health to improve early identification of cases.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja at a media conference to commemorate the 2024 World Sickle Cell Day (WSCD) with the theme “Hope Through Progress: Advancing Care Globally.”

Sickle cell is a group of disorders that cause red blood cells to become misshapen and break down.

With sickle cell disease, an inherited group of disorders, red blood cells contort into a sickle shape and die early, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells (sickle cell anaemia), blocking blood flow and causing pain (sickle cell crisis).

The World Sickle Cell Day is annually commemorated on June 19 to raise awareness about the disease and the need for urgent action.

The global observance day is also to draw attention to the challenges faced by individuals and families affected by SCD.

The health minister, who was represented by the ministry’s Director of Public Health, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, said the integration was targeted at both primary and secondary levels of healthcare in the country.

According to him, the integration will improve early detection of cases and enrollment into the comprehensive care for SCD.

He also said that plans were underway to deploy newly validated, efficient and cost-effective Point of Care screening methods that would identify SCD in new-borns, and in other age groups, as first line screening method for SCD at different levels of care.

He listed other measures to reduce the burden of the disease as: revitalisation and re-positioning of the six SCD centres for improved SCD service delivery and access to care for those living with the disease.

Pate said SCD is the most prevalent genetic disease in the WHO African Region, and that in many countries of the region including Nigeria, 10 to 40 per cent of the population carry the sickle-cell gene, resulting in estimated SCD prevalence of at least two per cent.

He said, “The situation in the region also indicates that national policies and strategic action plans are inadequate, while appropriate facilities and trained personnel are scarce.

“In Nigeria, SCD contributes significantly to both child and adult morbidity and mortality.

“Nigeria stands out as the most SCD endemic country in Africa and globally, ahead of India and Democratic Republic of Congo, with an annual infant death of 100,000, representing eight per cent of infant mortality.”

The Minister added that those that managed to survive, do suffer end-organs damage, which not only shorten their lifespan, but also affects their quality of life.

He also said it is one disorder that may negatively undermine the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) one, three and four.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Walter Mulombo, said that among the more than 120 million people affected globally by SCD, an estimated 66 per cent live in Africa.

He also said that “an average of 1,000 children are born every day with SCD, making it the most prevalent genetically-acquired disease in the African region.”

Mulombo, who was represented by Dr Kelius Msyamboza, said about 6.4 per cent of under-five mortality in Africa is attributed to SCD, with a 26 percent increase in deaths from 2000 to 2019.

He, however, said in response to the situation, the organisation developed a strategy to tackle the disease in the WHO African Region, adopted by member states during the 66th Regional Committee for Africa.

Mulombo said the strategy provided a set of public health interventions to reduce the disease burden through improved awareness, prevention and early detection.

According to him, early diagnosis in new-borns through point-of-care screening allows early treatment that can save lives, alleviate symptoms and reduce suffering from pains.

“As for adults with SCD, regular checks are crucial to monitor signs of organ damage, early detection and effective management, he advised.

He disclosed that Nigeria had been selected as one of the 20 priority countries to implement the PEN-Plus intervention.

On her part,  Prof. Obiageli Nnodu, the Director, Centre of Excellence for SCD Research and Training, University of Abuja (CERSTA), said the centre was carrying out conventional screening of new-borns in 25 Primary Health Care (PHC) centres in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

She added that the centre had screened 22,000 babies in the FCT and 12,000 in Kaduna State, while 344 babies had been identified, while efforts were underway to follow them up.

Nnodu added that infrastructure was built to support a national SCD disease registry, and that capacity had been built to support the immediate role-out of universal new born screening.

She explained that though the barriers to screening had been addressed, the centre was still encountering other barriers to enrollment of detected babies.

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Experts suggest early cancer screening for successful treatment

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Medical experts have encouraged Nigerians, especially women and girls, to engage in regular screening for early detection and successful treatment of cervical cancer.

They made the call during a zoom meeting organised by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Nigeria and partners, on Tuesday in Abuja.

The zoom meeting had the theme: “Understanding Cervical Cancer and Its Intersection with HIV.”

The partners include John Hopkins Programme for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO), National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) and GirlsAct.

JHPIEGO Advisor on Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP) and Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme(CECAP), Dr George Ikaraoha,  explained that cervical Cancer was a malignant tumour of the lowermost part of the uterus.

He added that cervical cancer could be prevented and treated if detected early.

Ikaraoha identified Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection, early sexual activity and multiple sexual partners, smoking and immune system deficiency as factors that contribute to cervical cancer.

Ikaraoha also identified long-term use of oral contraceptives, having many children, poverty, poor access to healthcare services, as well as information amid cultural beliefs as other factors.

He, therefore, encouraged regular screening as crucial for detection and treatment of precancerous conditions before they developed into cervical cancer.

“By understanding the risk factors and adhering to recommended screening schedules, women can significantly reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer and improve their chances of successful treatment, if cancer does occur,” he said.

MsOmosekeBamijoko, an Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Nurse with AHF, also stressed the need for early diagnosis, which she explained would enable experts to detect and treat cancer successfully.

She said, “Women living with HIV are more prone to cervical cancer and as such should go for screening every three years while others can be screened every five years.

“Also, the public should desist from stigmatising people to enable them access health care.”

She urged girls and women to seek health professionals, when they observe unusual bleeding, increase in foul-smelling vaginal discharge, persistent pain in the back and leg or pelvic.

Others, she said are weight loss, fatigue and loss of appetite, vaginal discomfort, swelling in the legs among others.

A Programme Officer with IHVN, Dr Lois Maji, advised young girls to take advantage of the Federal Government’s free programme on HPV screening and vaccine to protect themselves against cervical cancer.

She emphasised that early detection would not only reduce the burden of cervical cancer in Nigeria but would also prevent genital warts and other genital growths in women and girls.

Senior nursing officer with AHF, MrsMenakayaAtenchong, called for more investment and affordable healthcare services, public education, engagement of community leaders and utilising culturally sensitive approaches to enhance cervical cancer screening and treatment services.

AHF Nigeria Advocacy and Marketing Manager, Mr Steve Aborisade, said that cervical cancer and HIV were significant public health issues that disproportionately affect women, particularly in resource-limited settings.

Aborisade said the meeting was organised to acquaint participants with information on the relationship between HIV and cervical cancer.

“This will also enable us to discuss preventive measures, and to share the latest research and strategies for effective management and support,”he said.

Over 160 participants from across the country joined the meeting.

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