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Netherlands Moves To Strengthen Nigeria’s Healthcare Systems

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The Government of the Netherlands seeks to support Nigeria in strengthening its healthcare systems, to foster investments in Nigeria’s health sector and transfer capacity, expertise and best practices in line with its trade and aid policies.
The Consulate of the Kingdom of Netherlands, made this known, last Saturday, in a statement at a three-day fact-finding mission for Nigerian delegates in the Netherlands.
The delegation included private sector healthcare providers, financial investors and public sector officials.
The visit was organised by the Consulate of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Lagos, in collaboration with PharmAccess Foundation, the implementing partner for the Government of the Netherlands health-related activities.
According to the Consul General of the Netherlands in Lagos, Michel Deelen, it was the first health mission organised by the Consulate, which brought together leaders to meet and interact with Dutch health entrepreneurs.
He said the mission aimed at fostering investments in the Nigerian health sector and to transfer capacity, expertise and best practices.
“We aim to improve sustainable business partnerships between the Netherlands and Nigeria in key sectors like renewable energy, circular economy, agriculture and health.
“We understand the importance of authentic partnerships and aim to reap shared benefits from matchmaking opportunities in Nigeria and the Netherlands,” he said.
The Director, International Entrepreneurship at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Marc Hasselaar, provided insights into the drafting of a new global health strategy.
He stated that the world economies had become more globalised and individual countries were proposing new guidelines to strengthen national and global health security.
“The Government of the Netherlands, as part of its global development goals, has established a policy directive to structure the support it provides to the healthcare sector, globally to ensure that its global health efforts are more strategic.
“The recently published Dutch Global Health Strategy 2023-2030: ‘Working together for health worldwide,’ aims to contribute in a coordinated and targeted way to improving public health around the world.
Deputy Consul General of the Netherlands, Leonie Van der Stijl, who joined the mission, also noted that healthcare challenges had become increasingly global, multidimensional and complex.
“The Dutch Global Health Strategy focuses on strengthening global health architecture and systems, especially for primary care and sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights.
“As Africa’s biggest economy, the state of affairs in Nigeria often reflects issues and opportunities that exist across the continent. That is why this mission is so important,” Leonie said.
Furthermore, a representative of PharmAcces Nigeria, Mr Njide Ndile, shared findings from the Nigeria Health Sector Market Study.
“The objectives of the study include: to provide deeper insights into the opportunities in Nigeria’s health sector and to position Dutch firms as Nigeria’s innovative partners for Life-Science-Health (LSH) opportunities.
“There are opportunities to leverage investments through funders such as Invest international, who also support and fund governments for systems building, in addition to making access available to the private sector,” he said.
Commenting on the report, Managing Partner and CEO of FIT Consult Limited, Loretta Aniagolu, stated that the study provided by PharmAccess Foundation was very useful in validating their own studies, particularly the breakdown of the expenditure of each state on overseas and private healthcare treatment.
“The report is scheduled to be disseminated in December, 2022, and it will provide deeper insights into the market entry strategies for Dutch companies looking to leverage investment opportunities in Nigeria’s health sector,” it said.
The delegation went on site visits to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
The Chief Executive Officer of Delft Imaging,Guido Geerts, brought the delegates up to speed on some of the innovative solutions they had developed, using digital x-rays and CAD4TB to improve TB screening, especially in hard-to-reach areas.
“Delft Imaging Systems, established in 1925, has a long history of developing innovative imaging solutions that improve the quality of people,” Geerts said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 245,000 Nigerians die from tuberculosis (TB) and about 590,000 new cases occur every year.
At the Philips Innovation Centre in Eindhoven, the latest consumer healthcare products were showcased and the Nigerian delegation took part in live demonstrations of some of the medical equipment.
Philips Indirect Channel Manager, West Africa,Edward Mwingi, said that Philips had been developing innovative healthcare solutions across the continuum of care, from health living, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and home-care.
“We saw how easy it is to deploy technologies that will guarantee our nation’s health in future. This is not limited to equipment; we also have innovative software and financing solutions that address our current needs in Nigeria.
“Functional healthcare systems cannot operate in isolation and to deliver the maximum benefit, they need to work effectively as part of a wider ecosystem that includes a well-trained workforce, funding to pay for health services, diagnostics and therapeutics.”
During the visit to Invest International, which had a shareholding that included the Dutch Ministry of Finance (51percent) and FMO (49percent), a triple-A bank, the delegation learned how the organisation supported in making investments feasible for Dutch solutions that addressed global challenges.
Senior Business Developer for Child Health and Innovation for Development,Yvette Fleming, and her team, also enlightened the delegates on how the organisation was finding smart solutions to complex issues.
The team shared an example of how they were finding solutions to nutrition and creating employment opportunities, with flying foods: insects for food.
“We have been supporting organisations in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria through the farming crickets.
“They can be eaten as a snack, ground into powder and added to porridge, bread and cookies.
“The cool bricks an efficient construction material that is environmentally friendly is used to build houses.
“The Nigerian construction material market would be a viable destination for the cool bricks, as the market for environmentally-friendly building materials is still in its infancy,” she said.
Innovations in bioengineering were presented at TU Delft, the oldest and largest Dutch public technical university in the Netherlands.
Viable opportunities were discussed for collaboration in relevant research and development with institutions in Nigeria.
The university has existing partnerships with the University of Lagos and University of Ibadan.
Researchers at the university presented diagnostic innovations that could address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in low-resource settings.
Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, expressed appreciation to the Netherlands Government, adding that future fact-finding missions should include visits to pharmaceutical companies.
“The need for public-private partnership solutions, with counterpart funding are some of the financing solutions that need to be explored.
He also explained that in Lagos, they were pushing to ensure they smart working, leveraging on multiple sources of funding to deliver one standard of healthcare, benchmarked against international standards.

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Customs Suspends Rice Sale As Seven Die In Stampede

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The Nigeria Customs Service has announced the suspension of the sale of foodstuffs following a stampede that reportedly killed seven persons at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in the Yaba area of Lagos State, last Friday.
A Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, disclosed the suspension of the exercise in a statement on Monday.
Nigeria Customs had said it was selling seized food items at N10,000 per 25kg to alleviate the people’s suffering as a result of the current high cost of living and other economic hardships.
Last Friday, a pregnant woman and six others reportedly died in a stampede after some suspected hoodlums attempted to force their way into the Yaba Customs office compound.
Some Lagos residents who thronged the NCS office in Yaba expressed disappointment on Monday following the suspension of the initiative.
However, in a statement on Monday evening, the NCS said the suspension became necessary considering “the recent unfortunate event.”
“We regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, February 23, 2024,” the NCS spokesman said.
He explained that: “The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise.
“This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5,000 beneficiaries and members of the press. However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome.
“The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded.”
The Customs extended its “heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident.”
The service said it was working with health authorities to establish contact and engage directly with the victims’ families on their next steps.

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Court Dismisses Police Objection Against Fubara’s CoS …Restrains Police From Arresting Ehie

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A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, yesterday, dismissed the preliminary objection by counsel to the Nigerian Police, Celestine Dickson, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the fundamental rights suit by the Chief of Staff to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, Hon. Edison Ehie against the police for lack of merit.
The trial Judge, Justice Sika Aprioku, in a ruling, yesterday, assumed jurisdiction and held that the non-joinder of the Nigeria Police Force in a matter that the Commissioner of Police is a party to does not render the suit incompetent.
Justice Aprioku said the application by the Police lacks merit and thereby dismissed it with a cost of N100,000 in favour of Hon Edison Ehie.
Aprioku also granted the prayers of the counsel to Edison, Damian Okoro to restrain the Police from arresting, detaining, harassing, or inviting Ehie based on the trumped-up charges in the suit by Rt Hon. Martin Amaewhule in connection to the destruction of the Hallow chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the Police, Celestine Dickson, said he would study the judgment and advise his clients accordingly.
Dickson stated, “That is the wisdom of the court and we cannot criticise the wisdom of the court. The outcome of court decisions must bind parties.
“If you are not satisfied I think you study the judgement and take the next step. The court made it clear that in a couple of minutes, we were going to have copies of the judgement. That will give us the opportunity to look at the judgement and advise our clients accordingly.
On his part, one of the counsel to the Chief of Staff, Ibioku Mac-Barango said the judgment reflects the position of the law.

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Fubara Expresses Confidence In Tinubu To Address Labour Concerns

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In the midst of the ongoing nationwide protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has expressed confidence in President Bola Tinubu’s ability to address the concerns raised by the organised labour and alleviate their fears.
Fubara gave the assurance during the NLC’s protest to the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday .
The State NLC, led by its chairman, Alex Agwanwor, had joined its counterparts in other parts of the country to protest against high cost of living in the country occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government in May last year.
Recall that there have been a series of protests across the country over the cost of living, inflation, insecurity and hardship among Nigerians.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on February 8 issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the Federal Government over the failure to implement the agreements reached on October 2, 2023 following the removal of the fuel subsidy.
Responding to a letter of demands presented to the governor by the State NLC, Fubara noted that the grievances outlined by the protesters primarily fell within the purview of the Federal Government.
The governor, who was represented by the Head of the Rivers State Civil Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, said, “To all who listened to every presentation of the labour leader as it is being read out, we can find out none is local, not originating from local source here. They are all national issues and we have hope in the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government. We have hope. And I know Governor Fubara will also deliver this message as presented by you to the President.”
Fubara further assured the protesters that his administration remained committed to alleviating the economic hardships faced by the people of Rivers State.
He highlighted initiatives such as the provision of palliative buses in response to the fuel subsidy removal and the ongoing development of 20,000 housing units for low-income earners.
The governor also emphasized his administration’s dedication to improving the welfare of civil servants, citing measures such as the employment of 10,000 youths into the state civil service, promotions, and the provision of bonuses.
He affirmed the significance of the issues raised and reiterated his commitment to prioritizing the welfare of workers in the State.
He, however, assured that the NLC’s demands would be conveyed to the President as presented.

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