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Nigeria introduces Meningitis A Conjugate Vaccine into Routine Expanded Programme on Immunization Schedule

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Nigeria has introduced the Meningitis A Conjugate Vaccine into the routine Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) schedule. 

Speaking during the flag-off ceremony at the Area 2 Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) on 09 August, 2019, the Executive Director (ED) of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib said, “Men A remains a major global challenge.” According to the ED,”25 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) fall within the meningitis belt; putting 26.7 Nigerians at risk of meningitis”.

Further describing the prevalence of the disease in the country, he said, “In 2018, there were 4,516 reported cases in Nigeria, 318 serious cases and 364 deaths. I therefore call on all mothers to ensure their children are vaccinated from this disease.”

Meningococcal meningitis is the bacterial form of meningitis; a devastating disease associated with high fatality (up to 50% when untreated) and high frequency (more than 10%) of severe complications. Over 10,000 cases of meningitis occur annually in Nigeria; in 2017 alone, 14,766 cases were reported with 1,207 deaths. Vaccines are however available for prevention and control of meningitis outbreaks.

“Meningitis has been a scourge across Africa’s meningitis belt for generations, however this vaccine has made a massive difference in bringing this disease under control,” said Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “This further expansion in Nigeria’s immunization programme has the potential to save hundreds of lives every year across Nigeria and shows the government’s commitment to protecting every child in the country against deadly, preventable diseases.”

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The meningococcal A conjugate vaccine for Nigeria, procured with funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is part of its wider commitment to boosting Nigeria’s low immunization coverage and to stem further fatalities arising from the vaccine preventable disease.

In his remarks at the flag off ceremony, WHO Officer in Charge (OiC) for Nigeria, Dr Clement Peter congratulated the Government of Nigeria for the important milestone of the introduction of Meningitis A vaccine, which is in line with WHO recommendations.

“The vaccine is safe and effective and will protect Nigerian children from a dreadful disease. I seize this opportunity to encourage parents and caregivers to visit health facilities and outreach sites to have their children vaccinated. No child should be denied the opportunity to receive lifesaving vaccines for a healthy and productive future, to build a thriving nation,” he affirmed.

In their separate goodwill messages, representatives of Permanent Secretaries of FCT and Federal Ministry of Health, as well His Royal Highness, Alhaji Idris Musa, the paramount traditional ruler of FCT, pleaded with community members to benefit from immunization services and admonished health workers to treat caregivers respectfully and build enduring relationships with the communities they serve to ensure smooth delivery of laudable programmes.

They all appreciated the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners for being on ground to support vaccination activities at points of delivery. Other partners at the epoch-making event included UNICEF, AFENET, USAID, Red Cross Society of Nigeria and Vaccine Network for Disease Control.

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Meningitis is an infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord called the meninges. Viral and bacterial infections are the most common cause but bacterial meningitis is much more serious due to its rapid onset and poses a significant risk of death. Meningitis A vaccine targets type A meningitis and WHO is committed to work with the government to switch to the Meningitis A,C,W,X,Y formulation in a few years’ when the vaccine is available in the quantities required to ensure protection from all other strains of the disease is achieved.

WHO emphasizes the importance of completing mass vaccination campaigns in individuals aged 01-29 years old in all high risk countries followed by introduction of meningococcal A conjugate vaccine into the routine childhood programme within 01-05 years following the campaign completion.

WHO also recommends a one-time catch up campaign for children born after the initial mass vaccination and who would not be in the age range targeted by the routine immunization programme.

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Health

CACOVID donates 150-bed isolation center, multi-million naira medical equipment to Lagos govt.

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The Private Sector led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has donated a 150-bed fully equipped  isolation facility with medical equipment worth millions of naira to the Lagos State Government, to provide support in the fight against the virus within the state.

Speaking at the commissioning of the Yaba Isolation center, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu noted that the isolation center would further strengthen the state’s healthcare system in dealing with the challenges of the Pandemic as the state currently leads the toll of Nigeria’s COVID-19 infections with over 10,000 confirmed cases.

The Governor commended the Coalition’s efforts in mobilising resources quickly to support emergency responses and pledged that the donated facility would be used to provide adequate treatment to those who are infected and help to stop the overall spread of the virus within the state.

He urged all citizens to continue to take responsibility and follow directives of the government and health professionals towards reducing the spread of the virus and saving lives across communities.

“We need to take responsibility because the virus knows no race, ethnicity, religion or boundary. We need to take responsibility for our loved ones by wearing face mask, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene to reduce morbidity and mortality,” the governor said.

He further disclosed plans by the State Government to build an International Infectious Disease Research Centre, Doctors’ quarters and permanent isolation wards at the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba as part of Lagos COVID19 response and other infectious disease preparedness in post COVID19 era.

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In his remarks, the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said that the center was the sixth facility in the state dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients, and is coming onboard at a time when the state is ramping up its testing capacity.

He further said the 150-bed facility donated by CACOVID would be used for the management of moderate to severe COVID-19 patients and would assist in admitting and providing care for more patients.

Also speaking at the event, the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said that collaboration between the private sector and government was vital to prevent the spread of the virus and save the lives of the citizens,

He further said that the center would enhance the state’s healthcare system and the management of COVID-19 within the state.

According to him, N29 billion has been donated so far by members of the coalition towards supporting government’s efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and that the funds have been used to build and equip isolation centers across the country.

Mr. Emefiele said that 32 isolation centers have been built as of today, with a target to reach 39 isolation centers by the end of July.

The CBN governor added that CACOVID had also provided in-kind food palliatives to members of the public across the country to ameliorate the effects of the virus on their welfare.

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He commended members of the coalition for their generous and selfless donations which have helped in achieving its common goal of helping the nation fight the spread of COVID-19. He also lauded the healthcare workers and the state government for their efforts in implementing strategies, caring for the infected patients and reducing the spread of the virus in the state.

Also, the Chief Executive, Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote said the Lagos Isolation Center was a model for what the coalition would build in other states.

Dangote, represented by Ms Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), said: “It is with great pride that we hand over the Yaba Isolation Center to Lagos State. More supports will come to the state from the coalition and we appreciate everyone’s contribution towards our goal.”

In his remarks, the Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe said that Lagos was more vulnerable to spread of the virus due to its large population. He commended the state government for its efforts to reduce the spread and effect of the virus on the citizens. He also appreciated the state government’s support to CACOVID.

The Yaba Isolation center comes with a fully equipped medical laboratory and high dependency unit; personal protective equipment and other critical medical consumables; water and sewage treatment plants; 11kv power generator amongst other essentials. This is in addition to 34,000 test kits, sample collection swabs and infrared thermometers recently delivered to the NCDC.

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Till date, CACOVID has committed billions of naira to build 38 fully equipped isolation centers across Nigeria with over 5,000 beds and critical medical equipment needed to fight the pandemic, exemplifying sustainable value addition from a partnership that truly works.

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Minister seeks support for national health sector COVID-19 response plan

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The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has sought for the support of the Health Partners Coordinating Committee (HPCC) for the newly developed Integrated National Health Sector Covid-19 Response Plan derived from Pillar 4, Priority Area 1 of the NSHDP 11.

The plan, as learnt is to ensure defined responsibilities and harmonization of efforts across the Federal and States and non-interruption of non COVID-19 routine health services. This came to fore when the Minister held a virtual meeting with the Health Partners Coordinating Committee (HPCC) last Friday.

Dr. Ehanire sought for the HPCC to recall that Nigeria had earlier demonstrated commitment towards improving its health sector outputs and outcomes and achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with the signing of the National Health Act, 2014 that gave birth to the Basic Health care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

He said, “The effective implementation of the BHCPF which requires partnership and robust collaboration with all the relevant stakeholders particularly the development partners is key to the realization of set goals towards the UHC”.

The Minister emphasized that maintaining strong collaboration with donors/partners and private sector will ensure alignment and achieving a balanced allocation of funds for financial sustainability.

The Minister  also explained that the BHCPF launched in January 2019 by President Buhari was suspended afterwards following observations by the Health Committees of the National Assembly (NASS) in a document entitled, ‘Design and Implementation of the BHCPF- A Review,’ in November, 2019 on grounds that some portions of the earlier developed 2018 operational manual for the implementation of the fund were not in compliance with the National Health Act and as such it’s further implementation would amount to deliberate flouting of the law.

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The followings, Dr. Osagie said were the issues raised by the National Assembly on the BHCPF:

1. Lack of clarity on “take off” of the implementation of BHCPF

•    States were being asked to deposit a uniform counterpart funding of N100 million not known to law;

2. Poor system thinking and tendency not to go outside “the box”

•    Section 11 of NH Act expected to be implemented as part of the whole whereas it will be great to implement it with sections 12 & 13;

•    Putting money into PHCs without established minimum standards of quality is not what it intends;

•    Provisional accreditation given to PHCs per ward is dangerous in a country where almost all temporary measures become permanent;

•    Allocating 2.5% of BHCPF to DHS is not the best use of funds;

•    Sub-national health experts not involved in the evolution of the guideline as much as the law expects and community needs to be more involved and engaged;

3. Concern of partners for their investments and theory of change to be safeguarded
•    Partners concerned that money in BHCPF is efficiently utilized. Everything should be done to do that but not at the expense of implementing the law;

•    Therefore, an accountability mechanism must be put in place to ensure various gateways are accountable;

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•    Since this is a system strengthening intervention that should continue ad infinitum, funds from donors should not constitute a distortion to the BHCPF.

4. Preference for unwieldy and complex bureaucracy
•    Creating a National Steering Committee and Secretariat are perceived as creating extra bureaucracy which may make the implementation of BHCPF quite unwieldy.

5. Desire to indulge/exclude governments at sub-national  levels in spite of the law

•    Eligibility required by law for any State to spend money from the pot is development of costed plan and payment of not less than 25% of the cost of the project;

•    It is not clear what criteria were used to determine the sums allocated to the States as well as why percentages are paid.

6. Poor preparedness of the States for this very important health reforms.

Consequently a committee set up by the Office of the Honourable Minister of Health to review the 2018 Operational Manual and correct the errors.  It submitted a guideline entitled, ‘Guidelines for the Administration Disbursement and Monitoring of the BHCPF’ which was subsequently harmonized with the 2018 Operations Manual with the 2020 Draft Guideline in existence, with respect to issues raised by the NASS Health Committees.

In a related note, on the signing of the Nigeria Country Compact Agreement with Development Partners scheduled for the HPCC meeting, the Minister said, “The compact is not in any way legally binding, but just a mutual understanding that we will work together to implement our National Strategy towards achieving UHC and attainment of SDG3.”

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Speaking further, he said, “To track implementation of the National Health Plan, the M&E plan of the NSHDP 11 has provided for a Joint Annual Review (JAR). On this, the NSHDP 11 JAR governance structure was inaugurated during the previous HPCC meeting’.

The Minister expressed appreciation to all for their continued support to the health sector while expressing his desire for more partnership and collaboration in concerted efforts to reposition the sector to be more efficient.

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Citizens in doubt of COVID-19 should take precaution in their daily activities – Mamora

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The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora has urged citizens especially those who are in doubt of the existence of COVID-19 in the country to at least take extra pre-caution in their daily activities to avoid being a victim of the disease.

The Minister made this counsel at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing held on Thursday. He said that as the number of Covid-19 deaths continues to increase in Nigeria, citizens, especially those who are in doubt of the corona virus pandemic should take extra pre-caution in their daily activities.

Dr. Mamora reported that “We had 649 new confirmed cases bringing the total number of cases in the country to 22,020. We have so far successfully treated and discharged 7,613 persons while 542 deaths have been recorded.”

Continuing, the Minister stated that on Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020, an Emergency National Council on Health was held virtually, attended by State Commissioners of Health, Head of Agencies, Directors at the Federal Ministry of Health, Development Partners and other stakeholders in the health sector to review status and align all responses to COVID19 outbreak in States. “The Council approved the Health Sector COVID-19 Pandemic Response Action Plan which was developed by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Departments and Agencies to present one response in the health sector delivered in a coordinated and strategic manner.”

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The Minister said: “As we learn more about the disease, we continue to evolve response actions. The community transmission has resulted in the high number of confirmed cases with the challenge that in some States, the facilities for case management may become overwhelmed. Bearing in mind the importance of managing cases in facilities, the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary HealthCare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has developed a guideline for the establishment of Community Support Centres.”

Dr. Mamora informed that the central objective of the guideline is the establishment of Community Support Centres (CSCs) in selected clusters of Local Government Areas (LGAs) for the management of COVID-19 cases.

According to the Minister, those community support centres would strengthen the capacity of the health system at the community level to respond to the outbreak and result in the reduction of the transmission of COVID-19 within communities in high burden and high density States.

He therefore stated that Nigerians must be reminded daily of the challenges COVID-19 poses to the country and the world, and further reinforce our resolve to tackle the pandemic. “We can reduce case fatality in Nigeria, if non-pharmaceutical interventions are scaled up and we become more proactive in dealing with positive cases. We can scale up testing, tracing, treatment and isolation, with priority on offering more protection to elderly citizens and those with co-morbidities, from the threat of infection”, Dr. Mamora stated.

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