10m Euros for new malaria drug

The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) has given a grant of €10 million over five years to “WANECAM 2” to conclude production of new malaria drug.

WANECAM 2 is a unique collaboration between antimalarial drug researchers in Africa and Europe from ten academic institutions, a pharmaceutical company, Novartis, and a not-for-profit product development partnership (PDP), Medicines for Malaria Venture.

The grant will support African trials of a novel antimalarial combination comprising KAF156 (ganaplacide) and lumefantrine in a new once-daily formulation.

KAF156 has demonstrated the potential to treat resistant malaria and to be administered as a single dose.

The grant will also help to build and strengthen research capabilities in the four participating African countries of Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Niger.

Global partnerships have made significant strides in malaria control over the past 20 years, yet the rate of progress has recently diminished.

A recent survey of African malaria leader showed high levels of concern around resistance to some of the current gold-standard treatments, artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), in Asia, and the likelihood that it could spread to Africa, emphasizing the urgent need for novel, easy-to-administer antimalarial medicines.

The Principal Investigator, Professor Abdoulaye Djimdé of the L’Université des Sciences, des Techniques et des Technologies de Bamako and coordinator of the WANECAM group, said: “We welcome the generous support from EDCTP and are grateful for their long-term commitment to clinical development in Africa – and specifically supporting clinical research in critical diseases such as malaria.

“This backing is vital to accelerate the development of this much-needed new compound. African collaboration with a group of international experts on this programme can help ensure the trials are completed rapidly and to the highest quality standards. With reports about parasite resistance to artemisinins and ACTs, it is essential that we have new antimalarials ready and waiting.”

The EDCTP funding will also support efforts to strengthen clinical research infrastructure in Niger, as well as existing clinical research capacities at all other trial sites involved.

These efforts will involve exchanging experiences and best practices between the sites and the European academic centres, as well as with Novartis and MMV.

Dr. Michael Makanga, EDCTP Executive Director, said: “We are delighted to broaden the coalition of organisations that EDCTP funds and partners to deliver our malaria strategy.

“By involving the private sector and a not-for-profit PDP, we have broadened our network of expertise. With all sectors working together, we can build stronger partnerships to defeat malaria.”

By 2017, malaria mortality had more than halved in sub-Saharan Africa compared to the turn of the century, due to better prevention, mainly via bednets, and improved treatment with ACTs.

However, over 400,000 people died due to malaria-related causes that year, most of them young children under the age of five. The most recent 2018 World Malaria Report stated that progress in the fight against the disease is flattening for the second year in a row.

Provision of basic amenities will reduce non-communicable diseases in Nigeria – Experts

The provision of basic social amenities such as clean water and electricity will go a long way in reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the country, a medical practitioner, Leo Egbujiobi has said.

Mr Egbujiobi is the president of the Nigerian Association of Pharmacist and Pharmaceutical Scientists in America, (NAOPPSA).

He is also a practicing cardiologist as well as a pharmacist in the United States.

Lack of Amenities
Speaking to BENGBENRO NEWS in Abuja, on Monday, Mr Egbujiobi said the lack of social amenities in the country is part of the contributing factors to the increasing rate of non-communicable disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

“I think if we look at the society, there are three things we can do in Nigeria that will make a lot of difference. Clean water, in terms of public health perspective will go a long way to remove some diseases we have.

“A good supply of electricity will go a long way to improve our health. Those two things constitute the basic life. If they can’t drink water, if they can’t have electricity that allows them to freeze the food they cooked yesterday so it doesn’t get rotten is not going to work,” he said.

Mr Egbujiobi said high blood pressure is a problem because many people do not know they have it.

He said high blood pressure though on the increase in Africa is a global disease and not necessarily the disease of Africa.

“Half of the patients I treat even in the US are there to see me in emergency because of High blood pressure,” he said.

Mr Egbujiobi, however, lamented that the problem with Africa is that “we are not figuring it.”

He said if the problem of high blood pressure can be fixed, Nigeria will reduce mortality rate from the disease by 20 to 30 per cent.

He said this will also reduce the risk of stroke by nearly 40 to 50 per cent.

“The risk of kidney failure is also down. The risk of dying sudden death is reduced magnanimously,” he said.

Change of lifestyle
What it takes to deal with high blood pressure “is to check the pressure and monitor it and make sure that (if) the pressure is high on two different times, then diagnosis will follow,” the expert said.

He, however, said it is not always when there is a diagnosis that drugs are required.

He explained that three things need to be done. First is the change of diet and reduction in salt intake.

Mr Egbujiobi said food high in salt increases blood pressure and also makes it difficult to treat.
He also advised on quitting smoking because “smoking interferes with the medication we use to treat high blood pressure. Smoking mixed with alcohol increases blood pressure.”

He said as a pharmacist, he knows that less than half of medical problems require medication.

“You don’t have to give medicine for every condition,” he said. “When we take care of the prevention part, the next stage is treatment for individuals who have challenges with diets, exercise, smoking and alcohol, and get them to address such. “Then we come to the simple medications.”

He said the bad news about high blood pressure is that it does not occur alone. He said it, most times, comes along with diabetes and elevated cholesterol.

He said the good thing, however, about that is that most of them have the same path way to treatment.

“Simple exercise regularly done reduces both blood pressure and diabetes. The people stopping smoking, stopping alcohol, and illicit drug use will reduce the risk of diabetes.

“So it’s an opportunity and a challenge. Opportunity in that in simple things we do within public health education will reduce the disease consequences.

“Challenge in the sense that if we don’t take care of these things, we are doomed to catastrophic illness in the young.

“These illness, high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco use requires a conceptual of the nurse, the doctor, the pharmacist, the public health, the media, the federal government and local government in giving opportunity education in any language that everybody will understand.

“Media attention is important to improving our healthcare system, via WhatsApp, web, you tube. (They) all are important,” he said

Way forward
Another medical doctor practicing in the U.S., Uche Aguwa, lamented that the rot in the health system in Nigeria has been a contributing factor to high cases of non-communicable diseases in the country.

She said there is a need for the government to allocate more resources to the health sector because the health system is bad as compared to that of countries like Brazil and Mexico.

“I have seen so many patients here who have never seen a doctor and a lot of them are in their fifties or something, that should never be the case.

According to her, to reposition healthcare delivery in Nigeria, the hospitals need to be equipped with the right tools. There are lots of patients who have heart problems and they have never had a Electrocardiography (EKG/ECG) before.

“How can a doctor who is a cardiologist take care of a heart patient in Nigeria without getting an EKG? I have met a lot of Nigerian doctors who told me that when they were at medical school, there probably were two real EKG.

“When I go to work in the US, when I work 12 hours shift, I often see 20 or more EKGS, I read them every day. I see a lot of it especially when people come in with chest pain. I work in the emergency unit so I see like 20 EKGs in an hour. We should have things like that in Nigeria health care system, things like that are very basic, that is one way to start.

“The government needs to put equipment in the health centres and clinics. We have good physicians in the country but when the system is very poor, they start venturing away,” she said.

Why Nigerians don’t seek medical attention early – Experts

Nigerians do not seek early medical attention because of the high poverty rate in the country and lack of adequate health information, some experts have said.

The President, Association of Nigerian Physicians in America (ANPA), Charmain Emelife, said this while speaking with BENGBENRO NEWS in Abuja on Monday during a medical outreach organised by the association.

The medical outreach was organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Association of Pharmacist and Pharmaceutical Scientist in America, (NAOPPSA), Business and Professional Women Nigeria (BPW), Junior Chambers International (JCI), Dagomo Foundation and others.

The medical outreach, a six-day mission, holds April 5 to 10. It will provide free ophthalmological, dental, and surgical services to less privileged Nigerians.

The medical outreach will hold in two locations in the Nigerian capital, Abuja: Juwa and Tugan Kwasou.

All the surgeries are being done at the Kubwa General hospital.

Ms Emelife said there is a need for the government to embark on proper grassroots education to encourage people to make informed and timely decisions about their health.

She said healthcare delivery is also affected by ‘high poverty’ in the country.

Ms Emelife, a nephrologist, said most Nigerians present their health issues late because they do not have adequate knowledge on how diseases transform.

This, she said, affects their health decision-making process.

Ms Emelife said people need primary healthcare providers and also need the right education “so that they can abandon their beliefs that are wrong.”

“There are lots of people peddling instruction and information that is not correct. A patient doesn’t understand that hypertension is ‘lifetime’ and needs to be treated daily.

“They think they have been given drugs, treated and it’s done. We don’t have that culture of yearly medical checkups. As such follow up care for grassroots education is necessary for them to understand that if you are diagnosed with hypertension, it means that you are hypertensive for life,” she said.

Ms Emelife said there is a need for a channel “in which the right people are the ones providing information”.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there. A diabetic patient that I saw this morning said he has not eaten and has not taken his medicine.

“I can’t even treat you effectively if you have not even taken what you have been given so we need to start proper grassroots education. Training the right people to give the right information is very important,” she said.

Leo Egbeijobi, a doctor practising in America, said a lot has gone wrong with healthcare at the rural level “and there is a need to revive it”.

Mr Egbeijobi, also a pharmacist, is the president, Nigerian Association of Pharmacist and Pharmaceutical Scientist in America (NAOPPSA).

According to him, “simple things we do within public health education will reduce the disease consequences and go a long way on preventive measures.”

“Back then, there were good things in the rural areas that are not there anymore. The local area is no longer protected. There is pollution, there are people coming out from outside to inside with saturation of the urban life. And there is a lack of education and information on how to take care of simple things like vaccination.

“If there is anything we need to improve, we need to go back to the old system of having community health clinics, to be managed by healthcare workers, coordinated by healthcare nurses, supported by healthcare pharmacist and supervised by healthcare doctors”.

Another visiting doctor, Uche Aguwa, said “judging by the people she has attending to so far, knowledge of their health is very poor.”

She said: “A lot of people come in saying they have typhoid or malaria, or (high) blood pressure and most of the time they do not have any of the ailments”.

She said the notion that they (patients) know what they are suffering from makes treatment difficult “because the physician needs to take time to start explaining to them.”

Mass Child Abuse At Two Extremes, By ‘Tope Fasua

the real mass child abuse that compares with the force-feeding of four year olds with sexuality, is what I see as an elite conspiracy around the mass illiteracy in some parts of Nigeria. It is now clear that we have a class system in Nigeria which we all need to begin to scale down. Nigeria, in particular, needs all the intelligent human capital that it can find.

What has the world turned into? That is a very popular refrain when we contemplate how yesterday is better than today. The thought that yesterday is always better than today is documented in psychology as a cognitive bias. In truth though, yesterday is not necessarily better than today. The ‘good old days’ weren’t really as good in many ways compared to today. Imagine a time when there was little in terms of human rights, when people were summarily slaughtered at the behest of some monarch, when all land belonged to some feudal lord, when little villages engaged in endless and meaningless wars, when superstition ruled the world, when there was no antibiotics or advances in medicines and people died of the simplest of infections, when millions were shackled as slaves and traded like cattle, when there was zero freedom of expression, and technology wasn’t available to help human beings. In those days, whenever you traveled, you were gone. No communication, until you showed up again. People got lost forever, many were consumed by the elements, or by wild animals. Imagine a time when you had to trek over hundreds of kilometres to trade, and tens of kilometres to get to the farm or market, your back bent with loads and stuff. No; those weren’t particularly days of joy and prosperity for those who suffered and survived through them.

But so also is today not perfect. And certainly, if human beings do not destroy the earth entirely – even though we are trying hard to do so and to end the times – there will come a day in the future when the inhabitants of this earth will wonder how we pulled through without the innovations of their times.

I am however concerned with two sinister phenomena going on in our world today. In the ‘developed’ world of the U.K., U.S., Canada and other ‘enlightened’ countries, their fixation right now is how to get the teaching of ‘sexual diversity’ into the school curriculum of fouryear old children. The justifiers of this position talk about how the world has changed and that children need to be taught that parents could either be two men or two women, and that people can switch sexes at will. They say it is important to start them young, so that children do not grow up into ignorant adults and misfits in their modern world. I had cause to take on one popular former CNN, now ITV UK presenter on twitter some week ago. That was Pierce Morgan. For some reason, the unquestioned acceptance of such positions is now being equated with modernity, liberation, enlightenment, and anyone who says ‘slow down, are we on the right track?’ is labeled all sorts. Pierce had taken umbrage at the subtle rejection of the idea that children should be taught these sexual preference subjects at a young age, by a young Muslim Briton on his show, by stating condescendingly that ‘this is not Islamabad!’ I was shocked. Anyhow, my comments on Twitter were also greeted with a lot of misplaced aggression, including one which advised I should go and take care of female genital mutilation in my country. It is obvious that those who are pushing this preposterous positions are not stable human beings.

My position remains that four year old children should be allowed to play and evolve without being prodded in some certain sexual direction or the other. A four years old child just wants some normal toys, enough space to play, a certain amount of freedom for his/her brain to grow. There is so much information for such a child to explore, especially in today’s information age. Sex is certainly not on the mind of a four or five year old child. Well, let me speak for myself. I would cringe if you told me about sex, and two daddies or two mummies when I was five, or eight, or even 10. Heck, at 18 or 20, one still had one’s heart in one’s mouth just to talk to a girl. And I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that – a mild fear and lots of respect for the opposite sex until you come to your own! But sex and sexuality at four? It could only be the prelude to an agenda to destroy the world. As usual, the next agenda is to come to Africa and shove it down our throats.

There is no way to describe and understand this impending mass hijack of the minds of little children in school, than to see it as mass child abuse on an industrial scale. I see it as a victory for the practitioners of ‘alternative sexuality’ who are all out to recruit as many as possible into their camp, and what is better than to catch them young?

There is no way to describe and understand this impending mass hijack of the minds of little children in school, than to see it as mass child abuse on an industrial scale. I see it as a victory for the practitioners of ‘alternative sexuality’ who are all out to recruit as many as possible into their camp, and what is better than to catch them young? They will soon be here, threatening the cancelation of aids and grants and what-not if we do not accede to their requests. Luckily our culture is a bit strong but how long can the culture hold up? One of the first questions they ask new politicians is their take on same sex marriage. While I was contesting, I was never invited to the ‘hip’ programmes (like Falz’s “The Couch”) where these questions were asked though – perhaps because my opinions are already known. My simple answer is to tell them we have so many serious, existential issues here than to be bothered with who is sleeping with who, and how, so long as they are consenting adults. And that if we threw the question to a referendum here, it will be roundly defeated by our people. Also our society does not, as yet, support all that open kissing and necking they do inside trains and everywhere in the Western world. We have serious catching up in hard developmental stuff to do here.

As a corollary to this new rhetoric of a modern world, in the same U.K. the public space is full of rhetoric that paint men as weak, confused, predatory, useless, out-of-control, while women are in-charge, focused, liberated, firm and so on. A few movies that have come out lately are subtly projecting this new modernity, including one titled The Favorite which paints Queen Anne, who ruled England in the late 17th Century, as a serial lesbian. Another is Enigma, which reveals Alan Turing, a computer genius during the Second World War, as gay. Yet another great recent British movie is Bohemian Rhapsody, which chronicles the life of Freddie Mercury, an openly gay superstar who eventually died of HIV/Aids. Two weeks ago however, the Independent newspaper in the U.K. carried a news item that hundreds of child sex dolls were seized at their border. It is only natural that with this ‘experimental path’ for want of a better phrase, they will see stuff like men seeking little children to sleep with. What is more? Last year, a German medical student (perhaps a medical doctor now) – Mirjam Heine – gave a TEDX talk claiming that truly, just like homosexuality, pedophilia is innate and not a choice that people make. She demands understanding for pedophiles because ‘they were born that way’. Perhaps the world is truly coming to an end.

The other extremity in mass child abuse, is the mass manufacture of ignorance, especially in parts of Nigeria, with the exclusion of millions of children from any meaningful functional education that makes people productive in the 21st Century. In these parts, people are encouraged to have many children, but children of the hoi polloi are allowed to roam the streets. This is in total and direct contrast to the other approach (gayism, trans-sexualism etc) which seeks to reduce global population. How will we be saved from these extremes?

It is a fact that at some point we brainwash our children with tribal and religious prejudices. Children who have always had open minds about the world begin to see those from different parentage and tribes and religions as those they were born into, as ‘different’. They often stop playing or talking to those ‘other’ children, and start suspecting them once we convince them to. Some grow into teenagers and become aggressive about it. Radicals. Fanatics. Some are even ready to kill and maim in the name of their tribes, creed, and religions. We all seem to forget that these things are accidents of birth. No one chose to be born into Nigeria, or their particular families – Christian, Muslim, idol worshipper, North, South, East or West. We just found ourselves here. I personally do not believe that God, in His infinite mercies, will punish us for what we are unable to change. So I urge that we be careful – especially the Christians and Muslims – with this usual mutual recriminations about who is worshipping God and who isn’t, or who is heading to Hell and who is Heaven-bound.

The neglect of the minds of our children across the country is a great cause for concern and is gross child abuse for one reason; these children did not ask to be born. No parent has the right to keep their children ignorant of basic essentials of today’s world. No parent has a right to show unconcern and lack of care for their children.

But the real mass child abuse that compares with the force-feeding of four year olds with sexuality, is what I see as an elite conspiracy around the mass illiteracy in some parts of Nigeria. It is now clear that we have a class system in Nigeria which we all need to begin to scale down. Nigeria, in particular, needs all the intelligent human capital that it can find. But nowhere else in the world are they manufacturing ignorance on industrial scale as we seem to be doing in Nigeria. While I was campaigning, I made a point to walk into public schools randomly in the North, West, East and South of Nigeria. And this shaped my opinion to a great extent. In States like Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, I saw that most of the public schools had no teachers. The largest number of personnel I saw in any of the random primary schools I visited was three. Mr. Segun Adeniyi of ThisDay wrote about this last week and corroborates my position. In one large school in Katsina, I was glad to find a teacher in a creche kind of class, and she taught the children rhymes, in English. This is a good innovation from the Ministry of Education but I never saw another creche in any other public school I visited.

With one, two or three teachers in a whole school, nothing actually gets taught all day in many public schools in Northern Nigeria, which leaves one with the impression that we are deliberately keeping the children of the poor in continuous ignorance. The governors and even the president don’t believe this is a major crisis. When asked about this at Kadaria’s presidential town hall meeting, President Buhari said it was a problem for the local government to solve. Such a massive problem that is globally embarrassing? Part of the rationale from believers of this class system is that mass education will tip the social balance, by depriving landowners of people that can till the land, odd-jobsmen, peasants, petty traders and so on. But we must be careful not to choose a forgotten, regressive reality. This is the 21st century, and whereas we are not willing to join those who equate sexual overdrive and perversion with modernity, we must strike a balance to ensure we do not remain somewhere in the 16th Century. I need to report that the South is also slipping in terms of teacher population, quality of teaching and so on, as a result of massive corruption over the years.

The neglect of the minds of our children across the country is a great cause for concern and is gross child abuse for one reason; these children did not ask to be born. No parent has the right to keep their children ignorant of basic essentials of today’s world. No parent has a right to show unconcern and lack of care for their children. No government has the right to manufacture ignorance by embezzling funds for education. The moment a child is born in a progressive, normal society, that child becomes the property of the state. A mother cannot kill a child and say ‘shebi it is my child’. A father cannot starve a child, beat a child to stupor, or lock a child up for long as punishment and claim the government has no opinion in the matter. In such countries that are progressive, everyone is accounted for. Population size is not by conjecture or something to play politics with, like we do here. One single child can change the fate and trajectory of a nation and the world. In fact, singular people, whether born into money or out of it, into royalty or servitude, have changed the world positively – and indeed negatively – up to date.

We must push back against these two forms of mass child abuse. We must protect our children and make them strong for the challenges of the future. Our children are not mere playthings in our hands.

Akwa Ibom blames high rate of HIV/AIDS on influx of visitors

The Akwa Ibom government has attributed the high rate of HIV/AIDS in the state to the influx of visitors.

The Nigerian HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) shows that Akwa Ibom has the highest prevalence rate of HIV in the country.

About 5.5 per cent of the people living with HIV in Nigeria are in Akwa Ibom State, followed by Benue State, which has about 5.3 per cent prevalence rate, according to the findings of the survey released on March 14, in Abuja.

Few days after the release of the NAIIS survey findings, the health commissioner in Akwa Ibom, Dominic Ukpong, briefed reporters in Uyo on the state government reaction to the survey findings.

The text of the press briefing has just been made available to BENGBENRO NEWS.

“The location of the state with a large coastal front of 129 Km stretching from Ikot Abasi to Oron, an airport, good road network, peaceful atmosphere, friendly disposition of our people, good cuisines and fast developing economy have made our state the destination of choice for both national and international visitors,” Mr Ukpong, a medical doctor, told reporters.

“All these are not without attendant public health consequences, like transmission of communicable diseases which HIV/AIDS cannot be excluded.”

Mr Ukpong said the state government and its health partners, with funding from USAID, carried out a similar survey – Akwa Ibom AIDS Indicator Survey (AKAIS) – in 2017.

“The result as disseminated in November 2017 showed a prevalence of 4.8% for the age group 15 to 69 years.

“Statistically this two results 5.5% (2018) and 4.8% (2017) for NAIIS and AKAIS respectively are within the same 95% confidence interval ranging from 4.7 to 6.3 percent.

“Therefore the results scientifically similar despite the little change in figures. The slight difference between the NAIIS and AKAIS prevalence can be attributed to the sample population size, about 16,000 in AKAIS 2017 and about 8000 in NAIIS 2018, making AKAIS sample size twice the size in NAIIS, making AKAIS result more precise,” Mr Ukpong said.

The health commissioner said the HIV prevalence in the state was on the decline.

“The last nationally accepted HIV survey, prior to the NAIIS survey in 2018 was the ANC SENTINEL study in 2014 and the National prevalence was 3%, while Akwa Ibom State prevalence was 10.8%.

“Arguably as it is being reported that the national prevalence has dropped from 3% (2014) to 1.4% (2018), similarly that of Akwa Ibom State has dropped from 10.8% (2014) to 5.5% (2018),” the commissioner said.

He said the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, is committed to the health and wellbeing of the people.

The commissioner listed out immediate measures to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the state as follows:

  • Increasing access to HIV testing services, by providing enough rapid test kits whereby all primary health centres and secondary health facilities in the state will be able to provide free HIV testing services to its citizens.
  • Increasing access to treatment by creating three new comprehensive treatment centres, one per senatorial district to be fully supported by the state government these will complement other comprehensive treatment centres supported by international partners.
  • The State Primary Health Care Development Board, inaugurated by the Executive Governor recently, is working hard to kick-start its activities, which includes management of our primary health centres. This will impact positively on the service delivery in these health facilities.
  • Embarking on state-wide community outreaches and enlightenment campaigns to create demand for the uptake of HIV services. (I, therefore, appeal to the media to be partners in this project by incorporating jingles, news promo, and talk shows and media chats on HIV at no cost, to support the fight against the transmission of the virus.)
  • Strategising for effective intervention among drivers of new infections namely young adult females and members of the key population, by designing interventions that are gender and youth-friendly.

Among the long term measures, the commissioner said the government would push for legislation in the state that would protect people living with HIV and also end stigmatization and discrimination.

David Beckham Launches World’s First Voice Petition to End Malaria in Yoruba, Eight other Languages

Ahead of World Malaria Day, former football star, David Beckham, has launched the world’s first voice petition to end malaria for the campaign “Malaria Must Die, So Millions Can Live.”

Instead of collecting signatures, the campaign asks people around the world to use the power of their voice to demand action by visiting malariamustdie.com and recording the message ‘Malaria Must Die’.

In a short film, produced by Ridley Scott Associates and officially released Tuesday, Beckham appears to speak nine languages as he invites people to add their voices to help end one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases.

The former Manchester United forward begins by speaking in English before appearing to converse fluently in Spanish, Kinyarwanda, Arabic, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Kiswahili. He ends speaking Yoruba, a local Nigerian dialect.

But the voices are not all his own. Instead, using emerging AI video synthesis technology, we hear the 43-year-old speaking the voices of men and women from around the world.

Each language and voice represent a part of the world affected by malaria, both in the past and present.

The father-of-four ends the film in English, saying: “Speak up and say ‘malaria must die’. One voice can be powerful, but all of our voices together? Then they will have to listen.”

Elvis Eze, a Nigerian-born medical doctor whose voice featured in the film speaking Yoruba said, “My life changed when I worked at a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, and I saw the intolerable toll of malaria. It doesn’t have to be this way. I now work for the NHS in the UK and have seen how this is a global challenge. Through the Voice Petition, we each have a chance to inspire change wherever we are”.

The voice petition campaign is coming against the backdrop of a global rise in malaria cases for the first time in ten years, since the beginning of the campaign against the disease through the World Malaria Day celebrated every April 25 since 2008.

Half the world is still at risk from malaria, a preventable, treatable disease, which kills a child every two minutes. In 2016, over 216 million people around the world had malaria, five million more than the year before. Malaria-related death stood at 445,000, with 91 per cent of these in Africa.

Unfortunately, 15 countries carried the heaviest malaria burden in 2016, together accounting for 80 per cent of all global malaria cases and deaths.

Currently, Nigeria is the highest-burden country, accounting for 27 per cent of global malaria cases and the overall financial gap over the next three years to implement a national malaria strategy is US$ 1.4 billion.

The ‘Malaria Must Die’ campaign is designed to amplify the voices of those affected by malaria and gives everyone the opportunity to speak out.

Each voice collected via the petition will contribute to a unique piece of audio art known as a sound sculpture, grabbing the attention of leaders in a unique and memorable way.

It will be delivered to world leaders ahead of critical funding decisions for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in six months’ time.

This year’s World Malaria Day event will be held at the French capital, Paris in two weeks’ time.

Patients’ Bill of Rights: Making health a human right in Nigeria

Patients’ Bill of Rights: Making health a human right in Nigeria

In July 2018, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
The event at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja,.organised by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), was attended by critical stakeholders in Nigeria’s health sector, including the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
PBoR is an aggregation of patients’ rights that exist in other instruments including the 1999 Constitution, Consumer Protection Act, Child Rights Act, Freedom of Information Act, National Health Act, and other sundry regulations.
PBoR was developed by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and other stakeholders including the Federal Ministry of Health for the protection of consumers.
At the event, Mr Osinbajo said: “Today, we take a definite step in ensuring peoples’ rights in the healthcare sector, which are truly respected and protected in part because no one in our country is insulated or immunised from needing medical services. Essentially, our comfort, lives and life expectancy are in part determined by the quality and delivery of healthcare services.”
Speaking about the imperative of the bill in Nigeria, Mr Osinbajo cited the dim view of Nigerians on the country’s healthcare system.
He said: “A 2016 study by PwC [Price Waterhouse] revealed that 90 per cent of respondents associate healthcare in Nigeria with low quality, while over 80 per cent and over 70 per cent respectively, associate it with words like rude’ andfear’. Conversely, less than 20 per cent felt that the healthcare provided in Nigeria gave value for money, and less than 10 per cent felt that it was transparent.”
Similar to the PwC study, a report last year by BENGBENRO NEWS quoted pregnant women in an Abuja per-urban community expressing a preference for traditional birth attendants over midwives at primary health care facilities. The women said the traditional birth attendants are less aggressive than the over-worked healthcare providers in dilapidated community facilities.
Run-down health facilities staffed by rude health workers are a violation of the right of citizens to health, a fundamental human right.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1946 defined the right to health as “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health” that should be available, physically and economically accessible, acceptable by medical ethics standards and of quality to all; regardless of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”

The subject of rights in healthcare are relevant today as they align with the global movement towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The UHC requires that health services are available for all.
A former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, explained that “the right to health does not mean the right to be healthy, nor does it mean those poor governments must put in place expensive health services for which they have no resources. But it does require governments and public authorities to put in place policies and action plans, which will lead to available and accessible health care for all in the shortest possible time.”
The right to health consists of freedoms and entitlements. Freedoms to control bodily integrity and the right to be free from non-consensual medical treatment and experiments. Entitlement to the right to a system of health protection, preventive measures, treatments and control of diseases and access to essential medicine.
According to the WHO, “Understanding health as a human right creates a legal obligation on states to ensure access to timely, acceptable, and affordable health care of appropriate quality as well as to providing (sic) for the underlying determinants of health, such as safe and potable water, sanitation, food, housing, health-related information and education, and gender equality.”
This is also important as rights to health are prerequisites for other rights. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) states that “When the rights to health are upheld, their access to all other human rights is also enhanced, triggering a cascade of transformative change”.
The Right to Health is enshrined in the Patients’ Bill of Rights as well as in the National Health Act of 2014 and in the Constitution of Nigeria. Chapter II of the Constitution in Section 17 (3) (d) which lists the Objective and Directive Principles of State Policy, noted that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that “there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons.”
This is also recognised in Chapter IV, which lists fundamental rights. Section 33 and Section 34 reference the right to life and dignity, respectively.
Indeed, being unhealthy comes at the expense of these fundamental rights including the right to life. Human rights cannot be actively exercised without health and indeed health cannot be attainable without dignity that is upheld by all other human rights. In this regard, the Nigerian National Health Act 2014 in Part 1 (1) (c) states that governments have to “provide the best possible health services.”
Non-Implementation
As Nigeria introduced the Patients’ Bill of Rights, health professional associations, ordinary citizens, the media and human rights associations were eagerly awaiting the government’s leadership and detailed plans to operationalise this important legal instrument.
About nine months after the launch of the bill, however, there is little public information about how the Consumer Rights Protection Council will implement these rights, how citizens can pursue redress and how the public health care system can reorient its practices to deliver health as a right.
All the 12 health rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights are important and must be protected. These rights are:

  1. Right to relevant information in a language and manner the patient understands including diagnosis, treatment, other procedures and possible outcomes.
  2. Right to timely access to detail and accurate medical records and available services.
  3. Right to transparent billing and full disclosure of any costs, including recommended treatment plans.
  4. Right to privacy, and confidentiality of medical records.
  5. Right to clean, safe, and secure healthcare environments.
  6. Right to be treated with respect, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, allegations of crime, disability or economic circumstances.
  7. Right to receive urgent, immediate and sufficient intervention and care, in the event of an emergency.
  8. Right to reasonable visitation in accordance with prevailing rules and regulations.
  9. Right to decline care, subject to prevailing laws and upon full disclosure of the consequences of such a decision.
  10. Right to decline or consent to participate in medical research, experimental procedures or clinical trials.
  11. Right to quality care in accordance with prevailing standards.
  12. Right to complain and express dissatisfaction regarding services received.
    Currently, however, SERVICOM is providing some mechanisms and opportunities for redress for violations of health care rights.
    But stakeholders said the government needs to strengthen interagency coordination of SERVICOM, the Consumer Rights Protection Council, the Ministry of Justice, the Federal Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. They also want it to increase knowledge about the bill, equip public facilities for responding to it and to lay out a framework for obtaining redress for violations.

FG should tackle oil theft, environmental degradation, insecurity –––NNF

THE Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders have been charged to tackle oil theft, environmental pollution and insecurity in the country.

In her presentation at a one day media engagement against crude oil theft in Nigeria organised by New Nigeria Foundation, NNF recently in Lagos, Chikodi Amadi-Chiedo Programmes Manager, NNF, said there was an urgent need for the Federal Government to find a lasting solution these issues because of their negative impact.

He said: “Environmental degradation has been a major predicament in the Niger Delta since the extraction of oil began in the region. With a landmass of approximately 70,000km2, a total of 7.5 percent of the country is affected.

“Negligence by oil extractors and the federal government, poor infrastructure management, and oil theft has led to the loss of 7,500km of rain and mangrove forest. Oil spillage via pipeline drilling, conventional spill and bush refineries, have poisoned the water with carcinogen benzene at levels around 900117 considerably higher than the WHO approved level for drinking water which is 10.

Pollution has also left soil dead up to depths of 5m118 making it infertile. “Mangrove plants make up most of the vegetation in the Delta and are most susceptible to oil spills because their seeds are stored in the soil.

In many cases, the mangrove plant only sprouts a stem, no leaves. The stems are coated with oil, sometimes 1cm thick.”

Also speaking, Olayide Adesanya, Senior Programmes Manager, stated that the total environmental devastation in the region is due to poor refinery management and runoff flows during transport and storage.

She stated: “It is estimated that up to a fifth of stolen oil is delivered to small-scale refineries in the creeks and mangroves, where it is boiled to produce low-grade diesel fuel or petrol. The efficiency of these so called ‘bush’ refineries is estimated at barely 20 percent as the heavy end of crude that cannot be refined is dumped into the environment.

“Poor refining techniques and nonchalant disposal of waste into streams and creeks further pollute the Delta. Streams and creeks carry polluted water into community water supplies and damage the land.”

Also, because areas are tidally influenced (e.g. Bodo) the spills are then carried to other parts of the Niger Delta causing a domino effect. “Bush refineries are also susceptible to fires due to poor techniques and the absence of any kind of safety checks. A fire in an area with so much wood and flammable crude will cause massive air pollution.”

Measles cases soar 300 per cent worldwide, worst in Africa

Measles cases have soared between 300 and 700 percent worldwide through the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, the World Health Organisation said Monday, as concern grows over the impact of anti-vaccination stigma.

So far this year, 170 countries have reported 112,163 measles cases to WHO. At this time last year, 163 countries had reported 28,124 cases.

The most dramatic rise in cases through the early part of the year was reported in Africa, which has weaker vaccination coverage than other regions. Africa saw a 700-percent increase compared to last year.

At least 800 children have died from measles since September in Madagascar, where rampant malnutrition and a historically poor vaccine rate are driving the world’s worse current outbreak.

In conflict-scarred Yemen cases shot up more than 300 percent in 2018 compared to 2017.

Venezuela, where the disease was once contained, has also seen tens of thousands of cases as the country’s economic and political crises continue to push the healthcare system to the brink of collapse.

Measles, which is highly contagious, can be entirely prevented through a two-dose vaccine, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has in recent months sounded the alarm over slipping vaccination rates.

“Preliminary global data shows that reported cases rose by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This follows consecutive increases over the past two years,” it said in a statement.

“While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend. Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases,” it added.

The agency noted that only about one in 10 actual measles cases are reported, meaning the early trends for 2019 likely underestimate the severity of the outbreaks.

Measles — an airborne infection causing fever, coughing and rashes that can be deadly in rare cases — had been officially eliminated in many countries with advanced healthcare systems.

But the so-called anti-vax movement — driven by fraudulent claims linking the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, and a risk of autism in children — has gained traction.

Repeated studies — the most recent involving more than 650,000 children monitored for more than a decade — have shown that there is no such link.

But according to WHO, global coverage for the first vaccine dose has been “stalled” at 85 percent, while 67 percent of people have received the second dose.

The provisional 2019 data shows that cases have spiked “in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States,” WHO warned.

“The disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people,” it added.

New York’s mayor declared a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn last week, after a measles outbreak emerged in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where some had resisted vaccination on religious grounds.

Calls have mounted in several countries to make measles vaccinations mandatory, including in Germany. Australia earlier this month launched a major education campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

Rotary International donates N2.1bn to fight polio

In a bid to put an end to polio in Nigeria, Rotary International has donated $ 5.7 million (about N 2.1 billion) to the Nigerian government to support its fight against the disease.

According to a press statement made available to bengbenro news on Friday, the donation was handed over to the UNICEF Country Representative Nigeria, Pernille Ironside.

Speaking during the occasion which took place in Abuja on April 11, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, commended Rotary International for the donation.

Mr Adewole said, “Nigeria is on its last lap to end polio. In the next couple of months, Nigeria would be certified polio-free.”
The minister, however, said “the most important thing is that all children that were previously inaccessible in the North-east must access vaccinations before the certification”.

He commended National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for its routine immunisation scheme.

Rotary International is one of the development partners who have been working on the eradication of the disease in Nigeria.

Speaking about the donation, the Chairman Polio Plus Committee, Rotary international, Tunji Funsho, said that polio eradication is an expensive venture “that requires everybody to be on board.”.

“This donation would inspire other partners to come on board and support the Nigeria government. We, in polio plus committee are reaching more and more children, more and more areas that are hitherto not accessible particularly with the support of the military.”

Mrs Ironside said the donation was to complement the government’s effort on polio eradication in Nigeria.

She said UNICEF hopes Nigeria will be certified as polio free country soon.
“Being the most populous country in Africa, if Nigeria succeeds, others would succeed,” she said.

Polio eradication in Nigeria
Nigeria is one of only three countries in the world endemic to wild polio virus, alongside Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Efforts at successfully eradicating the disease in Nigeria suffered a set back in 2016, when cases of wild polio virus were reported in two children.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the two children were paralysed in July 2016 by polio.

Wild polio virus was detected in one of them, living in the Gwoza district of Borno State.

Before the incident, Nigeria had been on the verge of being certified polio free.

The set back led the government and international health partners go back to the field in a rigourous search for polio cases and also to improve polio vaccination across the country.