Major health news last week

Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole

World Prematurity Day: Nigeria ranks third with 800,000 pre-term births annually

Olubunmi Lawal, the national president, National Association of Paediatric Nurse said Nigeria ranked third with about 800,000 pre-term births, annually.

Mrs Lawal in commemoration of the 2018 World Prematurity Day said annually, 15 million babies are born premature globally, out of which 60 per cent are born in Sub-Saharan Africa, with one million deaths recorded.

“India ranks first, secondly China and Thirdly, Nigeria with 773,600 pre-term births yearly, hence the need to raise awareness on the challenges and interventions at communities, families, and to government at all levels.

“Premature birth is a common, costly and critical health problem and also the leading cause of new born death and children under the age of five, globally. Pre-term births are babies born before 37 completed weeks of gestation,” she said.

Three in 10 Nigerians suffer from mental disorders

The federal government has said three in every ten Nigerians suffer from one form of mental disorder or the other.

The permanent secretary of the ministry of health, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, at the ongoing mental health action committee and stakeholders workshop said mental disorders, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), comprise a broad range of problems, with different symptoms.

However, they are generally characterised by some combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with otheinadequate.”d.

“In Nigeria, an estimated 20–30 per cent of our populations are believed to suffer from mental disorders. This is a very significant number, considering that Nigeria has an estimated population of 200 million. Unfortunately, the attention given to mental health disorders in Nigeria is inadequate

Gene editing possible for kidney disease

Experts at Newcastle University, UK have shown in a cell and mouse model that gene editing could be used for Joubert syndrome to stop kidney damage in patients who have CEP290 faulty gene.

Joubert syndrome is a brain disorder causing varying degree of physical, mental and sometimes visual impairments. The condition affects approximately one in 80,000 newborns and one-third also gets kidney failure.

The study which was funded by Kidney Research UK, found it is possible to use a strand of engineered DNA to trick the cells’ own editing machinery to bypass the CEP290 mutation that causes kidney damage—a technique known as ‘exon-skipping’.

Th lead researcher, John Sayer in the finding published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) said this is the first time that gene editing within the kidney has been performed, even in a mouse model, as the design and delivery of the gene editing to the kidney has previously been thought to be too difficult.

World Diabetes Day: Over 25 million Africans living with Type II Diabetes – WHO

Over 25 million people in Africa are living with type II diabetes and more than half of them are unaware of their status and are not receiving treatment, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The international health agency’s Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, at a press conference in commemoration of the World Diabetes Day said over 90 per cent of diabetes is type II diabetes, stressing that if not well-managed, diabetes may cause blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputation and other complications.

Diabetes is one of the most deadly non-communicable diseases in the world. In 2015, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributed to high blood glucose in 2012.

Buhari signs bill establishing Nigeria Centre for Disease Control

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the bill establishing the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The agency, which has been in charge of disease surveillance, preparedness and control in Nigeria, was established in 2011 and has been in existence without any legislative backing.

The status quo however changed on Tuesday when the president appended his signature to the bill and empowered the agency to officially carry out its mandate in disease control.

The executive director of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the new Act establishes NCDC as a full-fledged parastatal and will also ensure that its valuable work is sustained and supported.

Council pledges to sanitise pharmaceutical industry

The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) says it will redouble efforts to rid the country’s pharmaceutical industry of unwholesome practices.

The Registrar of the council, Elijah Mohammed said: “Attention will be geared toward sanitising the practice environment through strengthening of enforcement activities with three RPs concept of regulation of personnel, regulation of premises and regulation of practice in the pharmaceutical landscape”.

According to him, such efforts will be supported with ensuring experiential teaching and learning at the undergraduate training of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to prepare them for the current practice environment.

He added that the council would continue to promote the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in regulatory processes.

Alcohol damages the brain more than marijuana- Scientists

Using alcohol can damage the brain more than using marijuana, a new research has shown.

According to the researchers, alcohol alters the structure of gray and white matter in the brain. The research also uncovered novel ways in which marijuana or cannabis affects the developing brain.

The findings came from a number of studies that featured at the 2018 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego, CA, according to a report by Medical News Today.

The findings reveal, for instance, that exposure to marijuana before birth and during teen years can affect the brain in several ways.

Nigeria has seven geriatrics to cater for over nine million aged

The president of Geriatrics Association of Nigeria (GAN), Usman Ahmed said there are only seven geriatricians in the country and they are inadequate to cater for the over nine million aged persons in the country.

A geriatrician is a medical doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and disabilities in older adults.

According to Mr Ahmed, the population of older persons is growing exponentially and Africa would bear older persons by the year 2050 in spite the high population of the youth in the region.

He said currently Nigeria has over nine million older persons who are 60 years and above “but the country does not have adequate medical doctors or any type of healthcare professionals who can handle cases associated to old age”.

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