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Mamora Promises to Fight for Recognition of Ebola Heroes

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Minister of State for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, said he will make a case to President Muhammadu Buhari, to honour Nigerians, who fought to end the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Mamora said this at the 4th Annual Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP), held yesterday, in Abuja.

The theme for the training was: “Applied Epidemiology: Providing Evidence for Public Health Action”

According to the minister, the Federal Government will not show ingratitude to the Ebola heroes.

Speaking on the theme, the minister also advocated for resilient health systems in Nigeria for a stronger and sustainable sector.

He stressed the need for effective support to health institutions for early detection, treatment and prevention of disease outbreaks in the country.

Also speaking at the event, Alh. Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the ministry was aware that the NCDC had been graciously supporting the NFELTP programme.

Nanono, however, said there was an urgent need for funding the programme in Nigeria.

He reaffirmed the commitment of the Ministry of Agriculture to play its collaborative role towards the development of the programme.

The keynote speaker, Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), spoke on the journey towards ending polio in Nigeria.

Shuaib said the agency had been able to achieve the status of almost being certified free of polio because of the polio emergency operating centre it established to coordinate responses.

He, however, noted that government leadership was very essential if the emergency operating centre was to function effectively.

The Director-General NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, expressed optimism that the conference would strengthen health security through field Epidemiology in Nigeria, and also globally.

Ihekweazu recalled that Buhari had in November 2018, signed the NCDC Bill into an Act.

“During the 3rd NCDC/NFELTP Conference and the 10th anniversary of our NFELTP, the Bill for the establishment of the NCDC was going through the legislative process at the National Assembly.

“Today, we have the legal backing as a semi-autonomous agency of the Federal Ministry of Health.

“Perhaps of critical importance to this audience, is our role to lead the implementation of the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme.

“We have insightful presentations on various aspects of our work, with residents and graduates of NFELTP and several other colleagues, in the public health space,’’ he said.

He, however, said there was a need to mobilise partners to establish a cross border health centre and to continue to develop vibrant partnerships with key implementers.

He added that more investments were still required in human resources to strengthen health security.

In his remarks Dr Simon Antara, Executive Director of Africa Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (AFELTP), said that continuous quality improvement was relevant to maintaining NFELTP.

Antara said that unfortunately however, funding for field epidemiology and laboratory Training Programme was consistently on the decline.

“Many countries are yet to walk the talk. The ownership demonstrated by Nigeria, not just by words, but by deeds, is worthy of emulation.”

He urged government to institutionalise and ensure sustenance of the programme as the world continues to face risks of disease outbreaks.

Health

Reps Call for Urgent Upgrade of Jos University Teaching Hospital

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The House of Representatives, has called for the urgent upgrade of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), to enable it deliver qualitative healthcare services.

The lawmakers, led by Rep Amos Magaji, Chairman of the Committee on Health Institutions, made the call during an oversight visit by the members to JUTH, on Tuesday in Jos.

Magaji, the lawmaker, representing Zango-Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency, who decried the decaying facilities in the hospital, said the institution was in dire need of upgrade especially its equipment and infrastructure.

“It’s very unfortunate that this gigantic hospital has so many obsolete and nonfunctional equipment.

“Its disheartening that this hospital doesn’t have a functional MRI Machine; the CT scanning machine it has is also obsolete.

“In today’s modern medicine, diagnosis is key for effective health care delivery.

“Unfortunately, this cannot be attained without modern and functional equipment and radio-diagnostic tools.

“My committee has seen that the hospital is in dire need of attention for the upgrading and replacement of its obsolete equipment, as well as the renovation of its structure,” he said.

According to him, the hospital’s funding is grossly inadequate, a situation that the committee will look into with a view to addressing the issues appropriately.

The chairman, commended the management and staff of the institution for being proactive in executing their duties in spite of the daunting challenges.

Magaji, said the House of Representatives Committee on Health Institutions of the 10th National Assembly, was poised to revamp the health sector and also reverse the trend of medical tourism.

He said that the committee’s oversight functions were in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration, aimed at ensuring better life for all citizens.

“Since we have very skilled and qualified medical personnel in this country, we must see to it that the health sector is revamped to enable the personnel work under a conducive atmosphere.

“It’s very saddening that most medical professionals abroad are Nigerians, but we are poised to do everything we can to reverse the trend.

“We will do everything to make the Nigerian hospitals a choice destination for medical and healthcare services for other countries.

“This would in turn make Nigeria a medical tourism destination country for people from other climes.

“This would also address the exodus of healthcare personnel,” Magaji said.

Dr Pokop Bupwatda, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of JUTH, commended the committee for visiting the hospital.

Bupwatda, said that he was grateful that the committee had visited and seen the challenges confronting the hospital.

The CMD expressed optimism that those challenges would be addressed as soon as possible for better healthcare delivery services to the people.

“Iam glad the committee has seen our challenges in JUTH and its budgetary allocation over the past years.

“We are optimistic that the visit will address our plight and improve the funding of the hospital in 2025 .” he said.

The CMD, noted that JUTH had very skilled and qualified human capital to give the best healthcare services, but would need urgent replacement of its obsolete equipment.

He also commended the management and staff of the hospital, for their cooperation and putting in their best, in spite of the strenuous working conditions. (NAN)

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Psychiatrists Demand Decriminalization of Attempted Suicide 

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja 

Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN) President, Prof. Taiwo James Obindo, has asked for the decriminalization of attempted suicide in the country.

He made the call at a stakeholders meeting organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Specialty Healthcare on the need to prioritize and implement the Mental Health Act.

Obindo said the establishment of the National Counselling Centers all over the country in an attempt to address mental health was like putting the cart before the horse, because suicide attempt was still a criminal offense in both the Criminal Act and the Penal Code.

 

“Hence the first step would be a move to decriminalize attempted suicide.

Criminalizing  attempted Suicide has proven to be a major barrier for suicide prevention intervention service uptake. 

“The archaic law, inherited from our Colonial masters, in an attempt to stop the act of suicide did not address the thoughts and social determinants of Suicide. Significant evidence showed that 90% of those who take their lives through suicide had a background history of Mental Health Conditions; out of which 80% are attributable to Depression due to various bio-psycho-social aetiologies. 

“Why do we, as a Nation, then punish individuals who are ill and need medical attention rather than prosecution? It will shock you to know that Nigeria, the giant of Africa, is lagging behind as quite a number of our neighbouring nations have abrogated that law.

“Establishing a Counselling center, without abrogating this archaic law would put, even the counselors at risk because the law also prescribes penalties for those who are aware of the plan but did not report,” he said.

The psychiatrists Association President called for the implementation of the Mental Health Act, which he said was a product of legislation that went through rigorous processes by the legislature, assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2022, and has been gazetted as a law in the Country. 

This, he said, would address the “many years of neglect of this important aspect of our nationhood.”

Obindo said a requirement for the effective implementation of the Act was the establishment of a Mental Health Services Department in the Federal Ministry of Health. 

“It will shock you to hear that, more than a year later, the department is yet to be established. Most of, if not all, the items in your plan are meant to be supervised by this department in obedience to the rule of law! Hence, the establishment of the department is germane to the success of all your plans,” he said.

He said the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria was an umbrella body of all Psychiatrists in the Country and other allied Practitioners. 

He said they have been at the forefront of campaigns and advocacy for global best practices.

He lauded the Committee for the initiative, saying when well-implemented, would positively impact the hitherto neglected Mental Health, persons affected by Mental Health Conditions, and Mental Health Practitioners. 

Chairman of the Committee on  Special Healthcare, Dr Alex Egbona, said all stakeholders must partner to address mental health challenges and other related health cases.

The lawmaker said the committee was created to provide the requisite legislative frameworks for improved healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

He said the session was a collaborative initiative of the committee to share its mandate and planned activities with identified relevant institutions and organisations.

“I, therefore, solicit the support and partnership of all stakeholders, our development partners, international NGOs, and CSOs, you are all urged to take interest in building the capacity of the committee members and staff to enhance the efficacy of the committee.

“Consider our five thematic areas of Mental Health, Trauma and Obstetrics Fistula, Oral Health and ENT, Blood Transfusion, Blood and Management, Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine and engage the committee for maximum impact,” he said.

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WHO Expresses Concern over Monkey Pox Outbreak in DRC

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25,318 suspected cases of monkey pox, including 1,204 deaths, have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since the declaration of monkey pox outbreak in December 2022.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

According to the latest report, the outbreak, which was declared by the DRC Health Ministry on Dec.

16, 2022, was prompted by a notable surge in cases and fatalities associated with monkey pox as well as a fast spread to non-endemic provinces.

Since the beginning of 2024, a total of 5,133 suspected cases, including 321 deaths, have been reported, according to the WHO report. It warns that the current situation of the outbreak in the DRC is of “grave concern” due to the sustained increase in suspected cases compared to previous years.

It added that with a significant burden in younger populations, particularly children under 15 years of age, who constitute the majority of both suspected cases and deaths.

In April 2024, a high-level emergency regional meeting on monkey pox in Africa was convened in DRC capital Kinshasa, gathering 12 health ministers of regional countries, aiming to develop common strategies to prevent and intervene effectively in the face of monkey pox in Africa.

“We must prevent the DRC from becoming the source of cross-border transmission, and our partnership must prioritise the health of those affected,’’ said Jean Kaseya, the director general of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) at the meeting.

“Over the years, monkey pox has become a real public health problem for our communities in the DRC, a regional threat and ultimately a global problem.

“We must now mobilise to resolve this crisis,” said Roger Kamba, DRC minister of public health, hygiene and prevention, said at the meeting.

Monkey pox, first detected in laboratory monkeys in 1958, is assumed to be transmitted from wild animals such as rodents to people or from human to human (Xinhua/NAN)

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