Major health stories last week

Prof. Isaac Adewole. Minister of Health
Prof. Isaac Adewole. Minister of Health
Minister recommends TB screening as ‘pre-employment test’ for public servants

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has recommended Tuberculosis (TB) screening as a pre-medical test for newly employed public servants in both federal and state government agencies.

He also advised that the test should be extended to newly admitted students into secondary and tertiary institutions in the country.

Mr Adewole said introducing the test is part of the strategy to achieve one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets: “to bring an end to the scourge of TB by 2030”.

Tuberculosis is the second highest killer disease globally and Nigeria has one of the heaviest burden of the disease in the world.

As at 2017, WHO ranked Nigeria as the fourth most affected country worldwide.

Prostate cancer can be treated with single dose therapy – Australian researchers

The results of an advanced clinical trial released on Friday suggested that prostate cancer could be treated with single dose radiotherapy, rather than life-altering hormone therapy.

Participants in the study would normally have been put on lifelong, testosterone-blocking hormone therapy, the side effects of which include menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flushes, loss of libido and longer-term bone issues like osteoporosis.

The research, conducted by the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in the Australian State of Victoria, found that overall 93 per cent of the treated cancer spots were controlled with the radiation treatment.

Government sets up traditional medicine department

The Federal Government has approved the establishment of Department of Traditional and Alternative Medicine in the Federal Ministry of Health.

According to the minister of health, Isaac Adewole, the approval was given by the Office of the Head of Service (HOS).

Mr Adewole at the just concluded National Council on Health (NCH) in Kano State, said the idea was to give official recognition to traditional African medicine in the country.

He also noted that the department would regulate activities of alternative medicine practitioners.

Compound in red wine ‘anti-cancer’ –Scientists

A new study shows that Resveratrol, a compound in red wine can stop a mutated protein, which is present in more than half of all breast cancer cases, from aggregating.

Resveratrol is a bioactive compound that can be found in the skin of grapes and in red wine.

This may restore the body’s natural ability to fight off cancer. Slowing down aging of the brain, lowering the brain inflammation in those with dementia, and staving off cancer are some of the alleged health benefits of the substance.

Researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the State University of Rio de Janeiro, both in Brazil, have been able to demonstrate that resveratrol actively stops mutant versions of this protein from aggregating, or that it stops cancer cells from multiplying and migrating to other parts of the body.

UNICEF advocates routine immunisation to end polio in Nigeria

UNICEF chief of Bauchi field office, Bhanu Pathak has re-emphasised the importance of routine immunisation as the only means Nigeria can eradicate polio and other childhood killer diseases from the country.

States covered by the Bauchi Field Office are Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Jigawa, Gombe and Plateau.

Mr Pathak lamented the poor level of child immunisation in Nigeria particularly in the north. He said a lot of children are not fully immunised and this, he described as a serious challenge for UNICEF.

He also called on government at all levels to support the agency in making sure that all children in the country get fully immunised.

Absence of data limiting flow of international HIV grant to Nigeria – Buhari

Lack of adequate data is affecting Nigeria’s ability to compete for international HIV grant, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

Mr Buhari, at the launch of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Indicator & Impact Survey (NAIIS) said the survey will correct the lapses and provide sustainable solution to Nigeria’s health and other developmental problems.

The survey is set to be the largest on HIV in the world and Nigeria is the 12th country conducting it.

It aims to reach a sample size of about 170,000 people across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and will be conducted for about six months.

UNICEF concerned about Kebbi’s high newborn deaths

The United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) has said the rate of newborn deaths per 1000 births is 55 in Kebbi State, higher than the national average of 37 deaths per 1000 births, in the country.

This is according to Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by Nigeria in 2016/17.

The agency said many newborn babies don’t survive their first months in Kebbi State as many of them die the very day they are born.

The Chief of Health, UNICEF Nigeria, Sanjana Bhardwaj said more than 80 per cent of these deaths are due to prematurity, asphyxia and complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis.

Scientists develop new malaria vaccine

Australian scientists said they have taken a crucial step in developing a new malaria vaccine by using a novel “atomic-scale” blueprint to track how the parasite invades human cells.

“With this unprecedented level of detail, we can now begin to design new therapies that specifically target and disrupt the parasite’s invasion machinery, preventing malaria parasites from hijacking human red blood cells to spread through the blood and, ultimately, be transmitted to others,” Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research Associate Professor, Wai-Hong Tham, said in a statement.

Her team’s discovery was published in scientific journal, Nature.

WHO reveals drug to save thousands of women from post-childbirth bleeding

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that a new drug – Carbetocin – has the potential to save thousands of women’s lives in childbirth annually.

WHO said Carbetocin now serves as a new competition – with improved benefits – to oxytocin, a stand-by drug used to prevent potentially-fatal bleeding after childbirth.

WHO said excessive bleeding after childbirth still kills around 70,000 mothers a year and currently, oxytocin is the first-choice medication, but it must be kept cold, unlike the new drug, carbetocin.

The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggested that the new drug could be stored at normal temperatures and this could save the lives of thousands in low and lower middle-income countries.

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