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Over 10m Nigerians suffering hearing deficiency – Surgeon

By News desk

An Otorhinolaryngologist, Prof. Titus Ibekwe of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, says at least 10 million Nigerians have “disabling hearing loss.”

Ibekwe made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen in Abuja on the commemoration of the 2019 World  Hearing Day.

The surgeon, who is the Head of Department Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgery at the hospital, said the figure was obtained from a survey conducted by the Otorhinolaryngology Society of Nigeria in 2018.

He defined Otorhinolaryngology as a surgical subspecialty within medicine that deals with conditions of the ear, nose and throat and related structures of the head and neck.

Ibekwe, also the current Vice Chairman of the International Advisory Board of the American Academy of Otorhinolaryngology and Neck Surgery Foundation, however, noted that majority of these hearing losses were preventable.

“At the moment the survey conducted by Otorhinolaryngology Society of Nigeria (ORLSON) last year showed that nothing less than 10 million Nigerians have disabling hearing loss,” he said.

Ibekwe said further that the prevalence of hearing loss globally was put at 420 million by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with over 60 per cent of the number from the developing countries.

He advised parents and guardians to subject themselves and their children to ENT tests at least every six months to check their ears and hearing as applicable to other vital routine checks like blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol among others.

Such measure according to him will reduce the burden and further ensure good quality life for the populace.

It would be recalled that the World Hearing Day is celebrated worldwide on March 3 and the theme for 2019  is “Check your hearing”.

Ibekwe further listed some key self examination related questions to ascertain if one has hearing challenge as:”Do I have to raise the volume of my Television or Radio in order to appreciate the sounds whereas other people around me complain it’s too loud?

“You may want to find out if you ask people to repeat what they say very frequently offering the word “pardon”, “say that again”,  ” repeat”?

“Do I miss some words during conversation?” Do I have ringing sensation in my ears”?

“These points are very important for thorough checking,”

The surgeon noted that the day was set aside to raise awareness in every segment of the society in view of the importance of heating to the unborn child, children, adolescent, adult and the aged.

He emphasised that hearing cut across every strata of health and development.

“March 3 is a historic day, because in 2007 the world global body and experts came together to choose the day.

“The date 3/3 (3rd March) is symbolic because it represents the two ears which is shaped like the figure”, Ibekwe noted.

He described the theme for 2019 “Check your hearing” as very important due to the prime role hearing plays in human development and promotion of quality life.

The surgeon explained that every newborn child would be able to develop his or her full potential if that child was able to perceive sound within the critical period of development, the first year of life.

According to him, at this stage other cognitive functions including speech,  intelligibility, Intelligent Quotient, vision  and other motor functions are triggered by sound stimulus perceived by functional ear through hearing pathway to the brain in newborn.

“Whereas if a child is unable to perceive sound or hear within this period and nothing was done about it, this child will definitely be unable to speak and stands the risk of losing the other cognitive functions”  he noted.

He therefore advised against practices that would jeopardise hearing such as excessive noise, insertion of objects in an attempt at cleaning ones ears.

Ibekwe further advised against consanguineous marriages (marriages among close relatives) adding that such marriages  encourage expression of recessive genes causing hearing loss, self medications and irrational use of some drugs which are toxic to the ears among others.

He also advised on the need for early presentation of any anomaly to the ENT, Head and Neck Surgeons for proper attention.

New potent drug to halt cancer discovered

By News desk

Scientists have developed a new drug which shows potential to halt cancer cells’ growth by stunting the cells’ biological clock.

The findings from scientists at the U.S. University of Southern California (USC), Michelson Centre for Convergent Bioscience and Nagoya University’s Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules in Japan have advanced a burgeoning area of research — turning the body’s circadian rhythms against cancer.

In the study published, scientists conducted research on human kidney cancer cells and on acute myeloid leukemia in mice.

As disrupting sleep and other elements of humans’ circadian rhythm can harm health, the same is true for the circadian clock of cells themselves.

By disturbing the circadian clock of cancer cells, they could be potentially hurt or killed, according to the research.

Scientists found that a molecule named GO289 targets an enzyme that controls the cell’s circadian rhythm.

This drug-protein interaction then disrupts the functions of four other proteins that are important for cell growth and survival.

GO289 can jam the cogs of the cell’s circadian clock, slowing its cycles, with little impact to healthy cells, according to the research.

“In some cancers, the disease takes over the circadian clock mechanism and uses it for the evil purpose of helping itself grow,” said Steve Kay, Director of Convergent Biosciences at the USC Michelson Centre.

“With GO289, we can interfere with those processes and stop the cancer from growing.”

Kay expressed optimism about the findings. “This could become an effective new weapon that kills cancer,” he said.

Nigerians to welcome 25,685 babies on New Year day-UNICEF

By News Desk

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has estimated that 25,685 babies would be born in Nigeria on New Year Day.

UNICEF added that the figure placed the country’s babies as making up 6.5 per cent of the estimated 395,072 babies that would be born on the day globally.

The agency’s Nigeria’s Acting Representative, Pernille Ironside, revealed this in a statement made available on Monday in Abuja.

Ironside noted that within Africa, Nigerian babies would account for almost 40 per cent of all those born in West and Central Africa, and more than 23 per cent of those born in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Globally, over half of the world’s births are estimated to take place in just eight countries, including Nigeria.

”Others are: India 69,944, China 44,940 Pakistan 15,112, Indonesia 13,256, United States 11,086, the Democratic Republic of Congo 10,053 and Bangladesh 8,428.”

According to him, on current life expectancy rates, a child born in Nigeria today is likely to live only to the year 2074 – 55 years of age.

”A child born today in Denmark is likely to live until the 22nd century.

“Only children born in three countries of Central African Republic, Chad and Sierra Leone today have a lower life expectancy than that of Nigerian children.

“We can and must do more to ensure that children born in Nigeria survive their first day of life and are able to survive and thrive for many months and years to come,” Ironside said.

The UNICEF country representative in Nigeria noted that globally in 2017, about 1 million babies died the day they were born and 2.5 million in their first month of life.

He said that in Nigeria about 262,000 babies die at birth annually thereby accounting for the world’s second highest national total, adding that 257 babies also die within their first month in Nigeria.

Ironside decried that many of these children died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery and infections like sepsis and pneumonia.

“In Nigeria today, only one out of every three babies is delivered in a health centre, decreasing a newborn baby’s chance of survival.

“This is just one of the issues that need to be addressed in order to improve the chances of survival of those babies born today and every day.

“As the calendar turns to 2019, UNICEF calls on countries to meet every newborns right to health and survival.

“Let’s all make a resolution to fulfill right of every child, starting with the right to survive in this New Year.

“We can save millions of babies if we invest in training and equipping local health workers so that every newborn is born into a safe pair of hands,” he said.

Ironside identified 2019 as marking the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

He added that under the convention, governments committed to, among other things, taking measures to save every child by providing good quality health care.

According to him, over the past three decades, the world has seen remarkable progress in child survival, reducing the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday by more than half.

“UNICEF calls for immediate investment to deliver affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and newborn.

“These include a steady supply of clean water and electricity at health facilities, the presence of a skilled health attendant during birth.

“Ample supplies and medicine to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth and empowered adolescent girls and women who can demand better quality of health services,” he said.

UN officials arrive Sanaa for rebel talks

By News desk

The head of a UN mission tasked with monitoring Yemen’s ceasefire in the port city of Al-Hudaydah arrived in Sanaa on Sunday.

A retired Dutch general, Patrick Cammaert, arrived in the rebel-held capital aboard UN plane from the southern city of Aden.

Cammaert is scheduled to hold talks with leaders of the Shia Houthi group.

The Dutch general had arrived in Aden on Saturday where he held talks with officials of the internationally-recognized government.

On Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a British-sponsored resolution approving the deployment of a UN team to monitor Al-Hudaydah ceasefire.

Yemen’s warring parties agreed last week to withdraw their forces from the Red Sea port city and institute a ceasefire during UN-sponsored talks in Sweden.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of countries against the Houthis since 2015 when Riyadh and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains that began a year earlier.

The Saudi-led campaign in Yemen has devastated the country’s infrastructure, including its health and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe it as one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times.

Al-Hudaydah is a major lifeline for Yemen’s beleaguered civilian population with significant amounts of humanitarian aid flowing through the port city.

Malnutrition kills 132 children in Kaduna

By Newsdesk

No fewer than 132 children in Kaduna State have died of severe acute malnutrition out of the 12,858 hospitalized between January and October 2018.

Of the number hospitalised, the State Government disclosed that 10,604 out of the 12,858 have been cured.


Disclosing the figure on Thursday at a two-day meeting where update on the nutrition situation was discussed, Kaduna State Nutrition Officer, Hauwa Usman,

added that 187 others who have not recovered were undergoing treatment.

The meeting was organised by Save the Children International (SCI) to support Kaduna State Chapter of the Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) to develop two-year Nutrition Advocacy Strategy.

She said: “Currently, 11.7 per cent of children under-five years are wasted – suffering from severe acute malnutrition, while 47 per cent are stunted (too short for their age),” she said.

The Nutrition officer attributed the high incidence of malnutrition in the state to poor maternal, infant and young child feeding practices which has remained unsatisfactory.

“The Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey, 2017, reveled that the rate of timely breastfeeding initiation is 28.9 per cent, while only 19,7 per cent under-five children were exclusively breastfed. Similarly, only 10 children aged six to 23 months were adequately and appropriately fed,” she added.

Also speaking, CS-SUNN Coordinator in the state, Silas Ideva, noted the high burden of malnutrition among children under-five years in the state.

According to him, despite many years of implementing nutrition activities by the state government and partners, results are not so encouraging.

“To address the issue of malnutrition, there is the need for nutrition budget line in all relevant ministry, departments and agencies.

“There is also the need to scale up high impact cost effective nutrition interventions at strategic locations and expedite action on finalising Kaduna State policy on Food and Nutrition.

“The state government also need to have a holistic budget for nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions.”

Deputy Director, Development Aid Coordination in the state Planning and Budget Commission, Yusuf Auta, said that N200 million, out of the N300 million allocated for nutrition intervention in the state’s 2018 budget has been cashed backed.

Auta added that the commission is awaiting cash backing of the remaining N100 million for the procurement of Ready to use Therapeutic Food.

He called on civil society organisations in the state to support the government in addressing scourge of malnutrition to give under-five children the chance to celebrate fifth year birthday and beyond.

Earlier, SCI Nutrition Advocacy Adviser, Isa Ibrahim, explained that the objective of the meeting was to support CS-SUNN to develop nutrition advocacy strategy for better outcome.

Ibrahim added that the meeting was also organised to identify barriers and challenges of nutrition intervention in Kaduna state.

“We equally want to identify and review target stakeholders, including champions at State level for nutrition intervention and effective implementation of the strategy.

“What we want to at the end of the day is to develop advocacy messages for the implementation of the advocacy strategy,” he said.

Ambode launches health insurance for indigent patients  

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

Worried by deaths recorded in hospitals over paucity of funds, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has launched an Health Insurance scheme, to improve indigent patients’ ability to access sound healthcare service.

Ambode stated that it was targeted at providing unhindered access to sustainable, quality and affordable healthcare services which would be accompanied with financial risk protection including subsidy from government.

The governor, while launching the Lagos State Health Scheme on Tuesday at Victoria Island which was attended All Progressives Congress, APC gubernatorial candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Oba of Lagos, Oba Riliwanu Akinolu and others, stressed that the scheme was compulsory.

“It is a known fact that out of pocket payment for healthcare deters access to Health Services especially for indigents and other vulnerable persons in our society.

“This situation contributes to increased morbidity and mortality with the resultant adverse effect on the human capital development and economic prosperity of Lagos.

“To ensure that the indigent and vulnerable, who are most susceptible to the difficulties of out of pocket payments for healthcare, are enrolled into the Lagos State Health Scheme, we have set aside one percent of the State’s consolidated revenue in the 2018 budget for this purpose.

“By Law, this scheme is mandatory for all residents of the State. That is the trend nationwide. The process of identifying and registering the beneficiaries has commenced in a number of our developing communities whose residents are mostly indigent,” he added.

Ambode, however, argued that the State Government cannot ensure successes of the scheme, saying, I therefore call on our partners in the Private Sector to see the LSHS as an effective vehicle to positively impact their communities.

Earlier, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, disclosed that the poor and vulnerable individuals would be identified through a transparent and scientific means testing exercise, saying, this will be carried out periodically.

“Therefore, the number of lives and the productivity lost to illness will be significantly reduced.  As I speak, we are enrolling some of the most vulnerable individuals and families in the state in the Alimosho local government area and Makoko area of Yaba LCDA. At the end of the exercise it is expected that over 15,000 individuals will be enrolled by the scheme as a start.”

Also, General Manager, Lagos State Health management Agency, LASHMA, Dr. Peju Adenusi, disclosed that the scheme covered some selected surgeries and non-communicable diseases.

She said: “The scheme covered Maternal and child healthcare, common ailment such as malaria, high blood pressure and selected surgeries like appendicitis and hernia.”

FG mulls hospital revamps to end medical tourism

By news desk

In a bid to reduce Nigerians expenses spent seeking medical treatment abroad, Federal Government has disclosed that plans have been concluded to explore more improved strategy of re-equipping and making public health institutions efficient.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed the plan on reduction of medical tourism yesterday at an event to commemorate 5th World Universal Health Coverage Day, in Abuja, themed ”Unite for universal health coverage.

Ehanire said the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and its partners had developed an operational platform for ensuring that every citizen had access to affordable and comprehensive care in a timely manner.

He said that the ministry and its agencies as well as partners were guided by a common vision and goal for Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

He said that efforts were currently on-going to kick-start the first phase of UHC in Abia, Osun, Katsina, Yobe, Edo and Federal Capital Territory.

”We have worked to ensure that routine immunisation coverage has risen from 48 per cent to 57per cent. We continue to distribute and educate citizens on the use and maintenance of the long lasting insecticidal-net.

”Another step is the development of a national health insurance scheme for all Nigerians at all levels with robust citizen participation to build confidence.

”FMOH is also working on a universal medical emergency services and ambulance scheme to assure free and immediate emergency treatment of all victims of accident and emergency situations,” he said.

The minister added that the government was deeply committed to increasing investment in Nigeria’s health system to strengthen and improve service delivery.

Nigeria loses huge resources to its citizens travelling out of the country in search of better medical care because of the inefficiency of services in the country.

242 Congolese die of Ebola virus-WHO

By Newsdeak

The Ebola outbreak in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) began four months ago and is now the worst in the country’s history and second worst ever.

More than 242 people have died from Ebola, with the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO) reporting 422 probable and confirmed cases.

In 2016, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa lasted for three years and killed 11,310 people.

The re-emergence of the virus comes at a time when the country is suffering from a resurgence of violence from groups affiliated with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

This has meant that the response is effectively taking place inside of a war zone, increasing risks for emergency personnel and non-governmental organizations tasked with combating the crisis.

Domestic and international efforts to respond to and contain the outbreak are underway. The WHO and its partners are currently active in Katwa, Butembo, Beni and Kalungunta, all in the northeast of the DRC.

In one major development, specialists hope that the use of a multi-drug Ebola treatment trial might help to contain the current, as well as future outbreaks of the virus.

However, the response to the Ebola outbreak is complicated because of a recent increase in terrorist and rebel activity.

The ADF, formed in 1996 by several groups opposed to the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni and initially based in Uganda, has started to conduct operations in the DRC.

The ADF is based between North Kivu and Uganda in the Ruwenzori mountains. The group is often described as adhering to a radical Islamist ideology, with the objective of establishing Sharia law in Uganda, a country that has struggled in the past to combat terrorist groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA.

There is a concern that the ADF could establish links with groups like al-Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State, helping them gain a toehold in Central Africa.

Some attacks attributed to the ADF in DRC are likely conducted by other groups. For instance, Mai, which are effectively self-defense militias, have also conducted attacks.

Over the past several months, the number of ADF-attributed attacks in northeastern DRC has risen significantly, and disrupted efforts to respond to the Ebola crisis.

In one of the larger attacks in September, the ADF killed 21 civilians and soldiers, which resulted in a general strike lasting for several days and a halt to the Ebola response.

Two months ago, the U.S. State Department advised that all employees leave the region and relocate to the capital, Kinshasa.

In mid-November, in response to the attacks, the Congolese armed forces and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (UN MONUSCO) peacekeeping mission conducted a joint offensive against armed groups in Beni, North Kivu.

The WHO temporarily withdrew sixteen staff from Beni after a shell hit the building where they were staying.

Meanwhile, roving medical or burial teams have been beaten or stoned by villagers. Without adequate security, those organizations most capable of helping combat the spread of the disease are prevented from doing so.

One of the main concerns is that Ebola will spread in the “red-zones”—locations made inaccessible due to the overwhelming presence of armed groups.

There is also concern that the violence and rebel attacks in northeastern DRC will continue to spike in the coming weeks, ahead of elections scheduled to take place on December 23.

The elections are being held to determine President Kabila’s successor and are highly controversial. Recent polling suggests that the elections are likely to be closely contested, and unrest, violence and disruption are expected.

Such is the impact of the violence, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month, that it might no longer be possible to contain the outbreak of Ebola, and it might instead become endemic in the eastern DRC.

This would have the potential to make Ebola a long-term risk both in the country and beyond. The WHO had previously warned that Ebola could spread throughout the region at any time, even as the DRC’s neighbors, including the Central African Republic, continue to struggle with violence and instability in their own right and would be similarly challenged to respond effectively.

The spread of Ebola and other pandemics throughout Africa demonstrate the nexus between human security and traditional security, as well as the challenges of promoting good governance in weak and failed states plagued by instability and capacity building deficits.

Niger shuts UK health centres over abortions claims

By Newsdesk

Niger’s health ministry has shut two British charity health center, Marie Stopes International (MSI), for allegedly performing abortion.

Abortion is banned under Nigerien law except in cases when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. The West African nation has one of the highest fertility rates in the world and a population that is expected to triple by 2050.

A spokesperson for MSI in Niger did not address the ministry’s accusations directly but said that the charity was cooperating with the authorities and that family planning services conducted in Niger outside the two centres were continuing

Population growth is placing pressure on Niger, which stretches into the Sahara desert and already struggles to feed its people. But attempts by the majority-Muslim country to lower its birth rate and promote family planning have been fiercely resisted by religious and traditional leaders.

Health Minister, Idi Illiassou Mainassara, told newsmen the MSI centres in the capital Niamey and the central region of Maradi were closed this month after an investigation by authorities.

“The investigation allowed us to identify 15 young girls who had abortions at this medical centre,” Mainassara said, referring to the Niamey centre.

The ministry’s general inspector, Mai Moctar Hassane, said government inspectors found that the centres were providing manual vacuum aspiration – a suction procedure used to terminate early pregnancies – and selling misoprostol, a labour-inducing drug.

In a statement, the MSI spokesperson said: “Wherever we work, Marie Stopes International respects and complies with the national laws and regulations governing our services.”

The charity provides contraception and safe abortion to women around the world, according to its website. It has operated since 2014 in Niger, where it delivers contraceptive services and works to prevent unsafe abortions.

Regular sex prevents mental disorder – Psychiatrist

By Newsdesk

Following statistics released by Federal Government on Nigerians suffering cases of mental disorder, a psychiatrist, Dr Maymunah Kadiri, has asked married women in the country to have regular sex with their spouses, basically to prevent them from depression and gain happiness.

Kadiri’s appeal came barely two days after the Apex Government lamented that 60 million Nigerians were living with cases of mental disorder across the country.

According to her, depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.

Kadiri, Medical Director, Pinnacle Medical Services, gave the advice in an interview with newsmen yesterday in Lagos, stressing that sex does not only nourish women body, but also beneficial to their mental health.

She noted that for any woman that aimed to avoid mental cases, their spouse must be their best friend, saying, studies have shown that women who have more active sex and in long term relationships were less likely to be depressed than women who went without sex.

“So, more sex is important and essential. It is a remedy to curing women from having persistent headache.

“Low sexual drive, which leads to depression, should be looked into. A woman can be depressed when that sexual drive that she used to have is no more there.

“Frequent active sex can play good roles toward women’s sense of well being and quality of life,’’ the medical director added.

She explained that sex was not just for procreation and to have children, adding that it could create bonding, good companionship and sound sleep.

Kadiri urged women dealing with depression to frequently indulge in sex, while boosting their self-esteem.

She also advised women who are over-weight to also involve in active sex, saying doing so will boost endorphins which are happy hormones.

“The happy hormones will make them lose some calories as well as sleep better. Orgasms trigger the release of endorphins which are happy hormones secreted by the brain that act as effective painkillers,’’ she said.

Kadiri added that sex was not only beneficial to the men, but especially to women because it was capable of freeing them from stress.