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Nigeria Tops TB Burden In Africa …Ranks 2nd In HIV Spread

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The Nigeria Medical Association has called on the Federal Government to make the fight against Tuberculosis one of its centenary anniversary projects by massively investing in TB research activities towards the discovery of the much needed anti-TB vaccine.

In a statement as part of the group’s efforts to mark the 2013 World Tuberculosis Day yesterday with the, theme, ‘Stop TB In My Life Time,’ the President of the association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele said different stakeholders in the society needed to wake up to the reality that Nigeria has the highest TB disease burden in Africa and 10th largest in the whole world.

According to the 2012 global TB report, considerable progress has been made all over the world despite the insurgence of HIV/AIDS considered hitherto as a major impediment to the control efforts.

Dr. Enabuelele emphasized the need for the Government to take heed to the slogan ‘Stop TB In My Life Time’, and called on research organisations to give greater attention to Nigerian prone issues like TB.

The NMA said there are over 84,263 new infections yearly and over 27,000 mortality rate.

According to the NMA, “tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is mostly transmitted from person to person via inhalation and ingestion of droplets from the throat and lungs of infected individuals with the active form of the disease.”

“The disease also affects a wide range of other organs such as the lymph nodes, intestines, kidneys, reproductive organs, skin, central nervous system and the bones including the spine which are all susceptible.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said over 2 billion people in the world are infected with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The NMA said the disease mostly affects those between 25-34 years (36.6 per cent) with Lagos, Kano, Oyo and Benue states being the states with the highest level of infections; while Ekiti and Bayelsa States have the least cases of infections.

People with HIV/AIDS are mostly vulnerable to the disease with 26 per cent of them infected with 3.1 per cent of this number infected with the Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

The association decries the unavailability of drugs and modern treatment facilities to treat the disease in the country.

“Poor availability of microscopy (smear), culture, drug susceptibility centre and presence of only one national reference laboratory at the national tuberculosis and leprosy control programme headquarters in Kaduna,” it said.

It also decried the poor budgetary allocations and dwindling international funding to fight the spread of the disease.

“Funding of TB control activities was another area of poor performance with only 71% budget implementation; only 28% came from domestic sources and 48% from the Global Fund an international funding partner of the United States Government, an observation considered as ominous.

“Confirming those fears, 2013 budget estimates show that whereas there is a marginal increase of 2% in domestic funding, the contribution from the Global Fund has depreciated to 42%, a sign for Nigeria to start looking inwards for other funding options for the fight against TB,” the doctors said.

With Nigeria lagging behind in all areas of rolling back the disease, the association doubts that the country “will be able to achieve the goal of 50% reduction in the prevalence and death from TB compared with the 1990 baseline by 2015 and eliminating TB as a public health problem by 2050.”

The NMA said the realisation of the fact the tuberculosis “is an entirely preventable and easily curable disease if simple public health regulations, hygiene practices and the treatment guidelines are strictly adhered to” makes the difficulties being faced in fighting the disease more disheartening.”

The association therefore called on the government to increase its commitment in the fight against the disease by increasing budgetary allocations for health to 15 per cent. It also called on the government to “establish a National Centre for Disease Control for effective surveillance and control of diseases,” including tuberculosis.

The association also said the government should embark on a massive vaccination campaign as a means to eradicate the disease.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has been ranked the second highest prevalence of people living  with HIV in the world while only 30 per cent of people requiring HIV treatment are receiving antiretroviral therapy.

This was made known by the head, Grant Management Division of the Global Fund, Mark Edington in Lagos during the signing of five grant agreements worth $335million.

The agreements were signed between Nigeria and Global Fund to support programmes aimed at fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Nigeria.

Edington said that the grant agreements were a critical part of the  $3billion in 169 grants that the Global Fund has committed in 2012.

“For Nigeria, the grant agreements address a tremendous need: Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world and only 30 per cent of people requiring HIV treatment are receiving antiretroviral therapy,” he said.

Mr. Edington said that the grant-signing followed the launch in October by  President, Goodluck Jonathan, of a national programme aimed at “Saving One Million Lives” by 2015 by increasing access to effective basic health services.

He said the country announced that it was committing $500 million to support the programme.

“Nigeria has made some big strides and to turn back now is unthinkable, but the challenges are formidable and much remains to be done,” he said.

He said there is now an excellent opportunity for government to close the funding gap for antiretrovirals.

The Global Fund leader said that the HIV epidemic in Nigeria is highly concentrated among high-risk groups with 20 per cent of infections attributed to female sex workers.

He added that Injecting drug users and men who have sex with men account for 9 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, of annual new infections.

“Grant resources will be targeted to achieve a very significant increase in numbers of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy and prevention of mother-to-child-transmission services.

“During a transformation of the Global Fund’s grant management structure this year, Nigeria was identified as one of the 20 “high impact” countries.

The Minister of Health, Prof  Onyebuchi Chukwu, while speaking, said that the grant signing was another giant step in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

“With the commitment of a spirited organisation such as the Global Fund, solutions are being offered and answers are emerging.

Also, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, commended Global Fund for the attention they gave to Nigeria, saying “we are greatly encouraged that the Global Fund is paying particular attention to Nigeria.

“I look forward to a very fruitful future relationship between Nigeria and the Global Fund. But that relationship must be based on performance and accountability,” he said.

Global Fund is an international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria.

The Global Fund also promotes partnerships between governments, civil society, the private sector, and local communities.

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Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking Of Ancient Arts

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The Federal Government and the United States, yesterday, signed the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) Agreement.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the CPIA would reduce the pillage of Nigeria’s ancient arts which are mostly smuggled to Europe, the US and other places for the benefit of art collectors.
Mohammed said the signing of the MoU became necessary because, despite all efforts by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies, to prevent illicit export of the nation’s archaeological and ethnological materials, widespread looting and illicit excavation of these materials still continue.
He said this when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the CPIA with the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
Special Assistant to the President on Media, Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking of Ancient Arts.’
Mohammed was quoted as saying, “This legislation was enacted by the United States to restrict the importation into the US of archaeological materials ranging in date from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1770 as well as ethnological materials, including those associated with royal activity, religious activity, etc from nations that have entered into the kind of bilateral initiative that we are signing here with the United States today.”
The minister said on the basis of the agreement, Nigerian antiquities being imported into the US without the requisite export permit will be seized at the border of the US and returned to Nigeria without the arduous and costly task of going through the labyrinth of judicial and diplomatic processes.
“We are optimistic that this agreement will reduce the pillage of our irreplaceable archaeological and ethnological materials, as the market for these materials is being shut in the United States against illicit traffickers.
“The agreement will last for an initial period of five years. If it works well, as we anticipate it will, it shall be renewed for a longer term. We implore other friendly nations to take a cue from the United States of America and join us in finding means to prevent the illegal importation of our antiquities into their countries,” he said.
The minister, who thanked the US Government, in particular the US Embassy in Nigeria, for making the MoU possible, said the Nigerian Government looks forward to a diligent implementation of the landmark agreement, so it can become a game-changer in the nation’s efforts to prevent the looting of its priceless ancient works of art.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Beth Leonard, said the agreement was aimed at preserving, restoring and protecting Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
“In Nigeria, over the past decade, the US Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government and state institutions to preserve cultural landmarks and sites through projects worth over one million dollars and funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
“Just last November, I signed a grant award to digitally survey the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove. That $125,000 grant will help document a series of shrines within the Grove and provide training to local professionals in digital tools and cultural heritage management,” she said.
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Three Out Of 10 Nigerians Are Mentally Sick -Reps

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The House of Representatives has said that three out of every 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or another.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, the House added that over 20,000,000 Nigerians were currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving mental health facilities around the country and further carry out serious sensitization of Nigerians on this issue.
It also asked the Committee on Health Institution to explore the modalities of liaising with stakeholders in the health sector to promote, educate and sensitise Nigerians on mental health.
The resolution, however, followed a motion titled “Need to Address the Rising Cases of Mental Health in Nigeria” presented by Hon. Uchechuku Nnam-Obi from Rivers State and considered by the House at yesterday’s plenary.
Presenting his motion, Nnam-Obi noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual can cope with the stress of life, work productively and contribute to the community.
According to him, mental illness manifests in mood disorder, anxiety disorder, trauma-related disorder, personality disorder, old age-related disorder, substance abuse disorder or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.
He said: “According to the World Health Organisation statistics, over twenty million Nigerians are currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
“Three out of 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or the other, presently there is no mental health legislation in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian mental health policy is the only framework that has access to mental healthcare, dealing with mental and neurological disorders in Nigeria, discouraging stigmatisation against persons with mental disorders and has institutionalised standards for Psychiatric practice.
“The increase in cases of depression is traceable to multifactorial inter and intrapersonal issues which leads to suicidal death in the country and this requires urgent attention.
“Nigeria has only 130 Psychiatrists with over 20million citizens suffering from mental disorders.
“With the few functional Mental Health Facilities and inadequate mental health practitioners in the country, mental health cases are left for traditional practitioners, hence the upsurge in mental health in Nigeria.
“The statistics are troubling and the continued lack of a legal framework on mental health in the country will simply cause the situation to degenerate”
Adopting the motion, the House gave six weeks to the committees within which to carry out the assignment and report back to it for further legislative action.

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Wike, PDP Govs Commiserate With Tambuwal Over Brother’s Death

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Representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, yesterday, paid a condolence visit to the Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal over the death of his elder brother, Alhaji Muhammed Bello.
Bello, who is also the Waziri of Tambuwal, passed on in Sokoto, last Tuesday night at the age 87.
He was the head of the Tambuwal family.
On the PDP governors’ delegation were, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo); and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State.
The Vice Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who led the delegation, said they were in Sokoto to commiserate with Tambuwal and his entire family over the sudden death of his elder brother.
“We feel your pain, and we understand that a great vacuum has been created, not only within the caliphate, but across Nigeria and other places where Daddy had sphere of influence. We believe that God Almighty will grant you the fortitude to bear this great loss.
“We are, however, consoled by the fact that Daddy left legacies that will remain indelible; one of them is your very good self and your impact and contributions to our dear country.”
The governors urged the Tambuwal family, particularly the Sokoto State governor, to remain strong, steadfast and uphold those virtues which the late Waziri of Tambuwal, cherished so much.
In his response, Sokoto StateGovernor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who is the PDP Governors’ Forum chairman, said the entire Tambuwal family was gladdened by the condolence visit.
According to him, his late elder brother, who lived his life in the service of community, held the family title, Waziri of Tambuwal for 37 years after the demise of their father.
“We are, indeed, very highly consoled not only by your presence, but your words of consolation. For you to have left behind whatever you are doing in your respective states to come all the way to Sokoto this afternoon, shows clearly how you sympathise with us and how close you are to us. I assure you that we appreciate this.”

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