March 22, 2014

NDLEA Detects Narcotics inside Fish at NAHCO Warehouse

Mar 3, 2014 0

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), said that they have detected narcotics hidden inside a consignment of dried fish imported from Thailand at the warehouse of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos.

In a statement signed by the agency’s spokesman, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, stated that it had apprehended a 35-year-old customs licensed agent, Chukwu Onyekachi Emmanuel, in connection with the illicit import.  Ofoyeju said the shipment was detected during inward screening of goods onboard an Ethiopian airlines flight.

According to the NDLEA airport commander, Mr. Hamza Umar, three different narcotics were found in the consignment containing dried fish. He stated, “Three types of drugs were found concealed in dried fish.

The drugs recovered by the NDLEA during the search operation include 24 packs of morphine injections weighing 14.960kg, 24 packs of pethidine injections weighing 10.820kg and 157 packs of apresoline injections weighing 3.505kg.

“In all a total of 29.285kg was seized and a customs licensed agent who handled the clearance of the shipment had also been apprehended.”

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360m People Suffer From Hearing Loss-WHO

Mar 3, 2014 0

A recent report published on International Ear Care Day shows that any of the countries who responded to a new World Health Organization (WHO) survey lack the capacity to prevent and care for hearing loss.

WHO estimates that over 5 per cent of the world’s population – 360 million people – has disabling hearing loss The highest prevalence is found in the Asia Pacific, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. About half of all cases of hearing loss worldwide are easily prevented or treated.

A leading cause for hearing loss in younger ages, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, is untreated ear infections, which often presents with discharge from the ear.  Vaccine-preventable infectious diseases such as rubella, meningitis, measles, or mumps can also lead to hearing loss.

Just 32 of the 76 countries who responded have developed plans and programme to prevent and control ear diseases and hearing loss. According to the report, many lack trained health personnel, educational facilities, data and national plans to address the needs of those living with ear and hearing problems. The information received also indicates that the gap between need and services is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The results of this survey are a clear call to action for governments and partners to invest in hearing care especially at community and primary level,” says Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability.

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NAFDAC Launches Campaign against Hawking of Sub-standard Drugs in Kaduna

Mar 3, 2014 0

The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Saturday launched a campaign against hawking of counterfeit and sub-standard drugs in Kaduna Metropolis motor parks and environs.

While delivering his speech on the dangers of drug hawking at the flag-off campaign ceremony at Kawo Central Motor Park in Kaduna metropolis, Kaduna State, NAFDAC coordinator, Mr. Kenneth Azikiwe said since the resumption of the present Director General, DG, Dr. Paul Orhii, he has introduced cutting edge technologies and established local government desk offices nationwide to curb the menace of drug hawking.

 He  represented by the Chief Regulatory Officer, Monsukolu Nzekwe, he said, most of the hawked drugs are expired and unregistered drugs that are smuggled into the country through illegal means, adding that, many of them have already lost their efficacy, quality, purity and strength.  He urged members of the public to patronize only registered drugs outlets, which he said can only guarantee genuine drugs.

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Total Donates Baby Care Unit worth N203m to NDUTH

Mar 3, 2014 0

Total Exploration and Production had donated baby care unit valued N203 million had donated baby care unit valued N203 million to the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri.

Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Onyaye Kunle-Olowu, said the facility would help reduce infant mortality by about 40 per cent in the State.

Kunle-Olowu disclosed that the facility comprised wards, beds, baby incubators and others.

According to her, the donation of the facility by the oil firm had also helped Bayelsa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on maternal mortality reduction.

She said that premature babies now stood higher chances of survival with the use of the state-of-the-art facility.

“Bayelsa is committed to the attainment of the MDGs in 2015 and the well-equipped special care baby unit with trained personnel is key to the reduction of infant mortality. It is important to note that the facility will take care of neo-natal mortality which accounts for 40 per cent of the infant mortality rate in Bayelsa”, Kunle-Olowu said.

She added that the hospital was grateful for the construction and equipping of the unit with a dedicated laboratory and mothers’ room.

The chief medical director pointed out that Total had also donated ambulances to the hospital in the past, commending it for the gesture and urging others to emulate it.

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Nigeria’s 80% Coverage of Routine Immunization Laudable – UNFPA

Mar 3, 2014 0

The Executive Director, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, on Friday said that 80 per cent of coverage in routine immunization by Nigeria was highly commendable in eradicating polio.

Osotimehin said this during his courtesy visit to Dr. Ado Muhammed, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

He said the initiative had brought down child mortality rate in the country adding that the success stories needed to be reported, especially to the international community.

 “When I met with the executive director before I came here, he actually informed me that you now have routine immunization running at more than 80 per cent. “That is really excellent, because that is what will drive down child mortality.  “He also informed me that polio is also within reach of total extinction.

 “I think these are stories that should be told, because when you go out people still talk of Nigeria being the purview of  polio to the rest of the world, but actually that is not true.’’

  He also commended government’s human resource for health initiative, which introduced the Midwife Service Scheme (MSS). He said the MMS, which started in his tenure as a minister of health, had expanded.  He said it had also provided a means of reaching out to other health workers to carry out basic health needs in the hospitals.

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World Bank Approves Emergency Help to Improve Health and Food Security in Madagascar

Mar 3, 2014 0

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved emergency financing to Madagascar to help the country provide food security for 13 million people who are coping with a continuing locust infestation and drought.

“Due to the convergence of several factors (political crisis, drought, locust infestation, extreme poverty), food security has increasingly become a growing daily challenge for the poorest people in Madagascar. Many are having only a meal a day, others cannot eat everyday” said Haleh Bridi, World Bank Country Director for Madagascar. “We strongly felt that the World Bank’s mandate called for an emergency action in this sector”.

The first of two emergency support projects approved by the Bank will help to restore and maintain the livelihoods of the 9 million Malagasy who earn their living from agriculture and are being affected by locusts and other natural disasters. The IDA credit of $65 million will target areas that are affected by both locust infestation and drought under the Emergency Food Security and Social Protection project.

The project will help the poorest of these families become more resilient through safety nets that complement more traditional agricultural and rural development activities.

“The interventions have the potential to benefit several million smallholder farmers and poor urban consumers while reducing dependence on food imports to manageable levels, said Ziva Razafintsalama Task Team Leader of the project.”The project would also create short-term employment through cash-for-work and other cash transfer modalities that provide a temporary social safety net for the most vulnerable groups.”

The World Bank’s Board has also approved emergency funding for Madagascar that will expand the country’s efforts to bring essential nutrition services to an additional 687,000 pregnant or lactating women and children under the age of five. The new credit of US$10 million will expand nutrition services to reach a total of 2.6 million people, under the existing Emergency Support to Critical Education, Health and Nutrition Services project.

“Of Madagascar’s 22 million people, 80 percent live in absolute poverty on less than US$1.25 per day and many suffer from malnutrition and hunger,” said Jumana Qamruddin, Task Team Leader for the project, “This funding is absolutely critical to help prevent a potential humanitarian crisis caused by deteriorating food security.”

The project will now be able to support an additional 837 community nutrition sites in the country’s most food-insecure regions–Vakinankaratra, Itasy, Haute Matsiatra and Amoron’i Mania–as well as Betioky and Ampanihy districts in Atsimo Andrefana where Madagascar’s ongoing locust infestation originated.

* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.

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Lagos to Immunize 4.8 Million Children This Weekend

Mar 3, 2014 0

In a bid to reduce children sickness and death in the state, the Lagos State Government has said that it would immunize no fewer than 4,795,312 under-five children during the first round of 2014 National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs) campaign which would hold this weekend between March 1 and 4, 2014.

At a briefing, ahead of the programme, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, Special Adviser to the State Governor on Public Health, said Lagos State has completed all arrangements, including availability of the bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), to ensure a successful campaign.

The immunization campaign is to ensure every child is vaccinated against preventable childhood killer diseases such as poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis, yellow fever and measles.

The nationwide exercise is in collaboration with the Federal Government, United Nations and other development partners.

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New Method for Early Detection of Tumours

Mar 3, 2014 0

Here is a method that can potentially nip the threat of cancer in the bud.

A team of researchers from University of South Carolina has developed a new way to detect a handful of lurking tumour cells – even if they are in the ratio of a billion to one in the bloodstream with healthy cells.

Beating cancer is all about early detection and new method holds the promise to catch the disease early.

The researchers have constructed an ultra-sensitive nanoprobe that can electrochemically sense as few as four circulating tumour cells, and it doesn’t require any enzymes to produce a detectable signal.

“That makes it a very robust system,” said Hui Wang who led the research team.

“We showed that it’s much less sensitive to pH and temperature than the natural enzyme horseradish peroxidase, a traditional means of enhancing sensitivity.”

Cancer can metastasise by releasing tumour cells that are capable of spreading the disease to new parts of the body.

But detecting the circulating cells in a patient is a telltale sign of a tumour.

They’re tough to find, though. In a billion blood cells, there might be just one circulating tumour cell that could trip an alarm.

The enzyme-free detection system is based on the electrochemical properties of Fe3O4 nanoparticles, which have been known to mimic the peroxide-reducing capacity of horseradish peroxidase.

Wang’s team was surprised to find that the nanoparticles could also catalyse the electrochemical reduction of small dye molecules, such as thionine, even in the absence of peroxide.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

There’s still a long way to go to get a device into the clinic, but Wang can see the potential of the sturdy inorganic nanoprobes.

“Since the expression levels on the cancer cells are quite different from the normal cells, we can actually identify the cancer cells,” he said.

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Michelle Obama to Call for Nutrition Label Changes

Mar 3, 2014 0

 First Lady Michelle Obama plans to announce a series of proposed changes to food labels today, aiming to make healthy choices easier for consumers in a country where obesity is rampant.

The revisions would relate to the required fine print to include more realistic descriptions of what amounts to mandatory potassium and vitamin D amounts, and a new line to detail “added sugars” – not just total sugars.

The calorie count would also be more prominent. But not fat content, since health experts understand more today than they did 20 years ago about good and bad fats, administration officials said.

Other changes would attempt to eliminate confusion about how much a container holds, so if a soda had 20 ounces (0.6 liters), the calorie count on the label would reflect a 20 ounce soda, not a fraction according to each of the 2.5 servings inside.

The proposals are open for a 90-day comment period and would likely take at least two years to implement, administration officials told reporters ahead of the White House event, set for 2130 IST.

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” said a statement from the First Lady released ahead of the announcement.

“So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

For Obama, advocating healthy eating and exercise, particularly among young people, has been a centre-piece of her efforts since her husband was elected president in 2008.

More than one third (35.7 per cent) of Americans are obese, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a trend that has remained steady among adults in recent years.

But new CDC data released earlier this week showed, for the first time, a steep 43 per cent drop in obesity among the very young, aged two to five, signaling potential progress against the epidemic.

Some pushback over the labels is expected from the food industry, particularly regarding salt.

Daily value of sodium would be slightly reduced from 2,400 to 2,300 milligrams per day. However, people at risk for high blood pressure should limit their intake to 1,500 milligrammes of sodium daily, but that would not be declared on the label.

Some 700,000 grocery store food products are emblazoned with the nutrition facts label, which has only undergone one major update in two decades.

“For 20 years consumers have come to rely on the iconic nutrition label to help them make healthier food choices,” said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

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Potential Drug for Treating Acute Leukemia Developed

Mar 3, 2014 0

A team of researchers has developed an experimental treatment that eradicates an acute type of leukemia in mice without any detectable toxic side effects.

The drug by scientists from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center works by blocking two important metabolic pathways that the leukemia cells need to grow and spread.

The study was led by Dr. Caius Radu, an associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA, and Dr. David Nathanson, an assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology.

Elements of metabolism called biosynthetic pathways allow cells to synthesize chemicals, called nucleotides that they need to survive. When these nucleotide pathways are blocked by drug molecules, cancer cell growth can be halted, which can trigger cell death.

Radu, Nathanson and their colleagues found that an important nucleotide called deoxycytidine triphosphate (dCTP) is produced by two pathways, the de novo pathway and the nucleoside salvage pathway.

In the study, the experimental treatment was given to mice with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a deadly blood cancer. The treatment eradicated the cancer cells, leaving healthy blood cells alone, and the mice suffered no discernible side effects.

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