Health news out of Nigeria…some positive signals in the air


BBC – Nigeria’s government says it has begun legal action against three leading international cigarette companies. Surprisingly I have not found this picked up by any of the local papers? Don’t ask me why….Details here

Guardian – In addition to the above, a policy on Non-Communicable Disease is under consideration by the FG and Lagos State government intends to establish a state cardiac centre through public-private partnership which would be a landmark step in promoting heart care in Nigeria…Some of this seems to be driven driven by colleagues in the Nigerian Heart Foundation. Details here

Guardian – The Federal Government has declared that it would soon start offering free medical health services to pregnant women and children under the age of five years.
Sounds great! …but the questions are…what is free?, the consultation?, the drugs? the admission if required? the surgery? what quality of care will this include? How soon is soon?. The Guardian’s editorial rightly concludes by saying The Federal Ministry of Health may mean well but beyond the focus on pregnant women and children, it must come up with a blueprint for a result-oriented, integrated national healthcare plan that is driven by the goals of efficiency, quality and ownership. Details here

Thisday – Minister of Health, Professor Adenike Grange, restated Nigeria’s commitment towards eradicating polio by next year. She said the prospects of achieving the 2008 target on polio were bright, as the country for the first time since 2002, recorded a decline of 80 per cent in the number of children affected with wild polio virus between January and August 2007, compared to the same period in 2006. Grange, who spoke at a ministerial briefing on the progress recorded on immunisation in Nigeria….etc etc etc OK…progress is being made, but I would not be as optimistic until I see a consistent decline…but we all need to continue to encourage those working hard on this. What I missed from this report was any mention of “routine immunisation!” Details here

Thisday – At least one million children born in Nigeria die before their fifth birthday, with most of these deaths occurring in the Northern states. The number of women who die due to pregnancy and related causes is also alarmingly high, with a disproportionate percentage of the maternal deaths occurring in the North. Finally someone is paying attention to where to where the need is most… Details here

Thisday – Senate Committee on Education yesterday faulted the Ministry of Education over expenditure of N220 million on HIV/AIDS sensitisation programme. Emordi said “there are many schools in Nigeria without desks and chairs which such huge money spent on HIV/AIDS sensitisation in the past two years could have adequately assisted.” She thus demanded for a breakdown of the expenditure. While as public health professionals we would theoretically happy that such huge funds are spent on HIV/AIDS…but we also know why it is being “spent” on areas like “advocacy” and “sensitisation”…try accounting for that!!! 🙂 Spot on Emordi! Details here

Vanguard – Anambra State Association, ASA-USA, a non-profit, non-partisan Association with the main purpose of moving Anambra State forward Politically, Educationally, Socio-Economically and also to tackle the basic Healthcare issues in the State plan to set up an Ultra Modern Hospital in the State, which will provide for continuity of care after their Annual Medical Mission has come and gone. Details here

Vanguard – THE Federal Government in collaboration with the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and Unilever Nigeria Plc, have launched a Hand Wash Campaign to promote personal hygiene among pupils in 222 primary schools across the country at the cost of N78.6 million. HOPE THEY ARE PROVIDING WATER TOO! Details here

Have a good weekend

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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