Maternal mortality rate in Nigeria still high – UNICEF

Nigeria is one of the youngest countries in the world – not in terms of when it was founded but in terms of the age of its population.

According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects, there are 19.9 million children in Nigeria and 44% percent of the population is below the age of 15. To put this in perspective: 11 out of every 25 Nigerians are children.

UNICEF cites more than 20,000 children are born every single day from Borno to Lagos; that come to make up the massive below age ten population of this country. And for all 20,000 births, 821 women die during childbirth.

Currently, Nigeria is the highest contributor to maternal mortality in Central and Western Africa and accounts for 14% of the global maternal mortality rate.

The country is currently ranked 187th out of 191 countries in healthcare delivery. It is also the second largest contributor to maternal mortality worldwide, after India. One Nigerian woman dies every 13 minutes – that is 109 women dying each day – from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Add that to Northern Nigeria’s increasing child marriage rate and you have an atomic bomb.

According to GirlsNotBrides, a non-profit organization trying to eradicate child marriage, 17% of girls are married before the age of 15 and 44% are married before the age of 18. UNICEF predicts, in the North-West, figures are as high as 68% for child marriages. As a result of such high child marriage rates, pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death among young women aged 15-19 years in Nigeria.

Bird flu hits Plateau, 3,900 birds die

An outbreak of Bird flu also known as Avian Influenza has hit Plateau state, killing at least 3,900 birds.

Dr Spak Shaset, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the State told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Jos, that the outbreak has affected two farms in Jos North and Jos South Local Government Areas of the state.

“Sometimes in January, when we heard of an outbreak of the dreaded disease in some part of Bauchi state, we knew Plateau is at risk.

“I immediately summoned our divisional health officers in the 17 councils, and in less than 72 hours after we met, report got to us of suspected cases in some farms in the state.

“We immediately swung into action and took sample from the farms to our labs and it was confirmed it is bird flu.

“Without hesitation, we went and depopulated the farms to avoid further spread of the disease to other farms.

“More than 3,900 birds were destroyed; 2,900 from the farm in Jos South and 1,000 in the farm in Jos North,” he said.

Shaset said the two farms were decontaminated, disinfected and quarantined to avoid further spread to nearby farms and have other poultry farmers incur loses.

The official said the government had taken positive and stringent steps to avert the further spread of the disease to other areas of the state, which if left unattended to, could also transmit into human beings, which according to him, could be very disastrous.

Shaset charged poultry farmers and live bird marketers to step up bio-security and hygiene measures within and around their farms and markets.

He advised Plateau residents to avoid the sale, slaughtering and consumption of sick and dead birds to avoid being infected.

Virology Institute gets machine that can tell if one would develop cancer

The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria has acquired a new machine, ‘Sequencing Technology’ that will help it better study cancer genes and susceptibility.

In a statement issued in Friday, Prof. Clement Adebamowo, a professor of Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Maryland Baltimore, said that newly acquired NextSeq 500/550 is a great boost for cancer studies in Nigeria.

He said that the system, currently situated at Institute, will enable researchers understand genes that make some individuals at higher risk to cancer than others.

Prof. Adebamowo, disclosed this at the just concluded hands-on master training on the equipment in Abuja.

He said that “the technology we have deployed and the training that we have given will empower trainees to sequence the entire human genome.

“You can put the sample of an individual in the machine and it will read and tell us all that a person’s gene contains”.

He noted that this emerging trend in cancer research worldwide is still novel in Nigeria.

The Professor of Cancer added that genomes can play a role in whether somebody develops a specific disease or not and even among those that develop the disease, how severe the disease will be.

Prof. Adebamowo said that he has already begun working with several families in the country to discover genetic factors that may increase their risk to breast cancer.

According to him, families at risk can take preventive action based on research results.

He added that plans are underway to extend the training to researchers in and outside the country.

“When we were planning this training, we received letters from different countries indicating that they want to send people to attend.

“The plan is that IHVN will organize additional courses in future, which will be advertised, and potential participants given enough notice to attend,” he said.

Eight laboratory research scientists and clinicians participated in the six day training facilitated by manufacturers of the equipment – Illumina.

Financial support was received from the U.S. National Institutes of Health through the African Collaborative Center for Microbiome and Genomics Research (ACCME) in IHVN.

A Laboratory Manager at IHVN who also participated in the training, Mr. Ayotunde Famooto, adjudged the process as successful.

He said that participants have learned the laboratory processes such as library preparation, cluster generation, sequencing and how to analyse data from the new equipment.

Tension in Uganda over suspected Ebola death

(Xinhua/NAN) Ugandan authorities on Tuesday quarantined 13 people, who picked up a body of suspected Ebola death in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as hemorrhagic fever tests are carried out.

The Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) in a joint statement disclosed this in Kampala.

The statement said that the 13 relatives traveled to DRC’s Bunia hospital to repatriate the body of the deceased 46 year old male for burial in the eastern district of Tororo.

“Their details have been collected and these individuals are currently separated from the rest of the community,’’ said the joint statement.

The statement said the deceased was first admitted in Bunia hospital in November 2018 after complaining of chest pain and cough, sometimes with blood.

His condition deteriorated last week and died on Friday.

“The dead man has been living and working in the DRC for the last eight years.

He developed Ebola-like symptoms and died on Friday,” said the joint statement.

“His death certificate from the hospital indicates the cause of death to be cardiac failure and pulmonary tuberculosis.” the statement said.

The ministry of health has dispatched a burial team that will later today conduct a safe and dignified burial, according to the statement.

The statement said there is no confirmed Ebola case present in Uganda.

“Active case search continues in all communities, health facilities and on formal and informal border crossing in all districts especially in the high-risk areas,” said the statement.

Uganda is on an Ebola alert as parts of neighbouring eastern DRC are facing an outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever.

The highly contagious Ebola virus causes a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalised pain or malaise and in many cases internal and external bleeding, according to WHO.

Mortality rates of Ebola fever, according to the global health body, are extremely high, with the human case fatality rate ranging from 50 per cent to 89 per cent, depending on viral subtype.

NDLEA: Impounded Drugs at MMIA Increased by 400%

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said it impounded a total of 5,377.125kilogrammes of drugs at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, in 2018, representing over 400 per cent increase from the 1,266.400 kilogrammes of drugs the agency impounded in 2017.

According to the agency, the quantity of drugs impounded quadrupled in 2018 as a result of the significant increase in the number of tramadol seized at the Lagos airport.

NDLEA said majority of the drugs were destined to Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Congo DRC, India, Mozambique, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

The MMIA Commandant, Mr. Ahmadu Garba, told journalists Wednesday at the airport that the agency was able to record such tremendous feat as a result of the trainings acquired by the officials of NDLEA to identify suspects, cooperation of airlines and significant increase in the number of tramadol seized at the airport

“We were able to make this huge success in 2018 as a result of the cooperation by foreign airlines. Every year, we look at the airlines with the highest number of people that are arrested and liaise with them on how to address issue of drug trafficking.

“30.14 per cent of the suspected drug couriers arrested during the year were coming into Nigeria and the remaining 69.89 per cent were destined to different countries of the world with 13.70 per cent of them going to South Africa, which has the highest numbers,” Garba said.

He explained that out of the total number of 5,377.125 kilogrammes seized by the agency, 5002.900 were tramadol, representing 93.04 per cent.

He said other drugs seized include cocaine, heroin, cannabis sativa, methamphetamine, ephedrine, psychotropic substance and dummy, adding that 25 people were convicted.

He further explained that during the period under review, seventy-nine males and one female, making a total of 80 Nigerians were deported for drug-related offences as against 139 deported in 2017, showing a decrease of 42.45 per cent.

“Most of the drug deportees came from South Africa 30 per cent, Thailand 23.75 per cent, United States of America (USA) 12.50 per cent and Ethiopia 10 per cent,” Garba said.

However, he noted that drug couriers have continued to deploy new tactics in packaging the drugs to avoid suspicion by officials at the airport.

The illegal mode of taking these drugs out of the country include the use of false bottom, electronics, stocking them inside food stuff and most recently the usage of starched cloths.

The drug couriers starch the cloths together with the drugs and if they are successful, they are able to detach the drugs from the starched cloths after processing them.

Condom Day: NGO to distribute 600,000 condoms in Nigeria

The AIDS HealthCare Foundation (AHF), a Non-Governmental Organisation, says it will distribute over 600,000 condoms across the country as part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Condom Day.

Mr Steve Aborisade, the Advocacy and Marketing Manager of the Foundation, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja said the day was set aside to promote the prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV and unwanted pregnancies.

“The commemoration is usually observed on Feb. 13 in preceding Valentine’s Day, however, the day was moved to Feb. 7 due to the upcoming general elections.

“The condoms will be distributed in Abuja, and five other states of Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Anambra and Cross River,’’ he said.

The Country Programme Director, Dr Echey Ijezie, AHF-Nigeria, said that the Nigerian National Condom Strategy emphasised a deficit of 564 million condoms annually in the country.

He said the National AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey 2012 indicated that despite the increased awareness about condom in Nigeria, there is still low acceptance.

“Abstinence from sex, for those who can, remains very effective in preventing STIs and unplanned pregnancies.

“AHF is however confident that when we keep reminding people about using condoms with access to free condoms, we would have helped to reduce new HIV and STIs, prevent unwanted pregnancies, while promoting healthy lifestyle choices,’’ Ijezie said.

According to Chief Global Policy and Advocacy AHF, Mr Terri Ford, condoms are still the cheapest and best option for preventing HIV and STDs, in addition to unwanted pregnancies.

“Our International Condom Day events are a fun way to bring people together and get them information about how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and healthy.

“International Condom Day also helps remind people that there is still an HIV crisis across the globe,’’ he added.

AHF President, Mr Michael Weinstein, also said that promoting safe sex practices was also important in a time when funding for global health has remained flat for the last several years.

He said that lack of funds also includes money for condoms, adding that it is critical to stay healthy and be disease-free, particularly in countries that experience higher prevalence rates for HIV.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organisation, currently provides medical care and services to more than one million clients in 43 countries

Buhari campaign reacts to suit on president’s health

The Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) on Sunday condemned the suit filed by the Coalition of Political Parties (CUPP) asking that President Muhammadu Buhari be declared medically unfit to re-contest the presidential election.

In a statement by its Director of Communications and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, the BCO said the opposition parties were merely diverting attention from their looming defeat.

Ibrahim said: “Severally, we have had cause to draw the attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the fact that the opposition in the country had been flouting the commission’s rules of engagement in the campaigns by spreading fake news and making inciting remarks.

“The same opposition elements who had prayed for President Muhammadu Buhari’s death while on medical vacation in London claims it has gone to court to challenge the president’s health.

“This is part of their strategy to cover up for their lack of clear-cut manifesto to engage the ruling party in constructive campaign for the 2019 elections.

“But the character of their mental indolence is understood. They are disappointed to see President Buhari on the roof of his car campaigning and attracting huge crowd everywhere he goes to campaign.

“But we invite more cerebral Nigerians to be the judge here by ascertaining whether CUPP’s latest outburst and the suit it claimed it filed are not a reflection of their mental unfitness.”

Tension in Ondo as Lassa fever claims over 50 lives, residents, health workers panic

With over 50 deaths recorded in Ondo state as a result of Lassa fever outbreak, residents, as well as medical practitioners, are in panicky mood.

The endemic disease which BENGBENRO gathered has been ravaging the state for the past weeks has found its way into Akure, the Ondo State capital after cases were earlier reported in the border towns of the northern senatorial district area of the state.

According to some sources at the Federal Medical Center, FMC, Owo, where victims were being taken to for treatment, the present the state government is not doing anything as expected at curbing the deadly disease.

Stating that the situation is going beyond control, a medical practitioner at the FMC, Owo disclosed that at the “isolation ward” of the hospital where patients of such outbreaks are treated, bed spaces are no longer available.

The medical practitioner who craved for anonymity, further confirmed to BENGBENRO that the medical facility is currently battling what she described as negligence from the part of some of her colleagues as a Lassa fever patient who was under observation “mysteriously” escaped from the hospital.

“What we currently facing, is quite beyond what anyone would ever imagine.

“Almost all the patients in the isolation ward are those that have contracted Lassa fever and most of the reported cases are from the border communities within Ose Local Government area of the state.

“It’s quite sad how the state government is not even attending to the situation.

“Citizens are dying from preventable disease, but the government is not showing any concern at all.”

Also, a source at the state’s Ministry of Health who requested that he should not be named being a civil servant, disclosed that the situation is such a terrible one that a state of emergency ought to have been declared within the state health sector.

The medical doctor in the ministry berated the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for allowing the situation to deteriorate to its present level, due to what he described as lackadaisical attitude on the part of the governor.

“From the ministry here, we have approached the governor, on the need to urgently arrest the situation but he his not seeing it that way.

“He claims there are no funds to spend on the medical needs of these people (Lassa fever patient) but let’s be frank with ourselves, all those money being spent on political activities in the state, where are they coming from?

“I believe it is high time our political leaders started to set their priorities right. Because in the real sense of it, it’s those that will vote for them that are dying so cheaply.

“You won’t believe that as terrible as the situation is at present, there’s no single sensitization or awareness going on in the state as regards the outbreak, all in the name of that there is no fund.

“Even for the outbreak to effectively contained, schools within the affected communities should have been shut with intensive awareness taken to market places, churches, mosques and other public places.

“It will interest you to know that health workers might down tools if anyone of us is affected.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro emphasized that the situation calls for a combined effort of stakeholders as the state cannot bear the burden alone.

Dr. Adegbenro disclosed that the treatment of a Lassa patient costs at least N1.2m, which he said was beyond what the State Government alone can handle considering the number of people infected.

While calling on Chairmen of affected Local Government Areas in the state, Security Agencies, Development Partners and other stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with strategies that would help tackle the disease.

Also the State’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi said there is a war against Lassa Fever and the state should be in a war mood.

He recalled that about 27 States were affected with Lassa fever last year and Ondo and Edo topped the list as they accounted for about 80% of those affected including mortality.

Dr Olalekan Ojo of the Federal Medical Center Owo said the State was witnessing more Lassa patients than any other states of the federation ”and the whole budget of the state cannot handle”

He added that the Federal Medical Center Owo was overwhelmed due to lack of sufficient manpower to cope.

NMA pleads with Gov. Yahaya as 88 doctors resign in Kogi

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has called on Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to reverse the ‘current internal drift’ of doctors and other healthcare workers in the state.

The association made the appeal in a statement issued to newsmen in Lokoja on Monday by the state NMA Chairman, Dr Kabiru Zubair.

This followed the exit of 88 medical doctors from the state public service.

The association, however, felicitated with the governor on the celebration of his third year anniversary in office and for making healthcare one of his five thematic areas.

According to Zubair, “Under this administration, a total of 88 doctors have left the Kogi Civil Service; previously, 79 doctors left plus another nine who had succeeded in securing new employment recently.

“Doctors and other healthcare workers remained the drivers of healthcare delivery anywhere in the world.

“Steps such as the payment of outstanding salary arrears of doctors and other healthcare workers, implementation of the corrected CONMESS, promotion and annual step increment, among others, are needed to reverse this unfortunate trend.

“As you commence your fourth year in office, the NMA as the custodian of the health of the people is ready and willing to partner with state government to improve the health sector in Kogi.’’

Zubair said that the association equally felicitated with the Deputy Governor, the SSG, the Chief of Staff, Commissioner for Health, Special Adviser on Health Matters and the entire cabinet members for sustaining the progress made thus far

2019 election: N-Delta militants give Buhari a list of thier demands

Militants under the aegis of 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta has given President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, a list of demands for a peaceful 2019 elections in the South-South region.

They have asked that President Buhari allows the Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs, not gun to count in next month’s election in the oil region.

The group also asked the President to be wary of his alleged impending plot to take into custody and replace the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen.

According to them, if these conditions are not met, the consequences will be very terrible for the nation to stomach.

Leader of the group, self-styled “General” Izon Ebi, in a statement issued to journalists yesterday, warned that militants would not only “stop the flow of oil but cut all the pipes beyond repair if the conditions were breached.

“We, therefore, want to summarise that the people of the Niger Delta want a peaceful election where their voter’s cards will speak for them, not guns.

“We conclude by sounding it loud that the CJN cannot be unlawfully removed from office and no amount of militarisation or intimidation will cow the Niger Delta people into submission and allow injustice to be meted out on our distinguished leaders and personalities anymore.

“The current alarm raised by the Coalition of United Political Parties CUPP of an impending plot to arrest the CJN and replace him with a northerner is a very serious matter that the consequences will be so grievous for the Nigerian nation to bear.

“The 21st Century Youths of the Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience cannot comprehend the philosophy that makes us inferior and second- class citizens in the abundance of our God-given resources in the Niger Delta, which sustain the Nigerian nation.

“There is no amount of intimidation that will force the Niger Delta people to join or support the APC for sins to be forgiven. Government cannot force us to support it when it does not take responsibility for its actions.”