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As The World Celebrates World AIDS Day…

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As the world marks another World AIDS Day (WAD) today, Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the stage is set again for an appraisal of sort to determine the extent to which countries in the world have fared individually and as groups in the quest to end the spread of HIV/AIDS, particularly from the previous year to the present.
Since the emergence of HIV 40 years ago, and its subsequent declaration as a pandemic, so much have been done to ensure that from being regarded as a death sentence in the beginning, an infected person can now live a successful life after all. But even in its present status as an ailment that can be put under check like other ailments, there have been lapses which have made it more difficulty in attaining set goals in the fight against the pandemic.
Consequently, each year a target is earmarked for accomplishment globally, and in each country, depending on what is identified as the key issue in the fight against the pandemic.
The global theme for 2021 is “End Inequalities. End AIDS”. Towards this end, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners seek to focus on reaching people left behind with a view to highlight the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services.
In his 2021 WAD message to the world, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), TedrosAdhanom, stated that 37. 7million persons were estimated to be living with HIV in 2020. In the same year, 80, 000 people were also estimated to have died of HIV-related causes, while 1.5million people were newly infected, and 73per cent of people living with HIV received life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART).
According to him, in spite of the fact that the world has recorded notable achievements in recent years in checking the trend of the pandemic, it has remained a threat to society, and that specifically the targets set for 2020 could not be achieved.
In his words, “Although the world has made significant progress in recent decades, important global targets for 2020 were not met.
“Division, disparity and disregard for human rights are among the failures that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis. Now, COVID-19 is exacerbating inequities and disruptions to services, making the lives of many people living with HIV more challenging”, he said..
The WHO boss, therefore, called on leaders in countries and their citizenry to “rally to confront the inequalities that drive AIDS, and to reach people who are currently not receiving essential HIV services”.
On her part, the Executive Director of the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Winnie Byanyima, warned that AIDS remains a pandemic, and the world can only end it by the targeted 2030 if an end can be put to inequalities that drive the pandemic in countries.
“Where leaders are acting boldly and together, bringing together cutting-edge science, delivering services that meet all people’s needs, protecting human rights and sustaining adequate financing, AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections are becoming rare.
“But this is only the case in some places and for some people.
“Without the inequality-fighting approach we need to end AIDS, the world would also struggle to end the COVID-19 pandemic and would remain unprepared for the pandemics of the future. That would be profoundly dangerous for us all.
“On our current trajectory, we aren’t bending the curve fast enough and risk an AIDS pandemic lasting decades. We have to move faster on a set of concrete actions agreed by United Nations Member States to address the inequalities that are driving HIV.
“We urgently need sufficient community-led and community-based infrastructure as part of a strong public health system, underpinned by robust civil society accountability.
“We need policies to ensure fair and affordable access to science. Every new technology should reach each and everyone who needs it without delay.
“We need to protect our health workers and expand their numbers to meet our urgent needs. We must protect human rights and build trust in health systems.
“It is these that will ensure we close the inequality gaps and end AIDS. But they are too often applied unevenly, are underfunded and are underappreciated.
“World leaders must work together urgently to tackle these challenges head-on. I urge you: be courageous in matching words with deeds.
“If we take on the inequalities that hold back progress, we can deliver on the promise to end AIDS by 2030. It is in our hands”, the UNAIDS boss concluded.
In line with tackling peculiar challenges by countries, Nigeria’s theme for the 2021 WAD is “End Inequalities! End AIDS! Through Sustainable Financing”, which is in realisation of the fact that availability of the require fund to execute necessary programmes is a key challenge as the 2030 target to end HIV draws closer.
In his 2021 WAD message to the people of Rivers State, the State Commissioner for Health, Professor Princewill Chike, noted that Nigeria, and Rivers State, particularly, has recorded significant progress in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the last few years.
“A recalibration of the HIV epidemic showed a significant decline in the HIV prevalence from 5.8% in 2001 to 1.3% in 2018. Presently in Nigeria, it is estimated that 1.7 million people live with HIV in Nigeria of which 90% are aware of their HIV status, 96% are on treatment and 84% are virally suppressed.
“Despite the challenges and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the HIV programme in Rivers State continued to record greater successes in identification, diagnosis, treatment, care and support for those in need of these services”, the Commissioner said.
Professor Chike further noted that all efforts made by the State Government in checking the trend of the pandemic in the State was made possible by what he called the “tremendous commitment in actualizing the NEW Rivers vision of repositioning health sector to meet international best standards”, by Governor Nyesom Wike, through the provision of necessary health equipment and infrastructural facilities in the State.
“Achieving an HIV free generation is a task that this administration is proud to pursue. Working together in solidarity, we are right on track to ending the HIV/ AIDS epidemic, and building a healthier, safer world for all of us”, the Commissioner said.
He, therefore called on citizens of the State to “rally in confronting the inequalities that drive AIDS and to reach people who are currently not receiving essential HIV services”
Emphasizing on the importance of finance in the fight against the pandemic, and also noting that Mother-To-Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV/AIDS constitutes a reasonable number of HIV infection, Dr. Abiola Davies, an expert in Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) called on more financial commitment on the part of State Governments.
“One of the major challenges we’ve had since the commencement (of PMTCT) is that most of the programming in Nigeria, HIV programming, including PMTCT, it’s mainly donor driven. That means we have a developing agents organisation that is putting funding towards programming.
“Definitely, Government provides healthcare workers to work in the facilities. But when you talk about test kits, drugs and the tests that need to be done, they are mainly done by development organisations.
“I will love to see that Government puts more money, that it’s more driven by Government in funding to walk the talk”, she stated, adding that “obviously, who pays the piper dictates the tune, and if development agency has its own agenda they pursue sometimes, it may not always align with the agenda of the Government”.
Aligning with Dr Davies, the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), GamboAliyu, decried what he described as Nigeria’s over-dependence on foreign funding for the campaign against HIV/AIDS.
He said; “Between 2005 and 2018, about $6.2 billion dollars was spent to identify close to one million people living with HIV in this country and place them on treatment.
“However 80 per cent of this money came from international donors and development partners. Only 18 per cent was contributed by the Federal and State Governments, and one per cent came from the private sector”.
Mr Aliyu said it is essential for national and state stakeholders to assume greater ownership of the HIV response, including financing and strong accountability structures, adding that he was committed to mobilising local resources towards achieving the agency’s objective.

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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8 Simple Tips To Have A Healthy Year

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This year is already on to the second month and its moving at a speed that may take many off balance as they push for the rat race, and how to have the best year possible.
Unfortunately, many people put health behind, thinking that life will take care of itself but that never happens. Normally, health priority number one should be taking care of oneself.
Below are shared health tips to help you make the most of this 2023:
1. Get a Check-up
When you visit your doctor or the hospital for your annual check-up, he or she should screen for the vitals like: high blood pressure and cholesterol and abnormal glucose(Sugar levels) or lipid levels. Your doctor will also make sure you’re at a healthy weight and up-to-date on your immunizations and check for potentially dangerous skin lesions.
2. Stop Smoking
Smoking not only damages your lungs, it also increases your risk for heart attack, bladder cancer and even erectile dysfunction. Talk to your doctor about options to help you quit smoking, including medications, patches or a smoking cessation.
3.Avoid Too Much but Embrace Early Morn Sun
The benefit of early morning sun is  Vitamin D and to improve mood. However, too much sun can be damaging. Try getting early morning sun at least twice a week from 7-10am.
4. Get Moving
If you haven’t adopted a routine of regular exercise, this year is the time to do it. Commit to exercising at least 30 minutes, 3 days a week to help keep your weight controlled, reduce your stress and stay healthy. You don’t have to be an extreme athlete; choose to take the stairs instead of an elevator, do stretches during the commercials of your favorite TV show, or go for a walk around your neighborhood.
5.Watch What You Eat
Take a new look at healthy eating by thinking about all the food you can eat, not what you “can’t” eat. Make sure you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables, calcium, whole grains and lean protein in your daily diet. Experiment with cooking old favorites in a different, healthier way, like baking chicken instead of frying it or grilling fish instead of sautéing it.
6.Commit to Better Sleep
Getting good quality sleep, and enough of it, plays a big role in your overall health. Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours a night and try to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Create a bedroom that’s conducive to good sleep by making it dark and quiet and removing electronics like televisions, computers and cell phones.
7.Adopt a Hand-washing Routine
In this period of Covid and other contaminables regular hand washing is the number one way to protect yourself against illness. Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing and eating foods, after blowing your nose or coughing, when you are around someone who is sick and after caring for animals. Make sure you’re using warm water, lathering the soap and scrubbing, rinsing and drying.
8.Make Time for a Break
Simply put rest most often. These days we’re all moving a mile a minute, and “multi-tasking” is a popular buzz word. Taking short breaks from work throughout your day can reduce stress on your mind and body. So, get up from your desk and take a walk around the office; do some light stretching at lunch; or take a break to chat with a coworker around the water cooler.

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WHO Raises Alarm Over Fake Drugs On Children

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The World Health Organisation(WHO) has made an urgent call  to countries to prevent, detect and respond to incidents of substandard and falsified medical products on children.
Over the past four months, it said many countries have reported of several incidents of over-the-counter cough syrups for children with confirmed or suspected contamination with high levels of diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG).
It said,”The cases are from at least seven countries, associated with more than 300 fatalities in three of these countries. Most are young children under the age of five. These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal even taken in small amounts, and should never be found in medicines.”
Based on country reports, the world apex health body issued three global medical alerts addressing these incidents.
WHO’s medical product alerts were rapidly. disseminated to the national health authorities of all 194 WHO Member States.
These medical product alerts requested,  the detection and removal of contaminated medicines from circulation in the markets, increased surveillance and diligence within the supply chains of countries and regions likely to be affected,  immediate notification to WHO if these substandard products are discovered in-country.
It called on various key stakeholders engaged in the medical supply chain to take immediate and coordinated action.
Calling on regulators and governments to detect and remove from circulation in their respective markets any substandard medical products, WHO urged  that all medical products in the respective markets are those approved for sale by competent authorities and obtainable from authorised/licensed suppliers.
It urged the appropriate authorities to improve and increase risk-based inspections of manufacturing sites within their jurisdiction in accordance with international norms and standards.
Further stressing increased need for market surveillance including risk-based targeted testing for medical products released in their respective markets including informal markets;it emphasised the need to enact and enforce, where relevant and as appropriate, laws and other relevant legal measures to help combat the manufacture, distribution and/or use of substandard and falsified medicines.

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NGO Trains Healthcare Workers On Effective Handling Of SGBV Cases

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The Abiodun Essiet Initiative for Girls (AEIG), an NGO, trained no fewer than 40 healthcare workers and members of Community Development Committee (CDC) on effective handling of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases in their communities.
The Tide source reports that the participants were drawn from various primary health care centres in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and Bwari Area Council of the FCT.
The theme of the training is; “Strengthening the Capacity of PHCs and Ward Development Committees on SGBV Case Management and Access to Efficient Healthcare Service Delivery.”
Mrs Abiodun Essiet, the Executive Director of AEIG, said the training was aimed at improving the knowledge of  healthcare workers on how to effectively manage cases of SGBV in their centres.
She added that “the training focuses on proper documentation, management and non-tampering of evidences, which will assist in the prosecution of perpetrators.
“Healthcare workers are frontliners that manage SGBV cases and other people interact with them to share ideas with them, so, it is important that we re-orient them about their position and how they can handle these cases.
“Our project goal is to strengthen traditional justice system to effectively combat SGBV, and so far, we have done that across the area councils last year.
“What we are doing now is to train healthcare workers who will be interfacing with community development committee members in the various communities.
“These are issues of paramount concern to communities where most of the original inhabitants of the FCT are, as it is only the primary health centres that they can access care.
“So we want to work together with the healthcare facilities and ensure that the original inhabitants of the FCT are better served.”
Dr Laz Eze, the Founder, Make Our Hospital Work Campaign, stressed the need for primary healthcare facilities to be accessible and affordable to the people.
Eze, who spoke on; “Promoting Health Care Delivery: The Role of Primary Health Care”, added that PHCs were important in the areas of education, prevention, as well as physical and psycho-social response to SGBV survivors.
He added that drastic measures must also be taken by communities to ensure that SGBV cases were reported to the right authorities.

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