Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Health minister calls for probe of donor funds

Without wanting to sound like an inveterate praise singer, Professor Grange gets it right again, calling for a probe of her ministry's finances, especially donor funds. The Ministry of Health has largely been seen as an unattractive posting as it does not obviously command the huge resources of say Petroleum or Finance, and yet because of donor funds, there is plenty for itchy fingers.I've always felt that misappropriating funds for immunization is akin to profiting from the deaths of young children, but that has never seemed to stop the brazen. Now Professor Grange appears to confirm what had often been whispered- it appears that accounting has been less than transparent in this area. Read more about it here

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Kanu Heart Foundation: Proving sceptics wrong


The Kanu Heart Foundation is often in the the news ...and rightly so!

When Kanu set up his foundation in 2002 and officially commenced operations in London and Nigeria to help people living with different heart ailments in Nigeria and other African countries, I as many others were skeptical about its long term viability. Far from it, they have weathered the storms and have survived, staying focused. I just got a notice of seminars being held in Lagos and Abuja...in addition to their routine activities of giving kids a new shot at life. In a recent interview with Uche Nworah he informed that that the foundation has literally given 400 kids something to live for. Apart from his own funds, he has mobilized musicians, and his high earning baller colleagues.

So...is this blog just to sing his praises? Partly...but thats not the whole story. One cannot help but wondering what all our rich and famous in Nigeria are doing...apart from building yet another edifice. What of all our other top earning footballers....Do they need their own hearts to fail to think of how to give back? What of all the politicians that take out full page adverts in newspapers to celebrate yet another birthday. Is it not time to think....think about the Bill Gates and the Warren Buffets ....

Kudos to the Kanu Heart foundation for the work they continue to do.... we are proud of you...Aluta

Friday, 7 September 2007

Information is power? Keeping it hidden is also powerful!

A lot of interesting bilateral health related initiatives seem to be happening behind the scenes in Nigeria. One is reassured by the beginnings of central coordination. However, one cannot help but worry about the little interest public bodies take in communicating their activities to the public. It is really a pity that public bodies in the Nigerian health sector have not found the benefit in having websites. NAFDAC, is on the news every night …..and at the commercial breaks too. Yet all that is on their website is this. Our Federal Ministry of Health? Send it if you find one…..kudos to some states that are trying…such Akwa Ibom and Lagos …although the content does leave a lot to be desired. Sadly, one more time the quality of the information available from our Ghanian colleagues is humbling…Click here to see and believe.

As part of its support to the Nigerian Government, the UK Department of International Development (DFID) is funding a GBP 19 million five-year programme to revive routine immunisation in northern Nigeria. Routine immunisation rates in the North of Nigeria are some of the lowest in the world, as low as 2% in some communities…and this lofty programme promises that by the end of the programme 60% of infants will have been fully immunized before their first birthday. A real health target that can be measured! Why is this not receiving the publicity it deserves? This is much better and more sustainable approach than the campaigns that we have seen in Nigeria over the past few years. Partners in this project are Save the Children UK and GRID consulting.

Why is publicity important? Because people will only bring their children to be vaccinated if they know that the programme exits, that it is funded, staffed, trusted and dependable. Is their hope for these children?

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Health in the News in August: Beautiful, Bad and Ugly



The press was full of interesting health related news articles out of Nigeria in August. Find a summary attached. Maybe there is a role for you some where? Think...and maybe ...do something positive about your health, or your neighbour's today!...enjoy!

Guardian - Professor Adenike Grange decries the very poor health status of Nigerians despite the huge budgetary expenditure in the sector.…read more

Guardian - Victims of kerosene explosion in Port Harcourt flown to South Africa for proper medical treatment! Good for the patient…shameful for the country …read more

Guardian – Imo State Governor says; "The streets of Owerri and other major towns will be adorned with ornamental flowers and trees. The streets and drains will be cleared of litter of polythene sachets and other filth that have wrecked the clean initiatives of past administrations.” Is this for real? I hear it is…cannot wait to see the flowers and smell the fresh air…Owerri beckonsread more

Guardian – Patients in Nigeria pay between 2 and 64 times international reference prices for medicines…read more

Guardian – A PEEP was yesterday given into the rationale for the recent suspension of the nation-wide clinic project of former President Olusegun Obasanjo by his successor, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua …read more

Thisdayand the contractor responds… “the allegation that Obasanjo had interest in the company handling the project is wrong. No presidential aide or the President have (sic) any interest whatsoever in the project, which is vital to people in the rural areas.” While describing the project as “Nigeria’s best chance of approaching (sic) the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the health sector,”…read more

Thisday - Proposed plan of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to re-design the academic curriculum for pharmacists in the country has drawn the ire of medical doctors who have called on the Commission to stop the plan, as it was capable of causing confusion in the health sector. …read more

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Grange unveils plans

The optimism surrounding the recent appointment of Professor Adenike Grange as health minister seems justified looking at recent reports. In her first meeting with key stakeholders in the Nigerian health sector, she has emphasized that it is time to move from a focus on policy to implementation and evaluation. To kick this off, she is pushing for a rapid appraisal of the country's health needs, a review of what resources are available to meet these needs and the development of a costed National health Improvement Plan.

Cheeringly she has also initiated contact with legislators to promote the passage of the National Health Act which has languished unpassed in spite of being the product of careful detailed review by a wide number of stakeholders in the health sector. Let us hope that the legislators will turn aside from the squabbles over buying new official cars and awarding contracts and pass the bill. For a fuller report on the Minister's meeting with stakeholders see here