To accelerate access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians, Alpha Mead Healthcare Management Services, a subsidiary of the Alpha Mead Group will on Wednesday, June 23, launch a state-of-the-art Modular Healthcare Facility (MHF) at the Gbagada General Hospital, Gbagada, Lagos.
“The MHF is a customised, mobility-enhanced, prefabricated portacabin with detachable modules equipped with state-of-the-art clinical and diagnostic equipment that is designed to take quality healthcare services to the doorstep of all Nigerians”, said Femi Akintunde, Group Managing Director, Alpha Mead Group.
Speaking on Wednesday, June 16 at a media interaction ahead of the launch of the MHF, Akintunde, an Engineer, explained that after a successful pilot of the company’s foray into Healthcare at Gbagada General Hospital, and Lagos University Teaching (LUTH), the need to make quality healthcare accessible to more Nigeria became even more pressing.
“So we went back to the drawing board. We noted that some of the issues slowing down the government and private sector programmes in making healthcare accessible for all are; how long it takes to set up a healthcare facility, inadequate amount of healthcare workers, lack of the required equipment and sometimes; even the terrain or location where these healthcare facilities will be constructed”
“To address these issues, we came up with the Modular Healthcare Facility (MHF). The whole idea of the MHF is to aggressively drive the penetration of healthcare facilities in Nigeria by reducing the construction timeline of a healthcare facility to less than 30 days – saving the time lost to design, construction, equipment installation and commissioning of regular brick and mortar healthcare facilities, which sometimes run into years”.
He noted that to address the issue of inadequate medical practitioners, particularly doctors in the rural areas or crisis zones, the MHF was designed to leverage technology to connect patients with medical doctors anywhere through its telemedicine facilities.
According to him, the MHF provides the right healthcare equipment that meets the minimum standard for each class of the healthcare segment – primary, secondary and tertiary and reduces the dependency of the healthcare facility on public utility by running on efficient and clean utility systems such as solar power, bio-digester sewage system, etc.
In his presentation, Kunle Omidiora, Managing Director, Alpha Mead Healthcare & Management Services (AMHS), the subsidiary of Alpha Mead promoting the MHF said the product is coming to bridge the widening gap in access to quality healthcare in Nigeria.
Omidiora commented: “from whatever lens one chooses to view the challenges with the healthcare sector in Nigeria today; whether financial, personnel, equipment, systems or technologies; the biggest challenge with Nigeria’s healthcare sector is that of access to quality healthcare”.
“This challenge is costing our nation a great deal. For example, a USAID report noted that Nigeria shoulders up to 10% of the global disease burden. The report noted further that this situation is caused by lack of access to quality healthcare facilities and workers, particularly in the rural areas”.
He further noted that the challenge can be further put in context when squared against 2019 data from Nigeria Health Facility Register (NHFR).
“According to the report, Nigeria has 40,345 registered hospitals and clinics to serve the 201 million population. This simply implies that one healthcare facility is responsible for an estimated five million Nigerians”, Omidiora explained.
“The problem is even more compounded with data from WHO report revealing that only a quarter of Nigeria’s primary healthcare facilities have more than 25% of the minimum equipment package. One, therefore, does not need to wonder why Nigeria loses over 1 billion dollars to medical tourism, has one of the world highest infant mortality rates, and why prevalence of medical errors in Nigeria is on the rise”.
He explained that this huge gap is what the MHF intends to bridge; noting that the MHF is equipped with Radiology Information System, Picture Archiving Communication System (RISPACS), Enterprise Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Telehealth infrastructure for real-time reporting of investigation and remote consultation.
Merck Asks US FDA To Authorize Promising Anti-COVID Pill
If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration — a decision that could come in a matter of weeks — it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection.
An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on U.S. hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weak health care systems. It would also bolster the two-pronged approach to the pandemic: treatment, by way of medication, and prevention, primarily through vaccinations.
The FDA will scrutinize company data on the safety and effectiveness of the drug, molnupiravir, before rendering a decision.
Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutic said they specifically asked the agency to grant emergency use for adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization. That is roughly the way COVID-19 infusion drugs are used.
“The value here is that it’s a pill so you don’t have to deal with the infusion centers and all the factors around that,” said Dr. Nicholas Kartsonis, a senior vice president with Merck’s infectious disease unit. “I think it’s a very powerful tool to add to the toolbox.”
The company reported earlier this month that the pill cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of COVID-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.
Side effects were similar between patients who got the drug and those in a testing group who received a dummy pill. But Merck has not publicly detailed the types of problems reported, which will be a key part of the FDA’s review.
Top U.S. health officials continue to push vaccinations as the best way to protect against COVID-19.
“It’s much, much better to prevent yourself from getting infected than to have to treat an infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said while discussing Merck’s drug last week.
Still, some 68 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, underscoring the need for effective drugs to control future waves of infection.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, health experts have stressed the need for a convenient pill. The goal is for something similar to Tamiflu, the 20-year-old flu medication that shortens the illness by a day or two and blunts the severity of symptoms like fever, cough and stuffy nose.
Three FDA-authorized antibody drugs have proved highly effective at reducing COVID-19 deaths, but they are expensive, hard to produce and require specialty equipment and health professionals to deliver.
Assuming FDA authorization, the U.S. government has agreed to buy enough of the pills to treat 1.7 million people, at a price of roughly $700 for each course of treatment. That’s less than half the price of the antibody drugs purchased by the U.S. government — over $2,000 per infusion — but still more expensive than many antiviral pills for other conditions.
Merck’s Kartsonis said in an interview that the $700 figure does not represent the final price for the medication.
“We set that price before we had any data, so that’s just one contract,” Kartsonis said. “Obviously we’re going to be responsible about this and make this drug as accessible to as many people around the world as we can.”
Kenilworth, New Jersey-based Merck has said it is in purchase talks with governments around the world and will use a sliding price scale based on each country’s economic means. Also, the company has signed licensing deals with several Indian generic drugmakers to produce low-cost versions of the drug for lower-income countries.
Several other companies, including Pfizer and Roche, are studying similar drugs and are expected to report results in the coming weeks and months. AstraZeneca is also seeking FDA authorization for a long-acting antibody drug intended to provide months of protection for patients who have immune-system disorders and do not adequately respond to vaccination.
Eventually some experts predict various COVID-19 therapies will be prescribed in combination to better protect against the worst effects of the virus.
Pfizer Asks US To Allow COVID Shots For Kids Ages 5 to 11
Many parents and pediatricians are clamoring for protection for children younger than 12, today’s age cutoff for the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. Not only can youngsters sometimes get seriously ill, but keeping them in school can be a challenge with the coronavirus still raging in poorly vaccinated communities.
Pfizer announced in a tweet that it had formally filed its application with the Food and Drug Administration.
Now the FDA will have to decide if there’s enough evidence that the shots are safe and will work for younger children like they do for teens and adults. An independent expert panel will publicly debate the evidence on Oct. 26.
One big change: Pfizer says its research shows the younger kids should get a third of the dose now given to everyone else. After their second dose, the 5- to 11-year-olds developed virus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teens and young adults get from regular-strength shots.
While kids are at lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, COVID-19 does sometimes kill children and cases in youngsters have skyrocketed as the extra-contagious delta variant has swept through the country
“It makes me very happy that I am helping other kids get the vaccine,” said Sebastian Prybol, 8, of Raleigh, North Carolina. He is enrolled in Pfizer’s study at Duke University and doesn’t yet know if he received the vaccine or dummy shots.
“We do want to make sure that it is absolutely safe for them,” said Sebastian’s mother, Britni Prybol. But she said she will be “overjoyed” if the FDA clears the vaccine.
Pfizer studied the lower dose in 2,268 volunteers ages 5 to 11, and has said there were no serious side effects. The study isn’t large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as the heart inflammation that sometimes occurs after the second dose of the regular-strength vaccine, mostly in young men.
If the FDA authorizes emergency use of the kid-sized doses, there’s another hurdle before vaccinations in this age group can begin. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide whether to recommend the shots for youngsters, and the CDC will make a final decision.
To avoid dosing mix-ups, Pfizer is planning to ship vials specially marked for pediatric use containing the lower dose.
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