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Lagos set to become West Africa’s healthcare hub with specialised centres



Lagos State Government has announced plans to establish specialised medical centres offering advanced treatments and technologies, aiming to retain healthcare spending within the region and attract international patients.

Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made the disclosure on Wednesday during the 2024 Annual Ministerial Press Briefing, commemorating the first-year of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s second term.

He said that the Centres of Excellence and Medical Tourism Initiative aims to position Lagos as a hub for high-quality healthcare services in West Africa, noting the setting up centres in specialties like cardiology, oncology, orthopaedics, and neurology, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and staffed by specialists trained to deliver global-standard care.

According to Abayomi, “An excellent example of this initiative is the proposed Comprehensive Cancer Centre, slated to be located at Alausa in Ikeja.

“This facility is designed to provide a full spectrum of cancer care services, from early detection and diagnosis through various treatment modalities to palliative care.

“This centre aims to reduce the need for Nigerians and residents of neighbouring countries to travel abroad for cancer treatment, thereby retaining healthcare expenditure within the local economy and attracting patients from other regions,” he said.

He emphasised that the initiative would boost the local economy and also enhance the state’s reputation as a medical hub.

“To ensure that the centres of excellence are on par with international healthcare facilities, Lagos State is engaging in partnerships with reputed healthcare institutions from around the world.

“These collaborations help in the transfer of knowledge, medical expertise, and technological advancements,” he said.

The state Commissioner also announced the construction of facilities tailored to the needs of international patients.

He highlighted that to support these centres, the state is implementing strict regulatory measures and quality assurance systems to uphold high standards of medical care.

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Cholera death toll rises to 29, infections 579 in Lagos



The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, says fatalities from the state’s cholera outbreak have risen to 29 deaths and 579 suspected cases across multiple local government areas in the state.

Abayomi announced this during a state multiagency news conference and update on cholera outbreak on Monday in Lagos.

The commissioner also announced laboratory confirmation of 43 cases, noting that Lagos Island, Kosofe and Eti Osa, recorded the highest numbers of infections.

“Most of these deaths were caused by patients presenting very late at a stage where we could not resuscitate them because they had severe dehydration, and many patients were actually brought in dead.

“Out of all the samples we were able to collect, we were able to identify vebrio cholera.

“So, this is indeed a confirmed case of the cholera outbreak by a subtype O1 that is known to us to be very contagious and to cause significant sickness in those that contract it.

“Many children came down with cholera, many students, lots of traders, and artisans, those were the predominant cases and these we suspect are people that are in crowded areas,” he said.

He said that the state recorded severe cases that led to fatalities due to severe dehydration, while some were resuscitated at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba.

“Some of these cases their kidneys had shut down from the severe dehydration and at that facility, we had access to renal dialysis; so, we were able to wake the kidneys back up with renal dialysis and rehydrate them.

“Those are the kinds of cases that we still have on admission because they were very, very severe. We were able to rescue them from dying,” he said.

The commissioner further said that 30 patients were left on admission as of June 23, noting that the cases were declining in the state.

Speaking on the distribution of cases based on visitation to health facilities, Abayomi said that 209 visited general hospitals; 193 primary healthcare centres; 152 private hospitals, military/police hospital 14, eight tertiary hospitals and 12 unknown health centres.

Abayomi advised citizens to seek medical attention immediately if they experience symptoms such as watery diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, general malaise and fever.

He stressed that immediate action on rehydration was key to survival, adding that oral rehydration salts (ORS) should be promptly introduced.

The commissioner added that treatment for cholera was provided free of charge at all public health facilities in the state.

On prevention measures, Abayomi advised citizens to drink safe water that’s boiled, treated, or bottled and eat food that’s thoroughly cooked and hot, and avoid raw foods.

He advised citizens to maintain high hygiene by washing hands with soap and clean water regularly and using proper sanitation facilities and disposing of waste properly.

The commissioner stressed that the state was intensifying its public health prevention campaigns to prevent a resurgence.

Abayomi reiterated the state government’s commitment to ensuring that residents of the state receive quality and affordable health care.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

Cholera can cause severe acute watery diarrhea and the severe forms of the disease can kill within hours if left untreated.

The health agency confirmed a cumulative death of 194, 897 deaths and 1,932 cases globally as a result of cholera outbreak in 24 countries.

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Ogun enforces measures to prevent Cholera outbreak in Schools



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



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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