At Least 16 Million Individuals In Nigeria Live With Chronic Viral Hepatitis – FG



The Federal Ministry of Health says no fewer than 16 million individuals in Nigeria are living with chronic Hepatitis B and C virus.

According to the ministry, the discovery is sequel to a National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey carried out in 2018.

A representative for Viral Hepatitis Control in Nigeria, Clement Adeshigbin, said this during a training organised for health workers on how to manage the disease in Taraba State.

According to him, viral hepatitis is a silent killer and it is now globally known to be 10 times more widespread than HIV/AIDS, hence the decentralisation of its treatment in order to control it.

He adds that the choice of Taraba for the training is in view of the fact that the state has a high prevalence of 19 per cent with 2 million individuals living with the virus.

Adeshigbin insists that the state government is committed to subsidizing the treatment for patients.

Philippine’s President Duterte Admits To Declining Health

This file photo taken on October 18, 2019 shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaking during a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart at the Malacanang Palace in Manila. Ted ALJIBE / AFP
This file photo taken on October 18, 2019 shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaking during a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart at the Malacanang Palace in Manila. Ted ALJIBE / AFP


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that life is taking its “toll on my health”, as speculation swirls over the 74-year-old’s prolonged absences from the public eye.

Duterte cut short a trip to Japan last month because he was suffering from “unbearable pain” in his spine after a recent motorcycle accident, and has not spoken publicly for two weeks.

The accident came just 10 days after he revealed in early October that he has myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness and can result in drooping eyelids and blurred vision.

“If you ask me… ‘Are you in the best of health?’ Of course not,” Duterte told GMA News television in an interview on Friday.

“All of the ailments, I have them because I am already old… Life has begun to take its toll on my health,” said Duterte.

The recent incidents have intensified speculation about his capacity to lead, although his spokesman Salvador Panelo has repeatedly said there is no need to issue medical bulletins on the president’s health.

Duterte has opted to work from his hometown Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao, over the past week to get some rest, his spokesman has said.

The oldest Philippine leader elected, Duterte last week passed on the running of his signature anti-narcotics crackdown that has claimed thousands of lives to Vice-President Leni Robredo, an arch-critic.

Duterte has not given public remarks since he attended a regional summit in Thailand that ended on November 4, shortly after he cut short his trip to Japan, having attended the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito with the aid of a cane.

Duterte had also previously said he suffers from migraines and Buerger’s disease, which is characterised by inflammation of blood vessels, usually due to smoking.

The Philippine constitution requires the handover of power to the vice president if the leader cannot perform his duties due to disability, resignation, or death.



Lagos Govt Shuts 14 Health Facilities For Non-Compliance

Lagos Adds 740,146 Jobs In 12 Months
A file photo of vehicles trapped in traffic in Lagos.



The Lagos State Government says it has shut down 14 health facilities for non-compliance with regulatory standards in the state.

A statement from the government on Wednesday revealed that the enforcement exercise was conducted by the Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) in the month of September.

The Executive Secretary of HEFAMAA, Dr Abiola Idowu, stressed that the government remained committed to putting a halt to the ugly trend of having unqualified personnel work in health facilities.

She stated that the government would continue to insist that the environment for the dispensation of medical care was suitable for the promotion and maintenance of good health.

READ ALSO: Trial Of Fayose’s Ex-Aide, Agbele Adjourned Till December

Dr Idowu warned that any form of illegal health practices would not be tolerated in the state as health security was an integral part of public security, which was the primary duty of the government.

She gave assurance that the government would ensure that all health facilities conform to best practices and urged operators to abide strictly by the standards of HEFAMAA to avoid sanctions.

The executive secretary also called on residents to continue to cooperate and support the government in the fight against quackery and illegal operation of facilities by reporting those behind such acts to relevant agencies.

She, therefore, advised owners and operators of health facilities to complete their registration with HEFAMAA and go through the normal procedures.

Dr Idowu asked residents to desist from patronising any healthcare provider that has not been certified and also report any suspicious facility.

Five Key Things About Fentanyl And America’s Opioids Crisis

Tablets believed to be laced with fentanyl are displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration Northeast Regional Laboratory on October 8, 2019, in New York. Don Emmert / AFP



Jury selection has begun in a landmark federal case on Ohio on whether drug companies can be held responsible for the opioids epidemic that is raging across America.

The case is seen as a test for the entire pharmaceuticals industry, which stands accused of fueling the crisis by aggressively promoting painkillers that can become dangerously addictive.

Perhaps predictably, the companies are negotiating to possibly avoid trial, thereby avoiding a precedent-setting verdict.

Fentanyl is the primary synthetic opioid available in the United States, a class of drug that was responsible for almost 32,000 overdose deaths last year.

Here are five things to know in order to understand the crisis:

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl was first developed in 1959 and introduced to the US market in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic.

It is used to manage severe pain — for example, among cancer patients or those receiving end-of-life care.

It is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

But it is also produced illegally and trafficked into the United States — primarily from China and Mexico — in the form of powder or tablets, and sometimes gets mixed with heroin and cocaine.

Fentanyl can be lethal in a dose of as little as two milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of sand.

How many deaths?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported more than 400,000 deaths from opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2018. On average, about 130 Americans die each day.

While the crisis first erupted in the 1990s, the number of deaths exploded starting 2013, when fentanyl use began to surge.

Last year, the number of fatal overdoses fell for the first time in 20 years in the United States, but deaths due to the use of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids mounted, totaling 32,000.

– Where does it come from? –
Powdered fentanyl can be bought on the dark web or even business trading sites like, according to Roger Bate, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who published a report on the drug earlier this year.

A kilo sourced from China can be purchased in the United States for as little as $1700, which is then used to create up to a million pills that, when sold for $10 to $20, each generate millions in revenue, according to the DEA.

Mexican gangs also play a large role in producing and distributing the drug, with precursor chemicals first smuggled into Mexico via the southwestern United States.

Some illicit fentanyl products are also brought into the United States via Canada, which until 2017 did not allow authorities to open the contents of mail weighing less than 30 grams.

Who’s to blame?

Experts agree that in part, the crisis stems from the prescription use of painkillers gone wrong. Doctors seeking to manage their patients’ pain overprescribed medications, and some users became addicted.

One of those medications is OxyContin, which is made by Purdue Pharma. The US firm got clearance to offer the drug for a wider range of problems, and use skyrocketed.

Purdue is most widely blamed for fueling the epidemic, and is one of the defendants in the complex Ohio case. It has been seeking a settlement since filing for bankruptcy.

It and other companies like Johnson & Johnson are now facing an avalanche of legal action led by state attorneys general or local authorities.

The CDC puts the “economic burden” of the opioids crisis at a whopping $78.5 billion a year. That includes the costs of health care, lost productivity and the prison system.

A study published this week by the Society of Actuaries put the total cost for 2015-2018 at $631 billion.

What is the US government doing?

The administration of US President Donald Trump designated the opioids epidemic a “public health emergency” in October 2017. That freed up public funds to battle the crisis and improve treatment.

Beyond the obvious federal efforts to combat drug trafficking, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in April 2018 launched the HEAL Initiative — Helping to End Addiction Long-Term.

That project is aimed at pinpointing scientific solutions to the issues of effective pain management. In fiscal 2019, $945 million was devoted to the initiative.

Most US states have been aggressive in their efforts to prosecute drug companies over the crisis.

10-Fold Surge In S.Africa Teens Treated For HIV


The number of young people in South Africa receiving treatment for HIV has increased 10-fold within a decade, a major new study has found.

South Africa has the largest number of HIV-positive people in the world, with around 7.2 million carrying the virus, which causes AIDS.

Researchers studied more than 700,000 young people receiving treatment for the infection and found 10 times the number of adolescents aged between 15-19 being treated compared with 2010.

Authors of the study, published in The Lancet HIV journal attributed the rise partly due to the success of AIDS prevention programmes that result in better detection and treatment rates.

READ ALSO: Lagos Govt Commences Investigation Into Reported Disease Outbreak In Queens College

However, they found that fewer than 50 percent of young South Africans who present for HIV care go on to initiate antiretroviral therapy, which can prevent transmission and stops a patient from developing AIDS.

“Despite the upswing in numbers initiating therapy, barriers persist that prevent many adolescents from starting treatment,” said Mhairi Maskew from the University of Witwatersrand and the report’s lead author.

These include concerns about stigma, a pervasive sense that clinics cannot guarantee patient confidentiality and increased domestic responsibilities for young people, especially in families where children have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.

The study found that while those diagnosed with HIV were roughly split by gender, nine in 10 people actively receiving treatment were girls.

The authors said this was consistent with far higher rates of sexually-transmitted HIV infection in young women compared to young men.

AIDS deaths have declined globally since the peak of the epidemic in the early 2000s, but an international AIDS commission warned last year of a resurgence if the world’s booming adolescent population weren’t protected.

Lagos Govt Commences Investigation Into Reported Disease Outbreak In Queens College

File Photo; Queens College


The Lagos State government says it has commenced an investigation into the purported outbreak of an air-borne flu in Queens College and other schools in the state.

In a statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs of the state, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, was said to have disclosed this on Tuesday.

According to Abayomi, the investigative team comprises officials of State Epidemiology team, Primary Health Care Services and Environmental Health Department of Lagos Mainland Local Government.

While reviewing preliminary reports of the investigations conducted by the team, Abayomi explained that they identified what appears to be a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infections characterized by cough, cattarh, fever and weakness across some schools.

“The team has since visited Queens College and investigations are ongoing. Findings according to the review of health records in the school sick bay revealed that 89 students presented to the clinic with Influenza-like illnesses”, he said.

He added that a walk-through inspection to other facilities in the school revealed that although environmental sanitation and water supply were optimal, they could be improved.

The Commissioner, therefore, stated that nasal swab samples will be collected from pupils for confirmation of the cause of the illness.

He, however, appealed to stakeholders of Queens College, other affected schools and residents of Lagos State to remain calm and ensure strict adherence to personal and environmental hygiene at all times even as they await the comprehensive report of the investigation.

“I assure you that the situation is under control and seems to be subsiding. We will give necessary updates as the assessment and investigation progresses”, Abayomi said.

Speaking further, he advised all schools in Lagos State, either day or boarding to adopt basic precautionary measures against diseases and illnesses by teaching and ensuring good hand washing practices, promoting personal hygiene and providing adequate hand washing points within the school premises.

“They must also commence and continue to raise awareness about respiratory etiquette such as covering of mouth with clean hands or handkerchiefs when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands immediately after.

“School management must also hold food handlers and vendors to the highest health and hygiene check protocols as stipulated in the law, and practiced world over”, the Commissioner posited.

He also advised parents not to send their children to school if they have features of an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold, or flu-like symptoms but rather have a doctor review them

He appealed to School authorities as well as citizens to report suspected case(s) of any strange illnesses and diseases to the nearest Public Health Facility or the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) their local government area or to the Directorate of Disease Control in the Ministry of Health through the following lines: 08023169485, 08023377487.

First Vaping Hospitalisation Reported In Canada

A man exhales smoke from an electronic cigarette. EVA HAMBACH / AFP


Canada reported its first hospitalisation for severe respiratory illness linked to vaping on Wednesday, following an outbreak in the US that has killed seven people and sickened hundreds.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said in a statement that “a youth has been diagnosed with severe respiratory illness that has been linked to the individual’s use of vaping products.”

Medic Christopher Mackie told a news conference that the London, Ontario high school student, who vaped daily, was admitted to a local hospital intensive care unit, but has since recovered.

“As far as we’re aware, this is the first case of vaping related illness that’s been reported in Canada,” he said.

E-cigarettes have been available in the US and Canada since 2006, and are sometimes used to aid in quitting smoking traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes.

Despite a ban in Canada on selling vaping products to youths, their use among adolescents has skyrocketed in recent years.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor said the Canadian government was looking at further banning vaping advertising and certain flavors that may be appealing to young people.

“At the end of the day, my number one priority is protecting our youth,” she said. “We want to make sure that the regulations in place will be protecting our youth and making sure these products are not appealing to youth in any way.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said recently that there were more than 450 possible cases of pulmonary illness associated with vaping in the US.

The CDC and Health Canada have cautioned against vaping as officials investigate the precise cause of the deaths. No single substance has been found to be present in all the laboratory samples being examined.


Nigeria Gradually Winning War Against AIDS – NACA


The National Agency for the Control of AIDS says Nigeria is gradually winning the war against HIV/AIDS.

At the ongoing Nigeria Implementation Science Alliance Conference in Abuja, the agency noted that the infection rate in the country has dropped by four per cent.

The conference is aimed at discussing how to achieve impact in addressing the burden of infectious diseases through research implementation.

More to follow…

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Leaves Hospital After 4th Operation

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro left hospital Monday eight days after another operation on his stomach following his stabbing at an campaign rally last year.

Bolsonaro, 64, is still scheduled to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 24, where Brazil traditionally delivers the first address.

“The President will continue his recovery at home and should follow medical guidelines related to diet and physical activity,” said a statement from the Vila Nova Star Hospital in Sao Paulo.

READ ALSO: Trump Says Almost Sure Iran Behind Saudi Attacks

The presidential convoy left the hospital early in the afternoon to fly back to Brasilia, the capital.

Bolsonaro had undergone a five-hour operation on his stomach — the fourth such procedure. He was forced to delay his original date for returning to work from September 13 until September 18.

His prolonged stay in hospital did not stop him delivering his regular Thursday night live broadcast on Facebook, with a feeding tube still in his nose.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing politician who is a close ally of US President Donald Trump, was stabbed in September last year during his victorious presidential campaign.

He is expected to give his UN speech focused on the huge fires in the Amazon rain forest. He has rejected international criticism of his handling of the crisis.

“The president understands that he must not expose himself to exhausting journeys… while recognizing the importance of this trip,” his spokesman said.

Four Things To Know About Vaping



The Trump administration has announced it will soon ban flavored e-cigarette products to deter an ever growing number of young users.

It comes amid an outbreak of vaping-linked severe pulmonary disease that has killed six people and sickened hundreds.

Here are four things to know about vaping.

Is it safer than smoking?

The truth is, we don’t know.

Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t “burn.” The devices, available in the United States since 2006, work instead by heating a liquid that turns into vapor and is inhaled.

Therefore e-cigarette smokers are not exposed to the estimated 7,000 chemical compounds in regular cigarettes, and there is no known link between vaping and cancer.

The liquids however contain highly addictive nicotine.

There are also a variety other compounds classed as “potentially harmful” according to a 2018 study compiled by the US National Academy of Sciences.

And there is “substantial evidence” that the vapor contains traces of metals, either from the coil used to heat the liquid or from other parts of the device. Some flavorings also contain diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious but relatively rare lung disease.

While most of existing scientific literature holds that vaping is less toxic than smoking, “the implications for long-term effects on morbidity and mortality are not yet clear,” and would require decades of more data and studies to know for certain, said the NAS report.

But the bulk of this research was carried out before the current outbreak of severe lung disease in the United States, with more than 450 cases currently under investigation.

The US investigation

The patients’ initial symptoms included breathing difficulty and chest pain before some were hospitalized and placed on ventilators.

Several teens were placed in medically-induced comas, including one who may need a lung transplant if he recovers, according to his doctors.

New York’s health department is focusing its probe on counterfeit cannabis cartridges containing vitamin E oil, which is harmful when inhaled. Federal authorities however have yet to identify a single substance common to all cases.

Some medics have reported seeing patients developed acute lipoid pneumonia, a non-infectious form of respiratory ailment that occurs when oils or fat-containing substances enter the lungs, a potential clue for what is driving the illness.

That said, it’s unclear why these cases have only been reported in the United States, and whether they are even new, or only being recognized after earlier misdiagnoses.

Local authorities acting

In June, San Francisco became the first US city to ban the sale and manufacture of electronic cigarettes, and has since been followed by Richmond, Virginia.

Market leading maker JUUL’s response to the San Francisco ban was that it would “drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes.”

That claim is true, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on 886 patients in Britain’s National Health Service published in February.

The one-year abstinence rate among e-cigarette users was 18 percent, compared to 9.9 percent among a group who used other nicotine replacement products like gum or patches.

But the conversions are not all in one direction.

Recent studies have found that, among adolescents, e-cigarettes provide a gateway toward full-fledged smoking.

Regulation or prohibition?

The vaping industry is adamant that it doesn’t want underage people using its products, and says that more must be done to prevent their sale. E-cigarettes are already illegal to sell in the US to people under 18 or 21, depending on the state.

But bans also deprive adults addicted to smoking of a valuable tool to quit, the industry says.

“To deprive those smokers from access to e-cigarettes, which we know are substantially less harmful, I think is a terrible decision,” Neil McKeganey, of the UK-based Center for Substance Use Research — which is partly funded by the industry — told AFP.

‘Latex Gloves Serve As Urine Bags’, Zimbabwean Hospitals Struggle With Mugabe’s Legacy


For Zimbabwe’s doctors, few institutions reflect their country’s decay under Robert Mugabe than their public hospitals, once vaunted but now under-equipped and crumbling.

Latex gloves serve as urine bags, operating rooms lack light bulbs and patients are often required to refuel their own ambulances, medics say.

Mugabe, who died last week in Singapore at age 95, may have swept to power as a liberation hero, but his rule was marked by economic collapse that left his people scrambling to survive.

Zimbabwean doctors note the symbolism of Mugabe seeking treatment 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) from home in Singapore’s gleaming Gleneagles clinic, where the cheapest suite costs around US$850 (770 euros) a day.

“It is very symbolic that the former president who presided over all the system for three decades can’t trust the health system,” said Edgar Munatsi, a doctor at Chitungwiza, 30 kms (18 miles) from the capital Harare.

“It says a lot about the current state of our health system.”

Mugabe’s death has left many debating the legacy of a man who ended white minority rule and was initially lauded for advances in public health and education.

In his nearly four-decade rule, Mugabe later brutally repressed opponents and oversaw a catastrophic mismanagement of economy that led to hyper-inflation, food shortages and misery.

Mugabe was not alone in seeking overseas care. Current Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is away for several weeks of treatment in China.

It is not hard to see why.

In Chitungwiza hospital, a glowing sign promising “Quality Health” welcomes patients, but conditions inside say otherwise: Operations are often cancelled for lack of anaesthetic, Munatsi says.

The hospital recently issued an internal memo warning its poorly-paid staff against “eating food made for patients.”

Two-decade Crisis

The situation is equally dramatic in paediatrics at Harare Central Hospital, one of Zimbabwe’s top clinics. Cleaning is done only twice a week, for lack of staff and detergents, doctors told AFP.

The operations are often postponed for lack of running water and nursing staff, in a country mired for two decades in economic crisis.

“In theatre, we have linen full of blood and faeces and you can’t do the laundry,” said one doctor.

He requested anonymity, like many of his colleagues, for fear of reprisals from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Only one of three paediatric operating rooms at the central hospital is working.

“We have a four-year waiting list for inguinal hernias, the most common condition in children,” says one of the specialists.

Without treatment, this hernia can cause male infertility.

Drug shortages, obsolete equipment and lack of staff: the mix is sometimes deadly.

“It is heart-breaking when you lose patients who are not supposed to die under normal circumstances,” Munatsi said.


Since the early 1990s, the public health system has steadily deteriorated, whereas before, people came from overseas to be treated in Zimbabwe, recalls one senior doctor.

That is a legacy of the Mugabe years as the country was tipped into endless economic crisis — three-digit inflation, currency devaluations, and shortages of commodities.

In hospitals, patients and loved ones who experience the situation daily, are resigned.

“It’s pathetic,” says Saratiel Marandani, a 49-year-old street vendor who had to buy a dressing for his mother.

Given her age, she should receive free health care. But the reality is starkly different.

“Only the consultations are free (…) if you need paracetamol, you need to buy it yourself.”

His mother will have to do without the ultrasound she needs. At 1,000 Zimbabwean dollars or 100 euros, it’s beyond his reach.

Doctors say they sometimes have to pay out of their own pocket for patients’ medication, or even just their bus ticket home.

At Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, Lindiwe Banda lays prostrate on her bed. A diabetic, she was given the green light to go home. But on condition, she paid her bill.

“But I do not even have five Zimbabwean dollars (less than one euro) to pay for the transport,” she said in tears.

“I can’t reach my relatives. I think they have dumped me. They don’t have money, but they should show some love”.

If hospitals and patients are penniless, doctors too cannot escape Zimbabwe’s ruin.

Medics have just begun their latest protest to demand a pay rise after salaries lost 15 times their value in a few months and consumer prices spiralled out of control.

“We are incapacitated,” says Peter Magombeyi, a doctor whose salary is the equivalent of 115 euros a month – a pittance that requires him to do odd jobs to get by.

“We are very aware” of the problems, says Prosper Chonzi, the director of health services in Harare.

“The health system reflects the economy of the country.”

Japan Ex-Empress Undergoes Breast Cancer Surgery

Japan’s former empress Michiko (R) enters Tokyo University hospital on September 7, 2019. JAPAN POOL VIA JIJI PRESS / JIJI PRESS / AFP


Japan’s former empress Michiko “safely” underwent surgery on Sunday after the 84-year-old was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, the Imperial Household Agency said.

Michiko’s husband Akihito formally stepped down as emperor in April, the first abdication for 200 years in the world’s oldest monarchy.

Her operation began Sunday morning “as scheduled” at the University of Tokyo Hospital, the agency official said.

“It ended safely and (she) went back to her room,” the official told AFP, adding that further details would be announced later.

READ ALSO: Brazilian President Bolsonaro To Undergo Hernia Surgery

Akihito and daughter Sayako Kuroda, a former princess who left the royal household to marry a commoner, visited the hospital to see Michiko before the operation.

Akihito and Michiko are known for dramatically modernising the tradition-bound monarchy, bringing themselves closer to the public and boosting popular support for the household.

The first commoner to marry an imperial heir, Michiko was born in 1934 in Tokyo and attended the exclusive all-girls Christian Sacred Heart School before studying English literature at its university.

She gave birth to now-Emperor Naruhito in 1960 and her second son, Prince Akishino, was born in 1965.

Michiko and her husband also came to be known for their presence at the side of survivors of disasters, especially after the 2011 tsunami that wrecked large parts of eastern Japan.