How A Lady Embarrassed A Man For Approaching Her

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: Her gait was enchanting much as it was alluring when Kelvin my friend who was riding a bicycle on the cool evening saw the abundantly beauty on Saturday, September 30 2017, crossing the dangerous Oyigbo Express Junction, Rivers State, where security men stationed at this place have turned to terror of a sort, after the IPOB’s September 12 imbroglio.

He then made a move. The young lady suspected to be in her middle 20s was a beauty to behold, but her carriage was a misplaced one. “Hello, lady,” Kelvin said on getting to her, walking side by side now, with her. The lady kept a long face and neither replied Kelvin.

“Goodeveing, Lady,” Kelvin added. The lady in a very low but arrogant tone replied. “Goodevening,” she said.

“Thanks,” Kelvin replied. “I could not resist, at least, coming closer to you when I saw you passed somewhere, along this road.” The lady was yet to respond. Kelvin was rolling his bicycle by that hands and had followed the lady to a distance. “Stop embarrassing yourself,” the lady later talked and kept her long and pride-full self.

“That’s an overstatement,” Kelvin retorted. “What is the embarrassment in seeing a lady and walking after her?” Kelvin asked, but the lady did not say a word.

“Is it that you don’t like men coming after you or you are looking down on me because I’m coming to you with a bicycle?” Kelvin asked. The lady was a bit remorseful on hearing Kelvin spoke. She turned and looked at Kelvin, but this was the point he had to turn back. “I will be leaving now, so that I don’t embarrass you further,” Kelvin said, and left.

When Kelvin narrated his ordeal in the hands of the lady to me, I did not need a soothsayer to conclude that she was in her arrogant self because Kelvin didn’t come to her in a Venza or the other. But Kelvin she looked down on was well educated, mannered and stunningly wealthy.

At least, he had about 5 different storeys. Each is not less than 2 decks. He had some companies and what not. A young man in his early 30s. “The lady, perhaps, didn’t know the meaning of embarrassment,” I consoled him. “I think it was expected of her to have told you that she’s married or not interested in your overtures than the other way she took.”

It is pertinent that we learn how to approach people and how to respond to people. Pls, what kind of lady is this?

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State.

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How Being A Journalist Saved Me From Nigerian Police

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: The notorious security agents stationed at the popular Oyigbo Express Junction in Rivers State after the September 12 IPOB impasse apprehended me today (September 25). The reason was that I stopped and was rolling my bike by hand just near one of their vans. They said that I ought to had stopped somewhere that was not even well defined in their language to me. They later asked me to pack my bike but one of them, on looking critically at the ID card on my crest, said, “So, you are a pressman. You are among those talking rubbish at LUV FM of our excesses here.” I kept quiet. But one of them seemed to know journalists better. “Leave him to go, these guys are dangerous,” he told his colleague. I was still quiet. Later, I took my bike and left. When I got to my family house and narrated this story, neighbours praised my job as my rescuer. “If not, those police guys would have asked you to bring 10k before you will pick your bike,” one of the neigbours said. “What the police and SARS are doing at that Oyigbo Express Junction is pure extortion ranging from seizing people’s phones, arresting and molesting innocent people in phantom search for those that disarmed some of their colleagues of 3 guns and burnt their car.” The stories of heinous things the security agents are doing at the Oyigbo Express Junction were much. The stories reminded me of a brother, Wonder Generator, who saw me early in the morning and was telling me of how the SARS seized his bike simple because there was no plate number on it and asked him to go and bring 10k.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant.

{PRESS RELEASE} Wike: When Are We Going To Hands Down In Oyigbo?

PRESS RELEASE 

Wike: When Are We Going To Hands Down In Oyigbo?

Four days from today would make it two weeks that a special security agents were stationed at Oyigbo, Rivers State, precisely, at the popular Express Junction, after the September 12 2017 supposed impasse in the area that was fingered to be an IPOB affair.

{Wike During 2015 Rivers Guber Campaign}

Even before the security agents came to the place, the least chaos that erupted had settled down and the residents were out for their normal businesses. However, the rather prolonged stay of the security agents at the Express Junction makes it look like there is a war going on in the area, which should not be so.

If you are riding a bike, you are forced to roll it by the hand to pass the Express Junction. Pedestrians are not left out of the security nuisance: They are forced to hands up while crossing the Express Junction.

And the question is – how long are we going to see this in Oyigbo? – a place that has been as peaceful as the cemetery from the time immemorial. The worrisome aspect of it all is that the security agents are converting the Express Junction to what we are yet to understand: The often shots of gun in the air by the security agents are embarrassing just as they do not send good signal to the Government of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

If there was a cult rival in Oyigbo, that would have been a different thing. The idea would have been that the security agents must fish out the culprits before they retreat to where they were deployed from. But in this case, Oyigbo is peaceful before and after the September 12 bottleneck.

I hereby call on the office of Governor Wike to call the security agents to order, to allow residents and passersby to walk freely without any form of molestation by the security agents.

It does not add up that Oyigbo residents should be raising their hands up before they walk the Express Junction. In a sane clime, this security method does not represent the wish of democrats in a democracy.

The practice by the security agents can be attributed to pure intimidation given that in a democracy, the “people shouldn’t be afraid of their government,” one Alan Moore, V for Vendetta would say, “Government should be afraid of their people.” But in Oyigbo, the people are being intimidated to be unnecessarily afraid of the government, which invariably was not the mindset of Governor Wike.

We should not allow anti-intellectualism and anti-democracy become a recurring decimal in the political sphere in this country. Let the governor read Mahatma Gandhi, “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

Notwithstanding, if the security agents must stay, let the residents and passersby be allowed to walk freely without raising their hands up and the motorcyclists, not rolling their motorcycles by hand before they cross the Express Junction.

The continued mandating of people to raise their hands up and motorcyclists to roll their machines by hand, do not achieve positive gains to the government of Governor Nyesom Wike, but a bad name.

Oyigbo is not known for charlatanic maneuvers, so the residents shouldn’t be subjected to ridicule and inhumane features in the name of security checks. Let the governor withdraw the security agents to allow people go about their normal businesses. The security agents’ presence at Oyigbo Expressing Junction is not only intimidating the residents but also halting individual businesses.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Date: September 22 2017.

Hundreds Of Thousands Dying In Nigeria Due To Vaccines and Immunisation Gap

By Odimegwu Onwumere

In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that meningitis and other vaccine-avertable diseases have become somewhat a recurring decimal in Nigeria and in some countries of sub-Saharan Africa that include Senegal, Niger, Chad, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso which make-up ‘Meningitis Belt’ due to poor innovative approach to delivery of vaccines

By April 17 2017, Nigeria lost about 800 lives and had 8,000 cases of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, CSM, in six states of Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto and Yobe due to embarrassing vaccine approach, informed the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Since 1996, there are data showing that meningitis and other vaccine-avertable diseases have killed thousands of people in Nigeria and by extension, in some sub-Saharan African countries of Senegal, Niger, Chad, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso which make-up ‘Meningitis Belt’ due to poor delivery of vaccines.

Checks reveal that no fewer than 11,000 people were killed by meningitis alone in Nigeria in 1996 and by 2009, 600 people died. Like a recurring decimal, this dangerous disease that science says is “caused by viral or bacterial infection, and marked by intense headache and fever, sensitivity to light, and muscular rigidity and most affected age group is 5-14 years of age” impinged on approximately 10,000 people in 2015, and exterminated over 1,000 people in Nigeria.

The world is embarrassed by the outdated vaccine delivery systems in the country, because Nigeria prefers to buy vaccines from the international market instead of set up vaccines manufacturing plants for local consummations. The highlight of this is that records show that Nigeria only delivered (1.3m vaccine doses for a country that has a population of over 180m people) during the recent impasse. These vaccines, according to media reports, about 800,000 doses were mostly ordered from United Kingdom.  Yet, according to Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, “Too many children still lack access to lifesaving vaccines because of outdated and inefficient supply chains.”

Dr. Berkley was of the belief, saying, “There is need to drive change and deliver comprehensive improvements now, countries won’t have the systems in place to protect the next generation of children, particularly the most vulnerable.”

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) was caught up in vaccines and immunisation ruckuses in July 2013. The then President of the association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele frowned that the Federal Government (FG) failed to curtail the sprinting of hepatitis in the country due to its overdependence on foreign delivery of vaccines. At the occasion of the 2013 World Hepatitis Day, Enabulele said, “Hepatitis virus A, B, C, D and E were accountable for the millions of death in the country, because they caused sensitive and unremitting infections and inflammation of the liver, the government did not bellyache.”

If the country had been vaccines conscious, these deaths could not have occurred. In the light of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) in one of its reports, held, “Vaccines prevent an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year, but an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global immunisation coverage improves.”

The international body supposed that in 2015, an estimated 19.4 million infants worldwide did not receive routine immunisations. What that suggests is that Nigeria, which includes the countries of the world, is awful in the way she sees to vaccines and how they are handled. The hullabaloo is that this oil rich country prefers to order vaccines from the Americas and Europe during outbreaks, whereas in the advanced world, such methodology of delivery of vaccines has been regarded as outdated and compromising that put the lives of people in danger.

The argument is that health and immunisation are not regarded with the attention they needed in Nigeria. According to news, “President Muhammadu Buhari submitted a budget of eight billion naira for the funding of routine immunisation and polio eradication. But the budget that came back from the National Assembly was cut by about 50 per cent. There is need for the legislature to understand the intricacies of immunisation financing and support fulfillment of the government of Nigeria’s commitment to sustainable immunisation at all levels.”

Dr. Aminu Magashi-Garba, Lead Project Director of the Routine Immunisation Sector of the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family, who is also Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network was befuddled in the above commentary on April 22 2016 in Lagos, when he succinctly declared that the budgetary allocation for routine immunisation including eradication of poliomyelitis was slashed by the National Assembly during its review and passage of the 2016 budget. This could have formed the view by Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa.

Dr. Moeti said, “We must act to close the global immunisation gap. Achieving the Global Vaccine Action Plan goal of universal access to immunization by 2020 would benefit the health of millions of Africans.” This is given that pundits have said that the best ways to save lives of  children, condense cost of healthcare and give the children the prospect to live up to their aptitude is through  immunisation.

But according to Magashi-Garba, the cut in the budget meant, “We are going to have shortage of vaccine procurement this year and early next year if enough funds are not available for the vaccines to be procured completely. This also poses a problem because the funding was tied to two international commitments and it will also create a serious challenge in the sector in ensuring that all eligible children are immunised.”

Unlike Nigeria, most countries are “implementing changes and adopting new technologies like solar ‘direct drive’ refrigerators and redesigning delivery systems.” Against this influence, Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH, sounded in the following comments as if he had Nigeria at heart, “There are too many places in the world where vaccines are still not reaching the people who need them most. We need to apply the same ambitious investments to vaccine delivery as we apply to vaccine development.”

In the advanced world, the innovative approaches are being put in place to help augment vaccine ease-of-use and publicity. But Nigeria is still gasping for the air on where to source for vaccines during emergencies. Hear Dr. Robin Nandy, principal advisor and chief of immunisation at UNICEF, “Expanding the use of freeze alarms and rigorous temperature monitoring is critical to ensuring that all children have access to potent, lifesaving vaccines. In the long-term, we must work toward the development of products that can better withstand temperature variations.”

However, the WHO has been concerned that 1.5 million children that include Nigerians who are yet to receive life-saving vaccines they need, do not have access. Hence, April each year is mapped out by the international body to create this attention.  But on May 25 2017, at an award ceremony on health innovation given to Alma Sana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, the NGO introduced a bracelet that was launched by Glaxosmithkline.

The bracelet was said to be worn on the leg or wrist of infants to remind mothers the type of vaccines they have given their children and the time they need new vaccines. While speaking at the rite, wife of the Senate President and founder of Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Toyin Saraki, believed, “We need to work towards adapting a vaccine dependable Nigeria. One of the problems faced with vaccinations is most mothers forget to take their children for immunisation and this bracelet is supposed to help tackle that issue since the bracelet will be on the child from first vaccination till the age of one.”

While the bracelet is believed to “deal with the problem of timeliness, completion of vaccine doses and that of wider coverage to know the extent immunization has been covered in a locality.” According to Dr. Jean Marie Okwo-Bele, director of WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals, in commenting on a study, “For too many countries, it is nearly impossible to collect and harness data to forecast vaccine requirements and deliver vaccines when and where they’re needed. But there are innovations such as electronic data systems that are being piloted and scaled up in developing countries that could and should be more widely adopted.”

Last year, Dr. Orin Levine, the director of vaccine delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation suggested four innovative ways of vaccines delivery during the world vaccine week. Inter alia, Dr. Levine said that first, for vaccines to be safe and effective; they need to be kept cold, hence the invention of Sure Chill refrigerator, which is said to be using “hydro and solar power to keep vaccines cold for days without energy and are being used in more than 30 countries and have become an important tool in humanitarian response efforts when distributing vaccines for cholera or measles can be especially critical.”

In spite of this, Dr. Levine added, “Immunisation is one of our biggest public health success stories, but safe, effective vaccines don’t deliver themselves. With consistent, visible support from national and local leaders, every community can have 21st Century systems that reliably deliver lifesaving vaccines to everyone who needs them.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State, Nigeria. He contributed this piece via: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Pregnant Women Blending With Traditional Delivery Homes

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Checks have revealed that Nigeria constitutes 2% of the world’s population but contributes 10% of the world’s maternal mortality due to spent healthcare system. Odimegwu Onwumere notes in this report that as a result of the apparent failed healthcare system, most women have resorted to traditional delivery homes with the attending dangers

Despite the promise by the present government of Major General Muhammadu Buhari, which came into power in May 29 2015, to establish the 17 agendas on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) index, that include providing good health and good living to all and sundry, Mrs. Joy Ebi, 28, a trader at the Oyigbo Main-market in Rivers State, would prefer to die instead of go to government hospitals for a child birth

Ebi patronizes native delivery homes whenever she’s pregnant. Her three children were delivered in the homes. She would also patronize the native home as she’s pregnant for the next baby. This is in spite of advice from neighbours and relatives to the contrary. However, Ebi seems relaxed in the native delivery homes. She gives her reasons that she feels relaxed, accommodated and loved by the attendants unlike those in the hospitals.

“I’ve my reasons for going to native homes otherwise called quacks, to be delivered of my babies whenever I’m pregnant,” Ebi says. Adding, she enthuses that the native delivery homes attendants are kind unlike those of government hospitals.

“The native delivery homes are receptive, caring and charge little or no money unlike the government hospitals that pose above life and most times deliver women of their children through caesarean section (CS) just for money, whereas most of the women could deliver normally,” Ebi adds.

This is even as pregnant women who patronize government hospitals lament of high costs of delivery in government hospitals. According to newsmen, “One striking thing is that the charges in these hospitals are not uniform even though they are all run by the Ministry of Health.

“The policy of compulsory blood donation is also a source of worry. Pregnant women are complaining of high cost of ante-natal and delivery services.

“Some are asked to pay N12, 500 for registration while their husbands should donate blood, or pay N10, 000 for a pint of blood.

“This is excluding the money for your drugs and other laboratory tests. If you undergo CS, it will amount to over N200, 000. That’s too much for most of us.”

The rural women seek for delivery homes miles away from their abodes that often lead to some ‘putting to bed’ along their villages bush paths. It is believed that poverty is the reason for their action, because they cannot pay for the apparent mountainous bills pregnant women incur in government hospitals. But poverty is not the blight with Ebi. She is a university graduate and a trader of note in the city.

Apart from the traditional homes, many pregnant women attend religious places for prayers and also choose them as where they would give birth. Chris Ewokor in 2016, reported to BBC Africa from Cross River State, saying, “Twenty-seven-year-old Ransom Linus Martin, four months into her first pregnancy, has come to the Land of Promise church near the city of Calabar for prayers, but it is also where she will be giving birth.”

Ewokor added that Martin was not alone in her choice upon that campaigners were headlong to end the practice in southern Nigeria, where many believed that they could be delivered of their babies by ‘God’.

“They do fasting and prayer here, and if you are pregnant you need to go to the place where there is God and there is daily fasting and prayers,” Ewokor impinged Martin, adding, “At the hospital there is nothing like prayer. They don’t pray. They only give you injections. But as you pray at the church, you get closer to God. On the day of your delivery, God will help you and you will deliver successfully.”

Notwithstanding, some medical pundits are of the view that at the government hospitals, their immemorial snowballing neglect and defective funding have made them equal to native delivery homes that are being operated individually with contemplative resources.

Reporting, Pricewaterhouse Cooper, a global thought leadership organization noted, “The Nigerian elite class spends $1 billion on medical tourism and their child bearing needs, while the majority bottom poor are left to die in public hospitals or endure the uncertainties of delivering through traditional birth attendants which often end in fatalities.”

The highlight of it is that the dangers of pregnant women giving birth in this clime cannot be overemphasized. In the view of a 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) report, there were a predictable 814 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in Nigeria. “About half of those deaths were caused by two conditions: uncontrolled bleeding after childbirth, or postpartum hemorrhage, and pre-eclampsia,” said the source.

In a meeting held with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Wednesday, September 28 2016, the Executive Director of the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), Professor Babatunde Osotimehin who was a former Minister of Health in Nigeria, and the Permanent Secretary of the UK’s Department for International Development, DFID, Mr. Mark Lowcock bemoaned that Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate has levitated to 10 percent where about 111 women die on day-after-day footing.

“Nigeria constitutes 2% of the world’s population but contributes 10% of the world’s maternal mortality,” said Osotimehin. UNFP also stated that in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman has a 1 in 16 probability of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. The WHO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) data believes that Nigeria’s maternal deaths record is a disaster, if not the highest globally.

“Even though, maternal mortality worldwide has decreased by nearly half in the last 15 years, Nigeria still faces a heavy burden, leading the world in the total number of maternal deaths per year. In 2015 alone, 58,000 Nigerian women lost their lives to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes,” said the data. Those who know better add that corruption, negligence and injustice have been the major factors debilitating the Nigeria’s broken healthcare system.

On the other hand, newsmen of a leading broadsheet in Nigeria had this to say, “The Nigerian Association for Reproductive & Family Health (ARFH) and the international NGO, PATH, revealed in a 2016 study how a lack of access to three basic medicines is increasing the threat of Nigeria’s two most deadly pregnancy complications: postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia.”

The source went further, “As of March 2016, there were 13 oxytocin products and four magnesium sulfate products registered in Nigeria that had not yet been judged to meet international quality standards. This increases the risk that maternal health products are poor or unknown.”

But while speaking in Uwanse village of Cross Rivers State, Ewokor explained that Dr. Linda Ayade, the Cross River State governor’s wife was appalled by the practice “of a church or traditional home birth” therefore she was crusading for a stop to the practice given her experiences in the government hospitals.

In her words, “I have worked in hospitals in Nigeria and I have first-hand experience of pregnant women being rushed in at critical times when they can no longer be helped. Some are even confirmed dead on arrival, and it happens quite often. I have taken it as an obligation to save lives and reduce incidences of maternal mortality relating to child birth and delivery, knowing what it means for a mother to die and leaving children behind.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State, Nigeria. He contributed this piece via: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Nigeria’s Healthcare of Woes

In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere unearths that less than 40% of Nigerian women have access to healthcare leading to some maternal and mortality deaths. The report also shows nervousness that lack of research funds, basic amenities, too many poor policy implantation, corruption and political instability, insufficient medical experts, lack of modern medical facilities are amongst many woes bedeviling the healthcare system in the country

Laughable healthcare in Nigeria has been driving hundreds of thousands of her citizens to seek for quality medical care abroad, especially those who can afford it, thereby leaving the impoverished citizens to their fate, to putrefy in hospitals in the country known for their obsolete equipment. Worried by the extreme shortage and allotment of healthcare professionals in Nigeria, which has seen to different health challenges especially maternal and mortality deaths (where 36% of Nigerian women have access to health care system) due to dearth of feasible primary healthcare centres in the country, experts assembled in Abuja, the country’s seat of power, on a three-day workshop, which commenced on July 18 2017, to look into the circumstances.

The derisory healthcare has generated some significant reports of some of the citizens with minor illnesses ending up in the morgue, because of lack of life-saving and modern technologies in the Nigerian hospitals. This is no longer news. Connoisseurs opinion is that hardly can one find such modern equipments as “Heart Defibrillators, Holter monitor, and Bronchoscope, which is used to perform Bronchoscopy” and many others in the hospitals across Nigeria. Some added that apart from lack of modern equipments, “unrestricted and unethical practices” thrive among doctors practicing in the country. Those in this line of thought believe that in rational countries of the world, doctors are not allowed to practice after one year of internship after medical school as it obtains in Nigeria; they are allowed to practice after 3 years of residency (after medical school).

They added that in those countries, (people go to medical school after graduating first from the university). But in Nigeria, the case is different. “This results in the roll out of too many half-baked or unqualified doctors that are not well groomed to practice in Nigeria.” While these minds talked to some newspapers editors recently, they added, “Government laissez-faire attitude towards healthcare, ignorance, socio-cultural issues, fake drugs, affordability, incessant strikes by healthcare workers for non-payment and so on, are fad in Nigeria.”

According to them, “It can be observed that the staffers at the Federal Ministry of Health seem to have more interest in spending time and energy with public sector shenanigans than in demonstrating medical expertise that they have been trained for. Therefore, attention and concern of the health of Nigerians had been replaced by selfish interests of those who run the Ministry of Health at the Federal level.”

The raging debate however suggests that the healthcare woes in Nigeria are due to decades of unsuitable measures taken by the successive governments to arrest the situation.

Shortage And Allotment Of Healthcare Professionals?

According to Nigeria Demographic Health Survey 2004: Maternal mortality is increasingly high in Nigeria and the country has one of the maternal and child health indices in the world with maternal 800-3000 deaths per 100,000 live births, life time risk of dying from pregnancy related complications of 1:8 compared to 1:10 in developing countries.

A media data, March 16, 2016, lectured that there’s a population of N182million Nigerians in 36 States of the country. According to the source, “These populations share just 20 Federal Teaching Hospitals and 23 Federal and State Medical Centres. Some States like Lagos host more than one.”

Adding, the source asked, “43 Federal and State Medical Facilities for a population of 182million? That’s an average of about 4.2m people per hospital. Apparently these facilities are too small to cater for Nigeria’s population.”

Why Universal Health Coverage Failed In Nigeria?

In the three-day summit that was tagged Human Resources for Health Summit and was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in partnership with global health cohorts, the keynote was dubbed “Strengthening Human Resources for Health Towards Revitalization of Functional Primary Healthcare Centres in Nigeria.” Factors hindering service delivery, to health workforce challenges, to attaining the nationwide objectives, such as that of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to achieving Universal Health Coverage, characterised the discourse. The Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire while speaking at the conference, harangued the need for the authorities to enliven the comatose healthcare system in the country.

Ehanire said, “All the initiatives to achieve Universal Health Coverage will be appropriate if the right numbers of people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time with the right attitude to provide the right service at the right cost.”

Investigations nonetheless revealed that unfavourable environment has led to many health professionals from Nigeria to migrate to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in search for greener pastures. A representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ibadat Dhillion frowned at this, saying that Nigeria has lost much of her health workforce to OECD countries.

Dhillion said, “Nigeria’s health centres have been in shortage of manpower, whereas a country like Jamaica enjoys medical personnel in her health workforce who are Nigerians in the indices of 25 percent. Nigerian migrant health personnel to OECD are in the ratio of 60 percent.”

N1500 On Nigerian’s Healthcare Per Year?

In sound climes, health benefits are seen as a fundamental human right that must not be deprived the individual. For instance, pundits said that elections in countries like the USA and UK are won or lost “on the debate of Health from NHS to the Affordable Care Act.”

But this is not the same with Nigeria. Nigeria is a country without National Health Act implemented. This, if implemented, is supposed to help in bettering healthcare delivery in the country. With the huge mineral resources sales that go to its coffers, authorities said that the Federal Government (FG) spends about N1500 (about 4 USD) per Nigerian’s health care a year.

That might sound hilarious. Conversely, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole literally wept concerning this, at the Maiden Edition of Health Communication Conference organised by Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, ANHEJ in Abuja, July 13 2017.

In Adewole’s words, “Nigeria is still far below the Abuja Declaration, a commitment by the African Union Heads of Governments to ensure that at least 15 per cent of National Budgets are allocated to the health sector.

“In 2017, the Health Budget (Nigeria’s) is only around 4 per cent of the National Budget. Though, this represents a slight improvement from around 3.73 per cent in the 2016 budget, the numbers are worrisome. This would mean that only about N1, 500 (One Thousand and Five Hundred Naira only) is being spent on the health of every Nigerian per year.”

Adewole was worried that unless the country imbibed the spirit of funding major part of its health programmes, Nigeria might not get out of the health conundrum, at least, soon. Buttressing his views, he gave instances where approximately 70 per cent of the resources to contain HIV come from foreign donors.

According to Adeowle, “99 per cent of the commodities were paid for by outsiders, so we must put our money. When we look at family planning, the large part of the money is from outside. Immunisation, the vaccines all come from outside. This country must wake up; we must put our money in health and create a positive way for the health of this nation.”

Upon Billions Of Dollars Launched?

Just as Adewole said that Nigeria depends on donors to curb her healthcare challenges, research has shown that the donors have spent trillions of naira to boost Nigeria’s healthcare system and fight diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea, measles, cholera, hepatitis, polio, and so many others; yet Nigeria is thus far to solve her health unresponsiveness.

This issue gets some Nigerians cracked. One of them who claimed anonymity, said, “The deplorable state of the Nigerian healthcare system is sad; the healthcare system in Nigeria by every indication is third world standard.

“In spite of the large budget and funds from donor countries and organizations, there is nothing to be proud of as most of the resources are flagrantly embezzled by certain group of people, who run the affairs of the Ministry as personal property.”

For example, just on February 16 this year, N40 billion (70 million Euros) to improve healthcare in Nigeria was launched  by European Union (EU) of which the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), were running round for implementation.

According to official data, “50 million Euros of the grant disbursed through the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), aim to ensure that by 2020, 80 per cent of the wards in Adamawa, Bauchi and Kebbi States will have a functional primary health care centre, providing round-the-clock services to three million children under the age of five, as well as almost a million pregnant women and lactating mothers.

“Also, 20 million Euros disbursed through the World Health Organisation (WHO), will support the strengthening of health care systems towards achieving universal health coverage in Anambra and Sokoto States.”

The EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Michel Arrion, while speaking at the event, said, “The focus is especially on providing services to poor, marginalised, rural women and children, saving the lives of mothers and children and improving their health and nutrition through a sustainable primary healthcare delivery system.”

For UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Mohamed Fall, “This will help Nigeria on the road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals agreed at the United Nations in 2015 by all the world’s nations, including Nigeria.”

It is consequently assumed by some opinion leaders in the health sector that the standard of healthcare delivery Nigerians yearn for will not be reached till a drastic searchlight is beamed at the Federal Ministry of Health, which is supposed to be where Nigeria’s health woes emanate from.

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State, Nigeria. He contributed this piece via: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Millions Expected To Die In Nigeria Due To Poor Finances For Feeding

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Over 5.2 million people are expected to be seriously affected by malnutrition by August this year, from the 4.7 million the WFP says are currently affected in North-East, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that investigations reveal that the number of children currently malnourished and sick in Nigeria is apparently more than the population of some countries

“Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians could starve to death in the famine-threatened North-East due to lack of aid funds,” the United Nations warns on May 24, 2017.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) figures picture that numerous children are affected by malnutrition in the country. In Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Yobe, and Zamfara States, experts at Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN), exclaim, “As a result of malnutrition, 58 per cent of children under five in these states suffer from stunting, meaning their physical and mental development have been impaired.”

But despite this, authorities seem not to be working round the clock to arrest the situation, even as WINNN adds, “An estimated 370,000 children with severe acute malnutrition in these states will require lifesaving treatment this year, while 183,352 breast feeding women are malnourished. Without urgent intervention, some 70,000 of those children are likely to die.”

Twenty Million People In Danger

Nigeria is among countries like Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen that the UN says pose the jeopardy of malnourishment and where 20 million people are in danger due to draught and conflict and will be dubbed “the world’s worst famine for decades”.

The U.N’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS), articulates, “Nigeria’s humanitarian appeal is the least funded. Nigeria’s aid response plan for 2017 has received $241 million of a requested $1.05 billion to date, of which the WFP’s demand for $300 million to provide life-saving food aid in the North-East has only been a sixth funded.”

This has raised sharp fear that only this June, the UN can merely assist 1.3 million of those most in need, as against the 1.8 million people it had before tabled to provide aid to.

The genuineness of this is that apart from the North-East, malnutrition and stunting are besetting the growth and development of children in most Nigerian towns and villages.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Children Dying

The UNICEF says that in 2016 alone, the South-East geo-political zone of Nigeria had a number of 34, 889 malnourished children, while 6, 700 deaths were recorded.

The same was pertinent to the South-South zone, with a total of 86, 304 malnourished children, and 16, 700 deaths; while in the South-West, there were 84, 417 cases of malnourished children and 16, 300 deaths.

The source goes further to reveal that the North-West zone had 1,594, 462 bags of the ugly omen and 308, 000 deaths.

The North-Central had 43,635 toll of malnourished children with 8,400 deaths; and North-East had 695,998 cases and 134, 000 deaths.

Millions Of Dollars Needed

At a media discourse with the theme – Investing in Child Malnutrition For the Future – Mrs. Philomena Irene, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist says that there are 2.5 million children on the index to be treated for malnutrition, but about 500 have been treated; all simmer down to poor funding.

“$107 million is needed for treatment of malnourished children in Nigeria, but just $21.5 million have been realised, leaving a shortfall of $85.5 million,” as according to UNICEF, adding, “Only $5 is needed to prevent malnutrition in a child while a total of $71 is needed to treat each malnourished child.”

It is believed that sixty-six percent of children are malnourished in the country and the percentage is expected to increase due to the WFP heralding apocalyptic famine in Nigeria.

According to the WFP’s regional director Abdou Dieng in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Dakar, Senegal, “We need $250 million to prevent famine in Nigeria in the coming months.”

Effects Of Hunger

This plight is however moving groups and individuals to warn of the effects of malnutrition on children.

Those who know better say that the worrisome aspect is that the blights are not being handled with the attention they needed despite WFP dwindling efforts in feeding people in the affected areas.

“If we don’t get the funding, hundreds of thousands of people could die of hunger,” says Dieng, adding, “Hunger levels would increase as the rainy season restricted aid delivery and continuing insecurity limited the population’s ability to farm.”

But before this revelation, there were media reports suggesting that, “Available statistical estimates show that no less than half a million Nigerian children aged five and below die yearly as a result of malnutrition, hence, investing in nutrition will yield valuable returns.”

Between Health And Nutrition

At a workshop organised recently in Kaduna to point out aspects of leakage in media coverage of health and nutrition questions, Beatrice Eluaka frowns at the health and nutrition financing vacuums in Nigeria.

For Prof. Sandy Thomas, the Director of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition on investing in nutrition, “Meeting the 2015 World Health Assembly target for stunting will add 29,7 billion to Nigeria’s income.’’

Eluaka who is the project director of CS-SUN, a Civil Society Organisation and member of the PACFaH coalition, observes, “The Nigeria demographic and health survey (NDHS) 2013 reported the national prevalence of stunting at 37%, underweight 29%, and wasting 18% in children under five years old.

“The worst hit regions in Nigeria for stunting are the North-West and North-Central which have 54.8% and 29.3% respectively.”

There is apprehension that stunting children hardly recover from the peril they incur due to malnutrition. In Enugu, Henrietta Ugwu, who is the Enugu State Nutrition Officer bares her fears that immediately a child is above the 1000 days expected of a child to have adequate nutrition, the chance of rescuing the child is slim.

In an examination by correspondent Doyin Ojosipe, May 18, 2017, Ugwu says, “Malnutrition is something that is irreversible because what you may be seeing is the physical appearance of the child.”

The statement goes further, “The damage has been done in the brain, that the child may not attain in terms of development, in terms of growth, in terms of every other thing, even workforce when he comes of age he may not be able to contribute excellently to the economic development of a nation as other children that were well taken care of.”

Exclusive Breastfeeding

Mrs. Irene says that malnutrition has made Nigeria to be among the highest contributors to under-five child mortality in the world. “Unfortunately, only 17 percent of nursing mothers in Nigeria engaged in exclusive breast feeding for their children.

 

“From the birth to a child’s six months, they are not to be given water, all they needed in order to boost their immune system, is the breast milk.”

This is even as Dr. Bamidele Omotola, another Nutrition Specialist at the UNICEF, enthuses, “Between when a baby is conceived to when the baby is two years old, over 90 percent of the brain is formed to adult size but because of malnutrition, because the mother did not feed on proper nutrition when pregnant, it affects the formulation of the brain cells and because the brain is the center where the baby is able to manipulate, conjuncture things, that ability will also be lost.”

However, Mrs. Irene further notes, “If government does not spend the $1 needed to prevent malnutrition now, $16 would be spent on numerous diseases that malnutrition causes in the future.” It is therefore hoped that Nigeria will receive the funds required to avert the amplified number of 5.2 million citizens from starving to death.

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State, Nigeria. He contributed this piece via: apoet_25@yahoo.com