Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, has stated that Nigeria is experiencing an unprecedented diphtheria outbreak, insisting that this is a crisis that requires immediate attention because approximately 17,000 suspected cases have been reported, with nearly 600 deaths, and there is no sign of the situation abating.
While MSF described the situation as critical, it observed that the seriousness of the problem becomes clear when looking at vaccination coverage.
According to a statement issued by the organisation on Tuesday, approximately 70% of patients treated at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) institutions in Kano state alone were either not completely vaccinated or were not vaccinated at all.
According to the statement, this highlights the alarmingly low vaccination rates, especially in the northwest, where coverage ranges from 6% in Sokoto to 10% in Zamfara and 18% in Katsina.
In the North-East, the situation is equally concerning, with only 15% of diphtheria patients treated at the MSF facility in Gwange Paediatric Hospital in Maiduguri being fully vaccinated. As a point of reference, the national average is 36%.
The statement revealed that to combat this outbreak, a vaccination campaign has been launched through a joint effort by the authorities, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and UNICEF. This campaign will be conducted in three phases across 14 states: Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, FCT, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Lagos, Nasarawa, Osun, Plateau, and Zamfara.
MSF has been actively responding to the diphtheria outbreak since early 2023. In Kano, we’re supporting two diphtheria treatment centers with a total capacity of 146 beds. Our medical teams are implementing a decentralised strategy in collaboration with local authorities, extending support to various hospitals and health facilities across different local government areas. “Simultaneously, we’re conducting health promotion activities to raise awareness among the population,” the statement read.
It stated that: “The outbreak is not confined to Kano. In Maiduguri, Borno state, we’ve expanded our efforts by establishing a 20-bed diphtheria treatment clinic at the pediatric hospital in Gwange and have already treated 448 patients. Similarly, in Bauchi state, a 20-bed diphtheria treatment centre was established at Ganjuwa Hospital, where 173 patients have received treatment.
“It’s crucial to emphasise that MSF is working in tandem with the Ministry of Health and other international organisations to push for widespread vaccination campaigns across the affected states.
“The urgency of this situation cannot be overstated. Your coverage and dissemination of accurate information about the outbreak and vaccination campaigns are pivotal in mobilising support and resources to curb this crisis.”
Spain, Health Watch Partner To Improve Healthcare Delivery In Nigeria
The Embassy of Spain in Nigeria is collaborating with Nigeria Health Watch to host a seminar on Women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to improve healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
Women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) play a pivotal role in advancing healthcare. Their contributions drive innovation, research, and breakthroughs, leading to improved diagnostics, treatments, and technologies resulting in more inclusive and effective healthcare solutions.
However, women represent only 34% of the STEM workforce, highlighting the need for increased gender diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
A statement on Wednesday by the Embassy of Spain in Nigeria said the embassy in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch is organising a one-day seminar as part of its scientific diplomacy programme, to bring together outstanding women from Nigeria and Spain to share with a knowledgeable audience their findings in research programmes, their expectations on future projects, and what transformational actions can be implemented to better the health of Nigerians.
According to the statement, the theme of the seminar “Women for Health: Towards the Future of Healthcare in Nigeria through Women in STEM” aims to drive collaboration between women in STEM in Nigeria and Spain toward better health outcomes for Nigerians.
It added that the event aims to engage and empower women actively involved in the healthcare sector, offering them a platform to share their insights, experiences, and expertise.
Speaking of this new area of public diplomacy action for the Spanish Embassy in Abuja, the Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria, Juan Sell, highlights “that Spain is at the forefront of the countries promoting Women in STEM.
Public institutions like the Observatory for Women, Science, and Innovation, as well as Foundations like Women for Africa (which is participating in this program and many others in Nigeria), are stepping up to bring women’s talent to the scientific arena. And when the Embassy reflected on which area would most benefit from a scientific seminar led by women, we couldn’t help thinking of the healthcare sector, where their contributions are immediately palpable to every citizen”.
Encouraging and empowering women in STEM is essential for shaping a future where healthcare is both accessible and equitable. Hence the seminar will foster collaboration and knowledge exchange among critical stakeholders to improve the health sector in Nigeria. With a focus on STEM, the event will bring together critical stakeholders, experts, and policymakers to deliberate on strategies and actionable steps for enhancing STEM collaboration for effective health service delivery.
Africa CDC, Mastercard Foundation Launch Phase 2 Of Saving Lives, Livelihoods Initiative
The Africa CDC and the Mastercard Foundation have entered a new phase of their partnership on the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative in the aftermath of WHO’s declaration of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic as a public health emergency of international concern.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative, a bold and unprecedented $1.5 billion partnership, was launched in June 2021. This innovative and ground-breaking partnership aimed to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, roll out vaccinations, build the vaccine manufacturing workforce for the continent, and strengthen the Africa CDC to ensure long-term health security for Africa.
Unprecedented in scale, speed and inclusion of African organizations, the partnership has contributed to the continent’s current vaccination rate of 53 per cent of the target population, up from just 3 per cent at the start of the initiative.
The partnership has also trained, equipped, and deployed 38,000 health workers, creating a robust frontline in safeguarding public health locally. It has provided job opportunities for 23,000 individuals and integrated over 600 COVID-19 vaccination centres into healthcare systems.
Additionally, this initiative led to the expansion of genomic testing capabilities from seven to 40 laboratories across the continent.
The review of Phase 1 of this initiative, among fifteen implementing partners across 29 countries, conducted by Deloitte, indicates that the vast majority of funds disbursed were used effectively and as intended. Likewise, ongoing monitoring by KPMG has confirmed that partners not only showed strength in programmatic results but also improved the institutional capacity for greater sustainability and institutional resilience.
“Our Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative with the Mastercard Foundation has shown the power of respectful and action-oriented partnerships rooted in collaboration, coordination, and systems strengthening. The experience and learnings from Phase I will enable us to move with greater speed and scale to deliver with accelerated impact to our member states” said Dr. Jean Kaseya, Director General of the Africa CDC.
In its second phase, the partnership will expand its scope and scale, focusing on completing the vaccination of healthcare workers and vulnerable groups, building a robust workforce of community health workers, ensuring pandemic preparedness by bolstering national public health institutions, laboratory capacities, data access and quality, local manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and continuing strengthening of Africa CDC.
Africa CDC and Mastercard Foundation launch phase 2 of the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative to strengthen Africa’s public health systems.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative stands out as a testament to the power of African-led health solutions. As it progresses to its next phase, partnerships will continue to play a crucial role in shaping a New Public Health Order for Africa. Africa CDC and the Mastercard Foundation remain committed to improving the health and well-being of all Africans.
Free Medical Outreach: Hon. Ogene Targets 1,500 Patients In Ogbaru
By Chuks Eke
Hon. Adam Victor Ogene, member representing Ogbaru constituency in the House of Representatives and Chairman of, the House Committee on Renewable Energy has targeted over 1,500 patients for free medical treatments in this year’s 2-day medical outreach for members of his constituency.
Medical consultant in charge of the outreach, Tunde Ojo who disclosed this yesterday at Central School Field, Odekpe, the venue of the free medical testing and counseling, said the constituents were trooping out in their large numbers to take advantage of the free nature of the exercise to check their health status.
Meantime hundreds of residents of the federal constituency have eulogised Hon. Ogene for providing them free medical services.
The beneficiaries who cut across natives and non-natives of the constituency, sang praises of Hon. Ogene at the Central School, Odekpe where various medical experts carry out tests on them for various ailments including malaria, HIV, diabetes, BP, typhoid, hypertension, cholera and various eye problems and drugs given to them free.
The two-day free medical outreach and HIV Awareness free medical screening and accessories are facilitated by. Ogene is being organized by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA in partnership with Niphemy Solutions Limited.
The co-ordinating medical services, Dr. Umeoranefo Isaiah praised Hon. Ogene for facilitating the medical services stating that the best service any leader who loves his people would provide them is sound health.
“When Hon. Afam Ogene called me, he pleaded with me to coordinate these free medical services to make sure that the people received the best medical services.
“I see Hon. Ogene as a leader who is passionate about his people and humanity; he wants to give back to his people for reposing confidence in him by voting him to represent them at the National Assembly.
Dr. Isaiah stated that the most common ailment among the people from the diagnosis is malaria, typhoid, eye problems, especially eye blurring which according to him is a sign of one having diabetic complications; cataracts, etc.
All the medical services which included screening for various ailments, provision of drugs, and medicated eyeglasses were given to the beneficiaries free.
Some of the beneficiaries including Mrs. Felicia Adebisi, Rev. Sister Chinelo Umenyi, Mrs Chinwendu Oduma, Mr. Igwe Gabriel Emmanuel, Prince Stanley Ezike, Mr. Uche Nwakolobi among others prayed to God to reward Hon Ogene with sound health and re-election.
Mrs. Adebisi who was screened over eye challenges and given medical eyeglasses praised Hon. Ogene for coming to her aid and prayed to God to reward him with sound health.
He stated that Hon. Ogene had demonstrated unprecedented love to the people in the Constituency since he was inaugurated in the National Assembly saying ‘Hon. Afam Ogene is the person who made it possible for us to be passing on the road to our house”.
“We know him as a lover of the people and God will reward him with a second term because he is a good man.
“I am not from Ogbaru but I live in Ogbaru. Hon. Ogene does not discriminate”.
Rev. Sister Omenyi stated that many people have been dying in Ogbaru because of a lack of proper medical services.
“I was screened over so many health issues including malaria, diabetes, BP, typhoid, sugar, HIV but the major problem I received treatment for is eye problem”, Rev Sister Omenyi stated.
She praised Hon. Ogene for coming and showing love for the people.
Hon. Chinedu Uwollo, a legislative aide to Hon. Ogene said that the free medical services were a deliberate program by his boss aimed at delivering quality health services to stem the rate of avoidable deaths among the people.
He stated that the medical outreach would be extended to other communities in the future saying that the two-day medical services were targeted at the people in smaller areas in the Constituency.