HIV/AIDS: Expert Identifies Solutions To MTCT Elimination Barriers
Towards the elimination of barriers to prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, an expert has proferred solutions.
The expert, Dr Ijaodola Olugbenga, who is the Assistant Director, National Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS Lead of the National AIDS and Sexually Transmited Infections (STIs) Control Programme in the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), identified four key solutions.
Stating the solutions in his presentation, “Overcoming Barriers Towards Elimination of MTCT of HIV”, in a recent media dialogue to reinvigorate and produce a workplan for journalists reporting PMTCT, Dr Olugbenga said the first among the four solutions is to get accurate data on PMTCT and use such data to plan all programmes on PMTCT implementation.
In doing so, he said, there should be clear evaluation of PMTCT programmes, establishment of infant surveillance system to measure impact on ongoing basis, using the findings for continuous improvement in quality; and the need to map out all the facilities delivering Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N), particularly from the health facilities that have not been reported.
He continued that there’s also the need to link all data sources to the National Data Reposition (NDR), including District Health Information 2 (DHI 2), due to the urgent need to incorporate PMTCT data on the NDR.
There is also the need to conduct Data Quality Assessment to improve on what he called “numerators”, knowing that serious data quality issues exist both nationally and sub-regionally, as well as strengthening of Monitoring and Evaluation capacities and coordination of data systems at federal and state levels.
The second solution, Dr. Olugbenga said, it is to “Strengthen Compliance and Standardisation of Care Packages as well as quality of care across all partners”.
This, he said, will take the form of integrating HIV into RMNCAH-N in order to strengthen collaboration with the National Health Primary Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Family Health Division, as well as optimisation of the 4-prongs of PMTCT.
The 4-prongs of PMTCT are approaches aimed at enhancing the achievement of the objectives of PMTCT.
They are: Preventing HIV in women of reproductive age; Preventing unintended pregnancies in women living with HIV; Preventing HIV transmission from mother to child; and Ensuring treatment, care, and support to women living with HIV, their children and families.
By: Soibi Max-Alalibo
WHO Hails Benin, Mali Over Trachoma Elimination
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has commended the authorities in Benin and Mali for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem, making them the fifth and sixth countries in WHO’s African Region to achieve this significant milestone.
Countries that previously received WHO validation for trachoma elimination are Ghana in 2018, Gambia 2022, Togo May 2022 and Malawi in 2022.
In a statement on Tuesday WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “congratulates the health authorities of Benin and Mali and their network of global and local partners for these milestones”.
“Following Benin and Mali’s success, trachoma remains endemic in 23 countries in WHO’s African Region, bringing us a step closer towards the elimination target for trachoma set in the road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030,” Dr Ghebreyesus further said.
Globally, Benin and Mali join 15 other countries that have been validated by WHO for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. These are Cambodia, China, the Gambia, Ghana, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Togo and Vanuatu.
Both Benin and Mali implemented the WHO-recommended SAFE strategy to eliminate trachoma with the support of WHO and partners. The SAFE strategy consists of surgery to treat late trachoma complications; antibiotics to clear infection; facial cleanliness; and environmental improvement, particularly improving access to water and sanitation, to reduce transmission. Through the International Trachoma Initiative, the antibiotic azithromycin is donated by Pfizer to elimination programmes implementing the SAFE strategy.
Benin has integrated trachoma elimination interventions with those implemented against other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), under the umbrella of the National Programme for Communicable Diseases.
Trachoma is the third NTD to be eliminated in Benin, after dracunculiasis in 2009) and gambiense human African trypanosomiasis in 2021.
Mali had conducted trachoma impact and surveillance surveys by rolling out interventions to achieve elimination targets, despite security challenges in the northern regions of the country and sociopolitical upheavals in recent years.
Trachoma is the first NTD to be eliminated in Mali, which therefore now joins a global group of 47 countries that have eliminated at least one NTD.
“These are impressive public health achievements,” said Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director of the WHO Global NTD Programme,”Benin and Mali demonstrate how strong political will, cross-sector integration, surveillance and community engagement can work in concert to achieve disease elimination.”
Significant progress has been made in the fight against trachoma over the past few years. The number of people requiring antibiotic treatment for trachoma in the WHO African Region fell by 84 million, from 189 million in 2014 to 105 million as of June 2022.
Trachoma remains a public health problem in 41 countries (as of June 2022) with an estimated 125 million people living in areas requiring interventions against the disease.
Trachoma is found mainly in the poorest and most rural areas of Africa, Central and South America, Asia, the Western Pacific and the Middle East. The WHO African Region is disproportionately affected by trachoma with 105 million people living in at-risk areas, which represents 84% of the global trachoma burden.
World Hypertension Day: RSG Urges Citizens On Regular Check
As the world marks the World Hypertension Day, the Rivers State Government has urged citizens to always check their blood pressure and engage in healthy lifestyle.
Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, gave the charge in a broadcast to mark the day in Port Harcourt.
He warned that high blood pressure is a silent killer hence the signs and symptoms do not appear early and many die without ignorantly.
Against this backdrop, he urged members of the public to always be on the alert of their health and engage in lifestyles that will keep their blood pressure safe.
Prof. Chike revealed that statistics made available reveal that the South- South region has the second highest incidence of high blood pressure with 44.6 percent of the population having the ailment.
Noting that 1.28 billion people across the world suffer from high blood pressure, Chike said two third of this population are in low income countries as Nigeria.
To this end, he advised citizens to eschew from bad habits such as cigarette smoking, over consumption of alcohol, and adding too much salt to their meals, as these may worsen blood pressure.
Already, he stated that the state government has put in place facilities to address the menace with the establishment of Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Centre, including the renovated Kelsey Harrison hospital and other zonal hospitals in various local government areas to tackle the problem of heart diseases.
By: Kevin Nengia
Natural Methods To Manage Hypertension (1)
Every 17th day of May is observed as World Hypertension day. In this article, I will xray some effective methods confirmed by health experts on how one can manage hypertension.
1. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure.
Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.
In fact, getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Additionally, some research suggests that doing more exercise than this reduces your blood pressure even further .Walking just 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure. Getting more exercise helps reduce it even further.
2. Reduce your salt intake
Salt intake is high around the world. This is largely due to increased consumption of processed and prepared foods.
Many studies have linked high salt intake with high blood pressure and heart events, including stroke .
However, other research indicates that the relationship between sodium and high blood pressure is less clear .
One reason for this may be genetic differences in how people process sodium. About half of people with high blood pressure and a quarter of people with typical levels seem to have a sensitivity to salt .
If you already have high blood pressure, it’s worth cutting back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Swap out processed foods with fresh ingredients and try seasoning with herbs and spices rather than salt.
Most guidelines for lowering blood pressure recommend reducing sodium intake. However, that recommendation might make the most sense for people who are sensitive to the effects of salt.
3. Drink less alcohol
Drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of several chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure (9).
While some research has suggested that low to moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the heart, those benefits may be offset by adverse effects.
In the United States, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink per day for females and two drinks per day for males. If you drink more than that, it might be best to consider reducing your intake .
Drinking alcohol in any quantity may raise your blood pressure. Therefore, it’s best to moderate your intake.
4. Eat more potassium-rich foods
Potassium is an important mineral that helps your body get rid of sodium and eases pressure on your blood vessels.
Modern diets have increased most people’s sodium intake while decreasing potassium intake.
To get a better balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole foods.
Foods that are particularly high in potassium include:
vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
..Fruit, including melons, bananas, avocados, oranges, and ..Apricots
. Dairy, such as milk and yogurt
. Nuna and salmon
. Nuts and seeds
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in potassium, can help lower blood pressure.
5. Cut back on caffeine
If you’ve ever downed a cup of coffee before you’ve had your blood pressure taken, you’ll know that caffeine causes an instant boost.
However, there’s not much evidence to suggest that drinking caffeine regularly can cause a lasting increase .
In fact, people who drink caffeinated coffee or tea tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, than those who do not drink it.
Still, if you suspect you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine, consider cutting back to see if it lowers your blood pressure.
Caffeine can cause a short-term spike in blood pressure. However, for many people, it does not cause a lasting increase.
6. Learn to manage stress. Stress is a key driver of high blood pressure.
When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, that means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels.
When you experience stress, you might also be more likely to engage in other behaviors that can adversely affect blood pressure, such as drinking alcohol or eating processed foods.
Several studies have explored how reducing stress can help lower blood pressure. Here are two evidence-based tips to try:
· Listen to soothing music:Calming music can help relax your nervous system. Research has shown it’s an effective complement to other blood pressure therapies.
· Work less: Working a lot and stressful work situations are both linked to high blood pressure.
Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress can help.
7. Eat dark chocolate or cocoa
While eating massive amounts of dark chocolate probably won’t help your heart, small amounts may.
That’s because dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, which are plant compounds that cause blood vessels to dilate.
A review of studies found that flavonoid-rich cocoa may reduce short-term blood pressure levels in healthy adults.
For the strongest effects, use non-alkalized cocoa powder, which is especially high in flavonoids and has no added sugars.
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain plant compounds that help relax blood vessels, which may lower blood pressure.
8. Lose weight
In people with overweight, losing weight can make a big difference to heart health.
According to a 2016 study, losing 5% of your body weight could significantly lower high blood pressure.
The effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with exercise .
Losing weight can help your blood vessels do a better job of expanding and contracting, making it easier for the left ventricle of the heart to pump blood .
Losing weight can significantly lower high blood pressure. This effect is even more pronounced when you exercise.
9. If you smoke, consider quitting
Among the many reasons to quit smoking is that the habit is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
Every puff of cigarette smoke causes a slight, temporary increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels.
However, studies haven’t found a conclusive link between smoking and high blood pressure. This could be because people who smoke regularly develop a tolerance over time.
Still, since both smoking and high blood pressure raise the risk of heart disease, quitting smoking can help lessen that risk.
Though there’s conflicting research about smoking and high blood pressure, both increase the risk of heart disease.
10. Cut added sugar and refined carbs
There’s a growing body of research showing a link between added sugar intake and high blood pressure.
In one study, increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was linked to higher blood pressure levels in children and adolescents.
And it’s not just sugar — all refined carbs, such as the kind found in white flour, convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and could cause problems.
Some studies have shown that low carb diets may also help reduce blood pressure.
In fact, one review of 12 studies showed that following a low carb diet could reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure, along with several other risk factors for heart disease.
Bottom line: Refined carbs, especially sugar, may raise blood pressure. Some studies have shown that low carb diets may help reduce your blood pressure levels.
11. Eat berries
Berries are full of more than just juicy flavor.
They’re also packed with polyphenols, natural plant compounds that are good for your heart.
Polyphenols can reduce the risk of stroke, heart conditions, and diabetes and improve blood pressure, insulin resistance, and systemic inflammation.
One study assigned people with high blood pressure to a low polyphenol diet or a high polyphenol diet containing berries, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables (31).
Those consuming berries and polyphenol-rich foods experienced improved markers of heart disease risk.
Berries are rich in polyphenols, which can help lower blood pressure and the overall risk of heart disease.
12. Try meditation or deep breathing
While these two behaviors could also fall under “stress reduction techniques,” meditation and deep breathing deserve specific mention.
Both meditation and deep breathing may activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the body relaxes, slowing the heart rate, and lowering blood pressure.
There’s quite a bit of research in this area, with studies showing that different styles of meditation appear to have benefits for lowering blood pressure.
Deep breathing techniques can also be quite effective.
In one study, people who practiced diaphragmatic breathing, a deep breathing technique, twice daily for 4 weeks experienced a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Both meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.
13. Eat calcium-rich foods
People with low calcium intake often have high blood pressure.
While calcium supplements haven’t been conclusively shown to lower blood pressure, calcium-rich diets do seem to be linked to healthful levels.
For most adults, the calcium recommendation is 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day. However, some individuals may require higher amounts, including older adults .
In addition to dairy, you can get calcium from collard greens and other leafy greens, beans, sardines, and tofu. Calcium-rich diets are linked to healthy blood pressure levels. You can get calcium by eating dark leafy greens and tofu, as well as dairy.
14. Take natural supplements
Some natural supplements may also help lower blood pressure. Here are some of the main supplements that have evidence behind them:
· Aged garlic extract: Researchers have used aged garlic extract successfully as a stand-alone treatment and along with conventional therapies for lowering blood pressure (36).
· Berberine: Though more research is needed, some studies have found that berberine could potentially help lower blood pressure levels (37).
· Whey protein: A 2016 study found that whey protein improved blood pressure and blood vessel function in 38 participants (38).
· Fish oil: Long credited with improving heart health, fish oil may benefit people with high blood pressure the most (39).
· Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers make a tasty tea. They’re rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that are good for your heart and may lower blood pressure.
Researchers have investigated several natural supplements for their ability to lower blood pressure.
15. Eat foods rich in magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral that helps blood vessels relax.
While magnesium deficiency is pretty rare, many people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet.
Some studies have suggested that getting too little magnesium is linked with high blood pressure, but evidence from clinical studies has been less clear.
Still, you can ensure that you’re meeting your needs by enjoying a variety of magnesium-rich foods, including vegetables, dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat, and whole grains.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. It can be found in a wide range of whole foods, including legumes and whole grains.
High blood pressure affects a large proportion of the world’s population.
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