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Lagos Calls for Caution as COVID-19 Fourth Wave Ends

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UK COVID-19 Variant

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Lagos State Government has announced the end of the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the state following the consistent decrease in cases over a period of time.

The state’s Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi disclosed this through his verified Twitter account @ProfAkinolaAbayomi over the weekend, while giving the state’s COVID-19 update for the week ended January 20.

The state had on December 7 announced the beginning of the fourth wave as the daily infection figure from the virus spiked.

Prof. Abayomi said that there was a reduction in positivity rates of COVID-19 infection from 29.3 per cent recorded on December 21, to 1.9 per cent as of January 20.

According to him, bed capacity utilisation now stands at two per cent, and the fatality rate stands at 0.71 per cent, which indicated that the COVID-19 fourth wave has ended.

The Commissioner said that 46 new infections were confirmed on the reported date, increasing the number of COVID-19 infections in the state to 98,284.

He noted that 1,023,203 sample tests had been conducted since the inception of the pandemic in the state.

Mr Abayomi advised residents to get vaccinated and continue to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions to further reduce the spread of the virus.

In another interview with Channels Television, he confirmed the result saying, “We are now out of the fourth wave, we don’t know what will happen next.

“But we want to be prepared and the State Governor has said that we need to hit certain targets this year, so we are going to go back to the drawing board because there’s a little bit of vaccine hesitancy in Lagos.

“We really need to look at how to encourage Lagosians to accommodate taking these vaccines. We know that vaccines are effective in terms of reducing your vulnerability to severe illness from Covid.

“It doesn’t so much protect you from Covid but it protects you from getting extremely unwell or even dying and that’s exactly what we want in Lagos: we don’t want people to get sick and die. You can catch a cold or Covid, but we want you to recover.

“In this fourth wave, most people were managed at home, because the Omicron variant didn’t seem to affect the lungs as badly as the Delta variant.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Health

Stanbic IBTC Pushes for Innovative Financing Solutions for Healthcare

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innovative financing solutions

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.

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Health

Pharmaceutical Company Introduces Affordable Blood Tonic for Nigerians

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Fejeron Blood Tonic

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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Health

Agusto Foresees More Foreign Investments in Nigeria’s Healthcare System

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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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