Saturday, 27 February 2010

The fuss about telemedicine

OK...I confess....I do not think that this is the solution to Africa's health care problems...but I stand to be convinced.

Recently...experts from various parts of the country on Monday converged the College of Medicine of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan to evaluate the success of the Telemedicine Pilot Project and design the way forward to advance the healthcare delivery. more in the Champion

recently reported on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the governments of India and Nigeria enabling partnership for providing services in telemedicine and tele-education between both countries.

Now University World News reports that telemedicine has finally arrived in Nigeria via a pilot project recently launched at Lagos University. This interactive electronic mode of teaching, research and provision of medical services has been embraced by lecturers, students and patients.

These are all great projects and will inevitably get good press. But we must come down to earth and face the challenges of our people. In the car park of the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja - you will find a big bus with the emblem of Telemedicine - a project of our FMOH in collaboration with our National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)!

In a country barely able to provide electricity for its people, unable to provide the most basic health care services, in which our own president cannot be managed; telemedicine seems like one of those big ideas that we love to shout about. We need to get real and face our problems - the maternity units where women die from the most basic of problems, our neonatal units without mosquitoe screens, without clean water, without a functional blood bank, without power! without power!

Lets get real and face our problems...telemedicine is not the solution, will not be in a long time to come.

Friday, 26 February 2010

JOB - CEO National Hospital Abuja


The Management Board of the National Hospital, Abuja hereby invites applications from interested and suitably qualified candidates for the position of the
CHIEF MEDICAL DIRECTOR/CEO, which shall become vacant on 1stJune2010.
• The candidate aspiring for the post of Chief Medical Director/CEO shall be a medical practitioner of not less than 15 years cognate medical practice, with considerable experience in the Management and Administration of a Tertiary Health Institution.
• He/she shall hold a post-graduate specialist qualification duly registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, not less than ten years prior to the appointment as Chief Medical Director.
Each candidate should submit Fifteen (15) copies of his/her written application with detailed Curriculum Vitae (CV/Resume) duly signed and dated, providing
information as stated hereunder
i) Full Name
ii) Place and date of birth
iii) Gender
iv) Local Government of Origin
v) State of Origin
vi) Marital Status
vii) Number of Children with Age
viii) Schools attended with Academic/Professional Qualifications obtained with dates
ix) Previous Employment indicating post and dates
x) Present Employment and post with dates
xi) Administrative and Managerial positions held with dates
xii) Research and Publications with dates
xiii) Mission Statement and Vision for the Hospital in the next Four (4) years in not more than Five (5) pages
xiv) Names and Addresses of Three (3) referees, one of whom should be the Chief Executive of his/her present or last place of work, and who should be in a
position to attest to the candidates’ academic, professional and managerial abilities as well as moral character and uprightness.
The remuneration and other conditions of service are as applicable to the post of chief Medical Director in Nigerian Tertiary Health Institutions and as determined by the Federal Government and the Management Board of the Hospital.
Interested and suitably qualified candidates should submit their applications by Registered Courier to the:
Director of Administration/Secretary to the Board
The National Hospital
Plot 132 Central District (Phase II)
P. M. B. 425 Garki Abuja
The envelope should be marked on the left hand side as Application for the Post of CMD
Only short-listed candidates shall be invited for interview.
(J. Odiba) Esq Director/Administration and Secretary to the Board
Due Date: 30th March, 2010.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

RED - DFID's 2009 Annual Report on Nigeria

The graphic below is taken from the the 2009 Annul report of the UK's Department for International Development. This section is in the annex that can be accessed here, and the whole report can be assessed here. Unlike in our country where these things are hidden in drawers in the FMOH, this report is put in the public domain so that the British taxpayers (Including thousands of Nigerians) can see what their money is being spent on. In 2009, the British taxpayers through DFID spent about £110.5 million pounds on the motherland.

The conclusion is so damning of our reality that we reproduce it in detail below...

Nigeria is off track to meet all the MDGs, and Northern Nigeria has the world’s worst human development indicators outside conflict and post-conflict zones. Aid to Nigeria accounts for less than 1% of GDP, so helping Nigeria’s government spend its own resources more effectively is critical to reducing poverty. DFID works through a joint strategy with the World Bank and USAID, focusing on systemic reform at federal level and in a number of states to help Nigeria tackle its 3 major constraints to achieving the MDGs: mismanagement of oil revenue; weak accountability mechanisms; low non-oil growth.

When we are console ourselves for on our perceived importance on the continent, on the new 10 lane express way being built from Abuja city to Abuja airport, on seeking a permanent seat at the UN, it is important to remind ourselves where we are on the issues that really matter.

WE must get these indicators to shine green! We can!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Patient sms feed back from out Teaching Hospitals

You would have read we have on reports in the Nigerian press that an sms feedback service has been launched by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with MTN and Glo mobile. In a press release on their website (Yes the website is being used!) our honourable minister said that the launch of this scheme was driven by reports to his ministry of a consistent rise in the volume of complaints regarding health care delivery in the country. He is quoted as saying;

"complaints have centered principally around the poor state of infrastructure and equipment, insufficient number of well-trained medical personnel, particularly the poor attitude of such personnel"
Our immediate thoughts were extremely positive. The attitude of a large proportion of colleagues working in our public establishments leave a lot to be desired. Patients are kept waiting for hours, talked to in  condescending way and sent around hospitals in various wild goose chases. But this is not the case in just our hospitals - it is the same in the ministries, universities, embassies etc. We have just not paid sufficient attention to how our prized assets are being managed. Yes conditions of service are often poor...but sometimes that are things that are simply inexplicable....If you have any doubts.....walk into any of our teaching hospitals and seek an appointment.....even in our National Hospital!

Despite our joys at this development, our immediate worry was ....what will happen to the texts once they arrive at our Federal Ministry?. To answer this our honourable minister had this to say...
Comments received will be analyzed regularly and the ministry will utilize the feed back to work with the relevant medical centre and authorities to improve their systems or reward performance.
Sir ...with all due respect....this is not enough. We live in the information age. This service is being offered by technological firms. It will be very easy to put all this information up in the public domain vai a website so that WE the people can make informed choices on which hospitals we want to take our children to. So that WE the people can hold the Chief Medical Directors and their boards directly responsible.

If the Ministry does not do this...finally the people will!

Impossible? No...In the UK...a few years ago the same problems existed. Until  Dr Foster was first launched to the public in January 2001 with publication of the Hospital Guide with details of availability and standards of local health services. Today it is the most respected source of data not only on the performance of hospitals as here, but on the performance of individual consultants!

We applaud this initiative by our Federal Ministry - but there is no incentive for patients to text as long as all the texts they send will end up in a big black hole in the Federal Ministry of Health.

 It will be great if the Ministry will do something really visionary and put that information in the public domain. If not - it just might be a development idea for Nigeria Health Watch! :)

Have a great week!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

BEKO - An extraordinary doctor, an ordinary Nigerian

  • Born in Abeokuta, Ogun State to the family of Oladotun and Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti on August 2, 1940.
  • Studied at Coventry Technical College between 1957 and 1958 and later attended Manchester University, England from 1958 to 1963 for his medical studies.
  • Returned to Nigeria in 1963 after obtaining a degree and worked in several hospitals before he establishing his clinic. 
  • Chairman of the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Medical Association and its National Deputy Chairman.
  • His clinic destroyed in1977 by soldiers who also killed his mother. 
  • Established Nigeria's first human right organisation, Campaign for Democracy (CD)
  • Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1995 by a military tribunal.
  • Adopted as a prisoner of conscience by the Amnesty International
  • Freed in 1998 after the death of General Sani Abacha.
  • Passed on in February 10, 2006

Phote credit - 234NEXT

Daily Independent: Last week, the statue of Beko Kuti was unveiled by Governor Babatunde Fashola at Anthony-Oke, Anthony Village Lagos. Thus that section of Anthony-Oke that was then reminiscence of an unkempt environment with unkempt trees has become a beautiful garden. Fashola said no effort made by the people, especially the youths, who render selfless services to the people and contribute to the development of the nation, would ever go unrecognised. He urged the youth to learn from the exemplary life of Beko.

"He would be remembered by millions of Nigerians as a true champion of the ordinary man," Fashola 
Fashola is said to have referred to the Kuti family as the equivalent of what the Kennedy family is to the the USA. A privileged family that have used their privilege entirely in public service, albeit in different ways. I wonder how in must feel being the parents of Ransom, Beko and Fela Kuti! I wonder when next there will be siblings in a single nuclear family that will have such an impact on health, politics and music as the Kutis have....

...where are the Bekos in our new Nigeria?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

"This is a moving story"

Dear Friends,

Yesterday we brought you a piece written by Tony Can on his experience with Cancer in the family. We have received several responses. Find below two that you should read. 

Maybe, just maybe we wake ourselves and our leaders up from our collective slumber.

This is a moving story.
I can relate to the grief of losing an elder brother, I walked that road 13 years ago, much younger, and less prepared for the pain. I commiserate with Mr. Onwordi as they go through this painful experience.
Then, reading through the essay, I can't help but get upset at Mr. Onwordi's pain to "keep the names of the hospitals, doctors, etc confidential." That is the principal matter that ails our society.
At UNEC/UNTH, we knew the lecturers that took money for grades, more interested in their private practice than their teaching hospital job, etc. In Mr. Onwordi's practice, they know the doctors that are negligent, but don't want "wahala," so, we keep their names under wrap, to kill the next person whose kin don't have the voice of Toni Kan.
I ask, what do we intend to achieve when we conceal the names of the bank that was involved in fraud, the eatery that was dinked for poor sanitation, the bus line that has security issues, a doctor that leaves much to be desired, a hospital that is ill-equipped to be called one, etc?
I lost a brother who went to work as a medical doctor at UNTH, Osita Okeke, but came back in a box, never to see his unborn daughter. I feel the pain everyday I look at her, and still hope to institute some enquiry now I am in a position to get a thing or two done.
I get angry, and I mean very angry when we "conceal" the names of culprits, or just names of the people and/or institutions involved in an unsavoury story, we desecrate the memories of our brothers, sisters, and all that have departed, albeit early when we conceal the details behind such stories, which waters down their value to the living 
---The greatest loss may not be death, but what dies inside us while we live.
Okwy Okeke

Thank you for your latest Blog.  It is very touching and very real. Medical facilities, our capacity and willingness to get regular check ups, our doctors competences, etc..all of it is vividly explained.  And most of all, it tells so much of the truth of how we loose family and friends .... from preventable, avaidable, treatable illnesses.
...My heart goes out for the writer.  The article filled me with tears.

Monday, 15 February 2010

One death is a tragedy, a million deaths, a statistic

February 4 was World Cancer Day.

Cancer is a BIG problem...and big problems are difficult to communicate. There is a popular adage on the difficulty in arousing emotion in public health work - one death is a tragedy, a million deaths, a statistic.

We have been struggling on how to appropriately communicate the circumstances of Nigerians that find themselves with a diagnosis of cancer in our Nigeria. Luckily our dilemma was solved when we stumbled on this article below written by Tony Can in the Guardian on Monday February 8 reproduced here with his kind permission

We could not have said it any better and this piece demonstrates the complexity of the challenges we face.Its a must read!

C for Cancer

By Toni Kan

MY brother, Charles Emeka Onwordi, (February 2, 1968 - December 21, 2009) would have been 42 today as I write this tribute to his short but eventful life. Trained as a Fine Artist at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, we graduated the same year even though there was an almost four-year age difference between us and schooling together in close proximity, I at Jos and he in Zaria, meant that we soon became more of peers than older and younger brother but no matter how close we got, he still remained Broda to me.
My brother had been ill for close to a year for what was diagnosed as pile or Haemorrhoids. He fluctuated between periods of wellness and illness but it never went beyond a stomach ache or diarrhea. Then on December 19, 2009, he called me to say he was vomiting blood and I asked him to go see my doctor immediately. He drove there himself and was admitted but when I saw him the next day at the hospital, I experienced a sudden and inexplicable panic attack; my brother was at death's door.
The thought came to me without a diagnosis; the mere sight of my brother with his distended stomach and emaciated frame left me in tears and I remember walking downstairs blinded by my tears as I bawled like a baby. The last time I saw him was a mere 12 days earlier and in that short span of time my brother had undergone some severe depreciation. I hadn't yet gotten a grip of myself when I re-entered his room and one look at me and he said "You are crying for me, abi? So, what do you want me to do?"
Things moved pretty fast in the next few days. My doctor, a thorough and methodical man, who had seen him about three months earlier was upset that my brother never came back for the test he had asked him to undergo, didn't have a good prognosis. I recall his exact words: "I suspect he has a growth in his stomach which is causing a blockage. I just hope it is not malignant. You know what malignant is?" I know what malignant is but what is a man without hope. My brother underwent a CT Scan on Monday and by the time I walked into the hospital that Monday evening and was summoned to the doctor's consulting room, I suddenly realised that my life was about to change in a way I had never imagined.

The doctor showed me an x-ray film that had been placed against a light box. It turned out that he, not being an oncologist, had placed it wrongly. But the full picture would emerge a short while later when we were joined by another doctor, a surgeon who had been summoned from Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). The diagnosis was dire. My brother had Cancer of the Colon. It had spread or metastized from the Colon to the liver and latched on to a bone. The large intestine was completely gone so he could no longer pass waste. The immediate imperative was to open him up, drain the waste, perform a colonoscopy and drill a hole through his tummy from where he would pass waste. My brother's life was changing irreversibly too.
"How bad is this?" I asked sweeping aside all the arcane medical terms.
"Sit down," the doctor said and I did. My doctor for about nine years now, I have always trusted his judgement.
And so he told me what to expect. He said Cancer is a disease that destroys and impoverishes families and there is scant chance of the person getting better. He also said that right now, aside from Malaria and Road accidents, Cancer has become the third highest killer of young people in Nigeria. But he did add a caveat, "We are doctors, but we can never rule out miracles."
I left them and walked outside into the gathering dusk, tottering like a drunk. I was confused and depressed. My brother was just 41. He had a wife and three kids. The eldest, like mine, was just six going on seven. He was by every definition of the term, a young man.
I walked the length of the street, then sat on a slab and cried like a baby, the second doctor's words echoing in my head: "what we can talk about now is quality of life not quantity of life." The sub-text was clear, there was a shroud hanging over my brother's head; he was living on borrowed time. How much time, was what no one could say. My parents were upstairs and in the dark with regard to the diagnosis but I told the doctor I needed my brother to know. The doctors wanted to know if I was sure and I told them that my brother is a fighter and if he knows he will fight for his life the way a horse would; with all his strength.
So, we went upstairs, asked everyone to leave and told him. He was calm and his only question was: "When is the surgery? Tonight?" He didn't sleep that night. The pain and anxiety kept him awake and by 6am, he was already in the theatre. It lasted all of three hours and my brother was out looking rested, relieved and relaxed for the first time since he checked into that hospital. But it was a mirage. The cancer had done serious damage. I remember the surgeon wringing his hands as he spoke to me after the surgery. He was almost in tears. His eyes were red and he kept saying "Ah, he should have come earlier. He should have come earlier."
My brother's blood and system had been poisoned by the waste that had burst in his stomach. He was given powerful antibiotics and we were told that the next 24 hours were critical. His liver had also been damaged by the cancer which had spread all the way up and as we all know, we have only one liver. There is no spare unlike the kidney. He slept. He rested and we even spoke but by 7 p.m., everything went down hill as he went into what they call extremities. His blood pressure was fluctuating like a yoyo as his system began shutting down from Acute Septicemia or blood poisoning. It was heartbreaking to watch him expire in degrees. He cried, begging for water, as his lips caked over from dehydration. And for the first time since he took ill, I saw my brother show fear as he watched the doctors and nurses scurrying about looking for what to do to stabilise him. And as I watched them, I leaned close to him and said "Broda, you have fought this thing. Just pray and rest."
He died hours later in the intensive care unit of our hospital in Surulere. And his death threw up many issues for us. First, is the quality of health care in Nigeria and the parlous state of our health care system. A qualified doctor had treated him for over one year for pile while the actual disease, Cancer of the Colon ravaged his body, running wild and destroying healthy cells. It makes you wonder whether we now train butchers instead of life-savers.
Secondly, at about 8pm, the surgeon had suggested that we move him to another hospital where they had better Intensive Care equipment. There were two options. LUTH and a private hospital in Apapa. Calls were made. LUTH was available but there was no light. So, we were left with the private hospital option. They demanded a one million naira deposit. When we said we could afford it, another call was placed explaining his situation at which point, the hospital said they wouldn't accept him because the prognosis didn't look good and they didn't want to appear fraudulent.

The President can fly to Saudi Arabia, at our expense, where there are Intensive Care units every mile and the light never blinks. But how many of us hapless tax payers can walk into a government hospital and come out with an analgesic? That, not my brother's untimely and avoidable death, is the real tragedy. Happy 42nd birthday, Broda and rest in peace.

Kan, a writer and company executive, lives in Lagos

p/s Read about  Seun Adebiyi. He just graduated from Yale Law School and is training to become the first Nigerian to compete in the Winter Olympics. You may have seen my story recently on the Today Show, CNN, the Huffington Post, NPR, the Yale Daily News. He has leukemia and my only chance for survival is to have a stem cell transplant.  Stem cell transplants are usually done using bone marrow cells from a healthy donor. His best chance in life might be finding you... Read his sorry. 

Friday, 12 February 2010

The tragic ineptitude of some "leaders" in our health sector

Find below an article that appeared in the Champion Newspaper on the 2nd of February. I have highlighted some issues I find really tragic in the public utterances of some of our leaders in the health sector.These highlight a complete lack of insight....and my worry is...if our leaders do not see the folly in their own can they lead us out of the mess in which we find ourselves in?

Bayelsa: Measles  Epidemic Death Toll Now 25
(remember - vaccines have been available for ~ 50 years and cost less than a bottle of coke)

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Azipabu Godbless Eruani while speaking to newsmen during a briefing at his office on Thursday [28 Jan 2010] confirmed the incident, but could not give the exact casualty figure. He said doctors with Medecins Sans Frontieres have moved in to help rescue the situation from escalating.

Eruani explained that in order to check the epidemic from spreading, his ministry has sent Vitamin A and other relief materials to boost the immune system of the villagers, just as he expressed dismay that some villagers refuse to bring out their children to be immunised when some health workers visited the area.

"As we speak the situation is under control, the Medecins Sans Frontieres staff have also visited the community, but we have a setback. Some people do not want to bring out their children to be immunised when our health workers went there to stop the problem from spreading," he added. The health boss however pointed out that the government would mobilize staff to carry out an aggressive enlightenment campaign in the area and other parts of the state to ensure that people of the state understand the importance of immunization.

Describing the measles outbreak as an international problem, the Commissioner noted that more health workers have been deployed to neighbouring communities so that the scourge does not spread to
neighbouring areas. He called on people of the state not to panic, as the situation is under control.

"When this government came on board, a major focus was to improve health care, which underscores why the Chief Timipre Sylva-led administration is building new primary health centres and renovating existing ones so as to bring them to standard," Dr. Eruani said. The Daily Champion learnt that the situation is made worse as the only government health centre in the community has been overstretched by the influx of patients there, while the belief of the people has precluded parents from bringing out their children, hence the increase in death; as they believe in supernatural healing.

Close sources in the Oweikurogha community said if the health centre there is upgraded into a full-fledged hospital with doctors and nurses, such scourges would be readily controlled. They feared that more people could contract diseases, hence some people sought refuge in nearby communities.

No further comment required. Maybe as the saying goes...every society gets the leaders they deserve!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

An inconvenient Truth - watching Haiti through Nigerian eyes

Watching events in Haiti have been painful. Many of us have donated the little we feel we can afford....joined facebook groups...discussed it over dinner tables and asked our several millionaire pastors to include in their prayers.

Yet - I cannot help but seeing Nigeria in the pictures out of Haiti. The people look like us. The Buildings seem as fragile as those in most of our cities. The collapsed presidential palace looks just like our beloved National Assembly building....and most importantly...the ineptitude of their government in responding could not be more familiar.

I was in Lagos a few years ago when there was a relatively (relative to Haiti) small explosion at the Ikeja Cantonment in 2002. The outcome was extremely tragic as more people lost their lives fleeing from the scene. For hours there was no ambulance, no fire service no response. occurred recently in Jos....the major response came from the Nigerian Red Cross.

We have what we proudly call the National Emergency Response Agency. They recently bought a helicopter! Other than that, they have warehouses full of blankets. During this situation in Haiti, South Africa (the country with whom we are competing for permanent membership of the UN) sent a highly specialist team to support rescue operations - read details here. Nigeria's NEMA? You bet! As usual NEMA is focused on high cost technology infrastructure with no real benefit to the people...find here a report lunching NEMA's Geographic Information System (GIS) lab for Early Warning for disaster responses including Mission Control Centre (MCC), computer based satellite technology that uses  "COSPAS-SARSAT hi-tech system" OYIBO!
The first South Acrican rescue team of 40, mainly comprising medical staff and engineers, had taken 10 tons of search and rescue equipment as well as medical supplies on their mission to help with immediate search and rescue operations in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. A second rescue team from South African led by Durban University of Technology emergency rescue lecturer Sageshin Naguran and consisting of six advanced life support paramedics and four doctors, arrived in Port-au-Prince last Wednesday. details here
In Nigeria, the self styled giant of Africa, currently in the middle of an elaborate "re-branding exercise", every year thousands of people die in petrol related does not need rocket science to predict that there will be another one there has been petrol scarcity in Nigeria since the end of 2009.

In the absence of help in the absence of leadership at the national level, the Governor of Lagos State donated a million dollars to the response in Haiti. He has come under some criticism at home for doing this...but we are supportive.

In conclusion, we remain sad that during this important period in history, our country remains absent from the international space (Ojo Maduekwe's trips do not count!)...and wonder when will we learn our lessons that emergencies will happen - natural or man-made. The real test of leadership is - WILL WE BE READY?.One day we will hold our leaders accountable. 

If anything close to the Haitian earthquake were to happen in Nigeria....God help us...for starters...visit the National Fire Service closest to you!


Monday, 8 February 2010

Is the organised private sector beginning to engage in health care?

Realising that not even all the money in pockets of our ex-governors can buy you health care in an emergency in Nigeria, parts of the private sector are investing in improving the facilities in our tertiary hospitals and in the health sector generally. If only they had some direction from the of our Federal government. For years, a proposal to establish a tertiary hospitals commission has been stuck in a National Health Bill that will be so out of date by the time our ailing president gets round to signing it. So we end up with these teaching hospitals, consuming about 80% of the budget for health at the federal level completely without the strategic thinking required to move them from 1960 monasteries to modern health care providers for the 21st century. Maybe ...just maybe the private sector can help.

We have previously blogged about MTN's recent donation of dialysis equipment to several centres in Nigeria. Now it is up to the teaching hospitals to organise the care pathways for patients.

SunNews. reports on a donation of a N100 million Accident and Emergency Spillover ward of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), donated by Skye Bank Plc.

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has provided over N600 million to fight the spread of malaria in Niger Delta through the Africare-Nigeria project.

Find below a report of First Bank's recent donation of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital.

Its a good thing they are engaging....maybe just maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel. But sadly unlike telecommunications and banking no country can survive by abdicating its health service to the private sector.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Still on the NHIS

No doubt this is now one of the most important issues in health care provision in Nigeria...the Nigerian press is just picking this up.

Please read this excellent piece on the NHIS by Rueben Abati in the Guardian. 
Except - Without any doubt, the NHIS over which so much air has been split is a programme for the elites. Providing a non-discriminatory, broad-based healthcare opportunity for all Nigerians should be the overriding objective. There is a lot to be done. Health workers need to be motivated to take their jobs more seriously and to be interested in serving Nigeria, not a foreign land whose attraction are the better conditions that it promises. Governments at all levels must assign more funds to the growth of the health sector with international standards in mind. Special attention must be paid to colleges of medicine, teaching hospitals and health related institutions to ensure quality training of medical personnel. A lot more energy should also be devoted to public enlightenment and the creation of social safety nets. People need to know what health insurance is all about: are they entitled to discounts? Is there a linkage between lifestyle choices and health insurance packages? Can they make choices and if so, what kind of choices? DETAILS HERE 

Sulaimon Olanrewaju in the Tribune
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is set to ensure that all Nigerians enjoy health insurance coverage by 2015. According to the Executive Secretary, MBW Dogo-Muhammad, all hands are on deck to ensure that 40 per cent of the entire country is covered by 2013. DETAILS HERE

Chinyere Amalu in the Vanguard
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has registered over 4 million Federal Civil Servants and their dependants while the scheme has provided health cover for over 600,000 pregnant women and children under-five in six selected states in the country. DETAILS HERE

Roland Ogbonnaya in Thisday
There have been challenges. Challenges of lack of working data, funds and lack of political will by state governments as well as local councils. “After operating the scheme for four years, we discovered that NHIS was working without data. This has been corrected and we feel that if Nigerians are healthy, the country will be productive; we believe it is doable. We don’t have monopoly of ideas, we listen to complains and suggestions as well as threats and how the programme is doing. All these is to make us work better,” NHIS executive secretary said. DETAILS HERE

The worry here is that unlike in other countries where this would be on top of the political agenda, this is being discussed on the fringes...


...meanwhile if you want to find out cannot go to the NHIS website because this is what you will find "Maintenance work! This site is undergoing maintenance. We will be right back. Thank you."

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ist Ladies in Cancer Rally

Cancer is the health flavour of the year. Following the footsteps of our beloved "first lady", wives of some the governors of some states (Lagos and Delta) were recently brought together for a "Cancer Rally" as reported in the TRUE LOVE magazine (yes we do read 'normal' mags too :). This was apparently organised by the Pink Pearl Foundation. 

This is a good thing! But we do hope that they are influencing their husbands in power to do more than "rally". The challenge of cancer is truly a big one and we need some people with competence to support our leaders to thing through the care path way from prevention to palliation in order to have a more substantial impact on the lives of real people than the photo opportunity in society soft sell magazines...We will keep our eyes out for these....

Monday, 1 February 2010

Health in the Nigerian Press - you can not make this up!

The Punch: Nigeria orders swine flu vaccine to all children under the age of five years, pregnant women, health workers and old people. The Minister's spokesman explains... ”The expected 15million doses amounts to more than 10 per cent of our gross population. Given the biology of the influenza, the nature of its transmission and the diverse physical nature of our land mass, it is more than sufficient quantity for now, especially against the background of non-availability of the vaccine the world over. Notice how nothing is said about the public health capacity required to make this accessible to the people. But rest assured - there will be task force set up.....

NPF News: The Federal Government (FG) has said that it needs over N7 billion naira to enable it favourably combat the pandemic A H1N1, otherwise called ‘swine flu’ in the country. This was disclosed on Wednesday, in Abuja, by the ministry of health in its presentation at the stakeholders forum on the influenza. A Director and an Epidemiologist in the ministry, Dr Akpan, in the presentation disclosed that the whopping sum is needed for the campaign and deployment of vaccines through out the country. Don't you just love our country.....!

Daily Trust: THE Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Dr. Peter Alabi, yesterday disclosed that an estimate of N400 million is needed for the ongoing expansion of the Accident Emergency/Intensive Care Unit of the hospital.
That is 2.5 million dollars for an expansion! Naija no easy - I hope we are also planning for the ambulances, the service provision, the training, the referral systems required for an emergency system to really work. If not Dr Alabi ...please do!

Daily Trust: First Lady Turai Yar'adua has set up a skills acquisition centre at the Maitama General Hospital, Abuja, for the training of special patients in income generating trades by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE). A press statement signed by the NDE's Assistant Director of Information Nnamdi Asomugha quoted the First Lady as saying during the commissioning of the project that the equipment at the centre are for the training of women and other "special patients" affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS).
I would argue that the location of a skills aquisition centre should be in the community not in the hospital, and if it is in a hospital, why make it exclusive for so called "special patients with HIV" in an era we are trying to reduce stigma. So what happens when a Nigerian woman with polio comes to the hospital's skills aquisition centre. Maybe she will be declared not special enough? Anyways...we will be visiting soon to report on progress.

Details on 234Next - Know the rules I recently took my 2 year old daughter to a well known hospital here in Lagos. It must be that I have been away from Nigerian healthcare for a long time, but I was shocked at the medical staff’s lack of etiquette. I had paediatric doctors walk up to my child’s bed, while I was right there, and begin to speak with the nurse on the round with them without first introducing themselves....

Daily Trust: Still building our way to health as Sokoto State Government is to establish a 50-bed capacity orthopaedics hospital worth N600 million in the state.

Leadership: Midwifery scheme gathers steam as a total of 96 midwives posted to Yobe State under the Federal Midwives Service Scheme have arrived the state capital.

And finally in the article below published in 234Next, Ogun State is apparently distributing "Monitoring and Information Equipment" (which I hope translates to computers)  in order to collect data from its Local Government areas. I really hope that they have the people and expertise as the equipment itself will not solve the problem....but its a start.