Major health stories last week

Lassa fever
Lassa fever

The outbreaks of two major diseases, coronavirus and Lassa fever, dominated the health scene last week. Nigeria is battling with Lassa fever from which, between January 1 to 24, 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths have been recorded in 11 states.

Meanwhile on the international scene, the novel coronavirus which began from Wuhan province in China is spreading to other countries. As at Saturday, situation report from WHO shows that 1,320 confirmed cases have been reported for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) globally.

Here is a roundup of some of the health stories last week.

Lassa Fever: Nigerian govt activates nationwide emergency operations
With the increasing cases of Lassa fever reported across the country, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate the response activities.

Since the beginning of the year, Nigeria has been experiencing an increase in the number of Lassa fever cases and deaths. Between January 1 and 24, a total of 195 confirmed cases were reported from 11 states country, leading to 29 deaths.

This figure is expected to rise as more states have reported cases of the disease.

Only 2 out of 10 deliveries attended by skilled birth attendants in Kano – Report
Only 21.5 per cent – two out of 10 – of deliveries in Kano State are attended by skilled birth attendants, a report titled “Primary Health Care in Nigeria- A case study of Kano State”, has revealed.

The research was conducted by Nigeria Health Watch and spanned 49 facilities in 44 local government areas

Presenting the report on Tuesday, the Director of Programmes at Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu, said the percentage of facilities that offer maternal and child health (MNCH) services is very low.

Coronavirus: Nigeria issues advisory, places port health services on alert
Nigeria has placed its port health service units on alert following the outbreak of Coronavirus, a flu-like disease that has so far killed nine people in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China.

Since the first case of the Coronavirus was detected in December, at least 471 cases have been confirmed across China mainland, according to Chinese authorities. Cases have also been reported in South Korea, Thailand and Japan, and suspected cases detected in Australia.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control called for calm and urged travellers to submit themselves to routine health checks upon entry into the country.

German government satisfied with Nigeria’s efforts in polio eradication
For reaching the milestone of three years without reporting a case of wild poliovirus, the German Parliament has expressed satisfaction with the progress in polio eradication in Nigeria.

The German Government has been a long-term supporter of the Polio Eradication Programme in Nigeria. It has provided tremendous financial support over the years with grants to fill critical funding gaps for vaccines and campaign operations across the country.

Coronavirus not yet global emergency – WHO
Despite the fast-spreading rate of the new coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the outbreak is yet to attain the status of Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

It, however, warned that there is an emergency in China.

WHO in a statement released after the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General said despite the spread of the dangerous respiratory infection from China to at least six other countries, the disease is yet to attain the official global emergency status.

U.S. to evacuate consulate staff, citizens from Wuhan

The U.S. State Department said on Sunday it will evacuate personnel from its Wuhan consulate to the United States and will offer a limited number of seats to private U.S. citizens on a flight out of the epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak.

The State Department, in an emailed statement, said some private U.S. citizens will be able to board a “single flight” leaving Wuhan on January 28 bound for San Francisco, requesting those interested to contact the U.S. embassy in Beijing with their personal information.

“This capacity is extremely limited and if there is insufficient ability to transport everyone who expresses interest, priority will be given to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus,” said the statement.

Patients who quit smoking one month to surgery have less complications – WHO
Smokers who quit smoking at least four weeks or more before their surgical operation are more likely to have lower post-surgical complications, a new World Health Organisation (WHO) report has shown.

Evidence from the new report revealed that smokers who quit approximately four weeks or more before surgery have a lower risk of complications and “better results six months afterwards”.

The study also shows that every tobacco-free week after four weeks (usage) improves health outcomes by 19 per cent, due to improved blood flow throughout the body to essential organs.

Giving TB vaccine intravenously boosts efficacy – Research
Experiments in rhesus macaques show that changing the mode of administration of an existing vaccine yields “amazing” results in the fight against tuberculosis (TB).

There is currently only one available vaccine, which is called bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG). Healthcare professionals administer the vaccine intradermally; that is, they inject it directly under the skin.

However, a research led by a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research in Pennsylvania, JoAnne Flynn, suggests that administering the vaccine intravenously instead could drastically improve its efficiency.


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