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MALARIA: Makinde Flags-Off Distribution Of 5m Insecticide-Treated Nets Across 33 LGs

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Makinde

…. says govt ‘ll continue to deliver affordable, qualitative healthcare for residents
… ‘We’ll restore Oyo as Mecca of Health care services’

 

Oyo State Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, on Monday, kick-started the distribution of five Million insecticide-treated nets to people across the 33 local governments of the state.

 

 

He also explained that his administration will continue to deliver accessible, affordable, and qualitative healthcare for all indigines and residents of the state, adding that his administration is committed to improving access to health care delivery by providing functional primary health care centre in each of the 351 electoral wards of the state.

 

 

Makinde, who was represented at the eve.t by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Hon. Abdul-mojeed Mogbonjubola, said that the distribution process of the nets will increase awareness of communities on the appropriate knowledge, attitude and skills in preventing malaria caused by mosquito bites.

 

 

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the  governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as declaring at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, venue of the event  that the state will equally improve the health of mothers and children by reducing morbidity and mortality across communities.

 

He said: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand here today to flag off the distribution of five million insecticide-treated nets that will be distributed across all the 33 Local Government Areas of the State. My presence at this occasion underscores the importance this administration has for the health and well-being of the people of the state.

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“Malaria is still a public health challenge in Nigeria and Oyo State. It seriously challenges the health care needs of women and children in our communities, especially at the grassroots. This net distribution process is expected to increase awareness of communities on the appropriate knowledge, attitude and skills in preventing malaria caused by mosquito bites. This will further improve the health of mothers and children by reducing morbidity and mortality across communities.”

 

 

He assured that his administration will continue to provide accessible, affordable and qualitative healthcare for all, especially children and women, saying that “we cannot fold our arms and bury our heads in the sand without acknowledging the sheer magnitude of weak health systems has thrust on the public.

 

 

“It is for this reason that the state deemed it necessary to put in place different health intervention which is free and assessable to the grassroots. Such intervention includes improving access to health care delivery by providing one primary health care centre per ward, improving human resources for health and providing community health insurance services Also, free education is provided by our College of Nursing and Midwifery,” he added.

 

 

The governor emphasized that his administration, in a bid to ensure that health services in the state are evidence-based, community data capturing is now electronic to ensure all grassroots households are captured and have access to health care services.

 

 

While explaining that distribution of the nets will prevent malaria, reduce the burden of malaria on the economy of the state and health care systems, he reassured that the state will intensify efforts in improving the healthcare-seeking behavior of the populace and give the right message and information needed on the use of insecticide-treated nets.

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He added:
“The focus of the state government in health care service delivery is in partnership for sustainability. It is in this wise, that this administration will continue to reach out to development partners, well-meaning organizations and notable individuals within and outside the country for partnership and collaboration to implement programmes and projects that will improve the health status of the people.

 

 

“In attaining this goal, I am pleased to state here that the Oyo State Ministry of Health, Health Insurance Agency and the State Primary Health Care Board, in collaboration with our colleges are working to ensure universal health coverage at a cost-effective and sustainable way.”

 

 

He thanked the institutions that partnered with the state including USAID, PMI, GHSC-PSM, & Break Through Action-Nigeria,  for collaborating and supporting malaria activities in Oyo State hence making the net distribution possible.

 

 

“This partnership has bought us together today to flag off this round of free net distribution that is conducted every four years, the last round was in 2016. The USAID partners (PMI, GHSC-PSM, & Break Through Action-Nigeria) supporting malaria activities in Oyo State have collaborated with the state to make this net distribution possible.

 

 

“This support is appreciated as it actually goes beyond net distribution to diagnoses and treatment of malaria.”

 

 

“Let me make it clear that it is the goal of this administration to leave a befitting legacy in the area of health care. I recall the days when Ibadan and indeed Oyo State was a Mecca of sorts for health care services. Esteemed guest pacesetters we intend to bring those days back.”

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Speaking earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr. Funmi Salami, said that the government embarked on an advocacy drive in the media through the airing of jingles for the populace to be aware of distribution periods and benefits of making use of insecticide treated  mosquito nets in their households.

 

 

She added that field workers were also engaged for the house-to-house campaign for the distribution of letters to residents, which, according to her, would enable identified people to benefit from the laudable project.

 

 

In her goodwill message, Ag Resident Adviser, USAID, Celeste Carr, admonished health workers in the state to educate pregnant women continually on the benefits they stand to derive in making use of insecticide mosquito nets at all times.

 

 

She noted that her organization pays special attention to the health status of pregnant women and children under the age of five, hence, the need for every household to key into activities that would promote healthy living in the community.

 

 

Carr, thereafter, commended the Oyo State Government for various health initiatives and its dedication to the launch of state-wide distribution of 5million insecticide mosquito nets across the state.

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UBA Foundation Sensitises Staff, Customers on Mental Health Awareness, offers Therapies, Creative Opportunities, Giveaways

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In line with its commitment towards giving back and impacting lives, UBA Foundation – the corporate social responsibility arm of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc – has kicked-off a week-long series of activities aimed at promoting mental health awareness for staff and customers starting with a panel session on Wellness at the Workplace.

Whilst studies revealed that over 19% of adults struggle with their mental health every year, a majority of those affected are reluctant to speak-out and seek help for fear of stigmatisation, UBA Foundation, through the panel discussion, sought to address the challenges that individuals are facing and how it has now become important to create consciousness and prioritise the general well-being of employees and clients.

UBA’s Group Managing Director, Kennedy Uzoka, delivered a good will message at the event emphasising the importance of wellness and mental health. He stressed the need for more organisations to ensure that the mental health of their staff and families are taken more seriously.

He said, “UBA has always engaged in a lot of ground-breaking initiatives and the issue of mental health is important to us. We have found that people do not want to talk about mental health because they think it is bad, but the truth is that you can only get good productive people when challenges like these are addressed and I am so happy that this has commenced here. “

The panel was moderated by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA Foundation, Bola Atta, who spoke about UBA’s goal to remain the best place to work. She noted that the bank is addressing these issues and championing the narrative that says that mental health issues shouldn’t be swept under the carpet.

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 “We want to create a workplace environment where people feel comfortable and encouraged to seek help when necessary, so that they can give the best of themselves in their respective roles. We hope to stomp out the stigma that keeps people suffering in silence and bridge the gap between mental health inclusivity, support and recovery in Africa,” Atta who is also UBA’s Group Head Corporate Communications, explained.

The panellists, UBA’s Group Head, Human Resources, Patricia Aderibigbe, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, BTH Therapy, Chris Abojei, Co-founder  Africa’s Health Matters Foundation, Vanessa  Adebayo and Angel Yinkore all agreed that wellness, especially at the workplace, has become a front burning issue and should be well addressed.

Atta announced the partnership with UBA Foundation and Inside Out as part of the weeklong activities to shine some light on mental health. Inside Out  aims at teaching youths to channel their feelings through art expression and photography. She added that staff members would be able to benefit from free therapy sessions from BHT Therapy and many wellness giveaways such as spa and fitness vouchers.

Another major highlight of the week will be an intimate discussion with the Founder, Genevieve Magazine, Betty Irabor, on Thursday, November 11th, where she will share insights around her personal journey and the realities of balancing life, family, and mental health.

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Merck Asks US FDA To Authorize Promising Anti-COVID Pill

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Merck

Drugmaker Merck asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its pill against COVID-19 in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world’s arsenal against the pandemic.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

By MATTHEW PERRONE

 

AP

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Pfizer Asks US To Allow COVID Shots For Kids Ages 5 to 11

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Pfizer

Pfizer asked the U.S. government Thursday to allow use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 — and if regulators agree, shots could begin within a matter of weeks.

 

 

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.

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“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.

 

 

AP

Emma H. Tobin 

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