Uzodimma Set Trajectories for Universal Health in Imo
From Marcel Duru, Owerri
The Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has set trajectories for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage in Imo State.
Uzodimma stated at an occasion in Owerri that the provision of free health insurance coverage for workers of Imo State is part of the quest for a new Imo State geared towards building prosperity.
The Governor urged the private and informal sector to join hands with the government to provide quality life for the citizens.
While pledging the full support of his administration, Governor Uzodimma charged the operators of the program not to hide under bureaucracy to sabotage the program.
“As long as we will get value for money, as long as we will get quality service, as long as due process and transparency is respected, the government of Imo State under my watch will continue to support this program”.
The Governor threw a challenge saying, “I challenge the operators of this program. No matter how efficient any program is as conceived, no matter how efficient the technology deployed, no matter how flamboyant the program may appear, and no matter the amount of money injected into the program; If the human factor is not efficient, it will be brought to not”.
Making his remarks at the event in Owerri, the Executive Secretary of the Imo State Health Insurance Agency, Dr Uchenna Ewelike announced that the Imo health insurance program is meant to reduce and finally stop the vicious circle of poverty, disease and death brought about by out of pocket payments in health financing.
Dr Ewelike revealed that in the last 12 weeks, his agency has successfully enrolled 66,003 vulnerable populations across the 305 political wards in Imo State under the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
Dr Prosper Ohayagha Success, the Imo State Commissioner for Health thanked the Governor for his backing in the collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the Imo State Health Insurance Agency in the implementation of their four key programs that will enable all population segments in the state to have easy access to healthcare.
According to the Health Commissioner, the Governor has demonstrated strong political commitment by approving the payment of premium for about 47,000 civil servants in the state.
Why no Woman Should Die From Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women in Nigeria and the fourth most common cancer among women globally, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).
Current estimates for Nigeria in 2023 by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Centre indicate that every year 12,075 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 7,968 die from the disease in the country.
About 3.5 per cent of women in the general population are estimated to harbour cervical HPV-16/18 infection at a given time, and 66. 9 per cent of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to HPVs 16 or 18.
However, with proven interventions to prevent and manage the disease, experts say that no woman is expected to lose her life to cervical cancer.
Prof. Isaac Adewole, a former Minister of Health, Nigeria and Co-Founder, African Cancer Coalition, told in Lagos that cervical cancer had become a public health issue.
Nevertheless, Adewole, a professor at the University of Ibadan and Northwestern University, said the disease which was caused almost entirely by a virus, could be tackled.
He said cervical cancer was preventable and treatable, if presented and diagnosed early.
He said part of the strategies to eliminate cervical cancer included, vaccination of about 90 per cent of girls between ages nine and 14 with HPV vaccine to prevent them from having the cancer.
According to him, it takes about an average of 20 to 30 years for cervical cancer to develop, and the HPV vaccination offers a window of opportunity to kick against the cancer.
He said screening of no fewer than 70 per cent of women using a high-performance test by the age of 35, and again by the age of 45, was also a strategy to save women from cervical cancer.
“When we screen women who are asymptomatic, we have no complaints at all.
“When we screen them, we’ll be able to determine and diagnose stages that occur before development of cancer. We call these stages pre-malignant stages.
“We are able to detect them and when we offer appropriate treatment they will be cured,” said Adewole.
A third way of addressing the cervical cancer menace, according to Adewole, is prompt and appropriate treatment when detected early.
“Even those who develop cervical cancer, when we pick them in the early stages, we can almost uniformly cure them.
“Treatment of women with early presentation as well as invasive cancer management helps.
“When you look at the three factors of prevention, screening, which is secondary prevention; and treatments of early stages, we have a disease on our hands that applying public health principles, we can control,” explained the professor.
Adewole advocated allocation of resources for cancer prevention, detection, treatment and management.
“Cervical cancer disease is common in areas that are not developed or areas where they have not allocated appropriate resources and attention to this disease.
“It is a disease of under development.
“And where you have infrastructure well developed, where you have appropriate policies that are well-resourced, where you have leadership showing interest in this disease, we collectively can eliminate cervical cancer.
“And this has been amply demonstrated through projections scientifically showing that if you do this, then cervical cancer can become something of history,” said Adewole.
According to him, the challenge in Nigeria, just like in Africa and many developing countries, is that a lot of people are largely unaware of the situation with cervical cancer.
Therefore, he said when cases were presented to the hospitals, they were largely in advanced stage, for quite a number of reasons.
The former health minister also noted that the non-availability and affordability of vaccine hindered efforts in the drive to eliminate cervical cancer in Nigeria.
“It is very expensive if you go to the shelf to buy it and then, globally, the developed countries have ‘cornered’ the vaccine for their people because they recognise the value of the vaccine.
“So, we are left at the mercy of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and multilateral donors to fund us.
“The prices are coming down gradually but it is still out of reach for most groups.
“But, there is a window or door of opportunity for many as countries that were previously giving two or three shots can now give one and that will free some of the supplies,” continued Adewole.
He said by adopting, introducing and implementing the Global Elimination Agenda for Cervical Cancer Control https://www.cervicalcancerdeclaration.org/, eliminating cervical cancer as a public health issue would be realised.
“Hence, we call for urgent action to make cervical cancer elimination a global priority, with high-level commitment and resources to make it a reality.
“No woman should lose her life to cervical cancer when we have the tools to prevent, and, especially when diagnosed early, to treat it,” he said.
HPV is mainly transmitted through sexual contact and most people are infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity.
Twelve leading health experts from around the world have initiated a call to action in the fight against cervical cancer through The Global Declaration to Eliminate Cervical Cancer.
The Declaration was formally launched at the World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 22, with signatures from more than 1,200 global health leaders and advocates representing no fewer than 100 countries.
Top among them included former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, CEO of Amref Health Africa, Githinji Gitahi; President of the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FIGO), Jeanne Conry, and President-elect of the International Pediatric Association, Naveen Thacker.
Adewole and Prof. Margaret Stanley of Cambridge University, UK and Past President of the International Papillomavirus Society (IPVS), are among the experts championing the declaration.
Stanley told NAN that it was worrisome that 90 per cent of women with cervical cancer lived in low and middle income countries.
According to her, in high income countries like U.S., UK, Europe, there are highly organised medical services which women can access easily.
She added that same services should be replicated in low income countries like Nigeria.
Stanley also agreed that no woman should die from cervical cancer as eliminating the disease was achievable with urgent action in three areas – vaccination, screening and treatment.
“Vaccinating girls aged nine to 14 against HPV is the primary way to prevent cervical cancer.
“HPV vaccines are safe, effective, and can prevent up to 90 per cent of cervical cancer cases.
“Cervical cancer can also be prevented through screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions,” said Stanley.
She also recommended the ‘new’ one-dose HPV vaccination regime as part of routine programmes for girls.
The British virologist and epithelial biologist also called for provision of X rays for screening for cervical cancer, while advocating increased access to adequate health facilities and trained health personnel.
According to experts, tools are available to eliminate cervical cancer and everything must be engaged collectively to eliminate the disease and save women from losing their lives to cervical cancer. (NANFeatures)
Bleeding After Intercourse May be Sign of Cervical Cancer— Prof. Adewole
Prof. Isaac Adewole, a former minister of health, Nigeria, says many people are unaware that contact bleeding especially during bleeding or just after sexual intercourse can be early sign of cervical cancer.
Adewole, Co-Founder, African Cancer Coalition, told in Lagos on Thursday in a telephone interview that cervical cancer was preventable and treatable , if presented and diagnosed early.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) cervical cancer is still the second most common cancer among women in Nigeria and the fourth most common cancer among women globally.
It is the most common among women ages 15-44 years, claiming 7,900 women’s lives each year from the 12,000 cases reported in Nigeria.
Adewole said: “The challenge in Nigeria, just like the challenge in Africa and many developing countries, is that a lot of people are largely unaware of the situation with cervical cancer.
“Therefore, when they present to the hospitals, they present largely in advanced stage, for quite a number of reasons
“One, they are not aware of the symptoms of early stages which include contact bleeding especially during bleeding or just after sexual intercourse.
“What most women with such incidents usually do is to stay away from their men believing that the bleeding was caused by the man.
“They probably thought it was due to trauma, and some form of injury. And interestingly, when they do that, they bleeding will stop but the disease will continue to progress.
“So, by the time they will have a resurgence of the disease in terms of symptoms, the disease will be far advanced.’’
Adewole, a Professor at University of Ibadan and Northwestern University, said: “So, you have these women moving from one care giver to the other and healing homes to another.
“By the time they finally present at the final destination, maybe a Teaching Hospital, or a private facility manned by a Specialist, the disease would be advanced, and at that stage, it is beyond cure.’’
The former minister of health said about 80 per cent of cases of cervical cancer presented were in advanced stages, and that many healthcare practitioners also missed some of these early signs/stages of cervical cancer.
Adewole told that the trajectory of late presentations could be moved to either no presentation at all or early presentation.
He said that according to the WHO, symptoms of early-stage cervical cancer might include: “Irregular blood spotting or light bleeding between periods in women of reproductive age.
“Postmenopausal spotting or bleeding, bleeding after sexual intercourse; and increased vaginal discharge, sometimes foul smelling.’’
On the causes of cervical cancer, the WHO says, two Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) types (16 and 18) were responsible for nearly 50 per cent of high grade cervical pre-cancers
HPV is mainly transmitted through sexual contact and most people were infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity.
No fewer than 90 per cent of them cleared the infection eventually and Cervical cancer could be cured if diagnosed at an early stage and treated promptly.
Proffering some solutions, Adewole said a new research on the efficacy of a one-dose HPV vaccine regimen was among several of the factors that could prevent and bring the world closer to eliminating cervical cancer.
He urged increased sensitisation on the disease by governments and stakeholders.
He encouraged that HPV vaccine be given to young girls from ages nine to 14 to prevent them from having the cancer.
He also advised women with symptoms to present early at health facilities for diagnosis.
NAN reports that Adewole is among the 12 leading health experts from around the world moving the powerful call to action in the fight against cervical cancer through The Global Declaration to Eliminate Cervical Cancer.
The declaration was formally launched at the World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 22, 2023, with signatures from more than 1200 global health leaders and advocates representing over 100 countries.
Top among them included former Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, CEO of Amref Health Africa, Githinji Gitahi; President of the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FIGO) Jeanne Conry, and President-elect of the International Pediatric Association Naveen Thacker. (NAN)
Health Professionals Urge Sani to Prioritise Sector in Kaduna
Some experts in the health sector have advised the new Governor of Kaduna State, Uba Sani, to prioritise the sector in order to improve the well-being of the citizens.
The health experts spoke on Wednesday in Kaduna.
Madaki Sheyin, Kaduna State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), urged the new governor to reverse the trend of brain drain that hit the State especially in the last six years.
According to Sheyin, he should prioritise the health sector because of its importance to the masses.
“Emphasis must be made on human capital development; without a good human resource whatever structures built will not bring the needed gain or positive change,” he said.
He added that training and development, career progression and other incentives would attract manpower to the state.
“Kaduna needs to retain its best hands in the sector and attract many more through improved welfare packages.
“Also, attention must be given to capacity building and development with the right kind of equipment and infrastructure put in place.
“A needs assessment should be done and consultations with relevant stakeholders carried out with the stakeholders being carried along in various stages of policy development and implementation.
He added that public private partnership (PPP) was worth looking at, to curb wastage and improve service delivery and efficiency in the sector.
Dr Nuhu Yusuf, another medical doctor, said improved staff welfare, good working conditions should be one of the priorities the governor should have.
He added that the governor should build good state- of- the- art facilities in the state.
“Fully equipped hospitals, like those obtained in developed countries with modern equipment and should discourage increase in medical tourism.’’
Mr Morakinyo Rilwan, National Chairman, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, said the governor should embark on mass employment of nurses and doctors.
“The “japa” syndrome affected health workers in Kaduna seriously and their “japaing” is not to overseas, but to neighbouring states that pay better.
“We congratulate the new administration of governor Sani and our prayers are that God Almighty will guide him to do what is beneficial to the populace.
“However, the expectations of health workers in Kaduna state are not different from what was presented to him during the campaign period when he met with Kaduna state health workers forum and the presentation to the transition committee on May 16.
“So, he should try as much as possible to keep to his campaign promises.
“Hazard allowance should be reviewed upward and we expect him to be workers-friendly unlike his predecessor and dialogue with them on areas that may seem difficult to accomplish.”
He added that health workers, especially nurses suffered in the hands of kidnappers due to lack of security in the hospital and some of these facilities had no perimeter fence.
“Upward review of workers allowances as a motivation for those who are ready to stay back.
“Lastly, he should pay all the arrears of unions and Association check off dues not remitted, to allow professional associations to concentrate on their activities and pay their workers.
“Health facilities should be upgraded with adequate consumables and other working tools,’’ he said. (NAN)
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