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25 Health Workers Infected With COVID-19 In Anambra – Commissioner

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The Commissioner for Health in Anambra State, Dr Vincent Okpala, yesterday said that no fewer than 25 health workers had been diagnosed and confirmed to have been infected with the novel Coronavirus pandemic in the state.
The commissioner said this while speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Training of Trainers in Agulu, Anaocha Local Government Council Area of the state.
The programme was organised by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Anambra chapter, to train 25 members selected from the zones across the state.
Okpala said that the infected health workers include: two doctors, eight nurses, two laboratory technicians, among others, and expressed regrets that those who should be the warriors were falling victims of the virus.
He said that so far, no fewer than 181 persons had been confirmed positive for COVID-19 in Anambra.
He urged the general public to help the health sector by keeping to all the preventive measures against the pandemic and stay safe.
He said that the state government had procured an incinerator for healthy management of hazardous waste.
The commissioner urged the participants to make good use of the training and do well to cascade the knowledge to their zones and ensure that other health workers in Anambra benefit from the training.
“COVID-19 is a leveler, and I am glad that the NMA in conjunction with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is putting this together, there is need to protect our health workers,”he said.
Dr Nice Onyekwelu, the Chairman of NMA in Anambra, said the training would enable the trainees to understand the basics of COVID-19 disease, epidemiology and transmission.
Onyekwelu said that the training was part of the efforts of the NMA at propagating infection prevention and control capacity of members and all health care workers in the state, especially the private sector.
He described the high number of medical doctors who had been exposed, confirmed or died of COVID-19 as worrisome and called for a more concerted effort at stemming the tide.
The chairman commended the International Committee for Red Cross ( ICRC) and the NCDC for partnering the NMA in the programme and the Anambra Government for their support.
Dr Ngozi Ezeonu, the Chairman of Anambra NMA Taskforce on COVID-19, said the two-day programme was not just about COVID-19 infection prevention, but to enhance capacity on curbing the infectiousness of all other diseases.
Ezeonu said that the module included all what was needed to keep health workers on the safe side.
The Director-General (D-G) of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, lauded the Anambra NMA for the initiative.
Ihekweazu was represented by Dr Tochi Okwor, the leader of Anti Microbial Resistance and Prevention and Control Coordinator.
The NCDC D-G said that Nigerians must observe all safety protocols as the economy was gradually opening.

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Expert Hinges HIV/AIDS Containment On Countries’ Health Systems

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Towards checking the trend of HIV/AIDS, particularly Mother-To-Child Transmission (MTCT), an expert in HIV, Dr. Olugbenga Ijaodola, has identified health systems operated by countries as major factor.

Dr. Ijaodola, who made this disclosure at an ongoing three-day media dialogue to reinvigorate and produce a workplan for members of the Journalists Alliance for the Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, noted that everything that can be done is dependent on the system.

Ijaodola, who is the PMTCT Lead, National AIDS and Sexually Transmited Infections (STIs) Control Programme (NASCP), in the Federal Ministry of Health, explained that this is why challenges caused by such barriers are approached accordingly.

“One thing we have noticed is that HIV/AIDS intervention cannot stand on its own. It also depends on the health system of any particular country”, he said.

The Assistant Director at NASCP explained that no matter the challenges in Nigeria, plans are made to ensure that pregnant women are able to have access to health facilities, and all of them are tested.

“Those we find positive we are able to link them up and put them on treatment, and even encourage them to deliver in the facilities, so that we can have access the babies for Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) services”, he said.

He, therefore, called on all participating Journalists at the media dialogue, as key stakeholders, to carry the message of the need for all pregnant women to access health care facilities where they can have HIV/AIDS intervention services.

“Definitely we know that there are challenges that goes along with the health care system. That will not stop us from what we believe is the right thing to do to push this forward.

“The way we are looking at it now, is to continuously collectively agree to do this together. I can assure you that if we do this, we are going to change the narrative concerning the coverage across board of PMTCT in Nigeria, and then we can start talking about the process towards elimination of MTCT”, he said.

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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A’Ibom Assembly Passes Free Treatment Of Sexual Abuse Victims Bill

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The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has passed a Bill on Free and Compulsory Medical Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence into Law.
Presenting the report, the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Princess Felicia Bassey, harped on the need to protect children who are victims of sexual abuse and provide “free, complete, and compulsory medical treatment and care”. 
Princess Bassey, who is also the Deputy Speaker of the House, lamented that sexual abuse against children has become a common phenomenaon noting that while perpetrators sometimes go unpunished, victims are denied access to free health care services and in some cases no official report is made of the incident.
The committee, therefore, recommended among other things that child victims of sexual violence should be given free and compulsory medical treatment and a sexual assault referral centre should be set up.
Other recommendations are that any hospital that fails to report cases of sexual violence or abuse is liable to a fine of one million naira. 
Also, parents or guardians who fail to report or prevent a hospital from making a report of casea of sexual violence is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months with no option of fine.
The committee further recommended that any person, authority, including Police Officer or Security Agent that stands by and fails to perform his duty under the law has committed an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of five hundred thousand naira or imprisonment for two years or both.
The House, after a clause by clause affirmation, adopted the recommendations of the committee and passed the bill into law after its third reading.

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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NACA Launches HIV Media Advocacy Platform

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In continuation of efforts to create more awareness on HIV/AIDS, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has  launched a national HIV media advocacy platform.
The platform, which, among others, comprises media representatives from different states of the country, and head of public relations unit and zonal coordinators of NACA, is expected to also focus on the ways media report HIV/AIDS in the country.
Inaugurating the platform, the Director General (DG)  of the NACA, Dr GamboAliyu, said, “the platform is expected to create more awareness  on HIV, and also change the way the media reports it, using the best approach”.
The Director General who was represented at the occasion by the South-West Zonal Coordinator of the agency, Raheem Mohammed, said the media was a critical stakeholder in the agency’s partnership efforts towards getting messages across to the public, and hence ending the epidemic by 2030.
“Media involvement, engagement and support is key in HIV  response to ensure synergy in what the media reports and what NACA does”, he said.
According to him, NACA “is concentrating on building media capacity because it is a powerful tool in catalysing change at individual, community and policy levels.
“NACA’s vision in the National HIV strategic framework is for Nigeria to be a nation of people with functional knowledge of HIV/AIDS.
“The Agency is focused on increasing visibility of the HIV responses by steadfastly strengthening the strategic partnerships among stakeholders at all levels.
 ”We are concentrating on building media’s capacity as a powerful tool to catalyse change at individual, community and policy levels. Ours is to equip them and see how essential it is that all populations are well informed and knowledgeable about the risks of HIV infection, prevention, treatment and care for ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Nigeria,” the NACA boss said.
Speaking at the occasion, the Chief of Party, Johns Hopkins” Programme for International Education in Gyncology (Jhpiego), Emmanuel Atuma, said the platform was expected to be a rallying point that would shape discussion on HIV, and continually keep it on the front burner.
He said the training workshop was deliberately tailored for the media as an important move towards consolidating on the value of institutional partnerships, as well as collaboration with the mass media to ensure that the media became significantly involved in the forefront of HIV and AIDS response in Nigeria.
“The current National HIV strategic framework recognises that strengthening the use of social media platforms and traditional media to communicate a health promotion agenda is vitally important. Media is a strategic ally in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in Nigeria”, he stated, adding that “training journalists and setting up of HIV advocacy platform at the national level is therefore an excellent initiative by NACA”.
He continued that, “the media is strategically positioned to promote safer behaviour by challenging the norms, values and culture that fuel risky behaviour, if they are well informed.
“This  four-day training will additionally equip the media with skills in designing effective change programmes, developing stories that create impact, as well as advocacy skills –how they can maximise the power of the media as an advocacy agent to catalyse social change and influence HIV related policies,” he said.
DrAliyu also used the opportunity to inform participants that President MuhammaduBuhari would launch  a national trust fund on HIV before the end of this year.
He said the trust fund would help lift the heavy burden on the government for domestic funding and ownership of the HIV response.
“We have gotten the commitment of all those that matter in the private sector for the trust fund,” he said.
The workshop, which was held  in Lagos, was in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Jhpiego).

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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