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1.5 million children in South West of Nigeria are stunted—UNICEF

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Lara Adejoro

Just imagine that almost the whole population of 1,817,200 in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos were children. Then, imagine that they all had severe, irreversible physical and cognitive damage caused by chronic malnutrition. Then, this is what is happening to the children in the South Western part of Nigeria.

In other words, for the South West which has the stunting rate of 19.4 per cent, an estimated number of under 5 children that are stunted is 1.5million.

According to UNICEF, 43.6 per cent of the estimated 40 million Nigerian children under the age of 5 have their bodies and minds limited by stunting.

This was made known at a two-day Media dialogue on child nutrition held in Ibadan on February 27-28, 2018, with the theme: Overcoming stunting in South West Nigeria organized by the Ogun state Ministry of Information and Strategy in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Speaking on Child Nutrition in South West Nigeria; Stunting- its impact on children and the role of UNICEF, Mrs Ada Ezeogu, UNICEF’s Nutrition Specialist said, childhood stunting is one of the most significant barriers to human development. “Stunting is a failure to achieve one’s own genetic potential for height. It is a manifestation of the severe, irreversible physical and cognitive damage caused by chronic malnutrition early Ina child’s life often beginning before birth.”

She said, “an estimated 20 per cent of stunting begins in the womb-with a mother who herself is malnourished and is not getting enough of the nutrition she needs to support her baby’s growth and development during pregnancy. You have to start to prevent stunting in children by ensuring the mother is properly and adequately nourished.”

On his part, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Ogun State, Otunba Adedayo Adeneye said the overview of the National Nutritional Level indicates that 80 per cent of the world’s stunted children, live in 14 countries and Nigeria is the second largest contributor after India.

“This is largely because underweight has scaled up from 25 per cent to 32 per cent and stunting from 34.5 per cen to 43 per cent. Also, four out of ten, that is over 16 million under-fives are stunted as Nigeria loses 2,300 and 145 women of child bearing age to death every day,” he said.

Continuing, Adeneye said, “No doubt, balanced nutrition is essential for the proper growth of the young child, to engender the overall development of the cognitive, physical and psychology of the child. Consequently, various interventions, among which is the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF), were introduced in Ogun state to encourage proper techniques in feeding the young and effectively curtail the prevalence of malnutrition in this part of the world.

“With a robust collaboration with UNICEF, IYCF quiz programme has been executed in six different local government areas of the state with successful outreach to not less than 900 pregnant women and nursing mothers of under-five, for a better understanding of benefits therein with a resounding achievement.”

However, to address the problems of stunting, Mrs Ezeogu called for the extension of maternity leave for mothers in Ogun State so they can be allowed to exclusively breastfeed their babies in the first six months, and this would help to reduce child nutrition in the South West.

In her welcome address, the Communications Officer of UNICEF, Blessing Ejiofor said, for any child to survive, the child needs adequate nutrition.

“Adequate nutrition is the right of every child. If 19.4 per cent of children in the South West are stunted, then this calls for more work to be done in taking actions to reverse the ugly trend.”

 

 

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Health

WHO declares Uzbekistan malaria-free

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Uzbekistan’s success in becoming recognised as a malaria-free country is an “extraordinary outcome”.

Executive Director of the Global Fund, a UN-backed partnership to end malaria epidemics, Peter Sands, on Tuesday said malaria had a long and deadly history in Uzbekistan.

Sands noted that in the late nineteenth century, the disease killed nearly 40,000 people in the capital district alone, and in 1943, one tenth of the population was infected.

In the post-war years, the Uzbek Government concentrated on eliminating malaria, but the country was hit by a devastating resurgence in the early 1960s, according to WHO.

That trend has been reversed in recent years, with the Global Fund and WHO helping Uzbekistan to combat malaria, using an innovative results-based approach that put the country on the path to finally eliminating the disease in 2018.

Sands said: “We have achieved remarkable progress against malaria in Central Asia. It’s a great example of commitment and a sustainable approach.

“The Global Fund has invested in this region for over a decade. With committed partners, every investment can achieve great value.”

A significant number of countries are now eliminating malaria: in Central Asia – aside from Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan have been classed as malaria-free since 2010.

However, these positive indicators are set against a worrying backdrop of increased global rates of infection.

The WHO’s 2018 World malaria report, released in November, showed that targets to reduce new cases of infection worldwide are not being met, and that, while new cases fell steadily up until 2016, the number rose from 217 million to 219 million in 2017.

The targets call for a drop in malaria case incidence and death rates of at least 40 per cent by 2020.

“A child dies of malaria every two minutes. We have to stop that, enabling elimination where possible, and reducing malaria as much as we can in the hardest-hit countries,” Sands said.

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FCTA tasks health workers on service delivery

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By Jessica Dogo

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has called on healthcare workers to improve on current indices in Abuja.
The Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), Malam Adamu Bappah, made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja at the opening ceremony of a training of capacity building on Integrated Supportive Supervision (ISS) organised by Saving One Million Lives Programme for Results (SOMLforR) under the service.
He said that the criteria for earning money for health under SOMLPfoR was performance, adding that FCT had continuously earned in the last two disbursements thereby maintaining the second time as North Central champions.
He, however, explained that capacity building was very key to improving the performance of the FCT health staff.
He described the ISS as an avenue to improve performance at the facility levels where quality of service would be measured.
He commended the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, who found the training worthy for approval and called on all to be serious so that the approved resources for the training would count.
He urged them to work as a team and explore for better performance and health system under the SOMLPforR programme.
The scribe assured that the implementation of the SOMLforR programme in the FCT Administration.
“I want you all to work as a team by deploying your wealth of experience to support your team mates at all times for the good of FCT Health System and better performance under the SOMLPforR programme.
“I am delighted to be the one declaring open this very important training on Integrated Supportive Supervision (ISS) of the Saving One Million Lives Programme for Result.
“The capacity building is very key to improving the performance of the staff and the criteria for earning money for health under SOMLPfoR is performance.
“I urge you to take this training with all seriousness. Let us make the resources approved for this training count to the last kobo by paying attention and contributing as much as possible.
“I want you all to work as a team deploying your wealth of experience to support your team mates at all times for the overall good of FCT Health System.
“Let me reiterate the commitment of the FCT Administration to the full implementation of the SOMLpforR programme in FCT and thank the national team for their constant support and leadership role,’’ he said.
The National Programme Manager, SOMLforR, Dr Ibrahim Kana, explained that the programme was launched in 2012 due to the poor health outcome in the country.
Kana, who was represented by the North Central Coordinator, Dr Dogara Okara, gave an overview of the programme and said it is estimated that almost 1 million women and children die yearly.
The programme manager said that SOMLforR was to improve maternal and child health, adding that it will save the lives of maternal newborn and child health.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the five-day event is holding at Fresh Land Hotel, Maraba.
The programme would also improve participants understanding of the definition, standards and processes of ISS.
It would also enhance capacity of the FCT Area Councils health personnel to effectively plan and implement ISS. (NAN)

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Roche Diagnostics partners ASLM for Pandemic Response Conference

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By Augustine Aminu

Roche Diagnostics has partnered with African Society for Laboratory Medicine ASLM 2018 for the fourth Biennial International Conference in Lagos in a bid to prevent and control the next pandemic in Africa with a focus on the “Role of the Laboratory.”

ASLM plays an important role in advancing and strengthening laboratory services in Africa and in line with this, Roche Diagnostics will be showcasing its achievements in tackling Hepatitis B and C in Nigeria as well as new solutions in the HIV space.

The purpose of the conference is to provide information on the laboratory medicine landscape and needs in Africa as well as increase awareness of opportunities to invest in laboratory medicine amongst private, public and philanthropic donors.

The conference further facilitates networking among participants, particularly for newcomers to African healthcare settings and markets while promoting the creation of public-private partnerships to ensure further development of both African laboratories and African diagnostics companies.

Speaking at a Press Conference Roche Diagnostics Acting Interim General Manager and Head of Management Centre South Africa, Duncan Mackay said that the partnership with ASLM was ideal as the conference is an important step in building and advancing healthcare systems on the Continent taking into consideration the AU Agenda 2063 where the African Union adopted Vision 2063 as a roadmap for continental development.

“This is very much aligned with our commitment to support the improvement of the health care system in Africa. We will continue to partner with organisations that have associated objectives with us in improving the healthcare of our people in Africa.” He added

Roche Diagnostics believes in collaborative efforts to achieve universal health coverage and is currently working with CHAI for HIV, Hepatitis and Cancer across Africa; PEPFAR, Global Fund for HIV across Africa, Cervical cancer screening in Partnership with the Society for Gynaecology and Obstetricians of Nigeria (SOGON) in Nigeria. Over the past 3 years it has also developed Public Private Partnerships with CDC for “Good Laboratory Practise” training Program in Africa, which strengthens Quality.

Roche Diagnostics Country Head for Nigeria, Taofik Oloruko-Oba said “Our solutions have direct positive impact on health and lives of millions of people across the world for example the Taraba State Project Zero Hepatitis campaign.

The prevalence of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in Nigeria is 11% which implies that there are almost 19 million Nigerians infected with Hepatitis B (HBV). Therefore our solutions for screening, diagnosis, treatment and treatment monitoring are required for everyone who is infected. The National guidelines for HBV management recommend screening for all relevant people.”

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