By Adedapo Adesanya
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a $3.56 million grant to support the development of the pharmaceutical industry in West Africa.
Mr Lamin Barrow, Managing Director of the Bank for Nigeria and Mr Mamadou Traoré, ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Industry and the Private Sector, signed the agreement for the Pharmaceutical Industry Development Support Project in West Africa.
The project’s total cost is $3.77 million to which the ECOWAS Commission will provide $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in-kind.
The funds will support the implementation of regulations to allow duty-free access to pharmaceutical raw materials, packaging, and finished products under the ECOWAS Common External Tariff.
It will also help establish an effective regional pharmaceutical regulatory ecosystem by providing technical assistance programs for regional regulatory authorities.
Speaking on the MoU, Mr Traoré said: “Local production of pharmaceuticals and biologicals has become an imperative and a regional priority, as is the provision of healthcare delivery services. The African Development Bank’s support of these priorities will help ECOWAS achieve its development objectives.”
During the signing ceremony held in Abuja, Mr Barrow said: “The COVID-19 crisis has further exposed the fragility of our national healthcare systems and posed significant disruptions to the global health and pharmaceutical supply chains. This underscores the urgency of accelerating efforts to ensure a minimum level of supply of health products.”
The project will enhance the pharmaceutical industry’s competitiveness through improved quality and product standards and help ensure that the region complies with best practices in manufacturing pharmaceutical products and supplies.
It will strengthen regional training institutions and laboratories to ensure that the required skills are available to support the industry’s regional growth in a gender-sensitive and environmentally friendly manner.
In response to calls from the African Union and the pharmaceutical industry, the lender has taken a leadership role in developing and driving a continental Vision and Action Plan for a new African Pharmaceutical order.
In 2021, AfDB President, Mr Akinwumi A. Adesina announced that the institution would mobilize up to $3 billion to support this development.
The project will also advance the bank’s efforts to support the harmonization of the regulatory environment for pharmaceuticals across Africa at the regional and continental levels. This, in tandem with the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area, will deepen intra-African integration and trade, boosting regional markets.
The bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation, Mr Solomon Quaynor, said: “To develop the pharmaceutical industry, the African Development Bank will help to develop local production capacities to increase the market share of African (local and regional) pharmaceutical production value to 45-55% by 2030.”
The project aligns with three of the African Development Bank’s High Five strategic priorities: Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. It also advances the Bank’s Regional Integration Strategy for West Africa and is in line with the Bank’s gender strategy, and its strategic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ECOWAS Commission will be the executing agency for this project, which will run for two years, starting from 2022. The West African Health Organisation will be the implementing agency.
Health Insurance for all Nigerians by 2030 Now Realistic—NHIA
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing into law the NHIA Act, saying health insurance for all Nigerians by 2030 is now more realisable.
The NHIS Deputy General Manager, Mr Emmanuel Ononokpono, in a statement said, “For over two decades, industry professionals had sustained the call for an amendment to the health insurance law, being a major impediment to the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
“By this development, efforts to tackle the high incidence of poverty caused by out-of-pocket expenses for health care, through health insurance for all categories of Nigerians by 2030, is now more realisable than ever before.”
Mr Ononokpono also said that the management was also grateful to the Senate and the House of Representatives for their roles in the lead up to the enactment of the law.
He acknowledged the roles played by different stakeholders in the course of the legislative work on the law.
According to him, the Act establishes and empowers the NHIA to ensure the provision of health insurance for all Nigerians through a mandatory mechanism, in collaboration with state health insurance agencies.
He said that sections 25 and 26 of the Act established the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF), indicating the various sources from which funding would be drawn.
Mr Ononokpono said that the legislation strengthened the NHIA to discharge a wide range of regulatory and promotion functions, to ultimately ensure that every Nigerian received access to quality and affordable health care.
He said that the legislation Mr Buhari assented to did not make provision for a telecommunications tax as a source of funding in the law, contrary to reports in some national media.
Mr Ononokpono also urged stakeholders and industry players, including the media to wait for a formal unveiling of the document.
President Buhari signed the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 last week.
The newly signed law by the President repeals the National Health Insurance Scheme Act 2004.
Under the previous Act, states were required to pay a 50 per cent counterpart fund to access the total fund for the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF).
Explainer: What is Monkeypox Virus?
By Adedapo Adesanya
In a world where the coronavirus is still around, attention may shift to the Monkeypox virus – which has been found in Australia, the United States, and some top countries in Europe.
What is the Monkeypox Virus?
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) research, the Monkeypox virus is a virus that is transmitted to humans from animals. The first case was discovered back in a small child back in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, part of the same family as smallpox, though typically less severe. The incubation period of the newly spreading Monkeypox virus ranges from 6 to 13 days. However, it might be from 5 to 21 days.
Symptoms such as fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy, back pain, myalgia (muscle aches), and an intense asthenia (lack of energy) usually appear in the patients who test positive for the Monkeypox virus. On the other hand, skin eruption usually starts within 1-3 days of the appearance of fever. The rash appears mostly on the face and extremities rather than on the chest.
History in Nigeria
There have since been sporadic cases reported across 10 African countries, including Nigeria, which in 2017 experienced the largest documented outbreak, with 172 suspected and 61 confirmed cases. In terms of age, 75 per cent of those affected were males aged 21 to 40 years old.
Cases outside of Africa have historically been less common and typically linked to international travel or imported animals.
How Can One Catch Monkeypox?
Monkeypox spreads when someone comes into close contact with another person, animal or material infected with the virus. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose and mouth. Human to human transmission most commonly occurs through respiratory droplets, though usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact.
Animal to human transmission meanwhile may occur via a bite or scratch but the disease is not generally considered a sexually transmitted disease, though it can be passed on during sex.
There are currently no proven, safe treatments for monkeypox, though most cases are mild. In the past, researchers said that vaccination against smallpox with the vaccinia vaccine was proved through several observational studies to be about 85 per cent effective in preventing the Monkeypox virus.
A newer vaccinia-based vaccine was approved for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox in 2019 and is also not yet widely available in the public sector. Countries including the United Kingdom and Spain are now offering the vaccine to those who have been exposed to infections to help reduce symptoms and limit the spread.
Can it Kill?
Monkeypox cases can occasionally be more severe, with some deaths having been reported in West Africa. However, health authorities stress that we are not on the brink of a serious outbreak and the risks to the general public remain very low.
What are Health Regulators Saying?
WHO says it continues to closely monitor as the situation is evolving rapidly. It is supporting member states with surveillance, preparedness, and outbreak response activities for monkeypox in affected countries.
Health authorities in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada urged people who experience new rashes or are concerned about monkeypox to contact their healthcare provider.
WHO also clarified that does it not recommend any restrictions for travel based on available information at this time.
Malaria: Nova Diamond Launches Give A Net Campaign
By Adedapo Adesanya
In commemoration of World Malaria Day for the year 2022, Nova Diamond Foundation has launched a campaign called Give a Net, ave Lives.
The Give a Net campaign is targeted to protect the most vulnerable in society, including pregnant women and children under the age of 5 because of the increased death rate, according to WHO 2021 Malaria report.
WHO described malaria as the 3rd highest killer non-communicable disease as the disease kills four in every five malaria cases in Nigeria. Malaria is the number one endemic in the country, which also has the highest number of malaria-related deaths.
To address this issue and reduce malaria-related deaths, Nova Diamond Foundation has partnered with the Lagos State Ministry of Health to educate residents on the danger posed by malaria.
The organisation also worked in partnership with Mobaby Care to walk the streets of Lagos, starting with Agboyi LCDA under Kosofe LGA, Mascara Primary Health Centre and Alapere Primary Health Centre, Ketu. These health facilities were visited between Monday, April 25 and Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
During the visits, pregnant mothers and children were given some malaria prevention incentives like Insecticides Treated Nets (ITNS) and mosquito repellant creams from Mobaby Care.
The executive director of Nova Diamond Foundation, Mrs Oluwafikayo Ooju, sensitised the participants on how to protect their unborn children, toddlers and themselves from malaria by ensuring that they always sleep under an insecticide-treated net.
She also lectured them on keeping their environment clean from stagnant water, ensuring children are well covered up and use of repellant to the exposed parts of the body.
In addition, she educated them on how to identify the symptoms of malaria as well as the need to visit the primary health centres for proper diagnosis and treatment immediately after they notice any symptoms.
In her remarks, the Medical Officer in charge of Agboyi LCDA, Dr Mariam Oshodi, commended the effort of the foundation and also advised the beneficiaries to use all the incentives distributed to them.
The team intends to visit other primary health centres across Lagos state and hopes to reach at least 1,000 pregnant mothers and 1000 children aged 0-5.
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