Major health stories across Nigeria last week

national hospital abuja

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, attributed the prevalence of leprosy in Nigeria to pockets of high endemicity in some states.

Mr. Adewole disclosed this while commemorating the 64th anniversary of the World Leprosy Day Celebration with the theme: “Zero Disability Among Children Affected by Leprosy”.

He said although Nigeria achieved the WHO elimination target in 1998, 2,892 new leprosy cases were reported in 2015.

Nine per cent of the cases was made up of children, while victims with “grade II disability” accounted for 15 per cent.

Mr. Adewole explained that leprosy still posed a challenge due to the pockets of high endemicity in states such as Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Bauchi, Taraba, Niger, Kogi, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Edo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos.

“In 1998, after the introduction of the Multi- Drug Therapy (MDT), Nigeria achieved WHO’S elimination target of less than one case per 10,000 population at the national level. The mistaken beliefs about the disease” being highly contagious, hereditary and heaven’s punishment have negatively affected persons with leprosy even after they are cured”, he said.

The minister said the Federal Government had launched a five-year National Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Strategic Plan (2016-2020) as part of its efforts to eliminate the disease in the endemic states.

Exclusive breastfeeding averts 13 per cent infant deaths

Children that have exclusive breastfeeding have six times greater chances of survival in the early months than children not well breastfed.

Ada Ezeogu, a Nutrition Specialist with United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, stated this during a five-day workshop organised by the Ondo State Ministry of Information in collaboration with UNICEF on “Production of Radio Scripts on Facts For Life’.’

She said 13 per cent of death among children could be averted if mothers embark on exclusive breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Photo: The Guardian

Photo: The Guardian

Mrs. Ezeogu said an exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than non-breastfed child.

“Breastfeeding drastically reduces deaths from acute respiratory infection and diarrhoea, the two major child killers. An exclusively breastfed child do better on intelligence and behaviour tests than formula-fed babies,” she said.


Adequate funding is the only way to meet the target set for the elimination of HIV/AIDS by 2030.

Sani Aliyu, the Director General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS, stated this at the opening of the 3rd National Council on AIDS, with the theme: “Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Response: Taking Charge of Our Destiny.”

He stressed that if the country must win the fight to eliminate the scourge, all the tiers of government must increase funding of HIV/AIDS programme.

L-R, United Nations Country Representative, Dr Bilali Kamara, Director General, National Agency for the Control of Aids Dr Sani Aliyu andrWife of the Benue State Governor Dr Eunice Ortom during the 3rd National Council of AIDS in Abuja yesterday
L-R, United Nations Country Representative, Dr Bilali Kamara, Director General, National Agency for the Control of Aids Dr Sani Aliyu andrWife of the Benue State Governor Dr Eunice Ortom during the 3rd National Council of AIDS in Abuja yesterday

Mr. Aliyu lamented the inability of the country to fund HIV/AIDs programme. He said with donor funding, especially by the country’s biggest contributors, PEPFAR, dwindling from $488,614,277 (76 per cent) in 2012 to $358,614,280 (70.8 per cent) in 2016, Nigerians have to take charge of their destiny.

“If we have to achieve the test and treat strategy of ensuring that 90 per cent of the populace know their status, 90 per cent of those tested must be placed on ART and 90 per cent of persons on treatment will have viral suppression to prevent zero AIDS related deaths.”

Supporting Mr. Aliyu’s argument, the President of Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, NEPWHAN, Victor Omoseye, urged government to set up a National Aids Funds like every other countries.

“One way forward is for us to have a National Aids Trust Fund that can take charge of domestic resources”.


The World Health Organisation has raised an alarm over the growing sedentary lifestyles among adults and adolescents.

WHO urged people to get active, saying that insufficient exercise contributes to cancer, diabetes, depression and other non-communicable diseases.

The UN health agency, in a new document, expressed concerns that “less and less people are active in many countries, with nearly a quarter of all adults and more than 80 per cent of adolescents being too sedentary”.

WHO’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020 recommends that inactive people start with “small amounts of physical activity” and then gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time.

“Physical activity can be any activity, not just sport, that uses energy – from playing and doing household chores to gardening and dancing.

People exercising [Photo credit: Al Jazeera]
People exercising [Photo credit: Al Jazeera]
“Physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, diabetes, hypertension, various types of cancer, including colon cancer and breast cancer as well as depression.”


The non-constitution of the board of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, has worsened the incidence of quackery among doctors in Nigeria, a practitioner has stated.

The board was dissolved two months into the President Muhammadu Buhari administration without reconstituting another.

Mike Ogirima, President of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, in an interview called on Mr. Buhari to constitute the board of the MDCN to enhance professionalism in the healthcare sector.

He said the dissolution of the regulatory body by the federal government along with other governing boards of federal parastatals, agencies and institutions on July 15, 2015, had affected the smooth operations of the council.

“The absence of a regulatory body for the council had increased the rate of quackery in the profession. The body is meant to monitoring, discipline and adjudicate reported cases of alleged quackery and non-renewal of licence by doctors, among others.

“The council had become handicapped and ineffectual with the dissolution of the regulatory body, giving rise to incidence of quackery and professional misconducts among doctors”.


 The Nigerian Medical Association in Ogun State has said inadequate number of medical doctors in state-owned health institutions was negatively affecting medical practice and health care delivery in the state.

Abayomi Olajide, the chairman of the association, said the total number of doctors in the employment of the state was 150.

“This development negates the World Health Organisation, WHO, policy of one doctor for about 1000 patients.

“The situation got worse when the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, stopped posting NYSC doctors to government-owned hospitals in the state because the government was not paying them relevant allowances.

“There are less than 30 medical consultants in both the state Ministry of Health and Hospitals Management Board”, he said.

Mr. Olajide said the 40 health institutions owned by the state government also do not have the necessary medical equipment which is affecting the operations of other departments of health institutions, including pharmacies and laboratories which also lacked adequate strength of personnel.

“No hospital has a single CT scan machine, patients are referred to hospitals in Lagos.”


The House of Representatives has faulted the allocation of N304 billion to the health sector in the 2017 budget.

The Chairman of House Committee on Health Services, Chike Okafor, expressed disapproval with the proposed amount at the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, while speaking at a meeting of lawmakers, health workers and representatives of donor agencies.

Mr. Okafor said that the funds allocated to the Ministry of Health would not address the needs in the sector, including the Federal Government’s revitalisation programme of about 1,000 primary healthcare centres.

The discussion was on how to ensure the speedy revitalisation of primary healthcare centres across Nigeria.

Other participants noted that although there was 80 per cent improvement in terms of capital expenditure of the 2017 budget compared to that of 2016, the proposed health budget was cumulatively lower than that of 2016 due to naira devaluation.


Psychiatrists have said the template they adopted for the treatment of people experiencing psychological trauma as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east was adopted from Burundi and Rwanda.

Ibrahim Wakama, a consultant psychiatrist and Head of Clinical Services of the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri, said during a workshop to build psycho-social support for girl victims of trauma in the north-east in Abuja that the psychiatrists had to look at what other countries like Burundi and Rwanda who had issues of humanitarian crisis did.

“It was a new thing and a new experience. No material was on ground. At the beginning, there was nothing on ground for people with psycho trauma. It was a new thing and a new experience.

“We looked at the measures they have adopted. We then adopted some of the materials they used, although some of the materials are not culturally sensitive, considering our peculiarities, so we translated them and made them culturally sensitive.”

The consultant explained that out of the 1654 referral cases they received at the beginning, about 65 per cent of those that had psycho issues were girls.

“And this is just within the psycho facilities and the IDP camps; we are not talking about the host communities”.

Mr. Wakama said at the onset of the Boko Haram insurgency, there were no provisions in place for victims of trauma to cope with life.

He said doctors at the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital were pooling money together to support the victims because the Victims Support Fund set up by the Nigerian government has not made any cash donation to the facility, despite its crucial role in helping victims of the war to recover.

Mr. Wakama said some agencies that had been helping some of the victims withdrew from treatment because they could no longer provide funding.


The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Usman Yusuf, has launched a campaign to rid the scheme of corruption, inefficiency and impunity.

According to a statement by his office, Mr. Yusuf disclosed this during a courtesy call by the NHIS Management on the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in Abuja.

The NHIS was established by the Nigerian government to enable citizens enjoy easy access to health care services.

Mr. Yusuf said his mandate as the Executive Secretary was to sanitize the scheme and make it work for everybody and lamented that the scheme had not done well in the past, saying some HMOs and healthcare providers treat enrolees like lepers.

He decried alleged irregularities in the operations of Health Maintenance Organisations and ill-treatment that enrolees often encounter while accessing services at hospitals.

Patient undergoing surgery at  National Hospital [Photo Credit: News Express]
Patient undergoing surgery at National Hospital [Photo Credit: News Express]
He said the NHIS as an institution had paid so much money to the HMOs from 2005 but that there was nothing to show for the expenditure.

Mr. Yusuf urged the ICPC to begin probing the activities of NHIS and HMOs.

The ICPC Chairman, Ekpo Nta, who was represented by the Commissions’ Secretary, Elvis Oglafa, assured the Management of NHIS of ICPC’s support in the fight against corruption in NHIS.

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