By Gistflash News
July 20, 2021
To curb medical tourism in Nigeria, private sector healthcare service providers in the FCT, have showcased the latest technology and treatments obtainable in their facilities.
The service providers under the aegis of the Guild of Medical Directors (GMD), FCT chapter, showcased the latest technology and treatments for medical condition such as kidney, lung, and heart diseases at an event tagged “What’s New in Abuja.”
Other medical conditions are brain and spinal cord injuries, pediatrics care, physiotherapy including the latest equipment used to investigate and diagnose various health conditions.
The event drew medical practitioners from different areas of medicine including medical directors and heads of health facilities in the territory.
Dr Wisdom Ihejieto, the Chairman of the guild, said the event became necessary to inform and educate the public on improvements in the quality of healthcare services in the country to reduce the rate of medical tourism.
Ihejieto who condemned the increasing rate of medical tourism in Nigeria assured that most of the services obtainable abroad were provided in Nigeria.
“The private sector healthcare service providers recognize the need to improve quality of services available to the public and today’s event is to showcase what new technologies, equipment, and treatments are available in Nigeria in the different fields of medicine.
“Since we have this expertise, there is a need for us to sensitise people and tell them that these services are available here.
“There is an urgent need for us to start the process of reversing medical tourism to Asia, Europe, and other countries of the world.
“This event aims to showcase the expertise we have. We have had people talk about cardiac surgeries, neuro-surgery, and diagnostic centers. All these things are available so why do we have to travel out of the country to benefit from these services.
“Of course, you are traveling out of the country and getting into Europe and finding out that the doctor you are seeing there is a Nigerian,” Ihejieto said.
Dr Iseko Iseko, Group Medical Director, The Limi Hospitals, said that despite efforts by private healthcare providers to improve the quality of healthcare services, medical tourism continues unabated undermining the gains made in the sector.
Iseko said: “To curb medical tourism, it is important for citizens to know the kind of services available here in the country and that these are quality services which are done right.
“This will help citizens to better decide on accessing these services. Cardiocare hospital, a member of The Limi Hospitals, does cardiac catheterization services together with dialysis and kidney transplants.
“Cardiac catheterization means we can operate on the heart even while the patient is awake; they do not need to travel abroad, we can also put in pacemakers and fix heart blocks.
“We do this regularly and safely here in Abuja and this is helping to prevent medical tourism to some extent.
“A lot has been done to improve the health sector and if Nigerians key into this by taking advantage of the multiple services available, very few people will have to travel abroad.”
Dr Ferdinand Umelo, the Medical Director and Consultant Gyenacologist, Cedarcrest Hospitals, Gudu, said that the hospital provides health services in all areas of medicine.
Umelo said that these services are surgery, obstetrics, and gynecology, pediatrics including robust clinical support service, radiology, and physiotherapy.
“We collaborate with local and international cardiologists to provide cardiac catheterization services for the treatment of patients with cardiac pathologies and vascular pathologies.
“We have a COVID-19 molecular laboratory and polio services.
“Most of the latest technological equipment used to diagnose and treat various medical conditions can be found in our hospital.
“Reversing medical tourism in Nigeria should not be left to the hospitals alone to correct. The government and policymakers need to make efforts also towards addressing the problem,” he added.
Umelo noted that providing quality healthcare services in Nigeria was difficult due to the high cost of medical equipment and personnel training.
He called on the government and policymakers to support healthcare providers in the private sector to enable them to provide affordable healthcare services to the public.
“The truth is that providing quality healthcare services in Nigeria is not cheap and the government is not supporting hospitals enough to see that healthcare becomes affordable.
“The government has a huge responsibility to make this happen. For instance, a proper and functioning health insurance scheme will go a long way in making healthcare accessible.
“Also, supporting hospitals in the provision of healthcare services; there are only a few countries that provide interest-free loans to hospitals for them to be able to provide the necessary equipment for patient care.
“So this is again something the government should do, introduce interest-free loans to hospitals so that they can access funds to provide the right technology, necessary equipment, and personnel to provide quality health care to the people.
“A lot of private as well as government hospitals are facing funding challenges and that needs to be addressed if the sector has a chance of improving in terms of access to services, affordability of services, and improving the country’s health indices,” he said.
On his part, Mr Everest Okpara, Chairman, Everight Diagnostic and Laboratory Service Limited, Wuse II, Abuja, attributed the increasing rate of medical tourism in Nigeria to the public’s lack of trust in the health system.
Okpara represented by Mr Aloysius Aleke, Laboratory Manager, Everight Diagnostic and Laboratory Service Limited, said that health practitioners would continue to make efforts towards bridging the gap.
“We are doing our best to continue to try to bridge the gap because our responsibility is to provide the health industry with accurate, reliable, and timely diagnostics services benchmarking world standard.
“The health system in Nigeria has a lot of gaps in terms of quality and availability of healthcare. Nigeria can be a destination medical tourism center if the government works with healthcare service providers in the private sector.
“This is because these service providers are making a tremendous effort to improve the quality of health services available to Nigerians.
“For instance, here, we have a 1.5 Tesla MRI, we provide CT Scan services, PCR solutions, and other latest medical services which are still unavailable in many health facilities.
“Other services available here can detect and address gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections, sexual health, and non-communicable diseases like gene mutation studies,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that health facilities in the FCT, that attended the event include Wellington Neurosurgery Centre, Brain and Spine, Regions Stroke and Neuroscience Hospital.
Others are Regions Comprehensive Neurorehabilitation Centre, Abbott Rapid Diagnostics, and Zenith Medical and Kidney Centre.
The Guild of Medical Directors is a body of private medical practitioners operating in Nigeria.
Medical tourism also referred to as health tourism is when an individual leaves his or her country of residence to a foreign country in pursuit of medical treatment not available in their country.
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.
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.
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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