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Nigeria, Others to Receive 220 million J&J Vaccine Doses

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Johnson Johnson vaccine

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria and the other 54-member states of the African Union (AU) will receive the supply of up to 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine by the end of 2022.

The expected delivery of the J&J vaccine doses followed an agreement signed by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, which will see some 35 million doses delivered by the end of this year, UNICEF stated in a statement issued in New York.

The agreement between UNICEF and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV will help implement the Advance Purchase Commitment (APC) signed between the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Janssen last March.

That agreement secured an option to order another 180 million doses, bringing the maximum access up to a total of 400 million doses by the end of 2022.

The AU established AVAT in November 2020 to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to the African continent, with a goal of vaccinating 60 per cent of the population of member-states.

Under the plan, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and AVAT have signed a cooperation agreement on behalf of the AU for the development of an Advance Procurement Commitment (APC) Framework to support member-states access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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UNICEF will procure and deliver COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the AVAT initiative.

Other partners include the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the World Bank while multiple vaccines are anticipated to be part of the initiative’s portfolio, Janssen’s single-dose vaccine is the first to be included.

“African countries must have affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.

“Vaccine access has been unequal and unfair, with less than one per cent of the population of the African continent currently vaccinated against COVID-19 and this cannot continue,” a part of the statement said.

UNICEF Executive Director, Ms Henrietta Fore, further stated that, “UNICEF, with its long history of delivering vaccines all around the world, is supporting global COVID-19 vaccination efforts through AVAT, COVAX, and other channels to maximize supply and access to vaccines.”

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Drawing upon decades of experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world as it does annually for routine immunization, UNICEF is acting as a procurement and logistics agency on behalf of the AVAT partnership.

UNICEF says it stands ready to facilitate the procurement, transport and delivery of vaccines as soon as they become available and AU member-states are ready to receive them.

UNICEF plans to work with the vaccine industry, freight forwarders and transport companies to get the doses to the communities that need them.

Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine received a World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL) on March 12 and is relying on a global supply network to produce the vaccine.

The latest site for production, Aspen Pharmacare in Gqeberha, South Africa, was approved by the WHO in June.

The delivery of the vaccine is expected to begin later in the third quarter of 2021, with allocations to be determined by the Africa Centre for Disease Control (ACDC).

The agreement comes as the African continent faces the steepest surge in COVID-19 cases yet and vaccine supply challenges have left many countries with large unvaccinated populations.

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In addition to its role in this partnership, UNICEF is also a key implementing partner for the COVAX Facility led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO, and CEPI.

Under this initiative, UNICEF has contributed to the delivery of more than 100 million doses to 135 countries.

UNICEF’s role in procuring and delivering COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of AVAT will complement and supplement the shared COVAX goal of ensuring equitable access to quality-assured COVID-19 vaccines.

“Vaccinating the world against COVID-19, as the virus continues to spread and mutate, is one of the largest and most complex collective health undertakings the world has ever seen, and we need all hands on deck.

“In the race to defeat this virus, equity is not a ‘nice to have’ — it’s an absolute necessity. This pandemic has cost everyone something, and some people everything.

“Only together can we bring the suffering to an end,” the statement added.

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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GE Healthcare Donates VScan Ultrasound Equipment to AMCH

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AMCH VScan Ultrasound Equipment

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Seven modern mobile ultrasound systems have been donated by GE Healthcare West Africa to the Abiye Maternal and Child (AMCH) International Foundation.

AMCH is a non-governmental organisation that aims to provide up-to-date evidence-based life-saving knowledge and skill to frontline health workers in communities across Nigeria. Its mission is to help contribute to health system strengthening and quality improvement for maternal and newborn care.

The items were given to the organisation at its office in Maryland, Lagos to help increase access to quality maternal and child medical services especially in rural areas in the state.

At the presentation, the founder of AMCH, Prof. Elizabeth Disu, expressed her gratitude to GE West Africa for donating the medical equipment to the group and promised that it would be used to improve medical services rendered to pregnant women especially in the rural areas in Lagos State and Nigeria in general.

She said AMCH had collaborated with other partners to execute several training programs such as Essential Care for the Newborn which comprises Helping Babies Breathe, Essential Newborn Care, Essential Care for Every Baby and Essential Care for Small Babies, Newborn Resuscitation Training (NRT), to mention a few.

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According to the AMCH founder, the organization recently partnered with Rotary Club International, California, USA to train health workers in Epe and Ibeju-Lekki communities in Lagos State on Essential Newborn Care Course (ENCC). The ultrasound system donated by GE would enable them to add obstetric care trainings in these rural communities.

In her remarks, the patron of AMCH, Mrs Aba Sagoe, said, “We appreciate this and we believe this will improve quality of care. We assure you that you are going to see positive results very soon. Thank you, GE.” she added.

The representative of the Federal Ministry of Health Head of Newborn, Family Health Department, Dr John Ovuoraye, in his address, commended GE for their contributions to the development of the health sector in Nigeria and for donating the equipment to AMCH, a reputable NGO whose commitment to maternal and child health is widely recognised.

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“On behalf of Federal Ministry of Health, I wish to thank GE for the company’s commitment to improving access to medical services in various communities in Nigeria.

“We have had collaborative trainings with AMCH and its founder, Prof. Elizabeth Disu, a pillar and a worthy person in the health sector, especially on maternal and childcare services.

“The equipment that I am seeing here will help in no small measure to improve quality services to pregnant women in Nigeria.

“The machine is technologically driven, simple, handy and mobile. It works amazingly well with a soft touch, gives accurate analysis, and has durable battery life. Once again, I want to thank GE for this donation,” he said.

Prof. Adeniyi Adewumi, the director of training at AMCH and a consultant at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja opined that the ultrasound equipment would help monitor the number of babies a pregnant woman is carrying, baby’s position and growth of pregnancy amongst many other factors associated with improved quality care.

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In his goodwill message, the Permanent Secretary, Primary Health Care Board (PHCB), Lagos State, Dr Ibrahim Mustafa, also expressed gratitude to the donor and said that ultrasound equipment would help achieve focus on antenatal with its special features for obstetrics examination and quantification and could not have come at a better time than this.

The GE team was led by Mr Abdulrahman Alabi, Manager, Ultra Sound, GE West Africa, accompanied by Mr Gospel Johnson, Clinical Application Specialist, GE West Africa, and Mrs Modupe Shittu, Lead, Life Care Solution Business, West Africa.

Mr Alabi said, GE did background research on NGOs and found AMCH worthy to receive the donation of ultrasound equipment to help improve quality services in maternal and child care access of many pregnant women in Nigeria.

Other dignitaries present at the acceptance ceremony were Mrs Ekhaiyeme Taiwo, Clinical Volunteer (AMCH), Retired Chief Matron Mrs Oluwatoyin Odukoya, and Miss Funmilola Oremakinde, an administrative officer with AMCH.

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Monkeypox: NCDC Urges Nigerians Not to Panic

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Monkeypox

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has called on Nigerians to be alert but should not panic as the country registered 59 suspected cases of Monkeypox with 15 confirmed.

This call was made by its Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Tuesday in Abuja.

The NCDC chief was reacting to the Dallas, Texas resident from the United States who recently returned from Nigeria and tested positive for the disease.

It was reported that it was the first confirmed case of the virus in the US since 2003, with health officials saying that the public should not be concerned.

Laboratory tests confirmed that the patient was infected with a strain of the virus mainly seen in West Africa, which included Nigeria.

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“While rare, this case is not a reason for alarm and we do not expect any threat to the general public,” Dallas County Judge, Mr Clay Jenkins, said in a statement by Dallas County’s health department.

With passengers wearing masks on the flight and in the airport, the health department said that the risk of spreading monkeypox via respiratory droplets to others on the planes and in the airports was low.

Dr Ihekweazu said that just as the agency responded to other epidemic-prone diseases in the country, an outbreak would be declared when there was a large cluster of monkeypox cases that constituted an emergency.

“The federal government was notified of the situation in Texas through the International Health Regulations (IHR), which reported a case of monkeypox disease diagnosed in a patient who had recently visited Nigeria.

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“Since the re-emergence of monkeypox in the country in September 2017, the agency has continued to receive reports and responses to sporadic cases of the disease from states across the country.

“We have been working closely with state health ministries to strengthen monkeypox disease surveillance and response in the country.

“We work with Enhanced Monkeypox Surveillance Project where we have been training health workers across states to rapidly detect and manage cases.

“Our initial focus is on the states with the highest number of cases – Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Lagos.

“We will continue working with all states to strengthen monkeypox prevention, detection and control in Nigeria,” he said.

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He urged Nigerians to continue adhering to precautions that protected them from monkeypox and other infectious diseases.

“If you feel ill or have a sudden rash, please visit a hospital for diagnosis and management,” he advised.

Monkeypox, which is in the same family of viruses as smallpox, is a rare but potentially deadly viral infection that begins with flu-like symptoms and progresses to a rash on the face and body.

It tends to last two to four weeks. People who do not have symptoms are not capable of transmitting the virus.

Monkeypox infections of that strain are fatal in about one in 100 people, affecting those with weakened immune systems more strongly.

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Health

CribMD Acquires Charisland for Better Drug Deliveries

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CribMD

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigerian health-tech startup, CribMD, has announced the acquisition of Charisland Pharmaceuticals Group to ensure fast and efficient one-hour drug deliveries to its patients across Nigeria.

The acquisition comes on the heels of CribMD’s $2.6 million seed round in May 2021, which the startup says was oversubscribed.

According to CribMD’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ifeanyi Ossai, users would not need to wait two days for the delivery of their medications. Now, it can be sent to their homes, offices, or hotels in as little as one hour.

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Speaking on the choice of Charisland Pharmaceuticals Group, Mr Ossai revealed that the group’s commitment to excellence was a decisive factor.

“They are a well-respected brand in the country and have served the communities where they operate with excellence, and we are glad to pick up the next part of the race,” he said.

Charisland Pharmaceuticals Group was founded nine years ago and has a presence in major Nigerian cities but is exiting the Nigerian market to expand into Canada.

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CribMD’s acquisition of the pharmaceutical chain, as opposed to building a solution in-house, will see it leverage the company’s vast network of pharmacies to deliver drugs faster to their subscribers.

As part of the sale, the startup would be assimilating Charisland Pharmaceuticals Group’s staff and hiring more to build out its operations.

Before the acquisition, CribMD dispensed drugs from pharmacies that they own. However, with the acquisition of Charisland, the startup is set to bank on the group’s wide network of pharmacies to serve subscribers.

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Founded in June 2020 by Messrs Ossai, Ngiri Michael, and Lorna Mae Johnson, CribMD allows patients — with a subscription plan ranging between $7 and $50 monthly — to request doctors for house calls or consultation via telemedicine.

With a presence in every Nigerian state, CribMD also offers insurance services for individuals and corporations. The company disclosed that it plans to embark on some other series of acquisitions.

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