PRESS RELEASES (209)

While welcoming Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the new WHO Representative to Nigeria, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has told the new Rep that Nigeria is pleased to have him on board as the Health Team “will count on his experience to continue to calibrate on our response” as the new man is “coming right in the middle of the storm.”

The Honourable Minister of Health also expressed the appreciation of Nigeria to the UN Bodies who have come together to create “One Basket Fund” which he wanted the new WHO Country Rep to get interested in, because the Fund significantly boosted the resources and the assets which Nigeria has to respond; “the first of which was the $2Million consignment that came into Nigeria to kick start everything that Nigeria has to do, just as the other consignments begin to roll in”, the Minister said.  Dr. Ehanire also disclosed that Nigeria has a good stock in the warehouse along with “what we get from other countries, the EU and the US Government, UK, Global Fund, everybody is chipping in from all sides and giving us support.”  “We are pleased with the handholding that is going on, and we hope that all that will continue to grow.”

The new WHO Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo has been in Nigeria since 18th June, 2020 for his 2nd coming to work.  He has been in the country but in isolation as required by the protocol having been deployed from Accra, Ghana.

The new WHO Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo Kazadi led in by Dr. Fiona Braka (WHO) to the Health Team of HMH Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the PSH, A.M. Abdullahi today, 6th July, 2020.
The new WHO Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo Kazadi led in by Dr. Fiona Braka (WHO) to the Health Team of HMH Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the PSH, A.M. Abdullahi today, 6th July, 2020.

The new WHO Rep in Nigeria disclosed that he was impressed by the set up at the Airport when he was coming in, as well as the protocol put in place at the hotel he stayed in. He said that Nigeria’s administrators who are handling COVID-19 protocols gave him the impression that they surely know what they are doing. Dr. Mulombo congratulates the Honourable Minister of Health, for taking the leadership to make Nigeria certified polio-free.  “It is a very big achievement and it paves the way for the whole continent to be certified polio-free; in that we are very proud of Nigeria.”

He also congratulated Dr. Ehanire for his leadership in many areas”, the last one which he recalled, was the successful grant application to global fund through the first window where it was thought that Nigeria wouldn’t get it, but Nigeria made it.”  He told his host that WHO would want to build on the success and to explore other avenues to support the Health Ministry and the Government of Nigeria.

The new WHO Rep also said, even though COVID-19 is a storm as Dr. Ehanire described it, he said “the advantage and lessons learnt from managing Nigeria to a Polio-free country can be built upon, to try and address issues regarding the COVID-19 and other health emergencies.”

Before the coming of Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo to resume as the new WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Fiona Braka has been acting and representing WHO on the Presidential Task Force of COVID-19, the flagship body for managing issues of COVID-19 in Nigeria.




Signed.
Olujimi Oyetomi
Director, Information, Media & Public Relations.

The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora has charged Chief Medical Directors(CMDs) and Chief Executives of  hospitals to remain steadfast in the discharge of their duties in spite of the daunting challenges faced. Dr. Mamora made this charge during a partially physical and partially virtual meeting he had with Chief  Medical  Directors  from  various  Federal  Medical  Centres,  Tertiary  Hospitals  and Specialty  Hospitals  across  the  country,  held on Thursday, 2nd July, 2020.

The meeting  which  was called to feel the pulse of  the Chief Executives on response  efforts  put  in  place at  the  various centres,  as well as challenges faced in handling the corona virus pandemic.  The CMDs reveal efforts  made  by  their  Centres  to  include  successful  treatment  and  discharge  of COVID-19  patients;  Excellent  partnership/collaboration  of  some  Centres  with  their  host State Governors in tackling the pandemic through support purchases of ventilators, dialysis machines,  ECG  machines,  Mobile  Xray  machines,  donation  of  bed  spaces  and  supply  of consumables; PPEs and other equipment received by some centres from the Office of the First Lady,  Federal Ministry of  Health (FMOH),  Sir  Emeka Offor  Foundation,  Agip  Oil,  Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs),  Private  Organizations  and Individuals to mention a few.  

Some of the Health Care Centres reported upgrade of molecular laboratories by the NCDC for testing of samples.  Some also reported growth  of  local  capacity  in  some  areas  like  the  production  of sanitizers, liquid soaps, theatre caps, masks, hand washing machines which are believed that post-COVID-19, will go a long way in reducing  cost of  procurement  as well as domesticate production of these items.

Some of the CMDs reported that this was not the case in some centres, as there were also challenges which were general in nature to include:  Low rate of testing and the need for molecular laboratories and GeneXpert machines to be set up to reduce turnaround time which will in turn reduce fatality rate.

There were reports of dwindling internally generated revenue (IGR) due to low turnout of regular routine cases with huge outsource services and overhead cost to be paid for.  

There were reports of high cost of electricity bills; increased cost of providing services due to high cost of materials; delay in payment of inducement allowance to health workers working in isolation centres; lack of sufficient PPEs and bed spaces; lack of support/poor relationship with some host State Governors.

There were also reports of inappropriate demand for PPEs and demand for only N95 masks by staff, before they can work; infection  of  hospital  workers/resignation  of  resident  doctors  and  the  need  for employment waiver.

The litany of challenges encountered at the Government hospitals also include lack of oxygen supply; need for more ambulance/surgical facilities for COVID-19 cases; summons  of  the  CMDs  by  NASS  which they request should be  stepped  down  for  now,  to  enable  them concentrate on the crisis on ground.

There were reports of the refusal of citizens to believe that COVID-19 exist; issues of security with families coming in with assault weapons to claim their corpses; and the safety of their colleagues in Kogi State.

In  response  to  some  of  the  challenges  raised  by  the  CMDs,  the  Honourable Minister  of  State  for Health, took time to address them, while referring some to the Director, Hospital Services, FMoH, Dr, Adebimpe Adebiyi for response.

On the issue of dwindling Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) due to low turnout of regular routine cases and with huge outsource services and overhead to be met, the Honourable Minister of State informed the Chief Executives that the Ministry is in talks with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in the area of out-source services to have a budget line and be funded regularly, but with the coming of COVD-19 plans were put on hold, he said. The Honourable Minister of State assured that the process will be pursued further.  

On the issue of IGR,  Dr. Mamora acknowledged that it’s a major issue especially at this point in time and promised that the FMoH will do the best it can, because that is a duty owed to the CMDs/CEOs and the FMoH will not hold back if and when the need arises to do so.

On the issue of lack of support/poor relationship with some host State Governors, the Honourable Minister of State for Health said that there is need for synergy and collaboration with State Governments to be able to achieve results, saying that the response of COVID-19 is led by the State with the Federal Government supporting,”We are working on a common purpose, the FMoH would step in to appeal and solicit support from the State Governments.”  

On the issue of infection of hospital workers/resignation of resident doctors, and the need for employment waiver, Dr. Mamora reiterated the need for health workers to be educated on the consciousness of infection, prevention and control (IPC) to further limit or eliminate infections.

On waiver for employment of nurses and doctors, Dr. Mamora said the request will be sent to the appropriate authorities and there will be a revert to the CEOs.

On summons by NASS to be stepped down for now, Dr. Mamora assured of his intervention with the law makers to put a halt to this to reduce undue risk and exposure to infection, stating that this is not the best time to  take  on  journeys  that  are  not  very  necessary  and  that  this  is  against  what  is  been preached from the PTF level to reduce exposure to contacting COVID-19.  

On the issue of delay in payment of inducement allowances to health workers working in isolation centres, Dr. Mamora assured them that they will receive the payment of 20% special inducement allowances by Government, “It is a commitment that will be paid, the delay has been due to the fact that IPPIS office wanted to clear the hazard allowances before the inducement allowances.”

On the issue of inappropriate demand for PPEs and demand for only N95 masks by staff before they can work, Dr. Mamora said “N95 masks should be reserved for those going into the ward for surgical procedures, regular medical masks can be worn, PPEs must be appropriated for the right situation, there is need for understanding as well as educating staff in the use of mask, to maximize what we have.”

On  the  issue  of  the  safety  of  their  colleagues  in  Kogi State, the Honourable Minister of State, for Health said that he has been in touch with the CMD and that the issue has gone beyond the FMoH to the PTF and also to the level of the Presidency.  “We are alerting the relevant authorities in terms of security beef up at the Centre as well as for the entire health worker, from the Centre, we have a duty to protect everyone of you in the course of carrying out your legitimate duties”, he stated.  

On  the  issue  of  lack  of  sufficient  PPEs  and  bed  spaces,  lack  of  oxygen,  ambulance  and surgical facilities for COVID-19, Dr. Mamora said the FMoH will continue to do its best to assist and proffer solutions in areas that it can, within the limits of what we have.  

On the  issue  of  low  rate  of  testing  and  the  need  for  molecular  laboratories, the  Director, Hospital  Services  of  the  FMoH,  Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi  informed  that  starting  from  the FCT, testing will be ramped up with sample collection sites been established with directives from  the  Honourable  Minister  to  repurpose  some  GeneXpert  machines  for  reduced turnaround  time  testing.
The Director on behalf of the Honourable Minister of State for Health disclosed that tertiary hospitals have been identified to benefit from this, so as to free up bed spaces at the isolation centres.

On the issue of high cost of Electricity bills, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi also informed that there is an expression of support from  the  Rural  Electrification  Agency  to  support  Federal  Tertiary  Hospitals  and  some General Hospitals, with the initial preliminary discussions started. “It is a development that will make power generation resolved in the shortest possible time”, she stated.

Dr. Mamora thanked the CMDs for their relentless spirit in the fight against COVID-19 and extended the warm wishes of the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who could  not  be  part  of  the  meeting  due  to  commitment  at  the  PTF,  stating  that  all  their concerns have been noted. “A time of crisis is a time where true leadership comes out with the ability to adapt, innovate and be flexible, given the circumstance.” He further assured that the FMoH has a duty to look into all their challenges and proffer solutions and support.

He  urged  the CEOs  not  to  be  overwhelmed,  to  live  up  to  expectation, remain  undaunted  and  never  say  there  is  no  solution  to  whatever  challenges  that  comes. He also assured them that because every problem has a solution, they are not alone in this fight.  He further gave a stern warning that on no account should any patient be turned back or rejected when they visit the hospital, reminding them of their first call of duty as Doctors which is to save lives, reduce pain and suffering. “There is a need to revisit the issue of Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits, some of them may not show or exhibit the level of specificity and sensitivity but it is still better to do something if and where available than not to do anything. “We can do that right now and within minutes, get results, we should examine the rapid test kits available, some are PCR-based, we should start looking at that, we are looking at what we can do within 15-20 minutes and get results and then follow up on what you need to do for the patient, that is what I think we need to look at in the immediate, while we await  the  recalibration of the GeneXpert machines which will take us an hour, which is even luxury.  We should be pragmatic; so many patients have died while waiting even for 30 minutes. Let us be conscious of the IPC and do what we have to do, even if it means putting the patient in the corridor to screen; we should look at what can be done in the immediate to save lives”, Dr. Mamora stated.

Present at the meeting were the Senior Technical Assistant to the Honorable Minister of State, Dr. David Atuwo; Technical Assistant to the  Honourable Minister  of  State, Dr. Nneka Orji and other staff of the Ministry.

The meeting by the Honourable Minister of State for Health with the CEOs of Hospitals is an experience  sharing  session, which is meant for  regular  sharing  of ideas,  interaction  as  well  as encouraging  one another,  knowing  that  they  are  not  alone,  but  working  together  to support one another.  




Report by Blessing Efem.
Signed.
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Information, Media & Public Relations,
FMOH.

The Central Working Committee (CWC) of Frontline Health Workers Support Fund which consists of eight (8) professional bodies in the health sector has paid a courtesy call on the Honourable Ministers of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, pledging their readiness to work with the Federal and Sub-National Governments and in particular the Presidential Task Force (PTF) towards enhancing the success of the ongoing war against COVID-19.  The body is not only pledging harmonious working relationship, they have also pledged to support the Federal Government with equipment worth Five Billion Naira “to be made up in the short run, medium term and in the long run.”

The Central Working Committee (CWC) of Frontline Health Workers Support Fund is composed of the Nigerian Medical Association; Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors; Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria (PSN); National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM); Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN); Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN); Guild of Medical Directors (GMD); and Guild of Medical Laboratory Directors.

The novel Body was led in to see the Honourable Ministers Friday, 3rd July, 2020 by the Director, Hospital Services in Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi mni, and Comrade Abdufatai Adeniji and Prof. Femi Babalola, the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the CWC of the Support Fund.

The CWC of the Frontline Health Workers Support Fund already has a procurement list and Basic Operational Cost for ensuring that they could raise the funds for the pledged donations of equipment, items and capacity building of frontline health workers.
The pledged donations include: 11 Million Facemasks, Complete Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) – Boots, Sterile Gloves, Non-Sterile Gloves all of various sizes, Visors, Waterproof jumpsuits and Nylon Aprons of various sizes “for health workers who are not already covered by the provisions by Government especially those in the private sector.”

Other items of procurement by the CWC include the Establishments of Seven Testing Centers – One each at the Six Geo-political zone of the Country and FCT, Payment of Stipend for Personnel at Testing Centers – Lab Scientists, Cleaners, Drivers, Nurses, Admin Staff and Ambulance Support.

Yet other items of procurement planned include Data Analytics Development, Ambulances planned for rapid evacuation of frontline workers, COVID-19 related research, Establishment of Isolation Units, Insurance Scheme covering morbidity and mortality, Hospital-based and Extra-mural capacity building and Training of Frontline Health-care Workers.

Group photograph of the CWC of Frontline Health Workers Support Fund with the HMSH, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, 3rd July, 2020.
Group photograph of the CWC of Frontline Health Workers Support Fund with the HMSH, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, 3rd July, 2020.

The Head of the Delegation of the CWC of the Frontline Health Workers Support Fund, Comrade Abdufatai Adeniji had earlier disclosed to the Honourable Ministers that the Body which is a novel coalition in the history of health care in Nigeria resolved to do things in the way they have pledged, because of the realization that despite the huge investment by the Government at the National and Sub-National levels, Government alone cannot bear the burden of safeguarding the lives of the Frontline Health Workers.”  He was supported in this by Prof. Femi Babalola, the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the CWC, who gave a breakdown of their procurement pursuits – “We have decided to push aside any form of differences and unconditionally decided to come together for the purpose of mobilizing resources (human, materials, funds and sundries)” to support Government.

In response, the Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora pointedly told the delegates of the CWC of the Frontline Health Workers Support Fund to realize that “We are all labourers in the vineyard of health” urging them to note that “COVID-19 has ushered in a “new normal with the opportunity given for Nigeria and Nigerians to re-calibrate and re-jig our experiences and using same to re-bond more than before; coming together in a new spirit realizing that the health team is not a solo event but a team one.”  While thanking them, he welcomes the idea of their supporting the Government at this point in time.

On his part, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Honourable Minister of Health encouraged the CWC of the Frontline Health Workers Support Fund to know that the Government welcomes the new spirit of partnership which they promised and their plans to fund all that they have pledged to donate in support of the COVID-19 fight.





Signed:
Olujimi Oyetomi,
Director, Information, Media & Public Relations,
Federal Ministry of Health.
 

The Federal Government has directed the immediate deployment and activation of GeneXpert machines to treatment centers at National Hospital Abuja and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, so that they can now conduct testing on site. The GeneXpert machine allows results within one hour.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Honourable Minister of Health revealed this at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing on Thursday, 2nd July, 2020.

Similarly, Dr. Ehanire has cautioned against rejection of very sick persons in hospitals with many, losing their lives outside or on the way, having been denied attention in more than one hospital.  

To address this ugly trend, the Honourable Minister of Health reported on a meeting held by the Honourable Ministers of Health, their FCT counterpart with Medical Directors of both Federal and FCT government hospitals in the FCT catchment area, where it was emphasized that no patient should be denied treatment or rejected, and that all health workers will be trained and retrained on Infection Prevention and Control and issued PPEs and materials required for the discharge of their duties.

The Minister also revealed that, all government hospitals in FCT will become COVID-19 sample collection sites, so that walk-in cases can have samples taken to be forwarded to NCDC for testing. “This will boost testing and assure users and caregivers of reduced bottlenecks and improved efficiency in our response. We intend to scale up this sentinel sample collection sites to all States of the Federation.  It is not acceptable that persons lose their lives to health conditions which could possibly have been cured, or may not even have been COVID-19 related”, he said.

Speaking further, Dr. Ehanire disclosed that the current figure of tested samples in the country stands at 138,462, of which 26,484 are confirmed positive, while 10,152 have been treated and discharged with 603 fatalities, most of them with underlying illnesses.

Commenting on Madagascar herbs, the Health Minister revealed that preliminary results of the analysis of the herbs by Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRID), show that it is the same as the plant Artemisia anua, which is grown in the NIPRID research farm in Abuja and further research on its efficacy will be conducted when a grant is approved.

In another development, the Honourable Minister informed that he chaired the quarterly meeting of the Federal Ministry of Health with the Health Partners Coordinating Committee on Friday, 26th June, 2020, which was to update our international Development Partners Group on Federal Government plans and strategies, and to mobilize technical and material support for the Health Sector activities, especially the COVID-19 Response Action Plan.

On the ease of lock down, the Minister advised that it should not be assumed that the lifting of the ban on interstate travel is an indication that danger is over and it is safe to move about.  “The risks of being infected are higher during travel, so I strongly advise we do not embark on non-essential travel.  This is particularly so for the elderly and those designated as high risk”, he said.

He pointed out that all countries, including Nigeria, rely heavily on the cooperation and collaboration with citizens, especially in implementing simple non-pharmaceutical measures, like wearing face masks when outside the house, avoiding crowds and gatherings of more than 20 people and simple hygiene measures, which have been proven to reduce risks of transmission. “The success or lack thereof, of response is therefore a factor, not just of national, but also of sub-national and citizen efforts.  Hence, the need to again call on all States, LGAs and communities, to know they have a critical role to play and that their engagement matters”, Dr. Ehanire said.




By Blessing Egbo.
Signed.
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Information, Media & Public Relations.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and his Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello as well as the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora have established new measures to address issues of very sick persons being denied medical attention, rejected and abandoned by hospitals under the control of both Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Capital Territory Administration in Abuja catchment areas.

Efforts to control COVID- 19 was being carried out by most healthcare workers in and around the FCT such that it is getting challenging for patients with other diseases to be attended to, the way they ought to be.  For this, the Honourable Ministers charged that controlling COVID-19 “must not be at the expense of allowing other diseases that are equally life threatening to begin to thrive and increase mortality.  It would be a serious setback, if medical services, especially emergency medical service, begin to deteriorate in the wake of fighting COVID-19”, the Honourable Ministers said.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said his office has been inundated by “The frequency of reports of very sick persons being rejected and abandoned by our hospitals, many have died having been denied attention in hospitals, or told there is no bed, often after they have made marathon journeys from one hospital to the other in search of help”, stating that this is not acceptable.

Continuing, Dr. Ehanire expressed lamentation that “We cannot afford to continue to lose so many of our people, who have in fact found their way to a hospital, only to lose their lives to health conditions, some of which could have been cured. We know that not all emergencies are COVID and we know that our professional oaths oblige us to save lives and do something for those who come to us for help.”  

Under the treatment regime that the Honourable Ministers want changed,  many patients are left unattended after admission, or even  die, while waiting for the result of their COVID-19 or other tests, which sometimes take as long as 3-6 days to be released.

The Health Minister lamented that “The healthcare sector cannot afford negative impact on our sector and must be mindful of the collateral damage that can  befall us, wipe out disease control gains we have made in past decades and threaten our not so strong health system.”  

He continued:  “We are beginning to see that fear of, or focus on corona virus is making some health institutions lose sight of other health hazards in our communities. Immunization rates, skilled birth attendance, RMNCH+N have declined.  We must therefore take steps to ensure that we sustain routine health services to our people.”

For the regrettable situation, the Honourable Minister of Health therefore belled the cat on behalf of his colleague Ministers of FCT, and the Honourable Minister of State for Health to proclaim a new measure that all major public hospitals in the FCT catchment area, whether managed by Federal Ministry of Health or FCT administration are to be COVID-19 sample collection sites, to facilitate fast sample collection, reduce turn-around time for test results and bring more efficiency to the response strategy.  

This marching order was given to a gathering of Medical Directors of Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centres, General Hospitals including that of the National Hospital, Thursday, 2nd July, 2020 at a meeting held at the FCDA Conference Hall, Area 11, Abuja.

Dr. Ehanire said, to be able to properly implement the new directive, he has sought to have a side Lab for GeneXpert COVID-19 diagnostic machines, which deliver results within one hour, to be deployed and activated at the National Hospital Abuja and the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, to cut down waiting time.

The Honourable Minister of Health followed with a second measure:  That, basic diagnostic side labs should also be set up at the Emergency centres of major hospitals.

“We ask all so designated hospitals to make the space available and select the health workers to undergo special training for this purpose, so that all are prepared and equipped to protect themselves, but also scale up testing.   Logistics to supply sample kits and go around to gather specimens, will be worked out with NCDC.”

He continued:  “The Hon. Minister of FCT and I shall monitor and ensure that all steps are taken to minimize the suffering of persons trying to find access to treatment and to reduce the sad testimonies that hurt the reputation of our health system.  We shall also ensure PPEs and commodities are made available.”

Dr. Ehanire finally told the gathering of the Medical Directors that they shall be held each personally accountable for the outcomes emanating from their hospitals. “No emergency should be denied attention, even if it means admitting on a stretcher or examination couch to give lifesaving oxygen.  You are to kindly ensure that patients are attended to with dignity and dispatch, in the spirit in which the Honourable Minister of FCT and I have spoken.”





Signed.
Olujimi Oyetomi,
Director, Information, Media & Press Relations.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has sought for the support of the Health Partners Coordinating Committee (HPCC) for the newly developed Integrated National Health Sector Covid-19 Response Plan derived from Pillar 4, Priority Area 1 of the NSHDP 11.  The plan is to ensure defined responsibilities and harmonization of efforts across the Federal and States and non-interruption of non COVID-19 routine health services. This came to fore when the Honourable Minister held a virtual meeting with the Health Partners Coordinating Committee (HPCC) on Friday, 26th June, 2020.

Dr. Ehanire sought for the HPCC to recall that Nigeria had earlier demonstrated commitment towards improving its health sector outputs and outcomes and achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with the signing of the National Health Act, 2014 that gave birth to the Basic Health care Provision Fund (BHCPF). He said, “The effective implementation of the BHCPF which requires partnership and robust collaboration with all the relevant stakeholders particularly the development partners is key to the realization of set goals towards the UHC”. The Minister emphasized that maintaining strong collaboration with donors/partners and private sector will ensure alignment and achieving a balanced allocation of funds for financial sustainability.

The Honourable Minister explained that the BHCPF launched in January 2019 by President Buhari was suspended afterwards following observations by the Health Committees of the National Assembly (NASS) in a document entitled, ‘Design and Implementation of the BHCPF- A Review,’ in November, 2019 on grounds that some portions of the earlier developed 2018 operational manual for the implementation of the fund were not in compliance with the National Health Act and as such it’s further implementation would amount to deliberate flouting of the law.  

The followings, Dr. Osagie said were the issues raised by the National Assembly on the BHCPF:

1.    Lack of clarity on “take off” of the implementation of BHCPF

•    States were being asked to deposit a uniform counterpart funding of N100 million not known to law;

2.    Poor system thinking and tendency not to go outside “the box”

•    Section 11 of NH Act expected to be implemented as part of the whole whereas it will be great to implement it with sections 12 & 13;

•    Putting money into PHCs without established minimum standards of quality is not what it intends;

•    Provisional accreditation given to PHCs per ward is dangerous in a country where almost all temporary measures become permanent;

•    Allocating 2.5% of BHCPF to DHS is not the best use of funds;

•    Sub-national health experts not involved in the evolution of the guideline as much as the law expects and community needs to be more involved and engaged;

3.    Concern of partners for their investments and theory of change to be safeguarded
•    Partners concerned that money in BHCPF is efficiently utilized. Everything should be done to do that but not at the expense of implementing the law;

•    Therefore, an accountability mechanism must be put in place to ensure various gateways are accountable;

•    Since this is a system strengthening intervention that should continue ad infinitum, funds from donors should not constitute a distortion to the BHCPF.

4.    Preference for unwieldy and complex bureaucracy
•    Creating a National Steering Committee and Secretariat are perceived as creating extra bureaucracy which may make the implementation of BHCPF quite unwieldy.

5.    Desire to indulge/exclude governments at sub-national  levels in spite of the law

•    Eligibility required by law for any State to spend money from the pot is development of costed plan and payment of not less than 25% of the cost of the project;

•    It is not clear what criteria were used to determine the sums allocated to the States as well as why percentages are paid.

6.    Poor preparedness of the States for this very important health reforms.

Consequently a committee set up by the Office of the Honourable Minister of Health to review the 2018 Operational Manual and correct the errors.  It submitted a guideline entitled, ‘Guidelines for the Administration Disbursement and Monitoring of the BHCPF’ which was subsequently harmonized with the 2018 Operations Manual with the 2020 Draft Guideline in existence, with respect to issues raised by the NASS Health Committees.

In a related note, on the signing of the Nigeria Country Compact Agreement with Development Partners scheduled for the HPCC meeting, the Minister said, “The compact is not in any way legally binding, but just a mutual understanding that we will work together to implement our National Strategy towards achieving UHC and attainment of SDG3.”

Speaking further, he said, “To track implementation of the National Health Plan, the M&E plan of the NSHDP 11 has provided for a Joint Annual Review (JAR). On this, the NSHDP 11 JAR governance structure was inaugurated during the previous HPCC meeting’.

The Minister expressed appreciation to all for their continued support to the health sector while expressing his desire for more partnership and collaboration in concerted efforts to reposition the sector to be more efficient.
 



Eunice Akro (Assistant Director)
For: Director, Information, Media & Publicity.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi in describing the Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) as “the most frequent and the most common genetic disease worldwide”, has said that the theme of “Shine the Light on SCD”  for the 2020 World Sickle Cell day is apt not only in creating awareness on important issues related to elimination of negative notions associated with SCD, but also apt for building synergy with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) , international organizations and development partners towards the prevention, control and management of SCD in Nigeria by the Government.”

The 2020 World Sickle Cell Day was scheduled to be marked 19th of June, 2020. The Permanent Secretary also said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, “We must remain focused on this SCD disease which he described as “of immense public health importance in our country”.  He charged that we must identify those affected early and “institute appropriate interventions, work towards reducing stigmatization of those affected, reduce its transmission, improve the quality of life of those living with the disease through quality care and scale up on the awareness creation and reduce disinformation about the disease in our country.”

The SCD found mainly on four continents: sub-Saharan Africa, in Asia (Middle-East, Arabic peninsula, India), in the Americas and in Southern Europe is a generic name for a group of inherited haemoglobin disorders characterized by the presence of sickle red cells in the blood which leads to clinical illness.

The disease affects nearly 100 million people around the word and it is estimated that 500,000 children are born every year with this severe and invalidating condition and 50% of those born with the disease will die before the age of 5 years. It is the most prevalent genetic disease in the WHO Afro Region.  In many countries of the region which include Nigeria, 10% – 40% of the population carries the sickle-cell gene resulting in estimated SCD prevalence of at least 2%.

Nigeria has about 25% of her adult population carrying the defective Sickle gene in a carrier state and WHO in 2015 estimated that 2% of all new-borns in Nigeria are affected by sickle cell disease, giving a total of about 150,000 affected children born every year.  About 50% – 80% of the estimated 150,000 infants born yearly with SCD in Nigeria die before the age of five years and those that manage to survive suffer end-organs damage which shortens their lifespan including stroke.

The United Nations Organization (UNO) had recognised and declared SCD as a disease of public health importance on 22nd December, 2008 and as one of the top non-communicable diseases (NCDs) significantly contributing to maternal, neonatal, infant and child disability, morbidity and mortality.  This disorder may negatively undermine the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 3 and 4. Having recognized the huge burden of SCD in Nigeria and the big threat it poses to socio-economic development of the country, the Government of Nigeria over the years instituted several strategic interventions to address the challenges of the disease through the FMOH.

These strategic interventions include:

i.    Six centres of excellence for the control and management of SCD were established across Nigeria one in each geo-political zone with each equipped with HPLC and other complementary equipment and staff to serve as a hub for newborn screening.
ii.    National guidelines for the prevention, control and management of SCD including the national policy and protocol for universal newborn screening in Nigeria were produced. E-copies are available online.
iii.    Integration of the NCDs including SCD care and services into the primary healthcare services was initiated. This is an ongoing initiative.
iv.    Draft Nigeria-PEN adapted from WHO-PEN included SCD for Nigeria taking into account the genetic counselling, diagnosis, newborn screening and comprehensive care package for SCD within the primary healthcare level with inbuilt cost-effective referral system.
v.    Advocacy and mass mobilization for awareness creation on SCD and the importance of genetic counselling and testing for Hb genotype commenced in some parts of the country. This is an ongoing initiative.
vi.    SCD Patient Support Groups was established and this group has transformed into the Sickle Cell Support Society of Nigeria. These groups have annual scientific meetings and works with government in her efforts to address the burden of the disease in the country.
vii.    We are expanding our National Programme on Immunization to include Pneumococcal vaccines. This we believe would increase access to early interventions for survival of our newborn with the disease. Federal Government has also reviewed the licensing of Niprisan, an anti-sickling agent in the country.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi  went on to identify the main priorities for Federal Government on SCD control as follows:

“Nigeria’s main priorities in addressing the challenge of SCD include: Primary prevention; Repositioning of the SCD centres; Capacity building; Integration of SCD care and services into the maternal and child health services especially at the primary and secondary levels of healthcare in Nigeria; establishing a data registry for SCD for the country; enhancing sickle cell disease surveillance;  scaling up of advocacy and mass mobilization of communities for SCD across Nigeria including continuous advocacy for access to drugs and diagnostics including local production of Hydroxyurea for SCD and mass mobilization for support for the newborn screening policy.

Other priorities identified by the Permanent Secretary, Health, include “Strengthening supportive supervision; Monitoring and evaluation for SCD interventions and activities; and Improving and coordinating SCD research activities in the country.”

Abdullahi extended the assurance of the Federal Ministry of Health that “though Nigeria has the highest burden of SCD in the world, all efforts are being made to reduce the burden through appropriate preventive measures.”  He admonished that “We must all therefore make concerted efforts in knowing our genotype and key into this Initiative so that together we can halt this epidemic of SCD in our country.”  He said:  “Government is aware that some health groups dedicated to SCD treatment or support hold special educational celebrations on a day like this, however, even if we can’t gather for such and you cannot attend one as a result of the current pandemic, why not spend this day researching the illness, learning about the signs and symptoms and increasing your understanding of its global impact?”





Signed
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Information, Media & Public Relations,
Federal Ministry of Health 

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most frequent and the most common genetic disease worldwide. Found mainly on four continents: sub-Saharan Africa, in Asia (Middle-East, Arabic peninsula, India), in the Americas and in Southern Europe. Sickle Cell Disease is a generic name for a group of inherited haemoglobin disorders characterized by the presence of sickle red cells in the blood which leads to clinical illness.

2. The disease affects nearly 100 million people around the word and it is estimated that 500,000 children are born every year with this severe and invalidating condition and 50% of those born with the disease will die before the age of 5 years.

3.  It is the most prevalent genetic disease in the WHO Afro Region. In many countries of the region which include Nigeria, 10% – 40% of the population carries the sickle-cell gene resulting in estimated SCD prevalence of at least 2%.

4.  Nigeria has about 25% of her adult population carrying the defective Sickle gene in a carrier state and WHO in 2015 estimated that 2% of all new-borns in Nigeria are affected by sickle cell disease, giving a total of about 150,000 affected children born every year.  About 50% – 80% of the estimated 150,000 infants born yearly with SCD in Nigeria die before the age of five years and those that manage to survive suffer end-organs damage which shortens their lifespan including stroke.

5.  United Nations Organization (UNO) had recognised and declared SCD as a disease of public health importance on 22nd December 2008 and as one of the top non-communicable diseases (NCDs) significantly contributing to maternal, neonatal, infant and child disability, morbidity and mortality.  This disorder may negatively undermine the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 3 and 4.

6.  The 2020 World Sickle Cell Day commemoration whose theme is “Shine the Light on SCD” is therefore apt not only in creating awareness on important issues related to elimination of negative notions associated with SCD, as well as building synergy with Civil Society Organizations, international organisations and development partners towards the prevention, control and management of SCD in Nigeria by the Government but to echo the need to ensure that despite the pandemic we must remain focused on this disease of immense public health importance in our country, identify those affected early and appropriate interventions instituted, work towards reducing stigmatization of those affected, reduce its transmission, improve the quality of life of those living with the disease through quality care and scale up on the awareness creation and reduce disinformation about the disease in our country.

7.  Having recognized the huge burden of SCD in Nigeria and the big threat it poses to socio-economic development of the country, the government of Nigeria over the years instituted several strategic interventions to address the challenges of the disease through the FMOH. These strategic interventions include:

i.    Six centres of excellence for the control and management of SCD were established across Nigeria one in each geo-political zone with each equipped with HPLC and other complementary equipment and staff to serve as a hub for newborn screening.
ii.    National guidelines for the prevention, control and management of SCD including the national policy and protocol for universal newborn screening in Nigeria were produced. E-copies are available online.
iii.    Integration of the NCDs including SCD care and services into the primary healthcare services was initiated. This is an ongoing initiative.
iv.    Draft Nigeria-PEN adapted from WHO-PEN included SCD for Nigeria taking into account the genetic counselling, diagnosis, newborn screening and comprehensive care package for SCD within the primary healthcare level with inbuilt cost-effective referral system.
v.    Advocacy and mass mobilization for awareness creation on SCD and the importance of genetic counselling and testing for Hb genotype commenced in some parts of the country. This is an ongoing initiative.
vi.    SCD Patient Support Groups was established and this group has transformed into the Sickle Cell Support Society of Nigeria. These groups have annual scientific meetings and works with government in her efforts to address the burden of the disease in the country.
vii.    We are expanding our National Programme on Immunization to include Pneumococcal vaccines. This we believe would increase access to early interventions for survival of our newborn with the disease. Federal Government has also reviewed the licensing of Niprisan, an anti-sickling agent in the country.

8.  Main Priorities for Federal Government on SCD control:

Nigeria’s main priorities in addressing the challenge of SCD include: Primary prevention; Repositioning of the SCD centres; capacity building; Integration of SCD care and services into the maternal and child health services especially at the primary and secondary levels of healthcare in Nigeria; Establishing a data registry for SCD for the country; Enhancing sickle cell disease surveillance;  Scaling up of advocacy and mass mobilization of communities for SCD across Nigeria including continuous advocacy for access to drugs and diagnostics including local production of Hydroxyurea for SCD and mass mobilization for support for the newborn screening policy.

Other priorities include: Strengthening supportive supervision; Monitoring and evaluation for SCD interventions and activities; and Improving and coordinating SCD research activities in the country.

Finally, the Federal Ministry of Health wishes to assure that though Nigeria has the highest burden of SCD in the world, all efforts are being made to reduce the burden through appropriate preventive measures.  We must all therefore make concerted efforts in knowing our genotype and key into this Initiative so that together we can halt this epidemic of SCD in our country.  Government is aware that some health groups dedicated to SCD treatment or support hold special educational celebrations on a day like this however, even if we can’t gather for such and you cannot attend one as a result of the current pandemic, why not spend this day researching the illness, learning about the signs and symptoms and increasing your understanding of its global impact?




Signed.
Permanent Secretary
Federal Ministry of Health. 

The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora has urged citizens especially those who are in doubt of the existence of COVID-19 in the country to at least take extra pre-caution in their daily activities to avoid being a victim of the disease.

The Minister made this counsel at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing held on Thursday, 25th June, 2020. He said that as the number of Covid-19 deaths continues to increase in Nigeria, citizens, especially those who are in doubt of the corona virus pandemic should take extra pre-caution in their daily activities.

Dr. Mamora reported that “As at yesterday, we had 649 new confirmed cases bringing the total number of cases in the country to 22,020.  We have so far successfully treated and discharged 7,613 persons while 542 deaths have been recorded.”

Continuing, the Minister stated that on Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020, an Emergency National Council on Health was held virtually, attended by State Commissioners of Health, Head of Agencies, Directors at the Federal Ministry of Health, Development Partners and other stakeholders in the health sector to review status and align all responses to COVID19 outbreak in States.  “The Council approved the Health Sector COVID-19 Pandemic Response Action Plan which was developed by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Departments and Agencies to present one response in the health sector delivered in a coordinated and strategic manner.”

The Minister said: “As we learn more about the disease, we continue to evolve response actions.  The community transmission has resulted in the high number of confirmed cases with the challenge that in some States, the facilities for case management may become overwhelmed.  Bearing in mind the importance of managing cases in facilities, the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary HealthCare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has developed a guideline for the establishment of Community Support Centres.”

Dr. Mamora informed that the central objective of the guideline is the establishment of Community Support Centres (CSCs) in selected clusters of Local Government Areas (LGAs) for the management of COVID-19 cases.

According to the Minister, those community support centres would strengthen the capacity of the health system at the community level to respond to the outbreak and result in the reduction of the transmission of COVID-19 within communities in high burden and high density States.
He therefore stated that Nigerians must be reminded daily of the challenges COVID-19 poses to the country and the world, and further reinforce our resolve to tackle the pandemic.  “We can reduce case fatality in Nigeria, if non-pharmaceutical interventions are scaled up and we become more proactive in dealing with positive cases.  We can scale up testing, tracing, treatment and isolation, with priority on offering more protection to elderly citizens and those with co-morbidities, from the threat of infection”, Dr. Mamora stated.





Nwokike Brendan A. (Assistant Chief Information Officer)
For: Director (Information, Media & Public Relations)

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire says his ministry has taken urgent step to build a stronger system to ensure the prevention, early detection and prompt response to COVID19. He stated this in Abuja on Radio Nigeria’s good governance and public accountability programme, Have-Your-Say.

Dr Ehaire said the isolation centre at the university of Abuja teaching hospital has been equipped and rapid response team and laboratory equipment installed for emergency control against corona-virus.

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire speaking on the move to contain Corona-virus during Radio Nigeria’s accountability programme in Abuja.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire speaking on the move to contain Corona-virus during Radio Nigeria’s accountability programme in Abuja.

Dr Osagie Ehanire urged Nigerians to promote personal hygiene, hand washing and constant use of hand sanitizers. The Minister also assured Nigerians that his ministry would ensure that members of the public were informed with right information about the Virus.

Mr Ehanire advised the public to always take precautionary measure against the disease and maintain distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

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