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.
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.
The President of Women Community in Africa, WCA, Khadijah Abdullahi says tackling child marriage is a vital step to solving the rising incidence insecurity, as well as high number of out-of-school children, malnutrition and low child immunization.
Khadijat who stated this at the 2022 WCA Summit in Abuja, themed “Literacy: A vaccine for child marriage”, explained that when girl who is about 14 years old is forced into marriage, she becomes an accidental parent because such a person is not yet ready for the task of raising children.
Speaking to our correspondent Nduka Ezeduino, the WCA President revealed that the 2-Day Summit brings together stakeholders from different backgrounds to brainstorm on the menace of child marriage, so that actionable plans could be realized for implementation.
“If you have observed we have a lot insecurity issues in Nigeria and a lot of people have not dissected the reason why we have these insecurity issues. What they have done is they gloss it over as if it has nothing to do with all these issues were are talking about, the SDG goals we are talking about.
“A child who is married at may be 13, 14 is still a child and doesn’t have the mental maturity to understand how to even nurture herself. She doesn’t even know her purpose as a human being yet. She is still discovering herself and you give her a child, to nurture another child.”
Addressing the theme of the Summit, the National Coordinator for WCA and General Assembly Member, Dr. Maimuna Salim noted that most girls encountered in previous Summits showed lack of literacy which is key in their decision making, hence the decision to centre the theme for 2022 around literacy for the girl child.
Salim further emphasized that a girl empowered with education will understand her sexual rights, have the right to decide when to be married, educate her own children among other benefits.
“Education they say is from the cradle to the grave, you never stop learning. If you do not educate a child, let the child learn and given the needed exposure. They won’t be able to make concise decisions for their life.
“Even when they get into marriage and start having their own children, they are not educated enough to begin to raise children so let her learn.
“And when we speak of say no to child marriage, we are teaching her to have a right to say no. and this is where we find the disparity, an uneducated girl does not know her rights. Yes we speak about culture, we speak about religion where they say a girl cannot marry at a certain age. Yes let her get marry but what about educating her to become independent? Because women are there as builders, when you educate a girl you educate the community. Yes women give birth to kids and who is going to be there to teach our kids?”
Included in the programme of the Summit are the parliamentary sessions for members of the General Assembly to brainstorm, visit to IDP camp and fund raising dinner to raise funds for effective implementation of resolutions reached.
Professor of Endocrinology at the University of Abuja, Felicia Anumah has urged the Federal Government to see the move to levy producers of carbonated drinks, as an opportunity to check the rising incidence of diabetes among indigent Nigerians.
Anumah, who made the call in Abuja during the World Diabetes Day Lecture oragnised by Gatefield and National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR), emphasised that Nigeria does not have the resources to manage the complications of diabetes but that the taxing of carbonated drinks presents a cheap option that can check production and consumption of carbonated drinks, which form predisposing factors to diabetes.
The University Don advised Nigerians to consume more of complex sugars, plenty of vegetables in their daily diet, as well as fruits and avoid sugary drinks that will spike their body sugar level thereby overworking their pancreatic cells responsible for the production of insulin.
“Carbonated drinks contain what we call refined sugars, refined sugars are very readily absorbed. They run straight into our blood streams and spike up the blood sugar level. And once the blood sugar level spikes up, the pancreas is harassed and made to produce insulin that beats down the blood sugar level because the sugar level must not remain high up there.
“So initially, the pancreas will help you each time the sugar levels runs high, but a stage comes in when the pancreas gets exhausted and once it is exhausted, there is no coming back. So what we are saying is, reduce the amount of carbonated drinks and refined sugars you consume so that your pancreas can see you to old age, that’s what we are saying.
“It is a beautiful plan if we can get it regulated. It will be a beautiful that because we don’t have the resources to manage the complications of diabetes, but we have a cheaper option. That cheaper option is prevention”.
A Researcher at Research Hub Africa, Akinwumi Akinola, while presenting a research findings expressed confidence that Nigerians will support the process once government can show transparency in the management of the taxes generated from carbonated drinks.
Akinola argued that no job losses will be experienced by taxing producers of carbonated drinks, as it will instead persuade players in the sector to produce healthier products which are non-calorific.
“One of the things from the research findings is that if government can work on the trust deficit by ensuring that people can see the use of taxes collected, and they will support the process.
“Why do you have diet brands and non-calorific brands of those products? It is because they themselves are aware that Nigerians are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of consuming calorific products, that is why they are producing other brands.
“So it will only entail the producers to produce healthier non-calorific products that will keep them in business, and not necessarily leading to job losses”.
The theme for 2021 World Diabetes Day is “Access to Diabetes Care” and a sub-theme “Funding diabetes care through the implementation of health taxes”.
Nigeria’s popular author and story teller, says NIGERIA has all it takes to make the country malaria free.
Braithwaite stated this at the launching of one of her books in Abuja, titled “End Malaria’ in Abuja.
According to her, Nigerians need to ensure that they get tested for malaria and also take right medication and be conversant with symptoms of malaria,
Braithwaite also says eliminating malaria in Africa requires a consistent approach, by the government and society and she believes, it’s possible to eradicate malaria in this generation, saying it makes sense to engage on the initiative.
She noted that the book( END MALARIA) will be interpreted in local languages to allow indigenes to understand malaria in its context.
The goal of this book is to accelerate the attainment of malaria free Nigeria and adopt the same model in other African Countries.
The Global Director, Developing 8 (D-8) Organisation – Health and Social Protection Programme (D-8 HSP) and former Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Ado Muhammad says Nigeria could rapidly increase its COVID-19 uptake if communities in Nigeria are individually engaged based on their peculiarities.
Member countries of the Developing 8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation include; Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey with a population coverage of over 1.5 billion people.
Dr. Ado made this known in an exclusive interview with HealthInformaticsTV.Africa where he mentioned that Nigeria as recognised by the international community has done quite well in the overall management of the COVID-19 pandemic noting however that there is room for improvement.
The challenge of vaccine hesitancy and conspiracy theories against vaccine acceptance is not new in Nigeria and the world over. Right from the days of Polio, Meningitis and Yellow fever vaccines in Nigeria have experienced all kinds of oppositions but there has always being a way to surmount the challenge of hesitancy.
On the need to defeat the conspiracy theories, the Global Director, D-8 HSP stressed that Nigeria already a robust existing structure with which it can drive demand creation for COVID-19 vaccine.
According to him, the structure simply requires consistent engagement of local, traditional, religious and association leaders that have high influence in their respective communities to understand the empirical proves of the potency of the vaccine.
He also noted that holding conferences and workshops for traditional and religious leaders in the cities does not yield results as much as when they are met in their communities and spoken to along the lines of their societal peculiarities.
“If you situate Nigeria’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic within the Global Health architecture, We have done very well because if you compare us with countries that are at the same level of health systems or even those stronger than us, we have done very well. Even if you look at most countries that have very strong health systems, they have been greatly impacted negatively by the pandemic in terms of the numbers, negatives outcomes, mortality, morbidity, and in terms of impact on the social and economic aspects of life.
“Let me state unequivocally that COVID-19 vaccine is safe. It is important I situate that within the conversation. And let me also state that vaccination will reduce mortality, it will reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also reduce severe illness and it has also been demonstrated scientifically that it reduces death. That means it has huge benefits, but vaccines like any other biotechnological products has its side effects – even the food or water you take have side effects – in medicine, you always need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. But it scientifically obvious that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the minimal side effects.
“It behoves on the authorities not only at the Federal level, not only National Primary Health Care Development Agency or Federal Ministry of Health and other authorities at the state level but also at the states, local government and community levels for us to use the existing platform that has been tested and trusted because it is all about trust.
“Somebody in the village may refuse to get vaccinated because they do not trust the government, so it is important that we engage people that they trust to convince them. They won’t trust me, you or any of the elites coming from Abuja but in every community, I can assure you, there is somebody somewhere that when he speaks they will listen.
“and those are the kind of people that we identified for polio and we engaged them. Every Community has its peculiarity. You need to go to the grassroots, you need to go the micro-level, it is not a macro management issue. It is not about symposiums; it is not about conferences; no, it is about going to the grassroots.”
No one has a right to, in protecting his or her rights, infringe on the rights of another because where the rights of an individual stop, that is where the rights of his or her fellow citizens begin.
This was Dr. Ado’s position when questioned about Federal Government’s decision on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all civil servants within its workforce.
He said he is in full and total support of the decision recently taken by the Federal Government but however advised that Government must continue to engage with facts backed by science that the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh any “mild” side effects.
“I totally endorse Federal Government’s decision on mandatory vaccination. I totally endorse it 100%. The Federal Government is doing the right thing in terms of compelling civil servants and public officers to get immunised and vaccinated. This being that for as long as you are paid by taxpayers and for as long as you engage the public, and for as long as you occupy public office that will cause you to continuously interact with people, you cannot continue to be a risk to the population.
“Yes every citizen has a choice and right to their health services but they must be mindful that individual rights stop where the rights of another begin. You can have your rights and choice if such rights and choices do not affect others. For example, if your inside of your house and your engaging the public. But you cannot have a choice and interact with people. It is different!”
Dr. Ado Muhammed however, strongly advocates for application of a little bit of force and persuasion through scientifically backed evidence of the potency of COVID-19 vaccines to gain citizens buy in
A meat scientist at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, Dr. Isaiah Okere has warned against the use of chemicals for the preservation of meats and food items as he says they have negative effect on our health.
Dr. Okere who gave the advice in an interview on Monday in Ibadan said that chemicals such as formaldehyde or its derivative Formalin, used to preserve human corpses were sometimes used by some people to preserve meat and fish.
According to him, such chemical substances can lead to cancer affecting vital organs like the kidney, liver, and lungs.
He said that meat or fish preserved with Formaldehyde/Formalin could be easily identified as they were always stiff and odourless.
On meat preservation, Okere recommended refrigeration, stressing that typically refrigerated storage life for fresh meats is five to seven days.
He, however, said that with the erratic electricity supply situation, it was advisable to limit refrigerated storage to between two to three days.
He also said that smoking of meat as well as currying with mixture containing salt and other natural preservatives decreases the available moisture in the surface of meat products, preventing microbial growth and spoilage.
The meat scientist underscored the need to protect oneself by observing these precautions, adding that a good risk reduction measure, was to wash all food and meat thoroughly under running water to wash off the contaminant. (NAN)
FG Should Provide High-Tech Radiological Equipment in Every Senatorial District for Rural Dwellers
The President of the Association of Radiologists in Nigeria, (ARIN) Prof. Sule Saidu says Nigeria may currently have less 300 trained Radiologists far below the number required to support the health needs of Nigerians, and most of them domiciled in urban centres.
Speaking in Abuja, at a media briefing which formed part of the activities to mark the 4th annual general meeting and scientific conference of ARIN, Prof. Saidu explained that the low manpower of Radiologists in the country is further worsened by the massive brain drain being experienced in the medical sector.
The newly elected President of the Association called on government to sustain the provision of required equipment for effective training of Radiologists, in Nigeria to strengthen the manpower base of radiologists.
He noted that radiation medicine must be taken seriously as it is key in the health sector, especially in the management of cancer which is becoming predominant among Nigerians in recent times.
“As at the last count, we were a little more than 300 but as you are aware, a lot of Nigerian specialists have traveled out of the country for greener pastures, and radiologists are also affected.
“We want to urge government to try to provide the necessary equipment that will sustain our training and also ensure that we keep our best manpower.
“In terms of meeting the required manpower of radiologists in Nigeria, we are definitely not near enough at all. Not even America and most advanced countries that boast in that sense. Most of the trained radiologists are actually in the urban centres and I think government needs to begin to think of the provision of high equipment such as MRIs and Scanners along senatorial districts, as this will extend services to the reach of more Nigerians.”
Prof. Saidu pledged the commitment of ARIN to working with other professionals in the health sector to engender harmonious working relationships for the overall good of health outcomes for Nigerians.
He further said the body of Radiologists will partner with the NMA and other stakeholders to avert occasions that could result in incessant, prolonged strike actions.
“We are not devoid of our challenges but of course you know that those challenges and problems can only be confronted and tackled if we have harmony in the health sector. So we intend to work with our colleagues in other fields of specialization in medicine, but also with other health professionals that we engage in day and night in our profession.
“Therefore, we are banking on industrial harmony with radiographers, nurses, technicians and other health workers. We also are interested in ensuring that services that relate to radiology are sustained and unhindered.”
Speaking on some resolutions reached by the Association, Prof Saidu revealed that the Association is embarking on an exercise across the country to gather data on available radiological modalities across the country so that Nigerians can be informed of what facilities are available and the location where such services can be accessed.END
The Federal Government has been called upon to make Research and Development (R&D) a top pirority so as to avoid a fire brigade approach to issues when the need arises.
A Prof. at the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) Martins Emeje made the call in an exclusive interview with Health TV news crew in Abuja.
According to him, Research and Development over the years has been neglected as he says people think it is a waste of resources.
He said the neglect of R&D has been the major reason why there has been increase in mortality during health emergencies.
Prof. Emeje said apart from other benefits Research and Development offers, employment opportunities can be created and food can be made available as a result of R&D.
He said if the Nigerian government had invested in Research and Development before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country wouldn’t have recorded large amounts of deaths and it would have been able to manage the situation better than it did.
Prof. Emeje while stating that the private sector also has a huge role to play when it come to R&D, called on charity organisations, Non-governmental organisations, small and medium scale enterprises amongst other to draw from the vision of R&D
Speaking on the forthcoming NIPRD Conference Prof Emeje said it will be an all science and all of art conference where everyone from diverse sector is invited and expected to make an input on how the problem of R&D should be addressed.
He added that this is one of the major activities the institution wants to carry out as its own contribution towards managing health emergencies in the country.
The 2021 NIPRD Conference is expected to take place in Abuja on the 23rd of September.
The Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) Dr. Obi Peter Adigwe says unless Nigeria develop its own capacity to produce medicines and vaccines, the country is going no where.
Dr. Adigwe stated this in an exclusive interview with Health TV news crew in Abuja noting that certain people in the country particularly from the North vilified the call for self sustaining of medicine and vaccines in the country before the outbreak of the COVID-19.
He said “it took the COVID-19 for those colleagues and policy makers to go back to begin to lick their vomits”.
He said NIPRD has awoken a consciousness for the importance of Research and Development (R&D) which previously was lacking in our setting.
He said the government do not have wait for a pandemic to happen before they prepare, but rather invest in R&D ahead of any pandemic.
Speaking on the achievements of the Institute before and during the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the DG said NIPRD took pre-emptive engagement ro ensure that commodities that whixh were critical to disrupting the spread of the virus were made available.
He also said the institute shared database with local manufacturers which he said is one of the reasons why high quality hand sanitizers were available as a result of Reserach and Development.
NIPRD he said, was critical in putting together clinical trials Protocol for things like chloroquine and other conventional medicines which were initially considered for COVID-19 treatment.
The DG said they have trained thousands of phyto-medicinal practitioners and other critical stakeholders in the phyto-medicinal value chain.
Dr. Adigwe said NIPRD which is the bastion of phyto-medicines also put together a product called NIPRIMUNE which is at the listing stage in NAFDAC and has demonstrated strong anti-covid potentials.
Listing means NAFDAC has reviewed the test on NIPRIMUNE that has been done, undertaking their own investigation and have agreed that the product is fit for human consumption.
He said what is left is the clinical stage where the product will be tested on humans who have COVID-19, noting that after that step they can categorically say that the product can cure or can be used to manage COVID-19.
He however said “I cannot categorically say NIPRIMUNE cures COVID-19 but there are some scientist who have looked at the data, and have said that since it has been listed by NAFDAC, they will go ahead to take it while they wait for the clinical trials”.
Dr. Adigwe who also spoke on the 10 billion naira allocation by the National Assembly in the 2020 budget for the production of vaccines locally, said he has heard about the funds but the institute has not received any amount of the funds for Research and Development of locally manufactured vaccines.
He said ” I understands that government process takes time, NIPRD has also not been officially mandated to delinate the position it can play within that particular 10 billion naira project”
He expressed belief that when they get to the stage where they start to delinate the project or identify those agencies that should be central to the project, he is sure NIPRD would be there.
Health TV would recall that the Chairman Senate Committee on Health Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe during the flag off of the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination in Abuja on Monday August 16th, 2021 said 10 billion was allocated in the 2020 budget at the National Assembly for the production of vaccines locally.
The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) says Nigeria needs to develop a more proactive way of addressing African problems with African solutions.
The Director General of NIPRD Dr. Obi Adigwe stated this in an exclusive interview with Health TV news crew noting that research is everybody’s responsibility, hence the need for serious investment in the Research and Development (R&D) sector.
He said, a situation where the country sits down and wait for world bodies to hand down solutions to us speaks to our abilities to believe in our capacity.
He said “this is one of the reasons why NIPRD has put together a conference coming up in September 2021, which will address solution making in Africa thereby reducing our dependency in the West and increase our Medicine security in Africa”.
Dr. Adigwe who spoke on government’s performance in handling the covid 19 pandemic, and Research and Development said government has done a decent job, but more can be done in terms of piroritization and increasing funding subventions.
He also said another area where there is significant weakness is the participation of other critical stakeholders and philanthropist in investing in Research and Development as he says their impact has not been felt.
He said “These has basically presented a non-engagement position despite the many calls that have gone out from NIPRD and other offices across the landscape which is really disheartening”
“It appears that in this part of the world, people sit back and just wait for government to do everything and that is not the gold standard”
“In the UK you have many individuals and Non-Governmental Agencies, some of them not even related to health care who fund Research and Development”
Dr Adigwe said the NIPRD conference will avail Nigeria the opportunity to rejig its approach to solution making in Africa.
While he called on government to increase funding subventions, he also called on well meaning Nigerians, ranging from musicians, actors, Non-Governmental agencies in Nigeria, philanthropist and others to invest in the sector so that the country can enjoy local solutions instead of relying on the western world for solutions.