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Polio: Kwara schedules immunisation on July 22 – Official

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Dr Nusirat Elelu, the Executive Secretary of Kwara Primary Health Care Development Agency, says the state will commence the Second Round Oral Polio Immunisation on July 22 to 25.

Elelu stated this during her presentation at the 2023 Stakeholders meeting of the State Task Force on Immunisation and Primary Health Care.

She disclosed that the inauguration of the second round of vaccination would take place at the Emir of Lafiagi Palace in Edu Local Government Area of Kwara, which she said is the first to take place in Kwara North.

According to her, the rationale behind taking the inauguration to Kwara North is to strengthen traditional leaders’ engagemnet on routine vaccinations for children in communities.

Elelu observed that a lot of achievement has been recorded in area of reducing childhood killer diseases through immunisation.

She, however, expressed the need to sustain the success recorded on Routine Immunisation (RI) and OutBreak Response (OBR) across the 16 local government areas of the state.

Elelu noted that Kwara emerged best among the North Central states  in Primary Health Care Leadership Challenge PHC-LCF.

“Kwara passed with about 80 per cent across the country and we will continue to ensure that every child and mother have quality care.

“The state will ensure consistent improvement in trajectory of achieving quality immunisation status.

“A lot of mothers in Kwara are now attended to in the hospitals and by skilled birth attendants,” she said.

She attributed the success to the commitment of the stakeholders especially the State Task Force on immunisation.

Elelu underscored the need for more commitment from the state government and the need to curb insecurity across Kwara communities, noting however that the challenge of insecurity is nationwide.

She tasked LGCs to be fully committed in the strengthening routine immunisation in respective communities across the state.

Mr Kayode Alabi, the state Deputy Governor, reiterated the resolve of the state government to ensure quality healthcare for the people.

He commended the State Task Force on Immunisation and enjoined them not to rest on their oars but continue promoting the health of the citizenry.

Also speaking, Dr Abubakar Ayinla, the Permanent Secretary of thecstate Ministry of Health, explained that the meeting alway afforded the opportunity for different partners and agencies to deliberate on improving routine immunisation in the state.

He underscored the need to ensure all hands on deck in improving child and maternal healthcare, and all children received necessary vaccines to survive.

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NMA warns against seeking medical treatment from quacks

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The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has warned patients against seeking medical treatment outside health facilities, saying it could worsen morbidity of patients.

Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, Chairman, NMA Lagos, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.

Olowojebutu expressed concerns over reports of patients seeking medical treatment from chemists and “quack nurses” to save costs.

He acknowledged that the economic situation of the country had led to increased cost of medicines and hardship for citizens, causing many to adopt cost-cutting measures.

Olowojebutu stressed that health safety shouldn’t be jeopardised over economic concerns, noting that such practices had led to health complications and death.

He said for a physician to make a diagnosis, multiple steps are followed including taking a medical history, performing a physical examination, obtaining diagnostic tests and then examining the data to arrive at best explanation for the illness.

“These steps are not followed by the chemists and nurses who just administer injections or intravenous infusions in their stores or homes irrespective of the symptoms exhibited by the individual.

“Lapses in quality of care can jeopardise health and treatment outcomes of patients,” the NMA boss said.

He advised citizens to embrace health insurance, noting that it facilitated access to care, better health outcomes and improved productivity.

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FG doubles first tranche of Basic Healthcare Fund to N50bn

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…Resumes payment of N25,000 palliative to 12 million households

By Sodiq Adelakun

The Federal government has announced that it will release N50 billion as the first tranche of the Basic Healthcare Fund, a significant increase from the N25 billion allocated in 2022.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Mohammad Ali Pate, made this disclosure on Wednesday, praising President Bola Tinubu’s administration for its success in advancing the nation’s health sector.

According to the Minister, the government has remained committed to improving healthcare accessibility, affordability, and quality. Since assuming office, they have prioritised the revitalisation of primary healthcare facilities across the country, ensuring they are adequately equipped and staffed to provide essential services to communities.

During a ministerial press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, Prof. Pate highlighted that through sustained investment and strategic partnerships, the government has expanded access to vital healthcare services, particularly in rural and underserved areas. This has resulted in improved health outcomes and a reduction in the burden of preventable diseases.

The Minister also revealed that there has been an increase in the proportion of women attending antenatal care. Over 550,000 women now attend their first antenatal care, receiving the necessary information and care to improve their pregnancy outcomes and reduce maternal and child mortality.

…FG recruits over 2,000 healthcare workers in six months

However, the government recently recruited 2,497 doctors, midwives/nurses, and Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) to bridge the gaps caused by attrition.

Additionally, 1,400 health facilities now have Skilled Birth Attendants to assist in deliveries, resulting in as many as 230,000 health facility deliveries per month.

The increased allocation of funds and the government’s efforts to improve healthcare services demonstrate progress and improvements in the nation’s health sector. These initiatives aim to sustain and further enhance the gains made so far.

According to him, “Over 550,000 women now attend their first antenatal care and are armed with the right information and care to improve their pregnancy outcomes and reduce maternal and child mortality.

“The achievements we have recorded signal progress and improvements. To sustain and continue to build on these gains, in the last six months, the Government of Nigeria recruited 2,497 doctors, midwives/nurses, and Community Health Extension Workers, CHEWs to bridge the gaps due to attrition.

“An additional 1,400 health facilities now have Skilled Birth Attendants to assist in deliveries at the health facilities. This has increased the number of health facility deliveries to as high as 230,000 deliveries per month.”

Speaking further, Prof. Pate said, “I am delighted to announce that the Federal Government will be releasing N50 billion as the first tranche of the Basic Healthcare Fund, a significant increase from N25 billion allocated in 2022. This infusion of funds will breathe new life into our primary healthcare facilities, ensuring that quality care is accessible to all citizens.”

Prof. Pate insisted that the government has made substantial strides in expanding health insurance coverage.

He said, “Recognising that financial barriers often deter individuals from seeking medical care, we have worked tirelessly to increase the accessibility and affordability of health insurance schemes. By supporting enrollment initiatives and streamlining administrative processes, we have extended coverage to millions of Nigerians, safeguarding them against the financial hardships associated with healthcare expenses.

“Since the beginning of this administration, we have enrolled about 750,000 more Nigerians in health insurance. We remain committed to providing access to quality health for all Nigerians through the Vulnerable Group Fund and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

“Furthermore, our commitment to immunisation has yielded remarkable results in protecting our population from vaccine-preventable diseases. Through robust vaccination campaigns and outreach programs, we have achieved significant strides in sustaining immunisation coverage nationwide, safeguarding our communities, particularly our children, from devastating diseases. Notably, our swift response to the diphtheria outbreak underscored our commitment to proactive disease control measures, swiftly containing the spread and saving countless lives.

“Since the inception of diphtheria response, over 5 million children have been immunised with the Penta vaccine and 10 million children with Tetanus-Diphtheria,Td vaccines.”

Speaking further, the Minister said, “In our ongoing efforts to combat the threat of Lassa fever, I am pleased to announce the comprehensive measures taken by the Federal Government to enhance response capabilities and safeguard the health of Nigerians. To strengthen our response to Lassa fever outbreaks, the Federal Government has embarked on the distribution of essential response commodities to states and treatment centers across the nation especially in affected states. These include Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), Ribavirin (injection and tablets), body bags, thermometers, hypochlorite hand sanitisers, and Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials. By ensuring the availability of these critical resources, we aim to equip healthcare workers and facilities with the necessary tools to effectively manage and contain outbreaks.

“Recognising the importance of strategic planning and preparedness, we have developed a robust distribution plan for Lassa fever commodities. This plan ensures the timely and equitable distribution of resources to states and treatment centers based on their specific needs and vulnerability. Additionally, prepositioning of commodities has been undertaken to facilitate swift response and minimise logistical challenges during outbreaks.

“Confirmed cases of Lassa fever are promptly treated at identified treatment centers across the states. These centers are equipped with the necessary medical expertise, facilities, and medications to provide comprehensive care to patients. By centralising treatment and care, we can effectively manage cases, prevent transmission, and improve patient outcomes.

“We remain resolute in our commitment to mitigating the impact of Lassa fever and safeguarding the health and well-being of all Nigerians. Through strategic planning, resource allocation, and collaborative efforts with state governments and healthcare partners, we are confident in our ability to effectively respond to outbreaks and protect our communities.”

…Over 4.95m girls vaccinated across 15 States, FCT

The successful coverage of HPV vaccination was announced, stating that over 4.95 million eligible girls aged 9-14 years, representing 80 percent of eligible girls, have been vaccinated since the launch of the vaccine in October 2023 across 15 states plus the FCT.

The Phase 2 introduction is scheduled for May 2024 in Anambra, Borno, Cross-river, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Rivers, Oyo, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Yobe, Plateau, and Zamfara.

Pre-implementation activities have already begun to ensure a successful Phase 2 introduction, which is seen as a crucial milestone in the ongoing efforts to combat cervical cancer.

The focus is on preventive measures and expanding access to life-saving vaccines to protect the health and well-being of women and girls, ensuring a healthier future for generations to come. In addition to the successful vaccination coverage, there has been a significant increase in patient attendance at federal tertiary hospitals, which is seen as a testament to the improved quality of care and confidence in the healthcare system.

Twelve tertiary hospitals/centres have been identified for infrastructure development, including the establishment of oncology centres, radiology centers, and diagnostics facilities.

While announcing a successful coverage of HPV vaccination, he said, “Since the launch of the HPV vaccine in October 2023 across 15 states plus the FCT, we have successfully vaccinated more than 4,95million eligible girls aged 9-14 years representing 80 percent of eligible girls. The Phase 2 introduction is scheduled for May 2024 in Anambra, Borno, Cross-river, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Rivers, Oyo, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Yobe, Plateau and Zamfara.

“Pre-implementation activities have commenced to ensure a successful phase 2 introduction a crucial milestone in our ongoing efforts to combat cervical cancer. By prioritising preventive measures and expanding access to life-saving vaccines, we are taking proactive steps to protect the health and well-being of our women and girls, ensuring a healthier future for generations to come.”

Pate, who also announced a significant increase in patient attendance at federal tertiary hospitals, said the development was “a testament to the improved quality of care and confidence in our healthcare system.”

“Through targeted investments in infrastructure, technology, and human capital, we will enhance the capacity of these institutions to deliver specialised medical services and handle complex health conditions, ensuring that every Nigerian has access to world-class healthcare when needed.

“Our commitment to improving tertiary healthcare services is unwavering. Twelve tertiary hospitals/centers have been earmarked for infrastructure development, including the establishment of oncology centers, radiology centers, and diagnostics facilities.

“These investments will enhance our capacity to provide specialised care and meet the evolving healthcare needs of our people.

“In addition, we have provided steadfast support to states in combating the scourge of Lassa fever. Through collaborative initiatives, capacity-building programs, and the provision of critical resources, we have strengthened surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment protocols, strengthening our collective response to this persistent threat,” he said.

According to him, “In collaboration with the medical and dental council of Nigeria, we have taken proactive steps to address the shortage of healthcare professionals.

“By increasing the number of medical students admitted to medical schools, we are boosting the healthcare workforce and laying the groundwork for a healthier future,” he noted.

While informing that, “Digitalisation is poised to revolutionize healthcare delivery in Nigeria,” the minister said government was committed to embracing this transformation.

“Within the next two weeks, we will unveil a comprehensive program to digitize our healthcare system, streamlining processes, enhancing efficiency, and improving patient outcomes.

“The rising cost of pharmaceuticals is a pressing concern, and we are taking decisive action to address this issue. An executive order will soon be issued to curb escalating drug prices in the short term, while our mid to long-term goal involves the domestication of imported drugs within the next three years, in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade.

“In a strategic move to fortify the pharmaceutical infrastructure across the nation, the Federal Government initiated the construction of pharmaceutical-grade warehouses in 21 states in collaboration with Drug Management Agencies.

“Two additional warehouses at the federal level are also underway, complemented by the installation of the Warehousing Management Information System (WMIS) – M Supply, in these 21 pharma-grade warehouses. This visionary project, commenced in October 2023, is slated for completion in March 2024, with a scheduled commissioning in April 2024.

“The implementation of WMIS is expected to significantly enhance accountability and transparency, ensuring the potency of public health medicines and other health commodities. This infrastructure development aligns with our commitment to improving health outcomes for citizens nationwide,” he further said.

He explained that government has taken strides in advancing healthcare data management.

“Essential medicines and narcotics utilisation across the three levels of healthcare have been successfully onboarded onto the National Health Logistics Management Information System (NHLMIS) platform. This decisive step not only strengthens our international image by enhancing medicines reporting but also establishes a robust framework for monitoring and optimising the supply chain.”

…Resumes payment of N25,000 palliative to 12m households

The Honourable Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, at the Ministerial Press Briefing Series with the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr.Muhammad Ali Pate revealed that the government will resume immediately the payment of N25,000 palliative to 12m households.

The Minister said: “As the government rejigs the National Social Investment Programme, the direct payments to N25,000 to 12 million households will resume immediately.

“The government is equally tackling insecurity headlong and more success stories are coming in on a daily basis. Without any doubt, we are winning the war against insecurity.

“These are indeed testament to the bold initiatives taken by Mr. President to reflate the Nigerian economy and return it to the path of growth and sustainable development,” He said.

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Meningitis plague hits Yobe, kill 20 students

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A viral disease, Meningitis, has hit Yobe state leaving at least 20 students dead.

This was disclosed by the State’s Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Dr. Muhammad Sani Idris, who confirmed the outbreak, saying 20 students were killed by the disease suspected to be meningitis.

The students were boarding public schools in Potiskum, Fika, and Fune local government areas of Yobe State.

It was learnt that the deaths were recorded in Government Science Technical College, Government Girls Science Technical College, and Federal Government Girls College, all in Potiskum LG.

Commenting, the Commissioner said Governor Mai Mala Buni had directed the state Ministry of Education to temporarily relocate to Potiskum in response to the outbreak.

The commissioner also confirmed that several students had been admitted to Potiskum Specialist Hospital.

He said, “This disease is from God and you can’t run away from it once it comes, but we must wake up to fight this outbreak to curtail it from spreading to other areas. After this outbreak hit the Government Science Technical College Potiskum and other two secondary schools, I as Commissioner, my Permanent Secretary, and the Executive Secretary of the state’s Science Technical Board as well as the chairman of the Teaching Service Board have been relocated to Potiskum temporarily.

“I had a meeting with the principals of these three secondary schools to join hands together and fight this disease. We have parked out ambulances in all these schools for emergency cases. We also assigned three teachers to work for three hours in the classes checking the conditions of these students who are not affected.

“After three hours another three teachers will take over from them checking the health condition of these unaffected students asking them if they are not feeling fine or have new reactions in their bodies. We are doing this 24-hour service as proactive measures to ensure that we curtail this disease.

“At least 17 students have died in two secondary schools belonging to Yobe state government while one lady from the Federal Government Girls College also died as a result of this disease.

“I cannot give you the number of the affected students now because there are students who are in isolation centres in their schools. We also have some students who are currently receiving treatment in the hospital due to their health condition.

“We received a report that this disease has spread to some schools in Fika and Fune LGAs but so far we have a record of 20 students who died in both primary and secondary schools in the state after finding new cases in Gadaka and Jajere villages who are under Fika and Fune LGAs.

“His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni had directed the Ministry of Health to send their medical team (doctors and technicians) to investigate the cause of this outbreak and provide drugs and other medication. We thank God they (students) are doing well, we are hoping that things will get better.”

He further emphasised the importance of ensuring the well-being of all students and finding effective remedies for those affected, stressing the establishment of temporary isolation centres in schools to provide students with first aid treatment.

“We have temporarily relocated to Potiskum until all the students are in good health. We established temporary isolation centres. Ensuring their well-being is our responsibility. So we will not relent in providing all the necessary support,” he said.

Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually causes the swelling. However, injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections also can cause meningitis. It is important to know the specific cause of meningitis because the treatment differs depending on the cause.

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