Major health stories last week

Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health.

NAFDAC partners stakeholders on drugs safety

The National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it is partnering with academic and research institutes to ensure effective monitoring and safety of new drugs in the country.

The Director-General, NAFDAC, Moji Adeyeye, disclosed that the agency is in partnership with the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), and the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation.

The partnership supported by PharmacoVigilance Africa (PAVIA) Project through a grant from European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP) is aimed at improving the readiness of Sub-Saharan African health systems to effectively deliver new medical products and to monitor post-market safety.

China leads in world smokers

China has the highest number of smokers in the world. About 315 million of its population of 1.3 billion are smokers and they consume more than a third of the world’s cigarettes, the WHO said in a report last year.

According to WHO and other estimates, there are around one billion smokers in the world, about a seventh of the global population. Cigarette smoking causes ten deaths per minute. Every minute, smokers get through nearly 11 million cigarettes and 10 die from the habit.

Indonesia has the highest proportion of smokers at 76 per cent of men aged over 15. About 80 per cent of the world’s smokers live in low- and middle-income countries and 226 million of them are considered poor.

Nigeria jacks up taxes on cigarette, alcohol

The new excise duty for alcoholic beverages and cigarette earlier approved by President Muhammadu Buhari will take effect, finance minister, Kemi Adeosun said.

Under the new rates for tobacco, each stick of cigarette will attract one naira specific rate per stick, that is N20 per pack of 20 sticks in 2018. In 2019, tobacco will attract two naira tax per stick or N40 per pack of 20 sticks.

Mrs Adeosun said the new specific excise duty rate for alcoholic beverages cut across beer and stout, wines and spirits for the three years, 2018 to 2020. She explained that despite the increase, Nigeria’s cumulative specific excise duty rate for tobacco is still comparatively lower than obtained in some African countries.

Younger people risk thyroid cancer, Oncologist warns

Young people between the age 30 and 50 could get thyroid cancer, an Oncologist, Uzodinma Kalu, has warned.

According to Mr Kalu, thyroid cancer develops when cells genetically get mutated or changed. The abnormal cells begin multiplying in the thyroid and, once there were enough of them, they form a tumor.

He said there are four types of thyroid cancer which included: papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancer. He however said thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, if it is caught early.

DR Congo approves use of five new Ebola drugs – WHO

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has approved the use of five investigational therapeutics to treat Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), marking the first time such treatments have been available in the midst of an Ebola outbreak in the country, the WHO said.

The WHO said four of the five approved drugs are currently in the country, which are Zmapp, GS-5734, REGN monoclonal antibody combination, and mAb114, under the framework of compassionate use and expanded access.

Clinicians working in the treatment centres will make decisions on which drug to use as deemed helpful for their patients, and appropriate for the setting.

The treatments can be used as long as informed consent is obtained from patients and protocols are followed, with close monitoring and reporting of any adverse events.

Gynaecologist decries high rate of abortion among young women

A Gynaecologist, Gboyega Fawole, decried what he described as the “alarming rate of abortion among young girls in the country.”

Mr Fawole, who works with the University of llorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, raised the concern in llorin while delivering a Ramadan lecture titled: “Who We Are: What We Are Made of”, said: “from clinical observations, many young girls come to the clinics requesting for abortions”.

He urged girls to desist from premarital sex to avoid abortion because of the effects. “This can lead to hard labour as well as maternal and infant mortality,” he said.

Womb transplant: Britain to join U.S., Sweden

A surgeon is preparing to select three women to undergo Britain’s first womb transplant later in the year, following permission granted to British medics to carry out the procedures.

A team won approval from regulators three years ago to transplant wombs from dead donors but has been delayed by rules about collecting the organs. Doctors now say they will also try to use live donors.

The operation, which has a price tag of 50,000 pounds (about 66,700 dollars), has already been a success in Sweden and the United States.

If the British operation is successful, the first baby could arrive 2019 and then give hope to the 50,000 infertile women in the UK.

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