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Lagos commemorates World TB day with awareness walk, stakeholders engagement

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In a concerted effort to tackle the ongoing challenge of tuberculosis (TB) in Lagos State, the Ministry of Health organised an Awareness Walk and Stakeholders Engagement to commemorate Y2024 World Tuberculosis Day.

The awareness walk held around the Secretariat, Alausa-Ikeja community, and the Stakeholders’ Engagement and Briefing held at the Folarin Coker Staff Clinic Auditorium, Alausa was attended by stakeholders from various sectors, including healthcare professionals, international funders, and implementing partners.

Speaking at the event, the Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi emphasised the urgent need to tackle tuberculosis (TB) head-on. He highlighted the profound impact of TB on global public health, stressing its enduring presence as a significant challenge affecting millions worldwide.

Prof. Abayomi, who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Health, Dr. Oluwatoni Adeyemi, noted that despite advancements, TB remains a formidable foe, causing immense suffering and loss.

With a clear message of hope and determination, Prof. Abayomi underscored the theme of the event, “Yes, we can end TB,” emphasising the collective responsibility to work towards a TB-free world. He commended the efforts of the State’s TB and Leprosy Control Programme, which successfully treated 18,546 TB patients in 2023.

While acknowledging the State’s steadfast commitment to combating TB, the Commissioner attributed progress recorded so far to strategic partnerships, innovative programmes, and relentless advocacy efforts. However, he cautioned against complacency, emphasising the ongoing need for vigilance and action.

Prof. Abayomi called upon all stakeholders, including government agencies, healthcare professionals, civil society organisations, the private sector, and the general public, to join forces in the fight against TB. He urged increased awareness, improved access to healthcare services, and support for research initiatives aimed at prevention and control.

Expressing gratitude to those dedicated to the TB cause, Prof. Abayomi rallied support for decisive actions to end TB once and for all. He concluded with a call for unwavering resolve and optimism, urging belief in the power of collective action to effect positive change.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye stated the significance of World TB day, noting that the day serves as an opportunity to raise awareness about TB, celebrate survivors, and remember those who have lost their lives to the disease.

Dr. Ogboye, who was represented by the Director, Disease Control in the Ministry of Health, highlighted the continued threat posed by TB, citing statistics that reveal Nigeria’s alarming rate of TB-related deaths. He emphasised the urgent need for collaborative efforts to address the disease effectively, especially considering Lagos State’s significant contribution to the national burden of TB.

Despite the government’s commitment to combating TB, Dr. Ogboye stressed the importance of external support from international funders and implementing partners. He expressed gratitude to these entities for their ongoing assistance in the fight against TB, recognising their vital role in providing financial resources and technical expertise.

Speaking in the same vein, the State Coordinator, World Health Organization (WHO) Lagos Office, Dr. Chinenye Okafor emphasised the urgent need for collective action to combat the persistent threat of tuberculosis (TB) in Lagos and beyond.

While commending the Lagos State government for its commitment to TB awareness and control efforts, Dr. Okafor stressed the severity of the TB crisis, citing alarming statistics from the African region, where one person is infected with TB every 30 seconds, resulting in 444 deaths per day in 2022 alone.

“These figures underscored the critical importance of sustained efforts to combat the disease,” she said.

Dr. Okafor reaffirmed WHO’s support for Lagos State’s TB control initiatives, highlighting the organisation’s Country Cooperation Strategy, which prioritises research and intervention to address TB effectively. With approximately 100 WHO-paid officers currently working in Lagos State, Dr. Okafor assured continued collaboration to strengthen TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment efforts.

Drawing attention to the vulnerability of children to TB, Dr. Okafor emphasised the need for targeted interventions. She reported a notable increase in pediatric TB detection, signaling the importance of prioritising this demographic in TB control strategies. Dr. Okafor also stressed that protecting children from TB is essential for securing the future health of communities.

In recognition of Lagos State’s leadership in TB control, Dr. Okafor praised the government’s efforts and lauded Lagos as a trailblazer in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. She expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for their commitment to the TB cause and urged continued dedication to ending the TB epidemic.

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Over 1,800 malnourished kids recovered in six months in Bauchi — CSOs

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Rauf Oyewole, Bauchi

The Coalition of Civil Society –Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, Bauchi State Chapter has said that through its partnership with other implementing partners they have assisted over 1,800 malnourished children to recover from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

The Secretary of the Network, Dabis Mwalike while addressing journalists as part of the activities marking the 10th year anniversary of the network, said that it also engaged in preventive measures against malnutrition in the state.

According to her, during the implementation, 698 healthcare providers were trained across the 20 local government areas of Bauchi, 400 community-based volunteers were trained while 4,229 comprising 2,059 males and 2,170 females, children under five identified with SAM and 7,743 made of 3661males and 4082 females, children under five identified with Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM).

She added that 1,825 children under five identified with SAM and MAM recovered. While 202 PHCs established food banks.

She said that despite all the achievements, malnutrition remains a concern to public health and a threat to child survival, growth, and development in the country, and Bauchi State according to NNHS (2018) and NDHS (2018) the State stunting rate is 46 percent, wasting is 9.5 percent while underweight is 28.2 percent and overweight is 0.5 percent.

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Capacity training will reduce migration of health workers- NPHCDA

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The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) says it is taking steps towards tackling migration of health workers through capacity training programmes.
Mr Julius Idoko, NPHCDA Coordinator in Cross River, said this at the opening of a five-day capacity training for 100 frontline healthcare workers in the state on Tuesday.
Idoko said that the training, a project of the Health Minister, Prof. Mohammad Pate, was aimed at improving the capacity of health workers and making migration out of the country less attractive.
”The rate at which health workers leave the country has become worrisome, this training is to build their capacities.
”This initiative is one of the steps we are taking to curb the continuous exodus of healthcare professionals from the country.
”If we continue to engage and improve the capacity of our health workers, there will be no reason for them to leave the country,” he said.
The cordinator said that the initiative targets to capture no fewer than 120,000 healthcare workers in public institutions across the country.
Also speaking, Dr Henry Ayuk, Cross River’s Commissioner for Health, described the training as ‘very important’ to the state following its peculiar challenges.
He said the training would strengthen the skills of healthcare workers and enhance their performances.
Ayuk said that the state government would equip no fewer then 450 primary health centres within the next one year to enhance healthcare delivery.
Dr Vivian Otu, Director-General, Cross Rivers Primary Healthcare Development Agency, commended NPHCDA for the initiative, describing it as timely and well-intended
He said thet those who benefited from the exercise would train others to ensure an active and efficient workforce.
The programme attracted participants from WHO, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, President’s Malaria Initiative among others
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WHO targets immunisation of one million people, as Nigeria becomes first country to receive new meningitis vaccine

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is targeting the immunisation of 1millikn persons as Nigeria becomes the first country in the world to roll out a new vaccine (Men5CV).

In a statement on Friday, WHO said that the vaccine would protect people against five strains of Meningococcus bacteria and described Nigeria’s feat as historic.

It said that health workers would begin an immunisation campaign aimed at reaching one million people.

The statement said that the vaccine and emergency vaccination activities are funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which funds the global meningitis vaccine stockpile and supports lower-income countries with routine vaccination against meningitis.

According to the WHO, Nigeria is one of the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries in Africa, situated in the area known as the African Meningitis Belt.

It noted that in 2023, there was a 50 percent jump in annual meningitis cases reported across Africa.

“In Nigeria, an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) serogroup C outbreak, led to 1,742 suspected meningitis cases, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 deaths in seven of the 36 Nigerian states between October 2023 and March 2024.”

The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, and Zamfara.

“To quell the deadly outbreak, a vaccination campaign was undertaken on March 25–28, 2024, to initially reach more than one million people aged 1-29 years,” it said.

The statement noted that meningitis is a serious infection that leads to the inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

“There are multiple causes of meningitis, including viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic pathogens.”

“Symptoms often include headache, fever, and stiff neck. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious and can also result in septicaemia (blood poisoning). It can seriously disable or kill within 24 hours,” the statement added.

It quoted WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, as saying that meningitis was an old and deadly foe, adding that the new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives.

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal of eliminating meningitis by 2030,” Ghebreyesus said.

He said that the revolutionary new vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y, and X – in a single shot.

All five strains cause meningitis and blood poisoning.

According to him, this provides broader protection than the current vaccine used in much of Africa, which is only effective against the A strain.

He said that the new vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce meningitis cases and advance progress in defeating meningitis.

“This is especially important for countries like Nigeria, where multiple serogroups are prevalent.

“The new vaccine uses the same technology as the meningitis A conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac®), which wiped out meningococcal A epidemics in Nigeria,” the WHO boss said.

The statement quoted Prof. Muhammad Pate, Nigeria’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, as saying that Northern Nigeria, particularly the states of Jigawa, Bauchi, and Yobe, were badly hit by the deadly outbreak of meningitis.

“This vaccine provides health workers with a new tool to both stop this outbreak and also put the country on a path to elimination,” Pate said.

According to him, Nigeria has done a lot of work preparing health workers and the health system for the rollout of the new vaccine.

“We got invaluable support from our populations in spite of the fasting period, and from our community leaders, especially the Emir of Gumel in Jigawa, who personally launched the vaccination campaign in the state.

“We’ll be monitoring progress closely and hopefully expand the immunisation in the coming months and years to accelerate progress,” he said.

The Minister said that the new multivalent conjugate vaccine took 13 years of effort and was based on a partnership between PATH and the Serum Institute of India.

“Financing from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office was critical to its development,” he said.

Pate said that in July 2023, WHO prequalified the new Men5CV vaccine (which has brand name MenFive®), and in October 2023, it issued an official recommendation to countries to introduce the new vaccine.

According to him, Gavi allocated resources for the Men5CV rollout in December 2023, which are currently available for outbreak response through the emergency stockpile managed by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on vaccine provision.

He added that the rollout, through mass preventive campaigns, was expected to start in 2025 across countries of the Meningitis Belt.

UK Minister for Development and Africa, Mr Andrew Mitchell, was also quoted as saying that the rollout of one million vaccines in northern Nigeria would help save lives, prevent long-term illness, and boost the goal of defeating meningitis globally by 2030.

“This is exactly the kind of scientific innovation supported by the UK, which I hope is replicated in years to come, to help us drive further breakthroughs, including wiping out other diseases,” Mitchell said.

He said that WHO has been supporting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) in responding to the meningitis outbreak in the country.

According to him, the areas of support include disease surveillance, active case finding, sample testing, and case management.

“WHO and partners have also played a vital role in supporting Nigeria to prepare for the rollout of the new vaccine and training health workers,” he said.

PATH’s Chief of Africa Region, Dr Nanthalile Mugala, was also quoted as saying that meningococcal meningitis had tormented countries across Africa year after year.

“The introduction of MenFive® in Nigeria heralds a transformative era in the fight against meningococcal meningitis in Africa.

“Building on the legacy of previous vaccination efforts, this milestone reflects over a decade of unwavering, innovative partnerships.

“The promise of MenFive® lies not just in its immediate impact but in the countless lives it stands to protect in the years to come, moving us closer to a future free from the threat of this disease,” Mugala said.

According to her, in 2019, WHO and partners launched the global roadmap to defeating meningitis by 2030.

“The roadmap sets a comprehensive vision towards a world free of meningitis and has three goals, including the elimination of bacterial meningitis epidemics.

Another goal is the reduction of cases of vaccine-preventable bacterial meningitis by 50 percent and deaths by 70 percent, as well as the reduction of disability and improvement of quality of life after meningitis, due to any cause.

Chief Programme Officer at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Ms Aurélia Nguyen, was also quoted as saying that with outbreaks of infectious diseases on the rise worldwide, new innovations such as MenFive® were critical in helping the fight back.

She said that Vaccine Alliance funds the global stockpile as well as vaccine rollout in lower-income countries.

“This first shipment signals the start of Gavi support for a multivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MMCV) programme which, with the required donor funding for our next five years of work, will see pentavalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines rolled out in high-risk countries.

“Thanks to vaccines, we have eliminated large and disruptive outbreaks of meningitis A in Africa, and now we have a tool to respond to other serogroups that still cause large outbreaks, resulting in long-term disability and deaths,” Nguyen said.

According to her, following Nigeria’s meningitis vaccine campaign, a major milestone on the road to defeat meningitis is the international summit on meningitis taking place in Paris in April 2024, where leaders will celebrate progress, identify challenges and assess next steps.

“It is also an opportunity for country leaders and key partners to commit, politically and financially, to accelerate progress towards eliminating meningitis as a public health problem by 2030,” she said.

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