Damiete Oruwari is a fish
erman from Ido, a community in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. As much as he could remember, fishing had been the key profession of his family. Unfortunately, as unfavourable as the days of his fathers were, the economic hardship never made it impossible for them to get the least net to catch fishes, according to the 45 year old primary four drop out.
Narrating his sordid background, which was further worsened by the biting economic downturn that affected all segments of the Nigerian economy, Mr. Oruwari said what looked like succour came to him when in 2007 the government commenced the distribution of free Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs).
According to him, a couple of years before then, he could hardly feed his family of seven, made up of five children, a wife and himself. The major reason was that he could not afford to purchase and maintain a good fishing net from his subsistence fishing.
With the commencement of the distribution of the LLINs, however, his story changed: rather than use the nets for what they were meant, he adapted them as various forms of fishing nets, sometimes combining two or more, as the case may be.
“What I do is to get as many of the nets, even if I have to beg others or pay them small money. I then sew them into various shapes, depending on what type of net I want. When the ones I use get torn, I get new ones.
“They are easier and cheaper to get than the real nets. The only difference is that the real nets last longer because they are made for fishing. But it does not matter to me because it helps me to feed my family.
“At least I know that if my family feed well, our body can withstand some level of malaria. But if we don’t have food, malaria will affect us more. So, I prefer to feed my family than use the net to cover them at night”, he said.
To a large extent, Oruwari’s story is pathetic, and there seem to be sense in his reasoning. But one thing is certain: if he uses the LLINs for the prevention of mosquito bites, which is the sole reason it was made, it will reduce malaria infection on his family. So, the question is, should he forfeit feeding his family and prevent malaria?
This scenario, like several others, constitute the numerous gaps in malaria control, which had made it difficult to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 6, which aims to reduce HIV/AIDS, Malaria and others.
One key lesson to be learnt in Oruwari’s scenario is that he is ignorant of the implications of malaria infection. Another one is that not enough measures have been put in place to monitor the extent to which the distributed LLINs are used to prevent mosquito bites.
There is no doubt that so much has been done to either check or eliminate malaria globally, particularly in Africa, which is worst hit in malaria infection, with Nigeria worst off. Such measures include both preventive and curative. In spite of this, however, the existence of various forms of gaps, as shown in the Oruwari’s scenario, has in no small way hampered the achievement of the MDGs 6.
The result is that the global malaria burden does not portray the level of investment aimed at eliminating the ailment. According to World Malaria Record (WMR) in 2013 and 2014, an estimated 3.3 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria, with Nigeria accounting for a quarter of the global malaria burden with 97% of the country’s about 180 million population at risk.
In her presentation in a recent media round table discussion programme on malaria control held in Lagos, the Country Director of “Malaria No More”, Dayo Oluwole, said 25% of the world’s malaria burden is in Nigeria, and that out of 1000 children, 128 die annually, while over 4000 maternal deaths occur within the same period.
She continued that about $1 billion is lost to productivity every year in Nigeria due to malaria, a quarter of the global malaria burden is in Nigeria, and 32% of global deaths as a result of malaria occur in Nigeria.
Beyond these embarrassing figures, which is basically in the health sector,Oluwole further revealed that the malaria burden cuts across other sectors of human endeavour including sports, economy, and education.
Giving an example of what impact malaria could have in sports, Oluwole recalled how Nigeria’s dependable central defender, Kenneth Omeruo, was ruled out of a major warm-up game against Scotland in 2014. The import of this is that malaria is capable of hitting an immeasurable blow on a team if it affects key members of the team in a major championship.
The Country Director said that malaria also takes its bite on the economy of affected countries: in Africa, for instance, she said annually, malaria cost the continent about $12 billion in productivity. Nigeria, on the other hand, loses N132 billion. This figure is factored in costs of health care, absenteeism, days lost in education decreases productivity due to brain damage from cerebral malaria, and loss of investment and tourism.
“Malaria is bad for business: the disease is responsible for employee absenteeism, increased health care spending, and decreased productivity, all of which can negatively impact a company’s reputation. Malaria can strain national economies, impacting some nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by as much as an estimated 5-6%”, she said.
As regards education, Oluwole said children miss up 10 million school days per year due to malaria. Also, malaria leads to anaemia, a side-effect of frequent malaria, which interferes with children’s ability to concentrate and learn,and causes chronic fatigue.
In order to control malaria, therefore, so much has not only been invested by countries, governments, organisation, and various stakeholders in terms of funding, but also in strategies, some of which had taken relatively longer time and planning to put the ailment under control thus far.
One of such organisations is Malaria No More (MNM), an international organisation with a focus on creating a world where no one dies from mosquito bites, which has taken up the initiative to involve the media in malaria response and control.
In order to address the issue of ignorance, MNM, in collaboration with Exxon Mobile and other key stakeholders incorporated the media on effective dissemination of information on malaria. With support from media partners, MNM also bought and distributed 4.9 million LLINs in 16 countries.
In Rivers State, as part of responses aimed at achieving the targets set to control malaria, the State Government has also distributed anti-malaria drugs/commodities and carried out anti-malaria measures such as provision of 7.4 doses of ACT for malaria case management; provided 1.8 million RDT kits for malaria diagnoses; as well as 1.6 doses of SPs for malaria prevention in pregnancy.
The State, according to The Tide’s investigation, also provided 7.6 million LLINs for prevention of malaria transmission through mosquito bites; made available 20, 990 doses of injectable Artesunate; confirmed malaria by laboratory diagnosis using Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits and microscopy before treatment; training and use of Community Directed Distributors (CDDs) in communities to diagnose and treat malaria in six local government areas (LGAs).
Currently, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is supporting ten states in Nigeria through a UNITAID-funded project to facilitate adoption of injectable artesunate.
The implication of these attention on malaria only goes to re-emphasise the focus on all strategies but that of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E).At best, this area had always been given lip service by most stakeholders involved in malaria control. At given points, provision had been made by some stakeholders, but there had not been strict monitoring and evaluation mechanism to ascertain the efficacy of such provisions.
This, obviously, gives the likes of Mr. Oruwari, some of who either sell other malaria commodities, or allow same rot away, to have a field day frustrating the efforts to control malaria. It should also amount to an unequivocal declaration on the need to make M&E in malaria control a key strategy, like others.
One way to do this is for countries, states, local government areas, as the case may be, to come up with legislation aimed at checking the rightful use of malaria commodities for purposes they are meant.In the case of Mr. Oruwari, for instance, if there was such a legislation, and an effective monitoring mechanism put in place, he would have been apprehended and made to face the law.
Beyond legislation, however, there is also the need to involve the media more in a two-pronged awareness creation: the first, to create adequate awareness in the use and benefits of malaria commodities, while also making people know the consequences that await defaulters.
NPC Wants Increased Support For Women, Girls’ Bodily Autonomy
The Executive Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Alhaji Isa Kwarra, has called for increased support for women and girls’ bodily autonomy.
Kwarra made the call at a news conference on the State of the World Population (SWOP) with the theme “My body is my own: Claiming the Right to Autonomy and Self Determination” in Abuja, last Monday.
The NPC chairman emphasised the need for women and girls to make choices about their bodies, including when to marry.
He said “denying women and girls right of bodily autonomy translates to denying them rights to choices that shape their existence.
“Women and girls should have right to decide when to start having children, how to space the births of the children, decide on the number of children they wish to have.”
Kwarra, who described women’s equitable access to healthcare services without fear or violence as inalienable rights of women, condemned coercion or the practice of having someone else to decide for them.
He frowned at the practice of allowing women and girls face constraints in exercising their rights from birth to opportunities of taking decisions that should shape their lives and future.
He emphasised the importance of education for women and girls, noting that investing in girls’ education was the most effective way of generating significant economic return and progress of nations.
He reiterated the need for upholding bodily autonomy for women and girls to enhance Nigeria’s prospects to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Population, Mr Lawal Idris, commended the National Population Commission (NPC) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for timely launch of SWOP.
Idris promised to continue to work in synergy with both the population commission and the UNFPA toward giving women and girls access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHS) essential for attaining Demographic Dividends (DD).
According to him, girl child education is paramount in the development of the country.
The Executive Director, Education as Vaccine (EVA), Ms Buky Williams, stressed the need for women and girls to access education, noting that the measure would assist in ending child marriage and its consequences.
Williams regretted that child marriage and women’s denial of access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights was responsible for high maternal mortality.
80% Of People Use Herbal Medicine – Expert
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that about 80% of the world’s population use some form of herbal medicine.
Prof Stephen Offor , made this revelation while delivering his inaugural lecture recently, at the auditorium of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education in Rivers State.
According to him, research has proved that over 120 most commonly prescribed modern drugs, and one-fourth of all conventional pharmaceuticals, use at least one active ingredient derived from plants.
His lecture titled ‘The Grader of Plants, Our Life and Our Environment”, also disclosed that 25 percent of global prescription drugs are directly derived from plants.
Prof Offor stated further that plants produce a diverse range of bioactive molecules and secondary metabolites which are very rich resources of different types of medicine.
He noted that roughly 50,000 species of higher plants have been used medicinally, thereby affirming the global increase in the use of medicinal plants.
He explained that plants like turmeric, ginger, garlic, bitter leaf, and guava leaf are good botanical detoxitiers, immine boosters, and natural antioxidants.
He also posited that natural plant-based food preservations are generally cheaper, biologically and environmentally safer when compared to chemical preservatives.
Describing the plant as good source of renewable bio-duel like bioethanol and biodiesel, he noted that they do not emit harmful gases and are less expensive.
He noted that if such energy resources are optimally maximized, they could be used for cooking, boiling water, and heating homes and work places.
While attributing the dramatic rise in green-house gases, drought, and global warming to increased deforestation and fossil fuel combustion, he hinted that 707 out of 4,600 plant species are endangened due to environmental degradation and climate change.
Prof Offor further explained that trees and other vegetation directly remove many gaseons and particulate pollutants from the air, reduces greenhouse effect, and serve as erosion and flood control, while also improving air and water quality.
He added that a single large tree could transpire up to 100 gallons of water a day, thereby producing a cooling effect similar to five average air conditioners running for twenty hours.
Another way plants could be useful to man is in eco-remediation, a process that involves the use of locally adapted plant species to clean-up heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons from contaminated soil and ground water.
In his submission, he called for the establishment of functional plant research centres in all the states of the federation, plant conservation, and proper environmental education.
He also made case for establishment of a herbarium and botanical garden in the university, while also urging got to find conservation programmed.
Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Ojo-Mekuri Ndimele, in his remarks, said the lecture was a validation that plant conservation would enhance quality life for human kind.
The VC noted that research is the foundation of academics, adding that his administration is building a standard centre for research and development as he extolled the inaugural lecturer for his competence.
By: Sogbeba Dokubo
Health Benefits Of Eating Apples
Apples are quite expensive in the African Clime. Except
in South Africa where its grown commercially, in other parts apple come in varieties.
Naturally apple is one of natures richest fruits in terms of nutrient and usage. Its best consumed raw so one can enjoy the huge antioxidants and other flavonoids that helps build the body. Below are its many uses:
- Tackles High blood Pressure:
Savor a juicy apple and you may help keep your ticker healthy in the process. “Studies have linked apple consumption with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, which may be related to the cholesterol-lowering benefits of the soluble fiber found in apples,” say researchers.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gellike material, according to the Mayo Clinic. According to the University of Illinois, soluble fiber helps prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, therefore lowering the incidence of atherosclerosis (restricted blood flow in the arteries due to plaque buildup) and heart disease. It can also help lower blood pressure levels. A study found that a higher intake of soluble fiber was associated with a decreased cardiovascular disease risk.
Research shows that eating apples (or pears) regularly was associated with a 52 percent lower stroke risk. Furthermore, a study published in February 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two apples a day helped study participants lower both their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Eating Foods With Fiber, Including Apples, Can Aid Digestion
You’ve likely heard that fiber is good for digestion — and what you’ve heard is true! According to Harvard Health Publishing, both types of fiber (soluble and insoluble, which means it can’t be absorbed in water) are important for digestion. And you’re in luck — apples have both types, according to the University of Illinois.
Soluble fiber helps slow down digestion, allowing you to feel full, and also slows the digestion of glucose, which helps control your blood sugar. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber can help move food through your system and aid with constipation and regularity, per Harvard.
Just be sure to eat the apple skin, which contains much of the apple’s insoluble fiber, according to the University of Illinois in the USA.
Apples Can Support a Healthy Immune System
Who doesn’t want a stronger immune system going into autumn? Apples might be an important tool in your immune-supporting tool kit.
According to research in animals, a diet filled with soluble fiber helped convert immune cells that were pro-inflammatory into anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting ones. Another animal study, published in May 2018 in the journal Immunity, found that a diet high in dietary fiber protected mice against the flu. Whether those effects would be seen in humans is unclear until there are more studies.
Still, there’s reason to believe that apples may bolster immunity, in part because they contain immune-boosting vitamin C. A review published in November 2017 in the journal Nutrients found that vitamin C plays many roles in helping the immune system function, such as by strengthening the epithelial (a type of tissue) barrier against pathogens and guarding against environmental oxidative stress, such as pollution to radiation, according to research.
It’s Diabetic-Friendly Fruit
If you have type 2 diabetes, consider adding apples to your diet. Sure, they’re a fruit, but it’s a common misconception that people with diabetes can’t eat fruit.
In this case, apples’ soluble fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and may improve blood sugar levels, the Mayo Clinic notes. Plus, per Mayo, a healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber can lower your odds of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.
Furthermore, a study of people with type 2 diabetes published in August 2016 in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine found that regularly consuming soluble fiber helped reduce insulin resistance and improved blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
- The Antioxidants in Apples May Play a Role in Cancer Prevention
While there’s no one surefire way to prevent cancer, apples could help play a role. “Apples may reduce the risk of certain cancers, which researchers speculate is related to the antioxidants found in apples,” says Anzlovar. Research suggests that apples have a very high level of antioxidants, and in laboratory studies, these antioxidants have been shown to limit cancer cell growth.
A review published in October 2016 in Public Health Nutrition found that eating apples regularly is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including colorectal, oral cavity, esophageal, and breast cancers.
The fiber in apples may provide cancer-preventing perks. A study published in March 2016 in the journal Pediatrics found that women who ate more high-fiber foods during adolescence and young adulthood (especially lots of fruits and vegetables) had a lower breast cancer risk later in life.
And another study, published in January 2019 in the journal The Lancet, found that a diet high in dietary fiber could protect against colorectal cancer and breast cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
6. Apples Can Support Healthy Weight Loss
A diet rich in fruit (and vegetables) can help you maintain a healthy weight — or shed pounds — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because apples are filled with dietary fiber, they are high on this list. “Fiber slows digestion and the rise of blood sugar, keeping you satiated and less likely to overeat,” says Levinson.
According to that study in The Lancet, people who ate the most fiber had a significantly lower body weight. Research shows that overweight women who ate three apples a day lost 1.22 kg (2.7 pounds) after 12 weeks.
At only 95 calories for a medium-sized apple, this fruit is one you’ll want to keep on hand when sweet cravings strike.
- Apples May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Time to start eating more apples and other flavonoid-rich foods like berries and tea. Research published in August 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults age 50 and older who included only a small amount of flavonoid-rich foods like berries, apples, and tea in their diet were a whopping 2 to 4 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and related types of dementia over 20 years compared with people who ate more flavonoid-rich foods.
On top of that, a review published in January 2020 in the journal Biomolecules found that quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, protects neurons from oxidative damage and contains other anti-Alzheimer’s disease properties, too.
By Kevin Nengia
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