vaccine patent waiver


An interview with Barrister Davidson Oturu

The COVID-19 pandemic is one major global health challenge that cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

When COVID-19 broke in 2019, not many could foresee the amount of disruption it will cause globally.

The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the world’s health system, both the rich and the low income countries were almost brought to their knees.

Read: Dr. Sunday Adigwe Give Reasons why Nigeria Should be Self Sustaining in Medicines and Vaccines

However, with the development of vaccines, comes another challenge for low income countries especially in Africa; that’s the challenge of equal access to the vaccines.

Read: FG Gives Reasons for Local Production of Vaccines

Even if the world should forget the lessons from COVID-19, Africa cannot afford to forget the bitter lesson of the consequences of overdependence on the west for her vaccines and other forms of medicines.
Africa must learn to be self sufficient, produce vaccines on its own soil to protect its people.

Health TV interview with Barrister Davidson Oturu, Partner Aelex

In this special interview with barrister Davidson Oturu, he shares his expert views on how patent waver or compulsory licensing can help countries mass produce vaccines and other forms of pharmaceuticals during emergencies such as COVID-19.

Read: The WTO approves Vaccine Patent Waiver


How ISMPH, EU-ACT project is empowering women of Kwali community to raise healthy children

According to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) at least 14.5 million Nigerians were facing acute food insecurity, which was attributed to persisting insecurity and the overbearing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, (NDHS) indicates that Nigeria has 35 million children under the age of five, with 14 million of them being stunted, while 3 million are wasted and 24 million are anaemic due to poor nutrition.

45 percent of deaths in children under the age of five was also said to be attributable to malnutrition.

Worried by the development and seeking innovative means to reverse the trend, the International Institute of Media in Public Health, (ISMPH) through support from the European Union Agent for Citizen-driven Transformation, (EU-ACT), has been working with select communities around the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) to educate women on how to make healthy meals from affordable food items and keep their children healthy and protected from the negative impacts of malnutrition.

The ISMPH/EU-ACT project was in Kwali to educate women on not just healthy cooking but also, production of Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer.

Recall that Vision FM had reported about a similar activity in Barangoni, a community in Bwari Area Council of the FCT where thirty women had been trained on production of Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer.

The Executive Director, International Society of Media in Public Health, (ISMP), Moji Makanjuola believes that an empowered, knowledgeable and informed woman has the required prerequisites to birth healthy children that will serve as agents of development in Nigeria.

Makanjuola expresses optimism that the initiative of training and empowering women would be adopted across the country to boost the number of women who can effectively cater for the nutritional needs of their families, also explaining that arming women with vital information and economic power are important steps to fighting malnutrition.

“This training I would say that it is multi-purpose because we are not only teaching them how to make money but we are also teaching them some things that mothers should know and also encouraging the fact that we have some of these foods that they can give their children that are affordable.

Read Also: How ISMPH is supporting mothers in FCT to tackle malnutrition

“With their little money that we hope that they could make from this, they themselves will be able to feed the children well and we would have healthy Nigerian children who are the leaders, I don’t say of tomorrow, but of today.

“An empowered woman, a knowledgeable woman, an informed woman will be able to have healthy children who are the soldiers for development to help grow Nigeria to compete effectively in the committee of nations.”

The Esu of Kwali Dr. Shaban Nizazzo expressed excitement to have the training in his community, given the promising opportunities it offers at both reducing poverty and malnutrition related diseases.

Dr. Nizazzo said he was hopeful that at the end of the training, the situation of his subjects will see much improvement from what it currently is.

“When she came with her team we thought yes, I think the person whom we actually need has finally come and then we opened ourselves to her and then allowed her to do this programme for us.

“And therefore, we are feeling that at the end of the programme the situation of our people will not be the same, it will be improved, they will have a good direction and they will have a good purpose of life for themselves.

“And therefore, we feel elevated that this programme has come and we are hoping and also thinking that more and more NGOs like that should come to us.”

Kwali is one of the two Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory – FCT – benefiting from the ISMPH, EU-ACT project.


NIPRD DG, Dr. Obi Adigwe says NIPRD is open to Pan-African collaborations

The Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe says the Institute remains committed to ensuring that African pharmaceutical products compete effectively with products from Asia, Europe and America.

Dr. Obi stated this in Abuja during a collaborative and advocacy visit by the Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network, (AHBN) to NIPRD’s headquarters.

He noted that following support from government, the Institute has embarked on aggressive training of members of staff and to build their capacities, as well as equipping laboratories to world class standards.

Recall that at the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic there was an inflow of financial support both locally and from international organizations to Nigeria’s health sector to help strengthen capacity to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The Federal Government of Nigeria had budgeted and released 500 billion naira to various sectors of the economy including the health care sector which was considered the worst hit by the pandemic.

NIPRD is one of such health institutions that received this support, and a visit to its facility located at Idu area of the Federal Capital Territory reveals a drastic change from its former look, as the entire building has gotten a facelift while several equipment have been purchased or donated by partners to strengthen the medical and plant research and traditional medicine research (MPR&TC) laboratories, medicinal chemistry and quality control (MCQC) laboratories, pharmacology and toxicology (P&T) laboratories, pharmaceutical technology and raw materials development laboratories, DNA Sequencing among others.

The DG Dr. Obi Adigwe stated that his team at NIPRD is open to pan-African collaborative efforts that will yield products that can withstand competition anywhere in the world.

He listed several contributions and innovations by the Institute which were very helpful in the fight against COVID-19 transmission and management of the disease, both locally and internationally.

While underscoring the role of funding in the actualization of this dream, Obi who listed some grants NIPRD recently received from partners, appealed to AHBN to use its vast partnership to further strengthen grant opportunities for the Institute.

“Anyone who has been for the health sector in the last three years, will know that we here at NIPRD are amongst the most collaborative agencies of our kind and we always prioritise partnerships especially with like-minded organisations. That is organisations who focus on building partnerships within Africa so that we can build the capacity to expedite the harnessing of our resources to solve our peoples problems. And I am very happy that AHBN based, on preliminary analysis done by my office, falls squarely within such oranisations.

Read Also: NIPRD DG Give Reasons why Nigeria Should be Self Sustaining in Medicines and Vaccines

“You may also be pleased to know that AHBN is in good company because in the past three years, we have partnered with other agencies of your type and we have moved the partnerships from paper proposals to a situation where we now have tangible products and grants to justify the partnership.

“It is on record that we are the first of our kind to secure funding from Afreximbank of a better part of 1million dollars for the setup of the API concept production lab and training facility. That particular facility once the grant gets to maturity level will be used to begin to produce lifesaving APIs as well as train scientists across and practitioners Africa on how to develop and how to stimulate the growth of the API sector in our economy.

“Similarly, NIPRD was also the first of its kind to secure a quarter of a billion naira grant from TETFund as the lead of a consortium of three other organisations which focuses on the development of interventions. We are also at the various stages of grants with various bodies.

“We are also part of a consortium for the (sifocan) trial which is a grant to the tune of about 1.1 or 1.2 billion dollars alongside three other collaborators. We are looking at the efficacy and viability of factional dosing of COVID-19 vaccines.”

“I am reeling out these grants and the figures so that AHBN can know that they are in good company when they are talking to those big international partners they can be referencing those organisations I have mentioned. And again, we are working for WAHO which has also designated NIPRD as one of its Centres of Excellence in the sub region. We have several more between 6 and ten grants that we are currently engaging on.”

Responding, Coordinator of AHBN, Dr. Aminu Magashi applauded the innovations being put in place by the institute, revealing that NIPRD was one of the organisations whose activities are being tracked by the AHBN.

Magashi pledged that the AHBN will analyse and amplify the work done by NIPRD for wider visibility and attract both local and international funding.

“One of the biggest aims for coming here is to listen and learn from government agencies and also amplify the good things they are doing to a larger audience. As you rightly mentioned even though we are in Nigeria we need to spread the message to Africa because Nigeria being with over 200 million of population that is almost one fifth of the African population it means we have to spread the story.

“A lot of African institutions are emerging, the Afreximbank, African Development Bank, we have a lot of COVID-19 mechanisms. Kadijah is doing a lot that work in the AHBN which is to monitor the African Institutions that help us to do advocacy, so for example the Africa Medicine Agency, (AMA) which is part of the AU, the Africa Manufacturing Coalition and Networks.

“Just recently we organized a Webinar to look at the vaccine procurement and delivery in Africa. So these are some of the things we are doing to promote the mindset that Africa is ready to produce our drugs and also our vaccines. And that we should not be carried away by always getting donations. We should be employers of labour in producing.

“One tweet from us, we can tag the handle of all those African agencies including Africa-CDC, African Union Commission, the AU and all the agencies including WAHO. So these are the areas we are committed to work and develop some bullet points on how we can support NIPRD at the Africa level and also Nigeria as well.”

Remarks were made about the role of the late Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammad Barkindo who was described as a great supporter of NIPRD’s policy to diversify Nigeria’s Oil and gas sector to focus more on petrochemicals which are precursors to Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, (APIs).


47 African countries have 1.55 health workers per 1000 people, shows WHO study

A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that says a serious shortage of health workers in Africa is undermining access to and provision of health services even though countries in the region have made efforts to bolster the workforce.

A statement from the WHO Africa Regional Office revealed that the study, titled “The health workforce status in the WHO African Region: findings of a cross-sectional study,” published this week in the British Medical Journal Global Health and which surveyed 47 African countries, finds that the region has a ratio of 1.55 health workers – physicians, nurses and midwives – per 1000 people.

“This is below the WHO threshold density of 4.45 health workers per 1000 people needed to deliver essential health services and achieve universal health coverage.
“Only four countries (Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles and South Africa) have surpassed the WHO health worker-to-population ratio.
“The region’s health workforce is also unevenly distributed by country, ranging from 0.25 health workers per 1000 people in Niger (the region’s lowest) to 9.15 health workers per 1000 people in the Seychelles – the highest in the region.”

Read: MDCAN calls for urgent implementation of review retirement age for Health workers

According to the statement: “There were approximately 3.6 million health workers in the 47 countries surveyed as of 2018. Thirty-seven per cent of them are nurses and midwives, 9% are medical doctors, 10% laboratory personnel, 14% are community health workers, 14% are other health workers, and 12% are administrative and support staff.

“Africa’s long-standing health worker shortage stems from several factors, including inadequate training capacity, rapid population growth, international migration, weak governance of the health workforce, career changes as well as poor retention of health personnel. It is projected that the shortage of health workers in Africa will reach 6.1 million by 2030, a 45% increase from 2013, the last time projections were estimated.

Reacting to the study’s findings, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said “The severe shortage of health workers in Africa has daunting implications. Without adequate and well-trained workforce, tackling challenges such as maternal and infant mortality, infectious diseases, noncommunicable illnesses and providing essential basic services like vaccination remains an uphill battle.”

It was also noted that globally, the Western Pacific region—which includes Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia—had the highest number of doctors at 4.1 million, and 7.6 million nurses in 2020, a report on human resource for health by the WHO Director-General to the 2022 World Health Assembly showed.

“The European region had 3.4 million medical doctors and 7.4 million nurses. Comparatively, the African region had around 300 000 doctors and 1.2 million nurses.
“To reinforce Africa’s health system, it is critical to address the persistent shortages and poor distribution of the health workforce. Countries need to significantly increase investments for building the health workforce to meet their current and future needs.

“Strong measures are also needed to boost training and recruitment of health workers as well as to improve their deployment and retention.”
The WHO also noted that several African countries have made progress to plug the deficit, however, the WHO study published this week acknowledges that resolving the health workforce shortages remains difficult due to the complexity and the scope of the issue.


DR Congo declares 14th Ebola outbreak over

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has declared the end of the Ebola outbreak that erupted less than three months ago in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur Province in the northwest.

A statement from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Regional Office in Brazzaville and signed by the Communications Officer, Collins Boakye-Agyemang stated that the outbreak was the third outbreak in the province since 2018 and the country’s 14th overall.

“With greater experience in Ebola control, national emergency teams, with the support from World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, mounted a swift response soon after the outbreak was declared on 23 April, rolling out key counter measures including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, treatment and community engagement.

“Vaccination – a crucial protective measure – was launched just four days after the outbreak was declared.

“In all, there were four confirmed cases and one probable case – all of whom died. In the previous outbreak in Equateur Province that lasted from June to November 2020, there were 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths,” the statement read in part.

Read: D.R Congo Commences Ebola Vaccination, Says WHO

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti was said to have appreciated authorities for the robust national response which swiftly brought the outbreak to an end, effectively limiting transmission of the virus.

“Thanks to the robust response by the national authorities, this outbreak has been brought to an end swiftly with limited transmission of the virus. Crucial lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and they have been applied to devise and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response.”

Speaking further, Dr Moeti said “Africa is seeing an increase in Ebola and other infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans impacting large urban areas. We need to be ever more vigilant to ensure we catch cases quickly. This outbreak response shows that by bolstering preparedness, disease surveillance and swift detection, we can stay a step ahead.”

It was also noted that the just ended outbreak saw a total of 2104 people vaccinated, including 302 contacts and 1307 frontline workers.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo has now recorded 14 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, six of which have occurred since 2018,” the statement further revealed.

“WHO supported the Democratic Republic of the Congo in implementing a strong national strategy developed early to guide response coordination; decentralizing operations to the lowest level to work closely with communities; basing the response on evidence; and regularly analysing the epidemiological risk to rapidly adjust the response.”

The statement clarified that although the outbreak in Mbandaka has been declared over, health authorities were still maintaining surveillance and ready to respond quickly to any flare-ups, as it is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following an outbreak.

“The disease, which affects humans and other primates, is severe and often fatal. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

“However, with the currently available effective treatment, patients have a significantly higher chance of survival if they are treated early and given supportive care.”


Congo DR harbours 81% of suspected monkeypox cases in Africa says WHO

With three African countries having no previous history of human monkeypox transmission reporting cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it is working with national health authorities in the region to bolster surveillance and laboratory diagnosis to detect cases and deter a silent spread of the virus.

A statement from the WHO Africa Regional Office in Brazaville, signed by the Communications Officer, Collins Boakye-Agyemang explained that the continent has, as of 28 June, reported 1821 cases in 13 countries of which 109 are laboratory confirmed in nine countries.

Part of the statement read thus, “The number of confirmed cases accounts for 2% of the more than 4500 confirmed cases globally. However, there are a large number of suspected cases in the region, 81% of which are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, underlining the need for increased diagnostic capacity.

“While all African countries have the polymerase chain reaction machines needed to test for monkeypox thanks to reinforced laboratory capacity in the wake of COVID-19, many lack reagents and in some cases training in specimen collection, handling and testing. WHO is working to secure 60 000 tests for Africa, with around 2000 tests and reagents to be shipped to high-risk countries and 1000 to those facing lower risk.”


The statement also outlined key steps taken by the WHO to support countries in Africa towards enhancing their capacity to test for monkeypox, as well as the presence of the virus in three countries that had never previously reported human cases of the disease.

“Over the past month five more African countries have received donations of reagents from partners, bringing to 12 the number of countries in the region with enhanced monkeypox diagnostic capacity. Another group of countries in West Africa will receive reagents after participating in a training.

“Outside the six countries in Africa with a history of human transmission, monkeypox has also been reported in three countries which have not previously had any human cases. These include Ghana, Morocco and South Africa, which has confirmed the disease in two patients with no travel history, suggesting there is a high possibility of local transmission.”

Dr Moeti spoke during a virtual press conference today facilitated by APO Group. She was joined by Professor Oyewale Tomori, former President of Nigerian Academy of Science and Professor of Virology, Redeemers University, Nigeria; and Professor Justin Masumu, National Pedagogical University, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, was quoted as saying that “The geographic spread of monkeypox to parts of Africa where cases have never been detected before is a worrying sign. It is critical that we support national efforts to boost surveillance and laboratory diagnosis, which are the cornerstones of disease control.”

It was also noted that the WHO is supporting countries to capitalize on the improved genomic sequencing capacity built during the COVID-19 pandemic to deepen analysis of monkeypox transmission patterns.

“Currently seven countries can sequence the monkeypox virus. WHO has reports from South Africa and Nigeria which show the two countries have sequenced 300 samples since January 2022 – these include samples from other countries. This is more than double all the samples sequenced in previous years. Most samples sequenced were from the West African clade. The sequencing done, so far shows that there is no recent linkage between what is circulating in Europe and Africa.

“Many years of research have led to the development of new and safer, (second- and third-generation) vaccines for smallpox, some of which may be useful for monkeypox and one of which (MVA-BN) has been approved for prevention of monkeypox. However, supplies are limited.”

Dr Moeti also spoke about events that took place in the early days of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, “What happened in the early days of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout when Africa watched on the side-lines as other countries snapped up limited supplies must not be allowed to recur. There are some signs that this is already happening. “The current global spotlight on monkeypox should be a catalyst to beat this disease once and for all in Africa. For this, we know vaccines are a critical tool.”

WHO said it is working closely with member states and partners to define what type of coordination mechanism could be put in place to ensure fair access to vaccines – There are many regulatory, legal, operational, technical, and other issues to clarify before an allocation mechanism is fully operational.

With limited vaccines and antivirals, WHO says it does not recommend mass vaccination for monkeypox but rather targeted vaccination for people who have been exposed or at high risk including health workers, laboratory personnel and outbreak team responders.

no tobacco day

World No Tobacco Day: WHO commends Nigeria’s efforts to control usage

The World Health Organization (WHO) has commended tobacco control advocates in Niagara for the different roles they played in the global efforts to combat the adverse effects of tobacco usage

Speaking at the world  ‘No Tobacco day” in Abuja,  the W.H.O country Representative, Dr. Walter Mulombo  noted that “saying no to tobacco is saying yes to life”.

Read: FG set to implement new tobacco tax regime

According to WHO report, every year, tobacco production contributes 84 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air,  and 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded improperly every year, making it the single, largest type of litter in the world.


RMNCAEH+N: Health minster tasks development partners on visual technology to enhance telemedicine at PHCs

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has called on state governments, traditional leaders and partners to ensure maximum visibility, prioritise adaptation and adoption, as well as advocate and promote implementation of the Revised National Maternal, Perinatal and Child Death Surveillance and Response, (MPCDSR) and other health policy documents which can promote telemedicine in the short term.

Dr. Ehanire who made the call at the 2022 Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N), bi-annual meeting in Abuja, noted that despite the COVID-19 pandemic setbacks, the ministry and partners developed the tools and policy documents to tackle challenges result from RMNCAEH+N services.

The Minister of Health spoke to various issues affecting health care delivery with resultant effect on health outcomes in Nigeria, underscoring the importance of the policy and strategy documents launched.

He also admonished development partners not to shy away from supporting Nigeria in the aspect of infrastructure development, human resources development and the digital technology that will enhance telemedicine for primary health services in Nigeria.

Read:RMNCAEH+N: Federal Ministry of Health and Health Journalists inaugurate 7-man committee for Health Media Coalition

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we developed policies and strategy documents to respond to these challenges but there will be no reasonable change if these instruments are not disseminated and implemented; again echoing what I have said earlier, we have to take this document and run with it.

“Given our social demographic diversity, some of these policies may need modification at state levels to adapt to local conditions which we fully accept. And I therefore give this call to partners and our leaders and state governments to give these policies the maximum visibility, prioritise adaptation and adoption of these instruments; and advocate and promote implementation of these policies and also to faithfully monitor the implementation.

“And of course there are primary health care centres that are broken, ready to be fixed and we want to implore our development partners to support us with the infrastructure development – do not shy away from infrastructure development – and the human resources to man our primary health care centres and of course with the visual technology we require nowadays to provide services remotely.

“A functional primary health care centre can be very ably supported by a doctor who is faraway; with telemedicine he can provide the guidance they need; you can provide all the advice that not only even a nurse but even a community healthcare worker can use to save a life.

“So technical support, digital support, digital technology is required now for the primary health care and if we do succeed in getting our complement of primary health care centres I believe we would have taken care of 60% to 70% of disease burden in this country.”

The World Health Organisation, (WHO) was represented by a Medical Officer at the Nigeria Country Office, Dr. Martin Joseph, while United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) was represented by Dr. Peter Baffoe, a Health Manager at the Nigeria Country Office.

While delivering the goodwill messages of their organisations, both representatives applauded the step taken by the Federal Ministry of Health and its partners, and pledged their technical and financial support to the success of the policy documents and tools.

“As WHO we will continue to commit our support, technical and financial to all these areas and to continue our active participation in the technical working group,” Dr. Martins said.

On his part, Dr. Baffoe said “UNICEF believes that all the efforts that are happening, right from Federal level to state level and other sub-national levels to improve the indicators for child and maternal health cannot be achieved Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health cannot be achieved without a strong leadership and direction. That is exactly what RMNCAEH provides under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health.

Read: RMNCAEH+N: FG and Development Partners to design scorecards for implementation

“We commit to support implementation of these documents and work closely with all the technical organisations here, especially professional associations who provide a lot of opportunity for us in the technical sphere to implement these policies and strategies. Please be assured of UNICEF’s commitment to this journey.”

Edo State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Okoria who spoke on behalf of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum reiterated the commitment of the forum to changing the narrative of poor health indices in Nigeria.

“Having been a member of the Nigeria Commissioners of Health Forum for a number of months, I can testify that we have a group of motivated committed persons who are willing to roll up our sleeves and to do the heavy lifting that is required to take healthcare in Nigeria forward.

“We make this commitment and we trust that in the coming months every one of us will have our hands on deck and our feet on the ground to do all that we need to do.”

Among the policy documents/instruments and strategies launched by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire were the Revised National Child Health Policy 2022; Revised Maternal, Perinatal and Child Death Surveillance and Response Guidelines and Tool-Kit; National RMNCAEH+N COVID-19 Response Continued Plan; National Strategic Plan for Action for Nutrition 2021-2025; Media Engagement strategy for Health Promotion in Nigeria 2021-2025

Read: RMNCAEH+N: Health Advocate decries exclusion of youths, other vulnerable groups

Others are the National Integrated RMNCAEH+N Social and Behavioural Change Communication Strategy; National Training Manual on Peer to Peer Health Education for Adolescent and Young in Nigeria; Social Services and Intra-Social and Reproductive Health and Rights; National Guidelines and Clinical Hand-Book for those who have experienced gender based violence.

tobacco tax

FG set to implement new tobacco tax regime

The Federal Government of Nigeria On Tuesday announced it’s implementing a new three year tobacco tax regime, beginning from June 2022, to terminate in 2014

The Minister of State for Health, Senator Oloruninmbe Mamora stated this as Nigeria marks the 2022 World No Tobacco Day in Abuja.

According to him, the new regime increases the Ad-Valorem tax rate from 20% to 30%, In addition to the 30% ad-valorem, a specific excise rate has been increased from ₦58 to ₦84 per pack of 20 sticks of
cigarette, and this will further be increased to ₦94 per pack in 2023.The Tax also stipulates ₦104 per pack in 2024.

Shisha is also now being taxed at the rate of ₦3,000 per litre and ₦1,000 per kilogram and this
will be increased yearly by ₦500.

Read: NTCA Decry Lack of Funding in Tobacco Control

According to the health minister, this pro health tax is an effective public health control measure against behavioral risk factors as it has the capacity to reduce demand and consumption of tobacco products.

He said it will also prompts tobacco users to switch expending their resources on tobacco products to healthy alternatives such as education, health, and nutrition.

The theme of this year World No Tobacco Day Is “Tobacco A Threat To Our Environment” which is designed to highlight the negative impacts of tobacco usage on human health

Read: Donor Fatigue: FG to Raise Taxes on Health Products

Dr. Mwele Malecela

WHO & BMGF honour late Dr. Mwele Malecela, establish NTDs mentorship programme for African women

The World Health Organization, (WHO) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, (BMGF) have announced plans to set up a mentorship programme for African women working in neglected tropical diseases programmes in honour of late Dr. Mwele Malecela

“Neglected tropical diseases are a set of 20 diseases or disease groups that occur predominantly in tropical and subtropical regions. They include lymphatic filariasis, more commonly known as elephantiasis, onchocerciasis or river blindness, schistosomiasis, or bilharzia, as well as human African trypanosomiasis, often called sleeping sickness.”

According to a statement from the WHO Africa Regional Office in Brazzaville and signed by the Communications Officer, Collins Boakye-Agyemang, the mentorship is in honour of the late Dr. Mwele Malecela, who was one of Africa’s most highly respected female scientists and public health leaders.

It was also stated that the mentorship programme will provide African women with leadership training skills as well as travel and networking opportunities to become leaders and champions of the efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti was quoted in the statement as saying that “Dr Mwele was an inspiration to women in science. She gave freely of her time and talents to mentor and motivate the next generation of global health professionals, particularly women and this mentorship programme will keep her legacy alive.

“Focused specifically on African women living in African countries, the programme aims to help them overcome barriers to realizing their potential and become leaders and champions of neglected tropical disease elimination at home and internationally.”

The Mwele Malecela mentorship programme is said to be part of wider efforts to drive progress towards the goals of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Global Roadmap 2021–2030 which seeks to reduce by 90% the number of people requiring treatment for the diseases; to have at least 100 countries eliminate at least one neglected tropical disease; to eradicate two diseases (Guinea worm and yaws); and reduce disability related to these diseases by 75%.
The statement further revealed that globally, more than a billion people are affected by neglected tropical disease. Africa accounts for nearly 40% (400 million people) of the global burden.

“These diseases can be devastating, including causing severe pain, disabilities and deformities, malnutrition, stunted growth and cognitive impairment. Anaemia, caused by some of these diseases, has a direct impact on maternal mortality.”

A brief background of Dr. Malecela was given thus, “Dr. Malecela served as Director of the Office of the Regional Director for Africa in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo and then as Director of WHO Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases Control at WHO’s Headquarters in Geneva.
“Prior to joining WHO, Dr. Malecela served as the Director-General of the National Institute for Medical Research, United Republic of Tanzania – the first woman to occupy this position – and as founding Director of the National Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Programme in Tanzania.”