Major health stories last week

A panel of discussants at the National Health Dialogue
A panel of discussants at the National Health Dialogue

Last week, the World Health Organisation advised countries not to relax on their diseases surveillance as the ebola virus ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo is far from over.

Also, PREMIUM TIMES held the second edition of its National Health Dialogue in Abuja on Tuesday and Wednesday. The event explored how Nigeria can achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Here is a roundup of some of the major stories in the health sector last week

Stop using vultures for medicine, NCF urges trado-medicine practitioners

The Nigeria Conservation Foundation has urged traditional medicine practitioners to stop using vultures as part of the ingredients for making local medication but turn to the sustainable plant-based alternative.

This advice was given at a training organised by NCF for traditional medicine practitioners from 20 local government areas of Sokoto State. The training was part of NCF’s effort to save vultures from extinction.

The Director-General of NCF, Mukhtar Aminu-Kano, said the training was aimed at encouraging traditional medicine practitioners to go on herbs as an alternative to the use of vulture. He said the bird is fast disappearing from Nigeria.

National Health Dialogue: How traditional institutions can help achieve universal health coverage – Emir

Traditional institutions have a role to play for Nigeria to achieve universal health coverage in three areas of access, quality and equity.

The Emir of Gombe, Shehu Abubakar, said this at the annual National Health Dialogue in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said to achieve all the three areas, engaging policymakers to ensure healthcare services are accessible and affordable is a paramount requirement.

The traditional ruler said this will ensure that healthcare meets specific quality and local needs requirements and that everyone has an equal chance at getting it irrespective of the social, economic or political status.

Nutritionist advocate treatment of arthritis with Parsley leaf

A nutritionist, Paul Okoh, says Nigerians can reap immense benefits from parsley leaf in the treatment of arthritis, cancer prevention and other ailments.

Mr Okoh said in Abuja on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the annual National Health Dialogue, that the herb contains a significant level of antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and many others which can help a person suffering from chronic aches or pains, particularly those related to arthritis.

Parsley or garden parsley is specie of flowering plants in the family of Apiaceae that is native to the central Mediterranean region, but has naturalised elsewhere in Europe. It is widely cultivated as a herb, spice and vegetable.

‘Nigeria accounts for 23 per cent of deaths from maternal mortality globally’

The Lead Consultant of the Maternal Safety Data (MSD), an NGO, Mary-Ann Etiebiet, has said Nigeria contributes 23 per cent of deaths from maternal mortality, globally.

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Mrs Etiebiet, who spoke on Thursday in Abuja, at the 2019 “Future of Health Conference”, expressed worry over the prevalence of such deaths in Nigeria.

“No woman should die while giving birth to a child; MSD is focused on creating a world where no woman has to die at childbirth,” she said at the conference that has the theme: “Time to Focus on Quality Healthcare: Improving Outcomes”.

She said the deaths were preventable and challenged stakeholders to strive toward ending the trend where lives would be lost in the process of bringing new lives.

HIV/AIDS: Nigeria has no local ARV brand – Coalition

The Coalition of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (COCSHAN) has said there is no brand of Anti-Retroviral (ARV) manufactured in Nigeria.

Ikenna Nwakamma, the first Co-chairman of the society, was reacting to speculations that Nigeria produces and exports ARV drugs to neighbouring countries.

He said though some pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria have received an advanced level of accreditation to produce the drug, they are yet to commence because of the lack of government support.

He said the drugs could easily be manufactured if pharmaceutical companies can get the support of the government. He said this is important to help the government build a sustainable system that will ensure continuity when donors stop funding the HIV programme.

Nigeria to set up cancer treatment fund

To reduce the burden of treating cancer, a terminal disease claiming over 40, 000 Nigerians yearly, the federal government is planning to roll out a cancer treatment fund, health minister, Osagie Ehanire, has said.

The minister was reacting to a touching story on the painful battle against cancer shared by Serah Shimenenge Yugh, a breast cancer survivor, on Tuesday at the National Health Dialogue held in Abuja.

He said “There will be a creation of a fund, either a cancer treatment fund or whatever we decide to call it.

“It is important and can be driven by investment or donation. It can be driven by any method that takes you beyond the point where health insurance cannot cover anymore in your treatment,” he said.

Malawi denies reported cases of Ebola

Health authorities in Malawi have denounced the report of a first ebola case at the bordering district of Karonga.

The scare broke Sunday when health workers in the district that borders Tanzania quarantined one person suspected to have ebola signs and symptoms.

The environmental health officer for the district, Louis Tukula, had told newsmen that the screening of the suspected 37-year-old man has shown that he had a bacterial infection and not ebola. The patient would, however, remain quarantined until he recovers fully

National Health Dialogue: NPHCDA official seeks autonomy for healthcare facilities

The Director, Department of Planning Research and Statistics, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Garba Bulama, has urged the federal government to allow health facilities hire and fire ad-hoc staff.

Mr Bulama said this on Wednesday at the annual National Health Dialogue going on in Abuja.

Mr Bulama said giving autonomy to health facilities would greatly improve the the productivity of the sector.

“A factor that can quickly change the narrative is to give some level of autonomy to the health facilities so that they can hire and fire some ad hoc staff. They can fix their own light issues, they can pay their utility bills and then the quality of service will improve because people have lost confidence in the system,” he said.

Kenya introduces HPV vaccine as part of routine immunisation

Kenya government is introducing the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into its routine immunisation schedule to fight against cervical cancer in the country and it is targeting 800,000 girls aged 10.

Cervical cancer, which is one of the few vaccine-preventable cancers, is one of the leading causes of death among women in the country and in the WHO African region.

The HPV vaccine is effective against most HPV strains, which account for more than 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases. The vaccine is effective if administered before exposure to the virus, which is transmitted sexually.

Ebola Still an ‘Urgent’ Global Health Emergency – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Friday at its Emergency Committee meeting that the deadly Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains an “urgent” global health emergency.

DRC’s latest Ebola epidemic, which began in August 2018, has killed 2,144 people, making it the second deadliest outbreak of the virus, after the West Africa pandemic of 2014-2016.

WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said the public health emergency will be maintained for an additional three months as the outbreak remains a complex and dangerous one lacking the availability of funding.

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