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Kogi: Panic in Ibaji as Lassa Fever claims 20 lives

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By Friday Idachaba

Communities in Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State are now living in palpable fear as a result of outbreak of Lassa Fever that has claimed 20 lives leaving many in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Idumabo Irrua, Edo State.

Our Correspondent gathered that Aya and neighbouring communities of the local government in early March, 2022 started witnessing mysterious deaths of rice farmers and other members but could not ascertain cause of death.

A source in the community said that the disease started with two persons in early March, rose to three and then, four, adding that the they were alarmed and had to cry out when several others began to manifest similar symptoms as those who died.

Former Chairman, Ibaji Local Government Council and one time member, Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. David Inah Ogwu,
who is also an indigene of the area said the epidemic was real adding that many had died before the intervention of government.

Ogwu said the epidemic started with about four persons who fell ill and died mysteriously with more and more persons manifesting similar symptoms and getting worse in the last three weeks and had to be taken to Irrua.

On the choice of Irrua, Ogwu said the fastest access to quality diagnosis and treatment was Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital on Kilometre 87, Benin-Auchi road as Ibaji local government lack medical facilities as a result of its peculiar terrain.

He said it was easier for the people in those communities to “just cross the river, get to Uromi and from there to Irrua for their treatment.

“Out of the set of 22 persons that went there nine were confirmed to have the Lassa Fever. Two were treated and discharged and seven are still there receiving treatment. However those who died with full symptoms and confirmed are also nine.

“So far we can say that the casualty figure is about 20. Cumulatively or speculatively 20 have died. We are saying speculatively because some others died with the symptoms but nobody can say specifically since they were not tested.

“However, we are lucky and happy that the rainy season is here because cases of lassa fever are rampant during dry season and very common within the rice producing areas as rats come to feed on the rice and chaff they leave on the ground.

“In the process, the rats urinate on harvested rice, cassava and other food materials in the farms. So, the transmission of Lassa Fever in those areas is easy.

“The good news is that the state government has waded in but the incidence is more serious than what they are reporting and the communities themselves are already sensitising their members.

“A lot of sensitisation activities are already going on to maintain good hygiene, burn the bushes around to prevent rats from accessing their food and adequate protection of food stuff”, he said..

Meanwhile, Kogi State Government through Abu Jibril Okikiri, Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor on health matters, confirmed three reported cases.

Okikiri, while reacting to the reported outbreak of lassa fever in the council area of the State said the affected persons were already receiving treatment at Irrua
Specialist teaching Hospital in Edo State.

He noted that the state epidemiological unit in collaboration with the State ministry of health had taken a proactive step to prevent escalation of the disease in the Local Government.

“As at today, case of lassa fever record for Ibaji LGA that are currently on care at Irrua specialist teaching hospital are just three. However, it is an outbreak because it is a notifiable disease”, he said. (Ends)

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World kidney Day: Foundation off-sets medical bills of kidney patients in Niger

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As part of the activities to mark this year’s world kidney day, Nathaniel Kidney Foundation (NKF) in Niger State has off-set the medical bills of a number of kidney patients at the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB)) Specialist Hospital in Minna, the Niger State capital.
The kidney foundation which was established in 2022 by the family of late Nathaniel Matthew, a 24 year old kidney patient who lost the battle to the disease in 2021 has since its establishment reached out to over 50 kidney patients across the state in the area of offsetting their medical bills.
In addition to settling the medical bills of kidney patients, the foundation has used every world kidney day to embark on an enlightenment campaign and sensitization on radio and television against the kidney disease on the causes and possible prevention of the disease.
The Chairman of the foundation, Mr. Gideon Makeri while speaking to newsmen in Minna, shortly after a sensitization walk and a visit to the patients at the IBB Specialist Hospital in Minna, said the foundation was established by the parents of late Nathaniel Matthew to remember the promising young man whose life was cut short due to kidney infection.
This year’s world kidney day which he said coincided with the birthday of the late Nathaniel, was used to reach out to the kidney patients through off-setting their medical bills, stressing that the foundation since inception two years ago, has supported kidney patients in the area of treatment both home and abroad.
According to him, “over 50 kidney patients have so far benefitted from the foundation. The beneficiaries include those that the foundation has supported in the area of treatment at home and abroad and they are today healed of the diseases and are doing well”.
He disclosed that among the beneficiaries this year was a 300 level student of the Ibrahim Babangida University (IBBU) Lapai who is currently placed on dialyses at the hospital, adding that seven kidney patients have their hospital bills settled as part of the activities to mark this year’s world kidney in the state.
While appealing to individuals and organizations to partner with the foundation towards assisting kidney patients in the state, Mr. Makeri decried the rising cost of treatment for kidney disease in the country, adding that to undergo dialyses now, a patient need N30,000 and such patients might be required to undergo the session three times in a week.
“In advanced countries, the government pays for dialyses for the people but in Nigeria the reverse is the case, and because of this, some people stayed back at home and resigned their faith to God. That is why we are appealing to individuals and organizations to come and partner with the foundation to save lives”.
The Chief Medical Director of IBB Specialist Hospital, Dr. Bala Waziri commended the family of the late Nathaniel for sustaining the foundation since it was launched two years ago, saying that the foundation has made a remarkable contributions to lives of kidney patients in the state, and urged them sustain the momentum.
According to him, a lot of people living with the disease in the state and the country in general are going through very difficult times, especially with high cost of the treatment of the disease, pointing out that “the price of drugs and dialyses equipment have gone up beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerian. A lot of patients no longer afford the cost of the treatment.
“Some patients undergo dialyses three times in a week with each costing N30,000. This is aside the normal kidney drugs which the price has equally gone up for more than 100 percent”.
He described the condition of kidney patients in the hospital as very pathetic and therefore appealed to individuals and organizations to come to the aids of those suffering from the disease.

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Media professionals move to curb apathy towards HVP vaccination

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From Daniel Abel Lafia

Media professionals under the auspices of Sustainable Media Advocacy Foundation (SMAF), on Wednesday promised to intensify media campaigns against the negative public perception of Vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus among young girls between the ages of 9 and 14 years in the state through intensive campaigns.

The foundation Chairman, Mr. Kalu Idika made this known at its advocacy meeting organized to review its activities in Lafia.

According to the SMAF Chairman, the objective of the organization is to promote media engagement for sustainable development.

“We are available to partner with any group to create every necessary awareness for people at the grassroots level.

“We are registered professionals ready to partner with any interested organization to sensitize, promote, and reach out to the nooks and crannies of the state in any field of endeavor.

The chairman, however, recalled that the foundation had undergone several trainings and have also engaged in sensitization in the area of safe sex among adolescence, maternal mortality in partnership with local and international Non Governmental Organizations, (NGOs).

Mr. Kalu noted that the foundation is currently partnering with the National Primary Health Development Agency, (NAPHDA), to ensure girls between ages 6-14 receive vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus, HPV launched by Governor Abdullahi Sule.

Kalu, however, stated that the Foundation has undertaken many activities in the past as well adding that they enjoyed technical support from International organizations and Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NAPHDA),

Mr. Ishaya Amegwa, who represented the state’s health educator, commended the foundation in ensuring adequate awareness against the myth and misconceptions about the vaccine.

With the help of the media engagement, more people are coming out even as parents are bringing their girls within the age bracket to receive the vaccine.

‘The media came to our assistance and created the necessary awareness that we needed at that time to encourage the young girls to avail themselves for the vaccination.

In a remark, the Research Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Support Lead of The Challenge Initiative, Taco, Oluwafemi Timothy Rotimi, commended SMAF for the collaboration commencement and implementation of its programme in the state.

Rotimi also noted that the Foundation had reached out to various communities and the public through its media platforms in order to communicate the positive outcome impacted on the wellbeing of the people of the state.

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Malnutrition: USAID doles out RUFT worth 3.5 million Dollars to Nigeria

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The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated 60,000 cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUFT) to Bauchi, Kebbi, and Sokoto States to mitigate severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria.

USAID in a press statement made available to journalists after the official handover of the RUFT in Abuja on Thursday, said the approach became necessary as millions of Nigerian children are being affected by malnutrition.

The agency stated that the approach is in collaboration with the Nigerian government, to strengthen local RUTF manufacturing, as well as incorporate RUTF into state health systems such as health insurance, drug revolving funds, and health budgets.

The statement reads in part, “The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), donated over 60,000 cartons of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)-valued at $3.5 million to the governors of Bauchi, Kebbi, and Sokoto states in Nigeria. The handover is part of USAID’s bid to expand access to treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

“In Nigeria, severe acute malnutrition remains a significant public health concern, affecting 3.6 million children. With challenges of food insecurity, limited access to quality healthcare, and inadequate nutrition interventions, multisectoral collaboration and innovation is needed. Expanding sustainable local access to affordable, life-saving nutrition commodities is essential to address severe malnutrition in Nigerian children.”

The agency added that the approach also  improves the quality of groundnut inputs for manufacturing RUTF, to strengthen the quality of nutrition health services and to integrate humanitarian nutrition services more sustainably.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, USAID Mission Director, Melissa Jones said, “Reducing malnutrition is a critical component of improving health, education, and inclusive economic development.

“We commend Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health for including RUTF and other nutrition commodities in the list of essential medicines. Doing so allows this life-saving essential food to be procured and made available at all health facilities.”

Bauchi State Deputy Governor, Hon. Mohammed Auwal Jatau, commended USAID for its interventions in Bauchi.

Jatau gave the indication while receiving 17,500 cartons of RUTF donated by the USAID to the Bauchi State government.

The Deputy Governor said to reciprocate  the gesture, the administration of Governor Bala Mohammed would continue to fulfil the obligations of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU.

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