Random health stories in the media out of Nigeria


The quality of health reporting in Nigeria continues to leave so much to be desired. It got so bad this January that when The Guardian could not decide if the outreak in Zaria was measles or rubella, they called it “rubella measles“.
A few days later, The Guardian, arguably Nigeria’s most respected daily ran with the headline Rubella, another deadly disease on the prowl It claimed that … no fewer than 600 people are feared to have died of the deadly Rubella measles in various parts of the country even as health officials battle to contain the scourge. If true, this would be extremely surprising as rubella is a lot less contagious than measles and less severe in the illness it causes and deaths associated with it. The major risk associated with rubella is that if a pregnant woman is infected with rubella there is a risk of damage to the unborn child. Is this risk mentioned in the article?? Guess!.

However we are told that

Consultant Specialist Grade One, Epidemiology and Health in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Jide Coker, told The Guardian that the ministry, states and the NPHCDA officials are now collaborating to prevent further outbreak of the virus

…so no cause for alarm!

Hospital Refurbishment seems to be the vogue this days….with little said about how to manage and maintain. The Champion reports that in Lagos State the commissioner for health, proudly states that he has spent N5B (40 million dollars) on refurbishing Lagos State University Teaching Hospital! I wonder how much money it takes to build a new one these days in Nigeria! The Punch reported that contrary to a popular belief, the last administration did not refurbish the critical units at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu. Read more on the Ile Ife Prince given the contract to refurbish our teaching hospitals by the Obasanjo administration.

Last week, several newspapers reported a 3-day warning strike by doctors in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. . Early in January, The Guardian reported a strike by doctors in Kogi State…..a few days later Thisday reported it was suspended. You will not want to imagine what happens to all those patients that are in critical situations. What if YOU were brought to the hospital at just that time? When do we get the TERTIARY HOSPITALS COMMISSION promised by the new Minister of Health?

When BBC reported in 2001 that BAT announced to invest $150m in Nigeria building a factory making …what of the Minister of Health? What did he say? internationally-recognised cigarette brands, and developing the country’s tobacco farms, it was welcomed by Nigerian Industry Minister Kola Jamodu as a signal that Nigeria was “on track”…many of us wondered…As reported in our last blog posting …the same government is now taking the companies to court. While it is interesting to note the Governments sudden interest in seeking compensation from the cigarette firms, we only wished they invested a bit themselves in prevention initiatives, i.e. anti smoking campaigns. How do you counter BATs huge resources spent on advertising …using catchy phrases like “EXPERIENCE IT“.


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 (www.epiafric.com), 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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