Photo: Premium Times
Vaccination for Meningitis.
By Nike Adebowale
A public official has called on God to intervene over the outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis in Nigeria lamenting that the country does not have enough vaccines to curb the spread of the Type C strain of the disease currently ravaging the country.
The Chairman of the National Immunization Finance Task Team, NIFT, Ben Anyene, restated the authorities’ helplessness over the health emergency on Thursday while addressing journalists in Abuja.
The National Vaccine Financing Task Team was inaugurated by the former executive director of the Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agency, Ado Bayero, in recognition of the need for more coordinated effort around vaccine financing and security.
Reiterating that the government does not have enough vaccines, Mr. Anyene said that Nigeria is in dire need of divine intervention to contain the disease which has claimed over 700 lives since its outbreak in November 2016.
The Governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, whose state is worst hit by the outbreak with close to 300 recorded deaths, had drawn widespread criticism about a forthnight ago when he attributed the epidemic to God’s anger over the sins of Nigerians.
Speaking on Thursday, however, Mr. Anyene said Nigeria is facing scarcity of vaccines due to lack of proper planning.
“The constraint with immunization of meningitis is that there is no vaccine and that is the truth of the fact. The C strain of meningitis is not very common, but it does happen. The sign has been there in the country for the past three years but nobody wanted to take note”, he stated.
“For countries that plan, you don’t have to wait to have a situation. Through their planning and preventive measures, they have these vaccines stocked. You heard them talking about vaccine coming from Britain. Britain doesn’t have meningitis but because of planning, they have some stock but Nigeria does not have such.
“We need to build up our system because vaccine is not a commodity on the shelf that you can just buy over the counter. Vaccine has to be pre-ordered and paid for upfront and it takes about six months for it to be delivered to you,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Federal Government earlier claimed that it had acquired enough vaccines to combat the Type C strain of the epidemic currently ravaging the country.
A total of 500,000 doses of Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed to some of the affected states for immediate outbreak response vaccination, while additional 823,970 doses are being expected from the United Kingdom to support vaccination activities in other affected states.
Mr. Anyene however stated that when compared to the number of people who need to be vaccinated, it is obvious that there is a shortage and that there is real scarcity.
“There is scarcity of vaccine. Or does Nigeria now produce vaccines? Zamfara needs about three million doses of vaccine and they gave them 300,000 doses. Does that mean vaccines are available in the country?”
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had earlier admitted that the outbreak of the disease shows that the ministry has to increase its surveillance outlook and preparation on curtailing future epidemic outbreak of diseases in the country.
“Though the ministry has been preparing for an outbreak of Meningitis in the country, the magnitude of the outbreak and casualties recorded has shown that a lot still needs to be done”, the minister had said.
Also on Thursday, Mr. Adewole disclosed that funding needed for immunisation will be more than quadruple by 2026 – from $85 million to $378 million with nearly eight million children born each year.
The minister disclosed this during a meeting with donors and development partners – including the World Bank, World Health Organisation, Rotary, UNICEF, funding agencies from U.S., Canada and Japan–to ask for increased contributions to help Nigeria pay for immunisation.
Mr. Adewole noted that to ensure that there is no stock out of vaccines, the government needs to budget two years ahead.
Speaking during the event, the Director General of the NPHCDA, Faizal Shuaib, said an audit firm, KPMG, is to probe the finances of the agency in hopes of increasing donor confidence as Nigeria seeks donor support to fund immunisation.
He said “KPMG will work at our finance management system to close all loopholes and put in place strategies that make it difficult for people to line their pockets with public funds.”
“In the last two to three years, there’s this cloud of corruption and distrust of NPHCDA. It is an open secret. Donors are worried they are not sure what’s happening with NPHCDA. What we are doing is build back that trust.
Donor confidence in Nigeria’s health finance swayed after a prolonged investigation found that billions of naira from Global Fund was misappropriated.
The 2017 budget proposes refunds, including N4.8 billion to Global Fund and N1.6 billion to the Global Alliance for Vaccine, which will withdraw its support from Nigeria by 2020, leaving the country solely responsible for its immunization.
Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Health
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Photo: Premium Times
Vaccination for Meningitis.
By Senator Iroegbu
Abuja — The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has called on the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, to improve the state of the Primary Health Care in his state as a long-term solution and effective measures of tackling the Cerospinal Meningitis (CSM) outbreak in the country.
Adewole in a statement signed yesterday by the Director, Media /Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola, urged Yari to focus on strengthening the PHC system in the state.
According to him, this is the only way to prevent outbreaks and most of the common cases affecting the people.
The minister said any single case could have been easily reported at the PHC level and a response would have been activated and this scale of outbreak would have been avoided.
He said: “Once the PHC system is in place we can tackle not just this outbreak but 70-80 per cent of the cases of our people.
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“Next year dry season is coming again. We need to make sure that we are prepared to tackle the next outbreak.”We need to educate our people that this infection is so easy to treat and diagnose. We must put a lot of effort into active case finding. We are recommending a house to house search,” he added.Adewole further called on the state government to clampdown on booming black market for the CSM vaccines thereby creating scarcity in the systemHe urged the government to “deal decisively with people selling vaccines and life saving commodities provided by the federal government for free.”There are people selling these drugs. We must apprehend them.”The minister also called on Nigerians to remain confident in the response of the federal government coordinated by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) saying that the agency is equipped to tame the epidemic.Earlier, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shauib, called on the state government and traditional rulers to continue to educate and mobilise the people on social distancing and to intensify case finding efforts.He said the NPHCDA is willing to work with the state government to revitalise one PHC in each of the 147 wards in line with the vision of the honourable minister.Responding, Yari commended the federal government for their timely intervention.He acknowledged that the outbreak is being effectively controlled by the FG team and admitted the state was taken by surprise.The governor also assured to provide leadership by doing all he can to ensure the protection of the lives and property of his people and pledged to get on board with the PHC agenda of Professor Adewole.”For the past 72 hours we have been seeing fewer cases and positive response. On behalf of Zamfara State government and people, we thank you and we are willing to work with you on PHC,” he said.Yari also said the state would revisit the structure of the polio programme, boasting that the state has not witnessed any outbreak since 2012.He said he would take the issues of the PHC agenda to the Nigerian Governors Forum which he chairs and promised to invite the minister to make a presentation before the members.More on ThisSultan, Northern Govs Meet in Kaduna Today Over Meningitis
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Apr 12 2017 | Posted in Health
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By Nike Adebowale
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, has pledged to ensure the success of the current scheme to revitalize primary health care in Nigeria under a four-point agenda he has formulated to reposition the Agency.
Mr. Shuaib made the pledge on Monday while receiving the new World Health Organization, WHO, Country Representative in Nigeria, Alemu Wondi, in his office.
According to a statement by the agency, Mr. Shuaib outlined aspects of the agenda as “repositioning the Agency with a culture of zero tolerance to corruption and efficient service delivery, concluding polio eradication, and strengthening routine immunization”.
The President Muhammadu Buhari Administration has made revitalising primary health care the anchor for its activity in the health sector.
Under the scheme, the administration plans to make 10,000 functional primary health care centres available to deliver a number of services in every ward across the country, beginning with one in each of the 109 senatorial districts of the country. The exercise was flagged off on January 10 with the commissioning of the Kuchingoro primary health care centre in Abuja.
Mr. Shuaib said President Buhari and the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, have provided an enabling environment for transparent, accountable and result-oriented leadership that would enable him work with his team to restore partners’ confidence in the Agency.
He recalled donors’ scepticism on his agency’s management of donor funds in the past and assured the WHO Country Representative of his commitment to changing the narrative by engendering transparency, accountability and probity.
While assuring of his commitment to rewarding excellence, the Executive Director warned that officials of the Agency found wanting in the discharge of their duties would be made to face the disciplinary provisions of civil service rules and regulations.
He then highlighted steps being taken by the Agency in its collaboration with security agencies and other stakeholders to rid Nigeria of polio virus, improve routine immunisation and quality of data generation, and overcome cross-border challenges on mass vaccination of under-five children.
In his remarks, Mr. Wondi said the major purpose of his visit was to ensure synergy, continued collaboration and oneness of purpose in programmes implementation and service delivery.
The WHO Country Representative recalled Nigeria’s initial success of two years without polio transmission and current concerted efforts on polio eradication, and pledged the full support of WHO for the efforts.
Nigeria’s hope for a polio-free certification by the WHO had suffered a setback in August 2016, when four new cases of wild polio virus were discovered in three local government areas in Borno State liberated from the Boko Haram insurgents.
Mr. Wondi also assured the NPHCDA of WHO’s support for the Primary Health Care Revitalization scheme.
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Mar 1 2017 | Posted in Health
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By Emeka Anuforo
As Nigeria marks two straight years without any outbreak of the wild polio virus, President Muhammadu Buhari has promised that the Federal Government and its partners would not rest on their oars but continue to provide the needed oversight and resources to achieve total polio eradication by 2017.
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and other partners leading the effort to eradicate polio under the platform of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) are urging Nigeria to be on the alert for any sign of the virus through heightened surveillance especially in the border areas.
After years of devastation, Nigeria was on July 2015 removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by the World Health Organization, leaving only
Afghanistan and Pakistan in list that had 125 in 1988.
In a joint statement between the Nigerian government and its partners issued in Abuja, Buhari said: “This is a historic moment that has brought Africa and the world the closest it has ever been to eradicating this devastating disease. But our job is not yet done. We must protect the gains we have made and stay on course to tackle the challenges that remain in eliminating polio for good.”
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole, said government is building resilience by “getting people out of their comfort zones to further enhance the quality of polio campaigns, reach children in difficult areas and continue to improve routine immunization.”
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad, said Nigeria was increasing environmental surveillance sites and community informants across the country.
Acting WHO Representative for Nigeria, Dr. Rex Mapazanje, noted that though the national laboratories have been vigilant in monitoring polio cases, the country must continue to be at alert for any sign of the virus through heightened surveillance, particularly in the vulnerable populations including insurgency-hit areas of North-East and the adjoining areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Country Representative of UNICEF, Jean Gough, warned: “Achieving a polio-free Africa will bring us closer than ever to a polio-free world, but that success should not be taken for granted. We must continue to work together with all partners in particular with the traditional institutions at all levels to ensure we reach every child so we can relegate this paralysing disease to history forever.”
Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad, said investments to end polio across African and around the world are developing a lasting infrastructure and knowledge base that will help to improve the delivery of basic healthcare services and other life-saving vaccines, especially to people living in poor and hard to reach areas.
“All partners stressed the need for continued commitment from governments, civil society and donors to finish the job – for Nigeria, for Africa and for children everywhere.”
European Union signed an agreement with the Federal Government to ensure sustainable quality Routine Immunization Services against wild polio virus.The Executive Secretary Gombe State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Ahmed Gana disclosed this while speaking during the official launching of the programme at the weekend said the state has been polio- free since 2013 which led to the attraction of development partners to the state, like Bill Gate Foundation which has given support of about $15 million for the establishment of village Health Workers Programmer in the state.
“The state has also been given a grant of $1.5 million dollar by the World Bank through the Federal Ministry of Heath for the improvement of health care service particularly the Primary health care services in the state,” Dr Gana added that.
He stressed that EU-Sign Project has awarded contract for construction of Nafada Local Council Primary health care cold store and renovation of others.Also speaking the EU-Sign project Gombe state Technical Assistant Mr. Audu Gambo Kariya said the project is aimed at strengthening the health system to increase access to and utilisation of immunisation services within an integrated primary health care service delivery system.
Jul 25 2016 | Posted in Health
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By Judd-Leonard Okafor
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) says government spending on immunisation is expected to top $345 million a year by 2022 when international funding support from the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) is completely withdrawn.
Nigeria lost GAVI support after a rebasing of its economy re-classed it the biggest economy in Africa and ineligible for vaccine support meant for third-world countries.
NPHCDA executive director Dr Muhammad Ado said with donor support, full immunisation for children costs Nigeria an estimated $230 million yearly, but only around $85m to $90m is paid by Nigeria-the rest by donors.
Speaking in Abuja as legislators and health stakeholders from five Anglophone countries began a three-day peer review workshop to work out how each country can sustain funding for national immunisation, Ado said the $345m, rising due to introduction of new vaccines and the growing population of children who need immunisation, is expected to be funded domestically.
He cited research that’s shown every dollar spent on immunisation brings back $6 in direct return and $14 in indirect returns, insisting, “We want to change mindset, to view immunisation as an investment.”
Ado said reported slash of funding for immunisation in this year’s budget was “disturbing” but insisted the federal health ministry was engaging the National Assembly to push for appropriate funding for immunisation.
The meeting of Anglophone Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria is expected to develop template for an “immunisation trust fund” to help each country pay for its own vaccine requirements rather than depend on donors.
“Every country has got to protect its own citizens,” said Michael McQuestion, PhD, director of sustainable immunisation financing at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Washington DC, which supports the workshop.
“Immunisation is a public good, like having an army or airport. You have to keep immunizing or you are going to get outbreaks again. It is something a country must provide,” he said.
The trust fund is seen as national guarantees that countries will buy vaccines-a move to help push down price of vaccines secured from manufacturers, explained McQuestion.
Of the five countries, Liberia-heavily hit by the recent Ebola outbreak, looks forward to African countries producing their own vaccines, but said the Liberian government has steadily increased its counterpart contribution to vaccine from $50,000 three fiscal years ago to $500,000.
Chairman of Liberian senate committee on health Peter Coleman said Liberia was looking to increase its contribution to $600,000 in the next budget cycle and gradually take on the responsibility of paying for its own vaccines.
Senator Abdullahi Sesay, chair of health committee in the Sierra Leonean senate said any sustainable immunisation must be backed by legislation.
“You cannot have concrete immunisation financing without a law, without clauses in law that explicitly say where to get the money and how to do the funding,” Sesay said.
Apr 21 2016 | Posted in Health
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By Kuni Tyessi
To permanently halt the spread of polio in Nigeria after the de-listing of the country in the list of polio endemic countries, the sum of $274 million will be needed from foreign donors in 2016 for the campaign.
Also, the sum of $287 million will be needed in the year 2017 for the same purpose as statistics indicate that the sum of N40,000 will be needed for the vaccination of an individual child.
This was revealed yesterday by the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in Abuja at the pre-event press conference for the anglophone Africa peer review workshop on sustainable immunisation financing. “Nigeria has few months to go before it can be verified a polio-free country. The sum of $274 million will be required for polio campaign in 2016.
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Apr 13 2016 | Posted in Health
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By Chukwuma Muanya and Chijioke Nelson
After the takeoff of the new policy on foreign exchange two days ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may have asked deposit money banks that issue internationally enabled cards to ensure that as they accept foreign currency deposits, they should also make adequate provision to honour the resulting demand of their customers.
Besides, the apex bank said policies relating to foreign currency deposits in banks and stoppage of weekly foreign exchange intervention at the Bureaux De Change (BDC) segment are for the good of the economy.
It promised that the latest measures would boost reserves, rub off positively on naira exchange, as well as end the arbitrage on the currency, being perpetrated by BDC operators.
Meanwhile, there are strong indications that unless necessary measures are taken and urgently too to address the scarcity of foreign exchange, indigenous pharmaceutical industries may run out of raw materials for production of essential medicines the end of January 2016.
It was also learnt that over 70 per cent of the country’s drug needs are imported and less than 30 per cent manufactured locally with some raw materials like pharmaceutical starch, still imported.
The Director of Financial Market, CBN, Emmanuel Ukeje, who gave the indications during a television interview said with the new rules, banks are responsible for their customers’ dollar deposits and cannot come to CBN to ask for dollars to settle them when they need them.
“If somebody gives bank dollars and wants you to transfer them, inadvertently, what the person has done is that you are holding that money on the person’s behalf to meet the demand when the person needs it.
“Banks that issue the naira and dollar cards take responsibility now. They must make sure that they have enough of the denomination to backup demand. This is different from before, when they commit and run to CBN because it would immediately become a national issue,” he said.
He maintained that the CBN had supported banks’ decision to stop acceptance of foreign currencies earlier because their vaults were saturated and posed more risks to the industry in the form of cost of keeping idle funds and insurance.
He noted that by the new rule, dollars deposited in cash cannot be used for the settlement of import bill, “but can only be withdrawn in cash as well from the bank. But when you travel with your card, you can now pay with it through wire transfer. Importation is only funded with foreign reserve in the customers’ escrow accounts.”
But Dr. Austin Nweze of the Pan Atlantic University said the new policy would enthrone a regime of competition among the parallel market operators, because the cheap dollars from the CBN would have gone.
Though he acknowledged that the CBN only did an aspect of the policy expectations, he was optimistic that whatever price the naira exchanges at the moment would only be in the short term, because the hidden dollars would come out to reduce supply shortages.
However, he urged the authorities to be serious about leakages that would distort expected results and support local industries to achieve import substitution strategy to reduce import-induced pressure.
An Abuja-based development consultant and civil society activist, Jide Ojo, also commended the CBN’s decision to stop the sale of foreign exchange to BDCs and the lifting of the ban on bank customers who hitherto had been barred from depositing foreign currencies in their domiciliary accounts.
“CBN ought to have stopped the sales of forex to BDC long ago given the fact that it was not an international best practice, as Nigeria remained the only country where such is done worldwide.
“What is needful at this point in time is for the CBN to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation unit and ensure that both the BDCs and bank customers operating domiciliary accounts are not allowed to abuse its policies any longer,” he said.
The Guardian also learnt that the country has only 180 indigenous manufacturers of medicines and over 500 importers.
Also, there is the fear that if the country does not start local production of vaccines before 2022, she may not have enough for the prevention of childhood killer diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, measles and pneumonia.
The Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation Initiatives (GAVI), which has over the years been subsidising and giving Nigeria relevant vaccines for free, has formally advised the Federal Government to make arrangements to be self- sufficient in vaccine production before its pullout date of 2022.
Also, with an all-time low, at least in the last 10 years, of 3.65 per cent of the 2016 national budget for health, it is believed that the sector will struggle to meet its basic obligations not to talk of making advances in research and development.
The Guardian analysis indicates that Nigeria has been having an average of five per cent of its national budget for health since 2004 and has not been able to meet the 15 per cent Abuja Declaration set by African leaders in 2001 and endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Ahmed I. Yakasai, told The Guardian yesterday: “Many pharmaceutical industries applied for letters of credit but the commercial banks could not process them. Is it lack of dollars? Is it due to restriction by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)? Is it a national policy? We don’t know. But they complain that they couldn’t access dollars to import raw materials and since the raw materials in their warehouses would be exhausted by the end of this January, they won’t be able to produce. The consequence is that Nigeria will not have medicines both for local consumption and possible exports.”
On plans to start local manufacture of vaccine by 2022, Yakasai said: “The country’s health sector is still battling with poor access to public health interventions, while diseases like Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and tuberculosis are still with us. There is a need to review our dependence on donor agencies, hence the government should create an enabling environment by way of intervention funds to enable our local drug manufacturers to produce antiretroviral drugs and even vaccines.
“As we are all aware, GAVI is gradually withdrawing from Nigeria. I must appreciate the Federal Government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for organising a stakeholders forum on vaccines production to stimulate interest and develop a business plan for local vaccines production in Nigeria.
“We can do it if there is the enabling environment and government is really serious as initiated by the NPHCDA that they really want to mobilise pharmacists and other stakeholders to go into production.
If the environment is good and they are able to give intervention fund, they are able to encourage manufacturers. What is a big deal in vaccines production?
“I am calling for the release of the intervention fund.
The last regime promised and nothing came out of it. If the Federal Government gives us intervention fund, it will go a long way in helping the system.”
On the 3.65 per cent of national budget for health, the PSN President said: “3.65 per cent might look small compared with what is recommended and what was obtainable in the last five years but if fully implemented it will suffice.
“Also, the one per cent of Nigeria’s consolidated revenue from the National Health Act, when implemented, and grants by international donor partners through NPHCDA, which will manage 45 per cent of the fund.
“The problem of Nigeria’s budget for health has been that of implementation. Last years’ budget was about five per cent but only about two per cent was implemented. If the government can implement the whole 3.65 per cent of the 2016 budget on health, it would go a long way in making the sector better and Nigerians healthier.”
Jan 14 2016 | Posted in Banking
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