By Adedapo Adesanya
A Lagos-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), EndoSurvivors International Foundation (ESIF), has announced a series of events to mark Endometriosis awareness month which is held worldwide in March every year – popularly tagged March4Endo by advocates all over the world.
Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found in places such as the ovaries, rectum and fallopian tubes causing pain and/or infertility. It can also be found at extrapelvic sites such as the lungs, diaphragm, intestines and even the brain.
Endometriosis is a debilitating disease that affects between 2-10 per cent of girls/women usually of reproductive age, globally. It is therefore estimated that about 176 million women on earth are living with endometriosis. However, for a disease so prevalent, there is hardly any awareness about it.
Since the foundation’s inception in 2017, EndoSurvivors has held annual symposia to enlighten the public and healthcare providers on endometriosis; its symptoms, diverse yet enigmatic presentations and its impact on sufferers.
Women with endometriosis suffer unimaginable pain, productivity loss, social isolation, relationship strains, infertility and its stigma, anxiety and depression and to tackle this, ESIF has organized awareness outreaches to secondary schools in Lagos having reached over 6,000 adolescent girls with menstrual hygiene and endometriosis awareness lessons, distributed over 4,000 packs of sanitary pads, made donations to orphanages and much more.
March4Endo events this year include an Endo Awareness Day to be held at 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, which we have tagged Cycle/Walk4Endo. Participants will embark on a 3km walk and a 7km cycling in a bid to raise awareness about endometriosis.
ESIF intends to create awareness to up to 2,000 people through the distribution of fliers and one-on-one engagement with Lagosians. There will also be free pelvic ultrasound for 100 women, free consultation, free T-shirts, refreshments, aerobics, dance and counselling for endometriosis patients. The convergence point for the walk is JJT Park, Alausa.
On Thursday, March 24, at 9 a.m., the Foundation will be hosting the 4th Annual Symposium themed The Role of Imaging in Diagnosing Endometriosis which is scheduled to hold in the Main Auditorium of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).
The UK Deputy High Commissioner, Mr Ben Llewellyn-Jones will be the Guest of Honour, the Director-General of NIMR, Professor Babatunde Lawal Salako as the keynote speaker and other distinguished experts in the field of gynaecology, radiology, sonography, nursing and general medicine sharing their profound knowledge on the subject matter whilst gracing the event with their presence.
March4Endo will be rounded off with menstrual hygiene/endometriosis awareness lessons and free distribution of sanitary pads to 500 secondary school girls in Lagos on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.
Endometriosis is a painful condition although some persons may not experience pain, pain is is a common denominator for many suffering from it.
Symptoms of endometriosis include but is not limited to: infertility, painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, pain during urination and bowel movements, pain during sexual intercourse, bloating, fatigue, nausea and chest pain. The symptoms often occur before, during and after periods often causing girls/women to take time off from daily activities including work and school.
There is no known cause for endometriosis however, diagnosis can be made through medical imaging and excision laparoscopy which is done by endometriosis excision specialists.
The average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis is 7 – 10 years. Many girls/women experience a delay in diagnosis for a number of reasons commonly attributed to poor awareness and deficiency in the healthcare systems.
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.
Agusto Foresees More Foreign Investments in Nigeria’s Healthcare System
By Adedapo Adesanya
Global research firm, Agusto & Co, has forecast that an increased foreign interest will drive growth in Nigeria’s healthcare system, especially through the acquisition and establishment of health facilities in the medium term.
Agusto said in a report that these foreign investments would help the country bridge the healthcare infrastructure deficit estimated at $82 million.
According to data, Nigeria is largely underfunded in terms of its health system and, as a result, is faced with a significant infrastructure gap.
The industry is currently challenged by outbound medical tourism, deteriorating medical infrastructure, low government budget allocation, and poor compensation for public healthcare workers, all of which have prompted many skilled medical practitioners to relocate overseas in search of better employment opportunities.
In addition, brain drain is also contributing to this as approximately 2,000 doctors leave the country each year, and at least 266 Nigerian doctors were licensed in the United Kingdom between June and July 2022, according to the National Medical Association (NMA).
Nigeria has also not been playing its part, with the health sector receiving only about 4 per cent (N546.98 billion) and 5 per cent (N724.6 billion) of the total budgetary allocation in Nigeria’s 2021 and 2022 budgets. This undershoots the 15 per cent expected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and African Union (AU).
Agusto noted that the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 saw an increase in diagnostic facilities and, albeit insufficiently, an increase in public investments in the health sector with efforts from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Despite this, there remains more to be done, especially with the country’s large population facing a high burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, resulting in many people constantly seeking treatment.
Foreign investors have found the Nigerian healthcare system to be an attractive investment opportunity, and in 2021, the healthcare industry attracted around $2.3 million in foreign direct investments (FDI).
For instance, in February 2021, Evercare Group, through its emerging market health fund, established Evercare Hospital Lekki, a 165-bed multispecialty tertiary care facility.
Agusto predicts that the industry’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) will reach N480.6 billion by 2022 from N470.5 billion, based on the country’s high birth rate and the spread of communicable diseases as well as other common ailments such as malaria and respiratory tract infection.
It also expects that a lower rate of outbound medical tourism, as a result of the naira’s continued depreciation, will boost the industry’s contribution to GDP in the medium term.
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