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Nominate your Candidate for PANSite of the Year 2023

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Nomination for the 5th Edition of Pharmanews PANSite of the Year Award is open to all eligible Pharmacy students, who have contributed immensely to public healthcare and health innovation in the society.

Recall that Pharmanews Ltd., introduced the online competition in 2019 to recognise and celebrate PANSites, who have distinguished themselves in active participation in community services through public health enlightenment programmes, healthcare innovation and social development.

Yusuf Hassan Wada, a 21-year- old Pharmacy student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, emerged the winner of the first edition; Izukanne Emembolu, from Faculty of Pharmacy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka was the winner for the 2020 contest; Martin Nwofia, a 500 level Pharmacy student of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State, clinched the trophy in 2021 and Jennifer Ukamaka Ekuma, a 500 level Pharmacy student of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa-Ibom State, won the 2022 competition.

To qualify for this coveted award, the prospective candidate must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a Pharmacy student in one of the Nigerian universities
  • Must be actively involved in public health advocacy
  • Must have demonstrated innovation in healthcare delivery
  • Must have been engaged in drug research – especially towards combatting the raging diphtheria.
  • Must have personally undertaken other community development activities
  • Must not have won this award before.

We hereby call for nomination of Pharmacy students who meet the above requirements. Your nomination should be attached as a comment to the post.

Following the nomination exercise, the panel in charge of the exercise will select five nominees with highest nominations for an online poll, and the candidate with the highest votes becomes the winner.

Please note that nomination ends by 5 April, 2023.


Atueyi, Adebakin, Oluwalade, Others Bag OOU PANS Awards

  • Task Pharmacy Students on Excellence

L-R: Pharm. Adedipo Adetuyi, managing director, Oakleaf Pharma; Mr Patrick Iwelunmor, editor, Pharmanews Limited; Prof. L.S. Kasim, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, OOU, and Pharm. Moses Oluwalade, chief executive officer, Miraflash Pharma, at the event.

In recognition of their contributions towards the development of Pharmacy education at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ogun State, Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, publisher, Pharmanews, and five others, including Pharm. Moses Oluwalade, chief executive officer, Miraflash Pharma; Pharm. (Mrs) Adetutu Afolabi, chief executive officer, Wellness HMO; Pharm. Abimbola Adebakin, chief executive officer, Advantage Health Africa; Pharm. Adedipo Adetuyi, managing director, Oakleaf Pharma, and Pharm. Laide Soetan, of NHC Pharma, have bagged the OOU PANS Awards of Excellence.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a week-long OOU PANS event, with the theme “Showcasing the unknown potentials of Pharmacy profession right from the undergraduate level”, held at the Main Auditorium, College of Health Sciences, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, Ogun State, Atueyi urged the undergraduates to endeavour to add value to the society, while upholding excellence, which Pharmacy profession is known for and has imbued in them.

Atueyi who was represented by the Editor, Pharmanews Limited, Mr Patrick Iwelunmor, stated that the theme for the event was apt and timely as it allowed him to share his life experience and testimonies at 83 years with the budding youths, adding that a successful career is not the one that provides one with a lot of money, material possession, prestige and power, but the one that is in alignment with God’s purpose for one’s life.

A cross section of Pharmacy students at the event.

Quoting Blake Mycoskie, a successful entrepreneur, “I believe each of us has a mission in life, and that one cannot truly be living their most fulfilled life until they recognise this mission and dedicate their life to pursuing it”, he emphasised that the students must pray to know their calling and focus on it.

According to the octogenarian, his academic attainment in Pharmacy today was not his effort, but God’s plan for his life, adding that his desire to be among the first graduates of B.Pharm in Nigeria, and have the degree for the sake of having it made him enroll to study Pharmacy at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, not knowing that God has a different plan for him.

He continued, “After graduation, I spent the first 15 years of my working life doing things that did not give me joy, but in each employment, I tried to do my best, even though I did not know the direction I was going. So, when you graduate, you must pray to God for guidance, and ask God to reveal His plans for your life. Today, I am a pharmaceutical journalist, applying all the experiences acquired in my employment. You need God’s guidance because if you miss it, you may not end up well”, he advised

Atueyi, known for his special interest in PANS-related activities, admonished the students to use the opportunity to prepare themselves for life ahead, work hard, develop good character, seek the opportunity to be of value to others, learn to serve others, pray for God’s direction, trust and depend on God, carefully consider the choices and decisions they make, do what they love to do, and be the original version of themselves.

Delivering his address titled “Patience, hard work, courage and perseverance, a work tool to achieve greatness in one’s career, Miraflash boss, Oluwalade, called on Pharmacy students to embrace challenges and welcome difficulties, adding that there is no profession without its challenges, but the ability to withstand them makes one a champion.

According to him, the school certificate is the foundation, but what one can do outside the school certificate will determine how far such a person will go in life, adding that as future pharmacists, they should not go with the multitude, so that they won’t be swallowed among the crowd.

In their addresses, the duo of Pharm. Afolabi and Pharm. Soetan, who were products of the faculty over 20 years ago charged the students to carve a niche for themselves and be ready to stand out among the multitude, adding that what stands an individual out is the ability to be unique and to face obstacles.

According to Afolabi, who was a PANS president during her time, the school certificate was not the end, but a means to an end, saying the university degree is just a password to become great in life, but the individual approach to life will determine the result.

“I was initially discouraged about Pharmacy because of the testimonies from some of my senior colleagues, but fortunately for me, I was able to get proper mentoring from some specific people and that was what shaped my life”, she said.

Also speaking, Pharm. Adetuyi, who spoke on the topic,” Merit and demerit of marketing career”, tasked the students on innovation, saying it is the only way to break through considering the level of competition that exists in the pharmaceutical space.

The high point of the event was the launching of the Pharmatouch, a yearly magazine of the faculty, and the presentation of award plaques to the guest speakers.

Other personalities at the event include Pharm. Adekunle Adenuga, chairman, PSN Ogun State; Pharm. Olumide Obube, vice- chairman, PSN, Ogun State; Prof. L. S. Kasim, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, OOU; Dr Olatunde Olaitan, sub-dean; Dr Oluyemisi Bamiro, HOD, Pharmaceutics; Dr Taiwo Adewole, chairman,  Alumni Association; Chukwuemeka Victor Francis, national president, PANS,  among others.

5 Questions You Should Always Ask Your Pharmacist


Anyone who is taking medication or any other form of health supplement needs to understand the implications of what he or she is consuming and the potential risks to ensure they are inform of any likely side effects.

Unfortunately, not everyone has an understanding of the medical terminology associated with medications, supplements and other forms of healthcare products. This is why it is so important to ask questions from your pharmacist, as they are an invaluable source of information and advice to help you make an informed decision.

Pharmacists are professionals who have been trained and educated in the handling, distributing and use of medications and pharmaceutical products. They are there to help you make the best decisions when it comes to your health and understand the body’s reaction to medications and treatments.

Here are 5 questions your pharmacist should answer:

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Pharmanewsonline, Pharm. Muna Khalil, who works at St. Nicholas Hospital, Maryland, Lagos, gave us a list of five questions every patient must ask his or her pharmacist before taking any form of medication.

These are:

What is the difference between a prescription and over-the-counter medication?

“It is especially important to ask your pharmacist the difference between a prescription and OTC medication as it can help you understand the purpose and use of a specific drug as well as its possible side effects.

“It can also help you avoid complications such as overdosing, drug interactions, and other undesirable effects. Your pharmacist can provide you with important information about the drug, such as its action, dosing schedule, possible drug interactions and contraindications,” she said.


How can I tell if a medication is right for me?

Khalil said having to take medication can be a stressful affair, especially when the side effects of taking a particular drug can be unpredictable, and their outcome largely unknown.

“It is for this reason why it is important to consult with a pharmacist before taking any medication and to be opened to their advice and guidance.

“By asking the pharmacist how to determine if a medication is right for you, they can provide accurate information on the effects of each individual drug and how it interacts with other medications or your lifestyle. This will allow you to make an informed decision on whether or not it is right for you,” Khalil said.

What should I do if I have a bad reaction to a medication?

According to her, taking medications can be a scary experience, especially if you experience an unexpected reaction. It is important to know what options to take if you find yourself in this situation. One option is to always ask your pharmacist what to do if you have a bad reaction to a medication.

“At the pharmacy, you are dealing with trained professionals who know the best course of action for you to take should you experience a bad reaction. Pharmacists understand the full details of the medications you are taking, including drug-to-drug interactions, side effects and potential risks. They can also advise you about which medications should be taken at what times and the correct dosages for those medicines.

“Asking your pharmacist about a bad reaction can also provide reassurance. Not only can they advise you on the most appropriate step to take, but they can also provide a listening ear in a time of need”, she added.

What are the signs of an overdose?

The most important thing to remember when it comes to medicine, according to Khalil is that more doses not always equal better. Taking extra doses or the wrong doses of medicine can have serious, life-threatening consequences.

“A pharmacist should always be consulted to discuss the appropriate dosage of any medicine, as well as what to do if too much has been taken. For this reason, it is important to ask your pharmacist what the signs of a drug overdose are, so you can be aware of any potential warnings that should prompt medical attention”, she stated.

She further explained that the symptoms of an overdose can vary greatly depending on the type of drug taken and other factors such as age, weight, and overall health.

“For example, an overdose of prescription opioids could cause vomiting, shallow breathing, extreme drowsiness, and even coma. An overdose of medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen could cause fever, confusion, bleeding and even severe liver damage.

“This is why it is so important to have a full understanding of the warning signs and seek medical help as quickly as possible if an overdose is suspected. Your pharmacist can help explain the various signs of an overdose and provide information on what to do in the event it occurs,” she said

When should I expect to see results from taking medications?

When you ask your pharmacist about the expected results of your medications, they can provide an educated estimate of when you can start seeing the effects. This can vary depending on the medication and the individual taking it.

Khalil said “Different people have different reactions to medications and some may take longer to see results than others. Asking your pharmacist can provide a baseline of when you should start seeing changes, allowing you to self-monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the medication.

“Asking your pharmacist before taking any medications is also important to ensure that you understand any side effects that may occur. While some side effects are common and can usually be tolerated, certain medications may cause serious side effects that need to be addressed immediately. Knowing the potential side effects and when they can be expected to start will help you to recognize them immediately”.

Mrs Kawthar Odukoya is our Personality for March

Mrs Kawthar Bolajoko Odukoya

Mrs Kawthar Bolajoko Odukoya is the co-founder and executive director, Vanguard Pharmacy Limited, one of the largest and fastest growing retail companies in the south-west region of Nigeria, with headquarters in Ibadan. It started operations in 2006.

A native of Sagamu, Ogun State, Odukoya was born to the royal family of Alhaji and Alhaja Olusegun Odumesi, the current Lemo of Ode-Lemo, Ogun State. She had her secondary school education at Federal Government Girls College, Sagamu. She is a graduate of Geology, from Olabisi Onabanjo University (Class of 2005). She is also an alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School (Pan-Atlantic University), OMP 19, 2015.

Odukoya participated in the Sandford University Seed Programme 2020, Cohort 11, and has also attended many retail conferences within and outside Nigeria. She observed her mandatory one-year national service (NYSC), at Yejide Girls Grammar School, Molete, Ibadan, Oyo State in 2005

A top-performing management professional, with over 15 years  experience, Odukoya demonstrates professional expertise and a diverse range of skills in entrepreneurship, business management, and customer relations.  In her role as executive director of Vanguard Pharmacy, she ensures the delivery of clear objectives and exceeds expectations in her businesses.

Under her leadership, the company has shown consistent commitment to being a high standard retail chain business, and a leader in retail pharmacy, veterinary medicine and supermarket. It has been adjudged to carry the largest varieties under a single roof with its unique model of business, known as the “one stop shop”, which provides a distinct competitive advantage backed up with a delightful ambience and customer shopping experience.

A wife, mother and an entrepreneur, Odukoya strives to create an unshakable balance between her home and all other activities outside it. She is blessed with outstanding support from her husband and a great bond of love from her siblings. Her passion includes retailing business, buying and selling, seeing movies, and meeting people.

Mrs Odukoya is happily married to her best friend and business partner, Pharm. Taofik Odukoya and they are blessed with children.

Universal Health Coverage Impossible Without Natural Medicines Integration – Mamora

Director General, NNMDA, Pharm. Sam Etatuvie, receiving the ISO Certification plaque from the Director General, Nigeria National Accreditation System (NiNAS), Celestine O. Okanya, in company of a staff of the agency.

With about 65 to 70 per cent of Nigerians living in the rural areas, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, has stated that the country has little or no possibility of attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) without integration of natural medicines into its healthcare delivery system.

Mamora noted that, aside from being readily available, empirical findings and experience have shown that traditional medicines are safer, with fewer side effects, unlike other medicine types.

The former Minister of State for Health spoke with Pharmanews in an exclusive interview, shortly after commissioning the Research Laboratory Complex of the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) and lauding its ISO Certification status.

Mamora expressed satisfaction with the efforts of the agency in establishing a robust partnership with traditional medicine practitioners, especially in relation to the protection of their intellectual property rights. He said this is especially important, as practitioners need to be confident in the agency and collaborate with it in developing and making their products to be globally competitive.

According to him, “Natural medicine is our heritage, we must protect it; we must develop it to get to where we want it to be. And probably most importantly in that regard, is that we cannot achieve Universal Health Coverage without integration and incorporation of our indigenous medicines. We cannot because it’s the first port of call for the majority of our people who live in the rural areas, which account for about 65 to 70 per cent of the population and that is what is available to them. And because indigenous medicine has been with us for ages and centuries, they believe in it.

“Of course, empirical data and experience have shown that, aside from being readily available, it’s safer, with fewer side effects, as opposed to other forms of medicines.

“We must bring the natural medicines or indigenous medicines on board to achieve this purpose. If we don’t do that, we will be deceiving ourselves, and wasting our time. It has to be deliberate; we have to be conscious about bringing it on board so that we can get to where we are supposed to be.”

The concept of the UHC, as upheld by the World Health Organisation (WHO) means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. It covers the full continuum of essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

The apex health institution states that every country has a unique path to achieving UHC and deciding what to cover, based on the needs of its populace and the resources at hand. However the importance of access to health services and information as a basic human right is universal.

Speaking on the newly commissioned NNMDA Laboratory Complex, Mamora said the project commenced in 2017 with the aim of resolving the barrage of health challenges bedeviling most nations of the world, including Nigeria. He expressed satisfaction with the completion of the laboratory, which has ISO17025-2017 certification on critical foods and drugs’ product line qualification.

The minister listed other critical purposes the research laboratory is expected to serve to include: “Development of ethno medicines/herbal medicines and products; assurance of the quality and standardisation of developed herbal medicines and products; generation of the needed scientific data to show the potentials of every developed herbal medicines/products brought to the laboratory for evaluation; a platform for collaborative research from different institutions interested in ethno-medicine; and a place for the evaluation of herbal medicines/products imported into the country.”

He further observed that the construction of the lab is one of the blessings bestowed on the nation by COVID-19, as challenges encountered during the pandemic spurred the development of research laboratories in the country. He added that the issue of diagnosis, which was a major problem during the pandemic, has been surmounted with several molecular laboratories presently established in the country.

Also speaking with Pharmanews, NNMDA Director General, Pharm. Sam Etatuvie, said he was delighted to see his dream for the agency come true with the commissioning of the research laboratory. He added that, with the ISO 17025-2017 certification, natural medicine practice in the country can now reflect global best practice.

Etatuvie also used the opportunity to invite herbal medicine practitioners in Nigeria to take advantage of the standardised research laboratory in refining their local products to be viable in both local and international markets.

In his words, “The vision of this laboratory has been on my mind since 2017, so I thank God for bringing it to fruition today. The attainment of ISO certification is a big leap for natural medicine development in the country. I know many labs in our country, but to successfully complete and commission such a standardised laboratory is not a common feat. I think it is a very big achievement for the agency.

“We want to encourage all natural medicine producers, all pharma manufacturers, to start to patronise the lab. We have well-trained consultants working in the lab. So you can conduct any type of laboratory test to provide data for the safety or efficacy of whatever medical or traditional therapy, useful for our people.

“Like the minister said, this is a very virgin land that this country must pay attention to. A lot of research has been done from the universities to other research institutes, but we need verification. If you claim that this is possible, we need a laboratory to gather the data that will convince the clinicians to be able to say yes, I’m confident that this product found the results the manufacturer claims it has got.”.

Affirming the potency of herbal medicines in treating chronic conditions, the Managing Director, Alpha Pharmacy and Stores, Pharm. (Sir) Ike Onyechi, narrated how he was able to use personally formulated herbal preparation to successfully treat his enlarged prostate, to the amazement of his medical doctor, who had earlier diagnosed him of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH).

Malawi Says Cholera Crisis Worsening after Cyclone Freddy


Malawi: Cholera outbreak death toll sees more than 1000 dead | CNN

Malawi faces an increased risk of a surge in cholera cases following the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy that has destroyed water systems and toilets, the health ministry warned Monday.

The country was already battling its deadliest cholera outbreak on record when the storm landed last week, causing mudslides and flooding, killing 476 and displacing nearly half a million.

The cholera outbreak, which began last year, infected more than 30,600 people and claimed more than 1,700 deaths.

“With the floods, people’s toilets have been washed away and most people have no access to safe drinking water,” health services director Storn Kabuluzi told AFP, saying the country faced an “immediate danger” of surging cholera cases.

After a record-breaking rampage, the storm caused 579 deaths in three southern African countries including Mozambique and Madagascar.

Malawi was hit the hardest as Freddy triggered floods and mudslides that swept away homes, roads and bridges — also causing massive damage to the country’s water infrastructure.

“In the face of crisis and chaos, it is children who are the most vulnerable,” warned UNICEF regional director for eastern and southern Africa, Mohamed Malick Fall.

In neighbouring Mozambique, the interruption in water, hygiene services and sanitation “is driving a rapid acceleration in cholera case numbers”, said UNICEF.

Flooding and damage caused by Freddy in the two neighbouring countries have hampered access to health and other basic services, which will almost certainly exacerbate the cholera outbreaks they are experiencing, said UNICEF.


NAFDAC Qualifies Nigeria for OPCW Laboratory Designation



L-R: Team leader of the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), The Hague, Netherlands, Dr. Roman Warchol, experts from the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (VERIFIN) Helsinki, Finland, Lauri Manravaara, Aleski Rapo, and Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye during a facilities inspection and assessment visit to NAFDAC’s Central Laboratory in Oshodi, Lagos with a view to considering Nigeria as a site for testing chemicals that are associated with weapons of destruction, both biological and chemical, by OPCW…on Thursday

Nigeria has been selected to be eligible for the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC) laboratory designation due to the massive investment made on the laboratory of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The NAFDAC Laboratory can test any chemicals that are related to biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.

Sayo Akintola, NAFDAC’s resident media consultant, revealed this  in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, stating that Nigeria and Kenya are the only two African countries that have been selected for consideration by the international organisation.

When experts from the OPCW visited NAFDAC’s Central Laboratory in Oshodi, Lagos on Thursday, they inspected and evaluated the facilities that would be utiliSed for the international task, he disclosed.

Dr Roman Warchol, the leader of the team from Finnish Institute of Verification of Chemical Weapons Convention (FERIVIN) in the University of Helsinki, expressed his satisfaction with the facilities provided by NAFDAC, claiming that they were on par with those of any other developed country. He had come to Nigeria to evaluate the NAFDAC laboratory and determine its capabilities, and he remarked that he was pleased with what he had seen. “I’m very happy and satisfied with what I’ve seen here”, the OPCW chief declared.

The ostensibly elated Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, explained that ‘’we have been on this for about four years. Except for the COVID-19 period which really affected activities’’

She said ‘’we are going on proficiency testing and we have gone from ‘Participation’ to ‘Very Good’ which is the highest level in the OPCW’s assessment’’.

The NAFDAC boss expressed her excitement at the experts from Hague and Helsinki being astounded by the agency’s facilities and commending the competency of NAFDAC staff as well as their level of understanding.

‘’We did all our presentations. There were little or no questions. All we are now discussing is level of improvement, areas that we should improve to make it a bigger say. They were overwhelmed by the commitment of the Agency and the National Authority for Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention (NAC&BWC) in Nigeria, and the Federal Government to the project’’, she enthused.

Prof. Adeyeye further explained: ‘’we are not at war, yes, but we are not only to be testing for Nigeria. We are not only going to be testing the samples that will be used in Nigeria. In Africa, we are the only two sites, Nigeria and Kenya that are being considered for this. We will cover the West Africa and some parts of Africa. Wherever there are skirmishes or the use of weapons, it might not be war situation, but the tendency also that there could be an explosive somewhere, we could be invited to sample those things and then test for the possibility of using harmful chemicals that could be lethal to people. If for example, in Niger State or anywhere for that matter, there was an explosive, we sample it and see what is the byproduct to ascertain if it would be lethal to people when they come in contact to them.

Prof. Adeyeye indicated that NAFDAC is responsible for the monitoring and regulation of industrial and laboratory chemicals, in accordance with its mission, through the Directorates of Chemical Evaluation & Research, Narcotics and Control Substances, and Laboratory Services (Food & Chemicals).

Recalling the past, she revealed that in February 2018, the Chairman of the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention (NAC&BWC), accompanied by his representatives, had visited the NAFDAC Central Laboratory in Oshodi to inspect the premises for participation in the OrganiSation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) testing of materials related to chemical weapons. Subsequently, in October 2018, the agency was part of CCACT-097. With the agency’s most recent participation in CCACT-15 in October 2022, the rating has now improved to Very Good.

She further disclosed that the Nigerian Federal Government through NAC&BWC provided an intervention fund in February 2020 valued at about N735m to provide various equipment for the laboratory, stressing that through internally generated revenue, more equipment pieces were added. Since then, the Agency had used her IGR to add more equipment pieces.

She said that the agency will also expand the laboratory space for OPCW in the new building to be constructed soon.

‘’The assistance and contribution of the United Kingdom in assessing and improving the technical competence of laboratory in OPCW member states in Africa and Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC)GRULAC regions which we benefited has helped since 2021 to improve our performance and technical capacity’’, she said, adding that NAFDAC staff have participated in the mentorship programme by Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention VERIFIN Helsinki.

Prof. Adeyeye said this was done virtually until their physical training in February 2023. According to her, these efforts helped to improve technical ability of staff and their reporting techniques.



LASUTH Conducts Free Cataract Surgeries for Ojokoro Residents


As part of activities to celebrate the 2023 World Glaucoma Week, the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) provided free cataract surgery for residents of Ojokoro community.

The hospital also engaged in free medical outreach as part of their weekly activities.

LASUTH’s management commenced the glaucoma week with a briefing, led by Prof. Bola Adekoya, head, Ophthalmology Department of the hospital.

She said 80 per cent of people with glaucoma in developing countries are unaware of their condition, and most of the cases that are identified are usually in a more progressed state.

“This is the reason the World Glaucoma Association has set aside an entire week to intensify awareness that will sensitise people all over the world so that more people can become aware, more people can come forward for early screening and early detection can be given for effective treatment,” she said.

The Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo, expressed appreciated staff members of the Ophthalmology Department for their contribution during the week.

He advocated ongoing community instruction, knowledge and testing to tackle the illness in the region.

The Director Clinical Services and Training, Prof. Adebowale Adekoya, commended the CMD for the efforts in the department, in terms of man power and equipment in accordance with the hospital’s desire of becoming a quaternary hospital, an extension of tertiary healthcare.

World Glaucoma Week is a global initiative of the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) in order to raise awareness on glaucoma. Through a series of engaging worldwide activities patients, eye-care providers, health officials and the general public are invited to contribute to sight preservation. The goal is to alert everyone to have regular eye (and optic nerve) checks in order to detect glaucoma as early as possible.

Stay Optimistic Amid Challenges, Ojo, Falabi Charge Industry Stakeholders

Pharm. (Dr.) Lolu Ojo

As the first quarter of 2023 winds up, a former National Chairman, Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP), Pharm. (Dr.) Lolu Ojo; and the General Secretary, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Pharm. Gbenga Falabi, have called on players in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry to keep hope alive, saying though the year may have started with many challenges, better times are on the way

Pharm. Gbenga Falabi

Ojo, who is the managing director and chief executive officer, Merit Healthcare Limited, spoke during a chat with Pharmanews, against the backdrop of the various challenges that had rattled the country since the beginning of the year.

He listed fuel scarcity, cash crunch arising from the naira redesign policy, as well as the tension generated by the nation’s general elections among the challenges.

The former NAIP chairman noted that despite widespread trepidations, there is hope that the year will end well.

According to him, “There was apprehension surrounding 2023. The way we entered the year in the first place was not in a fancy way and that was because of the elections, fuel scarcity and cash crunch. But irrespective of the way we might have entered into the year, the beautiful thing is that Nigerians are very resilient. We have a never-say-die spirit. We never die in the face of unfavourable circumstances. And in the face of what may come up this year, we will not die. We will survive.

Continuing, he said: “We have gone through this path before; we all still remember Abacha time, when five political parties adopted him as their candidate. Many things were happening in the country at that time which made it appear as if the whole world was going to collapse on us. Eventually, we got over it and everything fizzled out.  God loves us in Nigeria and that is one thing we should all have in mind.

“As for year 2023, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. That is the attitude I want us to go with in this year. This is the last month of the first quarter, and many companies in the pharma industry have not really done anything significant, but we should all be hopeful. We must keep hope alive so that we can take part in the good things that will come tomorrow.”

Ojo noted that the worsening challenges in the pharmaceutical sector are a reflection of the state of the nation generally. He however expressed optimism that things will soon normalise.

“I know things will still open up. The cash crunch only complicated the challenges in the industry, but I believe things will turn around. We should be hopeful. We should not allow the pressure of the day to derail us. We should not allow the pressure of the day to make us to start digging into where we are not supposed to be digging.

“Stakeholders in the pharma industry should be optimistic. We must keep hope alive, because anybody that refuses to keep hope alive and be optimistic may die of depression. Yes, 2023 may be rough, but we are also tough people in Nigeria. So we should all be optimistic,” the Merit Healthcare CEO said.

He also charged business owners to reduce cost of operations, where necessary, and to seek more efficient ways of doing business.

He said, “We should be focused. We should make sure we sharpen our skill; we should open our eyes to more opportunities and change things that we are supposed to change. More importantly, we should try as much as possible to reduce the cost of operation and find a way to do our business better.”

According to Ojo, who was the chairman, Pharmacy Education Summit Committee, as well as chairman, Research, Documentation and Industry Liaison Committee of the PSN, one of the major challenges working against pharma businesses is the huge debts that government agencies owe them. He therefore appealed to the government to ensure that any agency owing pharmaceutical companies pays without further delay.

“Debt kills businesses because any business that doesn’t have cash will die. You will not be able to meet your obligations, such as payment of tax and operations, as well as payment of salaries. I must say that this is one of the things killing us in the industry. So we need to find a way out of it. We have been appealing to the government but I am still using this medium to appeal again to them on the issue of debt owed pharma companies, that they should pay,” Ojo said.

While citing the challenges of human resources in the pharma industry, Ojo called on the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the PSN to intervene. He said: “We have challenges with human resources in the pharma industry, but I hope the PSN, in conjunction with PCN, will help to ensure that we have quality human resources in the industry. I believe through cooperation we can achieve more”.

Also expressing optimism on year 2023, Pharm. Falabi told Pharmanews: “For year 2023, the pharma industry will continue with the baby steps because there are so many likely disruptions. Election has just taken place, then there will be change of government. Also there will likely be policy disruptions; give or take, 2023 will still be positive.

“So, stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry should be optimistic. Irrespective of what may happen, overall, I think 2023 will still be a positive year for the Nigerian pharma market.”

God Knows Where You are

I Test My Brain to be sure it’s still fine — Atueyi, 80-Year-Old Pharmacist
Pharm.(Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi

Sometimes, especially when we are passing through difficult times, the tendency is to ask, “God, where are you? Are you aware of my challenges and difficulties?”  The assurance is that God knows your present situation and the reason for it.

When Joseph was thrown into the prison, it was definitely not easy for him to imagine   the fulfilment of God’s plan for his life. But he had his prosperous future in mind. He never lost hope. Romans 8:28 (NKJV) says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” He knew God was still working out his destiny.

Your current job may not be giving you satisfaction. You may not even be in the good books of your boss and your conditions of service are not   conducive. You are bound to be asking yourself some pertinent questions about your future. You may even sometimes blame yourself for even accepting the job offer.

My friend, this is the time to take your matter to God, as your Father, who has already determined the good plans He has for you. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Your current job may be a preparation for what God has planned that you should do for Him. A time will come when you will look back to realise how God has directed your steps in your career path. Psalm 37:23 assures, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.” I know that God directs   the steps of His people as He prepares them for the planned life.

In preparing you for the future, God takes you through pleasant and unpleasant experiences. I recollect how I found myself in hospital pharmacy practice which I didn’t like. By the time I graduated with B.Pharm in 1967, the Nigeria-Biafra hostilities, which resulted in full-blown war, had broken out.  I joined the government service which I didn’t enjoy. I found myself in hospital practice. However, I tried to do my work, since there was no alternative.

But the situation became more nauseating when I was posted to the Biafran Army, as the officer in charge of the hospital in Abiriba, in the present Abia State. I so detested the work that each time casualties were brought to the hospital I disappeared from the pharmacy because I could not stand the sight of blood from wounded soldiers.

Even as at today, I still feel like fainting when I expose myself to such situations. I admired the medical doctors and   students treating the wounded soldiers but I did not envy them at all.

Even after the war in January, 1970, I did not know the direction I was going. I tried retail pharmacy, production pharmacy and sales and marketing but did not find joy in any of them. However, wherever I found myself I tried to put in my best. Ecclesiastes 9:10 NKJV says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with  you might, for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going”.

God allowed me to drift from one employment to the other in order to fulfil His purpose for my life. Of course, in each employment, I met people of different character. I worked with honest and dishonest people. I worked with hardworking and lazy individuals. I worked with wicked and kind bosses. On looking back, I give glory to God for those exposures, which helped me to become the person I am today.

All along, the question I was asking God was, where was I going? This is a question which no human being can correctly answer, unless revealed by God.  Children of God have the privilege of receiving God’s leading   and guidance. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or you turn to the left.”

It was only when God directed my steps   to pharmaceutical journalism towards the end of 1978 that I started appreciating why He took me through various jobs, experiences and services to people. Providentially, it was my free service as editor-in-chief of the PSN journal from 1974 to 1978 that turned out to be the nucleus of my calling or vocation.

Lacking Health Workers, Germany Taps Robots for Elder Care


The white-coloured humanoid “Garmi” does not look much different from a typical robot – it stands on a platform with wheels and is equipped with a black screen on which two blue circles acting as eyes are attached.

But retired German doctor Guenter Steinebach, 78, said: “For me, this robot is a dream.”

Not only is Garmi able to perform diagnostics on patients, it can also provide care and treatment for them. Or at least, that is the plan.

Garmi is a product of a new sector called geriatronics, a discipline that taps advanced technologies like robotics, IT, and 3D technology for geriatrics, gerontology and nursing.

About a dozen scientists built Garmi with the help of medical practitioners like Steinebach at the Munich Institute of Robotics and Machine Intelligence.

Part of the Technical University of Munich, the institute based its unit specialising in geriatronics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a ski resort that is home to one of the highest proportions of elderly people in Germany.

Europe’s most populous country is itself one of the world’s most rapidly ageing societies.

With the number of people needing care growing quickly and an estimated 670,000 carer posts to go unfilled in Germany by 2050, researchers are racing to conceive robots that can take over some of the tasks carried out today by nurses, carers, and doctors.

“We have ATMs where we can get cash today. We can imagine that one day, based on the same model, people can come to get their medical examination in a kind of technology hub,” said Abdeldjallil Naceri, 43, the lead scientist of the lab.

Doctors could then evaluate the results of the robot’s diagnostics from a distance, something that could be particularly valuable for people living in remote communities.

Alternatively, the machine could offer a more personalised service at home or in a care home — by serving meals, opening a bottle of water, calling for help in case of a fall or organising a video call with family and friends.

– ‘We must get there’ –

In the Garmisch laboratory, Steinebach sat down at a table equipped with three screens and a joystick as he got ready to test the robot’s progress.

At the other end of the room, a researcher designated as a test model took his spot in front of Garmi, which poses a stethoscope on his chest — an action directed by Steinebach from afar via the joystick.

Medical data immediately appear on the doctor’s screen.

“Imagine if I had had that in my old practice,” Steinebach said while moving the joystick.

Besides the retired doctor, other medical practitioners also visit the lab regularly to offer their ideas and feedback on the robot.

“It’s like a three-year-old child. We have to teach it everything,” Naceri said.

It’s anyone’s guess when Garmi might be ready on a commercial scale.

But Naceri is convinced that “we must get there, the statistics are clear that it is urgent”.

“From 2030, we must be able to integrate this kind of technology into our society.”

– Question of trust –

And if it is indeed deployed one day, residents of the Sankt Vinzenz retirement home in Garmisch, a partner of the project, will likely see Garmi whizzing down the corridors.

Just thinking about it made Mrs. Rohrer, a 74-year-old resident at the home, smile.

“There are things that a robot can do, for example, serve a drink or bring meals,” she said as Eva Pioskowik, the director of the home, did her nails.

Pioskowik, who battles staffing shortages on a daily basis, said she did not expect the robot to take the place of health workers.

“But it could allow our staff to spend a bit more time with the residents,” she said.

For Naceri’s team, one of the major challenges is not technological, medical, or financial.

Rather, it remains to be seen if most patients will accept the robot.

“They need to trust the robot,” he said. “They need to be able to use it like we use a smartphone today.”


Low-Income, Disadvantaged Groups More Exposed to Oral Cancer – Don


An Oral Pathologist, Prof. Bamidele Kolude says low-income and disadvantaged groups are more exposed to avoidable risk factors of mouth cancers.

Kolude stated this in Ibadan on Thursday, while delivering the 519th inaugural lecture on behalf of Faculty of Dentistry, University of Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the lecture is titled “The Trial and Tribulation of Orofacial Cancers: Will Molecular Targeted Therapy Triumph?” Prevention of Mouth Cancers.

He said the overall global goal of cancer prevention and control was to reduce the incidence and mortality of cancer and to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and their families.

“Although the existing body of knowledge about cancer prevention, treatment and palliative care is extensive, much still needs to be known in many aspects notably in etiology and prevention”.

Partcipants at 519th inaugural lecture, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Ibadan

He identified factors such as environmental carcinogens, alcohol, infectious agents and tobacco use as avoidable risks affecting low-income and disadvantaged groups.

“These groups also have less access to the health services and health education that would empower them to make decisions to protect and improve their health.

“National cancer control programmes will help policymakers and managers to make the most effective use of available meagre resources to the whole population by taking a balanced approach to evidence-based intervention.

“Prevention is often the most long-term strategy for cancer control. Furthermore, cancer preventive measures also contribute to the prevention of other chronic diseases that share the same risk factor,” Kolude said.

The don said the trials and tribulations of mouth cancers were preventable with regular oral screening processes, accurate early diagnosis with appropriate equipment and manpower.

He added that with the inclusion of molecular targeted therapies, there were better treatment outcomes than the conventional combination therapy for mouth cancers.

Kolude called for health education and motivation of the masses through mass media about the risk factors, early signs and symptoms as well as available care for oral cancer. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

World Sleep Day: If You Can’t Sleep, Find Out Why – Neurologist


Prof. Frank Imarhiagbe, a Consultant Neurologist, has advised Nigerians going through sleepless nights to seek medical care instead of resorting to sleeping pills.

Imarhiagbe, a consultant at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, gave the advice during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Benin.

The consultant, who spoke on the occasion of the 2023 World Sleep Day, said that taking drugs like Valium and Lexotan were not remedy for sleeplessness.

He said, “‘If you can’t sleep, something must be underlining. Going to take pills to sleep is not the answer to your problem.

“if you can’t sleep for a night or two, consult a doctor to help you find out the cause of the sleeplessness.

“Find the cause, don’t resort to Valium, Lexotan; you are postponing the evil day and compounding the problem”, he said.

The Neurologist said that there were different causes of lack of sleep, which include disturbed mind, drug abuse, medical condition, psychiatric illness, abusing sleeping pills and genetic condition.

According to him, sleep is the brain-controlled natural unconsciousness that is timed and fixed.

“Sleep is not optional, it is a basic requirement to maintain life. It is usually regulated to the night time according to the body’s biological clock.

“When the sun begins to set, some chemicals are released to the brain that tells the body that it is time to sleep; when you are at sleep the body rearranges itself for the next day”.

He advised people who do night shifts to always make up for the sleep loss by sleeping during the day, noting that sleep is essential for healthy living.

Imarhiagbe also recommended good sleep hygiene, including keeping television set and reading tables away from the bedroom.

“The bedroom should be made comfortable for sleeping; avoid too bright lights, put cell phones off the bed and have a good sleeping position”.

NAN reports that World Sleep Day is an annual event that is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox (The Spring Vernal Equinox occurs on March 20th or 21st of every year) with the 2023 celebration falling on March 17.

The theme for the 2023 World Sleep Day is “Sleep is Essential for health”.

The day aims to reduce the burden of sleep disorders on society by promoting better prevention and management. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Pharmanews March PDF Edition Free Download


Published every month since its inception in 1979, Pharmanews is the largest circulating health periodical, covering all the 36 states of Nigeria and beyond. Pharmanews continues to break new grounds in health reportage and has established an enviable reputation in the healthcare sector and in the pharmaceutical industry, in particular.

Pharmanews Journal March Edition 2023

Our website (www.pharmanewsonline.com) has become West Africa’s biggest online health news portal, attracting thousands of global visitors, especially healthcare professionals, on daily basis.

To appreciate readers and subscribers for their continuous patronage all these years, Pharmanews limited is offering free copies of Pharmanews (PDF format).

Attached to this post are copies of Pharmanews Journal PDF Edition from January 2020 to date.

Click the links below to download












Anambra Includes Prostrate Surgery in Health Insurance Package

Surgery robotic machine 

The Anambra State Health Insurance Agency, says prostatectomy is now included in its health package for enrollees.

The Managing Director, ASHIA, Dr. Simeon Onyemaechi, said this at a quarterly meeting with healthcare providers on Friday in Awka.

Onyemaechi said that Governor Chukwuma Soludo, charged the agency to expand the benefits of the scheme, hence, the inclusion of prostrate surgery to cater to the health of the ageing male population in the state.

“This development is in line with Governor Soludo’s administration to achieve Universal Health Coverage in Anambra where people will not pay out of pocket to receive adequate healthcare services.

“ASHIA is the first state health insurance scheme to include prostatectomy into its services in Nigeria.

“The scheme also covers Computed Tomography Scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Hormonal profile for males and females and other health services.

“You must be an enrollee of ASHIA for at least six months before you can benefit from the prostate surgery package.

“And we appeal to healthcare providers to ensure delivery of quality healthcare services to enrollees,” he said.

Onyemaechi commended some healthcare providers for supporting the agency by providing quality, affordable and accessible healthcare services to enrollees.

He also frowned at the unwholesome attitudes of some healthcare providers in the state and warned that any health facility found wanting would be sanctioned accordingly.


Burundi Declares Polio Outbreak — WHO


Burundi has declared a polio outbreak after detecting its first cases of the virus in over three decades, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

In a statement, the United Nations agency said the central African nation had detected eight cases of type 2 poliovirus.

Burundian health authorities detected a case in an unvaccinated four-year-old boy in the west of the country, as well as two other children who came come into contact with him.

Five other type 2 polio samples were discovered in wastewater, the WHO said.

Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that infects the nervous system and can lead to irreversible paralysis.

It mainly harms young children but can be prevented with a highly effective and very cheap vaccine.

The WHO’s regional Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, was quoted in a statement as saying that Burundi’s swift detection of the cases “shows the effectiveness of the country’s disease surveillance”.

“We are supporting the national efforts to ramp up polio vaccination to ensure that no child is missed and faces no risk of polio’s debilitating impact,” she added.


Court Denies Femi Olaleye’s ‘No Case’ Application


A Lagos Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court in Ikeja, has rejected the ‘no case application’ of embattled medical doctor, Femi Olaleye, in a defilement case against him.

Judge Oshodi denied Olaleye’s request due to its lack of merit and commanded him to present his defence against the two charges brought against him by the state government, which included unlawful sexual intercourse and the sexual assault of his niece through the penetration of her mouth with his genitalia.

He violated Sections 137 and 261 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.

In the ‘no case submission’ made by Mr Olusegum Fabunmi (SAN) on 21 February, 2023, the counsel for the defendant argued that the prosecution had not presented enough evidence to require the defendant to present a defence. Additionally, he submitted that the prosecution’s evidence was not sufficient to convict his client.

The senior lawyer declared that the defendant had not been seen doing the alleged wrongdoings and had even denied them; thus, there was no evidence that could be used to connect him to the crime.

He said: “In the first instance, the survivor did not state that the offence was committed, it was an after thought. We want the court to look at the testimony of PW6, in which it was stated that the victim did not produce the medical report at the time she alleged the offence was committed. He urged the court to grant the application and dismiss the case against the defendant.

In his response, the lead prosecution team, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr Babajide Martins, submitted that the prosecution has called six witnesses, including the survivor to testify in the case. He said the prosecution also tendered 21 exhibits to prove its case against the defendant. He argued that there was no doubt about the identity of the defendant, as the survivor gave an account of how she was asked to suck the defendant’s penis.

“The issue that PW2 does not know when the incident happened does not arise. The testimony of the under-aged girl (survivor) corroborated what the prosecution alleged the defendant of. The evidence of PW3 also corroborated it in accordance to section 24 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

“The defendant did not even say he did not live in that house. The girl was 15 years and not below 14 years at that time.

“ We have alleged defilement by penetration, tendered exhibits as well as documentary evidence. Even when the survivor was cross- examined by the learned silk , she responded that the defendant knows her menstrual time. The survivor also said that the defendant usually came when children were asleep,” Martins said.

The DPP asked the court to reject the defendant’s request and commanded him to enter his defence. The judge was likely to accept the prosecution witness and their statements.

After having thoroughly examined all of the pieces of evidence, Justice Oshodi said he was obligated to evaluate the initial appearance of the case as well as the trustworthiness of the evidence presented before the court.

“I have carefully listened to the submissions of both prosecution and defence counsel. In this case six witnesses testified for the prosecution and various exhibits were tendered in evidence.

“At this stage, I am unable to decide whether the evidence presented is believed or not. I am not to decide the credibility or the way to attack the testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses, but what I am obligated to do at this stage is to decide whether something has been produced, so far, to prove this case is worthwhile.

“The learned SAN has pointed out some evidence he considered as discrepancies in testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses, but I am afraid I am unable to give such an opinion regarding the discrepancies at this stage in a no case context.

“I am inclined to agree with the prosecution. I do believe that the testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses; namely PW1 to 6 and the exhibits tendered thus far, have made it worthwhile to continue the trial.

“The no case submission is overruled and accordingly, the defendant is hereby called upon to open his defence,” the court held.

The court was adjourned untill 29 March, 2023 for the defendant to begin his defence.


3,000 Patients Receive Treatment for Glaucoma at OAUTHC


More than 3,000 glaucoma patients received treatment at Obafemi Awolowo University and Teaching Hospital Complex in the past year.

Prof Bernice Adegbehingbe, Head of Ophthalmology at OAUTHC disclosed this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on the 2023 World Glaucoma Week.

The theme of this year’s event is “The World is bright, Save your Sight”.

This year’s World Glaucoma Week from March 13 to 16, features a Glaucoma awareness talk, Radio Programme, and screening for the patients, among others.

According to her, glaucoma leads to total blindness and is the common cause of irreversible blindness.

Adegbehingbe, a Consultant Ophthalmologist, said that early diagnosis remained the only way out to avoid glaucoma.

The ophthalmologist stated that anybody above 40 years with a family history of diabetes, hypo/hypertension, migraine, and sickle cell patients are prone to have glaucoma because is hereditary.

She advised all to check their eyes at least once in two years, for them to ensure their safety Optically for 50 per cent.

Adegbehingbe condemned the lackadaisical attitudes of Nigerian leaders over health and eye care.

She said that only government workers were enjoying health insurance schemes, compared to what obtained in developing countries.

 She urged the government to mandate glaucoma tests for students seeking admission from primary to tertiary Institutions as well as job seekers in other to eradicate the diseases among the young and aged.

Adegbehingbe noted that while the eyesight of cataract patients could be restored through surgery, glaucoma has no remedy.

She commended the government and private bodies which organised cataract surgery, free eye screening, and glasses for the public and called for more emphasis on glaucoma.

She appealed to the government and philanthropists to subsidise drugs for glaucoma patients because of their high costs.

Adegbehingbe also urged the government to place treatment and drugs for glaucoma patients under NHIS for the relief of the patients.

Also, the President, Glaucoma Association of Nigeria, OAUTHC, Mrs. Lydia Oke, lauded ophthalmologists at the teaching hospital for giving glaucoma patients the best treatment.

Oke urged the government to come to their aid by subsidising their drugs which were too expensive, saying that many glaucoma patients were already going blind due to inadequate care.


WHO Updates Tracking System for SARS-CoV-2 Variants

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organisation, on Thursday, updated its tracking system and working definitions for variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

WHO in a statement said that the tracking system would better correspond to the current global variant landscape, to independently evaluate Omicron sublineages in circulation, and classify new variants more clearly when required.

It said: “SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple Variants of Concern (VOCs) and Variants of Interest (VOIs) have been designated by WHO.

“This is based on their assessed potential for expansion and replacement of prior variants, for causing new waves with increased circulation, and for the need for adjustments to public health actions.

“Based on comparisons of antigenic cross-reactivity using animal sera, replication studies in experimental models of the human respiratory tract, and evidence from clinical and epidemiological studies in humans.

“There is consensus among experts in WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) that compared to previous variants, Omicron represents the most divergent VOC seen to date.’’

WHO said since its emergence, Omicron viruses had continued to evolve genetically and antigenically with an expanding range of sublineages, a preference to infect the upper respiratory tract (versus lower respiratory tract), as compared to pre-Omicron VOCs.

According to it, Omicron viruses account for more than 98 per cent of the publicly available sequences since February 2022 and constitute the genetic background from which new SARS-CoV-2 variants will likely emerge.

It said that the emergence of variants derived from previously circulating VOCs or of completely new variants remained possible.

WHO said the previous system classified all Omicron sublineages as part of the Omicron VOC and thus does not have the granularity needed to compare new descendant lineages with altered phenotypes to the Omicron parent lineages (BA.1, BA.2, BA.4/BA.5).

“Therefore, from March 15, the WHO variant tracking system will consider the classification of Omicron sublineages independently as variants under monitoring (VUMs), VOIs, or VOCs.

“WHO is also updating the working definitions for VOCs and VOIs.

“The main update consists in making the VOC definition more specific, to include major SARS-CoV-2 evolutionary steps that require major public health interventions.

“For the updated definitions, please visit the WHO variant tracking website,” it said.

According to the organisation, going forward, WHO will assign Greek labels for VOCs, and will no longer do so for VOIs.

It said that with these changes factored in, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta as well as the Omicron parent lineage (B.1.1.529) were considered previously circulating VOCs, and were now classified XBB.1.5 as a VOI.

It said that WHO would also continue to issue regular risk assessments for both VOIs and VOCs (see latest risk assessment for XBB.1.5).

It said that WHO stressed that these changes did not imply that the circulation of Omicron viruses no longer posed a threat to public health.

WHO said that rather, the changes have been made to better identify additional or new threats over and above those posed by the current Omicron viruses in circulation.


Sleeping Less than Five Hours May Damage Arteries — Study


People who sleep less than five hours a night could be at 74 per cent risk of developing peripheral artery disease, a study published in the European Heart Journal said.

This was contained in the European Society of Cardiology publication posted on its website on Thursday.

The study authored by Dr. Shuai Yuan, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, said that sleeping for seven to eight hours a night was a good habit for lowering the risk of PAD.

Yuan said that more than 200 million people globally have PAD, a condition where arteries in the legs are clogged, restricting blood flow and increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

“Insufficient night-time sleep and daytime napping have previously been associated with a raised risk of coronary artery disease which, like PAD, is caused by clogged arteries.

“In addition, sleeping problems are among the top-ranked complaints in PAD patients.

“There are limited data on the impact of sleep habits on PAD and vice versa, and our study aimed to fill that gap,” he said.

Yuan said that the study included more than 650,000 participants and was conducted in two parts.

“First, the researchers analysed the associations of sleep duration and daytime napping with the risk of PAD.

“In the second part, the investigators used genetic data to perform naturally randomised controlled trials – called Mendelian randomisation – to examine causality of the associations,” he said.

Yuan said that the results indicate that brief night-time sleep could raise the chance of developing PAD and having PAD increases the risk of getting insufficient sleep.

According to him, more research is needed on how to interrupt the bidirectional link between short sleep and PAD.

Yuan said that lifestyle changes that help people get more sleep, such as being physically active, may lower the risk of developing PAD.

“For patients with PAD, optimising pain management could enable them to have a good night’s sleep,” he said. 


ACPN Tasks FG on Brain Drain, Welfare of Health Professionals

  • As Lagos ACPN holds continuing education conference
Pharm. Deji Osinoiki, chairman, Board of Trustees, ACPN (middle), presenting a Commendation Plaque to a former Chairman of the Association, Pharm. Jimi Agbaje, while the current Chairman, Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator looks in admiration.

The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, Lagos State Chapter, has called on the Federal and State Governments to invest more in the security and welfare of health professionals, saying such investments will go a long way in addressing the brain drain experienced across different sectors of the economy, especially as it relates to the mass exodus of pharmacists from the shores of the country.

Speaking during the 2023 Community Pharmacists Educational Conference, held at the Citadel Conference & Events Centre, Oregun, Lagos, Chairman of the association, Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator, said that the brain drain has affected their profession to a large extent, as younger pharmacists are not interested in staying back due to lack of adequate security and basic welfare.

“We are currently experiencing a shortage of younger pharmacists to employ. Those trained with the view of supporting our operations are living for greener pastures. It’s tough to blame them because all our appeals to the government are not yielding positive responses. This brain drain, by implication, will continue to worsen the country’s health indices.”

Ekhator insisted that if the government can meet its own constitutional role of providing security and basic welfare, a lot of Nigerians who are migrating will definitely stay back and contribute to the country’s development.

Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator, chairman, ACPN, Lagos State

He commended Nigerians who are seriously contributing to the nation’s building despite all the challenges: “A lot of pharmacists are putting measures in place to thrive, but the more they do so, the more government introduces different policies to make things difficult. For instance, the drama surrounding the naira redesign and the implication of it on the economy is massive.”

The number one community pharmacist in the state further admonished the members of ACPN to continue to leverage the benefits of e-commerce, and as primary healthcare service providers, they should continue to transform the healthcare industry and protect the lives of the public.

According to the ACPN boss, the Continuing Education Conference with the theme: “Overcoming Brain-Drain Challenges In Community Pharmacy” was designed to promote professional skills, business strategy skills, and practice skills of community pharmacists, saying it would help community pharmacists to better understand current economic realities, move with the trend, and be better equipped for the coming year.

He added that the motive for starting the programme was to constantly update members on current changes in the profession and keep them updated, adding that yearning for a more robust engagement and more impactful result necessitated the need to change it to a two-day event.

The Registrar, Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, Pharm. Babashehu Ahmed said that the Pharmacy profession has experienced massive loss of human resources in the last few years due to brain drain.

The registrar, who was represented by Dr Ukamaka Okafor, director, PCN, noted that a total of 1,255 letters of good standing were issued to pharmacists who travelled out of the country in 2021 and 2022 only, adding that this figure does not include those who have traveled but are yet to apply for letters of good standing.”

The keynote speaker at the 2-day conference, Chief Operating Officer, Pan-Atlantic University, Dr Peter Bamkole, urged ACPN members to encourage students from an early stage to develop an interest in studying Pharmacy.

“I agree that the country is experiencing brain drain across different sectors, but I believe we can do our best by getting more people to take science-related courses.

“As an association, we need to encourage more people to study science-related courses, especially Pharmacy, by enlightening them at the early stages of JSS 1 and JSS2.”

Bamkole, who was represented by the Director and Head of Gender at The Enterprise Development Centre, Pan-Atlantic University, Mrs Nneka Okekearu, warned those that want to migrate for greener pastures to do their homework very well before doing so.

“Do not relocate with your family, don’t resign from your job, take leave of absence and find a way to get an internship in a company abroad, work there for two to three months and see their way of life.

“There are certain things you enjoy here that are unavailable aboard. After weighing the two options, you can now decide.”

She urged the Nigerian government to look at the current school curriculum and make it reflect the new trends and realities of today’s world.

“Our curriculum needs to be modified to reflect the current trend; we need to have things like leadership, personal management, financial literacy, and value acreation so that by the time a pharmacist is graduating, he or she is not just coming out as a pharmacist, but they are coming out with a more holistic view of the world.”

Also speaking, the Chairman of the Event, Pharm. Iyke Ugwu, managing director, Pharmacare Support Services, noted that the choice of the theme for the programme was very much in consonance with the reality on the ground for Pharmacy, adding that the negative effect of brain drain on the Pharmacy profession outweighs its positive effect.

The high point of the event was the presentation of commendation plaques to all the past chairmen of the association from 1990 under the leadership of Pharm. Jimi Agbaje, to 2021 under Pharm. Olabanji Obideyi.

Other dignitaries at the event include Pharm. Joel Adagadzu, chairman, PSN-BOF, who was represented by Chief (Mrs) Yetunde Morohundiya, vice-chairman, PSN-BOF; Pharm. (Dr) Afusat Adesina, chairman, ALPs, Lagos State; Pharm. Deji Osinoiki, chairman, Board of Trustees, ACPN; Pharm. Ike Onyechi, chief executive officer, Alpha Pharmacy Limited; Pharm. (Mrs) Biola Paul-Ozieh, chairman, HCPAN, Lagos; Pharm. Babayemi Oyekunle, chairman, PSN, Lagos State; Dr Arinola Joda, chairman, NAPA, Lagos State; Pharm. Ernest Okafor, chairman, PWDAN; Pharm. Olabanji Obideyi, immediate past chairman, Lagos ACPN; Pharm. Madehin Gafar Olanrewaju, national treasurer, PSN; Pharm. Tony Oyawole, among others.



WHO Moves to Address Criminal Behavior by Immigrant Nurses, Others


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a revised list of health workforce support and safeguards, which identified 55 countries, Nigeria inclusive, as having need for additional health workers in order to be able to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) objective of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.

At least 75 nurses have been taken to court by the Texas Board of Nursing due to issues related to forging documents. Of these, 43 were Nigerian.

A post on the Board’s website, titled ‘Operation Nightingale’, contained this information.

The Board took note of the fact that those who had obtained fraudulent credentials used them to be eligible to take the National Nursing Board exam.

Upon passing the board exam, applicants can receive licensure to work as Registered Nurses (RN) or Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/VN) in various states.

The Board declared that it had submitted formal charges against the nurses for obtaining educational qualifications deceitfully.

However, WHO stated that the impact of COVID-19 and widespread disruptions to health services resulted in a rapid acceleration in the international recruitment of health workers. It said for countries losing health personnel to international migration, this could negatively impact health systems and hinder their progress towards achieving UHC and health security.

Of the 55 countries, 37 are in the WHO African region, eight in the Western Pacific, six in the Eastern Mediterranean, three in the South East Asia and one in the Americas. Eight countries have been newly added to the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list 2023 since its original publication in 2020.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said: “Health workers are the backbone of every health system, and yet 55 countries with some of the world’s most fragile health systems do not have enough and many are losing their health workers to international migration.

“WHO is working with these countries to support them to strengthen their health workforce, and we call on all countries to respect the provisions in the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list.”

The list was suggested to be employed in order to raise awareness, discuss policies at all levels and fund health workforce education and employment in those countries.

The WHO health workforce support and safeguards list 2023 includes countries with a UHC service coverage index lower than 55 and a health workforce density that is below the global median of 49 medical doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 people. These countries need priority support for the enhancement of their health workforce and health systems, in addition to safeguards to restrict active international recruitment.

The WHO health workforce support and safeguards list 2023 includes countries with a UHC service coverage index lower than 55 and a health workforce density that is below the global median of 49 medical doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 people. These countries need priority support for the enhancement of their health workforce and health systems, in addition to safeguards to restrict active international recruitment.

According to the statement, the WHO health workforce support and safeguard list 2023 does not prohibit international recruitment, but recommends that government-to-government health worker migration agreements: be informed by health labour market analysis and the adoption of measures to ensure adequate supply of health workers in the source countries; engage ministries of health in the negotiation and implementation of agreements; and specify the health system benefits of the arrangement to both source and destination countries.

It is recommended by WHO that these safeguards be extended to all countries with low and middle incomes.

The WHO Global Code will be updated every three years, with the 2023 update being based on the report of the WHO Expert Advisory Group on the Relevance and Effectiveness of the WHO Global Code. The next update is slated to come out in 2026, the agency noted.

It said this issue will be discussed at the upcoming Fifth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, which will examine the required policy solutions, investments, and multi-sectoral partnerships to address health and care workforce challenges to advance health systems towards the attainment of UHC and health security. The WHO said the outcomes of the Forum would inform the United Nations General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on UHC in September 2023.

Tragic Loss: Nurse Dies on Duty in Zamfara Hospital

Late Asmau Lawali Bungudu

Ahmed Sani Yariman Bakura specialist Hospital in Gusau, Zamfara State, experienced a tragedy when Asmau Lawali Bungudu, a staff nurse, suddenly passed away while performing her duties.

When Bungudu resumed for work on Wednesday morning, she appeared to be in good health; however, she passed away shortly before she was due to start her shift.

Auwal Usman, the public relations officer of Sani Yarima Specialist Hospital, confirmed the incident and stated that nurse Bungudu had been on duty at the NHIS clinic, measuring the blood pressure of around 30 patients earlier in the day before she reported to a doctor with a cardiac issue.

He stated that Bungudu a former staff nurse, suddenly collapsed after voicing her complaint and the doctors attempted to resuscitate her, but she passed away instantly.

“The medical doctors attempted to save her life but they couldn’t as she died instantly” PRO said.

The relatives of the deceased nurse were given the corpse by the management team of the hospital, which was led by the Medical Director, Dr Usman Muhammad Shanawa, as disclosed by the PRO.

A relative of the recently deceased stated that she had departed from home in good health this morning, heading to the hospital where she was employed as a nurse.

“Her funeral prayer will be observed today by 5:00pm at Malan Abdurrahaman House, Magama Area, Bungudu.” the relative added.

Chronic Kidney Diseases: Nephrologist Seeks Cheaper Dialysis for Nigerians


A Consultant Nephrologist with Zenith Medical and Kidney Centre, Abuja, Dr. Ade Faponle, has called for cheaper dialysis for Nigerians with Chronic Kidney Diseases.

Faponle made the call in a Webinar presentation at the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Resident Doctors, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital on Wednesday in Ilorin.

His presentation was entitled: ‘Kidney Protection: Evolving and Emerging Threats -Call to Action’.

According to him, dialysis is the process by which waste products and excess water are filtered from the body.

But the physician observed that many indigent Nigerians could not access proper healthcare and the necessary dialysis required to manage CKD.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that a session of haemodialysis in Nigeria costs between N35,000 and as high as N75,000.

Faponle described CKD, also known as chronic renal disease as a condition characterised by a gradual loss of kidney function over time.

According to him, in the end stage of renal disease, the kidneys function at less than 15 per cent of their normal capacity, hence this individual will require renal replacement therapy.

He added that dialysis ideally should be done three to four times per week, adding that this might be difficult to achieve because dialysis was an expensive procedure.

He observed that most Nigerian patients made out-of-pocket payments, which made it unaffordable and unsustainable.

Faponle pointed out that more centres on CKD should be created in Nigeria as the country was already faced with an increase in the high burden of the disease.

He hinted at the new dimension of the researches on the management of CKD including Xenotransplantation.

The expert explained this is a novel idea of how genetically altered pigs could help kidney transplantation.

He warned Nigerians against using mercury-containing creams and herbs which could potentially damage the kidney.

“Heat strokes put one at risk of dehydration and higher temperature can pose danger to the kidney.

“There is a need to consume lots of fluids and avoid heat strokes,” he said.

He also advises on the consumption of vegetables, keeping normal blood pressure, and avoiding diabetes by keeping a normal body weight. 


Lagos Train Crash: 66 Patients Out of Hospital – Health Commissioner


Lagos train/bus crash: Six dead, 80 injured as FG orders probe

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, says 66 patients involved in the train-bus collision accident have been treated and discharged from five state public health facilities.

Abayomi disclosed this in a situation update about the accident on Wednesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state had on March 10 and March 12 discharged 53 patients involved in the accident from three state hospitals.

According to him, after a successful two-stage triage, no other fatality was recorded among the survivors of the accident.

“Back-to-back surgeries are being conducted on patients that needed surgeries at LASUTH to ensure everyone is discharged as soon as possible

“Total number of patients on admission as of today, March 15, are 30.

“There are 26 patients at LASUTH, two at General Hospital, Odan-Lagos and another two at General Hospital, Gbagada.

“The total number of passengers discharged as of today is 66,” he said.

Abayomi disclosed that the fatality figure from the accident remains six which include two at the site of the accident and four at LASUTH during resuscitation.

NAN reports that a Lagos State Government staff bus carrying civil servants from Isolo to Alausa collided with a train at PWD Bus-Stop, along Agege Motor Road.

There were 85 passengers on board the bus and 17 persons associated with the accident, making 102 persons involved.

The victims of the accident which happened at 7.30 a.m. on March 9 were taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) for treatment.

Survivors with varying degrees of injuries and life-threatening conditions were admitted and treated at LASUTH.

25 patients with moderate injuries were later referred to three general hospitals and the Trauma Centre, Tollgate, for further treatment and to decongest LASUTH.


Lagos ALPs Celebrates Resilience in Women


SSBs Consumption and NCD Burden in Nigeria: Challenge of Consumer Education

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

One of the greatest banes to actualising a robust national food policy in Nigeria has been the failure of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) manufacturers to entrench sound consumer education initiatives, even as they smile to the bank with multi-billion naira returns on investment at the expense of their consumers’ health. Most of these consumers, including vulnerable populations such as children, are sadly carried away by the fascinating storylines of the advertising campaigns of SSB. As a result, they are subconsciously influenced to make buying decisions that become detrimental to their well-being in the long run.

Nigeria ranks 4th globally in the highest SSBs consumers. The country sells an estimated 38.6 million liters of sugar-sweetened beverages annually in a market that accounts for a whooping US$16.87bn in 2023, with a projected annual growth rate of 16.63 percent. What this portends is that non-communicable diseases like diabetes, obesity and tooth decay, which have been linked to the consumption of SSBs, could witness an upward swing in the coming years if the government and other stakeholders, especially the SSBs manufacturers, do not intensify consumer education programmes to sensitise the public on the dangers embedded in these bottled disasters. In addition, SSB manufacturers must ethically draw the line between profit-making and jeopardising consumers’ health.

According to a document, National Multi-Sectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (2019 – 2025), obtained from the Federal Ministry of Health, there is very little evidence on the burden of NCDs and its trend in Nigeria. However, a recent systematic review of NCDs-related evaluation carried out across the federation on seven NCDs – cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers, sickle cell disease, mental neurological and substance use disorders and road traffic injuries, indicates a rise in trend, prevalence and incidence. The document also clearly identified the consumption of refined sugars in foods and drinks as one of the risk factors for the escalation of NCDs in Nigeria.

The document on the statistical overview of the SSB burden in Nigeria reads: “According to the WHO NCDs Country profile 2016 report, NCDs were estimated to cause approximately 617,300 deaths, representing 29 per cent of total deaths in Nigeria. Out of these, injuries accounted for 8 per cent, followed by cardiovascular diseases with 11 per cent. Premature mortality due to NCDs, which is defined as the probability of dying between ages 30 and 70 years from the main NCDs is 22 per cent.”

Though SSBs manufacturers, like Coca-Cola, have always claimed that there is no empirical evidence to show that sugar-sweetened beverages predispose consumers to non-communicable diseases, experts in the medical and nutrition professions have always warned that continuous consumption of soft drinks or ultra-processed foods can lead to harmful outcomes for the human system. It was to this end that the popular sugar wars ensued in the United States, with the advocacy group, The Praxis Project filing a lawsuit against Coca-Cola for using deceptive advertising to mislead consumers about the health impact of their products. Similar cases have also been recorded in other parts of the world with overwhelming scientific consensus about the harmful effects of sugar on human health, even though SSB manufacturers have continued to deny it.

When contacted to explain the efforts his company was making in terms of educating its teeming consumers on the reality of SSBs’ link with non-communicable diseases like diabetes, Mr Ekuma Eze, director of Public Affairs and Sustainability at Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, promised to liaise with the marketing department and get back to this writer. His response is still being awaited. It is the same situation with letters sent to the marketing heads of CHI Ltd., makers of Chivita, Rite Foods, makers of Bigi Cola, and Viju Industries, makers of Viju Milk. None of them has responded to queries sent to them. Is this silence a sign of complicity in the shortchanging and deception of consumers? Time will surely tell. This collective silence makes a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act of 2011 which empowers individuals, groups and bodies to access information from public and private institutions offering services to the Nigerian public. More so, it is imperative for these SSB manufacturers to understand that the information being requested is a tool that would enable better outcomes for their products and services in terms of quality control and assurance and not a strategy for faultfinding. Until such manufacturers cooperate and make the needed information available to the public, bridging the gap of consumer awareness and education would remain a mirage.

However, Dr Patrick Ijewere, CEO of The Nutrition Hospital, Lagos, agrees that there is an ongoing imbalance between consumer education and deception by the manufacturers of SSBs, for the sake of maximising profit. Although, according to the nutrition expert, the manufacturers of SSBs are always deploying fantastic advertising to lure consumers with illusory realities such as Coca-Cola’s “Tomorrow’s People” ad of the mid-eighties and Nestle’s Milo “Food Drink of Future Champions” of the nineties, there has not been commensurate efforts in terms of educating consumers on the harmful effects of sugar consumption on health. For him, there are no future champions anywhere near Milo, only obese children with decaying dentition and failing eyesight. He, therefore, advocated for educational labelling on such products as it is done in the tobacco industry worldwide.

Dr Patrick Ijewere

While harping on the importance of consumer awareness and education in Nigeria, the President of Consumer Awareness Organisation, an Enugu-based NGO and former Board Member International Association of Consumer Law, Professor Felicia Monye, lamented the low level of consumer education in the country, adding that it is not at the level it should be. She said that even though there are many agencies and available laws centred on consumer protection, there has been a serious lack of dedication on the part of policymakers. She also believes that most consumer-focused agencies see consumer protection as ancillary and not as a principal obligation, hence the lackadaisical attitude of most manufacturers in properly educating their consumers. For products like SSBs capable of causing harm to health, she said, the attachment of warning labels should be part of the obligation of their manufacturers.

For Consultant Endocrinologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Dr Akin Dada, SSB contribute to the rise in diabetes cases in Nigeria, especially where there is a family history or the presence of other risk factors for the disease. He added that diabetes ranks number two among the most prevalent non-communicable diseases in the country. Therefore, he advocated for measures such as consumer health education by both government and the manufacturers of SSBs towards de-escalating the 5 to 7 per cent prevalence rate of NCDs which also accounts for over 29 per cent of total deaths in the country.

On why the N10  per litre of SSBs  tax, as contained in the Finance Act of 2021, has not made the much-desired impact, Professor of Microbiology and Medical Laboratory Scientist, Louis Egwari, Director of Training and Research at QSM Training and Consulting Ltd., believes that it would take a while for the tax to be effective because the government may have adopted the policy, bearing in mind the economic implications it would have on both consumers and the manufacturers if it is suddenly increased above the stipulated N10. According to him, there are strong possibilities that the tax would be graduated to higher sums in the coming years.

Professor Egwari also lamented the low level of consumer education in the country. He blamed the development on stakeholders like NGOs and government agencies, who have failed to be proactive either because they are negligent or because they are receiving “funding” from politicians, who have special stakes in some of these SSB companies. When contacted for her comments on the efforts being made by the Department of Food and Drugs of the Federal Ministry of Health towards ensuring that Nigerian consumers are protected, especially with regards to the consumption of SSBs, Pharm. (Mrs) Bunmi Aribeana, director of the department, asked this writer to send his queries, which she has not responded to, as at the time of filing in this report.

Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe

Meanwhile, in a swift reaction to the reason SSBs manufacturers seem not to be doing enough in terms of consumer education, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said the situation was so because the government, which collects tax from these SSBs manufacturers is supposed to be at the forefront of spearheading such consumer education causes, through agencies like the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Health Education Unit at the Federal Ministry of Health. He also argued that the link between SSBs and non-communicable diseases is indirect, adding that the manufacturers of these SSBs can argue that they have also made available zero-sugar options for those who do not want the sugar-sweetened variants.

Corroborating the position of Senator Oloriegbe, foremost Marketing Communication Specialist and CEO of XLR8, award-winning Public Relations firm, Pharm. Calixtus Okoruwa, agreed that it is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Health to respond to perceived or potential public health challenges. He also noted that it should be the responsibility of SSBs manufacturers to help drive consumer education initiatives targeted at more appropriate or healthier consumption of their products, especially from the corporate governance point of view. He absolved marketing communication agencies of any wrongdoing or complicity in the seeming failure to properly educate consumers while mesmerising them with “sugar-coated” adverts, adding that their activities are duly vetted and regulated by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Responding to the possibility of marketing communication companies conniving with SSBs manufacturers to deceive consumers through misleading advertising campaigns, thereby stifling the clamour for consumer awareness and education, ARCON’s Head of Legal Affairs, Barrister Chukwudi Ezeaba, said the council advocates for consumer education to the extent permitted by its statutory responsibilities. He added that such advocacy features in their annual training and sensitisation calendar. He further observed that the Advertising Standards Panel, which has the statutory duty of ensuring that adverts conform to relevant laws and codes of ethics, would not shut its eyes where incidences of excesses are found, regardless of the product or service.

Professor Chimezie Anyakora

For public health expert and CEO of Bloom Public Health, an Abuja-based public health think-tank, Professor Chimezie Anyakora, one of the most important strategies for improving and adopting healthy dietary practices in Africa remains the promotion of consumer awareness and demand for healthy foods. According to Anyakora, these can be achieved by educating children, adolescents and adults about nutrition and healthy dietary practices, supporting point-of-sale information through comprehensive nutrition labelling, and providing nutrition and dietary counselling at primary healthcare facilities.

Critically speaking, there is no gainsaying the fact that government and all other stakeholders must urgently map out strategies to decisively bridge the consumer education gap in the relationship between manufacturers of SSBs and their consumers. Importantly, the government should consider enforcing the mandatory use of labelling to warn consumers of SSBs on the potential dangers associated with consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, as done in the tobacco industry. We can have warnings such as: “The Federal Ministry of Health Warns that excess sugar is dangerous to health”,This product is unsuitable for diabetics, etc.” Such warning labels have proven to be effective in curbing overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages as demonstrated in Chile, where a 2016 food labelling and advertising regulation brought about a 25 per cent drop in the consumption of SSBs. For a multi-lingual and multi-cultural setting like Nigeria, such warning labels, when translated into different local languages, can help consumers make informed dietary choices and avoid endangering their health by staying away from the wrong beverages. This is achievable in Nigeria, if the government can muster the political will.


Regular Health Checks Necessary in your 40s


What Does a Physician Assistant Do? A Guide to the Profession | USAHS

Having regular health checks are extremely important, especially in your 40s. When you hit this milestone, it is vital to be proactive about getting your health checked in order to make sure that you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

A comprehensive health check-up can help in early diagnosis of any diseases which may have serious consequences if left unchecked. This includes the risk of hypertension, diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease. These diseases can be detected early with a thorough health examination which is recommended every 6 to 12 months. It is also important to discuss any changes or symptoms that you may have observed to your doctor in order to assess any underlying conditions.

Early diagnosis of any health issues can help with early treatments, which can result in better outcomes and help lower the risk of serious disease-related complications. Health checks can also identify any lifestyle changes you may need to make in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle such as reducing your intake of fatty foods, alcohol and smoking.

Although regular health checks can be time-consuming and expensive, they are an essential part of maintaining good health. In your 40s, the importance of regular health checks is magnified. By being proactive and getting health checks done regularly, you can ensure that you stay healthy and catch any potential health issues early. This can help keep you healthy for the long-term and prevent serious diseases from developing.

7 Health Screening Recommendations for Adults in their 40s

Wondering what to expect as you hit middle age?

Arif S. Hussain, MD, an internist at LifeCare Physicians in Robbinsville, New Jersey, explains what tests both men and women should expect and when to get them.

Firstly, men and women in their 40s should have a basic check-up with their doctor annually to assess their overall health. This check-up should include questions about lifestyle such as diet and exercise, as well as a physical examination and height and weight measurement. It is also important to regularly monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Having regular blood tests will help to identify any health issues that need to be addressed.

Secondly, it is recommended to get a colonoscopy starting in your 40s if you are at a higher risk for colon cancer, or every 10 years for those with a lower risk. Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer and can be detected early on through blood tests and colonoscopies. In addition, it is important to get a mammogram every other year starting at age 40, to detect any signs of breast cancer. If a person is at a higher risk for breast cancer, then more frequent mammograms may be recommended.

Thirdly, adults in their 40s should be mindful of their mental health and have regular screenings for depression. Mental health problems are more common than physical issues and can sometimes be difficult to detect. Mental health screenings should be done on a regular basis to ensure early detection and treatment.

Fourthly, it is important to get an eye exam every two years or more frequently if needed. Vision can change as you age and regular eye exams can help to detect any potential conditions or diseases that may be developing. As well, it is important to get a hearing test every three years to make sure that your hearing is functioning properly.

Fifthly, screenings for sexually transmitted infections should be done at least once a year. Regular STI screenings can help to ensure that any diseases or infections can be detected early and treated appropriately.

Sixthly, people in their 40s should have skin cancer screenings done on a regular basis. This is especially important for those with fairer skin as they are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. A dermatologist can do a physical examination or screen you with a body mapping device to detect any cancer or pre-cancerous cells.

Finally, adults in their 40s should make sure to get their vaccinations up to date. Vaccinations are important for adults as they can help to protect against certain diseases and illnesses. Vaccines such as the flu shot, the shingles vaccine, and the pneumococcal vaccine are recommended for adults in their 40s.

Tips for making the most of your health checks

Here are five tips according to the Centers for Disease Control to help you make the most of your health checks.

First and foremost, make sure you get regular screenings. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that most adults get screened for health conditions and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure, depending on your age and risk factors. These screenings can help detect any potential health problems early and enable you to take necessary steps to address them.

Also, it is important to keep a record of your results. When you receive results from your health checks, make sure to keep track of them and put them in a safe place. This will help you track any changes in your health over time and make it easier for you to keep up with any follow up tests or treatments that may be recommended.

You need to ask your doctor questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your health checks and results. Your doctor can explain in detail what the results mean and what your options are if something is detected. This will help you to be more informed about your health and better understand any potential risks.

Furthermore, be prepared for your health checks. When going for a health check, make sure to provide your doctor with a full and accurate medical history, including any medications you are taking or family history of disease. Being prepared can help ensure that your doctor is able to properly assess you and accurately identify any potential health issues.

Finally, take an active role in your health. Health checks are important but should not be the only source of information about your health. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices are key to maintaining overall wellness. Discuss any health goals you have with your doctor and develop a plan to help you reach them.

By following these five tips, you can make sure that you are making the most of your health checks. Regular health checks can be a valuable tool in helping to ensure good health, and the information they provide can go a long way in helping you maintain your overall wellbeing.


55 Countries Facing Serious Health Worker Shortages – WHO

Photo credit – Wolters Kluwer

The World Health Organisation has said that no less than 55 countries are struggling with serious health worker shortages as they continue to seek better-paid opportunities in wealthier nations.

They continue to seek better-paid opportunities in wealthier nations that have stepped up efforts to recruit them amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to WHO, African nations have been worst hit by the phenomenon, with 37 countries on the continent facing health worker shortages.

“Health workers shortage have threatened their chances of achieving universal health care by 2030 – a key Sustainable Development Goals pledge.’’

The actions of wealthy countries that belong to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development come under scrutiny in the WHO alert, among other regions.

“Within Africa, it’s a very vibrant economy that is creating new opportunities,” Dr. Jim Campbell, the Director responsible for health worker policy at WHO, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The Gulf States have traditionally been reliant on international personnel and then some of the OECD high-income countries have really accelerated their recruitment and employment to respond to the pandemic and respond to the loss of lives, the infections, the absences of workers during the pandemic”.

To help countries protect their vulnerable healthcare systems, WHO has issued an updated health workforce support and safeguards list, which highlights nations with low numbers of qualified healthcare staff.

“These countries require priority support for health workforce development and health system strengthening, along with additional safeguards that limit active international recruitment,” the WHO insisted.

Supporting the call for universal healthcare for all countries in line with the SDGs, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, called on all countries to respect the provisions in the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list.

“Health workers are the backbone of every health system, and yet 55 countries with some of the world’s most fragile health systems, do not have enough and many are losing their health workers to international migration,” he added.

Although many countries do respect existing WHO guidelines on the recruitment of health care workers, the principle is not accepted wholesale, WHO warned.

“What we are seeing is that the majority of countries are respecting those provisions by not actively recruiting from these (vulnerable) countries,” Campbell said.

“But there is also a private recruitment market that does exist and we’re looking to them to also reach some of the global standards that are anticipated in terms of their practice and behaviour.”

Mechanisms also exist for governments or other individuals to notify WHO if they are “worried” about the behaviour of recruiters, the WHO official said.

The WHO health workforce support and safeguard list does not prohibit international recruitment but recommends that governments involved in such programmes are informed about the impact on the health system in countries where they source qualified health professionals.


US to Limit ‘Harmful Chemicals’ in Drinking Water

Photo credit – Times of India

The United States Environmental Protection Agency proposed new standards on Tuesday to limit levels of harmful so-called “forever chemicals” in public drinking water.

The move targets polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS that have been found to cause cancer and other health problems.

Under the proposed new EPA rules, public water utilities will be required to monitor for six PFAS chemicals and reduce PFAS levels in the water supply.

EPA administrator Michael Regan said the new water standards have the potential to prevent thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses.

PFAS have been used since the 1940s in a wide variety of industry and consumer products such as nonstick pans, carpeting, waterproof clothing, food packaging, cosmetics and cleaning items.

However, “what began as a so-called miracle, groundbreaking technology meant for practicality and convenience quickly devolved into one of the most pressing environmental and public health concerns in the modern world,” Regan said.

“These toxic chemicals are so pervasive and so long-lasting in the environment that they’ve been found in food, soil and water even in the most remote corners of our planet,” he said.

“These chemicals can accumulate in the body over time and we know that long-term exposure to certain types of PFAS has been linked to serious illnesses, including cancer, liver damage and high cholesterol,” he added.

A number of major US corporations have been phasing out the use of certain PFAS chemicals in recent years and some states have already imposed limits on PFAS in public drinking water.

The EPA proposal, which will be finalized by the end of the year, would set national standards for PFAS in drinking water.

The non-profit Environmental Working Group welcomed the EPA announcement as “historic progress” and the environmental law firm Earthjustice called it a “necessary and long overdue step towards addressing the nation’s PFAS crisis.”

“More than 200 million Americans could have PFAS in their tap water,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group.

“Americans have been drinking contaminated water for decades,” Faber said. “This proposal is a critical step toward getting these toxic poisons out of our water.”

President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021 invests $9 billion over five years to help communities reduce PFAS contamination levels in drinking water.


How Much Vitamin D Should I Take to be Healthy?

Vitamin D deficiency: When you should start taking supplements to avoid the  condition | Express.co.uk
Photo credit – Daily Express

Vitamin D, often referred to as the sunshine vitamin or the bone health vitamin, is an essential nutrient for optimal health and well-being.

Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body when skin is exposed to sunlight, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommending 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure per day, depending on the season and the individual’s skin colour.

While studies have found that Vitamin D plays a critical role in human health, the scientific community is yet to agree on the exact levels and the optimal source for supplements. Different experts have varying opinions on the appropriate levels of Vitamin D for different people, though it is generally accepted that Vitamin D should be taken in moderation.

The World Health Organisation emphasises the importance of Vitamin D in general and recommends that people supplement their diet with Vitamin D, especially during the winter months when the body cannot produce enough Vitamin D from sunlight. It is important to ensure that intake of Vitamin D is supervised by a doctor and an appropriate course of supplements is chosen.


Recommended Daily Intake

The human body is a complex biological machine that requires an array of essential nutrients in order to function properly. Among the most important of these is Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that most people get from exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, muscles and immune system, and is believed to play a role in reducing the risk of certain cancers and other chronic health conditions. As such, it’s important to understand the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D according to experts like Robin Foroutan, an integrative dietitian at the Morrison Centre  in New York City and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Foroutan is a champion of understanding the importance of nutrition and its impact on overall wellbeing. In terms of Vitamin D, she recommends that adults get at least 600 IU (international units) of Vitamin D per day, with an ideal intake of about 1000 IU. While it is possible to get some of our daily Vitamin D from food sources such as fatty fish, fortified milk, and eggs, Foroutan believes that exposure to sunlight is the best way to get the recommended daily Vitamin D we need. For light skinned individuals, this means 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposure without sunscreen two to three times per week. For dark skinned individuals, it could be as much as three to four times the amount of exposure. Foroutan also encourages people of all skin tones to supplement with Vitamin D if sunlight exposure is not an option.

Another way to ensure you are getting the recommended daily Vitamin D intake is to look for foods that are rich in Vitamin D, such as fortified milk, fatty fish, and eggs. He also advises people to take a nutritional supplement containing Vitamin D3, the most bioavailable form of Vitamin D, if their diet does not contain enough of these foods.

In summary, following the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D is important for overall health and well-being, and is recommended by professionals such as Robin Foroutan. The best way to get your daily recommended intake of Vitamin D is to expose yourself to sunlight without sunscreen two to three times per week and to eat foods rich in Vitamin D, namely fatty fish, fortified milk, and eggs. If sunlight exposure is not an option or if dietary sources are limited, taking a Vitamin D3 supplement is recommended.


Vitamin D Sources

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) provides information about Vitamin D sources. According to the NLM, there are three main sources for Vitamin D: sunlight, diet, and supplements.

Sunlight is the primary source of Vitamin D production in the body. Spending time outdoors, or even just exposing your skin to the sun for about 15 minutes a day, can provide an adequate amount of Vitamin D. It is important to note, however, that this amount can vary by location, skin colour, and other factors that can affect the amount of Vitamin D production.

Diet is another important source of Vitamin D. The NLM recommends consuming foods such as fatty fish, eggs, fortified milk, and fortified cereals, which provide Vitamin D. It is important to note that dietary sources are not always reliable and may not be enough to reach an adequate amount of Vitamin D.

Finally, supplements are the last source of Vitamin D recommended by the NLM. Vitamin D supplements are available in the form of pills, capsules, and liquid drops, and they are typically taken once a day. However, the NLM advises not to take more than the recommended dosage because of the potential for toxicity.



NCDC Reports Decline in Lassa fever Cases with Five Fatalities


The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has reported a substantial decline in the number of new confirmed cases of Lassa fever, dropping from 59 in the 8th week of 2023 to 40 cases and five deaths.

The update was revealed in the agency’s week 9 epidemiological report.

The NCDC report disclosed  that the confirmed cases in Bauchi, Ondo, Taraba, Edo, and Ebonyi states experienced the decrease, while the fatalities that occurred were from Ondo (2), Bauchi (1) and Ebonyin (2) states.

Statistically, the NCDC report showed that 72 per cent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from these three states – Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi, while 28 per cent were reported from 2 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases. Of the 72 per cent confirmed cases, Ondo reported 33 per cent, Edo 29 per cent and Bauchi 10 per cent.

The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 93 years, Median Age: 32 years). The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.8.

The statement also revealed that number of suspected cases increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022, adding that one new healthcare worker was affected in the reporting week 9.

Cumulatively from week 1 to week 9, 2023, 109 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 16.1 per cent, which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022, which was 18.6 per cent.

In total for 2023, 22 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 89 Local Government Areas.

Pharmanewsonline reports that Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus. People usually become infected with the Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected rats – present in several West African countries where the disease is endemic.

National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) continues to coordinate the response activities at all levels.


CIPM Donates Relief Materials for Lagos Bus-Train Crash Victims


The Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), in collaboration with the Lagos State Government yesterday, provided relief supplies to those affected by the bus-train collision, in an effort to give aid and consolation to the injured.

At the presentation of the relief materials to the state government, which took place in the Office of the Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola; the Registrar of CIPM, Mrs Toyin Naiwo, said the donations are to demonstrate solidarity with the government and to offer assistance to the employees who were hurt in the accident to varying extents.

Naiwo expressed sorrow on behalf of the institute for the tragedy that had occurred, sending condolences to the families of those who had perished in the accident. They prayed that God would give them strength to cope with the unbearable loss, and grant the souls of the deceased eternal peace.

She sympathised with the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide  Sanwo-Olu, along with Muri-Okunola, permanent secretaries, and all the MDAs affected by the incident.

Mrs Sunkanmi Oyegbola, the permanent secretary of the public service office, expressed her gratitude to the CIPM for supporting the Lagos State Government during this difficult period when she met with the delegation.

She stated that the gifts would be of great aid to the employees who have already been released from medical care and those who are still in general hospitals, stressing that Governor Sanwo-Olu’s government is grateful for the institute’s kind act.

Mrs Boladele Dapo-Thomas also prayed for the victims, asking God to give rest to the souls of the deceased and to grant a speedy recovery to those who were injured. He also noted that the incident has impacted the outlook of the civil service on certain matters.

Among the donated items were table water, tissues, Peak Milk, Milo Drink, sugar, Lucozade Boost, glucose, Close-Up Toothpaste and toothbrushes.

BioNTech Mobile mRNA Vaccine Labs Reach Rwanda


Six mobile vaccine production units by German pharma company BioNTech arrived in Rwanda on Monday, the first such shipments to Africa as the continent seeks to boost mRNA vaccine manufacturing.

The units, made from recycled shipping containers, arrived in the capital Kigali, where they will be assembled to make a vaccine production hub for jabs against a variety of illnesses.

“This is a historic moment,” said BioNTech chief operating officer Sierk Poetting.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed Africa’s huge dependence on imported vaccines.

Less than 50 percent of the continent’s 1.2 billion people are fully inoculated against Covid-19, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The facility in Kigali — capable of producing up to 100 million mRNA vaccines per year — will take at least 12 months before it starts producing doses.

“The technology is scalable… It is also flexible so you can move it anywhere,” said Poetting, without providing details on the overall cost of the project.

The containers, dubbed BioNTainer, will also pioneer treatments in the development phase against diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV that are among the leading killers in Africa.

“We are also thinking of cancer therapies that we are developing to be produced in these BioNTainers,” said Poetting.

BioNTech said it had employed nine local scientists, with a plan to increase staffing to at least 100 by next year and eventually have local employees run the facility.

Rwanda will distribute the vaccines to the 55-member African Union bloc.

“This shows the power of science, partnerships and humanity, what people can do to fight a terrifying pandemic,” Health Minister Sabin Nsanzimana said.

Rwanda’s facility is the first of three slated for Africa with deliveries planned for South Africa and Senegal, according to BioNTech.


How to Achieve Improved Health-Related SDGs —Don


A Professor of Health Economic System and Policy, Obinna Onwujekwe, has advocated improved healthcare governance structure and implementation of the National Health Insurance Act to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Onwujekwe, who lectures at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nssuka made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Awka.

He described healthcare governance as an important system that impacts patients, clinicians, and staff of health facilities.

Onwujekwe added that it was a situation where every patient’s visit should be seamless for the patient and the healthcare provider.

He also said that healthcare governance could serve as checks and balances that ensured providers were competent and qualified to serve patients and ensure patient safety, efficiency, and compliance with policies.

Onwujekwe explained that the full implementation of the provisions of the National Health Insurance Authority Act would translate to the achievement of SDG 3 as all Nigerians would have access to basic healthcare.

He lamented that Nigeria did not achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets which spanned from 2000 to 2015, due to poor leadership, late commencement of the programme, and mismanagement of funds.

“As a nation, we did not plan properly to achieve the MDGs. A reasonable amount of funds was brought in and it could have helped us achieve some of the targets but the funds were mismanaged.

“Hence, we did not achieve any of the MDGs targets. I’m sure of the three goals which were related to health and each goal has about seven targets. We did not achieve any of them.

“Now we have SDGs to achieve by the year 2030. As a country, I do not see us achieving any of the targets by 2030.

“We have seven more years to go and so far we have not achieved any target in the SDGs. Though a few states are trying their best, we are still far behind as a nation.

“Going by the indicators and what is on the ground, there is no hope that we are going to achieve any of the health-related SDGs in Nigeria, except we take serious actions now.

“We need an improved governance structure in the health system and the full implementation of the National Health insurance Act to get us there as a nation,” he said.

NAN reports that the SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, improve access to healthcare, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.


NAFDAC, NDLEA, Customs Unite to Fight Drug Abuse

L-R: Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye; Mrs Victoria Ekpase, who represented the NDLEA chairman, Brigadier General Buba Marwa Rtd, Ag. Assistant Comptroller General ACG of the Nigeria Customs Service, A.N. Dappa, who represented the Customs Service Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Alli rtd. at the launch and dissemination of the 2022 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and Precursors Report 2022, in Lagos.

Towards ridding the nation of the menace of drug abuse and related organised crimes, the trio of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC; National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and Nigeria Customs Service, have pledged to join forces in the fight against illicit drug production, trafficking, and use.

Leaders of the regulatory agencies decried the trend in the country, where controlled drugs find their way to the streets where are they are sold without checks to people, especially youths, as they vowed to deepen collaboration to ensure that such unwholesome acts are completely eliminated from the society.

They made the pledge in Lagos at the weekend, during the launch and dissemination of the 2022 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and Precursors Report 2022.

NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye described narcotics and psychotropic substances as indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering and that they are controlled within the framework of the three international conventions as they possess abuse liability and produce dependence in users.

‘’They are classified not on chemical nature but on the potential for abuse and the need for medical use of the substance’’, she said, adding that one of the control objectives is to ensure availability solely for medical and scientific uses while minimising the possibility of diversion to illicit channels and abuse”, she said.

Citing prevalence of cannabis use being 7 times higher among men in comparison to 2.6 per cent usage among women, she said that Nigeria will not support the trend of legalisation of cannabis for non-medical use as country lacks the financial capacity to fight cultivation, production and illegal use of the substance.

The non-medical use of cannabis, according to Adeyeye, contravenes the United Nations Single Convention of 1961, which classifies cannabis as a highly addictive substance; while the Nigeria Indian Hemp Act as well as the NDLEA Act prohibit the cultivation, production, distribution, sales and use of cannabis and its extracts or derivatives for medical or non-medical purposes

Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Chairman of NDLEA, Brigadier General, Buba Marwa, rtd, bemoaned what he described as an upsurge in abuse of cannabis amongst the Nigerian youths with its attendant negative effects on the society.

He disclosed that the NDLEA with a view to addressing this problem conceptualised War Against Drug Abuse WADA which was launched by the Nigerian President, Mohammadu Buhari on June 26, 2021.

General Marwa who was represented by Mrs Victoria Ekase, noted that NAFDAC has been ensuring that controlled drug essential for human survival are made available for use where necessary in line with the requirements of INCB, adding that NDLEA on its own part collaborates with NAFDAC in ensuring that the measures put in place to prevent diversion of such medicines and substances to illicit use are adhered to.

‘’In some instances, NDLEA has arrested and prosecuted some traffickers of controlled and narcotics substances intended to be diverted to illicit uses’’, he said, noting with dismay that It’s quite worrisome that chemicals intended for research and industrial purposes are finding their way into illicit drug manufacture.

‘’This is the area that NAFDAC and NDLEA need to deepen collaboration to ensure that such unwholesome acts are completely eliminated’’, he said, adding that the launch of the precursor report will go a long way to complement national efforts in this regard”, he stated.






Train-Bus Crash: 256 Units of Blood Donated for Survivors



No fewer than 256 units of blood were collected from voluntary donors by the State Blood Transfusion Service (LSBTS), who responded to the request for donation for the survivors of the train-bus crash at PWD – Shogunle in Ikeja.

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, gave the update at a news briefing to intimate journalists on the state of the survivors at the end.

He disclosed that 40 units of blood were immediately administered to those needing blood transfusion to be stabilised.

Abayomi reported that 32 people involved in the unfortunate incident on Thursday have been released from three public health facilities in the state following successful medical treatment and care.

He further revealed that 19 people who were injured in the accident had been discharged from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), while five were discharged from the Accident and Emergency Centre at the Toll Gate and eight from the Orile-Agege General Hospital, out of the total of 102 victims.

Abayomi stated that the number of casualties from the accident had risen to 102, up from the initial 85, with no other deaths since Thursday noon, while the fatality count still stood at six.

The low casualty figure was attributed to the successful triage strategy that was implemented by LASEMA and LASAMBUS, and then further managed by LASUTH.

He stated that not only had he visited patients who had been moved to other government hospitals from LASUTH, but that they were all doing well in response to the treatment they had received. He further added that since the patients had been put in their wards, the chances of them having severe complications were slim.

The Commissioner, while noting that the well-coordinated responses of appropriate agencies of government have resulted in commendable efforts which ought to be applauded,  as he thanked all those involved in the life-saving act, which he said, has once again shown the resolve and resilient spirit of Lagos State and its people.

Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, the Lagos State Head of Service, also noted that the staff bus involved in the accident was filled to its regular capacity, as staff chose the free bus over commercial transportation due to the current economic difficulties in the nation.

Muri-Okunola declared that the bus driver is currently being held by the police to help them determine the cause of the accident. He added that the driver’s physical and mental condition at the time of the incident is also being examined, and the results will be included in the investigative report.

The briefing also had in attendance the Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo; the Director of Clinical Service and Training, Prof. Adebowale Adekoya, Member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Akeem Sokunle and other Lagos State top government functionaries.

Youth Suicide Attempt Rose Globally during Pandemic – Study Finds


A meta-analysis conducted at the University of Calgary has revealed that there was a considerable spike in the number of youths who visited the emergency department due for attempted suicide or contemplated suicide during the period of social distancing.

The lead author of a study published on 9 March in Lancet Psychiatry, Dr Sheri Madigan of the Department of Psychology, conducted a meta-analysis of 42 studies encompassing more than 11 million pediatric emergency department visits in 18 countries, which he compared with data from pre-pandemic and pandemic visits up to July 2021.

Results from the pandemic period indicate that pediatric emergency department visits decreased by 32 per cent overall, but there was still a 22 per cent  rise in the number of youths seeking aid for suicide attempts and an 8 per cent increase in visits related to suicide ideation.

Madigan said “What this 22 per cent increase means is that in an average emergency department setting, there were 102 child and adolescent visits per month for suicide attempts before the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased to 125 per month during the pandemic.”

Madigan was not surprised by the findings, as her research team had already conducted a study in the summer of 2021 which revealed a twofold increase in depression and anxiety symptoms in children and adolescents during the initial year of the pandemic. She had already forewarned that this constituted a worldwide mental health emergency.

“In our earlier work on mental health in the pandemic, we determined that kids were in crisis, and that we needed to bolster services and resources, or it was going to get worse. There’s been a debate during the pandemic as to whether the kids are all right or not all right.

“Now that more data have been published and analysed, we can more precisely answer that question. The kids are, in fact, not all right,” says Madigan, who is also a Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Child Development.

Madigan suggested that, initially, it may appear to be confusingly contradictory that there was a decrease in pediatric emergency department visits during the pandemic but an increase in visits due to suicide attempts and ideation. However, when further examined, it all makes perfect sense.

The researchers included studies published between January 2020 and July 2021 that contained data on pediatric emergency department visits before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, up to the summer of 2021.

Because ongoing studies on the more recent administrative health data are yet to be published, Madigan says The Lancet Psychiatry article findings provide the clearest snapshot of the pandemic up to about July 2021.

She said, “We will continue to monitor the incoming data to see if this trend of increasing emergency department visits for suicide attempts and suicide ideation among children and adolescents continues to climb as the pandemic changes and evolves.”


Child’s First 1,000 Days Important for Mental, Physical Development – UNICEF


The United Nations Children’s Fund has urged mothers to give priority to maternal nutrition and first 1,000 days of a child’s life, describing it as a golden window that must not be compromised.

UNICEF Nutritionist Specialist, Ada Ezeogu, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday, on the sideline of a Media Advocacy Meeting by the National Orientation Agency, in collaboration with UNICEF.

NAN reports that the two-day programme attended by no fewer than 50 media practitioners was held in Patron Hotel, Lekki, Sangotedo, Lagos State.

Ezeogu said the practice was important as it would extensively put to a stop to forms of damage children encountered in their window age, (early life).

According to her, it is fundamental that children under two years are subjected to the right foods and exclusive breast milk for six months and that a combination of other nutrient-rich foods thereafter must not be compromised.

“The first 1,000 days is a golden window of a child’s mental and physical developmental life, because it is at that time that the brain is being built, a time that the lifelong for healthy living is laid.

“There is, therefore, every need for a woman to be well nourished before, during and after pregnancy as a child depends more on the mother for nutrient requirements, hence early initiation of breastfeeding is advised.

“Exclusive breastfeeding helps the child to develop mentally and physically, it is evidence of the child’s intelligence and general activities, as it’s an opportunity to ensure that they have a good start in life.

“The lack of vital nutrients from the point where pregnancy is confirmed and in the early stage of a child’s life results in problems such as stunted growth and wasting which is irreversible,” she added.

The Nutritionist pointed out that food played a great role in a child’s development in terms of their physical and mental health and therefore, required that parents must provide such basic needs to enable the child to do well in all ramifications.



Malnutrition: Lagos State Accounts for 2,000 Stunted, 200,000 Wasted Children— UNICEF

Lagos State accounts for about 2,000 children with stunted growth as a result of malnutrition, Mrs Ada Ezeogu,  United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Nutrition Specialist, said on Saturday.
Consequently, Ezeogu said that it was imperative to ensure that the numbers did not continue to increase because stunting has dire consequences on physical growth and cognitive development.
Ezeogu, who spoke at a Media Advocacy Meeting organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Lagos, in collaboration with UNICEF, explained that stunting and wasting were health conditions derived on a child as a result of malnutrition.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day programme attended by no fewer than 50 media practitioners was held in Patron Hotel, Lekki, Sangotedo, with thrust on COVAX and RI (Routine Immunisation) Uptake in Lagos State.
He said: “Stunting affects not just physical  growth but cognitive development. And stunting , once the effect of stunting has set in, it is irreversible and cannot be changed.
“That means, when a child is stunted, you can’t change that. That child is compromised in terms of height,  physical development and cognitive development.
“So, you will not get the best from that child and that child will not achieve the full potential in life.
“Also, there are implications for onset of adult non-communicable diseases like diabetes, and a tendency for a stunted or malnourished child to have it later in life,” she said.
The specialist said that stunting had implications that went beyond childhood even unto adulthood which was why it should be prevented as much as possible.
“Once there is malnutrition, the child easily falls ill and the immune system is also compromised, and because of that, health cost increases because the child is taken more often to hospital and will be treated. do, there is health cost implication.
“Also, that child may also not be as good as one who is fully nourished in school and by implication, result in repetition of class.  All these have  economic impact in the economy and in the school system.
“So, if you have a child repeating or not paying attention fully or their attention span is reduced as a result of malnutrition then you have implication for the education system and the health system,” she said.
Ezeogu also said that the percentage of wasting in Lagos was higher than the global target of less than five percent, stating that for Lagos to have a 6.4 per cent, translated into about 200,000 children in numbers.
“Immediately a child is  screened and found to be severely malnourished, the child should be referred to a health centre.
“Fortunately, Lagos is already doing something with the management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
“They are using the ready-to-use therapeutic food and if there are underlying conditions, they will be treated.
“We encourage mothers to take these children immediately to health facilities for attention because for wasting, if these children are not treated on time, we may lose them,” the specialist said.
However,  Ezeogu said that there was no designated centre for SAM in the state but pointed out that the intervention programme could be found within some hospitals.
“I am aware that Mercy Children Hospital has a ward where they treat children with SAM and they were trained to handle such cases,” she said.
The specialist urged the Lagos State Government to increase screening in order to identify these children’s from the communities and also to increase the number of health workers who have the skills to screen children.
“By so doing, there will be timely intervention and those children affected can be identified early enough and referred to a health care center,” she said. (NAN) www.nannews.ng

Kwara Health Workers Demand Better Welfare


The Kwara State Chairman of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Alhaji Aminu Shehu, has called on the state government to improve members’ welfare packages.

Aminu made the call on Saturday in Ilorin on the sidelines of a forum addressing the shortage of medical practitioners in the state.

He also urged the state government to employ more health workers that would measure up with the increasing number of patients in the public health facilities.

According to him, there are only 700 nurses in the state and for them to be sufficient and efficient in discharging their work, the government must employ 3,000 more and also ensure a better welfare package.

“Last year, we mounted pressure on the state government to increase our salary and the governor increased between 60 per cent to 70 per cent, but didn’t meet our expectations because we demanded 100 per cent.

“The governor employed more nurses last year, but as he employed, they spent some time and left the service for a better offer.

“We now conclude that the solution to the problem is an increment of salary from 70 per cent to 100 per cent, improved welfare package and payment of hazard allowance.

“We have written to the governor who asked us to bring the number of nurses in the state and the number required to be employed,” he said.

Aminu decried the situation whereby one nurse attended to about 30 patients when it should be one nurse to four patients, saying the development was worrisome.

He further demanded the presence of security operatives at various hospitals in order to check the excesses of some patients and their relatives who sometimes become violent and unruly whenever they lose their loved ones.

The labour leader however appreciated Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for trying to address the plight of health workers in the state.

Aminu called on residents to reelect AbdulRazaq to enable him to consolidate the gains achieved so far and for the people to enjoy more dividends of democracy.


FCCPC Wants Hospitals, Health Stakeholders to Strengthen Patients Care Regulation

Mr Babatunde Irukera, CEO, FCCPC

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), has emphasised the need for hospitals and stakeholders in the health sector to strengthen their patients’ care regulation.

The Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Mr Babatunde Irukera said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.

Irukera was reacting to the verdict of a Corona inquest into the death of a Lagos-based chef, Mrs Adepeju Ugboma, after undergoing hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) at Premier Medical Centre, Lekki, Lagos State.

Irukera welcomed the verdict of the Coroner in the case given by Chief Magistrate Mukaila Fadeyi on March 9.

He said the Commission upon the death of Ugboma, opened an investigation with the expectation that consumer protection issues associated with standard of care would be addressed.

“The coroner’s conclusion that Premier failed to exercise due diligence prior to the procedure from a corporate responsibility standpoint shows the importance of FCCPC’s role in this case and other medical case.

“It also emphasised infringed Rights 11 of the FCCPC’s Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBoR).

“The PBoR 11 reiterates the right to quality care in accordance with prevailing standards and other provisions of the FCCPA.”

According to Irukera, the conclusion that Premier failed in the duty of care it owned to a patient underscores the role and need for strengthening patient care regulation.

“This is in addition to and apart from individual practitioner professional regulation.

“The FCCPC is grateful to Lagos State and the coroner in this case, and other parties to the inquest such as Evercare Hospital for the commitment demonstrated through this process,” he said.

NAN reports that the Chief Magistrate in his verdict, said that Ugboma’s surgery lacked due diligence on the part of the physicians who performed it.

Fadeyi said that autopsy carried out on her revealed that the deceased died from massive inter-abdominal bleeding, as 500ml of blood and 900ml of clotted blood were found in her abdomen.

He said that the deceased’s medical history was poorly documented, adding that doctors of Premier Medical Centre failed to involve appropriate surgeons.

According to him, absence of vital machines and unwillingness of the doctors to address the issues immediately after surgery were questionable.

NAN reports that Ugboma died on April 25, 2021, in a bid to remove fibroids.

The surgery was done on April 23, 2021, at the Premier before being transferred to Evercare Hospital due to complications from the surgery but was pronounced dead shortly after.

NAN reports that FCCPC had set up a panel of public enquiry to probe the death of Ugboma while the corona was set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate the case. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Secret to Graceful Ageing


Try this little exercise. Relax all your muscles and focus on taking really deep breaths. Then slowly release the air from your lungs. Do this several times.

The air that enters our lungs brings life. And as we quicken our breathing through aerobic exercise, brisk walking or running, we feel invigorated and may even experience a feeling of euphoria.

As you fill your lungs with fresh air, rich in oxygen, these oxygen molecules pass through the walls of the alveoli into the blood. Attaching to the haemoglobin, the beating of the heart pumps this newly oxygenated blood back out to all parts of the body. This in turn releases oxygen which enters the cells, giving energy and life.

Within each cell in the body is a furnace called the mitochondrion. Imagine yourself in front of a crackling, warm fire. It burns safely and quietly most of the time. But occasionally, a cinder flies and lands on your carpet, burning a little hole in it. One cinder by itself does not pose much of a threat; but if this sparking and popping continues month after month, year after year, you will end up with a pretty ragged carpet in front of your fireplace.

This simple illustration demonstrates how the mitochondria within the cell reduces oxygen by the transfer of electrons to create energy into the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and produces a by-product of water. This process goes on without a hitch at least 98 percent of the time. But the full complement of four electrons needed to reduce oxygen to water does not always happen as planned and a “free radical” is produced!

The cinder from the fireplace represents a free radical, and the carpet represents our body. Whichever part of the body receives the most free radical damage is the first to wear out and potentially develops a degenerative disease.

If it is your eyes, you could develop macular degeneration or cataracts. If it is your blood vessels, you could have a heart attack or stroke.

If it is your joint space, you could develop arthritis. If it is your brain, you could develop Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Together we have just imagined the “bright” side of oxygen and the life and warmth it brings, but we may never have known the demise that unruly free radicals causes, otherwise known as OXIDATIVE STRESS.

This oxidative stress is the underlying cause  of almost all degenerative diseases. Right from the skin, you can see significant difference between the youngest and the oldest members of several generations. As on the surface (on the skin) so also the same decay is happening inside our bodies too.

Free radicals are mainly oxygen molecules or atoms that have, at least, one unpaired electron in their outer orbit. In the process of utilising oxygen during normal metabolism within the cells to create energy (called oxidation), active free oxygen radicals are created. They essentially have an electrical charge and desire to try to get an electron from any molecule or substance in the vicinity. They have such a violent movement that they have been shown chemically to create bursts of light within the body. They are the “area boys” in our society – in this case, our bodies.

If these free radicals are not rapidly neutralised by an antioxidant, they may create even more violent free radicals or cause damage (aka oxidative stress) to the cell membrane, vessel wall, proteins, fats or even the DNA nucleus of the cell.


Our allies and defenders (antioxidants)

An antioxidant is any substance that has the ability to give up an electron to a free radical and balance out the unpaired electron, which neutralises the free radical. Our body has the ability to produce three major antioxidant defense systems but not all we ultimately need. The rest of our antioxidants must come from food or nutritional supplementation.

As long as adequate amounts of antioxidants are available for the amount of free radicals produced, no damage is done to the body. But when more free radicals are produced than antioxidants available, oxidative stress occurs. When this situation persists for a prolonged period of time, we can develop a chronic degenerative disease and begin to lose the war within.

Balance is the key to winning this ongoing war! We must always be armed with more antioxidants than free radicals in our body at every point in time.

(Continues next edition)

Mrs Chima Ejimofor is the Lead partner of Infinite Health Consult, and is available for the purchase of  quality nutritional supplements, health talks and wellness seminars. She is based in Lagos, Nigeria. Telephone/WhatsApp: 07033179632, email: infinitehealthconsult@gmail.com

Diphtheria: History and Important Facts


Diphtheria is an acute bacterial disease, caused by toxin-producing strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The disease derives its name from the Greek “diphtheria”, which means “leather hide”. Hippocrates first described the disease in the 5th century BCE after which epidemics were described in the 6th century by Aetius.

Edwin Klebs first did the observation of the bacterium in diphtheritic membranes in 1883, while Friedrich Loffler carried out the cultivation in 1884. Diphtheria gained its official name from French physician Pierre Bretonneau (1778-1862), who called the disease diphtérite. Bretonneau also distinguished diphtheria from scarlet fever.

Prophylactic attempts against the disease were made in the early 1900s with combinations of toxin and antitoxin, leading to the development of the diphtheria toxoid in 1920. The toxoid was not widely used until 1930. It was subsequently incorporated into the tetanus toxoid and pertussis vaccine and became widely used in 1940.

Persons susceptible to diphtheria may acquire the toxigenic bacilli in the nasopharynx. The dangerous thing about the bacteria is that they produce toxins that inhibit cellular protein synthesis and are responsible for the destruction of local tissue and the formation of pseudomembrane which is characteristic of the disease.

The mechanism of damage caused by diphtheria involves the absorption of the toxins produced at the site of the membrane into the bloodstream from where they are then distributed to the tissues of the body. Major complications such as myocarditis, polyneuropathies, nephritis and thrombocytopenia are strongly linked to the toxins.

There are also non-toxin producing strains of C. diphtheria that can cause severe exudative pharyngitis. Other non-toxigenic strains of C. diphtheria are manifested in conditions such as cutaneous lesions, endocarditis, bacteremia, and septic arthritis.

Bretonneau recorded the first successful use of tracheotomy in a case of diphtheria. Having been used to treat other conditions, the procedure involves cutting an opening in the trachea and inserting a tube through the opening to allow passage of air and the evacuation of secretions. After Bretonneau’s several failed attempts in the use of this procedure had resulted in the death of patients, another French physician, Armand Trousseau (1801-1867), recorded a survival rate of about 25 per cent in the tracheotomies he performed on diphtheria sufferers.

Before vaccines for the disease were developed, diphtheria had been one of the most common causes of illness and death among children. Since the introduction of diphtheria vaccines in the 1920s and the implementation of universal childhood vaccination in the 1940s, the disease has been well managed in the United States and other countries of the world.

The successes recorded in the fight against the disease notwithstanding, diphtheria has continued to pose a public health threat, even in recent years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had reported 10,107 cases in 2020. The figure showed a decline, compared to the number of cases recorded in previous years. However, it is believed that it was impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Symptoms of diphtheria usually appear two to five days after infection and they include a thick grey-white coating that may cover the back of your throat, nose and tongue, a high temperature (fever) and sore throat. Others are swollen glands in the neck and difficulty breathing and swallowing.

The disease can be spread through coughs and sneezes or through close contact with someone who is infected. You can also get it by sharing items such as cups, cutlery, clothing or bedding, with an infected person.

In places with very poor hygiene, cutaneous diphtheria is common. Cutaneous diphtheria causes pus-filled blisters on the legs, feet and hands,as well as large ulcers surrounded by red, sore-looking skin.

Diphtheria can be treated with antibiotics, such as Penicillin and macrolide, which are groups of empirical antibiotics used to eradicate toxigenic C. diphtheriae based on the guidelines of the WHO and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Treatment usually lasts two to three weeks. Any skin ulcers usually heal within two to three months but may leave a scar. Persons who have been in close contact with patients who have diphtheria may also need to take antibiotics or may be given a dose of the diphtheria vaccination.

Diphtheria vaccines are available and they help prevent an infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria. There are four kinds of vaccines used in the United States today to help protect against diphtheria and all of them provide protection against other diseases. They are diphtheria and tetanus (DT) vaccines, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccines, tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccines and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines.

Nephrologists list Measures to Prevent Kidney Diseases



Kidney disease
A cross-section of residents awaiting the screening process

Kidney specialists, including Professor Olugbenga Awobusuyi, Dr Bolu Ojuroye and Dr Abudulwasiu Adeniyi Busari, have drawn the attention of Nigerians to effective means of preventing kidney diseases and maintaining healthy kidney functions.

The nephrologists who spoke at the kidney screening programme, organised by the Gbagada General Hospital recently, identified factors that make Nigerians vulnerable to kidney failure such as untreated hypertension, diabetes, smoking, drug abuse and misuse, as they advised participants to steer clear of these practices.

Dr Ojuroye, director, Clinical Service and Training, Gbagada General Hospital, while addressing the people, condemned the practice of mixing herbal concoctions with other local herbs that claim to have NAFDAC registration numbers, which end up being poisonous, leading to kidney diseases.

He urged citizens to desist from self medication of both local and orthodox medicines, as it has severe consequences on their internal organs, especially the kidney.

Speaking with Pharmanewsonline in an exclusive interview at the programme, a Nephrologist, Professor Olugbenga Awobusuyi, said prevention is better than cure, as such, advised Nigerians to abstain from smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol and use of recreational drugs, in order to maintain healthy kidneys.

While noting that many kidney diseases are asymptomatic, he stated that kidney disease can cause serious health problems such as loss of kidney function, renal failure and even death.

According to him, “Given the devastating impact of chronic kidney disease on the Nigerian population, various measures must be taken to prevent and reduce the number of cases. The first line of defense against kidney diseases is education and awareness. There is also a need for comprehensive primary healthcare in Nigeria, and another important factor in the prevention of kidney diseases is access to clean water and sanitation.

“It is important to also note that preventing the spread of STDs is an important factor in the prevention of kidney disease in Nigeria. STDs such as chlamydia and HIV have been linked to kidney diseases, and thus, ensuring the safe and timely treatment of all STDs is essential if the spread of kidney diseases is to be curtailed”.

Speaking on the theme of the event tagged: “Kidney health for all – preparing for the unexpected, supporting the vulnerable”, a resident doctor at the hospital, Dr Abudulwasiu Adeniyi Busari, explained the main function of the kidneys is to filter waste out of the body, as well as produce certain hormones such as calcitriol, which helps the body absorb calcium, and erythropoietin.

He explained that kidney failure, also known as renal failure, occurs when the kidneys can no longer filter the blood properly or maintain electrolyte balance.

“Kidney failure can be caused by many different things, including diseases, lifestyle choices, and genetic factors. Diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure can cause damage to the kidneys over time, leading to reduced kidney function and eventually, kidney failure.

“Some genetic disorders such as polycystic kidney disease can cause kidney failure over time if left untreated”, he asserted.

In her lecture titled ‘Healthy diet towards preventing kidney diseases,’ Dietician Oluwatoyin Adele, who also works at the Gbagada General Hospital, said eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent certain illnesses and diseases, including kidney diseases.

She maintained that a balanced diet that is low in sodium and saturated fats and high in fruit, vegetables and whole grains can reduce the risk of developing kidney diseases.

According to her, “Consumption of sugary beverages, excessive salt/bouillon cubes, and canned foods, all contribute to an increase in blood pressure, which can be damaging to the kidneys. While these items are enjoyable to eat, many people are unaware of the extra strain they put on the kidneys.

“It is important to establish the practice of drinking blended fruits and vegetables in place of bottled drinks. Parents should begin introducing their kids to nutritious foods such as okra, ugwu, shoko, efinrin, ewedu, oziza, utazi, ewuro, garden egg, kale, cucumber, carrot, and cabbage at an early age.

She further highlighted the importance of cutting down on the consumption of takeout, particularly of unhealthy foods. This can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, which can ultimately damage the kidneys.

One of the beneficiaries of the free medical screening, Miss Sarah Awofeso, who spoke with Pharmanewsonline at the programme, expressed her gratitude to the management of Gbagada General Hospital for conducting the screening and the health education, as she was unaware of the types of foods she must avoid in other to keep her kidneys healthy prior to the programme.

Awofeso disclosed her determination to follow-up on the diagnosis given to her as well as adhere to the lectures, in order to maintain a healthy kidney.




Why Pharmacy Programme Should Have Separate Academic Calendar – OOU PANS President

Ayo Olusegun Adekunle

In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, President of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Ayo Olusegun Adekunle, bares his mind on the challenges that unified academic calendars pose to pharmacy education in Nigeria.

The Ondo State-born scholar also speaks on his foray into Pharmacy, PANS politics, as well as the achievements and aspirations of the incoming administration.


How did you decide for Pharmacy as a course of study?

During my O-Level, my dream course was Medicine initially because that was what I filled in for in JAMB. However, after I was denied admission by UNILORIN then, I decided to change the pendulum by deciding with my parents to study Pharmacy, because they also wanted me to do a medicine-related course. I wasn’t moved by passion to study Pharmacy; the goal was just to go to school and get educated, and I found myself here. But ever since I started Pharmacy, I have been very grateful to God for making me choose the course.


What are the challenges associated with studying Pharmacy in this country compared to other parts of the world?

There are many challenges associated with studying Pharmacy in this country, compared to other countries. One major area of concern is the complex academic calendar. I believe Pharmacy is a professional course that should be taught in a professional way but the case here in Nigeria is different. You see pharmacy schools operating same calendar with other non-professional courses. This leads to a hasty conclusion of the curriculum and making students sit for an examination in few weeks.

This really traumatises pharmacy students because there is a lot to cover but the rush, caused by a non-independent calendar, makes students unable to cope with the stress that comes with it, compared to our foreign counterparts.


What achievements have you recorded and what challenges have you encountered so far?

There have been quite a number of achievements that I have made during the course of my administration. The first is the capital project. I was able to provide learning aids that we had lacked for some time in the faculty. We got the public address system, a projector screen and a new set of ceiling fans to improve the ventilation of our lecture rooms.

Secondly, we organised industrial visitation to Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries; as well as participations in professional development programmes, online webinars, essay competition and lots more. So far, all of these have been achieved, despite the little time we had, as a result of the ASUU strike.


It should be tough combining studies with active involvement in other activities. How have you been coping?

There is a proverb that says “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” The pressure on me as a visionary leader, coupled with my academics, has been very difficult. There are times that I will need to skip lectures to source for funds, alongside some of my executives. Coming back from there, I will have to read overnight to cover up for the lapses. And there is also the planning and execution of our events and all.

But God has been helping me with my tenacity; I have been able to balance leadership with academics ever since I was in 100 Level. So it’s now a part and parcel of me.


If you had the opportunity of changing some things about pharmacy education in OOU, what would they be?

The first thing I would do is to ensure the faculty creates more time to enable students to read and to get involved in other extra-curricular activities. I believe this is necessary for the total development and well-being of my colleagues.


There were speculations that high-handedness, anxiety, and fear were fuelling mass failures in pharmacy schools. How true is this speculation, and what is your reaction to it?

Well, I agree with this, because hardly can you see any pharmacy student that won’t be anxious or scared because of the workload and complex curriculum. This is one of the reasons why you see some pharmacy students underperforming. It’s not because they don’t read but the volume of materials to cover is too much within a limited time. I see this as a critical issue that the PCN should give priority to.


ASUU recently ended a prolonged strike action. Do you think the strike was a good decision?

The strike had its good and bad sides. The good side is the fight to bring a new face to the Nigerian educational system, which is on a verge of collapse; while the bad side is the negative impact that it has on the students In terms of extension of stay, mental health and the like. In my own opinion, the government should proffer a lasting solution to this national embarrassment called ASUU strike.


Where do you see PANS-OOU, by the time you will be leaving office?

I see PANS-OOU as one of the leading associations that will compete on a global scale. The evolvement of great minds amongst the students here will take PANS-OOU to the apogee of greatness.

Tallen Advises Incoming Minister on Pregnant Out-of-School Girls


Are schools ready to meet pregnant and breastfeeding learners' needs? | Monitor

The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, has advised the incoming minister of the ministry not to allow pregnant girls to be sent out of school.

According to her, education is key to empowering girls.

Tallen gave the advice at a panel discussion on the sideline of an event organised by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs on Friday in New York.

The event was in collaboration with the World Bank on the sideline of the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67).

The two-week CSW67 session, which started on Monday, focuses on Innovation and technological change education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the panel discussion led by the minister, spoke to the theme of “Leveraging Innovative Approaches to drive Empowerment and Education outcomes for Nigerian Women and Girls.’’

Tallen, attending her last CSW as a minister in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the tenure ends in May 29, urged that no girl should be left behind.

She said that for Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal five on gender equality and to empower all women and girls by 2030, no girl should be left behind.

“Economic empowerment is education; not just education of the girl-child, but even the second chance education for young girls that got pregnant while in school.

“They are sent away from school leaving the culprit (boy). She didn’t get pregnant alone but the person that got her pregnant will be allowed to go to school.

“No girl should be sent away from school because she’s pregnant. If she is sent away from school, the boy should also be sent away from school.

“She should be allowed back after having the baby and continue her education,’’ the minister said.

According to her, they are already going through a lot, some of them are sent out from the house by their parents out of anger.

Tallen said she had to adopt some of the girls and support them to give them future, expressing happiness that some of them have been able to fulfill their dreams and ambition in life.

“So, education of the girl-child is important, and we must always support the girl-child. The child belongs to all, it must not be your child.

“It must not be somebody you know, any girl that falls victim of such unfortunate situation should be supported,’’ she said.

The minister advised the incoming minister to ensure economic empowerment of girls and women and continue with the programmes of the ministry.

“I also appeal to our gender desk officers across the various ministries to be more effective in their tasks.

“We have gendered services across all the ministries, like Ministry of Environment. When you talk of Climate Change, woman is central to that, and we have worked closely with the ministry on that.

“I will urge our desk officers in all the ministries to be more proactive,’’ she said.

Also speaking, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, former Chairman of Nigerian Governors Wives Forum, said there was need to address challenges women faced.

She asked: “Of what benefit will economic empowerment be if she is battered to death by her husband?”.

Fayemi said that strong will and political commitment was needed to implement all the agreements Nigeria had signed on women empowerment.

“It’s important to ensure that we have adequate financial and human resources to see all these commitments through all levels of government,’’ the panelist said.

Ambassador Mobolaji Ogundero, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC, solicited the support of international community to implement some of the commitments Nigeria had signed.

Ms  Alice Nderitu, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, said that economic empowerment for women is acquiring education and moving a step forward to teach others.

She also urged women to own their narrative.

“So, when I think about women’s empowerment, I think in terms of moving from that trajectory; we move from the knowledge that we have and move it to education.

“We move it to education in a way that we can teach others,’’she said.

NAN also reports that “schoolgirl pregnancy” is cited as one of the primary barriers to girls’ education.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

SGBV: NAPTIP Gives Awards to 3 Persons in FCT


NAPTIP seeks partnership with UNODC to fight human trafficking -

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Abuja on Friday gave awards to three persons for their efforts toward elimination of Sexual and Gender- Based Violence (SGBV).

The awardees were given the award of plaques and certificates based on their contributions to their communities in Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

They are: Amb. Gimbiya-Hannatu Usman, Ruth-Anta Osu and Buhira Ibrahim.

The Director-General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, said the recipients of the awards had over the years devoted their lives to the development of their communities.

She said that the awards which was in commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day, was given in partnership with two other organisations.

According to her, these community activists have over the years devoted their lives to consistently challenging long-standing harmful cultural practices.

Waziri-Azi said that they had worked harmoniously with traditional rulers and men in their communities, encouraged and mobilised others to do same in the defence of their rights and the rights of other women and girls.

“We thought it necessary to recognize and honour these women who have devoted their lives in preventing SGBV in rural communities within the FCT and serving as role model members of their communities.

“Government remains committed to advancing effective approaches to keeping all persons safe and most of the efforts to combat gender-based violence and other harmful practices at the grassroots level

“Which is why grassroots initiatives that best respond to incidents with a culturally-sensitive approach must be implemented,” she said.

One of the awardees, Osu, while responding to questions of where she drew her motivation from, stated that her motivation was as a result of the silent culture of most Nigerian women.

She said that she had decided to speak out for those who were silent in the society and were facing various challenges in their homes particularly women under the SGBV issues.

“I also believe that i will always get the support of NAPTIP and the traditional leaders in my community if I can be speaking for the vulnerable,’’ Osu said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Proper Nutrition Can Reverse Many Chronic Diseases – CEO, Carib Health Group

Dr Patrick Ijewere

An alumnus of the prestigious John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr Patrick Ijewere is also a pharmacist, having studied Pharmacy at Howard University in the United States. His outstanding strides in the healthcare industry have seen him champion the cause of good nutrition as both prophylactic and therapeutic to the human system.

In this exclusive interview with PATRICK IWELUNMOR, he sheds more light on the response of the human body to nutrition and lifestyle, while calling for better collaborations between medical doctors and pharmacists in Nigeria.


As a medical doctor and pharmacist, which of the fields do you find more interesting?

They are both very interesting and this is tied to how one approaches both fields. You can marry them beautifully. There are tremendous areas that are untapped in both fields. Both are interesting and I joggle them in ways that I would explain shortly.


You have devoted most of your time to working on nutrition. How does nutrition offer therapeutic benefits to the human system?

To answer this question concisely, I will have to share my story with you. There was a time I had asthma. I was diagnosed at age 11, when I was in secondary school at St. Gregory’s, in Lagos. After secondary school, it got worse and my parents shipped me off to the United States for my university education.

After my training as a pharmacist and medical doctor there in the US, I met a senior colleague, while working in Florida and he said to me that if I could change my lifestyle and mindset, the asthma would go away. We were taught that asthma and other non-communicable diseases were chronic ailments but this senior colleague told me they were not. Changing one’s mindset about these ailments is the number one factor that can lead to overcoming them.

Secondly,- he made me realise that lifestyle is very important in the management of these ailments. When you are stressed and you don’t get enough sleep, your system becomes prone to some of these ailments. Thirdly, he talked about nutrition. Then I was eating a lot of meat. Whenever I came home on a visit, I would always go to Obalende market to buy suya. Even in my church in the US, I was deputy barbecue chef. My fridge always had smoked turkey and different kinds of meat. I was told to change my nutrition by this senior colleague.

Initially, I was hesitant. But as soon as I tried changing what I ate, I noticed the difference. It has been 17 years that I have not had an asthma attack, thanks to the massive changes I made to my nutrition.

Around that time, I married a woman who trained as a nutritionist. She had been telling me things about nutrition. One day while on my way home from work, I bought a big bottle of Sprite and drank it all the way home. After a few hours, I started feeling unwell. The next morning, I was feeling horrible. It was through a local newspaper’s feature on sugary drinks that I discovered I had consumed 32 cubes of sugar in that bottle of Sprite. That was my wake-up call to the importance of nutrition.

It is sad that most medical schools around the world don’t teach nutrition. Our doctors are totally oblivious to the impact of nutrition on health and wellbeing. In our practice, we focus a lot on nutrition.


How does nutrition impact those suffering from non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cancer?

While working for an HMO here in Nigeria, I was privileged to travel to many communities. During one of my journeys to Emene, near Enugu, I gave a talk in a hospital run by reverend sisters. After my talk, the then COO of the hospital requested that I come back because of the rising health issues amongst the sisters. In their late thirties, forties ad fifties, most of these sisters were having diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure.

For the three days that I had to come back, I made sure I ate together with them, just to observe their activities and nutrition. Their typical breakfast was bread, butter, margarine and egg. Their lunch was semovita and rice. Dinner time was spaghetti, noodles or rice. Their foods were mostly made from wheat, which is an inflammatory food. They were consuming foods that were highly inflammatory to the body. No wonder they had all those problems – obesity, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure.

In my own case, once I changed my nutrition, my body began to heal itself. God has designed this body with a system to heal itself. We are the ones who are disturbing our bodies with the incorrect things. It is like a car. If you put the wrong oil in a car, there will be problems after a while.


What are those foods that the body requires to stay healthy, as opposed to junks?

You can break them down into micro and macronutrients. When God made man here on earth, He placed him in the Garden of Eden, where there were lots of fruits and vegetables. If you stay close to nature, you will live long. Your body will take you far.

The further you drift away from nature nutritionally, the sooner Mother Nature says, “Return to sender.” The more processed food you consume, the further away you are from nature. And that is when you begin to have problems.

We have handled the case of a 34-year-old with severe heart disease and blocked vessels, to the extent that cardiologists had said there was nothing they could do for him. He was sent to us for nutritional intervention. Within six months, we opened up those blocked vessels.


This means that even diabetes is not a death sentence?

Most of us are born without disease. So, if at age 40 you discover you are diabetic, it means something has happened along the way that caused this disease to show up.

We need to redefine this thing called disease. Disease is simply the body’s way of saying that what you have been doing is not consistent with wellness. God created us to be at ease but we are always deviating from what we are supposed to be consuming, thereby bringing diseases upon ourselves.

When you sleep at night, your heart and kidneys do their work, even without your consciousness. God has designed a perfect system for us. Instead of living in the Garden of Eden, man brings sicknesses upon himself when he begins to think he is smatter than God.

According to Hippocrates, all diseases are curable, except for the patient who is impatient. My hospital has handled a diabetes case that was successfully reversed after a couple of months. Today, as we speak, the patient has stopped taking her drugs and is only observing strict nutrition. And this applies to many non-communicable diseases.

To stay healthy and well, one must observe the five pillars of wellness – nutrition, lifestyle, mindset, environment and spirituality. When any of these is compromised, then the human health is threatened.


Would you say Nigerians are adhering to good food and nutrition standards, based on your engagements with patients?

Our nutrition is getting worse and worse. As a young child, I was privileged to meet my great grandmother who was approximately 110 years. Every morning, as soon as she woke from sleep, she would sweep the compound, go to the farm to fetch firewood, take her bath, eat, pack her basket and head to the market.

When she came back, she would play Ludo or ayo game with the children. She ate fresh, healthy and chemical-free foods. She never had high blood pressure or diabetes.

Generationally, we have become worse in our nutrition. Today, we are glorifying highly processed foods, whether imported or local brands. All those noodles and sugar drinks are poison. If you want to be healthy and live long, you have to consume less of those things.

The other areas of lifestyle that are important include exercise – which could include sweeping, washing clothes and other physical activities. Our mindset is also important – how we deal with stress; and our spirituality. Science has been able to show that anger, bitterness and unforgiving spirit attract sickness. These things weaken the immune system. The environment also plays a huge role. Your quality of sleep also plays a role.

Nutritionally, we are worse off than our grandparents and our great grandparents.  And this is why our life expectancy is very low, at 52. Early missionaries wrote books that showed that those who ate fresh foods were less prone to these diseases. The chronic diseases we are having these days are manifesting in early deaths, abnormal dentition and shape of mouth, in our lack of bone density and in sight problems, like cataracts which make us use glasses at early ages.


In what ways does poverty impact lifestyle and the escalation of diseases in Nigeria?

Looking at poverty from the perspective of lack of money is limited; let us also expand it to the lack of knowledge. Limited finances can lead to malnutrition and the diseases associated with it.

However, we have to also look at malnutrition from two perspectives, namely under-nutrition and over-nutrition. While undernutrition (due to poverty) can cause diseases, over-nutrition (due to affluence) can also cause diseases. The poor, in trying to envy the rich also eat what they are not supposed to eat. So, under-nutrition and over-nutrition can cause diseases. This happens when the cells are starved of important nutrients.


Pharmacists in Nigeria seem to play a second fiddle to their counterparts in the medical profession. What is your take on this?

In an orchestra, you have first violin and second violin. You also have first rhythm and second rhythm.  Together, they create that delightful awesome music. In my practice, the doctor, the pharmacist, the nutritionist, the psychologist and the nurse are involved in the decision-making process. We should let go of this arrogance and get to work together.

Doctors and pharmacists have their different trainings and roles in the health arena. The nurse, the physiotherapist and the nutritionist all have their roles to play. In the US, we have what is called the multi-disciplinary approach to healthcare. There is no first or second fiddle; everyone is as important as the other in their own areas of strength.

In fact, pharmacists are the evolution of our ancestors who were herbalists. Together, we can make that melodious piece of music.

Lagos PSN Elects New Executives, as Iyiola Bows Out  



Pharm. Deji Osinoiki, administering oath of office to the new executives.

The main hall of the Pharmacy Villa of the Lagos State Chapter, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) was filled to capacity on Thursday, during the Annual General Meeting, AGM, of the group, where new executives were elected to coordinate the affairs of the chapter for the next three years.

Leading the new crop of leaders was Pharm. Babayemi Oyekunle, who emerged as the chairman, followed by Pharm. (Mrs) Shakirat Adeosun, as vice- chairman, then Pharm. Tosin Adeyemi, elected as secretary, while Pharm. (Mrs) Ololade Oloyede, was assistant secretary.

Others were: Pharm. (Chief) Olaitan Ogunlade, treasurer; Pharm. Olusegun Kuti, financial secretary; Pharm. (Capt.) Haruna Mbaya, publicity secretary; Pharm. Stephen Onojomete, social secretary!  Pharm. (Dr) Queensly Ogbeide, editor-in-chief; Pharm. (Mrs) Titilayo Onedo,  unofficial member; Pharm. Modupe Bakare, unofficial member and  Pharm. Gbolagade Iyiola, immediate past chairman.

Administering the ought of office to the new officers, the BOT Chairman, Pharm. Deji Osinoiki, urged them to be of good conduct while in office, as they must always strive to uphold the tenets of the profession in good conscience, as a guiding principle for other members of the association to follow. He advised them to always seek amicable means of resolving issues among them, for the progress of the association.

The immediate past chairman, Pharm. Gbolagade Iyiola, addressing the AGM; with the PSN President, Prof. Cyril Usifoh, and other past executives of the chapter.

The PSN President, Prof. Cyril Usifoh, was the special guest of honour at the AGM, who congratulated the out-going executives for their wonderful performance as well as welcome the newly elected executives of the chapter, as he charged  them on scaling up Pharmacy practice in the state irrespective of the challenges that may abound. He however assured them of solutions to the problems bedeviling the chapter soonest.

Appreciating all members of the association for their profound cooperation during his tenure, the immediate past chairman, Iyiola, highlighted the milestone achievements of his administration to include, entrenchment of a conducive environment for Pharmacy practice, advocacy, welfare of members and secretariat project. He mentioned how the chapter played significant roles in calling for better regulatory techniques in sanitising the practice environment in the state, though this suffered a little setback, but optimistic that a new regulatory agenda will be set by the PCN soon.

Iyiola also noted the different advocacy strides of the association under his watch including the call for the reinstatement of the suspended Consultancy cadre status for qualified pharmacists in public service of Lagos State; capacity development across all practice groups in health system and request for a standard Faculty of Pharmacy at Lagos State University in accordance with the specifications of PCN and NUC in fulfillment of Sanwo-Olu’s campaign promises to the association in 2018.

“We made relentless media advocacies during the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic, the harassment of pharma wholesalers and importers by NAFDAC, on MDCN, FMC & FTH bills where we have continued to resist the shenanigans of Nigerian physicians who are hell bent on enslaving other health professionals etc”, he said.

The immediate past chairman further explained how his administration successfully established an NGO to cater for members’ welfare, and eight families of deceased financial members were settled with

N1Million each as stated in the scheme. He also noted how his leadership gave the secretariat a facelift with new structure and a digitalised operation.

According to him” We have supported and identified with a good number of our members in their time of joyous celebrations and bereavements. We instituted a registered NGO named Pharmacists Support Network to run the Life Assurance Welfare Scheme (LAWS) which is structured to bring succour to the families of departed colleagues who are our financial members. In the last three years, eight families of our departed colleagues who faithfully obliged financial responsibilities to our branch were settled with a sum of N1Million each as enshrined in the scheme initiated by our predecessor.

“Even the dwindling resources and nationwide lockdown could not deter us from completing and furnishing the secretariat in 2020. The internal structural remodeling has been undertaken in the last 18 month. This has given the building a fresh outlook, even the boy’s quarter was not left out, it has been remodeled to accommodate 2 of our staff members”, he enthused.

In his acceptance speech, the newly elected chairman, Oyekunle, appreciated all members of the chapter for the confidence reposed in him to be elected as chairman, while assuring that he won’t let them down. He acknowledged the enormous task ahead of him, but solicited their support for the progress of the group.

Oyekunle particularly mentioned a special project his administration will embark upon, which is the publication of the history of the state chapter vis-a-vis that of Pharmacy practice in Lagos (and indeed Nigeria). He said the association is fortunate to still have some of its early fathers and mothers around, as well as past chairman, whose contributions will make the historical document very rich in content.

Highlighting the various challenges of the state chapter, such as policy interferences from government, societies and individuals, he said “we will try to be visible and not hold back when we have to advocate for our positions. Let us become pacesetters in our advocacy. We should not ask for our rights just because another profession or professionals asked for it. Let us begin to link our rights and privileges to the fact that we merit and deserve them”.