Meningitis, Cholera Kill 88, Experts Call For Action
A total of 922 cholera cases have so far been recorded in Nigeria and 32 of them succumbed to the disease in 2023.
This is according to the latest situation report obtained from the World Health Organisation.
The Case Fatality Rate is at 3.5 per cent as of March 5, 2023.
The WHO noted that the data include the suspected positive rapid diagnostic tests and laboratory-confirmed cholera cases.
It said the case and death numbers presented are unreliable due to differences in reporting systems and underreporting.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria. People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.
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As of March 20, 2023, at least 24 countries continue to report cholera cases. With reference to historical transmission patterns and seasonality, large parts of the world are currently in low or interepidemic transmission periods, therefore this number could increase in the months to come.
The mortality associated with the outbreaks is of particular concern as many countries reported higher case-fatality ratios than in previous years.
Also, the situation report obtained from the website of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention showed that there were 157 confirmed cases of meningitis in the country from October 2022 till March 5, 2023.
A total of 628 suspected cases of meningitis, including 52 deaths, have been reported from 21 states and 66 Local Government Areas in the country.
Meanwhile, the CFR stands at 8.3 per cent.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, a thin layer of the connective tissue that covers the brain and the spinal cord. The common signs and symptoms are fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, neck stiffness, and altered consciousness level.
READ ALSO: Cholera Outbreak: 19 Dead, 286 Others Hospitalized In C’River
The report read in part, “Age group 5 -14 years was the most affected age group. Males were 62 per cent, females were 38 per cent.
“Ninety-One per cent of all cumulative cases were from four states – Jigawa (509 cases), Bauchi (23 cases), Zamfara (22 cases), and Oyo (14 cases).
“Ten LGAs across five states, Jigawa (7), Bauchi (1), Oyo (1), Plateau (1) and Zamfara (1), reported more than five cases each this CSM seasons 2022/2023.”
A medical laboratory scientist at the Department of Microbiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Obinna Chukwudi expressed worry over the country’s poor preparedness in tackling disease outbreaks.
“The Cholera and Meningitis outbreaks in recent times give a clear picture of the degree of our preparedness and containment strategies for more dangerous emergency disease outbreaks in the future.
“The government on the other hand is not left behind because judging from the aetiology of these diseases, you will notice that it is more of the socio-economic levels of the people which put them at a higher risk of getting infected. I advise that the government with advice from experts in the health system should intensify its approaches to implementing more policies that would better the health and well-being of the people.
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“A multifaceted approach including public policy, surveillance, water purification and hygiene, community sensitisation, and the use of vaccines is vital to prevent, control, and reduce cholera and meningitis menace in the affected states,” he said.
Also, the Ondo State Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi said there is a need for joint efforts between the government and the people to fight diseases.
“The government and the people need to work together. There is a need for increased awareness and people need to report to the hospitals once they notice the symptoms.”
JUST IN: Health Workers Begin Indefinite Strike
The Joint Health Sector Unions and the Assembly of Health Care Professional Association have directed their members to embark on an indefinite strike.
The National Vice President of JOHESU, Dr Obinna Ogbonna said this at a press briefing held in Abuja on Thursday.
JOHESU is the umbrella body of health workers’ unions and associations, including the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, and Senior Staff Association of Universities’ Teaching Hospitals Research Institutes and Associated Institutions.
The leadership of JOHESU had in a letter dated May 9, 2023, issued a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government over alleged inconsistencies of the government in the ongoing negotiations to adjust the Consolidated Health Salary Structure for health workers on their platforms.
READ ALSO: Patients Groan As Doctors’ Strike Enters Day 2
The 15-day ultimatum commenced on May 10, 2023, and will expire at midnight on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Obinna said, “It becomes imperative to inform you that since the Federal Government is yet to meet these demands, our members have been directed by the JOHESU National Executive Council to proceed on an indefinite strike action upon expiration of the ultimatum by midnight of May 25, 2023.”
BREAKING: Trouble Looms As FG Declares Doctors’ Strike Illegal, To Implement No-work-no-pay
The Federal Government has warned members of the National Association of Resident Doctors to shelve their planned five-day warning strike, describing it as illegal.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, issued the warning today shortly after receiving a letter from the NARD executive notifying him of the impending industrial action, billed to commence midnight today, May 16, 2023
Reacting to the letter, dated May 16, 2023 and delivered to his office at about 5pm same day, Ngige said on receiving the letter, he contacted the Minister of Health, who informed him that a meeting has been scheduled by his office with the resident doctors on Wednesday, May 17.
He therefore advised the doctors to avail themselves of the opportunity for social dialogue with their employer, rather than embark on a warning strike, which is unknown to the law.
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He said, “I will advise them to attend the meeting with the Minister of Health tomorrow. I will also advise them very strongly not to go on five-day warning strike. There is nothing like warning strike. A strike is a strike.
“If they want to take that risk, the options are there. It is their decision. They have the right to strike. You cannot deny them that right. But their employer has another right under Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, to withhold their pay for those five days.
“So, if the NARD has strike funds to pay their members for those five days, no problem. The Health Minister will instruct the teaching hospitals to employ adhoc people for those five days and they will use the money of the people who went on strike to pay the adhoc doctors. That is the ILO principles at decent work, especially for those rendering essential services. Lives should be protected. One of my sons is a resident doctor. I will advise him to go to work and sign the attendance register. The people seen at work are the ones to receive their pay. If you don’t work, there will be no pay.”
Commenting on the five demands of the doctors, Ngige said the Federal Government lacks the powers to compel the states to domesticate the Medical Residency Training Fund, since health is in the residual list, where both the federal and state governments have the powers to legislate.
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According to him, the job of the Federal Government is to make policy and where the states disagree, they are at liberty to make their own policy.
He added that the federal government cannot bully the states into domesticating the MRTF if they do not want to.
Regarding the issue of immediate payment of the MRTF to their members, he said it was appropriated in the 2023 budget, but has not been released, as the 2022 budget was still running, adding that those in 2022 have all been paid.
He denied the claim by NARD that the Federal Government did not pay minimum wage consequential adjustment arrears to their members, saying that all workers in the Education and Health Sectors, and even the defence agencies benefited from the adjustment.
He noted that the doctors cannot declare nationwide strike because some states were owing their members, pointing out that the federal government cannot also dabble into the issue, being a state matter.
READ ALSO: NMA, NERD, Others React To UK Restriction Of Doctors’ Migration
Similarly, he said the Federal Government as the Executive arm of government cannot intervene in the bill at the National Assembly to bond doctors for five years, as it is a private member’s bill.
According to him, any intervention by the executive on the matter impinges on the autonomy and independence of the legislative arm of government.
Ngige said although the bill has passed through first and second reading, he was sure it would be shot down at the public hearing, since the law prohibits forced labour.
He advised the doctors not to talk about 200 percent pay rise, as it was not feasible, adding that “besides all the government has done for doctors and other workers in the health sector, such as upward review of hazard allowances, the Nigeria Medical Association was already negotiating with the Federal Ministry of Health, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission and the Presidential Committee on Salaries on pay rise for doctors.
“It is incongruous for student doctors to embark on strike when consultants training them were already negotiating with the Federal Government.”
UBTH @50: Management, Staff, Patients Embark On 5km Walk To Promote Preventive Health Care
Management of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), on Monday, organised a 5 kilometer Walk as a way of promoting preventive health care among Nigerians.
Speaking during the Fitness Walk, Prof. Darlington Obaseki, Chief Medical Director, UBTH, said that walking, as a form of exercise, had proven to help prevent a lot of diseases ranging from hypertension, diabetes and some cancers.
Obaseki, while speaking to journalists shortly after the walk tagged “Walk for Life,” said the event was part of activities to celebrate the hospital’s 50th anniversary.
He said, “Engaging in different forms of exercise helps to keep the body fit and healthy.
READ ALSO: UBTH ENT H&N Dept Marks World Hearing Day, Reiterates Commitment To Quality Service Delivery
“The walk for life is a way to sensitize the public on the benefit of walking and how walking helps in preventing numerous diseases.
“The first step in health care is disease prevention, hence we are creating awareness about the need to exercise always”.
He said that most patients visited the hospital for curative purposes, noting that healthy living which involved regular exercise was key to disease prevention.
“One of the dangers of modern day style of living is the sedentary life style. So many persons sit in their offices from morning to night without exercising their bodies.
“Once you are fit and have the right weight, a lot of diseases can be prevented”, he said.
Speaking to traders at Uselu market, Dr Taiwo Oyewumi, Head of Physiotherapy department, UBTH, regretted that only a few per cent of Nigerians engage in regular exercises.
READ ALSO: Golden Jubilee: Free Training, Cancer Screening, Subsidized Surgeries Outlined To Celebrate UBTH @50
Oyewumi said, “Exercise is the cheapest way to stay healthy, and it is recommended that an individual does about 7,000 steps a day for healthy living.
“People who do exercise don’t fall ill often. Doing exercises makes you sleep well, improves brain function, and reduces bad cholesterol and hypertension.
“Exercise at less 10 to 15 minutes a day because exercise is good for your health”
The 5km walk started from UBTH premises at Ugbowo through Uselu market and back to UBTH premises.
Participants included UBTH board members, staff, students, patients and their families, fitness enthusiasts, journalists and other members of the public.
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