By Dipo Olowookere
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Wednesday signed the Environmental Management and Protection Bill into law, expressing optimism that it would go a long way to secure the public health safety of residents most especially children.
Governor Ambode, who spoke shortly after signing the Environmental Management and Protection Bill into law at the Lagos House in Ikeja, said that his administration, on assumption of office, saw the need to address the gap in the sanitation of residents and the state.
He said it was disconcerting to see that dysentery and other pandemics were on the rise with serious implications for the state’s public health expenditure, adding that the government thought it wise to tackle the root cause of the problem rather than spend excessively on treating preventable hygiene based diseases.
Governor Ambode added that aside the fact that the initiative would create at least 27,500 jobs, the Community Sanitation Workers (CSW) who would be engaged will receive several incentives including tax reliefs and healthcare, life, injury and accident insurance benefits all aimed at tackling the issue of poverty and the chronic unemployment crisis.
According to him, the major motivating factor outside of the financial burden was the fact that children were the greatest casualties of the poor management of the environment, hence the need for the initiative.
Alluding to the fact that majority of the state’s environmental laws were outdated and could no longer apply to the present-day conditions, the Governor said the government immediately swung into action and began efforts to develop a model in which sanitation is paramount.
“While charting a new direction, it became quickly apparent that government on its own would struggle to bear the cost of the wholesale changes while meeting its other obligations across other equally vital sectors.
“It was necessary to make investor friendly laws that attract the type of capital we need to further our development agenda and achieve our sustainability goals. We believe it is worth the risk involved in changing the legislative framework if the reward is a healthier and cleaner Lagos for our children – our future,” the Governor said.
Governor Ambode said that under the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, the commercial sector would be serviced by licensed waste management operators while an environmental consortium will provide waste collection, processing and disposal services for residential properties through a long term concession.
He said over the concession period, the consortium would be deploying a large multi-dimensional fleet of over 20 landfill and transfer loading station management vehicles, 590 new rear-end loader compactors, 140 Operational vehicles and close to 900,000 new bins to all be electronically tracked and monitored by our new unit PUMAU (Public Utilities Monitoring Assurance Unit) under the Ministry of Environment.
“Everyone from the cart pushers to the existing PSPs and casual workers at the dumpsites have been considered in the plan and will be accommodated within the new environmental regime.
“In addition, we are extending opportunities to everyone along the value chain by working to create vocational training in the related areas through LASTVEB,” he said.
Giving details of the law, the Governor said that sanitation will now be a daily affair in the state while the CSWs would be deployed in every ward across the State.
He also said that an annual Public Utility Levy (PUL) would be introduced to replace all service fees previously paid to the Waste Management authorities, adding that the public was carried along in determining the rates, which according to him is relatively low.
“The PUL will be a major contribution to the state’s ongoing efforts to address severe challenges that are unique to Lagos because of rising urbanization. The money will be held in the Environmental Trust Fund and managed meticulously by a Board of SEC regulated trustees.
“The trustees are under strict obligations to the people of Lagos and will be accountable to the people for every naira we spend in line with our overall environmental agenda. Compliance is the key. The burden of the cost of providing these services will remain low if everyone does their part and pays their PUL.
“With the newly positioned LASECORPS, we will work within the community to enforce the new laws. The State will have a zero-tolerance policy for offenders because simply put, disregarding payment of your PUL or flouting the new regulations ultimately promotes activities that lead to the loss of lives,” Governor Ambode said.
Earlier, the Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on the Environment, Mr Saka Fafunmi, commended the Governor for his passion to evolve the environmental laws in the State, saying that the Law would ensure a cleaner, safer and more prosperous Lagos.
Recently, the Governor cancelled the monthly environmental sanitation exercise normally held on the last Saturday of the month.
mPharma Launches Programme to Tackle Hypertension in Nigeria, Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
mPharma has launched the Hypertension Test and Treat programme (HTT) to support the prevention and control of hypertension in Africa.
Heart disease is one of the greatest causes of premature death in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the prevalence of hypertension is highest in the African region, with about 46 per cent of adults aged 25 years and older being hypertensive compared to 35 per cent in the Americas and other HIC and 40 per cent elsewhere in the world.
The HTT programme will be delivered through the company’s network of mutti pharmacies in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Zambia, with plans to expand the service to other countries.
The programme would aim to identify different classes of people, those at risk for hypertension, those who are about to develop hypertension and those who are already living with hypertension. The objectives would be to prevent, detect, and control the conditions.
Speaking at the launch of the programme in Nigeria, Dr Olagoke Ewedairo, VP of Health Services at mPharma, said the hypertension test and treat program is a service which aims to promote the early detection of hypertension, prompt treatment and prevention of complications such as hypertensive heart disease, kidney failure etc. which are on the rise despite being preventable.
The service includes a private consultation to review your medical history and current medications, determine your cardiovascular risk level and provide tailored lifestyle modification strategies to improve your health and wellbeing. In addition, a range of diagnostic tests would be available; all of these are to ensure you have a healthy heart.
On his part, Dr Hafeez Oluwa, the Global Primary Care Manager at mPharma, said that the company is taking a different approach to dealing with hypertension, going further than just helping people who have already developed the condition to identify people who are at risk of hypertension and collaborating with them to prevent the development of the disease.
“The passive approach has just led to numbers rising exponentially. We need to think more about primary prevention as we deal with hypertension with health promotion. If we start implementing lifestyle changes at an earlier stage, we may prevent more diagnoses of hypertension”, he said, speaking at the launch.
The programme has been rolled out in stages, the first stage was using the ongoing diabetes programme at mPharma, Diabetes Test and Treat, which has helped over 3000 patients achieve optimal glycemic control, become more aware of their risk of developing hypertension and helping those who have been diagnosed be more adherent to their medication.
The second stage was identifying people living with hypertension around our communities and deploying health education and coaching to help them control their blood pressure. Mr Dominic, a beneficiary of the program, said he was happy with the initiative as he got more insights into some of the things he had been doing that were preventing him from getting better. He wanted mPharma to do more to make sure many more people like him have access to this initiative.
The programme, in its final form, will include more people in its target audience, including people identified as being at risk of hypertension. It would be available in Kenya as a subscription service for purchase through mPharma mutti pharmacies and in subsequent months in other countries. It aligns with mPharma’s vision of providing accessible and affordable care to patients in vulnerable communities across Africa by transforming its mutti pharmacies into primary healthcare centres.
The hypertension test and treat service launches at select mutti pharmacies in Nigeria are effective today. Patients can visit any of mPharma mutti pharmacies to check their blood pressure for free and discuss their eligibility program.
mPharma plans to expand the hypertension test and treatment service to all 500 locations of mutti branches over time as the company’s ultimate aim is to put every African in good health and to contribute their quota to making universal healthcare coverage available to all.
Stanbic IBTC Pushes for Innovative Financing Solutions for Healthcare
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The healthcare industry in Nigeria can compete with others in advanced countries if stakeholders work together to create innovative financing solutions.
The Head of Specialised Sectors at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Ms Jane Ike-Okoli, said the market is big enough to attract more investors.
A few days ago, Business Post reported that a global research firm, Agusto & Co, projected that an increased foreign interest would drive growth in Nigeria’s healthcare system, especially through the acquisition and establishment of health facilities in the medium term, helping to bridge the healthcare infrastructure deficit estimated at $82 million.
For Ms Ike-Okoli, this goal can be achieved as Nigeria is Africa’s largest healthcare market. She said the country only needs an effective collaboration among stakeholders to boost the sector.
Speaking during the panel session at the Medic West Africa Conference, Ms Ike-Okoli argued that effective collaboration between the financial industry and healthcare organisations was key to advancing Nigeria’s health sector.
She also mentioned that the sector is yearning for innovative financing solutions to address the nuances of lending to healthcare businesses.
“Nigeria is Africa’s largest healthcare market, and despite this, we have inadequate healthcare infrastructure, which gives rise to weakened health systems.
“It is in response to this that Stanbic IBTC has decided to partner with key players in the healthcare sector to improve access to healthcare finance and provide robust yet flexible funding options for healthcare businesses and providers.
“Our healthcare solutions are tailor-made for players in the sector who need working capital to expand healthcare operations, acquire medical equipment, facilitate medical research, and grow their healthcare businesses.
“One of such solutions is the recently launched unsecured short-term loan with a 12-month tenor, which is aimed at directly supporting providers with funds to improve their offerings and, by extension, grow the healthcare sector in Nigeria,” she stated.
Other panellists featured at the event included Dr Folabi Ogunlesi, Managing Partner Vesta Healthcare; Dr Idorenyin Oladiran, Medical Consultant, Human Resources, MTN Nigeria; Dr Leke Oshunniyi, CEO, Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN) and Professor Akin Abayomi, Commissioner of Health, Lagos State.
Pharmaceutical Company Introduces Affordable Blood Tonic for Nigerians
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The harsh economy in Nigeria caused by high prices of items amid low purchasing power has made it difficult for Nigerians to afford the basic needs of life, especially drugs to replenish their body system.
As a result, the rate of suicide triggered by depression and others has increased. Also, the number of people falling sick in the country has skyrocketed.
But things may soon change for the better as a pharmaceutical firm, Sterling Biopharma Limited, has introduced a new product called Fejeron Blood Tonic into the Nigerian market to support the country’s about 66.8 per cent economically active population.
Fejeron Blood Tonic contains iron, Vitamin B12 and folic acid, all essential components that help to facilitate adequate blood supply and replenishment to the body with vital vitamins while enabling a strong immune system.
“Fejeron Blood Tonic is the latest proof of our commitment to this mission. Despite its premium quality, Fejeron, at the moment, is one of the most affordable blood tonics you will find in the Nigerian pharma market, and this is deliberate. All Nigerians should be able to take care of themselves,” the chief operating officer of Sterling Biopharma, Mr Adebayo Adepoju, said at the unveiling of the product in Lagos on Thursday, September 15.
He said the drug was formulated due to the nature of stress and fatigue that Nigerians encounter daily, which requires that their physical and mental well-being is well supported to function at its best.
“At Sterling Biopharma, we believe that everyone deserves to be able to buy simple prescription drugs without breaking the bank. This is why from the moment we entered the Nigerian market. With our wide range of products, we have made our intentions clear, and that is to make quality pharmaceutical products affordable for all Nigerians,” he stated.
Since its market introduction, Fejeron has quickly become one of the well-sought-after new brands in the pharmaceutical category. The Product Manager, Olumide Ogunremi, linked the warm embrace of the product to its quality and appeal to the needs of Nigerians.
“The quick acceptance of Fejeron Blood Tonic in Nigeria is not surprising. The enthusiasm to try out the product and the return purchases across the biggest pharmaceutical markets in Nigeria validate the quality of the product and timeliness of its emergence.”
On what makes Fejeron Blood Tonic unique, Mr Ogunremi promised that both the young and old would love the taste of Fejeron, adding that extra effort has also been put into ensuring that the product has fewer chances of causing common side effects like metallic after-taste, staining of the teeth; constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and others.
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