Major health stories in the news last week

Health Minister, Dr. Isaac Adewole
Health Minister, Dr. Isaac Adewole

These are the major health stories that hit public attention last week.

After criticisms, Nigerian govt cuts State House clinic budget

The Nigerian government allocated N1.03 billion to the State House Medical Centre for its recurrent and capital expenditure in the 2018 budget estimates.

This was a huge slash compared to the facility’s budgets in the last three years. The clinic in 2015, 2016 and 2017 budgets was allocated N3.94 billion, N3.87 billion and N3.2 billion respectively.

According to the breakdown of the budget, the proposed total recurrent expenditure for the clinic is N331 million and the total cash to be expended for capital projects is N698 million.

Recently there had been controversy about the funding of the facility and the lack of basic medical amenities.

How bacteria help female babies’ genitals – Doctor

Mothers and caregivers have been advised to avoid using medicated soap to wash the genitals of their female children as it kills the useful bacteria which are meant to protect the region from infections.

Juliet Ochi, a paediatric doctor, said toilet soap should be used to wash the genitals instead of  medicated soap because according to her, ”not all bacteria in the region are bad, some are very important and help protect the vagina from germs and infections.”

She added that using medicated soap on the region, ”weakens the vagina’s defense system and can lead to infections such as candida, a fungus that causes yeast infection in females.” Meanwhile medicated soaps are meant for the skin and to be used only on the prescription of a dermatologist.

Why Nigerian govt must enforce laws against female genital mutilation – Expert

The federal government has been urged to ensure implementation of laws against Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, across Nigeria to bring an end to the practice.

Lola Alonge, the Executive Director of Child Health Advocacy Initiative, CHAI, called on faith and traditional leaders in the country to act as change agents because the act is  unhealthy and violates the right of women.

She said FGM can cause short and long-term complications, including chronic pain, infection, increased risk of HIV transmission, anxiety and depression, birth complication, infertility and in the worst cases, death.

Nigeria Governors Forum resolves to spur primary healthcare

The Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, said it is making plans to improve primary health care in the country.

Asishana Okauru, the Director-General of NGF, at a workshop organised by NGF, Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, said the forum is partnering with major stakeholders in the health sector to bring all primary healthcare components in the country under one roof.

According to the Executive Secretary, NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, 35 states, except Bayelsa have passed the primary health care bill.

Strange illness kills three in Sokoto

The Sokoto State government has confirmed and attributed the death of three people in the state to a ‘strange illness.’

The deceased, two teenagers, were neighbours and they exhibited similar symptoms of ”severe headache, convulsion and bleeding from the eye” before their death at Usmanu Danfodio University Teaching Hospital in Sokoto

The Deputy Director Public Health in the state Ministry of Health, Abbas Aliyu, confirmed the deaths. He noted that preliminary investigation conducted by some doctors, suspected malaria as the cause for the deaths. Unfortunately, no sample was extracted from all the deaths as they were buried same day.

He, however, said a team of health specialists were deployed to the area.

HIV/AIDS: Nigerians to get tools to do self-tests at home – Minister

Nigerians will soon have more access to HIV self-test kits, which will allow them know their HIV status from the comfort of their homes, the minister of health, Isaac Adewole, has said.

The minister while receiving the Amethyst HIV 1 and 2 self-test kits, and 10 ‘Anti-body based HIV rapid Test Kits 2016 evaluation reports’ said the government is trying to encourage more people to get tested and know their HIV status so as to reduce the prevalence rate in the country.

Mr. Adewole said at least 5.9 million Nigerians are infected with HIV and do not know their status. That is why it is important to get as much people as possible tested and to know their status and also place them on anti-retroviral as HIV is no longer a death sentence.

U.S. spent over $4 billion on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria

The U.S. Centre for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) said it spent over N4 billion on HIV/AIDS response programmes in Nigeria since 2004.

Mahesh Swaminathan, the Country Director at a conference on “Partnering for Sustainable HIV Epidemic Control in Nigeria’’ said the programme has contributed about 64 per cent of the total HIV investment in Nigeria, as a major recipient of PEPFAR funds.

He identified Nigeria as the third largest country in the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFER) programme.

“Presently, more than 720,000 people are on PEPFAR-supported HIV treatment, approximately four million people have received HIV counseling and testing services in 2017,” he said.

Nigeria infant mortality rate falls — UNICEF, Statistics Bureau

The fifth Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) has highlighted a nationwide overall drop in infant mortality rate from 97 per 1000 live births recorded in 2011 to 70 per 1000 live births.

In the result of a survey jointly released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Nigeria made significant improvements in reducing infant mortality in some areas. The country did not perform well in others especially by not ”keeping pace with population growth since the last survey was conducted.”

The report said while the infant mortality dropped significantly, deaths among children under age five also dropped to 120 per 1000 live births from 158 recorded in 2011.

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