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COVID-19 Appears To Have Taken Different Pathway In Africa, Says WHO

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WHO said that COVID-19 seems to be taking a “different pathway” in Africa with the continent not experiencing the very high numbers devastating other countries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the coronavirus outbreak seems to be taking a ‘different pathway’ in Africa as compared to the rest of the world. As the number of COVID-19 cases in Africa surpassed 100,000 on May 23, WHO noted that unlike other countries the number of coronavirus infections in the continent ‘has not grown at the same exponential rate’.

Despite the poor health systems in African countries, according to reports 3,100 people have died of COVID-19 in a continent with a population of more than a billion. Moreover, at least 41,400 people have even recovered from the fatal disease that was first detected in Africa 14 weeks ago. The preliminary analysis by the United Nations health agency suggests that slower rate of infections and deaths in the continent could be the outcome of ‘demography and other possible factors’.

‘Soft landfall in Africa’
The UN health agency suggested that since Africa is the youngest continent demographically, the coronavirus outbreak appears to have made a ‘soft landfall’. More than 60 per cent of the African population is below the age of 25 and according to WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, it is possible that the ‘youth dividend is paying off’ and resulting in a low mortality rate of COVID-19.

‘For now COVID-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,’ said Moeti.

‘It is possible our youth dividend is paying off and leading to fewer deaths. But we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases,” he added.

Meanwhile, The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also said that South America has become an ‘epicentre’ of the COVID-19 pandemic as Brazil surpassed Russia’s coronavirus infection and became the second-most affected country in the world. While the global infections have surpassed 5.2 million, there have been significant spikes in the COVID-19 cases in Central as well as South America.

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Health

Finally, FG Bans Sachet Alcoholic Drinks

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By Elizabeth Okwe

The National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has banned alcoholic beverages produced in sachets less than 200ml.

The agency said the five-year window given to the manufacturers of the products to stop producing the drinks in sachets and pet bottles which began in 2018 elapsed on January 31, 2024.

She said enforcement of the ban commenced on February 1, 2024.

Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, while addressing the media over the development in Abuja on Monday, said the ban was not a sudden development but a result of a multilateral Committee that agreed that the ban would be in phases whereby production would be reduced by 50 percent by 2020 while outright ban would be on January 31, 2024.

Given that decision, the DG said NAFDAC did not issue renewal licenses exceeding January 2024 to any manufacturer of the products.

According to her, the agency took the route of wiping out the drinks in such sachets because of the negative effects on underage children.

She said because the drinks come in pocket-friendly sizes, accessible and affordable, children easily fell for the packages only to face the consequences in the future.

“This decision was based on the recommendation of a high-powered committee of the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC on one hand, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), and the Industry represented by the Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN), in December 2018.

“As a commitment to the decision reached at the end of this Committee meeting, producers of alcohol in sachets and small volume agreed to reduce the production by 5 percent with effect from 31st January 2022 while ensuring the product is completely phased out in the country by 31st January 2024”.

According to her, the future of the country supersedes other considerations in the enforcement of the policy.

Noting that saving Nigerian children and protecting the health of the larger society is paramount, Adeyeye said: “The people who are mostly at risk of the negative effect of consumption of the banned pack sizes of alcoholic beverages are the under-aged and commercial vehicle drivers and riders.

“To curb the menace of abuse of alcohol, the World Health Organization recommended some actions and strategies to Policy-Makers that have shown to be effective and cost-effective, which include: regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages (in particular to younger people) and regulating and restricting the availability of alcohol.”

She said in the course of enforcing the ban it was discovered that some manufacturers were still in production of the banned products and still had stacks of both finished products and packaging materials of the products in their possession.

“This situation is of course not acceptable, and the Agency views this as flagrant disobedience to the laws of Nigeria,” she noted.

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Health

Fed Govt to Increase Primary Health Centres from 8,300 to 17,600

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The Federal Government has said it will work with state governments and development partners to increase the number of primary healthcare centres from 8,300 to 17,600 nationwide in the next four years.

The initiative will be complemented with the training of 120,000 Frontline Health Workers who are expected to enter the Health sector soon as part of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, broke the news in his keynote address at a two-day meeting of Northeast Forum of Health Commissioners, which started yesterday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Pate, who was represented by the Executive Director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Muyi Aina, listed the three-pronged strategic approach adopted by the agency.

These, the minister said, include institutional strengthening and effective coordination of all primary healthcare services, efficient, equitable, quality and trust worthy services.

He said there would be a strong collaboration with all stakeholders towards achieving frontline health security and routinised basic health care services among others.

Pate stressed the need for collective interventions of Federal, state, and development partners to be more people-centred and well-coordinated to achieve the overall sustainable goals.

The Northeast, like many other parts of Nigeria, the minister regretted, still has unacceptably poor health induces which he said calls for a strong collaboration rather than fragmentation of efforts at the national and subnational levels.

Pate said: “The Nigerian Health Sector Renewal Investment Programme, which encapsulates our strategic vision for the sector, was geared towards cohesive common goal to save lives, reduce both physical and financial pains, and produce health for all Nigerians.”

Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum urged the World Health Organisations (WHO) to fulfill its promises to the state and prioritise enhanced TB reduction and management, provide DNA machines for gender-based violence management, build hospitals in Biu and Munguno local government areas.

Zulum stressed that “these promises were not mere expression of goodwill; they represented the lifelines for our people, for mothers delivering children, for victims of unimaginable violence, for the entire communities struggling against diseases”

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Health

FG Approves Establishment of Teaching Hospital in Taraba

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The Federal Government has approved the citing of a teaching hospital in Taraba State.

The teaching hospital to be sited at the federal university in Wukari local government council of the state was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a letter dated 26th of September 2022, the President gave the nod to the leadership of the institution to go ahead with the establishment of the health institution.

The letter which was signed on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, by the Director of Health, Teaching Hospital Division, Dr. Noah Andrew, urged the leadership of the university to make sure that all the needed facilities are in place.

He said, “kindly ensure that the University provides a conducive environment for the clinical training of paramedical students in medical and Allied Science.”

This, as stated in the letter, a copy of which was on Thursday made available to our state correspondent, can be actualized by “building lecture theaters.”

More to the requirements, the need for the leadership of the institution to as well build laboratories and hostels in the “newly established federal teaching hospital, Wukari” the letter said, has become necessary.

Part of the letter reads, “I am directed to refer to a letter dated 2nd September 2022 referenced SGF 6/T/380 from the Secretary of the Government of the Federation to inform you that His Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari, has graciously approved the establishment of a federal teaching hospital for the federal University, Wukari, Taraba State.”

Overwhelmed by the tidings, some members of the host community who bared their minds on the development believed that the much-desired development would be heralded not only to the community but the local government council at large.

They were also of the view that several unemployed youths from the council and the state at large would be engaged by the hospital.

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