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Examining effects of hard drugs on youths and remedy



By Gistflash News

July 22, 2021

A Report by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

On many occasions, concerned citizens have expressed worry about the pronouncement of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) that more than 20 million Nigerians youths abuse drugs.

They also raise alarm on the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) reports that indicate a troublesome trend of drug abuse among the Nigerian youth.

According to UNODC, Nigeria has one of the highest drug prevalence in West Africa, where it notes that drug use prevalence in the country among people from 15 years of age to 64 years is 14.4 per cent.

The office observes that this is almost three times the global world use prevalence of 5.5 per cent, implying that drug abuse is almost getting to an epidemic proportion.

In spite of this, some youths insist that they take hard drug to “fit’’ in, to feel “cool’’, feel “better’’ and get “high’’ to express themselves in public.

Others say they take into drug to impress and get attention whether in school or in their neighbouhoods.

Whatever reason adduced for drug-taking, psychologists observe that these practices could later turn the affected youth to addicts; making it difficult for them to get out of drug abuse.

But medical experts warn that substance-abusing youth are at higher risk of mental health problems, including depression, conduct problems, personality disorders, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide and suicide, among others than non-users.

The move to curtail these repercussions of drug abuse has, somewhat, informed the intervention by Centre for Ethical Rebirth among Nigerian Youth (CERANY), a non-governmental organisation to organise a conference on drug abuse to sensitise the youth to the danger of hard drug use.

At the conference, retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, emphasised on the imperative of urgent collaboration of federal government in curbing the menace.

He stated that the NDLEA has insight into the roles played by illicit substance in the equation of insecurity in the country, insisting that it has become imperative to look at the likely remote causes of drug abuse among youths.

The agency says Kano has the country’s highest drug abuse rate based on the number of seizures, arrests of addicts and convictions of arrested dealers.

The agency also notes that in the 80s, Nigeria used to be a transit point for drugs and there was an eminent stigmatisation of drug use that prompted users to hide their drug dependent habits.

It observes that the story has changed as Nigeria has gone from being a drug consuming nation to being a drug producing one and has assumed the position and destination for hard and illicit drugs.

“The society we live in seem to have cultivated the fact that drug use can be “cool’’ and as such, drug users openly boast about their habits and skills in taking psychoactive substances’’ an analysts also observes.

Marwa, therefore, noted that drug abuse is one of the factors fuelling insecurity, observing that gun and handcuffs for the offenders alone would not effectively solve the problem.

“I have said this at different fora, that there is a connection between drug use and the rise in criminality in this country, this may seems far-fetched to the average Nigerians, this is not a baseless assumption.

“Different categories of drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, heroin and psychotropic substance such as methamphetamine and tramadol are consumed and trafficked across the country,’’ he observed.

He said that the NDLEA had destroyed 18 methamphetamine manufacturing laboratories and several hectares of cannabis farms and that in five months, the agency had seized more than two million kilogrammes of assorted illicit drug.

“These developments should alarm us. We would not have such a huge amount of illicit substances circulating among the populace.

“If people take drugs, then you can expect proportional reactions from them, which are more often criminal, the more drugs you have circulating in the system, the more criminal actions to be expected,’’ he said.

Marwa said that the report of UNODC indicating that the country has one of the highest drug prevalence in West Africa, ought to be a concern for all.

“What is the implication of this? It means drug abuse is almost getting to an epidemic proportion.

“Our National Drug Use Survey in 2019 reveals that more than 10 million people abused cannabis in one year,’’ he observed.

He said that the agency had set up some mechanisms such as the Special Purpose Committee that draws a pool of stakeholders to join the NDLEA in advocacy against illicit drugs.

He also noted that he had been going all over the country to meet with opinion leaders, organisations, royal fathers, strategic institutions, religious and civil organisations to sensitise the people to the “fight-to-finish campaign’’ against drug trafficking.

Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Oliver Stolpe, UNODC Country Representative to Nigeria, noted that increasing abuse among youths could present a negative trend for the future of the youth and the country at large.

According to her, more worrisome is the involvement of women in hard drug use as one in every 10 drug users is a woman.

“Data collected around the globe suggest that this has elevated cases of Gender-Based Violence and there is need to take decisive action.

He, nonetheless, promised that UNODC would support federal government to pursue everlasting solution to arrest the menace of drug abuse in the country.

But Mr Abhay Thakur, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, said that his country is taking a holistic approach in the fight against drug abuse in Nigeria.

Thakur said that the country’s national policy on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is based on its constitution’s directive principles.

He said that the principles directed states to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes.

“The government policy on the subject flows from this constitutional provision and is also guided by the international conventions,’’ he said.

According to him, the Indian Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act provides the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

“Our apex national agency has the power to combat the drug menace, the mandate to control, regulate and monitor the manufacture, distribution, import, export, transportation and others any substance which the government may declare to be a controlled substance in the NDPS Act.

He noted that the statutory regime in India consequently covers drug trafficking, drug related assets and substances which could be used and the manufacturing of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance.

The envoy said that the country had taken a number of timely and decisive steps to address each and every aspect of the drug problem, including harsh drug control laws, committed workforce, training and dedicated programmes.

Also, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, the Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), stressed the need for stakeholders to work together towards eradicating drug abuse.

According to her, the problem of drug abuse should concern everybody and cooperations must be strengthened to decisively deal with it.

She noted that of all the crises facing the country, the federal government has given the highest priority to the problem of drug abuse.

The NAFDAC boss stated that the National Drug Use Survey of 2018 revealed that the highest-level drug use is among those “aged between 25 years and 39 years, the use of drugs for non-medical or recreational purpose is thus disturbingly common among young people’’.

She also agreed that drug abuse is a public health problem that has undermined national stability and security of the country, adding that the experience of NAFDAC showed that success in the war against drug had been adversely affected by corruption and unethical practices.

Adeyeye explained that the issue had resulted in laws not being enforced and criminals not being prosecuted or convicted of their crimes and that there was need to change the narrative.

According to her, the impact of drug abuse and the current reality makes it necessary to think about national security in terms of the corporate existence of the nation and its ability to protect and promote all that is considered important and valuable.

Adeyeye said that the menace of drugs is a threat without borders, and that everyone must be firm against criminals destroying the path to the future envisaged for the youth and the country.

Mr Chuks Akamadu, President of CERANY, therefore, enjoined the youth to do more by embarking on a serious campaign against the menace, stressing that bodies saddled with the responsibility of campaigning against drug abuse are already overwhelmed.

Akamadu said youths across the country should begin to realise that it was time for them to take ownership of the fight against drug abuse in the country.

“Drug abuse has created instability, insecurity and violence in the country; it must begin to dawn on the youth that there is need for them to take ownership of the fight against drug abuse and ensure that they redeem their future.

“The youth must have a new understanding and do the needful, stating that his organisation had begun to go round secondary schools and tertiary institutions to campaign against the scourge of drug abuse and urged the youth to embrace the idea’’, he said.

Beyond this, psychologists recommend for effective remedy for drug abuse, some steps ought to be taken among stakeholders, especially the parents.

They advise parents to know teen’s activities, pay attention to their whereabouts at all times, know their friends, educate them on the consequences of drug abuse and keep track of prescribed drugs.

According to them, prevention education, mentoring and other supervised activities for after-school hours, among others, will reduce youths’ involvement in drug abuse.

They also suggest effective rehabilitation for drug abuse victims to help them to achieve the highest level of function, independence and quality of life possible.

They note that although rehabilitation does not reverse or undo the damage caused by disease or trauma, it can restore the individual to optimal health, functioning and wellness.

All in all, concerned Nigerians note that regular enlightenment should be given to the public, particularly mothers on the heinous crimes of child abandonment.

They suggest further that governments should ban smoking in public places while culprits of drug abuse should be sentenced to jail or rehabilitation centres.(NANFeatures)

By News Agency of Nigeria



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World Hepatitis Day: undiagnosed, untreated hepatitis kills 124,000 Africans annually, says WHO



By Gistflash News

July 28, 2021

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says more than 124,000 Africans die each year as a result of undiagnosed and untreated hepatitis.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said this in her message to commemorate World Hepatitis Day, aimed at increasing awareness of the disease under the theme: `Hepatitis can’t wait’.

Moeti said that the disease inflames the liver and can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis, calling on all countries to rapidly improve access to services to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.

Hepatitis is a silent epidemic with more than 90 million people living with the disease in Africa, representing 26 per cent of the global total, she noted.

The WHO director added that around 4.5 million African children, under five years, were infected with chronic hepatitis B, reflecting an enormous 70 per cent of the global burden in that age group.

Moeti said that the global target of less than 1 per cent incidence of hepatitis B in children under 5 years has been reached, but the African region was lagging behind at 2.5 per cent.

‌She said that most of such cases could be prevented by eliminating the Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of the disease, during or shortly after birth and in early childhood.

“Key interventions against hepatitis B include vaccination at birth and in early childhood, screening pregnant women, and providing timely treatment,’’ Moeti said.

She said that countries are been encouraged to integrate the hepatitis B PMTCT in the ante-natal care package together with the HIV and Syphilis PMTCT programme, especially after it was found that only 14 countries in the region were implementing the hepatitis B birth-dose vaccine.

“Among people who are infected, nine out of 10 have never been tested, because of limited awareness and access to testing and treatment.

“Even among countries offering hepatitis B birth-dose vaccine, health systems are facing challenges in ensuring pregnant women and mothers are tested and that those who test positive are treated.

“At the same time, there are many promising developments on hepatitis. With the launch of the first global strategy on hepatitis in 2016, along with increased advocacy in recent years, political will is starting to translate into action.

“ Hepatitis medicines have also become much more affordable, with prices as low as $60 dollars per patient for a 12-week treatment, she said.

Moeti said that African heads of states had committed to addressing viral hepatitis as a public health threat in the Cairo Declaration in February 2020, and that the Egyptian Initiative planned to provide hepatitis C treatment for one million Africans, with South Sudan, Eritrea and Chad already reaching 50,000 people.

“Apart from them, Rwanda, Uganda and Benin have established free testing and treatment programmes for hepatitis and 16 other countries are starting pilot projects in that direction.

“To guide action on hepatitis, 28 African countries now have strategic plans in place and at the global level WHO guidelines were launched in 2020 on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B,’’ Moeti said.

She added that the WHO Regional Office for Africa was developing training materials in order to help countries implement the five hepatitis core interventions and decentralize diagnosis and treatment.

Moeti, therefore, called on all stakeholders in maternal and child health to consider how hepatitis could be integrated into existing initiatives, because health systems play a vital role in preventing transmission by making sure blood donations were screened and syringes were used only once and then safely disposed of.

She also called on individuals to seek testing and treatment for hepatitis and to learn more about the disease so as to end the silent epidemic.


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Nigeria records 10 cases of COVID-19 Delta variant – NCDC



By Gistflash News

July 27, 2021

Nigeria has so far recorded 10 new cases of the Delta COVID-19 variant.

The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu discled this at the ministerial briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja,

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility.

The variant has so far been detected in over 90 countries.

Ihekweazu, who was represented by Mrs Elsie Ilori, Director of Disease Surveillance Department, CDC while, giving an update on the Nigeria’s COVID-19 situation, said that while progress had been made in response to the ongoing pandemic with the fact paced development of diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccines globally, variants of concern with increased transmissibility pose a threat.

“With sequencing efforts, we have detected 10 cases which are confirmed to be the Delta variant.

”We are working hard to ensure genomic surveillance of travelers’ samples and to scale up our genomic sequencing capacity.

“While doing this, we are scaling up our testing capability, by the rollout of rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RTDs), in selected states nationwide.

“As we have mentioned before, we encourage congregate setting, such as hospitals, schools, workplaces and correctional facilities, to take advantage of the WHO, approved RTDs kits to detect cases promptly,” he explained.

The NCDC boss disclosed that the country’s test positive rate based on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), test alone, which he noted was an indication used to understand the level of virus transmission increased to 3.4 percent in the country.

“This represents a rise compared to Test Positivity Rate (TPR), which was sustained for several weeks at around 1 percent in the country. In addition, last week five deaths were recorded.

“These figures must serve as a strong warning to be even more on our guard regarding reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread, especially considering the more transmissible Delta variants detected in the country,” he advised.

Ihekweazu stressed that Lagos state continued to have the highest contribution to the current caseload in the country.

He noted that states which have recently recorded increases in cases include Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Oyo and Rivers states.

“Akwa Ibom had a sudden surge in cases in the last week and so, we have deployed a Rapid Response Team, to support the state’s response activities.

“The team will support Akwa Ibom’s Emergency Operations Centre incident management systems, ensure smooth running of samples collection centres, laboratory cases detection and general coordination,” he disclosed.

The DG said that while the agency continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also focusing on other infectious diseases.

“Our response to the cholera outbreak has continued and as at July 22, a total of 22,130 suspected cases and unfortunately 526 deaths, have been reported due to this illness in 18 states and the FCT.

“However, in the last two weeks, a decline in cases has been recorded and the Emergency Operations Centre, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and other partners, is continuing to coordinate a multi sector response.,” he said.

The NCDC boss noted that the agency always ensured that it made records of challenges from each outbreak and put in measures to improve the next response.

“Last week, NCDC held a national COVID-19 intra action review with various stakeholders to review preparedness and outbreak response, to identify best practices, challenges and propose recommended actions,” he noted.

According to Ihekweazu, some areas of response which we are working on are that we have continued to reinvigorate our risk communications efforts, to ensure Nigerians understand that coronavirus is real and still poses a high risk.

The DG added that in a bid to scale the use of RTDs tests, there have been training of trainers on the appropriate and safe use of these kits in several states, including a just concluded training in Bayelsa, and Benue.

Regarding improving surveillance of COVID-19 cases in the country, he added that the agency was training community volunteers to support case finding and contact tracing.

In a related development, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has warned that Nigeria was at risk of registering high incidences of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

This it said was due to neglect of preventive measures at Airports and other points of entry in the country.

Ehnaire decried that inspite of evidence of the emergence of a third wave in the country, passengers were  absconding quarantine at all points of entry.

The minister also expressed concerns that citizens had refused to adhere to public health advisories, even as treatment bed occupancy was also registering an increase.

He expressed this concern while noting that countries that were popular travel destinations for Nigerians, including the UK, U.S., UAE, France and Turkey had  high incidence of this virulent variant.

“Nigeria is at increased risk if we continue to neglect public health protocols placed at points of entry, which are our first line of defence and a critical point of concern.

“The ministry’s Point of Entry (PoE) pillar of the COVID-91 response has been continuously monitoring passenger arrivals especially from high-risk countries like India, Turkey and Brazil.

”This process has been an arduous one given that port health staff have continued to report a trend of absconding by quarantined passengers, an act detrimental to our pandemic response and public health safety. 

“The severity of this disease should NOT be disregarded as it is still a primary cause of concern, even in countries with stronger health systems,” he said.

The minister, therefore,  tasked all persons to comply with the Port Health staff or risk facing sanctions, which included prosecution.

“Non-compliance with their directives constitutes a risk to national health security and will be handled with commensurate severity.

“I wish to reemphasise that we must fervently avoid complacency and continue to abide by the given Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions. 

“Remember that Nigeria is a well-traversed country and is susceptible to further importation of the virus, especially when there is clear evidence that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun across the continent,” he added.

The minister further stressed that in the past 24 hours, the world  witnessed an increase in reported cases of COVID-19 across a significant number of countries, due to the high transmissibility of the Delta Variant.

“As of  July 25, Nigeria had a total of 170,895 COVID-19 cases, and 2,132 fatalities. There are 4,180 active cases across the country, including 216 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours from 7 states.

“Nigeria started recording an increase in cases after the first case of the delta variant was reported early July,” he stressed.

In preparation for the third wave, Ehanire said the ministry had  taken steps to urgently scale-up and enhance local oxygen capacity even before oxygen consumption increased.

He also said Nigeria had invested directly and strategically to ensuring oxygen availability to avert unforeseen incidence of oxygen insufficiency for COVID-19 patients in the country.

On COVID-19 vaccines, the minister said that Nigeria was expecting over 29 million of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

He said that the vaccine was purchased by the Government of Nigeria through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT)  facility and over four million of the Moderna.

He also said that Nigeria is expecting almost 700 thousand of the  AstraZeneca vaccine, through the COVAX facility from bilateral donations from the governments of the U.S. and the UK as well as Pfizer and Sinopharm from both bilateral agreements and through the COVAX facility.

Also speaking, Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora said that COVID-19 would continue to have a significant impact on the way Nigerians lived.

Mamora urged Nigerians to stay safe because a large portion of the country remained unvaccinated and highly contagious variants, like delta would be spreading as seen in many countries, spurring outbreaks. 


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Expert recommends rabbit meat consumption as prevention for uric acid



By Gistflash News

July 25, 2021

Rabbit meat consumption has been recommended for persons between the age of 40 and above to prevent high rate of uric acid.

Dr Huzaifa Abdullahi, a veterinary dococtor with the Bauchi State Area Veterinary Clinic, gave the recommendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Sunday in Bauchi.

He said that in spite that rabbit meat had higher nutritional value, the meat contained unsaturated fat.

“Most people are not aware of the nutritional contents of rabbits.

“The rodent has little waste to pass out while it also prevents humans from contracting uric acid,” Abdullahi said.

According to him, unlike cows and ruminants, rabbit is from the class of animals with white muscles.

“Some zoonotic diseases can also be avoided if we follow the  expert’s recommendations.

“Those between the age of 40 and above are mostly diagnosed with uric acid and red meat contributes to these ailments in humans,” he said.

According to Abdullahi, uric acid causes gout and it is a life threatening disease in human.

The specialist explained that gout was a painful form of arthritis mostly caused by crystals that form in and around the human joints.


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