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COVID-19: FG to support NAFDAC on vaccine research to meet global standard

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says the Federal Government will support the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), to meet international standards in researches into the development of a vaccine for the Coronavirus.

Ehanire said this at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 joint briefing on Thursday in Abuja.

He said the government would support NAFDAC to reach international maturity level and encourage researchers to work towards the development of vaccines for the virus.

Ehanire said Nigeria participated in a World Health Organisation (WHO), African Regional Conference, held virtually and chaired by the Minister of Health of the Congo.

He said the conference was centered on COVID-19, adding that conversation were on vaccines and implementing the African Region sickle cell strategy.

“We shall sustain our interest in developments around COVID-19 and seek opportunities to exchange ideas with countries and organisations investing in new knowledge.

NAFDAC is also trying to reach the maturity level to assure that the product and processes that come out of research work in Nigeria towards the development of vaccine candidates are realizable and that they meet the required standard

“The onus lies not only with the Ministry of Health, but is a shared responsibility with the populace.

“Our safest, easiest and cheapest option of achieving a balance between saving livelihood and saving lives remains adherence to non-pharmaceutical measures, as we have preached so many times. With these measures, we can balance and uphold our indices, even as we reopen our economy.”

The minister, however, urged Nigerians not to relax in observing the COVID-19 preventive measures, saying that the virus would still remain for the foreseeable future, till there was a vaccine available for it.

With the imperative to reopen the economy, relax local and international air travel to support restoration of livelihoods, the minister noted that the experience in other countries was that COVID-19 infection rates have gone up and in some cases, dramatically.

Ehanire, therefore, said Nigerians must strive not to lose its attention to preserve lives or lose the gains it has made over the months.

He also said that training and retraining on infection prevention and control was ongoing in all health facilities as well as ensuring availability of PPE as an investment, to continue the reduction in health worker infections.

Ehanire called on health workers to ensure judicious and prudent use of PPE materials, while observing full Information Prevention Control (IPC), measures.

The minister recalled that Nigeria, was on Aug. 25, declared poliovirus free, he therefore, said all material and human resource assets from polio eradication would be deployed to surveillance and fighting other disease outbreaks, including the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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About 86% of Covid-19 infections in Africa go unnoticed – WHO

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About 86% of Covid-19 infections in Africa go unnoticed – WHO
About 86 per cent of all coronavirus infections in Africa go unnoticed, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Thursday.

The WHO puts the number of all infections on the continent at 59 million, over seven times more than the eight million reported cases.

“The high number of unreported cases can be explained by the fact that health facilities have so far focused on testing people. People with symptoms of the disease has led to extensive under-reporting.”

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said with limited testing, the continent is flying blind in far too many communities.

“What we see could just be the tip of the iceberg, so far, only 70 million COVID-19 tests have been reported on the continent of 1.3 billion people.

“By comparison, the United States, with about a third of the population, had conducted more than 550 million tests.

“While Britain, with less than 10 per cent of Africa’s population, had conducted more than 280 million tests, it said.

In total, more than 8.4 million coronavirus cases have been recorded in Africa, including 214,000 deaths.

According to WHO data, less than half of the African countries that received vaccines have fully vaccinated an average of about two per cent of their populations.

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COVID-19 caused rise in TB deaths for first time in decade – WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said deaths from Tuberculosis (TB), one of the top infectious killers in the world, increased for the first time in a decade, as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

WHO’s 2021 Global TB report highlighted how years of global progress in tackling the disease had been “reversed” since the pandemic overwhelmed health care systems in 2020, preventing vulnerable people from seeking help.

Lockdowns had also thwarted many people’s access to essential health care services, the report insisted, before issuing the additional warning that the death toll from the disease could be much higher in 2021 and 2022.

“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could start to unravel years of progress against tuberculosis,” WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus said.

“This is alarming news that must serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected,” he added.

Covering the response to the epidemic in 197 countries and areas, the TB report found that in 2020, some 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 – more than in 2019.

This included 214,000 patients with HIV, the UN agency said, noting that the overall TB increase was mainly in 30 countries which include Angola, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Zambia.

Because of the new coronavirus pandemic, “challenges” which made it impossible to provide and access essential TB services left many people undiagnosed in 2020.

In a worrying development, WHO noted that the number of people newly diagnosed people with the disease fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.

It stated that far fewer people were diagnosed, treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared with 2019.

Overall spending on essential TB services also fell, WHO said, adding that the highest drop in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020 were India (down 41 per cent), Indonesia (14 per cent), the Philippines (12 per cent) and China (eight per cent).

“These and 12 other countries accounted for 93 per cent of the total global drop in notifications,” said WHO.

There was also a reduction in provision of TB preventative treatment.

Some 2.8 million people accessed this in 2020, which was a 21 per cent reduction since 2019.

In addition, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB fell by 15 per cent, from 177,000 in 2019 to 150,000 in 2020, equivalent to only about one in three of those in need.

Today, some 4.1 million people suffer from TB but have not been diagnosed with the disease or their status has not been reported to national authorities. This is up from 2.9 million in 2019.

The report’s recommendations include a call for countries to put in place urgent measures to restore access to essential TB services.

It recommended a doubling of investment in TB research and innovation and concerted action across the health sector and others to address the social, environmental and economic causes of TB and its consequences.

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World Trauma Day: Over 6 million people die from traumatic injuries annually

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Dr ‘Kunle Olawepo, the Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Committee on Road Safety and Trauma Services, says no fewer than six million people die from traumatic injuries annually.

Olawepo made the disclosure as the world marks the World Trauma Day 2020 on Saturday.

He explained in a statement that over 80 percent of these injuries were attributable to road traffic crashes.

According to him, trauma is broadly divided into physical and emotional trauma.

“Trauma can be defined as either a physical injury to a living tissue caused by external force (physical harm) or an emotional (psychological) distress in response to an unpleasant situation.”

According to Olawepo, trauma contributes to more deaths than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined and that injuries could lead to temporary or permanent disabilities.

“There were 15 fatal plane crashes causing 556 deaths in 2018 alone across the globe and mortality arising from wars was put at about 24,000 in 2014.

“Also, between 50 to 60 million were displaced during the second World War,” he said.

Olawepo ,who is also the President of Nigerian Orthopaedic Association, said that in Nigeria, deaths recorded from COVID-19 thus far is 1,116.

“Whereas estimated death from Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency alone is put at an average of 1,000 per year in the last three years”.

He added that trauma cuts across all ages, sexes, races and societal strata and that it consist of events such as road traffic accidents (crashes), plane crashes (aviation accidents), boat and ship wreckages (marine) and fire outbreaks among others.

On the signs of trauma, Olawepo said that those with trauma can show emotional responses such as outbursts, aggressive behaviour withdrawal and depression among others.

He also emphasised that death and physical disabilities in hitherto able-bodied people arising from trauma significantly affect the economic buoyancy of families, communities and the nation at large.

“Young and active age group is the principally affected group thus drastically dropping national productivity and diminishing the economy. Militancy and pipeline disruptions cripple the main source of income for Nigeria,” he said.

He advised to always use seatbelts and avoid distraction like the use of phones while driving as well as drugs and alcohol.

“Ask for support from people who care about you or attend a local support group for people who have had a similar experience and find a support group led by a trained professional who can facilitate discussions,” he said.

Olawepo also urged the government to provide safe roads for land travels throughout the country.

He added that government can also renovate and implement alternative means of travel especially rail transportation.

“There is need for permanent relocation of people who live in the flood prone areas of the country to safer grounds.

“The burden of trauma is enormous, morbidity associated with COVID-19 is evidently milder than that from trauma.

“With an annual global trauma mortality figure of over 6 million compared with less than 2 million for COVID-19, government, medical collaboration and resources globally should be deployed to the prevention and treatment of trauma,” he said.

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