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WHO to spend $9m to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination in 15 Nigerian states

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) is set to spend $9m to accelerate COVID vaccination in 15 Nigerian states.

The amount which is a grant from the Canadian Government to the Nigerian Federal Government will be deployed to the 15 lowest performing states in COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria.

The donation came as the federal government declared that while it had made significant progress in its vaccination efforts, several states have primary series coverage below 70 per cent and booster doses account for just over 20 per cent of vaccinations.

The donation was announced by the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Jamie Christoff during launch of the Canada Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity, CanGIVE Grant in Abuja by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA.

Canada Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity, CanGIVE, is a two-year grant of $9,261,920 from Global Affairs Canada to the World Health Organisation, WHO to support the scale-up of COVID-19 vaccine service delivery among priority risk groups and strengthen health systems in Nigeria.

High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Mr Jamie Chrisoff, said that Canada instituted CanGIVE- a alobal initiative of 317 million Canadian dollars to respond to country priorities for COVID-19.

He said it also meant to build on Canada’s long-standing global commitment to support health systems.

Chrisoff said the WHO project would be implemented in seven countries, with Nigeria receiving the highest share of 9.3 million dollars.

According to him, Nigeria is also among the first set of countries to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses from Canada in September of 2021.

WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Mulombo said this on Wednesday in Abuja during the launch of Canada Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity (CanGIVE) grant.

Mulombo said that the grant would be implemented in the 15 lowest performing states of Benue, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Kebbi, Anambra, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Lagos, Ogun and Ondo.

“It will help to mainstream and integrate gender-responsive, equity-based and human rights-focused interventions that promote leaving no one behind agenda in the country.

“The grant has come at the right time to help improve coverage and uptake of the vaccine among the priority populations in line with the current WHO SAGE roadmap on uses of COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria has made progress in the fight against COVID-19.

He said that as of July 17, 2023, 77,285, 627 persons in Nigeria have completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccination, with, 87,838,137 persons receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.

“Also, 16,011,524 of those who have completed the primary series have received a booster dose of the vaccine,” he said.

Mulombo said that in spite of the achievement, there was still more work to be done.

“As of now 14 states are performing less than 50 per cent vaccination coverage of their target population, and we still have some vulnerable populations that are not sufficiently covered.

“Key among these subgroups are the aged (50years and above), people with co-morbidities, the health workers, people living in humanitarian and security compromised communities and the pregnant women,” he said.

Mulombo said that WHO Director General’s declaration that COVID-19 was no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concerns (PHEIC) marked a turning point in the control of the pandemic.

He said the declaration however did not mean COVID-19 was over as a global and national health threat.

“Though considerable achievements have been made, we are still at risk of the infection as cases are still being reported in a number of countries.

“I will like to take this opportunity to caution all of us on the need to continue protecting ourselves by completing the primary series of COVID-19 vaccination.

“For those who have completed should continue with the booster dose schedule,” he said.

Mulombo assured the Ministry of Health that WHO would continue to collaborate with partners to support the government’s effort to protect vulnerable segments of the population and the structures and health systems were strengthened.

“We shall continue to provide technical support to implement one health approach to preparedness and response, and integrate COVID-19 surveillance and response activities into routine health programmes.

“Together with partners and the government we will dedicate sustained attention and resources to preparedness and resilience to counter future threats,” he said.

Mulombo appreciated the support from the Canadian government through the CanGIVE grant.

Health

We are aware of Lassa Fever outbreak in Kaduna State – NCDC boss

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Dr Jide Idris, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), has officially acknowledged the outbreak of Lassa fever in Kaduna State.

Speaking to newsmen on Friday in Abuja, Idris confirmed that the NCDC was closely monitoring the situation and working in collaboration with state health authorities to contain the spread of the disease.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NCDC) reports that Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic (excessive bleeding) illness that is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

Idris said “the NCDC was notified yesterday by the Kaduna State Ministry of Health of the report of deaths from suspected viral hemorrhagic fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna.

“Following this notification, the centre has been working with both institutions to conduct comprehensive investigation of the suspected cases, as well as ramp up response activities.

“Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital in Kano have been confirmed for Lassa fever. Furthermore, twenty-five close contacts of all these cases are now under follow-up and placed on prophylactic medicine.

“The state’s Ministry of Health has also activated the Incident Management System with all the response pillars including intensified risk communication and community engagement for the prevention and control of Lassa fever in the affected communities.”

According to him, the NCDC has dispatched rapid response teams to the affected areas in Kaduna State to conduct epidemiological investigations and implement necessary control measures.

He emphasised the importance of early detection, prompt treatment, and community engagement in curbing the spread of the disease.

“Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, which is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

“The disease is endemic in Nigeria, with sporadic outbreaks occurring primarily during the dry season,” he said.

He urged healthcare workers and the public to maintain strict hygiene practices, including proper food storage and disposal of waste, to reduce the risk of Lassa fever transmission.

He also advised individuals experiencing symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, and muscle aches to seek medical attention immediately, as early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve outcomes.

The NCDC DG reassured the public that the agency was committed to containing the outbreak and protecting the health of Nigerians.

He urged citizens to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility or state health authorities for prompt response.

“As the situation develops, the NCDC will continue to provide updates and guidance to the public to ensure effective control and prevention of Lassa fever in Kaduna State and across Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, as of Feb. 18, 2024 (end of week 7), 84 local government areas in 23 states of the country have reported a total of 2,621 suspected cases, 476 confirmed, and 84 deaths with a case fatality rate of 18.6 per cent.

“Our condolences go to the families and friends of those (including the health workers) who lost their lives to this disease across the country,” he said.

He added that the agency, through the recently activated multi-sectoral multi-disciplinary Incident Management System has taken the following actions:

“Distribution of medical supplies for case management, infection prevention and control, laboratory diagnosis, in all  Lassa fever treatment centres in the country.

“capacity building exercises of some healthcare workers across all the geopolitical zones on Lassa fever preparedness, readiness, and response through the pilot Lassa fever clinical management fellowship.

“Distribution of Lassa fever social and behaviour change communication (SBC) materials to all the 36 states and FCT,” he explained.

He called for a holistic approach to addressing public health challenges in the country, saying “we will be introducing a significant perspective on tackling complex public health issues in the country.”

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Commission pledges accessible, affordable, safe blood for Nigerians in need

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The National Blood Service Commission (NBSC) has pledged to ensure the provision of accessible, affordable and safe blood supply for all Nigerians in need.

The newly appointed Director-General of the commission, Prof. Saleh Yuguda, made the pledge while assuming office in Abuja on Friday.

He emphasised the commission’s pivotal role of providing safe and affordable blood to citizens, in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

He added that “in line with our commitment to serve the Nigerian populace, it is imperative that blood is accessible to every individual in need, without financial strain.”

The NBSC boss also reiterated the commission’s mandate to save lives, alleviate sufferings, and promote wellness.

He emphasised robust governance and optimum blood supply chain to enhance the quality of Nigeria’s healthcare system.

On his part, the NBSC Head of Media and Publicity, Haruna Abdullahi, described the appointment of the new director-general as sign of renewed focus toward affordable blood services nationwide.

He said “the agenda set forth by Prof. Yuguda aligns with the mandate of the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate.

“This will enhance access to safe blood and blood products nationwide, reflecting a unified effort toward achieving equitable services for all Nigerians.”

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Oyo Govt combats zoonotic diseases, distributes drugs to veterinary clinics, hospitals

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By Bushrah Adeshina, Ibadan

Oyo State Government on Wednesday began the distribution of Veterinary drugs to veterinary hospitals/clinics in the state, for easy access by end users at subsidised rate.

This gesture which was done in collaboration with the federal government is part of continued efforts in preventing animal-human diseases.

Flagging off the symbolic distribution of the drugs in Ibadan, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Barrister Olasunkanmi Olaleye stated that the move was part of continued efforts of the Governor Seyi Makinde led administration in reducing zoonotic disease, saying about 68 percent of human diseases were contracted from animals.

He hinted that the move would enable livestock farmers in the state and pet (dog) owners to have access to veterinary drugs at subsidised rate.

The Commissioner added that this would enhance production of disease free animals, boost food security in the state and Nigeria at large.

He revealed that it is the responsibility of the government to put in place mechanisms to ensure safe food for human consumption.

He therefore urged the general public, most especially livestock farmers to patronise veterinary hospitals/clinics in their local government areas or zones in administering their animals at subsidised rates.

 The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Christianah Abioye enjoined the veterinary officers to be dutiful and ensure the drugs are available and accessible to the end users at the subsidised rate.

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