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COVID-19: ‘No Challenge In Community Sensitisation’

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As the fight to prevent the rampaging Coronavirus from infecting Rivers people continues, part of the measures adopted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in reaching out to communities has so far not experienced any notable challenges.
The Lead Coordinator for the State Rapid Response Team for COVID-19, Mr Modekai Ifemide Olowole, who made this known after a recent routine assessment of performance of the Rapid Response Team on sensitization in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt LGAs stated that the compliance level has been encouraging.
Olowole, who credited the success recoded so far to the existing mechanism in place, explained that the sensitisation team of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) works with Institutions on ground , adding that: ‘We have come together to offer our support.
“What we did was to sensitise the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to know how they can engage the communities in whatever they are doing.
“If while doing that they need some support from us, we have a Rapid Response Team (RRT) that are working on ground. They have mobility, they have everything,” he said.
According to him, each time any of the Civil Society Organisations has palliatives for instance, to give to members of any community, they use the opportunity to make presentations on COVID-19 preventive measures.
The RRT, sponsored by UNICEF in collaboration with the Rivers State Ministry of Health, and the Rivers State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), he said, decided to adopt the method, knowing that many people in the communities are more bothered by how to overcome hunger than COVID-19.
“If you look at it economically, everybody is hungry. If you go to a community and tell them you want to sensitise them on how to wish hands, they will tell you they are hungry,” he said.
This, he explained further, is part of what Risk Communication entails, and is the platform through which UNICEF aims to support the state.
“UNICEF’s aim is to support the state wherever they are working to pilot a model that is of international best practices and present to the state. That is what we’re doing now,” he said.

 

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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HIV/AIDS: Mentor Mothers Task RSG On Facilities

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Women under the aegis of “Mentor Mothers” have called on the Rivers State Government to provide necessary facilities and equipment to enable them enhance access to Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) services in the State.
The South-South Zonal Secretary of Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Mrs. Gift Ezere, who made the call during the just-concluded six-day training programme for mentor mothers in Port Harcourt, stated that provision of such facilities as project vehicle and functional CD4 Count machines are very important at this point in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Rivers State.
Ezere, who explained that Mentor Mothers are women that have undergone PMTCT, and have now chosen to mentor newly diagnosed HIV positive women, also stated the importance of the project vehicle and CD4 Count machines.
“As Mentor Mothers, we not only counsel identified HIV positive women, we also carry out follow-ups on them in order to encourage them to access ANC services at approved healthcare facilities.
“The vehicle will enable us conveniently track HIV positive pregnant women and link them to uptake PMTCT services”, she said.
On CD4 Count machines, the NEPWHAN Zonal Secretary said for a long while now there have not been any functional CD4 Count machine in the State.
“There are CD4 Count machines in four healthcare facilities in Rivers State: Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), Health of the Sick, Bori General Hospital, and University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH).
“Unfortunately, none of the (CD4) machines in these facilities are functional. It’s just last week that that of RSUTH was repaired”, she said.
According to her, the CD4 Count machine “is very important because it enables you to know the level of CD4 in order to ascertain when a client (HIV infected person) is migrating to AA4 (advanced HIV/AIDS)”.
Earlier, the Lead Facilitator of the 6-day Capacity Training for Mentor Mothers, Dr. Francis Opubo Idoniboye-Obu said the objective of the training was to increase the  knowledge and skills of Mentor Mothers on effective Dry Blood Spot (DBS) collection in the State and effective follow-up mechanism to track HIV positive mothers in the State.

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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Chocolate And Brain Health

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Cocoa, especially if it is minimally processed, contains high levels of health enhancing antioxidant flavnols – a distinct group of naturally occurring compounds that can be found in a variety of foods such as tea and red wine.
Now a recent study has shown how this protection can extend to the brain.
It is normal for cognitive function to slightly deteriorate with age. Memory capacity begins to worsen, along with processing speed and the ability to form long-term memories. This decline is different from the cognitive decline that signals possible dementia. Finding a way to slow it down is becoming increasingly important as our population ages.
While previous studies have demonstrated the benefits of cocoa flavanols for people suffering from mild cognitive impairment, the current study focused on healthy people experiencing the usual mental wear and tear that comes with older age.
The researchers, from Italy’s University of L’Aquila and chocolate company Mars enrolled men and women aged 61-85 years with no evidence of cognitive dysfunction, the participants in this controlled, randomized, double-blind study were assigned to one of three groups and given a cocoa drink to consume for  daily for 8 weeks.
The drinks were nutritionally matched except for their flavanol content which was either high (993 mg), intermediate (520 mg) or low (48 mg).
Significant improvements
The high- and intermediate-flavanol cocoa drinks were produced using Mars’ Cocoapro® a specially prepared, though not commercially available, flavanol-rich powder, while the low-flavanol drink was made with a highly processed, alkalized cocoa powder that you might find in everyday cocoa products.
Other than the inclusion of the test drink, normal diets and regular lifestyle were maintained throughout the study.
At the start of the study and again after eight weeks, cognitive function was assessed using a battery of tests that examined memory, retention, recall, as well as executive function. Among those individuals who regularly consumed either the high- or intermediate-flavanol drinks, there were significant improvements in overall cognitive function after only eight weeks.
The volunteers who drank either the high- or medium-flavanol drinks showed significant improvements in their overall cognitive function after only eight weeks. Plus, the group showed reduced blood pressure and improved insulin resistance. The researchers believe these positive results may be due, in part, to improved vascular function.
Study shows that even cognitively healthy individuals can quickly benefit from the regular inclusion of cocoa flavanols in their diets.
In addition to evaluating cognitive function, the researchers also monitored insulin resistance, blood pressure and other metabolic markers. Excitingly, there was also evidence of improvements in these cardiometabolic outcomes.
In the high- and intermediate-flavanol groups, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were reduced and insulin resistance was significantly improved. In contrast, only a modest improvement in diastolic blood pressure was observed in the low-flavanol group, with no significant improvements in either systolic blood pressure or insulin resistance among the consumers of the low-flavanol drink.
It is not yet fully understood how cocoa flavanols bring about improvements in cognitive function, but the study’s authors suggest that the improvements in insulin resistance and blood pressure could be revealing.
“Earlier studies suggest a central role for insulin resistance in brain aging,” said Dr. Giovambattista Desideri, lead author on the paper. “These results could therefore provide some insight into a possible mechanism of action for the cognitive improvements we have observed.”

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Expert Cautions Against Self-Medication

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A renowned Pharmacist, Jude Azai, has warned against self-medication as it can cause drug resistance and predispose individuals to other medical conditions.
Azai, who is the Public Relations Officer of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Plateau branch, gave the caution in an interview with the
The Tide source on Tuesday in Jos.
He explained that most medications have their primary function and aside the primary function, the medication may have other secondary and tertiary activities not known to the person who was self-medicating.
He maintained that the secondary or tertiary activities of the drugs could predispose the patient to other medical conditions not known to the individual.
According to him, such can actually inflict another health condition that is completely different from what the person is trying to treat.
He explained that there were times the individual may have co-existing health conditions and the drug the individual used could
trigger another underlining illness.
He added that “aside the wrong or inappropriate medication, wrong dosing regimen, self-medication can also lead to drug contraindication which can result in potential fatal reactions.
“Self-medication is when an individual takes a particular medication for a perceived illness.’’
The pharmacist attributed economic issues as factor that could be responsible for the act, as many people who did not have funds to access healthcare facility indulged in the act.
He, therefore, called for subsidised healthcare delivery in terms of consultation and cost of drugs.
Azai further called for increased awareness to educate the public on the ills of self-medication.

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