The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, says the Federal Government has come up with plans to deploy health workers close to their places of origin, as part of efforts to improve healthcare delivery to the people.
The minister made the statement in an interview after a workshop by the Strategic Planning Unit of the Edo state government, tagged: Remodeling Healthcare Delivery in Edo state: New Visions, New Horizons, which took place in Benin city, the state capital.
Dr. Ehanire said the government would provide incentives for those willing to work in distant areas.
“We are proposing recruiting people from remote areas and giving them training to make them admissible into nursing schools or schools of health technology.
“Those ones can be given scholarships and after training, redeploy them to communities where they come from.”
The workshop which is courtesy of the Edo state government brought experts from the health sector together to suggest the right strategies to help in actualising its economic policies.
The Federal Government has renewed its commitment to eliminating tuberculosis by year 2035, as part of efforts to ensure a healthy society.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, stated this on Friday at an event in Abuja to mark the World Tuberculosis Day.
Professor Adewole, who commemorated the day with the commissioning of a laboratory, stated government’s resolve to join the League of Nations without tuberculosis.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, also highlighted the successes recorded by government, in spite of the challenges of tuberculosis in Nigeria.
Health experts at the event, Ineke Huitema and Dr. Han Kang, stressed the need for a collective fight against the disease.
They also advised the public to visit the nearest health facility to get tested and treated for free.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation indicate an estimated 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis worldwide in 2015.
A further breakdown reveals that of the estimated figure, 5.9 million (56%) are men, 3.5 million (34%) are women while 1.0 million (10%) are children. People living with HIV account for 1.2 million (11%) of all new tuberculosis cases.
In order of global ranking, countries with the highest burden of the disease are India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
Experts say that with an estimated 1.4 million tuberculosis deaths in 2015, and an additional 0.4 million deaths resulting from the disease among people living with HIV, the disease appears to be advancing into an epidemic.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced plans to address inadequate facilities in 10,000 primary health care centres across the country as part of efforts to reduce the health care challenges in the nation.
Announcing the plan in Abuja, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the Federal Government was committed to improving the health care needs of Nigerians in order to sustain the progress so far recorded in the health sector.
The Minister believes Nigeria is moving in the right direction, having succeeded in reducing the number of child and maternal deaths.
Dr Ehanire was speaking during a gathering of health experts as the World Bank convened a round table on the health care sector in Nigeria.
At the occasion which commenced with the inauguration of a policy makers summit, the Minister of State for Health announced the government’s plan to improve the nation’s health care sector.
The acting Country Director of the World Bank, however, advised the Federal Government to go beyond rhetoric by addressing the poverty level in Nigeria.
The policy makers summit put together by the World Bank is expected to, among other things, evaluate maternal and child health impact on Nigerians including a general overview of the nation’s health sector.
The Nigerian government has asked the organised private sector to invest in local production of vaccines, as it lacks the financial capacity to embark on the project alone.
The Minister of State for Health, Mr Osagie Ehanire, made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at a forum organised to discuss local vaccine production financing.
According to him, the recent re-basing of the nation’s economy has taken Nigeria off the list of poor countries that benefit from free vaccines donated by development partners.
He stressed that the development had heightened the need to kick start local production.
The conveners of the meeting expressed displeasure with the inability of the nation to produce the yellow fever vaccines which it had produced in the past, saying that the vaccine laboratory in Yaba, Lagos State, is in comatose.
The Executive Director National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Ado Mohammed, said that the meeting was one of government’s efforts to ensure local production of vaccines.
A former Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the manner the government had handled similar initiatives since 1997 under the Olusegun Obasanjo regime.
He hopes things will be different this time around.
The Federal Government spend over 2.5 billion Naira annually for vaccines importation, a burden it says it can no longer bear alone.
The Nigerian government has refuted claims in some quarters about an outbreak of Ebola disease.
At a news conference in Abuja, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, said “most Nigerians mistake Dengue fever, which is also transmitted by mosquitoes in urban and semi urban areas, for Ebola disease.
He dismissed media report that there was an outbreak of the disease, saying that laboratory investigations revealed that it is not Ebola.
“Dengue Fever is caused by a virus usually transmitted through a particular type of mosquito, not the normal anopheles mosquito that we know in Nigeria that transmits malaria.
“Its symptoms are very similar to that of malaria, with fever, headache, body pains and associated vomiting. It can easily be mistaken for malaria where there is no high index of suspicion in the first instance,” Dr Alhassan said.
He stressed that the government had taken a proactive measure by putting all port and border posts on high alert to screen travellers from countries with confirmed Ebola cases.
He cautioned Nigerians to keep their surroundings clean to prevent the Dengue fever.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Muhammed Pate, has voluntarily resigned his appointed on President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet.
The Minister, in his letter of resignation, said he was leaving the cabinet to take up the position of Professor in Duke University’s Global Health Institute, USA, in which capacity he will participate in a university-wide Africa initiative.
He will also serve as Senior Adviser to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation based in Washington DC.
The letter dated July 22 and addressed to the President was read at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting.
Pate however offered the continuation of his service to Nigeria on part-time basis as the chairman of the Presidential task force on polio eradication and the public-private coalition for saving one million lives initiative.
Special adviser to the President on media and publicity, Reuben Abati, told state house correspondents that in accepting the Minister’s resignation, Dr Jonathan was highly elated that his “star-studded cabinet” was attracting global attention.
Dr Abati said the President saw the appointment as a plus for the administration and the country as he commended Dr Pate for theintegrity and competence he brought on board while carrying out his duties first as the chief executive of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and later as a Minister.
The President’s spokesman recalled that another cabinet member, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was one of those shortlisted for the position of the World Bank’s President last year.
“The President congratulated the Minister and accepted his offer to continue to serve on a part-time basis as honourary adviser.
Dr Pate who was appointed Minister in July 2011, is an American Board-Certified medical doctor in both Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, with an MBA (Health Sector Concentration) from Duke University, USA.
He is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Vaccination and Humanitarian Emergencies at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva.
The Minister of State for health, Dr. Mohammed Pate has canvassed for the passage of Tobacco Bill as part of efforts to stem the increasing cases of high blood pressure in the country.
Dr Pate who addressed a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday as part of activities to commemorate the World Health Day said it is worrisome that one out of every four Nigerian is hypertensive while 70 per cent of persons with high blood pressure are not aware of their health condition.
The Minister stressed the need for change of lifestyle which includes the eating of healthy foods, reduction of salt intake, abstinence from tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol saying these measures are capable of preventing high blood pressure which has become one of the leading causes of death in Nigeria.
The tobacco control bill recently passed its second reading at the House of Representatives.
The bill is expected to provide a legal framework for the control of tobacco and prohibit smoking in public places.
The bill will also ensure that the under-aged will not be able to buy tobacco at will.
It is also expected to protect the health of people who do not smoke tobacco, as the law require that areas of restrictions for smoking tobacco must be indicated across the country.
The bill also seeks to regulate the production, importation, advertisment and promotion of tobacco in Nigeria.
It also seeks to regulate sponsorship, promotion, distribution, sale and designation of areas where tobacco products may and may not be smoked.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Saad Abubakar has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to declare amnesty for the members of the fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, as part of the measures to halt the insurgency by the group.
The Sultan who is also the President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, gave the advice at the central council meeting of Jamatrul Nasril Islam (JNI) in Kaduna on Tuesday, where he expressed his deep concerns over the spate of bomb attacks and kidnappings by terrorists in parts of the country.
According to the Sultan, who chaired the meeting, extending amnesty to the sect members will pave way for dialogue between the sect and the federal government.
Making reference to a similar amnesty declared for militants in the Niger Delta, the Sultan stated that “the type of amnesty that ended militants’ unrest in the Niger Delta will be suitable for the North.”
He added: “Initiating a restoration and rehabilitation programme that would integrate the terrorists into the larger society will pave way for dialogue rather than engaging them in an endless war.”
Sultan Abubakar noted that the amnesty will enable the sect members lay down their arms rather than the on-going military tactic by the massive deployment of the Joint Task Force (JTF) to the northern part of the country.
The Federal Government had in 2008 declared amnesty for militants in the Niger-Delta following years of incessant bomb attacks on oil installations and kidnapping of oil workers. The amnesty which involved monthly payment and skill acquisition for the former militants abroad has since restored peace in the region and increased Nigeria’s crude oil production.
The Sultan’s demand is similar to the one made by the Northern Elders Forum during its meeting in Kano last year. At the meeting, the forum sought for amnesty for the Boko Haram members as it was done with the militants from the Niger Delta region during the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua administration.
Condemning the state of insecurity across the country, the Islamic leader attributed the security challenges to the injustice meted against the masses by political leaders which resulted in the taking up of arms by various groups.
Boko Haram has been staging insurgency attacks against the Nigerian government, demanding for an imposition of Sharia Law across the country. The insurgency attack is reported to have claimed over 3,000 civilian lives.
On polio outbreak and other epidemics in some states in the North, the Sultan said JNI will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies to ensure that children in the region are immunised against such deadly diseases.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Health, Mr. Mohammed Pate, condemned the recent killing of nine health workers in Kano and lamented that most parents in the North are yet to accept immunisation for their children. This situation, he said, has hindered the eradication of polio in the country.
Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries in the world where polio still exists.
The conference hall of the JNI headquarters in Kaduna was filled to capacity with prominent Islamic scholars and leaders from across the country, converging to discuss issues affecting Muslims and the country at large.
President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the dastardly attacks in Kano state which claimed the lives of 9 health workers administering polio vaccines to children in the state.
In a statement, the president commiserated with the families of the victims and the government and people of the state.
President Jonathan gave the assurance that that the loss of the health workers will not be in vain as the Federal Government will ensure that the mission to eradicate polio from Nigeria is carried out to a very successful conclusion.
President Jonathan added that the Federal Government will not be distracted from its objective of accelerating the reduction of maternal and child mortality in all parts of Nigeria by mindless acts of terrorism.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Health and Chairman Presidential Task Force On Polio Eradication, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate said the health workers died because of their commitment to humanity and the love of their profession.
While commiserating with the families, friends and colleagues of the victims, the Minister stated urged security operatives to launch a large-scale investigation and leave no stone unturned to apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
Also, the Nigerian Medical Association has condemned the attack, describing it as an act of murder, especially coming at a time when Nigeria is struggling to leave the list of polio endermic countries.
In a bid to fulfill his pledge that recommendations made by the controversial Ribadu Report would be looked into, President Goodluck Jonathan has set up white paper committees to prepare Draft White Papers on the reports of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force and two other reports on the nation’s oil sector.
The others are reports presented by the National Refineries Special Task Force and the Governance and Controls Special Task Force.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Dr Reuben Abati on Thursday announced the appointment of the latest committee to probe the nation’s oil sector.
According to Dr Abati, “the committees are to study the reports, review the issues raised and prepare Draft White Papers for the consideration of the Federal Executive Council within two weeks.”
The white paper committee on the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force report-now known as Ribadu report-will be chaired by the Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu, with the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, Minister of State for FCT, Chief Jumoke Akinjide, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed as members.
It will be recalled that President Jonathan, after the rancour between members of the committee during their submission of the report, gave the assurance that despite the rancour , his administration will look into the report and prosecute any one alleged of misappropriation in the nation’s oil sector.
The Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and a member of his team, Steve Oronsaye traded words at the presentation of the committee’s report to the President with the latter alleging that the report was flawed with unconfirmed figures.
The white paper committee on the report of the Governance and Controls Special Task Force will be chaired by the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple.
Other members of the committee are Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, and Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mallam Bukar Tijani.
The white paper committee on the report of the National Refineries Special Task Force has Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Mohammed Sada as chairman, and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Pate and Minister of State for Education, Mr. Ezenwo Nyeson Wike as members.
According to the statement, the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation will provide a secretariat for the committees.
The statement further adds that the President has made the move “in furtherance of his declared commitment to doing all within his powers to ensure greater accountability, probity and transparency in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.”
The federal government has approved the sum of $11.5million for the procurement of family planning commodities such as condoms and contraceptives.
The Director of Family Health in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale, stated this during the 47th National Council Meeting of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, where Mr. Oladele Olaniyi succeeded Mrs. Lami Buba as President.
According to her, “last year, in order to reduce maternal mortality rate, the government proclaimed that reproductive health commodities and family planning commodities like condoms and implants to be made free.”
“So the government along with the partners made a forecast as to what we need in the country and contributed $3million in 2011 through a Memorandum of Understanding which we implemented.”
On July 11 in London, there was a family planning summit organized by DFID and other partners to increase the commitment of governments all over the world to family planning.
“Nigeria came in a big way and Mr. President, through the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Pate, announced the government’s commitment to the world with additional $8.3m reproductive health commodities.”
Dr Bridget added that maternal mortality has reduced in Nigeria, right now I can’t really say the rate until we do the National Demographic Health Survey next year”, adding that “the Federal Government is also committed to reducing maternal mortality rate in the country.”
545 deaths per 100,000 births
Decrying the current mortality rate in the country, Dr Okoeguale stated that,“for now, our maternal mortality rate is 545 per 100,000 live births and you will agree with me that it is very high and nothing to be proud of.”
She further explained that the federal government is collaborating with international agencies such as UNFPA, DFID, USIS, USAID and “we are appealing to states for support because health is on the concurrent list.”
“The Federal Government has a plan and policy but we cannot force states to key in. We can only advocate for them; they make requests to us as regards what they need but it is for them to ensure that these commodities reach the grass roots.”
She also revealed that “some states do not have budget line for family planning because of other priorities. I don’t have the statistics but I do know that some states have not been able to create a budget line for family planning and we are calling on them to do.”