Martins Ifijeh

The National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has debunked reports in some media outlets that three cases of Lassa fever virus were discovered in Anambra.

He said the only case noticed recently was that of a 54 year old man who presented last week at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State, adding that, he was referred from a private hospital in Asaba, Delta State, where he was receiving treatment until his condition deteriorated.

According to him, “on presentation at the Accident and Emergency of NAUTH, Lassa fever was suspected, blood samples collected and sent to the reference laboratory at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State, where the diagnosis of Lassa fever was confirmed. He died within an hour of admission.”

He said the State public health authorities in Anambra and Delta States have commenced a public health response including epidemiological investigations, contact tracing and the prepositioning of drugs and supplies.

“As at 22 August 2016, 40 contacts have been identified in Delta State and 19 in Anambra State. All contacts are currently being monitored for symptoms of Lassa fever. The Delta and Anambra States Ministries of Health are coordinating the responses in their respective states, while the NCDC provides support and guidance to limit further spread.

“This case again illustrates the importance of following clinical protocols to confirm the cause of febrile illnesses, especially malaria, before treatment. Regarding the confirmed case of Lassa fever, we are working closely with the relevant State Government teams to limit further spread.

“We encourage health workers and health facilities across the country to maintain a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever and indeed other viral hemorrhagic fevers. We also encourage State governments and their Ministries of Health to sustain adequate detection and response capacity,” he added.

He said NCDC will continue to keep all channels of communication open for information, verification and reporting on Lassa fever and other disease emergencies. The Centre’s 24/7 toll-free line can be reached via 0800-970000-10; and the twitter account handle @NCDCgov, and Facebook page @nigeriacdc are always available for inquiry and updates

Lassa fever is an endemic disease in some states in Nigeria and thus its sporadic occurrence is not unexpected. It is in this light that Nigerians are advised to remain calm and supportive of public health authorities.

Etisalat Donates Equipment to Boost Maternal Healthcare in OndoState

Martins Ifijeh
One of Nigeria’s most innovative telecommunications company, Etisalat, recently donated infant and maternal healthcare kits and equipment to the Ondo State Government towards the reduction of infant and maternal mortality and improving quality healthcare in the state.

The kits and equipment comprises 250 units of Mother and New-born Delivery Kits, 5 units of Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) systems with trolleys, 5 units of laptopcomputers with interpretative software for the ECG/EKG systems, and 18 units of android tablets for conducting fieldwork and research on infant/maternal mortality in the state.

Etisalat in partnership with Instrat Global Health Solutions handed over the items to top officials of the Ondo State Ministry of Health in Akure, the state capital.

Speaking, the Director, Regulatory and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Etisalat Nigeria, Ikenna Ikeme said Etisalat was committed to sustainable development and is proud to support initiatives that will help Nigeria to realize its developmental goals. He disclosed that health is one of Etisalat’s core Corporate Social Responsibility platforms while the others are Education and Environment.

“As a brand that constantly seeks to promote improved and healthy lifestyle within our host communities, we have aligned our Corporate Social Responsibility interventions with the Sustainable Development Goals, so as to positively contribute to the set global objectives”, he said.

Ikeme said further that Etisalat is passionate about reduction in infant and maternal mortality prevalence in Nigeria, and revealed that through its M-health initiative, Etisalat has significantly supported efforts to control and eliminate maternal and infant mortality across the country.

“One of such examples is our partnership in a consortium comprising Qualcomm Incorporated, Vecna Charitable Trust and Instrat Global Health Solutions, that has developed electronic medical record systems for clinics. Using the Etisalat 3G internet service, this project has been implemented in three states within the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)”, he added.

“This remarkable multilateral partnership has enabled midwives from the programme to record patient data at the point of care, removing the toil of physical records and paper notebooks; and has also eliminated the requirement for regional health officers to travel around to review the accuracy of reports on data collated”.

Receiving the infant and maternal healthcare kits and equipment on behalf of OndoState Commissioner for Health, the Chairman, Ondo State Hospital Management Board, Dr. Niran Okunrinboye expressed appreciation to Etisalat Nigeria for the support and enthused that the equipment would positively impact on the healthcare system in Ondo State.

GSK, Save the Children Call for Healthcare Innovators to Enter $1 million Award

Martins Ifijeh
In a bid to reduce child deaths in Nigeria, GSK and Save the Children have launched their fourth annual $1 million Healthcare Innovation Award, which rewards innovations in healthcare that help tackle under-five mortality in developing countries, including Nigeria.

In 2013, approximately 11 in every 100 children in Nigeria died before their fifth birthday, with a reported 240,000 neonatal deaths in the same year.

This year, until 7 of September, organisations from across Nigeria are invited to nominate innovative healthcare approaches which tackle these issues. These innovations must have resulted in tangible improvements to under-five child survival, be sustainable and have the scope to be scaled-up and replicated.

The award, according to the sponsors, is one of the number of initiatives from GSK and Save the Children’s five-year partnership, which combines the two organisations’ expertise and skills with the aim to help save one million children’s lives.

“Since 2013, more than a dozen inventive approaches – from a breast milk pasteurisation device to an affordable diarrhoea treatment kit – have been recognised through the award. This year, as well as recognising approaches that have helped reduce child deaths, the award will give special attention to innovations that focus on the hardest-to-reach children,” says the Interim General Manager, GSK, Cesar Marval,

According to him,“when it comes to reaching the most vulnerable Nigerian children with quality healthcare, no single organisation has all the answers. So we’re always searching for new and different ideas, wherever they might be. Our award recognises that some of the best solutions to development challenges come from people living with them. Tough conditions can stimulate innovation, generating solutions that are relevant and adaptable. If these bright ideas can be shared across countries and continents, the impact could be profound.”

Outlining the focus of this year’s award, Director of Programme, Policy and Quality, Save the Children, Ali Forder, added: “Extraordinary progress has been made in recent years to reduce the number of children dying before their fifth birthday. Despite this progress, more than five million children still die each year and millions of children are being left behind because of their gender, poverty, or ethnic identity; because they live in remote areas or urban slums; or because they are caught up in conflicts. We want to seek out and recognise ways in which these children can be reached.”

In 2013, a device that eases the breathing of babies in respiratory distress was awarded the highest share of the Healthcare Innovation Award prize fund. It was developed by the College of Medicine/Friends of Sick Children, Malawi and Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies.

Commenting on the impact of the award, a Professor of Paediatrics, College of Medicine and Queen Elizabeth Central Teaching Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi, Professor Elizabeth Molyneux, said: “It was exciting to win the award, which has allowed us to provide technology and training in teaching hospitals in Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa. Funding from GSK and others show confidence in what we are offering and gives us a chance to share with people who will benefit from it.”

A judging panel, made up of experts from the fields of public health, science and academia, will award all or part of the funds to one or more of the best healthcare innovations. Entries close on 7 September 2016 at 11:59pm, while winners are expected to be announced in December.