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WHO to Help Nigeria Achieve NHIA Act 2022 Objectives

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed its desire to support Nigeria in operationalising the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act 2022 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2022.

WHO’s Country Representative (WR), Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, made this pledge during a high-level meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, the Director General, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Professor Mohammed Sambo, and a team of WHO Health Financing Mission delegates from the WHO Geneva, Africa Regional Office, and Nigeria.

The first ever high-level WHO Health Financing Mission to Nigeria, led by Dr Joseph Kutzin, was scheduled to provide sustainable health financing support to the country towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health security while undertaking targeted advocacy to accelerate operationalization of the NHIA Act including the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF).

This is in line with WHO’s goal of ensuring that all individuals and communities receive the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship.

Dr Mulombo said President Buhari’s signing of the NHIA Bill into law will make health insurance mandatory for all legal residents in Nigeria and expands coverage to over 83 million poor and vulnerable people.

He expressed the optimism that government will prioritize immediate appropriation of the Special Intervention Fund in the Act to establish the Vulnerable Group Fund.

“Indeed, the task of ensuring that all citizens have access to the quality healthcare they need without falling into poverty is a deliberate political decision to achieve the cardinal objectives of population coverage, service coverage, and financial protection. I have no doubts that in a large federal nation like Nigeria, this milestone of appropriating the Special Intervention Fund will be achieved in the 2023 fiscal year”, he said.

In his remarks, Mr Mustapha appreciated WHO as the foremost development partner to Nigeria on health and lauded WHO’s invaluable guidance, particularly on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“WHO has demonstrated that it is an organization that cares for and caters for the health needs of the people. On the NHIA, let me commend the DG for his tenacity and determination to have this Act come to fruition. I want to thank WHO and other partners who supported in the drafting of the Bill. This modest attempt has provided basic health insurance coverage to the vulnerable, and making it mandatory will go a long way in assisting our people to manage their income and remain at work in terms of the depressed economy we are witnessing”.

The SGF further expressed the government’s commitment to appropriate the Special Intervention Fund (SIF) in the 2023 national budget for the establishment of the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF).

“No family in Nigeria has economically survived catering for any of their own suffering from cancer. The health of our people is therefore topmost on our priorities despite competing demands”, he stated.

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.

Health

UK’s Aide Health Raises £1m to Tackle Hypertension, Pain

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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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How VerveLife Brought Lagos to a Standstill

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As the day dawned on Saturday, November 5, 2022, there was a palpable buzz in the cool Lagos air as thousands of fitness enthusiasts trooped to the Oniru beachfront, specifically the Landmark Event Centre, venue of the VerveLife 5.0 fitness party tagged Never Stop.

Introduced in 2017 by Verve, Africa’s leading payment technology and card and member of the Interswitch Group, VerveLife has grown into a thriving platform, attracting thousands of fitness enthusiasts from Nigeria and beyond.

As the event kicked off at 8:00 am, the dancing queen, Kaffy, opened the event with an electrifying performance in celebration of Interswitch Group’s 20th-anniversary celebrations.

For several hours after, Africa’s premium band, Alternate Sound, thrilled the crowd as attendees were engaged in upbeat dance routines and exciting workouts led by a robust lineup of fitness experts – Kemen, Ihuoma Nwigwe, Isoken Uwaifo, Enoyong, Trebla, Kenyan fitness instructor Alvin Lee, and South African fitness royalty, Queen Fitnass.

In line with the VerveLife 5.0 theme, ‘Never Stop’, there was even more fun to come as other musical acts came on stage to thrill the audience. First was Crayon, who doled out his hit songs one after the other. Just as the audience thought they had had just enough for one day, Niniola hit the stage, and the hall went berserk again, dancing to several of her hit tunes.

At this point, the event was best described as an inexhaustible bar of fun, entertainment and good sweat.

The VeveLife 5.0 experience included a series of build-up events spanning over 12 weeks across eight Nigerian cities and Nairobi, Kenya and culminating in the Lagos grand finale.  Beyond the invigorating fitness routines, games and fun, the overwhelming crowd gave proof to the growing impact the VerveLife Fitness events have been making over the years.

Verve is the leading indigenous payment technology and card brand in Africa, offering simple and cutting-edge payment solutions. Through the VerveLife fitness events, the brand continues to serve as a platform that encourages Africans to maintain a healthy lifestyle through enjoyable and stimulating activities.

This year’s VerveLife fitness event has lived up to its promise of keeping Verve cardholders, and Africans fit and steering them on the path of healthy living while fostering a community of fitness enthusiasts.

Following the resounding success of VerveLife 5.0, one cannot but wonder what to expect from VerveLife 6.0!

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Africa Records High Undiagnosed Diabetes—WHO

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a new analysis, has revealed that only 46 per cent of people living with diabetes in the African region know their status, raising the risk of severe illness and death, potentially worsening the situation in the region, which already has the world’s highest mortality rates due to the disease.

This is because only 55 per cent of people with diabetes know they have diabetes as the world celebrates World Diabetes Day. This year’s event is being marked today under the theme Access to Care which calls for better access to quality diabetes care as well as the importance of prevention and response.

The global health authority noted that the African region, lack of testing facilities and equipment, inadequate number of trained health personnel, poor access to health facilities, and lack of awareness about diabetes are some of the barriers to diabetes testing.

Currently, 24 million adults are living with diabetes in Africa. The figure is projected to rise by 129 per cent to 55 million by 2045.

In the African region, premature deaths from diabetes (defined as deaths occurring before the age of 70) stand at 58 per cent, higher than the global average of 48 per cent, while the region’s age-standardized death rate (a mathematical adjustment of different populations to have the same structure) for diabetes is 48 per 100 000 population, more than double the global rate of 23 per 100 000. In the region, only one in two people living with type 1 diabetes—the most common form of pediatric diabetes—has access to insulin treatment.

Speaking on this, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said, “One of the greatest challenges to diabetes care is lack of diagnosis. Without testing, diabetes becomes a silent killer.

“While countries face several barriers to tackling diabetes, the rising prevalence of the disease is a wakeup call to reinforce health care, improve diagnosis, access to life-saving diabetes medicines, and prioritize diabetes as a major health challenge.”

For the first time ever, countries agreed in May 2022 to key global targets to improve diabetes diagnosis and access to equitable, comprehensive, affordable, and quality treatment and care.

The goals contained in the WHO Global Diabetes Compact aim to have 80 per cent of people living with diabetes diagnosed; 80 per cent of people diagnosed with the disease have good control of blood pressure and blood sugar.

Additionally, countries should strive to ensure all those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have access to affordable insulin and blood glucose self-monitoring and that 60 per cent of people with diabetes aged 40 years and above have access to cholesterol-lowering drugs. People living with diabetes have a higher risk of hypertension and are prone to high cholesterol—a risk factor for cardiovascular disease—than those without diabetes.

For people living with diabetes, access to affordable treatment, including insulin, is critical to their survival. Limited access to insulin puts their lives in danger. In rural Mozambique, for instance, the life expectancy of a child with type 1 diabetes is as low as seven months. Type 1 diabetes is due to the body’s inability to produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

Between 2011 and 2021, the region recorded a five-fold rise in type 1 diabetes among children and teenagers below 19 years, with cases surging from 4 per 1000 children to nearly 20 per 1000.

WHO is supporting African countries to improve their diabetes response. In August 2022, African health ministers endorsed a WHO-led initiative called PEN Plus to increase access to diagnosis, treatment, and care of severe chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mental and neurotological disorders.

The strategy calls on countries to adopt measures ensuring that essential medicines, technologies and diagnostics are available and accessible at district hospitals. Only 36 per cent of countries in the African region have essential medicines for chronic diseases in public hospitals, according to a 2019 WHO survey.

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