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COVID-19: WHO Suspends Trial Of Hydroxychloroquine Over Safety Concerns

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Coronavirus patients treated with Hydroxychloroquine stand high risk of death – Study
Some drugs have shown promise in treating coronavirus — WHO
Doctors warn of dangers of using chloroquine to treat COVID-19

Trump says he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine ‘to prevent coronavirus’
A clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 has been ’temporarily’ suspended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Director-General of the UN health agency, Tedros Ghebreyesus, in a virtual press conference on Monday said the decision follows a study in the Lancet indicating that use of the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying.

The cited study, titled “Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: Why might they be hazardous?” published on Friday, highlighted that patients who took chloroquine, which hydroxychloroquine is derived from, were also more likely to develop irregular heart rhythms.

Mr Ghebreyesus also said the executive group of the Solidarity Trial, in which hundreds of hospitals across several countries have enrolled patients to test several possible treatments for the virus, had as a precaution, suspended trials using that drug.

“The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.

“The other arms of the trial are continuing,” he said.

He also said this decision only applies to the use of the hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19 patients.

“I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria, ” he said.

Chloroquine for COVID-19?
Chloroquine is a synthetic drug introduced in the 1940s. It is a member of an important series of chemically related agents known as quinoline derivatives. Hydroxychloroquine is a related compound that was introduced in 1955.

Both drugs are used in the treatment of tropical diseases such as malaria and amebiasis, a parasitic disease also known as amebic dysentery.

They are also useful in the treatment of various skin conditions and diseases of the joints such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

U.S. President Donald Trump had at a press briefing in the White House said he had been using hydroxychloroquine to protect himself against COVID-19.

However, Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force (PTF) on coronavirus at a daily briefing warned Nigerians against using the drug.

It said the drug has not been declared a cure for the disease and further warned of the possibility of chloroquine poisoning if one indulges in self-medication with the drug.

But Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who was the index case of COVID-19 in his state, had told journalists early this month that he was administered with chloroquine, zithromax, and Vitamin C during his successful treatment for the disease.

The governor said COVID-19 patients in the state would, henceforth, be treated with the drugs.

He also said he would rather ask medics managing the state’s COVID-19 patients to treat them with chloroquine and zithromax “than watch them die of the disease.”

Meanwhile, the National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC), in an apparent reaction to the governor’s statement, warned Nigerians “not to use any drug for the treatment of COVID-19 that is not approved by the NCDC”.

“The agency is concerned about reports on social and other media of drugs or vaccines to cure COVID 19,” NAFDAC’s Director-General, Mojisola Adeyeye, had said in a statement.

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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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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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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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