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UNAIDS Tasks FG On Local Anti-Retroviral Acceleration

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The Joint United Nations
has Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has called on the Federal Ministry of Health  accelerate local production of Anti-Retroviral Drugs, to enable the country to suppress transmission of HIV/AIDS by 2030.
UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria and UNAIDS Focal Point for ECOWAS, Dr Bilali Camara,  made the call during in an interview newsmen in Abuja.
Camera said UNAIDS has discussed with some pharmaceutical companies who have pledged readiness to go ahead with the production of anti-retroviral drugs as well as other HIV commodities in Nigeria.
In his words, “The pharmaceutical companies have asked the government for patronage as well as the freedom to import the necessary ingredients for the production of the drugs free. They have also asked the government to ensure that the market is protected and that the government should utilise the drugs at low competitive rate.
“When the drugs are produced and sold to government, the companies want the government to ensure prompt payments as quickly as possible to sustain the production of the commodities,”
Camera who maintained  that UNAIDS would continue to push the ministry to ensure the accomplishment of this important goal stated that if Nigeria could produce the drugs, it will assist us to make a difference in the whole of West Africa and thereby making drugs more affordable to the sub-region at a cheaper rate.
“There is viable market for the commodities within the region and some stakeholders in the region will tell you that there is stock out in some of the countries.”
The director further said that the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) was collaborating with Nigerian pharmaceutical companies to see how to provide better drugs security stock in the region
He said ECOWAS must also be responsible  to  the consumption of drugs produced within the sub-region.
“We are negotiating with these Nigerian pharmaceutical companies to be the one to provide the security on anti-retroviral drugs for WAHO.
“The location for the centre has been identified in Abidjan; the government of Cote d’Ivoire has accepted the offer and already there are some vaccines there.
“We are also working to make anti-retroviral drugs available at the centre so that when member states run into crises, they can get stock from there.
The country director said that Africa imports 98 per cent of its anti-retroviral medicines adding  that two manufacturers dominated 71 per cent of the African market.
He said that the local production of the anti-retroviral drugs would also provide an incentive to build domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity as well as deliver economic dividends to the region.

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Benefits Of Regular Intake Of Tea

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Past studies have demonstrated that tea intake is beneficial to human health, and the positive effects include mood improvement and cardiovascular disease prevention. In fact, results of a longitudinal study led by Asst Prof Feng which was published in 2017 showed that daily consumption of tea can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older persons by 50 per cent.
Following this discovery, Asst Prof Feng and his team further explored the direct effect of tea on brain networks.
The research team recruited 36 adults aged 60 and above, and gathered data about their health, lifestyle, and psychological well-being. The elderly participants also had to undergo neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The study was carried out from 2015 to 2018.
Upon analysing the participants’ cognitive performance and imaging results, the research team found that individuals who consumed either green tea, oolong tea, or black tea at least four times a week for about 25 years had brain regions that were interconnected in a more efficient way.
“Take the analogy of road traffic as an example, consider brain regions as destinations, while the connections between brain regions are roads. When a road system is better organised, the movement of vehicles and passengers is more efficient and uses less resources. Similarly, when the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently,” explained Asst Prof Feng.
He added, “We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers. Our current results relating to brain network indirectly support our previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea drinking are the result of improved brain organisation brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections.”
Drinking tea at least three times a week is linked with a longer and healthier life, according to a study published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
“Habitual tea consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause death,” said first author Dr Xinyan Wang, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China. “The favourable health effects are the most robust for green tea and for long-term habitual tea drinkers.”
The analysis included 100,902 participants of the China-PAR project2 with no history of heart attack, stroke, or cancer. Participants were classified into two groups: habitual tea drinkers (three or more times a week) and never or non-habitual tea drinkers (less than three times a week) and followed-up for a median of 7.3 years.
Habitual tea consumption was associated with more healthy years of life and longer life expectancy.
For example, the analyses estimated that 50-year-old habitual tea drinkers would develop coronary heart disease and stroke 1.41 years later and live 1.26 years longer than those who never or seldom drank tea.
Compared with never or non-habitual tea drinkers, habitual tea consumers had a 20 percent lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, 22 percent lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 15 percent decreased risk of all-cause death.
The potential influence of changes in tea drinking behaviour were analysed in a subset of 14,081 participants with assessments at two time points. The average duration between the two surveys was 8.2 years, and the median follow-up after the second survey was 5.3 years.
Habitual tea drinkers who maintained their habit in both surveys had a 39% lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, 56% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 29% decreased risk of all-cause death compared to consistent never or non-habitual tea drinkers.
Senior author Dr. Dongfeng Gu, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “The protective effects of tea were most pronounced among the consistent habitual tea drinking group. Mechanism studies have suggested that the main bioactive compounds in tea, namely polyphenols, are not stored in the body long-term. Thus, frequent tea intake over an extended period may be necessary for the cardioprotective effect.”
In a subanalysis by type of tea, drinking green tea was linked with approximately 25% lower risks for incident heart disease and stroke, fatal heart disease and stroke, and all-cause death. However, no significant associations were observed for black tea.
Dr. Gu noted that a preference for green tea is unique to East Asia. “In our study population, 49% of habitual tea drinkers consumed green tea most frequently, while only 8% preferred black tea. The small proportion of habitual black tea drinkers might make it more difficult to observe robust associations, but our findings hint at a differential effect between tea types.”
Two factors may be at play. First, green tea is a rich source of polyphenols which protect against cardiovascular disease and its risk factors including high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia. Black tea is fully fermented and during this process polyphenols are oxidised into pigments and may lose their antioxidant effects. Second, black tea is often served with milk, which previous research has shown may counteract the favourable health effects of tea on vascular function.
Gender-specific analyses showed that the protective effects of habitual tea consumption were pronounced and robust across different outcomes for men, but only modest for women. Dr. Wang said: “One reason might be that 48% of men were habitual tea consumers compared to just 20% of women. Secondly, women had much lower incidence of, and mortality from, heart disease and stroke. These differences made it more likely to find statistically significant results among men.”
She added: “The China-PAR project is ongoing, and with more person-years of follow-up among women the associations may become more pronounced.”
The authors concluded that randomised trials are warranted to confirm the findings and provide evidence for dietary guidelines and lifestyle recommendations.

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HIV/AIDS: Expert Tasks RSG On ANC For Pregnant Women

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An expert in Public Health, Prof. Charles Tobin-West, has called on the Rivers State Government to explore ways of making it imperative for pregnant women to access Anti-Natal Care (ANC) during pregnancy.
This, he said, should be geared towards ensuring that the gap witnessed in HIV-positive mothers and ANC is bridged.
Making the call in an exclusive interview recently, Prof Tobin-West, who is a Professor in Public Health in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, stated that one key way to achieve this is for the government to ensure that women were recruited into attending ANC, which is provided in all Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities across the state.
“The importance of attending ANC during pregnancy can never be overemphasised. It is one of the veritable ways of ensuring that women are properly looked after during pregnancy to ensure that delivery outcomes are better”, he said.
Dr Tobin-West noted that knowing that available data shows that the state is lagging behind in the number of pregnant women accessing ANC, it behoves the State Primary Health Care Board to come up with ways of instituting ANC for pregnant women.
According to him, this can be done through the Local Government Areas (LGAs), Medical Officer of Health, and the Health Care Centres across the state.
He stated that women should be reoriented from communities in the LGAs and made to understand the benefits of accessing ANC for their children before delivery.
He also used the opportunity to explain that when pregnant women dutifully access ANC, it is easier to carry out Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) on HIV/AIDS, and tracking of such women and their infants.
Tobin-West continued that women that are tracked should be enrolled into treatment, and be given treatment such that “even when the women are getting lost, you can call the treatment supporter.
“One of the two key functions of the treatment supporter is to ensure that the women took part in treatment and in facility attendance for both counselling and adherence”, he stated.

 

By:  Sogbeba Dokubo

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NMA Seeks Full Implementation Of Residency Training Act

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The Nigerian Medical Association (NBA), Borno State chapter, has called for the full implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act to address numerous challenges in the state health sector.
The state NMA President, Ali Mohammad-Ramat, yesterday in Maiduguri, disclosed this at the 2020 Annual Physicians Week.
The Medical Training Act is directed at assuring the quality and competence of Medical practice and practitioners in Nigeria through Statutory Medical Training Programmes.
It is to encourage Medical Tourism from other countries to Nigeria and build further confidence in Nigerian Medical System.
Mohammad-Ramat said that the call was imperative to address the challenges bedevilling the health sector especially in getting skilled manpower in the state.
The physicians’ week is an annual week-long event of the NMA to celebrate medical personnel’s contribution to effective healthcare services delivery and research in the country.
The theme for the 2020 physicians’ week is “Strategies for Health System Recovery During COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria”.
He said that COVID-19 pandemic had caused social and economic dislocation of families, communities, state and countries.
“The implementation of the medical residency training in the state teaching hospital will go a long way in mitigating the impact posed by these challenges,” Mohammad-Ramat.
Also speaking, a former Chief Medical Director of Borno State Hospital Management Board, Dr Joseph Jatau, said that the residency training, when fully implemented in the state, would produce specialist in various fields.
He added that this would also alleviate the challenges in the provision of modern healthcare services to the people.
Jatau explained that the residency training would reduce the resources used by the state government in sponsoring doctors on specialised fields abroad.
“The residency training will also open room for research activities, especially in collaboration with the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, where postgraduate students will be trooping into the institution for knowledge-oriented programmes.
Jatau lauded Gov. Babagana Zulum for constituting a high powered Committee to develop a blue print for the establishment of a State University Teaching Hospital.
He said this would go a long way towards providing effective, qualitative and affordable healthcare to residents.

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