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FG, WHO collaborate to curtail child mortality

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In Njediko community of Niger state, Mrs Aishatu Usman says, “Without this care, where would we go to when our children are sick since there is no hospital nearby?”.

Mrs Usman is one of the caregivers that recently benefited from the WHO-Federal Government integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) project that scales up provision of essential packages for child survival in communities. “We are grateful to WHO Nigeria and the Government for this community based intervention. Without this project, it would have been tough for us and our children”, she adds.

In line with Mrs Usman’s plea, despite recent improvements, maternal and child mortality remain critical public health issues in Nigeria with unacceptably high health outcomes indicators.

According to the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS, 2018), the under-five mortality rate in Nigeria is 132 per 1,000 live births meaning that 1 in 8 Nigerian children never reach the age of 5. Infant deaths, which account for half of child mortality have declined from 87 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 67 in 2018. One (1) Nigerian woman dies in childbirth every 10 minutes, and 1 Nigerian child under-5 years of age dies every minute.

It is apparent through the elevated mortality rates that the lack of access to quality delivery services is an issue of immense importance in Nigeria. Problems such as cost for treatment, deplorable state of the health facilities, distance to health facility lack of awareness and knowledge for informed decisions and referral are some of the many difficulties stated by caregivers in describing difficulty with accessing healthcare.

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Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) and iCCM are the key child survival thrust being used by the Nigerian Government to address the unacceptably high under-5 morbidity and mortality indices.

Dr Bose Adeniran, Head of Child Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) stated that “Child mortality has been a long pending issue in Nigeria and a lot of mothers are not aware of the causes and or prevention.”

She added that “iCCM is a complete package focusing on prevention and also on curative and I think that is what our children need. In Abia and Niger States, we now have local evidence that this (iCCM) is the way to go as it relates to addressing the unacceptably high under-five mortality rate in Nigeria”

Substantial global progress has been made in reducing child deaths since 1990. The total number of under-5 deaths worldwide has declined from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.3 million in 2018. On average, 15 000 children under-5 die each day compared with 34 000 in 1990. Since 1990, the global under-5 mortality rate has dropped by 58%, from 93 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 39 in 2017 This is equivalent to 1 in 11 children dying before reaching age 5 in 1990, compared to 1 in 26 in 2018.

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“With numerous World Health Organization’s (WHO) supports to Nigeria, many caregivers, especially in the rural areas are now aware of the available essential package of interventions for child survival along the continuum of care”, says Dr Joy Ufere, WHO, Family and Reproductive Health Cluster.

She added that “WHO will continue to provide leadership role to monitor the implementation of these interventions towards reducing Under-5 morbidity and mortality across Nigeria.”

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Health

Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Shows 95% Effectiveness – Pfizer, BioNTech

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Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that a completed study of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine showed it was 95 percent effective.

They said the two-dose vaccine had no serious safety concerns and that the companies will apply for emergency use authorization from US regulators “within days.”

The announcement came as coronavirus cases are surging in the US and other parts of the world, and boosted hopes for an end to the pandemic that has upended life around the globe.

“The study results mark an important step in this historic eight-month journey to bring forward a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

“With hundreds of thousands of people around the globe infected every day, we urgently need to get a safe and effective vaccine to the world,” he added.

Pfizer had said last week after a preliminary analysis that its product was more than 90 percent effective.

On Monday another biotech firm involved in the race to develop a vaccine, Moderna, said its own vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, according to a preliminary analysis.

Pfizer has previously said it expected to contact the US Food and Drug Administration to apply for an Emergency Use Authorization by the third week of November.

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The FDA had imposed a requirement on Covid-19 vaccine makers of having at least two months of follow-up with volunteers after their second dose, taken 28 days after the first, in order to ensure the drugs are safe.

Moderna developed its vaccine along with the US National Institutes for Health.

Both vaccines use mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology to deliver genetic material to the body that makes human cells create a protein from the virus.

This trains the immune system to be ready to attack if it encounters SARS-CoV-2.

Other vaccines that are in late-stage trials, such as one being developed by Johnson & Johnson and another by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, use modified viruses to deliver genetic material for the same purpose.

No mRNA vaccines have ever been approved, but Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease scientist, told AFP Tuesday the technology had now “established itself.”

-AFP

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Oyo govt. denies cholera outbreak in community

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Oyo State Government on Wednesday denied reports of alleged cholera outbreak  in Lagun Village of Lagelu Local Government Area of the state, declaring that there is no evidence to back recent claims.

According to a report of the Ministry  of Health’s technical committee that investigated the matter, signed by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello, the claims of cholera outbreak were unfounded.

The report, titled “Re: Rumours of suspected cholera outbreak in Lagelu LGA of Oyo State,” revealed that investigations by the state’s Epidemiological Team, including the DSNO and LGA Teams in Lagelu and surrounding LGAs, showed there is no evidence to back such rumour.

Dr. Bello in a statement issued by Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, added  that the team dispatched to carry out the investigation, was also not shown any fresh grave or fresh burial ground to ascertain claims of mass death.

The statement stated, however, that the Ministry had placed pre-positioned antibiotics and intravenous fluids at the state’s health facility in Lagun to prevent an outbreak of cholera in the area.

The Commissioner further  disclosed that the state has also begun an active case search in affected communities and neighbouring states as well as community engagement and enlightenment on the prevention of diarrheal diseases including cholera.

He explained that findings from the field showed that the ailment recorded affected only four individuals and not 10 people as claimed in the media and that there was no evidence to back the claim of six deaths.

He maintained that the ailment could be ascribed to poor hygienic conditions, adding that the Ministry also suspected cases of gastroenteritis or likely food poisoning.

The report stated: “The Ministry of Health received reports of suspected cases of cholera in Lagun Village on Friday, 6th of November, 2020. Following the notification, the state and the LGA surveillance network began intensified action at investigation and response, and findings from the field investigation are as follow:

“Ten (10) cases of diarrhoea and vomiting were reported to have occurred in Lagun Village by members of the community. Six of the cases were said to have died.

“But, upon investigation, no freshly dug graves were found in the said community and we only found two cases at Faith Clinic, Ejioku, and another two cases at the Lagun Rehabilitation Centre both private hospitals.

“All four cases are alive and are no longer stooling, therefore, stool samples could not be collected from them for confirmation of the aetiological agent (causative), while they have also been treated and stabilised.

“We observed poor sanitary conditions in the village, as the wells were not covered and were in poor sanitary conditions.

“We hereby confirm that with the active efforts of the state epidemiologist and his team (DNSO, LGA Team in the affected LGA and neighbouring LGAs), no real death attributable to cholera had been confirmed.

“The reported deaths were neither seen nor traceable and, therefore, cannot be attributed to cholera outbreak, as no patient within the community actually reported to any government or local government facility in the said local government.

“The ailment recorded (and deaths, if any) could be ascribed to very poor hygienic conditions and we suspect cases of gastroenteritis or likely food poisoning in the affected community.”

Speaking on preventive steps already taken by the Ministry, Bello added: “We have pre-positioned antibiotics and intravenous fluids at the General Hospital, Lagun, for care of emerging cases. 

“The Ministry has also embarked on community engagement and enlightenment on prevention of diarrheal diseases including cholera.

“We have also embarked on active search in affected communities and neighbouring communities and have also alerted the neighbouring local government areas.”

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America in trouble as COVID-19 cases surpass 200,000 in 24 hours

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The United States on Tuesday far exceeded its previous daily record of new Covid-19 cases, adding 201,961 cases in 24 hours, according to the tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The high number, partly due to data delayed over the weekend, took total cases in the US to 10,238,243, with a total of 239,588 deaths, as of 8:30 pm (0130 GMT).

In the 24-hour period, 1,535 deaths from Covid-19 were registered, a record in recent months as the US struggles to contain the spread of the pandemic.

For a week now, the number of new infections has trended at over 100,000 each day.

Coronavirus hospitalizations have also hit an all-time high, with more than 60,000 people hospitalized across the country, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede defeat in the November 3 election, has repeatedly mocked people for wearing masks and claimed the virus would go away by itself.

But his victorious opponent Joe Biden has vowed to take a more proactive approach, telling the nation this week that face coverings are the single best way to get the virus under control.

US pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced Monday that their vaccine candidate was 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19, marking a major breakthrough in the search for a vaccine.

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-AFP

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