By Adedapo Adesanya
In another round of efforts to push for transparency, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over his alleged failure to probe allegations that the sum of N3.8 billion is missing in the country’s health sector.
SERAP claimed that the alleged missing public fund is meant for the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
The alleged missing fund was revealed in a 2018 audited report recently released by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
The suit is coming in the wake of the controversy over Buhari’s travel to London for a routine medical check-up at a time the country’s resident doctors are on strike over unpaid salaries, upward review of hazard allowances, and COVID-19 care incentives, leaving millions of poor Nigerians without access to medical treatment.
In suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/433/2021 filed last week at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus directing and compelling President Buhari to investigate alleged missing N3.8bn health funds, and to promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres and NAFDAC.”
SERAP argued that “Corruption in the health sector exacerbates inequality in already unequal and unfair political, social, and economic environments, and produces a ‘cash and carry’ health care system based on one’s ability to pay for care or one’s political position.”
“Transparency and accountability in the management of health funds is essential for promoting access of people living in poverty to physical and mental healthcare, satisfactory health conditions, equality and non-discrimination, development, as well as good governance and the rule of law.
“The failure to investigate the alleged missing health funds, bring suspected perpetrators to justice, and to recover any missing public funds has exposed millions of poor Nigerians to serious health risks, amounting to violations of constitutional and international human rights and anti-corruption obligations,” it added.
BOC Gases Changes Name, Logo After Acquisition by TY Danjuma
By Dipo Olowookere
One of the players in the medical industry, BOC Gases Nigeria Plc, has changed its name to Industrial and Medical Gases Nigeria Plc.
This development followed the acquisition of the company by a businessman, Mr Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, through one of his firms, TY Holdings Limited.
Recently, the former Minister of Defence in Nigeria acquired a 60 per cent stake in BOC Gases, taking his total shareholding to 72 per cent, making him the largest shareholder in the organisation.
This made the representatives of the former owners on the board, Hendrik Mentz de Waal and Joseph Ramashala, both non-executive directors, to exist BOC Gases, while efforts were made to change the corporate name and logo.
In a statement issued on Thursday and filed to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, BOC Gases said it “has obtained a new certificate of incorporation from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)” showing the new name, Industrial and Medical Gases Nigeria Plc.
It would be recalled that 14 years ago, the company adopted the now-rested BOC Gases Nigeria Plc.
Industrial and Medical Gases Nigeria is into industrial and medical gas production, sale of medical equipment and special gases.
FG to Support Cholera-riddled Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has said that it is currently stepping up the technical support and guidance it is giving the states of the federation worst hit by cholera.
This was disclosed by the Director of Family Health department at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Salma Anas Kolo.
She disclosed that Kano, Jigawa and Bauchi are the states worst hit by cholera in the country, noting that more than 48 per cent of the cases reported in the country are from the three sub-nationals.
“Efforts are ongoing by the health ministry in collaboration with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to continue to provide support to the states through the national response in a well-coordinated manner.
“We continue step up in providing technical support and guidance to the states that are worst affected by cholera. “At the moment we have recorded some slow progress and success in the worst affected states.
“We have conducted some trainings for health workers for early detection and prompt treatment of victims of cholera outbreak.
“Unfortunately, the outbreak is among children between the age of 5-14 years. This is closely link to lack of access to portable clean water and also poor defecation practices and poor hygiene,” she said.
Dr Anas Kolo, however, said that the ministry was intensifying its collaboration with partners on the need to re-invigorate the Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) programme in the relevant sectors of the economy considering it requires multi-sectoral approach.
“It has to do with sanitation, toileting facilities available and personal hygiene. We are working closely with the ministries of water resources, information and culture and the ministry of environment who are very critical partners in this.
“We have developed a framework at the national level that require to be operationalized at the state level to adopt similar approach so that the populace, especially, in the worst affected areas can have access to clean water,” she said.
The Director further explained that: “Part of the response we have undertaken is the distribution of essential response commodities at the point of need including hygiene kits for affected states, using traditional medium of information transmission in most of the worst affected states.
“Hand washing is very important in the prevention of the cholera. At any time, you are handling food, hand washing is very key with running water and soap. Where soap is not available, we encourage the use of ashes and table salt.”
She further advised pregnant women in the country to attend ante natal care at the health centres nearest to them in order to access services including test HIV and Syphilis.
This, according to her, is to prevent Mother-To-Child transmission of HIV.
“This is an opportunity for us to call on all Nigerian pregnant women to attend antenatal clinic at any nearest health facility to them and get themselves tested for HIV and Syphilis.
“By doing that we can prevent the transmission of HIV from the infected mother to the unborn baby and avert the transmission of Syphilis which is also very dangerous to the unborn baby.
“It causes still-birth, miscarriages and death and brain damage leading to malformation to the unborn baby. It also affects the heart. So implications are so numerous.
“So it is cheaper and more cost effective to prevent the transmission of Syphilis from an infected mother to the child. The good news is that both are almost 100 preventable. But only if women that are pregnant avail themselves to be tested of syphilis,” the health expert stated.
COVID-19: Nigeria to Start Vaccination of Children
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
In a few months’ time, Nigeria will commence administering vaccines to children under 12 years to protect them against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
This vaccination of children against the virus would be done in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The UNICEF Health Specialist and Officer in charge of Enugu Field Office, Mr Olusoji Akinleye, said during a recent media executive meeting in the state that it had taken so long for this to be implemented because of the cluttered processes involved before any drug would be administered to children.
Speaking at the event, which was in collaboration with Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA), Umuahia, on Child Rights-influenced Reporting on COVID-19, the specialist said that a lot of children had died due to the COVID-19, adding that, “In the next few months, Nigeria will start administering the vaccine on children under 12 years of age.”
He said, “We recognize the partnership in promoting and highlighting the right of every child to life. The very first right that every human being is supposed to have is the right to life; we recognise that the media have always supported the effort of government and partners, including UNICEF, in promoting the right to health.”
Noting the challenges faced by the health sector regarding public hesitancy, unwillingness, and misconceptions against the COVID-19 vaccines, Mr Akinleye encouraged parents to ensure that their children were protected by obeying the safety protocols that have been put in place.
In addition to this, he said, “UNICEF looks forward to more robust collaboration with the media and an expected upward trend in the promotion of health and hygiene practices by the media in Nigeria by daily communication to the public of protocols enforced by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
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