Health – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com Breaking News in Nigeria Today Fri, 14 Jun 2019 19:50:59 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 https://tribuneonlineng.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/logo.jpg Health – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com 32 32 118125416 Are feminine hygiene products really necessary? https://tribuneonlineng.com/218704/ Sat, 15 Jun 2019 03:48:25 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218704 Tribune Online
Are feminine hygiene products really necessary?

feminine hygiene

Many people use so-called feminine hygiene products — such as intimate cleansers and wipes, douches, and even deodorants — hoping to feel clean and fresh. Do these products really help maintain genital health? In this Spotlight feature, we investigate. Is it ever advisable to use ‘feminine hygiene’ products? In high school, I used to take […]

Are feminine hygiene products really necessary?
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Are feminine hygiene products really necessary?

feminine hygiene

Many people use so-called feminine hygiene products — such as intimate cleansers and wipes, douches, and even deodorants — hoping to feel clean and fresh. Do these products really help maintain genital health? In this Spotlight feature, we investigate.

Is it ever advisable to use ‘feminine hygiene’ products?

In high school, I used to take a class called “education for health,” which was an eclectic mix of general biology and sex education rolled haphazardly into one.

As fun-loving teenagers, many of my classmates would ask questions and recount anecdotes they hoped would spook our long-suffering teacher.

One of their questions, however, genuinely piqued the interest of all the girls in the class.

June 12: Buhari’s desperate attempt to gain undeserved goodwill, Reno Omokri says

Her good friend, she said, used intimate cleansers on a daily basis. Despite this, she ended up with a bad vaginal infection. “How was this possible?” my classmate wondered.

Our teacher then explained that overusing cleansers, even ones labeled as “safe” for intimate areas, could upset the delicate intimate balance of the vagina and give rise to infections; but was our teacher right or wrong in her assessment?

So-called feminine hygiene products — which include different types of intimate washes, wipes, shaving gels, and lubricants, but also intimate douches and products for alternative care procedures, such as vaginal steaming — are popular in many countries around the world.

Statistics show that the feminine hygiene market, on the whole, brought millions of dollars into the economies of dozens of countries in 2017 alone, with China and the United States leading the field.

In the U.S. in 2018, sales for vaginal treatments amounted to over $286 million, and those for douches to $41 million. Meanwhile, other types of feminine hygiene products — excluding sanitary napkins, pantyliners, and tampons — brought over $309 million into the economy.

Yet in recent years, one mantra has become pervasive across medical and wellness websites and on educational materials discussing vaginal health — namely, that “the vagina is a self-cleaning oven.”

This idea refers to the fact that the vagina naturally produces discharge that eliminates dead cells and bacteria, so there is no need to clean it using soaps, washes, or douches.

So if the vagina does not require any additional cleaning, does this mean that the same rule applies to the vulva? And how can different intimate hygiene products affect vulvovaginal health? These are some of the questions that we will tackle in this Spotlight feature.

Vulva and vagina basics

First things first: What is the vagina, what is the vulva, and what is the difference between the two? In medical terms, the vagina refers to the internal muscular tract extending from the cervix to the vaginal opening.

The vulva is the external part of the female genital tract, which includes:

the inner and outer labia (labia minora and majora)

the glans clitoris (the external part of the clitoris) and clitoral hood (the fold of skin protecting the glans clitoris)

the vestibule (which surrounds the vaginal opening)

the urethral opening

To maintain vulvar and vaginal health, a person must ensure that two important aspects remain balanced: their pH, which is a measurement that denotes something’s acidity or alkalinity, and their bacterial balance.

Studies indicate that vulvar pH is usually 3.5–4.7, while vaginal pH varies according to a person’s age and the stage of their menstrual cycle.

So, before a person reaches reproductive age and starts menstruating, their vaginal pH will be 7 (neutral), whereas a person of reproductive age may have a vaginal pH of 3.8–4.4. At menopause, depending on whether or not a person undertakes hormone replacement therapy, their vaginal pH may be 4.5–5 or 6.5–7.

When it comes to understanding what constitutes a balanced microbiome in the vagina versus the vulva, however, matters become less clear.

In the vagina, bacterial populations shift depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle and, according to some studies, people of different ethnicities also have different vaginal microbiota.

As for the vulvar microbiota, specialists have conducted only a few studies with the aim of determining what a normal vulvar bacterial population should look like. That said, existing research does suggest that the vulva naturally features bacteria present in the vagina as well as some species present in a person’s feces.

However, as one study that names these characteristics concludes, “the vulva is more complex than originally thought,” as vulvar bacterial populations appear to vary greatly among people.

Source: Medicalhealthnewstoday.com

Which products are unsafe?

Considering we know so little about what a healthy vulvovaginal environment should look like — in part because it can differ so much from person to person — it can be difficult to outline clear guidelines on what products someone should use when it comes to intimate hygiene.

 

Using douche syringes and cleansers can upset the vaginal microbiome.

However, studies looking at the connection between feminine hygiene products and the development of vaginal infections have drawn some strong conclusions as to which products and procedures a person should avoid when caring for their vagina and vulva.

Douching involves “flushing” the vagina with water or various cleansers, including homemade solutions of water and vinegar, sometimes with the help of specially designed implements. This technique is as widespread as it is unhealthful.

Several studies have found that douching can upset the natural bacterial balance in the vagina, rendering it more vulnerable to infections — including sexually transmitted infections — and increasing a person’s risk of cervical cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease.

In 2018, researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, concluded that the use of gel sanitizers was linked with an eightfold increase in a person’s risk of developing a yeast infection, and a nearly 20 times higher risk of getting a bacterial infection.

The same study also found an association between the use of intimate washes and a 3.5 times higher risk of bacterial infections, and a more than twofold higher risk of having a urinary tract infection (UTI). The scientists noticed a similar association between using intimate cleansing wipes and UTIs.

«These products may be preventing the growth of the healthy bacteria required to fight off infection. Our society has constructed female genitalia as unclean, and the marketing of vaginal hygiene products as something women need to attain the ideal is contributing to the problem.»

An older study in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases suggested that people who took bubble baths, applied antiseptic solutions to the vulva or vagina, or used store-bought or homemade solutions and washes to clean the vagina were more likely to have bacterial vaginosis.

Moisturizes and spermicides may also cause harm. According to one 2013 in vitro study, Vagisil feminine moisturizer and a spermicide (Nonoxynol-9) quickly stifled the growth of “good” bacteria (Lactobacillus) usually present in the vagina.

The researchers explain that Nonoxynol-9 “completely killed the bacteria,” while Vagisil significantly suppressed Lactobacillus growth.”

What are some good practices?

When it comes to keeping the vagina clean and healthy, guidelines from the Office on Women’s Health state that “[i]t is best to let your vagina clean itself» through the discharge it naturally produces.

If a person is worried about vaginal discharge changing color or acquiring a particular smell, they should speak to a healthcare provider to check for a potential infection.

Although many people may be concerned about vaginal odor and buy into products that claim to eliminate it, it is normal for vaginas to have a unique, musky scent.

However, if cleaning the vagina is unnecessary and even harmful, what about cleaning the vulva? Evidence regarding whether or not cleaning the vulva is helpful has often been inconclusive.

A 2017 review of specialist literature suggested that a person should regularly clean the skin of the vulva with mild, unfragranced, soap-free washes to prevent the buildup of sweat, menstrual blood, dead cells, and other biological material that could accumulate harmful bacteria.

This advice is based on various official guidelines suggesting the use of «gentle hypoallergenic liquid washes» to clean the vulva. One such set of guidelines is that which the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued in 2013, which say:

«Washing [the vulva] with water and soap may cause dry skin and make itching worse. Using soap substitutes can be soothing and protective, and will stop the skin from becoming as dry and irritated. Aqueous cream (a special type of moisturiser […]) can be used instead of soap.»

However, the guidelines also warn that overwashing the vulva (cleaning it more than once per day) can irritate it and harm its health, and that in cleaning this part of the body, a person should “[a]void using sponges or flannels” and only pat it gently with a soft towel to dry. In short, the consensus among gynecologists seems to be that vaginas and vulvas are mostly fine by themselves, and that assaulting them with soaps, perfumes, creams, and gels is likely to cause more harm than good.

If you are worried about the shape, look, smell, or feel of your vulva, the best place to go is not the drug store or the internet for anecdotal advice, but to your doctor.

They will give you the correct information you need and will help you decide on the best course of action — if any action is necessary at all.

 

Are feminine hygiene products really necessary?
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Malaria in pregnancy is dangerous https://tribuneonlineng.com/218139/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 02:19:04 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218139 Tribune Online
Malaria in pregnancy is dangerous

health newborn malaria

Malaria, along with poor nutrition, is one of the leading causes of low birthweight in many parts of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa. Experts in this report by SADE OGUNTOLA say that aside the danger it poses to pregnant women, malaria in pregnancy can jeopardize the survival of newborns.

Malaria in pregnancy is dangerous
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Malaria in pregnancy is dangerous

health newborn malaria

For most couples, learning that they are pregnant is an exciting development.  The Akangs received such exciting news recently when they learnt that Chinwe was pregnant with twins.

Chinwe, who has been married for six years and without any child, learnt during an ultrasound scan that she was pregnant with more than one baby.  Unfortunately, Chinwe fell ill due to fever when she was five months pregnant and the pregnancy.

Mrs Akang was not as lucky as other mothers like Mrs Gloria Oluwasegun, 32. She was fortunate to have survived her malaria attack while pregnant with a set of twins. Each of the children was delivered at a low bodyweight of 1.8kg respectively.

In areas with high malaria transmission like Nigeria, the most vulnerable groups are young children who have not yet developed partial immunity to malaria and pregnant women, whose immunity is decreased by pregnancy, especially during the first and second pregnancies.

Mosquitoes transmit these parasites from one person to another in their bites. Its effect is characterized by periodic bouts of severe chills and high fever such that serious cases of malaria can result in death if left untreated.

In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that more than a million people die of this life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female anopheles mosquitoes each year with most of them in Africa.

Unfortunately, the results of the largest study on the effects of malaria and different anti-malarial drugs in early pregnancy indicated that just one episode of malaria in the first trimester is linked to a three-fold greater risk of miscarriage.

Researchers also discovered that women treated with anti-malarial drugs did not suffer any serious side effects or increase their likelihood of miscarriage. The study was published online first in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.

According to estimates, each year, 125 million pregnancies are at risk of malaria. During pregnancy, malaria can cause both severe anaemia and parasitic infection in the foetus and increase the risk of low birthweight, preterm birth, and maternal death.

They had reviewed records of pregnant women who attended antenatal clinics of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit on the northwestern border of Thailand between May 1986 and October 2010.

They compared outcomes of 16,668 women who had no malaria during pregnancy with 945 women who had only a single episode in the first trimester.

They discovered that asymptomatic malaria, showing no noticeable symptoms, was linked to almost a three times higher risk of miscarriage compared with those who did not contract malaria, whilst the risk of miscarriage for those with symptomatic malaria tended to be at least four times more likely.

The researchers discovered that the chances of miscarriage were comparable in women who received chloroquine (26 per cent), quinine (27 per cent), and artesunate (31 per cent) during the first trimester, with no substantial difference reported between treatments in other birth outcomes, such as stillbirth or low birthweights.

Dr Chris Aimakhu, a consultant obstetric and gynaecologist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, said malaria in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, low birthweight, and prematurity, as well as other congenital infections and abnormalities, and early newborn death.

According to him, “infections, in general, can cause low birth weight if they do not kill the baby. In its extreme, the infection can kill the baby or impede growth.

“Of course, the chances of survival of a baby born small or age is reduced. Also, a baby who contracts malaria from the womb tends to have a fever on a regular basis. Such babies may also have feeding difficulties, while they may also develop jaundice or anaemia.”

Dr Aimakhu stated that malaria prevention in pregnancy is crucial for the prevention of low birthweight, a contributory factor to deaths of newborns worldwide.

According to him, all pregnant women are given mandatory malaria prophylaxis and are treated promptly with a medicine that is safe if they come down with malaria.

If malaria is left untreated during pregnancy, infected red blood cells gather in the placenta and block the crucial exchange of nutrients from the mother to the baby inside the womb. The result can be miscarriage, stillbirth or low birth weight.

In Africa, many people are immune to malaria and show no symptoms when infected, but pregnancy reduces a woman’s immunity. Even when an infected woman has no symptoms, the disease can still harm the unborn baby, again resulting in low birthweight, miscarriage or stillbirth.

Professor Ikeoluwa Ajayi, a malaria expert at the Faculty of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, stated that the World Health Organisation’s recommendation for the prevention of malaria in pregnancy is a three-prong approach.

This entails sleeping under insecticide-treated nets; that women be given at least three doses of malaria prevention drugs during their pregnancy (Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy); and that women with malaria be treated during the second and third trimesters.

She added that early diagnosis and treatment is still counted as part of prevention because of the parasite in the infected person, if it is promptly killed, another mosquito will not be able to transmit it to another person.

It is estimated that 40 per cent of the world’s pregnant women is exposed to malaria infection during pregnancy. But prevalence rates reported for malaria in pregnancy in Nigeria vary considerably.

A study done on 1,084 pregnant women in Lagos, South-West Nigeria in 2009 revealed a prevalence of 7.7 per cent among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics for the first time during the current pregnancy.

In Argungu, a study found it to be 41.6 per cent. This is higher than in Maiduguri where a prevalence of 22.1 per cent was reported among pregnant women. In Oyo State, a study put the prevalence of malaria in pregnancy in Oyo town at 29.7 per cent in 2012.

Unfortunately, the 2015 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS) showed that only 37 per cent of pregnant women take two doses of Sulphadoxine-Pyrimethamine (fansidar), the malaria prevention drug, even though the recommended dose is three, which must be taken at least one month apart.

In addition, the results of another 2019 study in the African Journal of Reproductive revealed majority of women (90 per cent) did not have Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine during pregnancy and this was significantly associated with newborn deaths (38/1000) compared with those who had.

The new study from the University of Ibadan had investigated the association between the malaria prevention in pregnancy and newborn survival using a nationally representative data – Nigeria Demographic Health Survey 2013 Malaria prevention in pregnancy. It involved Dr Ikeola A. Adeoye and Dr Adeniyi F. Fagbamigbe.

The Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine works by providing both treatment and prophylaxis; first by the intermittently clearing malaria parasites from the placenta. Secondly, the slow elimination of the drug from the body results in the persistence of the drug and this prevents new malaria infections.

Professor Ajayi stated that aside malaria infection during pregnancy having adverse effects on the mother, in rare situations, malaria parasite can cross the placenta to the baby, causing congenital malaria.

Malaria in pregnancy is dangerous
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Talking is therapeutic, ensures good health —Expert https://tribuneonlineng.com/218183/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 02:18:56 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218183 Tribune Online
Talking is therapeutic, ensures good health —Expert

talking

Although many people usually wave off times spent talking with trusted friends as wasted, a medical expert, Dr Ayodele Adewale, has said talking about issues, feelings or thoughts that cause stress or discomfort is therapeutic for many health conditions and ensuring good health. Adewale, a talk therapist and the Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Leap Consulting, […]

Talking is therapeutic, ensures good health —Expert
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Talking is therapeutic, ensures good health —Expert

talking

Although many people usually wave off times spent talking with trusted friends as wasted, a medical expert, Dr Ayodele Adewale, has said talking about issues, feelings or thoughts that cause stress or discomfort is therapeutic for many health conditions and ensuring good health.

Adewale, a talk therapist and the Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Leap Consulting, Nustream, Conference Centre, Ibadan, stated that talking allows the mind to be free and ensures that the body can cope better with many medical conditions, including depression, pain attack and personality disorders.

He declared that a spectrum of psychological problems that people have can also culminate in depression, panic attack, personality disorders, drug addiction and so on.

The expert said although bad childhood experiences also predispose individuals to mental health state in adulthood, the large patient to doctor ratio in Nigerian hospitals does not give the opportunity for doctors to identify those experiences or psychological issues that can make conventional modes of treatment less effective.

He said aside mental health conditions, talk therapy was helpful with conditions such as hypertension to help them deal with other underlying psychological issues such as stress and anxiety that can make their blood pressure go up.

“So we need to combine all these therapies; psychological, spiritual, organic or bodily therapy together in order to be able to have lasting solutions to the problems patients have,” he declared.

Dr Adewale, however, said there are very few talk therapists in Nigeria and many people see it as something foreign.

“What many people do not know is that there is power in thoughts and in words. When giving talk therapy and my clients go into details about their childhood experiences, they just discover a lot of things that have affected them.

“It aims to lessen the effects of symptoms experienced by patients through talk therapy sessions where they can freely express their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a safe and productive atmosphere.

“Many have had terrible events and we need them to admit it happened. They now need to delete the experience in their minds. The mind is so powerful that it can only handle one thing at a time. It is a very long phase but people end up forgiving themselves and forgiving ‘God’ because some people are angry with God,’ he said.

Dr Adewale declared that there are different types of talking therapy, but they all involve working with a trained therapist.

According to him, “For some problems and conditions, one type of talking therapy may be better than another. Different talking therapies also suit different people.

“Problems helped by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life; the impact of trauma, medical illness or loss, like the death of a loved one and specific mental disorders, like depression or anxiety.”

He cited cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy, as helpful to understand the problems and make positive changes to be free from unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

The expert, however, declared that talk therapy is much more than couselling and people are not hypnotised, but that it may be used in combination with medication or other therapies.

Talking is therapeutic, ensures good health —Expert
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What kind of physical exercise can help you stay young? https://tribuneonlineng.com/217145/ Sat, 08 Jun 2019 02:04:59 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=217145 Tribune Online
What kind of physical exercise can help you stay young?

exercise Physiotherapist stresses need for physical activity

Endurance training, resistance training, or high-intensity interval training — what type of physical exercise will help your body to stay youthful for longer? A new study aims to answer that question. What type of training should you embrace for healthy aging? New research investigates. One key factor in cellular health is telomeres, the “safety caps” […]

What kind of physical exercise can help you stay young?
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What kind of physical exercise can help you stay young?

exercise Physiotherapist stresses need for physical activity

Endurance training, resistance training, or high-intensity interval training — what type of physical exercise will help your body to stay youthful for longer? A new study aims to answer that question.

What type of training should you embrace for healthy aging? New research investigates.

One key factor in cellular health is telomeres, the “safety caps” that protect strands of genetic material within our cells.

As telomeres shorten, that genetic material will start deteriorating, and this will send a signal that the cell is growing old and will soon begin the process of cellular death.

The enzyme telomerase helps maintain the length of telomeres, but, as we age, telomerase becomes much less active, which impacts cellular aging.

Recently, researchers from Leipzig University in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from other research institutions, have been looking at whether different types of physical exercise can slow down processes of biological aging.

The team studied telomere length and telomerase activity in participants who engaged in one of three types of exercise for the duration of the study, namely, endurance exercise, high-intensity interval training, or resistance training.

Endurance exercise is meant to help a person improve their stamina, and it includes activities such as running, swimming, and cycling. High-intensity interval exercise is similar, but it requires a person to undergo short bursts of intense training, followed by rest and recovery, and then intense training again.

Finally, resistance — or strength — training is meant to boost a person’s physical strength, and involves activities such as weightlifting.

The researchers report their findings in the study paper that appeared yesterday in the European Heart Journal.

Endurance or resistance training?

For the current study, which was led by Prof. Ulrich Laufs, of Leipzig University, the researchers initially recruited 266 young and healthy participants but who did not lead active lifestyles.

The investigators randomly split the study participants into four groups, as follows:

Some had to take up endurance training, which involved running.

Some took up high-intensity interval training, which involved sessions incorporating warm-up exercises, followed by four cycles of high-intensity running alternated with slow running, and a rest period to finish.

Some participants undertook resistance training, involving machine workouts, including back extensions, crunches, pulldowns, seated rowing, seated leg curls and extensions, seated chest presses, and lying leg presses.

Those in the final group continued to lead their sedentary lifestyles, acting as the control group.

The intervention period was of 6 months, and the participants who were trialling various types of training had to go through three 45-minute exercise sessions on a weekly basis. Of the total initial number of participants, 124 were able to complete the study.

In order to verify which type of training was the most effective at supporting healthy aging, the researchers collected blood samples from the participants, once at baseline, and then again 2–7 days after the final training session at the end of the study.

Looking at telomere length and telomerase activity in the participants’ white blood cells, the researchers found that those individuals who had engaged in endurance training and high-intensity interval training enjoyed the most benefits.

“Our main finding is that, compared to the start of the study and the control group, in volunteers who did endurance and high-intensity training, telomerase activity and telomere length increased, which are both important for cellular aging, regenerative capacity and thus, healthy aging,” says Prof. Laufs. However, he also notes, “Interestingly, resistance training did not exert these effects.”

New, helpful measurements?

Specifically, telomerase activity increased two- to threefold in people who did endurance and high-intensity training, while telomere length also increased significantly.

“The study identifies a mechanism by which endurance training — but not resistance training — improves healthy aging,” notes Prof. Laufs.

“It may help to design future studies on this important topic by using telomere length as [an] indicator of ‘biological age’ in future intervention studies,” he adds.

Co-author of the study, Dr. Christian Werner, of Saarland University in Germany, says, “Our data support the European Society of Cardiology’s current guideline recommendations that resistance exercise should be complementary to endurance training rather than a substitute.”

“The data identify telomerase activity and telomere length as sensitive ways to measure at cell level the effects of different forms of exercise. Using these measurements to guide training recommendations for individuals may improve both adherence to and efficacy of exercise training programmes in preventing cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Christian Werner

As for why these modes of training may have this beneficial effect on cellular health, the researchers suggest that they may impact levels of nitric oxide — a free radical in the blood, which affects blood vessel function and blood circulation, thus potentially influencing aging processes at the cell level.

«From an evolutionary perspective, endurance and high-intensity training may mimic the advantageous traveling and fight or flight behavior of our ancestors better than strength training,» says Dr. Werner.

Source:Medicalhealthnewstoday.com

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World Food Safety Day: Safety expert wants people to adopt proper food hygiene https://tribuneonlineng.com/216855/ Thu, 06 Jun 2019 10:47:37 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=216855 Tribune Online
World Food Safety Day: Safety expert wants people to adopt proper food hygiene

food safety

The Nigerian Chapter of World Safety Organisation (WSO) on Thursday advised people to keep everything that should come in contact with food in the home clean always to prevent foodborne diseases. Mr Sean Nwaogu, Lagos State Head of Operations and Head Trainer, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) […]

World Food Safety Day: Safety expert wants people to adopt proper food hygiene
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World Food Safety Day: Safety expert wants people to adopt proper food hygiene

food safety

The Nigerian Chapter of World Safety Organisation (WSO) on Thursday advised people to keep everything that should come in contact with food in the home clean always to prevent foodborne diseases.

Mr Sean Nwaogu, Lagos State Head of Operations and Head Trainer, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos just as the world observes the maiden World Food Day on Friday.

He spoke on the commemoration of the first-ever “World Food Safety Day’’, to be celebrated annually on June 7.

The day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, under the theme “Food Safety, Everyone’s Business”.

ALSO READ: FRSC warns against under age, over speeding and overloading on highway

According to him, cleanliness is the major factor in preventing foodborne diseases.

“When it comes to safe food handling, everything that has to come in contact with food must be kept clean at all times; food that is mishandled can lead to foodborne illness.

“Four habits should be maintained in preventing foodborne diseases and ensuring food safety — clean, separate, cook and chill.

“Hands should be washed with warm water and soap for about 30 seconds before and after handling food.

“If your hands have any kind of skin disease, injuries, cuts and infection, always use clean disposable gloves, wash hands properly (gloved or not gloved) with warm water and soap.

“Wash all surfaces that come in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs thoroughly with hot water and soap before moving on to the next step in food preparation,” Nwaogu said.

“Consider using clean towels to clean kitchen surfaces, trays, cabinets or chop/cutting boards; Soak and wash kitchen towels regularly in hot water.

“Keep chop/cutting boards clean, wash them in hot water and soap after use, rinse them and dry with a clean towel.

“Never use the same utensils that held the raw product to serve the cooked food to avoid any bacteria present in the raw meat, fish or food contaminating the safely cooked food.

“Dish out cooked foods in clean plates using clean kitchen utensils and clean hands.”

He added: “When using a food thermometer, it is important to wash the probe after usage with hot water and soap before reinserting it into food.

“keep pets, rodents, chemicals and other poisonous and hazardous substances away from food and surfaces used in the preparation for food.’’

The safety expert said food poisoning could be 100 per cent preventable because it was caused by human errors.

He, however, noted that this could not be achieved due to the number of persons involved in the supply chain.

He said pathogens (bacterium, virus, or other microorganisms that can cause disease) could be introduced into foods regardless of precautions taken thereby, resulting in the illness or death of a person or animals.

Nwaogu noted that the unavailability of adequate safe water was a critical factor in the spreading of diseases.

He said that in the developed countries, there were intricate standards for food preparation but in lesser developed countries, there were fewer standards and less enforcement of those standards.

He commended the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control for evaluating the safe production and consumption of food and drugs and implementing the appropriate required standard for food and drugs in Nigeria.

Nwaogu, therefore, called on the agency to shut down companies found wanting in the areas to serve as a lesson to others who were into importation and production of hazardous drugs and food.

World Food Safety Day: Safety expert wants people to adopt proper food hygiene
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How limb lengthening transforms lives https://tribuneonlineng.com/216831/ Thu, 06 Jun 2019 08:14:34 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=216831 Tribune Online
How limb lengthening transforms lives

limb lengthening

Leg-lengthening surgery is a new cosmetic procedure that can make short people’s wish to be taller come true.  In this report by Sade Oguntola, experts say it is also corrective of severe limb deformities and shortened legs from injury, fracture and diseases such as rickets.   The discrepancy in Henry’s limb was noticed when he started […]

How limb lengthening transforms lives
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How limb lengthening transforms lives

limb lengthening

Leg-lengthening surgery is a new cosmetic procedure that can make short people’s wish to be taller come true.  In this report by Sade Oguntola, experts say it is also corrective of severe limb deformities and shortened legs from injury, fracture and diseases such as rickets.

 

The discrepancy in Henry’s limb was noticed when he started walking fully and putting weight on the leg. Doctors suggested putting a cast on the curved legs to straighten them.

Henry is not an exemption, little Chinyere was also born with knock knees. When standing, Chinyere’s knees will be touching each other while her feet and ankles remain wide apart.

Presidential poll: Buhari lied over qualification in INEC Form CF001, Appeal Court told

In growing children, limb deformities of the legs, including bow legs and knock knees, are among the most frequent causes for a visit to the paediatric orthopedist. In many cases, the deformity corrects naturally. However, in those cases where the condition persists or the abnormality becomes more pronounced, medical attention is required.

Children who are born with or who develop differences in the length of their limbs can benefit from a range of treatments that may be as simple as the use of adaptive footwear or as sophisticated as limb lengthening surgical intervention that helps generate new bone in the affected limb.

Dr Micheal Okunola, a consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, with subspecialty in limb lengthening and deformity correction at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, stated that children with limb deformities have differences in the way their arms or legs are shaped. Their legs may be curved or one might be shorter than the other. Or, a bone in the arm may be short or missing.

Signs of a limb deformity depends on which limb is affected and how severe the deformity is. Some limb deformities are so mild that they are not noticeable. Others are quite noticeable and affect the way a child moves or walks.

Okunola, head, Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma, UCH, Ibadan stated “there are different causes of leg deformity. Some patients are born with it; some are developmental. As the child develops, they come up with this deformity.”

Some limb deformities are as a result of infection eating up the growing part of the bone and so the patient comes up with deformity and shortening of the affected leg. Some occur as a result of a fracture to the limb and a segment of the bone lost following a road traffic accident.

Other causes include rickets. Rickets is a bone disease in children that causes bow legs and other bone deformities. Children with rickets do not get enough calcium, phosphorus, or Vitamin D — all of which are important for healthy growing bones.

Rickets can also be caused by a genetic abnormality that does not allow Vitamin D to be absorbed correctly. This form of rickets may be inherited.

“At the University College Hospital, Ibadan, we have been working on correcting bow legs, what is termed Blount’s disease in medical parlance, using the Ilizarov technique.

“Bowed leg is a common developmental problem that many people are not aware of can be corrected. The few people that seek to have it corrected seek attention at traditional bone setters, which most times usually end up with complications,” said Dr Okunola.

Bowed legs are most evident when a child stands and walks. The most common symptom of bowed legs is an awkward walking pattern. Turning in of the feet is also common in toddlers and frequently occurs in combination with bowed legs.

Bowed legs do not typically cause any pain. However, a persistent bowing can lead to discomfort in the hips, knees, and/or ankles because of the abnormal stress that the curved legs have on these joints.

Dr Okunola declared that deformity-correction surgery is a new subspecialty of orthopaedic surgery in Nigeria that UCH, Ibadan is leading its development. Before now, people used to go abroad to do some of these corrections.

He stated: “We have been doing this surgery in UCH for the past five years. That is why we are spearheading a limb-lengthening and deformity-correction workshop in the third week of June so that we can train more orthopaedic surgeons from all over Nigeria. They can then be correcting this deformity in their various centres using the method.”

Okunola, secretary, the Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction Society of Nigeria (LLRSN), however, explained that the surgery involves more than straightening of deformed limbs.

According to him, individuals with shortened limbs due to bone loss from fracture or bone infection can also restore the length of their affected limbs back to normal.

Also, the corrective surgery can also help dwarfs to attain an average height as well as for cosmetic purposes such as straightening of ladies legs and men wanting to grow taller to improve their appearance and feel better about themselves.

Dr Okunola, however, solicited financial support from well-meaning Nigerians and philanthropists to treat indigent patients with defective limbs.

According to him, “Like Honourable Saheed Akinade Fijabi, we will like people to support the indigent children with limb deformity for surgery, too.”

Bone lengthening and correction of deformity came based on the knowledge that when the bone breaks, it naturally regenerates to fix the fracture. Lengthening works by separating the bone and distracting (pulling apart) the bone segments very slowly so that new bone continues to form in the gap. As the bone segments are slowly distracted, the bone regenerates, resulting in increased length.

Limb lengthening surgery was pioneered in the 1950s by a Soviet Professor Gavrill Illizarov in order to treat World War II veterans with leg injuries. The device that performs the lengthening is called a fixator. A variety of fixators are used. They can be divided into two categories: the external fixator and the internal fixator or implantable lengthening nail.

External fixators are devices that attach to the bone through wires and pins. The external fixator looks and acts like a scaffolding, supporting the separated bone. The fixator mechanically lengthens the limb by pulling the segments of bone apart.

How limb lengthening transforms lives
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Clinical trial shows why energy drinks are bad for the heart https://tribuneonlineng.com/215749/ Sat, 01 Jun 2019 02:18:20 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=215749 Tribune Online
Clinical trial shows why energy drinks are bad for the heart

energy drinks

Energy drinks are popular, especially among teenagers and young adults. But a clinical trial reports that energy drinks caused disturbances to the volunteers’ heart rhythms and blood pressure.   How do energy drinks affect the heart? Energy drinks are the second most popular dietary supplement of choice for teenagers and young adults in the United […]

Clinical trial shows why energy drinks are bad for the heart
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Clinical trial shows why energy drinks are bad for the heart

energy drinks

Energy drinks are popular, especially among teenagers and young adults. But a clinical trial reports that energy drinks caused disturbances to the volunteers’ heart rhythms and blood pressure.

 

How do energy drinks affect the heart?

Energy drinks are the second most popular dietary supplement of choice for teenagers and young adults in the United States, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

Packed with caffeine and other ingredients, such as guarana, taurine, ginseng, and B vitamins, these drinks promise to boost concentration, improve physical performance, and reduce fatigue.

A recent article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine puts the rise in popularity of energy drinks into numbers.

The percentage of 12–19-year-olds consuming energy drinks in the U.S. has risen from 0.2% in 2003 to 1.4% in 2016. The highest increase was among young adults, aged 20–39, from 0.5% to 5.5% in this time period, while the figure rose from 0% to 1.2% in adults aged 40–59, according to the study’s authors.

Yet mounting evidence portrays energy drinks in a different light. “Consuming energy drinks raises important safety concerns,” according to the NCCIH, with twice as many emergency department visits related to energy drinks recorded in 2011 than in 2007.

In the largest randomized, controlled clinical trial on the subject to date, researchers from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, along with collaborators from other institutions, identify how energy drink consumption affects the heart.

Heart rhythm altered

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, lead study author Sachin A. Shah, a professor of pharmacy practice at the University of the Pacific, enrolled 34 adults aged 18 to 40.

After an overnight fast, the volunteers consumed two 16-ounce bottles of either one of two energy drinks or a placebo, which contained carbonated water, lime juice, and cherry flavoring. The study was double-blinded, meaning that neither the participants nor the researchers knew who drank which product.

The researchers then measured the volunteers’ heart rhythms with standard electrocardiogram and blood pressure readings every 30 minutes for a total of 4 hours.

Here they found a significant change in the time that the chambers of the heart needed to contract and relax. This measure is called the QT interval. The length of the QT interval is linked to a person’s heart rate, so scientists often use a corrected version, called QTc, that takes heart rate into account.

A QTc interval of 450 milliseconds (ms) in men and 460 ms in women is considered the maximum for a healthy heart rhythm.

When this number rises — a phenomenon termed QT interval propagation — a person’s risk of experiencing life-threatening arrhythmia, or disturbance of the heart’s normal beat, and sudden cardiac death increases.

While consumption of the placebo drink caused a maximum change in QTc interval of an average of 11.9 ms, the two energy drinks resulted in average maximum changes of 17.9 ms and 19.6 ms.

Importantly, the researchers saw significant changes in the QTc interval length up to 4 hours after the volunteers had consumed the energy drinks.

In the paper, the authors comment that “According to the [Food and Drug Administration (FDA)], QTc prolongation is a well-established risk factor for arrhythmias, with a prolongation over 10 ms prompting further investigation.”

“Energy drinks are readily accessible and commonly consumed by a large number of teens and young adults, including college students,” comments study co-author Kate O’Dell, a professor of pharmacy at the University of the Pacific, on the findings. “Understanding how these drinks affect the heart is extremely important.”

Urgent ‘need to investigate’ ingredients

In addition to the effect on the QT interval, the researchers found an average maximum change of 3.5 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) in diastolic blood pressure and 4.6 to 6.1 mmHg in systolic blood pressure when the study participants had consumed the energy drinks.

In the study, the authors explain that the caffeine in the energy drinks may have contributed to the change in blood pressure, but only to some extent. Other ingredients, particularly taurine, could also play a role.

Medicalhealthnewstoday.com

“We found an association between consuming energy drinks and changes in QT intervals and blood pressure that cannot be attributed to caffeine. We urgently need to investigate the particular ingredient or combination of ingredients in different types of energy drinks that might explain the findings seen in our clinical trial.”

Prof. Sachin A. Shah

The authors point to the study’s limitations. They asked the participants to drink a total of 32 ounces of energy drink or placebo, which limits how well the results translate to how people consume these products in their normal daily life.

The researchers also studied the volunteer’s heart rhythm and blood pressure for only 4 hours, which does not provide insights into the long-term effects or chronic exposure to energy drinks, and they only enrolled healthy volunteers in the study.

Finally, people frequently consume energy drinks in combination with alcohol, which the team did not study in this clinical trial.

It is also important to mention that none of the participants experienced QTc intervals over 500 ms. In the paper, the authors explain that “Clinically, a QT/QTc interval over 500 ms or a change over 30 ms warrants careful monitoring.”

Nevertheless, Prof. Shah urges caution: “The public should be aware of the impact of energy drinks on their body, especially if they have other underlying health conditions. Healthcare professionals should advise certain patient populations — for example, people with underlying congenital or acquired long QT syndrome or high blood pressure — to limit or monitor their consumption.”

 

 

Clinical trial shows why energy drinks are bad for the heart
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‘Our own government is killing us’ https://tribuneonlineng.com/215519/ Thu, 30 May 2019 16:54:37 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=215519 Tribune Online
‘Our own government is killing us’

Chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Dr Fidelis Ayebae, in this interview by Sade Oguntola speaks on the plight of pharmaceutical industries and what the industry expects from President Buhari in his second tenure in office. Excerpt:   How best do we describe the situation in the pharmaceutical industry? The […]

‘Our own government is killing us’
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‘Our own government is killing us’

Chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Dr Fidelis Ayebae, in this interview by Sade Oguntola speaks on the plight of pharmaceutical industries and what the industry expects from President Buhari in his second tenure in office. Excerpt:

 

How best do we describe the situation in the pharmaceutical industry?

The manufacturing industry is the most challenging sector of our economy; not necessarily the pharmaceutical companies alone. It is very much challenged by the not-too-conducive environment to operate our business.

People putting in treasury bills and bonds are flying to bank, meanwhile those with billions of naira of pharmaceutical plants carry the brunt of an economy that is shallow and not productive for anybody.  I shudder to think what is going to happen in the next four years if we do not do something fast to arrest this situation.

Nigerian stock exchange has been constantly in the bearish position; investors have lost over a naira trillion  in their investment since the beginning of the year at the stock exchange. It is an economy that is not rewarding investment except the rent takers.

If Nigeria fails, then the black man has no hope. That is why we continue to invest in this economy. We want Nigeria to prosper for our own good and sake of our children and I pray that the government will do something about the situation.

 

Do you share the view that there is an alarming production of fake drugs in circulation in Nigeria?

The news that fake drugs out there are up to 70 per cent is not true. There are no statistics to justify this. Fake drugs out there are between two and three per cent. These are mainly imported drugs. There is not a single locally made Nigeria product that is faked. That is why the only panacea for fighting fake drugs is developing local pharmaceutical manufacturers.

For instance, the production of codeine products is banned in Nigeria, but it opens the flood gate for smuggling. Countries like Ghana, Togo, India and China are producing codeine products and dumping them in Nigeria. So, who is killing who? Our own government is killing us.

 

What is your recommendation for correcting this depressed economy as far as the pharma industry is concerned?

Nation building should not be left to government alone; it should involve everybody. The per capita income of Nigeria is one of the poorest in the world. The elite and politicians have failed us; I have invested over 20 billion naira of my money and I cannot say that I have not tried for Nigeria.

As chairman of PMG-MAN and on behalf of my members, I warmly congratulate President Mohammud Buhari on his second coming. But this time, he should fulfil his promises. We Nigerians believe his slogan “next level” and voted for it.

The promise of “next level” which is a buoyant and rewarding economy, better infrastructure, good road and rail network and security must be tackled. In fact, security is the one that should be tackled first. There is a common saying in China, create a new road and development will follow. Commercial activities will follow.

A country is defined by the quality of life of the common man. For PMG-MAN, the next level is job creation, access to good medicines at affordable costs and improved quality of life denominated by reasonably cheap locally produced food, not imported foods.

So, we expect a government that supports local manufacturers in every sector to remain productive through access to reasonable loans at single digit interest rates. This will make companies able to operate at full capacity, which then means more employment for Nigerians. You will be surprised by how the environment will change. No Nigerian wants to be doing yahoo-yahoo, drinking codeine, tramadol etc. These practices are fallout of idle hands.

So, government should just concentrate on two things—production and infrastructure. Every other thing will fall in place. Even education will become cheaper because many more people will build schools, and when there are lots of schools, competition will bring down the price. That, for me, is what we want them to do to boost the economy.

 

On importation of fake drugs, what does PMG-MAN expect should be done?

It is simple, protect made-in-Nigeria drugs; buy made-in-Nigeria drugs and pay for made-in-Nigeria drugs. We can protect existing local manufacturers by banning the importation of products that can be made locally. What are the products that are being imported? They are simple products many Nigerians use that can be manufactured locally.

Everywhere else in the world, these are products being banned from importation.

Even President Trump says America first, why should President Buhari not say Nigeria first, every other person go to hell. What is wrong with that? Why can we not protect our people? To stop the influx of fake and substandard drugs, all essential drugs or medicines should be banned from importation.

Nigeria is not a haven for dumping and once you do that and local manufacturers begin to manufacture in their millions, fake drugs will come down. I guarantee you.

Ghana has 48 of such medicines on its importation ban list. It is the same with many other countries like Egypt and Tunisia. As soon as two to three manufacturing companies begin to manufacture a product, importation of such product is banned.

Today, Bangladesh provides 90 per cent of the products that its citizens consume locally. It did this by protecting local industries. The only way India was able to become the hub for export for finished products and machinery in the pharmaceutical industry was because it protected its local industries.  Today, the cheapest drugs in the world are coming from India.

Nigerian government can only build such an economy that is home-grown by focusing on what Nigerians can do and patronising what Nigerians do. We should stop deceiving ourselves that foreigners will make things for us and help us build our nation.

No, every foreigner that comes will take advantage of you because they will do things that will make you patronise their country because they are investing in it. They will bring the raw materials from there and they will never develop your capabilities to do raw materials here.

 

The national drug guidelines implementation deadline keeps being shifted. What should be done?

It is not the fault of pharmacists that the national drug distribution guideline is yet to be implemented. Although the process has started, there are two sides to its implementation. The state purchasing arm of the scheme that requires revolving funds in various hospitals started a long time ago. The seed pharmacies are already being built. These require a minimum of N50 billion for construction and these monies are coming from private resources.

Government cannot create a law to enable something and not provide the funding or some kind of support to make this faster. But I assure you that in the next year, this will all be over.

 

Some years back, some PMG-MAN members upgraded their factories to get World Health Organisation certification. What has changed since then? What has accrued to those companies?

Nothing; they did not benefit anything from upgrading their factories to get WHO certification because the government did not patronise them. Two of them have folded up. Evans and Chi pharmaceuticals are closed. And Swipha was purchased by somebody else. The only existing one now is May & Baker. That is what Nigeria does to itself by not bringing up policies that will sustain its industries.

‘Our own government is killing us’
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University beauty salon possible reservoir of dangerous diseases —Study https://tribuneonlineng.com/215494/ Thu, 30 May 2019 16:39:03 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=215494 Tribune Online
University beauty salon possible reservoir of dangerous diseases —Study

Despite the brightly lit and stylishly decorated salons that dot many university environs, experts say they may serve as a reservoir of dangerous diseases such as hepatitis, HIV and ringworm because of some unhygienic practices. In a study, researchers found that fomites (combs and brushes) used in beauty salons within the campuses of University of […]

University beauty salon possible reservoir of dangerous diseases —Study
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University beauty salon possible reservoir of dangerous diseases —Study

Despite the brightly lit and stylishly decorated salons that dot many university environs, experts say they may serve as a reservoir of dangerous diseases such as hepatitis, HIV and ringworm because of some unhygienic practices.

In a study, researchers found that fomites (combs and brushes) used in beauty salons within the campuses of University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, harbour significantly high levels of disease-causing germs, some potentially very dangerous.

The researchers took a swab of the combs and brushes from these salons and tested them at the laboratory to know the types and level of disease-causing germs they carry.

The germs isolates obtained from the salon tools included Staphylococcus aureus (27.7 per cent) and Bacillus spp.(22.2 per cent)  that cause skin infections such as skin abscess and impetigo. Others include germs that cause fungal infection of the scalp, neck and face such as ringworm.

The 2019 study entitled “Evaluation of Microbial Contamination of Combs and Brushes in Beauty Salons within the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria” was published in the Archives of Current Research International.

The researchers included H.O. Stanley and T.T. Oba from the University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt in collaboration with C. J. Ugboma from the Rivers State University, Nkpolu, Port Harcourt.

According to the survey, no  form  of  cleaning  or  sterilisation  was carried out for these tools and this had led to the build-up  of  microorganisms and so putting customers of these salons at risk of infections.

They declared: “inevitably, salon  workers handle these  tools  with  their  hands  and  this  can contribute  to  the  spread  of  infections  if  these hands are not thoroughly washed.

“It is advisable that  salons  use  single-use  products such  as razor  blades,  disposable  gloves,  paper towelling where possible and all equipment must either be discarded or cleaned in hot water and detergent and  allowed  to  dry  before  re-used  on another client.”

Contamination of hairdressing salons is used as an indicator of the burden  of  ringworm infestation in  society,  particularly where the fungi are prevalent and occur in epidemics.

Beauty salon services may pose potential health concerns to their clients, including the risk of infection and injury.  These health risks will vary depending on the nature of the service, the tools used, the health status of the clients and service providers, as well as the infection control procedures,  implemented.

While invasive procedures,  such  as piercing  and  tattooing,  are clearly   associated with  bacterial and viral infection  risks,  even  non-invasive  procedures, such as  hair  dressing,  pedicure  and  manicure can result in infections.

Beauty salons play an important role in the possible transfer of skin and eye infections due to the use and reuse of beauty salon tools and equipment.

Items such as razors, scissors, combs, clippers and hairpins can accidentally pierce the skin.  Nail and cuticle clippers, nail files, and callus removers used in beauty salons have also been implicated in diseases such as HIV or hepatitis among beauty salon users.

It has been estimated that 10 to 20 per cent of beauty salon customers are affected by skin disorders.

University beauty salon possible reservoir of dangerous diseases —Study
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Declare state of emergency in health sector ­­—NMA https://tribuneonlineng.com/213760/ Thu, 23 May 2019 02:36:50 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=213760 Tribune Online
Declare state of emergency in health sector ­­—NMA

nma

President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Dr Adebayo Faduyile, in this interview with Sade Oguntola, X-rays the challenges in the health sector and why improving health of Nigerians should be prioritized by state governors.

Declare state of emergency in health sector ­­—NMA
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Declare state of emergency in health sector ­­—NMA

nma

A bill to amend the National Health Act to regulate international medical trip by public officials and revitalise the health sector, thus checkmating medical tourism was not passed by the National Assembly. What is the implication of this?

Well, the issue of health and where an individual seeks health care is personal. And it is left to an individual based on affordability and availability. As a public servant who helps to regulate and see that the health institutions work optimally, what is expected is that they also should be able to seek health where they prefer it.

It is really unfortunate that the Nigerian public officers and politicians do not still believe in giving the best to the health sector whereas Nigeria agreed with the Abuja declaration of 2001 that at least 15 per cent will be budgeted for health every year.

The executive or legislature has never deemed it fit at any given time since 2001 to give more than five per cent. This year, what is budgeted for health is about 3.9 per cent.

If they have made our health institutions and facilities functional, why should they want to go abroad? But it now becomes something that is used to show their class by saying they are seeking medical care outside the country.

Certainly, the bill if, passed would have ensured a more conducive operating environment to attract the best medical brains in the diaspora back into Nigeria to add to the value of health institutions in Nigeria.

But when the necessary types of equipment are not available, health institutions are not appropriately funded and there are only archaic health institutions, certainly, you cannot. Ordinary oxygen that you need to give some people in emergency care, many hospitals do not have. And these are things that lead to mortality. Those are the things that we want the government to show interest in and put more funds into it.

The rejection of the bill is very unfair to Nigerians; the rejection shows their insensitivity to making sure that what may be the common interest of every Nigerian is preserved by the government.

They have shown that they are not having the interest of Nigerians at heart since they have the wherewithal to go abroad to go and seek health. They take it as their fundamental human right, but others, if they want, can die since they will not put funds into health.

If the area you are supervising is not good for you, then why are are you doing it? That is the malady that we have found ourselves in this country.

 

Do we have the expertise in Nigeria to take care of almost all medical conditions public officers go out to treat?

 

Even when they seek bail on health grounds to travel abroad for treatment, the major causes of illness they have are hypertension and diabetes. Are these things that they cannot take care of in Nigeria? Nigeria has many highly specialised people that care for these conditions; it is just that they are just interested in staying.

 

But can their fundamental human right as legislators take precedence over that of other Nigerians to good health?

Well, it depends on their consciences. If I had been elected to lead my people, I should be making possible sacrifices for those I am leading. Notwithstanding the proceeds of the office that our leaders will enjoy, they should be seen to be fair and to get to satisfy the needs of the led before they think of themselves. But the opposite is the case now.

 

Can you say that Nigeria is healthy based on the facilities we have in our hospitals?

Our health system is in shambles and it is because we have largely not been able to take care of the little things that cause deaths among us. Nigeria is the highest contributor to maternal and infant mortalities in the world. Our average life expectancy is also low.

One thing that this says is that many Nigerians are not healthy. Things that should not cause death are things that kill in this country. I will not be able to scientifically and unequivocally say whether Nigerians are healthy or unhealthy, but our statistics show that our health indices are one of the worst in the world.

 

How will do you describe Nigeria’s health service?

Our health service is top heavy but bottom thin. But the place where we should put our greatest resources because it has the greatest number of clients to access healthcare services is the primary healthcare centres. Our PHCs are ill-equipped, we do not have the personnel. It is in a total comatose state.

Also, secondary healthcare centres are poorly staffed. They are not given the necessary attention and are largely not ready to take care of the people that need services. This has put pressure on tertiary healthcare centres that are supposed to see fewer and most complicated cases that will need highly specialised people to treat.

At these top heavy tertiary healthcare centres, there is a lot of backlogs and long waiting hours. And this has led to a lot of mishap in our health system. So, I will describe the health system in Nigeria as largely chaotic; there is no proper pattern on how we can get the best on our health.

 

Labour Minister, Dr Chris Ngige, said Nigeria has sufficient doctors and so they can migrate abroad. Does this also applies to other members of the health sector required to ensure optimal health for Nigerians?

First, this assertion by the minister of labour is not correct. He is ill-informed and it is unfortunate. We have debunked that severally. Nigeria in the urban area has a ratio of one doctor to 10,000 people in the urban area, whereas the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that for access to optimal, highly efficient and effective health, it should be a doctor-patient ratio of one to 600.  Nigeria is lacking in this.

In rural areas, it can get as high as one doctor to a population of 20,000 or 30,000, depending on the state of the federation. For example, in Zamfara State, the total number of doctors that the state employed is less than 50.  Many of these doctors are in urban areas or big rural areas. So, you can see that Nigeria is lacking in the required number of doctors.

It is not only doctors that are in short supply; all other health workers including nurses and pharmacists, are not appropriately and adequately employed in our health institutions. Nurses are also going to drives and it is really sad.

 

Come May 29, what will you want the federal government to prioritise in health?

We need to change our attitude to health management. The real trouble, the chaotic health system, requires that governors take care of primary health care centres because they are largely at the level of local governments. Governors employ at the secondary healthcare centres, the general hospitals, and the failure we are having is largely at these two levels.

We are also failing at the level of the teaching hospitals, the pressure on the federal teaching hospitals are so much that they are actually doing things that are at the level of the primary health care centres and secondary healthcare centres.

So, we need to talk to the governors to put a premium on the health of its citizens. Many of them will not employ; they do not believe in taking care of health because it is largely an intangible thing. For you to have health in place, you need to employ a lot of medical personnel.

So, for the next four years, we need the federal and the state governments to show strong political will in improving the health of Nigerians.

The Federal Government made a plan to have PHC in each ward of the federation, that is good, but they cannot employ health workers required to man these centres because it is not within their purview. That is the dilemma. We need them to declare a state of emergency in health.

 

Declare state of emergency in health!

Do you not think that health is in a comatose state? We need to declare a state of emergency; we need to pump in more funds and look deeper into rescuing the health of Nigerians. The health sector is sick.

The private institutions are one of the largest that will take care of people in this country, but the government has seen the private as their competitors, which is largely unfortunate.

We have told the government to allow them to have access and to allow them to have some interest-free import concessions on some of the medical equipment. All these things the government are not interested in.

We mooted the idea of a health bank akin to the Bank of Industry or Bank of Agriculture where our people can get financial support to set up standard multi-specialist institutions. The government has shown a mixed interest.  These are areas that we want the government to look into, otherwise it will not show that we are ready to improve our health statistics.

If you look at the health statistics of Ghana, a country that is close to Nigeria or even South Africa, you will understand the gravity of the situation that we are.

Anybody who has cancer in Nigeria is almost going to die because there is no policy that the government has put in place to address patients who have cancer. Meanwhile, in some countries, they receive highly subsidised care.

In Nigeria, even cancer centres are not functional because they do not have cancer treatment machines. Drugs for cancer treatment are out of reach of the ordinary people; even people who are in the middle class cannot afford those drugs. But what are they doing? They are looking the other way. So, we have a lot of problems.

Declare state of emergency in health sector ­­—NMA
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