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NACA Charges FG On HIV/AIDS Programme

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The Director-General of
the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Sani Aliyu, has said that the Federal Government must take full sponsorship of its HIV/AIDS programme or risk losing one million of its citizens currently living with the disease before 2022.
Aliyu, who stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Sunday, said taking ownership of the programme by Nigeria had become imperative in view of the dwindling resources coming from foreign donors for the programme.
According to him, at the moment, almost one million Nigerians are on HIV treatment with only about 60,000 of them being catered for by the Federal Government through the “Taraba and Abia project’’.
He said about 700,000 HIV positive Nigerians were catered for by the U. S. government while remaining 240,000 people were being treated through funds donated by other global organizations.
He, therefore, warned that, “if our major donors decide to stop funding HIV/AIDs programme, almost a million Nigerians will come off the  treatments.
“”I can tell you as a physician that if those one million people are out of treatment, statistically most of them will be dead in the next five years.
“”This is a national security issue. HIV treatment is now affordable and we as a country need to start taking ownership of the programme.
“As I mentioned to the National Economic Council, there is no programme on earth that is open-ended. No donor agency will come to you and say “I’m going to look after you forever’, It will never happen.
“So, eventually sooner or later those funds will dwindle and they will go away. At the moment we have an opportunity; we have an opportunity because in the last few weeks we have just crossed the tipping point for the epidemic.
“The tipping point for the epidemic is when we have more people going on treatment than we have new infections, which means that the epidemic is on real downward trend and therefore we need to maintain that momentum.’’
Aliyu expressed optimism that the country would be able to achieve the 90-90-90 per cent objective (90 per cent will have HIV; 90 per cent are on treatment and 90 per cent are biologically suppressed) by 2030 “if the momentum is maintained in the next few years.’’
He disclosed that state governments had already agreed to commit between 0.5 per cent to one per cent of their monthly allocation towards HIV/Aids programmes.
He said: “We are not asking for that money to come to the federal government. No, they keep their money but they commit to investing that money in HIV care in their states so that their health system can be strengthened; so that in the future they will be able to deliver their own HIV programme.
“By providing those funds we will be able to increase the number of people on treatment by 50 per cent.
“If we know that we have two million people on treatment by increasing 50 per cent we must have actually saturated the number of people on treatment.
“And with the HIV epidemic once you have more than 80 per cent of your people living with HIV on treatment and biologically suppressed, you don’t need to do anything, the epidemic will die out on its own because the infectivity is so low that the efficiency of transmission is interrupted.
“So, that was our first prayer to the governors and I made the point very clear that most states are already budgeting the one per cent towards HIV/AIDs but the problem is with the budget release.’’
It would be recalled that the federal government in 2010 signed an agreement with the U.S. government, stipulating that both the federal and the state governments would set aside one per cent of their allocation towards HIV programme in the country.
The Director General said the federal government was conscious of the agreement “but it was time the state governments implement it.
“HIV will not go away. You just don’t  sit down and pretend it is not a problem simply because somebody is paying for treatment for your citizens. You have to sit up and do it yourself.
“I’m happy to say, the state governors agreed to that prayer and we will follow it up with them.’’
Aliyu also said state governments had agreed to remove all fees and charges for anti-natal care for pregnant women living with HIV/AIDs.
“Nigeria is right at the bottom of the list when it comes to pregnant women with HIV in terms of transmission.
“Thousands of babies are born in Nigeria every month with HIV. On average one in every three babies born in the world is a Nigerian child. We are covering only one out of every three pregnant women with HIV.

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NPC Wants Increased Support For Women, Girls’ Bodily Autonomy

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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.

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80% Of People Use Herbal Medicine – Expert

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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

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Health Benefits Of Eating Apples

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. 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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