Nyanya Blast: Death Toll Rises To 75

Abuja bombThe death toll of the Nyanya Motor Park bomb explosion that occurred on Monday has increased to 75, the Nigerian Minister of Health has said.

After a visit to various hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory where victims of the bomb blast are receiving treatment, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu said that the government was doing its best to ensure that the victims were well taking care of.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja shortly after visiting four hospitals and the national blood transfusion service, Professor Chukwu said 216 victims were being treated at the expense of the Federal Government.

He assured injured victims that the government would continue to take care of their hospital bills and treatment until they would recover fully.

The Ministry of Health had yesterday put the death toll at 72 while the number of persons injured was 144.

The ministry’s official statement says 71 of these were brought in dead from the site while one severely injured person subsequently died at the National Hospital, Abuja.

During his visit to the scene of the explosion, President Goodluck Jonathan had described the blast as “unnecessary distraction that is pushing the country backward”.

He assured Nigerians that the issue of Boko Haram was temporary and that the country would surely get over it.

FG Vows To Meet All MDGs

With less than 1,000 days to the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and maternal mortality rate figure at 350 per 100,000 live births, the Federal Government has restated its promise to achieve all the goals in Nigeria.

The Minister of Health; Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, claimed that Nigeria has succeeded in achieving goals four, five and six which relates to health.

The goals are promoting gender equality and empowering women, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases respectively.

Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs; Dr Precious Gbeneol expressed confidence that remarkable progress has been made and that government is making efforts to hit the milestone.

According to Dr Gbeneol, top on the list of achievements for Nigeria is the net attendance levels for basic education which she says, has increased over time.

She further claims that the Federal Government is working hard to ensure that it hits the 100 per cent mark by 2015.

The MDGs boss also said Nigeria has recorded progress in its bid to reduce maternal mortality with the country’s maternal mortality rate figure now at 350 down from 1000 per 100,000 live births in 1990 and 545 in 2008.

She however agrees that Nigeria is still 28.6 per cent away from the 2015 target.

The Minister of Health lists the decline in HIV prevalence rate from as high as 5.8 to 4.1 in 2012 and the increase in the proportion of under-5 children sleeping under insecticide treated nets from 2.2 per cent in 2003 to 34.6 per cent in 2012 as confirmed by MDGs survey of 2012.

In the area of poverty eradication the Federal Government says it has appropriated the sum of N10 billion to assist poor households across the country.

But the sentiments claimed by the government officials on the nation’s progress in achieving the goals is not shared by all, as the World Health Organization (WHO) recently stated that Nigeria can meet the targets with a strict adherence to the mechanisms that have been put in place for successful implementation.

Experts advocate the need for Nigeria to look beyond the targeted date of 2015 by consolidating on the gains of the MDGs and evolve new developmental initiatives for the welfare of Nigerians.

The year 2015 is the deadline for the realization of the MDGs set by the United Nations in the year 2000 with about 189 countries including Nigeria being signatories to achieving the goals which are geared towards reducing extreme poverty among other priorities.

FEC approves policy on adverse drug use

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the Nigeria National Pharmaco-Vigilance Policy to ensure proper management of adverse drug reactions in the country.

Briefing State House correspondents after the council  meeting chaired by the vice president Nnamadi Sambo, the Minister of Health,  Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu, explained that there was need for documentation of adverse drug reaction reports and follow-ups as well as further research into such findings.

He said that the endorsement of the policy follows an earlier approval by the National Council on Health, the highest policy formulation body in the health sector, in July at its 55th meeting in Abuja.

The minister noted that the issues of people reacting to particular drugs and even dying from the incidents were often not taken very seriously, but this policy would now take care of that.

He added that the policy would give a boost to the ongoing efforts of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Control and Administration (NAFDAC) introducing ways of detecting fake drugs by the public via telephones, as well as reporting adverse drug reactions.

The Health Minister further disclosed that he has directed the Nigerian Essential Drugs List and Natural Drug Formulary Committee, a department under his ministry, to look into the possibility of banning Rophynol in Nigeria.

Rophynol is the medicine that was used to drug 24-year old Cynthia Okosugo, in Lagos after which she was raped and murdered by her social media acquaintances. The pharmacists who reportedly sold the drugs to the suspects are still in detention.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Zainab Kuchi, announced the Council’s approval of the design of the Oron- Calabar road, being section 4 of the East/West Road at a cost of N671.4 million.

It is a dual carriage way, which traverses creeks and opens up inland towns and communities. It will also enable the Federal Ministry of Works to connect the road to the Benue Bridge and reduce journey hours.

FRSC launches emergency toll free line

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has announced the launch of an emergency toll free line-122 to ensure road accidents and other emergencies are quickly reported to the commission and more swiftly handled.

The FRSC Corps Marshal, Osita Chidoka said the toll free emergency line-122 would be easy for Nigerians to remember in emergency situations.

Also, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu has revealed plans to set up a special fund for hospital treatment of victims of road accidents.

According to Professor Chukwu, some consultants will soon be recruited to classify the medical centres in the country so that cases are referred to appropriate hospitals especially with the new toll free line of the FRSC.

The line can only be accessed by MTN users for now, as the Corps noted on its website that the line will soon be upgraded to all networks.

Alternatively, the Corps can also be reached via 0700callFRSC that is 070022553772, a statement on the website of the FRSC read.

FG to bar officials from foreign medical trips

Travelling abroad for medical treatment with public funds may not be so easy for public officers any more, if the federal government approves a planned law to that effect.

The Minister of Health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu disclosed this to journalists in Abuja at a meeting on the state of the nation’s health sector where he stated that the ministry is preparing a memo for the Federal Executive council, which will stop public officers from wasting public funds on foreign medical trips.

Prof Chukwu lamented the rate at which Nigerians travel abroad for health care even when they can get the same treatment at home.

“I am preparing a memo which will soon be presented to the council to stop public officers from foreign medical treatment. If a public officer says no, I don’t want treatment in Nigeria, I want to travel abroad for treatment, no problem, you are free but you will not use public funds for that so long as it can be done in Nigeria”.

He however noted that the only exception, will be a situation where the capacity to handle such a medical problem does not exist in Nigeria. “The only exception will be given, when it has been certified that we do not have the capacity to address the problem here in the country and the official can prove that he/she will be using personal funds.”

According to him, “people travel out of this country to treat kidney stones which we do not even need surgery to treat anymore at the National hospital Abuja.” He further add that all forms of surgeries are now carried out at the National Hospital Abuja, including laser surgery.

The Minister with regret alleged that some level of fraud has also been introduced into the foreign medical trips ripping ill Nigerians of their money.

According to him, some doctors connive with foreign hospitals to rip-off Nigerian patients by referring such patients to those foreign hospitals and agree with such Nigerian doctors to be paid between 10-15 per cent of the medical bills as kickback.

He also noted that many doctors, health professionals and patients are ignorant of medical facilities and expertise available in the country and that some of the cases for which many people travel abroad can be effectively treated in Nigeria.

The Minister, who himself is a medical doctor, boasted that “as Honourable Minister of Health, none of my relatives has been referred abroad.”

Maternal and child mortality

Professor Chukwu also declared that progress has been recorded in reducing the scourge of HIV/AIDS and Malaria, he however noted that maternal and child mortality as well as Tuberculosis remains a challenge.

Also the Minister of state for health, Dr Muhammad Ali Pate has called for the support of the private sector in the provision of quality health services to Nigerians.

He made the plea at a meeting with a Japanese delegation in Abuja, where said that despite efforts by the federal government for the provision of world class medical facilities in the country, a lot still needs to be done to meet the health needs of Nigerians.

Members of the Japanese delegation promised to renew its ties with Nigeria in the area of polio eradication.