By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
With rising cases of Monkeypox, not only in Africa but also in the United States and Europe, the world is now experiencing shivering fears for the next tremendous negative impact similar to Covid-19. It all began the same way, as the first case of Covid-19, and rapidly spread throughout the world. Soon to forget the worldwide border closures, self-isolation and other restrictions.
After documenting more than 7,000 cases in early July, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said about the plans on reconvening a meeting of his organization’s Emergency Committee to critically assess the current state of the monkeypox outbreak in Western countries.
Ghebreyesus’s statement implies directing a special focus, considering the current spread and scale of the monkeypox virus outbreak, in Western countries. According to WHO estimation and description or better still categorization, the western countries are “nonendemic” countries.
In his office, Ghebreyesus calculated that more than 7,000 cases have been confirmed in 60 countries so far, with Europe currently the epicentre of the outbreak. Cases began emerging in Europe and the United States in May. Many of the individuals who contracted the virus had travelled internationally. Monkeypox is endemic in some central and western African countries, but Tedros noted that the pathogen was now also being detected in nonendemic African countries.
“My teams are following the data closely. I plan to reconvene the Emergency Committee July 18 or sooner so they are updated on the current epidemiology and evolution of the outbreak, and implementation of counter measures,” he said, Reuters reported.
In June, the WHO’s Emergency Committee said the monkeypox outbreak did not warrant declaring a global health emergency despite the rapid rise in cases. At the time, the health organization said the situation was “unusual” but did not constitute a global health emergency, despite opposing views expressed by some members of the committee.
Health experts, however, referring to official statements that many out of thoughtlessness, have a wide variety of interests to defend and routinely calculate figures, without dealing with the root cause and place of origin. Until today the root cause and place of origin of Covid-19 still remains a mystery.
The recent outbreak has raised cries of double standards from global health activists, who argue that monkeypox has been an ongoing health issue in some African countries for years but is only now garnering sincere attention as it affects Western nations. More than 70 deaths due to monkeypox have been reported in Africa so far this year, while no deaths directly linked to the virus have been confirmed in nonendemic countries.
The WHO has previously acknowledged that monkeypox has been neglected for several years now. Reports, carefully monitored by this author, indicate that the disease is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have become infected through bites from rodents or small animals. The monkeypox virus does not usually spread easily among people. Most monkeypox patients experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illnesses may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
WHO said it counted 6,027 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox from 59 countries as of the first week of July, an increase of 2,614 cases since its last count that ended June 27. It said three people have now died in connection with the outbreak, all of them in Africa. Most of the cases were reported in Europe and Africa. New cases have also been reported in Ghana and Benin in addition to previously mentioned Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.
Therefore, WHO should not depend on the continuity of mysterious outbreaks, but go to the roots and take the needed actions. It has, appreciable for now, confined its health recommendations to a standard set of hygienic requirements and did not insist on travel and trade restrictions. Beyond that, it has to establish a task force for keeping high surveillance across the Central and West African region and monitor travellers from these regions.
The Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) and the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) have jointly held their first training on Real-Time PCR-based Monkeypox virus (MPXV) testing for 20 African Union Member States in Abuja, Nigeria. It was the first in the series of hands-on training on real-time PCR-based monkeypox virus (MPXV) diagnosis launched and organized in partnership with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in June.
With Covid-19, China has been alleged or suspected as the country of origin. With Monkeypox Nigeria, the most populated West African nation, has come under the spotlight, allegedly as the place of origin of the monkeypox virus, and was detected in several European countries during the past three months. Besides, Central and West African regions, it’s been detected in external countries namely Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, the United States, and Australia.
Stakeholders Form Coalition Against Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products
By Dipo Olowookere
Some critical stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria have come together to form a group aimed at frustrating and subsequently chasing makers of fake and substandard drugs out of business.
The group, known as the Coalition Against Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products (CACPP), already has the support of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the major drug manufacturers in the country, distributors, retailers, and others.
At the unveiling of the coalition in Lagos on Monday, the convener of CACPP, Mr Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, who is also the chief executive of CMC Connect, disclosed that the initiative was borne out of the desire to rid the country of counterfeit drugs and save lives of consumers, who take drugs to get better.
“It is borne out of the desire to take a firmer stand against counterfeit pharmaceutical products in Nigeria through engagement and advocacy, with hope to kick off an intense national advocacy campaign against counterfeit pharmaceutical products,” he stated.
He stated that the group has mapped out strategies to achieve these goals, assuring that the coalition was focused and would not be derailed, no matter what.
According to him, CACPP found out that people consume counterfeit pharmaceutical products due to ignorance, poverty, and illiteracy.
While the West Africa Country Manager of Pfizer, Mr Olayinka Subair, agrees with this point, he stressed that, “Counterfeit medicines don’t cure any disease, rather they put patients’ health at risk because of their contents,” noting that fake drugs “ultimately impede the Nigerian healthcare system as lives are lost and medical conditions worsened due to this cankerworm. It is not an individual’s battle; it requires collective effort.”
“Nigerians need to champion the anti-counterfeit cause, especially as regards healthcare. We need to join hands together because there is no shortcut to health. Due process must be followed to get the best results.
“Unlike commodities, fake drugs are life-threatening. This means patients should only buy prescribed medicines from accredited pharmacies and not quacks or roadside vendors,” he stressed.
Also, the Deputy Director of the Federal Task Force on Counterfeit Substandard Regulated Products Investigation and Enforcement at NAFDAC, Mrs Florence Uba, who represented the acting director-general of the agency, assured the group of the full support of the regulatory agency.
However, she emphasised that NAFDAC would not entertain any favouritism as any fake drug maker caught would be severely dealt with, no matter the connection.
In his presentation, the president of the Nigerian Representatives of Overseas Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (NiroPharm), Mr Femi Soremekun, stated that, “In recent years, the fight against counterfeit pharmaceutical products has taken new dimensions due to the global influx of counterfeiting syndicates, it is like a race against time for pharmaceutical companies – the cost to our collective health and economies is enormous.”
“Over the years, pharmaceutical companies have been perplexed as to how best to nip the challenges in the bud. The challenges are overwhelming owing to the sophistication of the activities of counterfeiters.
“Combating counterfeit pharmaceutical products is a herculean task, one that requires strong collaborations between government agencies and key stakeholders because of the impact,” he added.
It was agreed by the stakeholders present at the event yesterday that to combat the illicit trade of counterfeit pharmaceutical products, there is a strong need for collaboration and must look beyond the surface, which is most times in-ward.
Business Post reports that other organisations which threw their full weight behind CACPP include the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN), the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), and the Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (PWDAN), among others.
Also, a prominent Nigerian actor and filmmaker, Mr Ayo Badmus, has backed the initiative as its brand ambassador.
Stanbic IBTC Gives Better Conditions for Healthcare Loan
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Healthcare practitioners intending to get short-term funding support to expand their operations can now do so with better terms from Stanbic IBTC Bank.
The company, which is a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, introduced a package called Healthcare Short-term Loan, which many stakeholders in the health industry have accessed.
In order to make it easier for practitioners to access the credit facility for an improved healthcare sector in the country, the lender has upgraded its short-term loan solution within the healthcare value chain.
This upgrade ensures a flexible repayment period, with an affordable interest rate and zero collateral to enable sector players to access better financing and achieve optimal service delivery.
The healthcare loan, which now offers a longer tenor of 12 months, affordable interest rate and zero collateral, will foster more investment in the sector and enhance strategic relationships to generate new businesses.
Speaking at the Medic West Africa Conference, the Head of Specialized Sectors at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Ms Jane Ike-Okoli, noted that effective collaboration between financial institutions and healthcare organizations is key to advancing Nigeria’s health sector.
She advised financial institutions to be more intentional about complementing the government’s efforts, saying, “Stanbic IBTC has a comprehensive understanding of the healthcare industry and its intricacies. This knowledge inspires us to continue to design innovative yet affordable solutions to boost healthcare businesses across the country.”
According to her, despite Nigeria being Africa’s largest healthcare market, challenges in the health sector include inadequate healthcare infrastructure and insufficient financing.
“Stanbic IBTC is passionate about driving change, hence our partnership with key stakeholders in the healthcare sector to improve access to healthcare finance.
“We achieve this by offering flexible funding options for healthcare businesses and providers and strategically partnering with the players in the healthcare ecosystem,” she said.
“Our healthcare solutions are tailor-made for businesses in the sector who need working capital to expand healthcare operations, acquire medical equipment, facilitate medical research, and ultimately grow their healthcare businesses,” Ms Ike-Okoli added.
The Head of Coverage, Commercial Clients at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Babatunde Akindele, also stated that the newly improved healthcare short-term loan is a necessary investment.
“Healthcare is a basic need that everyone should access easily. The pandemic has increased the pressure on the health sector by revealing the urgent need to expand healthcare facilities. Stanbic IBTC has taken yet another step in the right direction to improve healthcare infrastructure and enable qualitative service delivery, which will restore the hope of many Nigerians,” he said.
The growth of the Nigerian healthcare sector rests on impactful and innovative finance solutions positioned to create a level playing field for businesses to thrive. Stanbic IBTC has said it remains committed to blazing the trail in this regard.
UK’s Aide Health Raises £1m to Tackle Hypertension, Pain
By Adedapo Adesanya
Aide Health, a London, UK-based health-tech startup, has raised £1 million in pre-seed funding.
The round was led by Hambro Perks through its EIS fund, with participation from Fuel Ventures, 1818 Ventures and APX Ventures.
In a statement made available to Business Post on Friday, the company intends to use the funds to expand its services to include hypertension and chronic pain.
Co-founded by Mr Ian Wharton (CEO) and Mr Brian Snyde, Aide Health is a digital platform that helps patients and their clinicians understand and manage long-term health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and IBD, paired with a mobile app for the patient which acts as a co-pilot through their care.
Medical professionals can use Aide Health’s platform to remotely monitor patients with chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and IBD. Patients monitored through the app can also receive medical advice.
“Like many people, I know first-hand the frustrations of trying to manage long-term conditions,” said Mr Wharton, CEO of Aide Health.
“Our goal is to give both patients and clinicians the tools and insights they need to have better conversations and make more informed treatment decisions together,” he added.
On his part, Mr Nicholas Sharp, head of the Hambro Perks Growth EIS Fund, said: “Ian and Brian’s vision and experience impressed us from the start, and we believe that Aide Health has the potential to be a hugely important tool for both clinicians and patients for managing long-term health conditions.”
Using natural language, Aide Health has short, daily conversations to help with the day-to-day management of health conditions through medicines optimisation, structured monitoring and structured education.
The service is currently being used by the UK National Health Scheme (NHS), with a pilot launched earlier this year supporting people aged between 18-75 with asthma or type-2 diabetes.
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