Articles on health issues

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Governor Yari of Zamfara State

Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari has attributed the current outbreak of meningitis in the country to retributive justice from God.

The governor said the current outbreak of Type C Cerebrospinal Meningitis is God’s way of punishing Nigerians for their immoral conduct. 

The governor spoke in Hausa during an interview with State House reporters yesterday after meeting President Muhammdu Buhari.

Zamfara State is the most ravaged in the latest outbreak, accounting for 215 out of 336 deaths nationally. 

“What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the ‘type A virus’ which had been tackled through vaccinations by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the governor said. 

“However, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccine.

“People have turned away from God and He has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow,’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned.

“There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured,” Yari stated.

“The most important thing is for our people to know that their relationship with God is not smooth. All they need to do is repent and everything will be all right.”

Asked whether leaders also need to repent, he said “leaders are doing their best by enlightening the populace and working assiduously for the good of all,” but that they cannot go from house to house and arrest offenders.

He said a meeting of stakeholders in the state had adopted a strategy to deal with the outbreak.

According to him, the five million doses of the vaccine announced by relevant organisations against the Type

C meningitis in Nigeria “is not enough for Zamfara people alone, not to talk of Katsina or Kano”.

He said Zamfara got 20,000 doses from the Federal Ministry of Health owing to the high rate of the disease in the state.

“Our Focus as a state now is to continue treating those who are infected with the disease, but as for vaccination, it has an international dimension.

“We have information that Nigeria will get the highest percentage of the 5 million doses available now. Apart from WHO, other International bodies such as the Bill Gates foundation and UNICEF are also currently focusing on how to tackle the outbreak.

FG ramps up control as death toll rises to 336

The death toll in the current outbreak rose to 336 and suspected infections figure is now 2,997, according to the  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) latest report released yesterday.

Meanwhile the Federal Government “incidence management” response was switched on yesterday after the Emergency Operations Centre was activated on Monday.

The switch to incidence management is to “ensure that all activities across the country will be managed using a clear command and control structure led by an Incident Manager who reports through the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, to the Minister of Health,” the NCDC announced.

“With this new coordinating structure, the country will have a tight, multi-partner team of experts pulled from the most competent agencies focusing on outbreak control in Nigeria,” Lawal Bakare, technical advisor for communications at NCDC said.

The central command is similar to response to Ebola viral disease outbreak in 2014, but the command centre for meningitis will be headed by John Oladejo, head of emergency preparedness and response at the NCDC.

Experts from  the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC, NPHCDA, WHO, UNICEF, Africa CDC, US CDC, Medecins Sans Frontieres, AFENET, University of Maryland and E-Health Africa will have roles on different components of the meningitis outbreak—all coordinated in one place.

So far, half a million doses of Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed to affected states for immediate vaccination in response to the outbreak.

An additional 823,970 doses of the vaccine are expected from the United Kingdom to support vaccination in other affected states.

The EOC will begin state-wide vaccination today in Zamfara and then move on to 15 more states.

“We are confident that we have turned the tide, and with increasing vaccination activities, expect a reduction in number of cases,” said Bakare.

“Importantly, lessons learned from this outbreak will help the country prepare for the future.”

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Senator Gbenga Ashafa (APC), Lagos East

Worried about the recent outbreak of Meningitis, the Nigerian Senate Tuesday, 4th April, 2017 passed a resolution directing the Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control and other relevant agencies to carry out a nationwide immunization of children and adults who are susceptible to the disease of meningitis.

The attention of the Senate was drawn to this outbreak by a motion titled “Outbreak of Meningitis. Need to Curb the Spread and stop further deaths” sponsored and moved on the floor of the upper chamber by Senator Gbenga Ashafa , representing Lagos East Senatorial District, with 16 other Senators as co-sponsors.

The Senator expressed his worry over the outbreak of the disease, which has claimed several lives in the North especially, Zamfara Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger States and has recently spread to the Federal Capital Territory as well.

He noted that this particular disease is a new strand of meningitis and as such its vaccines are not commercially viable.

Some of the other Senators who contributed to the debate on the floor of the Senate include Senators, Sabi Abdulahi (Niger North), Tijanni Kaura (Zamfara North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi South), Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia North), Abdulfattah Buari (Oyo North), Sam Anyanwu (Imo East) and others.

The Distinguished Senators in their contributions called on the Federal Ministry of Health to be Pro-active in tackling issues of this nature and not wait for such outbreak to happen before steps are taken to prevent same.

The Federal Government was also called upon to provide the Ministry of Health with sufficient funds to engage in Nation wide immunization of citizens against such diseases like meningitis and prevent same from ever occurring.


The Senate thereafter resolved that the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies/parastatals to work closely with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to acquire more vaccines to protect Nigerians against the spread of the disease while also advising the Nigerian Police, Prison Authorities, NEMA and IDP camps to concrete steps to prevent an outbreak of meningitis in their prisons, police cells, detention centres and IDP camps. It was also resolved that the vacinnes should be administered freely in all public health institutions.


In conclusion the President of the Senate, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki commended the steps taken so far by the Federal Ministry of Health and urged that the process of Nationwide vaccination should be expedited. He also assured that more funding would be made available to the Ministry for disease control and prevention in the 2017 Budget.

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Professor Nasiru Shua'ibu of ABU

Mortality from malaria has remained a nagging global issue with health workers and all stakeholders, including governments. In celebrating the 2016 World Malaria Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that nearly half of the world population, 3.2billion people, faced the risk of malaria. WHO stated that more than 400,000 people died from the disease last year, while about 214 million new cases of the disease were reported in 95 countries the same year.

It is these grim statistics that put in perspective the recent feat by Professor Nasiu Shua’ibu, a lecturer at the Biochemical Parasitology Department of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Professor Shua’ibu has developed a new vaccine to prevent increasing rate of deaths from malaria fever.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Tuesday, Shu’aibu said the new Malaria vaccine was different from others currently in use.

Shu’aibu, who is currently working with the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Japan, said the result of the research on the new vaccine would soon be out for Nigerians to use.

“In a simple term that a layman can understand, the content of this Malaria vaccine research is difficult, but let me try if I could simplify it, it is called DNA Vaccine.

“It is a new technology for discovery and delivery of vaccine against any infectious disease that was developed in the early to mid 1990s.

“The DNA of the Malaria parasite was extracted and the portion of the DNA that is tested to be a good vaccine candidate is subjected to molecular biology methods which are used to produce a lot of the DNA,” Shu’aibu said.

According to him, the amount of DNA from the Malaria parasite was very minute in quantity and to expand the quantity, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was used.

“Then a method of cloning is now used to insert the DNA into a vehicle that will carry the DNA into either animal or human body.

“It is then injected into the body of the animal or human and it eventually enters the cells of the animal in the same way a virus enters and infects cells.

“The injected DNA now uses the cells in the body to produce chemicals that will prevent Malaria from infecting the body,” Shu’aibu said.

He said the vaccine was different from any of the licensed vaccines like polio and other EPI vaccines.

Shu’aibu added that the approach was also different from the other Malaria vaccine (RTS,S/AS01) that was likely to be licensed, but the goals were the same, to control and eventually eliminate Malaria.

He observed that Nigeria with an estimated population of over 170 million constituted the highest Malaria burden in Africa and in the world.

Shu’aibu doubted the figures from the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) indicating progress in containing the disease.

“I still doubt; the tools currently used to fight Malaria are not sufficient to have a substantial and sustained impact that is needed to resolve the Malaria crisis in Nigeria,” he said.

Shu’aibu stressed the need to monitor the growing resistance to anti-Malarial drugs and insecticides.

He said if not checked and documented, it would jeopardise years of global public health success and investments in Malaria control.



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Dwindling income, occasioned by fall in global price of oil will not affect Kano state government’s commitment to eradicate Polio, the state governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has assured.

“We revitalized our Internal Revenue agency to avoid over dependence on Federal allocation and ultimately to ensure sustainability of our Polio eradication efforts”, the governor asserted on Wednesday evening.

Speaking during the 2016 mid-year review of routine immunization in the state, in a video conference with the president of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates and the President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, governor Ganduje promised to continue to provide political leadership in the programme management as well as in social mobilization.


To ensure that data collection and other aspects of the anti Polio campaign are not compromised, the governor assured that he will be personally involved in ensuring accurate data collection in subsequent rounds of immunization in the state.

He reaffirmed his administration’s resolve to ensure total eradication of polio in Nigeria through prompt release of funds and efficient tracking of routine immunization.

Ganduje stated that he was impressed by the commitment of the state Emirate Council to eradicate polio, and commended development partners for their untiring support to rid Nigeria of Polio.

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On his part, Alhaji Aliko Dangote promised that his organization would release its counterpart funds for this year’s MOU, to facilitate smooth execution of the programme.

He congratulated Kano state government for a job well done in immunization efforts and commended Kano Emirate Council for its determination to guarantee the well-being of the citizenry.

Mr. Bill Gates, who spoke from his office in the U.S, described the provision of about 484 cold chain facilities in Kano as a big step in the vision to make Nigeria Polio free.

He, however expressed concern over reports of outbreak of measles in the state, in recent times, saying the government must take firm steps to check the trend, and assured that Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would maintain its contribution to the tripartite agreement on Polio eradication.

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A three year memorandum of understanding was signed in 2012 between the three partners–Kano State government, Bill & Melinda gates foundation as well as Dangote Foundation in an effort to curb the Polio virus in Nigeria.

The MOU is expected to end this year and the state Government is to take full ownership contributing 100% to the basket fund to ensure sustainability. Kano is the only state that got extension of one year because of the milestones it recorded in the programme in Nigeria.

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The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has agreed to suspend its strike at a meeting with other health officials on Tuesday, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The association’s leadership also appealed to members to suspend the strike until the next meeting scheduled for July 14.

The decision emanated from the meeting between resident doctors and other stakeholders, organised by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogàra in Abuja.

The meeting will reconvene in three weeks to review progress made in the implementation of agreements reached.

The decision came as the federal government directed the chief medical directors and medical director of federal tertiary hospitals to fill the vacancies created by resident doctors who have “abandoned” their training programme by refusing to report for work.

The directive was contained in a circular signed by the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Amina Shamaki, and sent to medical directors of hospitals.


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Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has directed the chief medical directors and medical director of federal tertiary hospitals to fill the vacancies created by resident doctors who have “abandoned” their training programme by refusing to report for work.

The directive was contained in a circular signed by the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Amina Shamaki, and sent to medical directors of hospitals.

“It has come to the notice of the Management of the Ministry that some Resident Doctors in your establishment have voluntarily withdrawn from the Residency Training Program by refusing to report for training without authorization. Public Service Rule, PSR 030402 (e) is relevant. This is in spite of the ongoing negotiations on their demands put forward by the representatives of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) under the auspices of the Nigerian Medical Association.

“In view of this development, you are hereby directed to replace all the doctors that have withdrawn their services, with others from the pool of applicants for the training programs in the various disciplines in order not to create ominous gap in training with attendant disruption of health care delivery in your facility.

“Meanwhile, the ministry is working with the panel on the review of the Residency Training Program in Nigeria, led by Professor Wole Atoyebi, the Registrar of the National Postgraduate Medical College, to fast-track the development of a comprehensive blueprint for postgraduate training of doctors in the country.

“Please, ensure immediate compliance,” the circular read.

–Premium Times

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Ace Nigerian music producer, OJB Jezreel has passed on. He was aged 49.

Reports say he died from what was diagnosed as kidney failure, a few hours ago.

OJB underwent a successful kidney transplant two years ago in India. One of his wives, Mabel, donated the kidney to the artiste.



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Former military ruler, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) says he’s alive and kicking.

There were plenty of rumors on Wednesday in the social media space, that the gap-toothed IBB had passed on. The rumor mill went into overdrive after IBB failed to return from a medical trip to Germany on June 7th.

“I’m alive”, the erstwhile president declared to TVC as he debunked the rumors.

Members of his family also took turns to debunk the stories on Wednesday.

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The Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), on Monday expressed deep reservation over President Muhammadu Buhari’s 10-day vacation to seek medical attention in London

The association described the medical trip as a tragic blot on Nigeria’s professional and national image and flies in the face of the Federal Government’s earlier declaration of its resolve to halt the embarrassing phenomenon of medical tourism, which led to a capital flight of about $1billion in 2013.

Vice president of the CMA, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, who stated the position in a press statement, said the expenses incurred by foreign medical trips, particularly by political and public office holders and their accompanying aides are being financed with tax payers’ resources.

Enabulele further said; “Mr. President has lost a golden opportunity to assert his change mantra through a clear demonstration of leadership by example, by staying back to receive medical treatment in Nigeria and thereby inspiring confidence in Nigeria’s health sector which currently boasts of medical experts that favourably compare with medical experts anywhere in the world, if not even better.

“It is on record that most public and political office holders who seek foreign medical care abroad are handled by Nigerian trained doctors in foreign lands; particularly in the United Kingdom which has over 3,000 Nigerian trained medical doctors, United States of America with over 5,000 Nigerian trained medical doctors, amongst other foreign countries, most of whom left the shores of Nigeria on account of government’s perennial failure to address the various push and pull factors which have consistently driven this yearly brain drain phenomenon in Nigeria.

“Without prejudice to the expert recommendation of Mr. President’s Personal Physician and the ENT specialist said to have examined and treated Mr. President in Abuja, I consider it a national shame of immense proportions that Mr. President had to be recommended for foreign medical care and re-evaluation despite the presence of over 250 ENT specialists and professors in Nigeria, as well as a National Ear Centre located in Kaduna state.”

Enabulele further advised President Buhari to have used his “current medical situation, to commence the Federal Government’s plan to re-equip Nigerian hospitals with modern state-of-the art health facilities, by ordering for the needed medical equipment to enable the locally available Nigerian trained ENT specialists to attend to him, and thereafter use same facilities to attend to other Nigerians with similar conditions.”

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The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Monday said poor environment and lack of modern equipment scare people away from the nation’s public health institutions.

Mr. Ehanire said this in Lagos at the inauguration of three projects at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos.

The projects are Administrative Block, Amenity (Executive) Clinic and NHIS Clinic.

He said with good environment and modern facilities, people would be willing to seek medical intervention in the country instead of travelling abroad.

“In Nigeria, we have well-trained medical personnel.

“If we have modern equipment in place and good service delivery, we will not need to go abroad for medical treatment,’’ the minister said.

Mr. Ehanire also said strike was not the best option for medical workers to resolve their grievances.

“One of the major challenges is unrest in the health sector where the health personnel always go on strike to press for their demands.

“When medical workers go on strike, people will lose their lives and it will damage the reputation of this country.

“If there is any issue to be thrashed out, let us dialogue, the solution may not be immediate, but we will definitely find solution to it.

“I want to remind you of this government’s promise of an improvement in the health sector and we know that Nigerians are already seeing changes everywhere,” he said.

In his remarks, the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Olurotimi Odunnubi, said that the newly inaugurated projects would enhance effective service delivery in the hospital.