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Monkey Pox Virus: FG urged to ensure strict surveillance, travel measures



As the dreaded Monkey Pox Virus continue to spread across Nigeria, the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, has called on the Federal Government to institute more rigorous and continuous surveillance systems as well as strict international health travel measures to curtain spread of the disease.

The medical body while lamenting threat to life and properties in the country stress the need for government at all levels do the needful in addressing the menac.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its 2022 National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Gombe State and jointly signed by the President, Dr. Uche Ojinmah and the Secretary-General, Dr. Jide Onyekwelu, the NMA warned that the already precarious health indices may worsen if left unchecked

The body demanded that government should prioritise the security and welfare of the people in accordance with the provisions in the country’s constitution.
Quoting Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), which states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitution, they observed with concern that the worsening insecurity in the country has led to the inability of both patients and health workers to reach health facilities in some parts of the country.

It further noted with dismay, the failure of both Federal and State Governments to effectively check security lapses and the ravaging incidence of kidnappings in Nigeria.

“The health workers have been targeted in some communities with some of them kidnapped during the discharge of their duties and a few of them killed by gunmen. “

Observing with deep concern increasing health threats in every part of Nigeria, the NMA further stated that with monkeypox and other diseases, there was a need for the Federal government to improve international cooperation and data sharing, rebuild public health infrastructure to prevent and control vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.
They said the federal government should institute multidisciplinary collaboration using the “One Health” approach for prompt diagnosis and treatment; conduct primarily as well as translational research in the management of infectious diseases, conduct regular training and re-training of health personnel and strengthen evidence-based timely informed decision-making in order to detect, treat, contain, and control infectious diseases.

Lamenting the country’s poor healthcare infrastructure, insufficient and obsolete equipment, and human resource shortage, among others, they said lack of human resources, poor remuneration of health workers, brain-drain, inadequate funding of the health sector, abuse of referral system, inter-professional rivalry and insecurity, were the major threats to effective healthcare delivery in our country.

On hazard allowance, the NEC resolved to continue the engagement using every lawful means to ensure the payment of the newly approved Hazard Allowance within the next two months.

It further urged all its members to be part of the installation ceremony of Dr. Osahon Enabulele as President of the World Medical Association (WMA) in Berlin, Germany and also called on Federal and State Governments to support the event by sending high powered Delegations and also extending support to the Nigerian Medical Association to be able to sponsor many of her members to attend this epoch-making event.

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Nigerian scientists fail to win FG’s N36m prize for COVID-19, Lassa Fever cure



Nigerian scientists and researchers have been unable to claim the N36 million reward offered by the Federal Government for discovering cures for COVID-19 and Lassa Fever, according to checks by DAILY POST. The prize, announced on February 13, 2020, by the then Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, aimed to motivate scientists to find cures for the mentioned diseases. However, as of November 21, 2023, no one has successfully claimed the cash prize.

Dr. Onu had initially challenged Nigerian scientists to find cures for coronavirus and Lassa fever, pledging the N36 million reward for successful discoveries. Despite claims from some individuals and institutions asserting they had found a cure for COVID-19, a committee was set up in May 2020 to review these claims, and the matter seemingly faded away.

The most notable attempt was made by Prof. Maurice Iwu, a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, who presented a potential cure for COVID-19 in March 2020. However, the cash prize remained unclaimed, and Iwu’s efforts did not lead to the development of a cure for COVID-19.

With the departure of the former minister and the change in administration, the N36 million cash prize appears to have been forgotten. The current director of press and public relations in the Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology expressed unawareness of the prize, signaling a lack of continuity in addressing the matter.

Prof. Mosto Onuoha, the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science at the time of the prize announcement, indicated that the issue was inconclusive. He mentioned a lack of clarity in the conceptualization of the cash prize, suggesting that there may not have been a well-defined process for submissions and evaluation.

In conclusion, three years after the announcement, the N36 million cash prize for discovering cures for COVID-19 and Lassa Fever remains unclaimed and seemingly forgotten, raising questions about the transparency and effectiveness of the incentive program.

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China records nearly 13,000 COVID deaths in seven days



China reported nearly 13,000 Covid-related deaths in hospitals between January 13 and 19, after a top health official said the vast majority of the population has already been infected by the virus.

China, a week earlier, said nearly 60,000 people had died with Covid in hospitals as of January 12, but there has been widespread scepticism over official data since Beijing abruptly axed anti-virus controls last month.

China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement on Saturday that 681 hospitalised patients had died of respiratory failure caused by coronavirus infection, and 11,977 had died of other diseases combined with an infection over the period.

Airfinity, an independent forecasting firm, has estimated daily Covid deaths in China will peak at around 36,000 over the Lunar New Year holiday.

The firm also estimated that more than 600,000 people have died from the disease since China abandoned the zero-Covid policy in December.

An official from the National Health Commission, Guo Yanhong told a news conference on Thursday that China has passed the peak period of Covid patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and with critical conditions.

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United States To Spend $68m To Fight Malaria In Nigeria



The United States has said it plans to spend $68 million to fight malaria in Nigeria.

A document released in Washington DC on Wednesday said the money would be spent under the Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI).

The funding will support monitoring activities which include insecticide resistance testing in all 11 PMI focus states and five non-PMI focus States.

The benefiary States include Enugu and Kaduna, Abia, Ekiti, Kogi, Kebbi and Sokoto.

“In addition, PMI will continue to support the procurement and distribution of ITNs through mass campaigns, providing technical support to the country’s CY 2024 mass distributions through participation and supporting social and behavior change (SBC) to improve the use and care of ITNs.

“PMI will also maintain the support of streamlined durability monitoring of Interceptor G2 nets (Interceptor G2) in Kebbi State,” the statement said. PMI plans to procure 5.6 million Interceptor G2 for mass campaigns in Oyo State”.

The statement added: “PMI Nigeria will continue to support activities to strengthen malaria in pregnancy (MIP) services and improve uptake of intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women

“(IPTp), including: strengthening national and state level MIP coordination structures in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) Reproductive Health (RH) Division; supporting the revision of MIP guidelines, standard operating procedures (SOPs),

‘Training manuals, and job aids to address barriers to uptake of IPTp; and expanding the introduction of the revised guidelines to medical training institutions and other relevant professional associations. PMI will continue to support facility antenatal care (ANC).

“PMI Nigeria will continue to support key case management activities through technical assistance at the federal and state levels, commodity procurement, and facility and community level activities. Activities will include providing updated guidelines for malaria case management, conducting therapeutic efficacy studies, and continuing efforts to establish a national malaria slide bank. With FY 2023 funds, PMI Nigeria will procure 17 million rapid diagnostic test (RDTs), 15 million artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), 350,000 vials of injectable artesunate (IAS), and assorted microscopy supplies, to be distributed to over 5,000 health facilities in the 11 PMI focus states. At the facility level, PMI will continue to support the training of health workers in primary health care (PHC) and secondary health facilities and conduct clinical meetings to increase the quality of malaria case management. At the community level, PMI will expand integrated community case management (iCCM) to four states through the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) Program, including the payment of CHIPS agents,”the statement reads.

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