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‘Improve Healthcare Facilities To Prevent Medical Expedition’

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Dr Biodun Ogungbo, a neurosurgeon in Abuja, recently observed that Nigerians spent an estimated one billion dollars on foreign medical treatment in various countries in 2014.
He noted that such amount of money ought not to have been lost to medical trips and treatments abroad if Nigeria’s healthcare system was adequate.
“The reason for such huge sum spent on medical tourism is attributed to low quality of the country’s medical services mainly driven by the public hospitals,’’ he observed.
Medical experts also observed that instability the in governance since the country’s independence has resulted in poor management and decay in health sector.
According to them, the decay in the sector has also led to mass movement of Nigerian medical graduates to foreign countries in search of better earnings and experience.
These views notwithstanding, Ogungbo noted that what drove Nigerians abroad for medical attention was tertiary healthcare.
“Sub-specialties such as orthopaedics, cardiovascular, renal, assisted reproduction, oncology and neurosurgery, top the list of reasons why people seek treatment abroad.’’
“But spine surgeries, neurosurgeries, knee replacement surgeries, hip replacement surgeries, renal transplant, open heart surgeries, minimal access surgeries and surgeries for complex fracture management, among others, have become routine in many private and world class hospitals in Abuja.
“Hospitals in Abuja have recently carried out kidney transplantations, heart operations and numerous deliveries of babies via the test tube.
“These operations were performed safely and at much reduced cost than travelling abroad; this process of offering treatment locally will save Nigeria billions of naira,’’ he said.
In the same vein, Prof. Opunbo da Lily-Tariah, a specialist in ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) at University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, observed that the country could handle various health developments.
The specialist said that the high level of awareness and communication had contributed to the management and control of many diseases.
“Sickle cell is something we have made progress on, survival is much higher, we understood the disease better and superstitions have given way to more logical thinking and management.
“No one can take away the achievements Nigeria has recorded in the primary and secondary healthcare segment of the nation’s health system over the last several decades.
“Under-five year mortality rate has reduced, HIV and AIDS have been tamed while Nigeria has exited the countries which are still harbouring the wild polio virus,’’ he said.
Similarly, Dr Otabor Christopher, an Orthopaedic surgeon with Alliance Hospital, Abuja, explained that in the last few years, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, had become a suitable place for both foreign and locally trained specialised healthcare professionals, who were largely seen in selected private hospitals.
Christopher observed that in the last five years, one could hardly think of any health condition that genuinely required foreign referrals either due to lack of skilled manpower or cutting edge medical equipment.
Corroborating these opinions, Mrs Cecilia Obuzo, who recently underwent goitre operation at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, said the level of medical advancement in the country was commendable.
“My children told me that I would not die because Nigerian doctors are very competent to conduct the surgery successfully,’’ she said.
For efficient healthcare, da Lily-Tariah said researches were still on in teaching hospitals, especially in the area of fine-tuning drug composition and administration.
“There are researches to see how local remedies and plant extracts could be inculcated into the mainstream medicine.
“These are going on in all the major laboratories and schools of pharmacological sciences; of course, in terms of disease pattern, researches are going on interestingly,’’ he disclosed.
This notwithstanding, da Lily-Tariah said Nigeria had not finally attained the desired level in healthcare system.
He stated that developing technology in healthcare sector would make the country not to depend on other countries for medical treatment equipment.
He also cautioned against indulging in technology transfer as it would be very expensive and the country might not have the fund to invest in such.
The don also identified poor service delivery as another factor impeding the nation from getting to the desired height of healthcare delivery system.
He called on appropriate authority to solve the challenges facing healthcare service delivery “to deliver in time and in the manner which will be satisfactory to all.
“If we have universal insurance in this country, access to health facility will be much easier for everybody.’’
By and large, da Lily-Tariah and other medical experts observe that with President Muhammadu Buhari’s emphasis on providing facilities in key sectors, health sector will receive the required attention and funds to make healthcare service delivery effective and prevent unnecessary medical trips.
Jane writes for News Agency of Nigerian (NAN)

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Immunization: Health Board Targets Rural Communities

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Towards ensuring that immunization campaign achieves its target of over 90 percent, the Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board, says it has provided modalities for trained health care providers to reach the interiors of the state.
Making this known in an exclusive interview, the Health Education / Coordinator, Rivers State Social and Behavioural Change Communication Committee, Dr Daris Nria, said provisions have been made to take the free immunisation exercise to the rural areas of the state.
Because immunisation programe will be running concurrently in all the local government areas, and these areas will be empowered with boats or other means of transport, as well as logistics.
She used this opportunity to call on the public especially parents and women of child bearing age to avail themselves the opportunity of being immunized against tetanus and other diseases.
In another development, the Maternal and Neonatal Child Health (MNCH) Focal Person, Rivers State Primary Healthcare Management Board, Dr Emen-Jaja stated that the MNCH week slated to commence from 20th – 24th September will provide health care services for children under the age of five years, pregnant women as well as their spouses.
Such services, according to her, include administration of vitamin A, deworming exercise, nutritional screening, general health checks, child spacing and birth registration.
“Both women of reproductive age and their spouses who visit the health care centres would also have free services within the week.

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CSO Wants Cancer Treatment Centres In Rivers

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The Rivers State Chapter of the Civil Society organsation (CSO) has called on the state government to establish cancer treatment centres in the state to address the current growing cancer cases in the state.
Making the call recently, chairman of the organisation, Mr Dennis Otobo, said going by the status among the community of states in the country, Rivers State needs such centres in strategic areas of the state.
He stated that “going by the position of Rivers State among other states in the country, we are over due to have enough cancer treatment centres, especially considering the State Government’s focus on the health of her people”.
According to him, “taking some of our cancer patients to other neighbouring states does not tell well of our health services, no matter how we look at it.
“Government should establish cancer treatment centres in the state, at least a one hub treatment centre in each LGA”, he said.
Otobo explained that for now, about 99 per cent of treatments for cancer and related services are provided by donor agencies and patients are taken outside the state for treatment, which requires a lot of fund that is mostly not available.
“If government can provide cancer treatment centres in the state, it will not only lessen the impact of the ailment in the state but will also alleviate the suffering of patients who cannot afford going for treatment outside the state”, he said.

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To Much Salt Consumption, Bad For Kidney – Expert

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A Nephrologist, specialist in Kidney disease, Dr Manda David-West, says excessive salt consumption is one key cause of kidney disease.
Stating this in a recent interview, she said in-take of too much salt is capable of damaging one’s kidney, in addition to raising blood pressure.
“Too much salt can raise up the Blood Pressure (BP), and once the BP is raised, if you are not on medication, It can damage the kidney over time, she said.
In order to prevent this, Dr David West, who is a Consultant Nephrologist at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) called for limitation in salt in-take.
She further stated that to prevent kidney disease, there was the need to cut down on carbohydrate and callory intake, alongside checking food in-take capable of increasing chances of developing diabetes mellitus.
Dr David West continued that enough intake of fruits and vegetables, alongside exercises with a view to keep fit also prevents kidney diseases.
Contrary to wide spread belief that food supplements are good for the body, Dr David West said too much intake of food supplements is not good for the body.
Accroding to her, besides taking fruits and vegetables, “they should engage in daily exercise, try and keep fit and be active as much.
“Even (food) supplement has not been proven to be good to the kidney, especially when it is taken for a long time.

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