Cocktail of drugs could prevent 10,000 HIV deaths a year, claim scientists

Cocktail of drugs could prevent 10,000 HIV deaths a year, claim scientists

A package of low-cost drugs designed to prevent deadly infections among people who are starting HIV treatment late could save 10,000 lives a year across sub-Saharan Africa, scientists believe.

About one in five people who start HIV treatment in poorer countries are doing so later than advisable, which means they have a low number of CD4 cells, a key component of the immune system. This leaves them far more vulnerable to developing serious illnesses. Roughly one in 10 such people die within the first few weeks of treatment because their immune systems cannot recover fast enough.

UN calls for urgent action to protect young women from HIV/Aids in Africa
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HIV prevalence is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa, with women and children especially vulnerable, but a study led by academics at University College London found that a preventative package of anti-infection drugs significantly reduces the number of deaths from HIV-related illnesses. The researchers estimate that if the drugs were given to every patient in sub-Saharan Africa starting anti-HIV treatment and suffering from a low CD4 count, the drugs could prevent roughly 10,000 deaths each year.

The findings come as more than 6,000 scientists, researchers and global health experts converge on Paris for the IAS conference on HIV science. Delegates at the four-day meeting, which started on Sunday, will discuss the latest developments in HIV research and how the science can be translated into policy.

The UCL study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved 1,805 adults, teenagers and children from across east Africa. Half of the participants were given a drug combination that included medicines used to combat TB (isoniazid), fungal infections (fluconazole),and worms (albendazole). The combination also included two antibiotics, azithromycin and co-trimoxazole,a drug routinely given to people starting HIV treatment in Africa.

Six months after starting this regimen, the mortality rate among patients fell. Almost 9% of patients taking the drug combination died, compared with 12% who didn’t take them. The drugs bundle also reduced illnesses including TB, cryptococcal disease, a potentially fatal fungal infection, and candida disease, a fungal condition.

Diana Gibb, professor of epidemiology at UCL’s medical research council clinical trials, said the package of drugs will help the large number of people who do not realise they have HIV until the later stages, or who do not seek treatment due to stigma.

“Currently, the World Health Organisation says you should look for infections and treat them before or as you start treatment with antiretroviral medicines. The problem is that often primary healthcare centres aren’t able to do that very easily because diagnostics aren’t there, and secondly it causes a delay because you’ve got to have tests done and come back,” she said. “The good thing about this treatment was that you just take the prevention pills at the same time as you start antiretroviral therapy.”

The package is cheap and cost effective, she added. Across all countries involved in the trial, the bundle was roughly £4 more expensive than the standard co-trimoxazole drug given to people starting HIV treatment. By combining some of the drugs into a fixed-dose tablet, academics also ensured that, for most of the 12 weeks, participants were only required to take one extra tablet a day.

James Hakim, professor of medicine at the University of Zimbabwe, said the study demonstrated the importance of measuring CD4 counts before the commencement of HIV treatment.

“Although the average CD4 count among the 1,805 people starting treatment in [the trial] was only 36 cells per cubic millimetre, which is very low, half of them had either no symptoms or only very minor ones,” said Hakim. “This shows the importance of measuring CD4 counts before starting HIV treatment, as there is no other way to identify many who would benefit from this package.”

It was previously routine for all people diagnosed with HIV to have a CD4 count, because this would decide whether an individual was going to start anti-HIV treatment. Now, everyone gets care regardless of their CD4 count, which has led to a slackening of testing in some areas.

The study, which was funded by the Medical Research Council, the UK Department for International Development and the Wellcome Trust, recommended the CD4 test for all people receiving HIV treatment. The researchers said the enhanced package of drugs should become standard for people who have low CD4 counts and start treatment late.

The WHO will decide whether to adopt the treatment over the coming year.

On 20 July, the UN programmes on HIV and Aids reported that 53% of all people living with HIV now had access to treatment – 19.5 million out of 36.7 million. If progress continues at this pace, UNAids said the world would be on track to hit the global target of reaching 30 million people with treatment by 2020.

Physicians want specialised healthcare in West African sub-region

Physicians want specialised healthcare in West African sub-region

It, however, decried priority issues in healthcare delivery system, saying that to achieve health for all in 2020, there was the need to strengthen the system. National Chairman of NACP, Dr. Abel Nze Onunu, noted that the body, which was formally inaugurated in Lagos in 1976 as an agency of the West African Health Community (WAHC) is now known as the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) and functions under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He said that with six faculties in the College’s Community Health, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics and Psychiatry, WAHC is the apex organization for training specialist physicians in West Africa.

Onunu, who made this known in Asaba at its 41st Annual General Scientific Meeting (AGSM), commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his contributions towards the successful hosting of this year’s AGSM.

His words: “One of the traditions of our AGSM is to have a specific focus for each year and this has proved to be an invaluable forum for yearly reviews of activities of the college, exchange of innovative concepts in health services and research findings.

“The theme of this year’s conference: “Universal Access to Health, A Basic Necessity for Attainment of the SDG’s,” focuses on building sustainable healthcare leadership and quality healthcare.”

Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee and former Chief Medical Director (CMD) Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Asaba, Dr. Leo Erhunmwunse said last year, Delta State was given the task of hosting the 2017 AGSM of the WACP, adding that the journey was challenging, especially in a recession.

He appreciated the assistance rendered by the Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Asaba, Dr. Victor Osiatuma, saying that his contributions in facilitating the conference, was commendable.

Governor Okowa, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nicholas Azinge, said the healthcare sector cannot be over looked, adding that the state government had in the last two years confronted several challenges in the health sector.

Gambega Ltd, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation donate medical supplies to health sector

Gambega Ltd, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation donate medical supplies to health sector

Gambega Limited, in partnership with Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and Medshare through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, yesterday donated a forty-Foot container of medical supplies worth US$200,000 to SerreKunda and Bansang Hospitals, at a ceremony held at the SerreKunda Hospital ground.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Saffie Lowe-Ceesay, expressed great delight and pride for the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and people of The Gambia to be presented with a 40-Foot container of medical supplies by Gambega Company Ltd in collaboration with the Coca Cola Africa Foundation and Equatorial Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

This was not the first time such items have been donated to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare because as a similar donation was made to EFSTH some time ago, she revealed.

Minster Lowe-Ceesay further revealed that the container they have received contains wheel chairs, hospital beds and mattresses, furniture, assorted surgical items in addition to several other health care equipment that would go a long way in improving health service delivery.

“It is important to note that healthcare is an expensive undertaking, hence the need to forge partnership with the private sector cannot be overemphasized,” she countered.

She called on all to emulate Gambega in supporting the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for the realisation of her policy goals and objectives.

She assured that the donated items would through the supply chain and distribution system to reach those communities/facilities most in need.

She also thanked Gambega and its collaborating agencies for choosing The Gambia for such a valuable donation.

Also speaking at the handing over ceremony, the Director of Health Services, Modou Lamin Waggeh, said medical equipment are tools that are indispensable for effective and efficient preventive, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation as well as the attainment of internationally agreed health related development goals such as the millennium declaration.

Mr Eugene Allen, the Country Manager of Gambega Ltd, said over the last five years, the Coca-Cola Foundation has donated three containers of medical equipment to RVTH which is benefiting thousands of people residing in the country.

“As a global business operating on a local scale, we work together in harmony with all our local partners and stakeholders in order to preserve quality health and safe natural environment for our future generations,” he stated.

Finally !!! President returns from medical leave

Finally !!! President returns from medical leave

The Angolan President, Mr. José Eduardo dos Santos, has returned home after 17 days in Spain where he normally travels for medical treatment and holiday.

President dos Santos, 74, arrived in Luanda late Wednesday, accompanied by the First Lady, Ana Paula dos Santos.

They were received at the Luanda military air base by Vice-President Manuel Domingos Vicente and other top government officials.

The veteran leader has visited the European state several times since 2013, Africa Review said.

President dos Santos left Angola on July 3 for Barcelona, with his office alluding in a statement that the visit was private, without divulging details.

He spent 28 days in Spain in May without an official explanation, prompting claims of his death on both the social and traditional media.

“He is in Spain and when he gets fine he will be back home,” Foreign Affairs minister Georges Chikoti told journalists in Luanda on May 29.

It was the first time a top government official confirmed that President dos Santos usually went to Spain for medical treatment.

“President dos Santos normally seeks medical treatment in Spain and this is normal for him to be there,” he said.

“It is all right but you know it happens with everyone. Sometimes you don’t fill fine but he is fine.”

President dos Santos has been in power since in 1979 and is Africa’s second longest serving president after Obiang’ Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.

The southern Africa state goes to the polls on August 23 that will see the long-serving leader retire.

The ruling party, MPLA, has nominated Defence minister João Lourenço as its flag bearer for the August presidential contest.

Opposition has been calling on the government to reveal the state of the President health amid reports that Africa’s second-longest ruler is seriously ill.

Dos Santos, who has run the oil-producing southern African nation since 1979, first left Angola at the start of May on what was officially billed as a two-week “private visit”.

His daughter, Isabel, took to Instagram to knock down “fake news”, that her father was probably dead.

“Someone has gone so low as to invent information about the death of a man in order to create confusion and turmoil in Angolan politics,” Isabel dos Santos, who is also head of state oil firm Sonangol, said.

Raul Danda, parliamentary president of the opposition UNITA party, said the lack of clarity about the health of the man who has been central to Angola’s stability since the end of a long civil war in 2002 was becoming a national security issue.

Dos Santos, a Soviet-trained oil engineer and veteran of the guerrilla war against Portuguese rule, rarely appears in public but the last time Danda saw him, he did not look well, he said.

Medical Couple Performs 96 Surgeries in Bomi County

Medical Couple Performs 96 Surgeries in Bomi County

When Blessing Yah was seven, she accidentally fell in a fire, leaving her with severe scars as her neck remained stuck to her shoulders, making it difficult to impossible for her to oscillate normally.

Now eleven, there is a glimmer of hope for the young girl as a two man surgical team from the United States arrived in the country to treat her on a pro-bono basis.

Dr. Kelvin Strathy is a plastic surgeon while his wife Nathu Strathy is a surgical nurse.

“Blessing was not born like this, but she was seven when she got burn, according to her mother who was at home when it happened,” said Sekou Yah, Blessing’s father.

“Blessing who was sleeping one afternoon, immediately jumped up and started yelling that the devil was coming for her, and she fell into the fire.”

“But by the time her mother reached there, she was badly burned that her neck got stuck to her shoulder and became one, but I am very happy that the first surgery is successful, that she can move head small, small.”

Sekou, who lives in neighboring Grand Cape Mount County, said he never thought his daughter would have had the opportunity to undergo a surgery at no expense.

He said a lady who works at the hospital alerted him of the free surgery, prompting to rush his daughter to the hospital.

Blessing is among thousands of people around Liberia who suffer from some form of deformity that can only be solved via plastic surgery, which isn’t available in the country.

But Dr. Kevin Strathy, who has been a plastic surgeon for over thirty years, said Blessing’s case is one of the challenging cases he has come across in Liberia because, according to him, separating the neck from the shoulder is only the beginning of the surgical task.

“She will have to undergo two more surgeries before she is fully reconditioned and be normal,” he mentioned. “Because she was badly burned that the scar affected the skin tissue and veins that all drew in and stuck together, so we just separated the neck from the shoulder and when we return in December, we will do the other two surgeries.”

Dr. Strathy said plastic surgery is acutely expensive around the world, saying the idea of performing free surgeries was birthed by his wife who is a Liberian.

“Our budget is about US$50,000 a year and some come from our pockets while some come from other donors. We work with corporations, and one of my biggest organizations donates pharmaceuticals of good quality to us and we raise money from friends and family members. P

“Plastic surgeries in America and around the world cost tens of thousands of dollars to do them; so I can do it here free, but I cannot do it in the US for free, because it is expensive.

“This is a really expensive endeavor that we put a lot of money into that we raise back home to gather and ship medical supplies, but we are happy to be working with the team here in Bomi that is very wonderful.”

Natu Strathy chirped that the running of the program is quite expensive and as a result they can’t treat everyone.

“From last December to now, I think we have done over 80 surgeries, and we stay a month every time we come. Our support is out of our pockets and our pockets are drying up.

“We put in an application to USAID for financial assistance but we have not heard from them yet, because we are just putting our tentacles out there to see who can help us, because it is very expensive to do plastic surgery worldwide.

“We are hoping that somebody will hear us one day and support what we are doing, because there are many charities around and there are lot a of dishonest ones.”

“So, for people to give their money these days, is really tight, because nobody knows who is telling the truth and who is not.”

“This is why we are doing what we are doing so they can see and know that we are honest people from what we do,” she said.

She disclosed that the Ministry of Health, through Bomi County Health Officer, has always been helping to clear their containers from the port of without paying which, she added, has been a big help to them.

When asked as to whether she and her husband intend moving home and volunteer to help the sick, Natu said they cannot as it is easier to stay in the U.S. and beg for medical supplies and equipment instead of moving home without supplies, revealing that they have a 40ft container on its way to the country which Rep. Edwin Snowe has helped to ship.

Bomi County Medical Officer, Dr. Williametta S. Gibson, who took over from Dr. Gorbee G. Logan after the Ebola, said the hospital is a referral hospital, so they have people coming from Cape Mount, Gbapolu and Montserrado to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Plastic surgery is very expensive and this team is here doing it free of charge, which is a great help to many people. There are many patients with different cases,” she said.

Dr. Gibson added that Tuesdays and Thursdays, are elective surgical cases, for people who have hydroceles and other minor cases, adding that the C-section is the most dominant.

Indian government helping develop homeopathy in Ghana

The Indian government is partnering with a Ghanaian company to build capacity of the country’s professionals in providing homeopathic education and treatment and recently sent two experts from the Ministry of Ayush to train doctors and staff at the company’s chain of C4C Hospitals. “We would be ready to assist through capacity-building — be it in the form of visiting experts or through extra-curricular or sub-technical advice,” Indian High Commissioner Birender Singh Yadav said of the initiative, which could also see the hospital chain expand into other West African nations. During their stay in Ghana, the two Indian homeopathic experts visited the Presidency where they met Minister of Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who promised that the ministry was ready to collaborate with the Indian government and the C4C Hospitals to promote homeopathic healthcare and education in Ghana. The team also met the heads of the various departments of the National Professional Board For Techinical Examinations (NABPTEX) to discuss how to incorporate homeopathic education into the curriculum of the Technical Universities in Ghana. “Officials of NABPTEX expressed their readiness to collaborate so that homeopathy can be taught in all their institutions, starting with a pilot scheme at the Accra Technical University for the award the Higher National Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine for graduates of the C4C Homeopathic Medical College,” C4C Hospitals Director Michael Kojo Kyeremateng told IANS. The C4C chain has 10 branches in all the 10 regional capitals of the nation and some districts to make homeopathy accessible to all Ghanaians. Kyeremateng, an Indian-trained Ghanaian alternative medical practitioner, has been recognised by the Indian government and the Ministry of Ayush for his passion and zeal in promoting education and homeopathic treatment in Ghana. He recently represented Africa at the International Convention On World Homeopathy Day in New Delhi organised by the Ministry of Ayush. Under the terms of assistance to the C4C Hospitals, “Indian experts would provide training for a continuous professional development programme for C4C staffers to enhance their practice and to lecture to the students of the homeopathic medicine college,” Kyeremateng explained. He said the C4C Hospitals has signed an signed academic MOUs with two Indian entities –Vadodara’s Parul University and Kolkata’s IBAM Academy — to promoting homeopathic education and alternative system of medicine for Ghanaians through the C4C Homeopathic Medical College. In line with this, the C4C Homeopathic Medical College will send its students to india for one year after three years of studies in Ghana for academic and practical training, for a joint degree awarded by the Parul University. There is also a programme to provide distance education for those who want to study any alternative system of medicine with the IBAM Academy. In addition, Kyeremateng said the company is also venturing into the West Africa region by establishing homeopathic hospitals and had taken the lead to introduce a Homeopathic Health Insurance Policy to make homeopathy affordable to all Ghanaians in the region.

The Indian government is partnering with a Ghanaian company to build capacity of the country’s professionals in providing homeopathic education and treatment and recently sent two experts from the Ministry of Ayush to train doctors and staff at the company’s chain of C4C Hospitals.

“We would be ready to assist through capacity-building — be it in the form of visiting experts or through extra-curricular or sub-technical advice,” Indian High Commissioner Birender Singh Yadav said of the initiative, which could also see the hospital chain expand into other West African nations.

During their stay in Ghana, the two Indian homeopathic experts visited the Presidency where they met Minister of Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who promised that the ministry was ready to collaborate with the Indian government and the C4C Hospitals to promote homeopathic healthcare and education in Ghana.

The team also met the heads of the various departments of the National Professional Board For Techinical Examinations (NABPTEX) to discuss how to incorporate homeopathic education into the curriculum of the Technical Universities in Ghana.

“Officials of NABPTEX expressed their readiness to collaborate so that homeopathy can be taught in all their institutions, starting with a pilot scheme at the Accra Technical University for the award the Higher National Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine for graduates of the C4C Homeopathic Medical College,” C4C Hospitals Director Michael Kojo Kyeremateng told IANS.

The C4C chain has 10 branches in all the 10 regional capitals of the nation and some districts to make homeopathy accessible to all Ghanaians.

Kyeremateng, an Indian-trained Ghanaian alternative medical practitioner, has been recognised by the Indian government and the Ministry of Ayush for his passion and zeal in promoting education and homeopathic treatment in Ghana.

He recently represented Africa at the International Convention On World Homeopathy Day in New Delhi organised by the Ministry of Ayush.

Under the terms of assistance to the C4C Hospitals, “Indian experts would provide training for a continuous professional development programme for C4C staffers to enhance their practice and to lecture to the students of the homeopathic medicine college,” Kyeremateng explained.

He said the C4C Hospitals has signed an signed academic MOUs with two Indian entities –Vadodara’s Parul University and Kolkata’s IBAM Academy — to promoting homeopathic education and alternative system of medicine for Ghanaians through the C4C Homeopathic Medical College.

In line with this, the C4C Homeopathic Medical College will send its students to india for one year after three years of studies in Ghana for academic and practical training, for a joint degree awarded by the Parul University. There is also a programme to provide distance education for those who want to study any alternative system of medicine with the IBAM Academy.

In addition, Kyeremateng said the company is also venturing into the West Africa region by establishing homeopathic hospitals and had taken the lead to introduce a Homeopathic Health Insurance Policy to make homeopathy affordable to all Ghanaians in the region.

The 20 best hospitals in South Africa

The 20 best hospitals in South Africa

Discovery Health has released its latest Discovery Health Patient Survey Score (PaSS), listing the best hospitals around the country based on patient experience.

The globally validated survey allows patients to voice their views to healthcare providers of how care was experienced during admission to hospital. To collect patient feedback on the experience of care in hospital, adult members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme are surveyed after their discharge from hospital.

The survey covers questions across important categories such as how well pain was managed, the preparation of patients for care following discharge, and whether patients experienced communication from healthcare providers as respectful and easy to understand.

To ensure a fair and equitable comparison between hospitals, the analysis considers factors that hospitals cannot reasonably control – such as the nature of illness and the age and gender of patients. Overall, 136 hospitals were included in the analysis of patient experience scores.

“Measuring quality of care, including patient experience, is standard practice in healthcare systems around the world,” said Head of Quality of Care at Discovery Health, Dr Roshini Moodley Naidoo.

“Healthcare systems that value and enable best quality of care are known to reduce unnecessary costs and offer improved health outcomes for patients. Our measurement of quality of care, the public reporting thereof, and the improvement strategies that healthcare providers implement, hold the potential to improve healthcare delivery,” said Moodley Naidoo.

The PaSS Top 20 hospitals in 2016, across all size categories, are listed below (alphabetically):

*Hospitals marked with an asterisk have featured on the list for the past three years.

Cormed Clinic (Vanderbijlpark)
Ethekwini Hospital And Heart Centre* (Newlands East, Durban)
Gateway Private Hospital (Umhlanga)
Hillcrest Private Hospital* (Hillcrest)
Life Bay View Private Hospital (Mossel Bay)
Life Rosepark Hospital (Bloemfontein)
Lowveld Hospital* (Nelspruit)
Mediclinic Cape Gate (Cape Town)
Mediclinic Ermelo (Ermelo)
Mediclinic George (George)
Mediclinic Hoogland (Bethlehem)
Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt (Belville West, Cape Town)
Mediclinic Milnerton* (Milnerton, Cape Town)
Mediclinic Panorama* (Cape Town)
Mediclinic Stellenbosch* (Stellenbosch)
Midvaal Private Hospital* (Vereeniging)
Netcare Jakaranda Hospital (Pretoria)
Netcare N1 City Hospital (Cape Town)
Wilmed Park Private Hospital* (Klerksdorp)
Zuid-Afrikaans Hospital* (Pretoria)

African leaders and medical tourism

African leaders and medical tourism

It is important to state from the outset that most African leaders have failed themselves and the nations they govern in health care delivery to their citizens. Nowhere is this better reflected than when they are compelled to seek medical care abroad each time they have routine or serious health challenges. Nearly sixty odd years after independence, most African Heads of State still travel to Europe or Asia for health check or treatment. This is sad.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has been in the United Kingdom for over two months receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment. Also, 93 year-old President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe who has held the office of president for nearly 40 years is in Singapore for eye treatment. What a sad commentary on the quality of leadership in Africa!

Truth, however, is that things were never this bad. It is also true that Africa, especially Nigeria has very competent hands that can render excellent health services if the conditions are right. It is on record that the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan were once on the top list of health facilities in Africa. As Head of State, then General Yakubu Gowon’s wife had her baby at LUTH. Members of the Saudi Royal family once patronised UCH all the way from that rich kingdom. Also, the nation’s teaching hospitals have produced first class doctors who now practise in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, and the Caribbean to mention but a few. Indeed, some wealthy Nigerians who travelled to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s found themselves in the care of doctors of Nigerian ancestry. The current preferred destination for most Nigerians with serious health challenges is India.

Different administrations have made attempts to strengthen Nigeria’s public hospitals. Some private elitist hospitals have also sprung up in the last 20 years in Lagos and Abuja. Yet, these attempts have not met the needs of Nigerians. Patients generally seem to have a deep preference for hospitals abroad. At a point, four teaching hospitals were selected as centres of excellence. They were furnished and equipped by the Federal Government through a special intervention scheme. But the effort has failed miserably. The said hospitals have reverted to their old order of poor facilities, poor service, inefficiency and recording high mortality rates through carelessness.

The private sector has to come to the rescue of the nation and the continent. Well-trained doctors should be helped to invest in health care delivery. Thousands of specialists exist in Africa, with Nigeria having a lion share. They should be able to establish first-rate hospitals that would generate confidence and make Nigerians patronise them. The Mayo Clinic or John Hopkins Hospital in America reputed to be excellent hospitals are not the creation of the government. Private investors have sustained these excellent hospitals through time.

It has been established that most government-owned establishments cannot be run efficiently in Nigeria. Governments, therefore, both at state and federal levels, should concentrate on creating an atmosphere that would make the growth of an effective health care system possible. This can be done by deliberately promoting medical tourism within Nigeria. Government should stress the positive always. Government officials should lead by example. Leaders pass a vote of no-confidence in Nigeria’s hospitals each time they travel abroad for medical check-ups or treatment. It is an open secret that although the Nigerian public may not know the details of our current president’s health status, the details will certainly be known to the leaders of Western nations in whose hospitals he is seeking treatment. This is bad national pride and security.

The National Hospital in Abuja which was created to meet serious health challenges has not lived up to that billing. Elsewhere in the world, the military usually run first rate hospitals. The Nigerian Armed Forces should therefore be in the loop of creating excellent health services for its personnel and highly-placed persons whose health status might have security implications for the country.

The need to build strong health institutions supported by a well-funded, well-run National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cannot be over-emphasized. Too many citizens have lost their lives because of their inability to pay their health bills. In a country that has so much wealth, this is a disgrace. The governments at different levels should realise that a strong health care system is for the overall benefit of everyone, both the ruler and the ruled. Policies should therefore be initiated and carefully implemented to guarantee continuity. The National Assembly should focus on positive legislative actions in the health sector. Senators and Representatives should not concentrate on feathering their own nests alone. The overall interest of Nigeria should be their concern. They should ensure that the National Health Insurance Scheme is properly operated to capture people in the informal sector.

Finally, African leaders should save their nations and their peoples from the embarrassment of seeking medical help abroad ever too often in spite of the rich human resources which the continent has. Doing just that would be the ultimate act of patriotism.

Kenya leads in medical tourism in Africa

Kenya leads in medical tourism in Africa

Private health and wellness facilities are setting Kenya apart as one of the key medical tourist destinations in Africa, a new report shows.

The Economic Development in Africa Report 2017 released by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) last week shows Kenya is one of Africa’s top beneficiaries of cross-border travel for medical purposes.

Its health and wellness facilities are wooing hundreds of visitors from neighbouring states and helping to boost tourism industry.

“The medical tourism is marked by African nationals seeking high-end specialised medical services and primary health-care services,
increasingly in other African countries,” the report titled Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth states.
Apart from Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia are also cited as top destinations for European and Africans seeking medical services.

The report states that a number of Europeans also pour into Africa every year seeking low-cost, high-quality specialised medical services and cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

Generally, four out of 10 international tourists in Africa come from the continent itself with estimates suggesting that the intraregional medical tourism market segment is growing.

“Demand by medical tourists for specialised medical care can stimulate job creation for highly skilled health professionals who provide such services,” states the Unctad tourism report.

The report also cites wellness tourism — travel for the pursuit of enhancing physical well-being — as another growing market segment that has taken route in Africa.

The continent has experienced a growing demand for homeopathic treatments and traditional therapies from international and domestic tourists, the report states.

It identifies the Sub-Saharan Africa among the fastest growing markets for wellness tourism, with significant growth in the number of wellness tourists and spa revenues.

“The market segment is increasingly emerging elsewhere on the continent, including in Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria,” it states, adding that Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia already have developed niche markets.

Kenya’s health tourism Strategy 2014– 2018 seeks inbound medical tourism from sub-Saharan Africa.
It also targets to increase health-care services exports “through the provision of high-quality health-care services and infrastructure.”

Everything You Need to Know About Malaria Prevention

Everything You Need to Know About Malaria Prevention

Malaria — a menace to travelers visiting sub-Saharan Africa, parts of South America, and South Pacific islands like Papua New Guinea — is carried by mosquitoes infected with a specific parasite. When the mosquito bites a human, the disease can be transmitted.

Like with yellow fever, it’s impossible to tell which mosquito is infected, and which isn’t.

Symptoms of Malaria

In 99 percent of the cases, malaria is contracted from a mosquito during a visit abroad. In a few very rare instances, individuals have actually caught malaria after being bitten by a mosquito in the United States. (Frighteningly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that while malaria has not been a serious issue in the U.S. for decades, there is always the possibility that it could be reintroduced back into the country.)

Referred to by the CDC as a “serious disease,” malaria can affect the entire body — chills, fever, and flu-like symptoms develop within 7 to 14 days of exposure. About 900,000 people die every year from malaria.

In the U.S., a majority of those who are diagnosed with malaria are travelers who have spent time in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the South Pacific. If you get back from a trip and start to display any of these symptoms, you’ll want to seek medical help immediately.

Malaria cases are divided into two groups. There’s “uncomplicated malaria,” in which symptoms appear every other day in stages. Shivering, fever, headaches, vomiting, and sweating are all hallmarks of this type of malaria — and can, unfortunately, be confused with the common flu.

The second category is much more severe, and can involve seizures, anemia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and acute kidney failure. These, however, only happen when a patient is already suffering from organ failure or blood abnormalities.

Antimalarial Medicine

Antimalarial medicine has been around for centuries. But there is no malaria vaccine.

Instead, travelers rely heavily on several prevention tactics. First, there are traditional mosquito avoidance measures: always stay screened-in, wear protective clothing, spray bed nets with Permethrin, and use bug spray with DEET (seriously).

Second, travelers can purchase chemoprophylaxis, or malaria pills. Before traveling, it’s a good idea to consult the CDC’s index — along with your primary doctor — on which medication might best suit your itinerary. Even when antimalarial pills come recommended (say, for a trip to Macchu Pichu in Peru, or for a Kenyan safari) some travelers opt not to take them.

Side effects can range from an upset stomach to photosensitivity, insomnia, or even issues with pregnancy. Others may not want to deal with the regimen of taking pills before, during, and after a trip. As your doctor will tell you, the choice is entirely yours.

Once you’ve sorted through the options and chosen a medication that works for you, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor. Malaria pills are generally not covered by insurance, and the price can vary widely, from just $20 up to $260 per pack. Pills should always be purchased in the United States, as the CDC warns that counterfeit malaria pills are sometimes sold in foreign countries.

Malaria pills can be found in pharmacies, public medical centers, and places like Passport Health, which specializes in health services for travelers