TOGETHER, WE WILL KICK POLIO OUT OF NIGERIA!

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Today is world polio day! photo credit: awarenessdays.co.uk

Today is the World Polio day, a day where stakeholders in the fight against polio come together to evaluate how far they have gone.

So, this is as good a time as any to evaluate how far the world has come in the fight against polio.

Polio is a disease that has existed as long as humans have been in existence and it is difficult to say exactly when polio transmission was first recorded in Nigeria.

From almost 50,000 cases reported in the 1970s to less than 80 cases reported in 2015, the world has surely come a long way in the fight towards polio eradication.

Currently, polio is endemic only in two countries and the recent setback Nigeria suffered in her fight to becoming polio free fully underscores the importance of continuous efforts to ensure that polio is fully eradicated from the world.

This year, various activities are being planned and implemented to raise awareness to the importance of vaccination in polio eradication.

Rotary International, which has been championing the polio eradication program for almost a century is holding series of events from fundraising to awareness walks all in a bid to call attention to what is needed to win this fight against polio. In Nigeria, the Rotary clubs in Abuja on Saturday came together with partners both local and international for an END POLIO NOW WALK. It was great to see staff and friends of SLNI at this walk, demonstrating the fact that this is everybody’s fight and we all must get involved.

Everybody has a role to play: from the parents who agree to have their children vaccinated to the government who provide the vaccine to the funding agencies and partners, to those selfless men and women who go into communities vaccinating children in hard to reach areas and even to those of us who raise awareness and educate people on the importance of routine immunization and vaccination.

Together, we can (and we will) KICK POLIO OUT OF NIGERIA!

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kick polio out of Nigeria! Photo credit: worldpsi.org

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IS THE NIGERIAN HEALTH SYSTEM PERPETUATING POVERTY?

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adequate funding for the health sector as well as funding for immnuization programs will ensure that families do not need to spend more to keep their children alive

Wealth and poverty are measured by the number of people that can afford the bare essentials of shelter, food, clothing and healthcare.

It is often said that “”health is wealth”. How much of this statement is true?

Today, on the International day for the elimination of poverty, let us ponder on the following:

  • A large proportion of Nigerians already live below the poverty line: according to the National bureau of statistics (2011), over 100 million Nigerians live on less than a dollar per day.
  • If you are ill, nothing else matters…your physical, emotional and psychological balance is distorted and the only thing that makes sense is that you want to get well. So, you would naturally do anything to get well (well…this is true for most people).
  • You can do no work when ill…so in essence, your ability to earn a living at this time is greatly reduced.

Now, let us consider the Nigerian reality in terms of these scenarios:

  • If we all agree that nothing else matters when one is ill, it means that in the absence of free primary healthcare services and facilities, patients are forced to do more “out of pocket” spending to take care of their medical needs.
  • The absence of health and social security services means that a lot of people, especially laborers, artisans and other blue collar workers tend to either lose their sources of income during this period of illness or in some extreme cases, lose their jobs altogether.
  • So, if a large proportion of Nigerians are already living below the poverty line and people have to do more “out of pocket spending” when they are ill or lose their sources of livelihoods during periods of illness, does this not push them further below the poverty line?
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out of pocket spending still accounts for the highest amount in Nigerian health spending by citizens. photo credit: Nigerian journal of clinical practice

Countries that have low maternal mortality, low prevalence of HIV/AIDS etc. have many of their citizens living above the poverty line. France, Austria, Singapore and Japan rank very low for maternal mortality and low HIV/AIDS prevalence among other health problems. And while these looks like random statistics, these four countries are in the top 10 rankings of countries with good health systems. Nigerian ranks 187 out of 190 countries on the health system rankings.

Being able to afford basic healthcare is one of the biggest problems in Nigeria today. The disparity between people who can afford basic healthcare and people who can’t is as wide as the disparity between the highest income earner and the lowest income earner in Nigeria.

Dr Christopher Murray, Director of WHO’s Global Programme on Evidence for Health Policy once said: “Although significant progress has been achieved in past decades, virtually all countries are under- utilizing the resources that are available to them. This leads to large numbers of preventable deaths and disabilities; unnecessary suffering, injustice, inequality and denial of an individual’s basic rights to health.”

The health and well-being of any people depends on the health systems that serve them. The health systems in turn, should both be readily accessible and cheap to the people or else the number of poor in the society would increase. In Nigeria’s case, a better health system; a product of better policies from the government, would contribute to the removal of the poverty burden from the backs of many Nigerians.

REVISITING THE ISSUE OF MENTAL ILLNESS IN NIGERIA

 

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An example of a traditional psychiatric home where family members would rather take their “mentally ill” relatives to  Photo credit: robinhammond.co.uk

Today is World Mental Health day. World Mental health day is a day set aside for mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It is an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, which began in 1992. The foundation has members and contacts in over 150 countries. Today, thousands of people around the world will come together to bring awareness about mental health issues in their environment. In Nigeria, the awareness for today’s commemoration is in full swing with many messages on social media. However, like many other things in Nigeria, social media awareness cannot address many things about mental disorders. There are many problems regarding mental health awareness in Nigeria that so many people are ignorant about.

  • There are other mental disorders apart from “madness”

In Nigeria, the generic name for any mental disorder is madness. Most Nigerians, probably due to long-held traditions of treating medical issues with seemingly abnormal behaviour as insanity as well as poor understanding of mental illness has aided the fact that the synonym for mental illness in Nigeria is madness. The solution is usually to visit a traditional doctor or a spiritual healer for a cure, as exemplified in many indigenous Nigerian movies. The traditional doctor in turn prescribes the same treatment for all mental illnesses, without proper diagnosis. There needs to be a discussion about mental health awareness in rural communities in Nigeria, and how modern medicine has shown that there are many types of mental illnesses and they don’t all have the same treatment. Examples of some mental illnesses or disorders include: anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and multiple personality disorders to mention a few.

  • Government regulation

The government also has to do more regarding mentally ill people who roam the streets of Nigeria when they should be undergoing psychiatric evaluation. People with mental disorders should be housed in mental asylums and psychiatric wards, undergoing evaluation to ascertain the type of mental disorder they individually have. Government has to enact policies that will make it impossible for people with mental disorders to roam the streets, while making it easy for their family members to enter them into any mental institution without stigma.

  • Stigma

According to Michael Friedman, a world renowned clinical psychologist, one of the greatest barriers to mental health care in developing countries, including Nigeria is stigma. Of the 450 million people worldwide who suffer from psychological disorders, 60% of them have not received any form of care. 90% of these people are in developing countries. The reason, according to him, is loneliness. Once an individual has been pronounced with a mental illness, there is a particular social rejection that comes with such self-disclosure. Friends and families start to withdraw, sometimes unconsciously, from such people. An example is depression, which is really hard to understand from close family members who have to wonder why the affected individual is depressed despite having a good job, a great family. There should be conversations about awareness on stigma in mental disorders and how to overcome it.

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a mentally ill person shackled and locked up where he cannot be seen. Photo credit:rowanmg.com

  • Lack of trained personnel

Imagine that in a country of over 180 million people, there are only about 100 trained psychiatrists. To say that this is grossly inadequate is to say the least. Profesor Oye Gureje, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Ibadan attributes this low number to the brain drain in the medical profession. A lot of trained personnel prefer to travel to developed countries such as the UK, USA, Canada and Australia to work because the work conditions are better.  This poses a serious problem because mental clinical mental care demands personal expertise rather than advanced technology or equipment.

  • Lack of data

The inadequate data on mental illness in Nigeria is also a problem. The data on people with mental disorders in the public sphere is lacking. The incidence of mental disorders in Nigeria for key demographics like youths, men, women and children are absent. Instead what is present is usually an estimate of the number of people who possibly have mental disorders. There should be more research into mental disorders in Nigeria, to be able to give specificity regarding solutions.

  • Lack of funding

This is not a problem specific to mental health facilities alone. The Nigerian health sector is underfunded, making it one of the most underfunded in the world. Many Primary Healthcare Centers do not have mental health facilities. Hence, also lacking trained professionals for it. The Nigerian Government should do more to increase funding for the health sector in Nigeria and thereby would also have increased funding for mental health.

These are some of the problems relating to awareness on mental health issues in Nigeria. The first part to solving problems is to recognize it. Today’s mental health day is an opportunity to re-visit these problems and get people talking about them again, to influence both the public and private sector to proffer solutions.

NEW POLIO CASES AND THE NEED FOR INCREASED ROUTINE IMMUNIZATION UPTAKE IN NIGERIA; SLNI IN DONGA COMMUNITY, TARABA STATE

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Happy women displaying their safe delivery kits

In September 2015, the World Health Organization removed Nigeria from the list of polio endemic countries due to the fact that Nigeria had gone two full years without transmission of Wild Polio Virus and needed only one more transmission-free year to be declared polio free.

This hope was however cut short by the news of three new reported cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis as a result of polio virus this year (two in August and one in September) in the northern part of the country.

This is a major setback in the fight against polio in Nigeria and as such, all hands must be on deck to salvage the situation. Indeed, the Federal ministry of health, the Center for Disease Control, Rotary International and all other government and multinational health agencies have swung into action, rolling out an emergency nation-wide polio immunization campaign. In fact, this past Sunday, a team came to our house to immunize the children! It was however sad to note that there are still parents who are sceptical about allowing their children to be immunized.

This latest development also reiterates the need for all agencies working at the community level to intensify efforts at ensuring that the people in the communities where they work understand the importance of routine immunization and are willing to immunize their children.

SLNI, in all of her community programs has always ensured that the importance of routine immunization is clearly explained to mothers. In the past, we have done this in community programs in Abuja, Jigawa, Kebbi and our recently concluded community program held in Donga community, Taraba state was no exception.

The representative of Donga constituency, Honourable Douglas Yahaya, who was present at the event mentioned to SLNI staff that he is passionate about such programs, having lost his wife during childbirth and he does not want any other woman to suffer same fate, if it can be helped.

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Donga constituency representative; on. Douglas administering polio drops to baby Ahmed at the recently concluded SLNI “saving mothers and babies” program in Taraba state.

While addressing those present at the event, HRH Dr. Stephen Danjuma Banyonga, the Garbosa (III) of Gara-Donga said that “such programs are very good because it will help in improving the lives of mothers and babies in the community, increasing health standards and ultimately reducing maternal mortality”. He urged the women to pay attention and incorporate all they are taught into their daily lives.

See more pictures from the program below:

 

SLNI CELEBRATES WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK 2016

BEASTFEEDING  BIG STICKERThe World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is a week set aside annually to advocate for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide. It is celebrated every year from the 1st to the 7th of August. This advocacy is based on the Innocenti Declarations, the ten links for nurturing the Future program and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. The WBW is usually co-ordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Actions (WABA), a conglomerate of individuals and organisations concerned with propagating the breastfeeding message.

This year’s theme, “Breastfeeding: A key to sustainable development,” was chosen particularly because it aligned Breastfeeding with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. The SDGs were created last year at the United Nations congress, after the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Breastfeeding messages for this year’s WBW explored how breastfeeding could help to achieve these SDGs, all 17 of them.

The week was full of activities as different Non-governmental organizations around the world used this window to advocate and promote breastfeeding. Silver Lining Initiative (SLNI) also used the opportunity to advocate for good breastfeeding practices. SLNI implemented projects, in commemoration of the Breastfeeding week, in communities within and outside Abuja.

Dutse Alhaji PHC and Wuse market, Abuja F.C.T.

On Monday, 1st of August SLNI visited the Primary Healthcare Centre in Dutse-Alhaji, Abuja. It was immunization day for babies so the SLNI team met nursing mothers at the hospital. SLNI used this opportunity to advocate to mothers about breastfeeding week, informing mothers on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the baby in the first six months and how that would fulfil SDG 2 (end hunger and achieve improved nutrition).

They were also taught proper handwashing techniques, and how important it is for their hands to be clean before they breastfeed their babies. This cleanliness culture is in line with SDG 6, (to achieve clean water and sanitation).

Over 50 nursing mothers were in attendance on Monday morning. Stickers bearing the World Breastfeeding Week theme and the 2016-2017 calendar were handed out to the women who contributed actively to the discussions.

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a mother at the Dutse Alhaji PHC proudly displays her WBW 2016 sticker

From there, the SLNI team moved to Wuse market in Abuja. Our team was able to speak to people coming in and out of the market. Men were not excluded as they asked the team on what they could do to help their pregnant wives and nursing mothers.

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Mr Joseph wants to understand how he can support his wife to breastfeed their baby exclusively

Mangu L.G.A Primary Healthcare Centres, Plateau state

On Wednesday, the 3rd of August 2016, SLNI, in partnership with Manumar Foundation carried out safe delivery programs concurrently at four Primary Health Care centres in Mangu Local Government Area (L.G.A) in Plateau state. These primary health care centres are located each in Maraba Pushiti, Janaraht, Kadunu and Panyam communities.

The programmes educateded pregnant women, living in the communities about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, the different stages of pregnancy and good nutrition during pregnancy. The team also spoke to them about the importance of routine immunization, family planning, and personal hygiene. The health talks were concluded with a demonstration in proper hand washing and proper breastfeeding practices. Four hundred birthing kits and four hundred mosquito nets were distributed to pregnant women present at these community programs.

The program was a success and the women expressed their joy to SLNI and Manumar Foundation for organizing such a program.

Sakwaya PHC, Dutse, Jigawa state

On Friday, the 5th of August 2016, Silver Lining initiative (SLNI) carried out a community health program at the Sakwaya primary healthcare centre in Dutse Local Government Area, Dutse, Jigawa state. The program was aimed at promoting health and awareness especially by educating the nursing mothers, who were present, on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and demonstrating proper breastfeeding positioning. SLNI also discussed the importance of child spacing, the essence of personal hygiene and clean environment. These were explained in the the sustainable development goals. The program ended with the distribution of safe delivery kits to the pregnant women present.

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YES! work no suppose stop breastfeeding. Do you agree?

In conclusion, SLNI communicated the theme of World breastfeeding week to everyone in all of her programs during the week as follows; breastfeeding is important, it is key to sustainable development in the society and to the development of babies who are our future leaders.

ASTHMA IN CHILDREN

Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects a person’s breathing. When you breathe in, air enters your nose or mouth, then goes into the windpipe, also called the trachea. From there, the air travels into the lungs through the breathing tubes or bronchial tubes. These airways divide like branches of a tree and get smaller and smaller until they reach the very end and stop. At the end of the smallest airways are the alveoli, which are very tiny sacs buried deep in the lungs. This is where your lungs take oxygen out of the air and move it into your blood. This is vital for life because every part of your body needs oxygen to work. In the same way, carbon dioxide is exchanged from the body and absorbed into the alveoli and the airways carries it out back to your nose or mouth and you exhale the carbon dioxide.

Usually the airways will work normally. But sometimes, they might swell up and the passage becomes narrow like a straw that is being squeezed; called an inflammation. This makes breathing harder because the tubes close in. The swollen airways produce extra catarrh, which makes things sticky and makes breathing even harder. This situation is called an asthma flare-up.

As a result of this asthma flare-up, a child may wheeze (make a whistling sound), cough, and feel tightness in the chest. This asthma flare-up can become worse if the child does not use asthma medicine. After an asthma flare-up stops, the airways usually return to normal (this may take several days though).

How does a Child get Asthma?

No one knows why a child’s airways are more sensitive than another child’s airways. However, asthma is a genetic illness, i.e. it runs in families. That means if a child has asthma, he or she might have a parent, sibling, aunty, uncle, or other relative who has asthma or they had asthma when they were children.

What Causes an Asthma Flare-Up?

Anything that causes an asthma flare-up (attack) is called an asthma trigger. Different children have different triggers.

Common triggers include:

  • allergens, such as dust, pollen, hairy animals, and mould
  • irritants, such as cigarette smoke, perfume, and chalk dust
  • infections, like a cold

The two most common triggers of asthma in children are colds and allergens.

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common asthma triggers. Photo credit: slideplayer.com

Will my Child Outgrow his/her Asthma?

A lot of children discover that their asthma goes away or becomes less serious as they get older. Some doctors think this happens because the airways grow wider as a child grows up and gets bigger. With more room in the airways, the air gets in and out easier

Can Asthma be cured?

There is no cure at the moment. However, for most children and adults, asthma can be controlled throughout life with appropriate diagnosis, education and treatment.

How Is Asthma Treated or controlled?

Avoiding triggers: like cold, dust or other allergens can be very helpful in controlling asthma flare ups.

Taking medicines for flare ups: Asthma medicine often is taken through an inhaler, a plastic tube that holds a container of medicine. A kid holds the inhaler up to his or her mouth and breathes in. The medicine comes out in a mist that goes into the lungs. The medicine in the mist relaxes the airways, so the person can breathe easier.

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Nurse watching girl (7-9) using inhaler in hospital. Photo credit: greenandhealthyhomes.org

Children may also take tablets or syrups to control asthma. In rare cases, they might get an injection at the doctor’s office. Whatever medicine the child takes, the goal is always the same: to keep asthma under control so that triggers do not create problems.

The doctor can also write down an asthma management plan to help a child and/or parents remember which medicines to use and when

Remember, the most important part of managing asthma is for you and your child to be very knowledgeable about how and when asthma causes problems and how to use medications.

WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY: WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT IT?

World-Youth-Skills-Day-300x295The United Nations at its general assembly in 2014 declared July 15 as World Youth Skills day. You may find yourself wondering like I did initially about what is special about youth skills that we have to set aside a whole day to celebrate it. I am however certain that if you gave it some thought, you would come to think differently and see the need for us to have serious conversations around the skills that young people possess and how it affects development.

Coincidentally, the theme of this year’s celebration is “Development to improve youth employment”.

Considering the disadvantaged position of young people in the world today, especially in developing countries, this theme is quite apt. The goal of the World Youth skills day is to achieve better socioeconomic conditions for today’s youth as well as being a means of addressing the challenges of unemployment and underemployment that today’s youth face.

Considering the fact that young people make up almost 50 % of the world’s population and 90% of these live in developing countries, the importance of youth having necessary skills to drive development cannot be over emphasized.

Education and training are key determinants of success in the labour market but the pertinent question remains: how much of these two key determinants do today’s youth actually possess?

Despite the fact that today’s youth are probably the most educated in the history of the world till date, they are still almost three times as likely to be unemployed or underemployed than adults. So, what is lacking?

Understanding what works to support young people in today’s and tomorrow’s labour market through both education and skills development is key to the achievement of goal 4 (4.4: by 2030, increase by x% the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship) of the SDGs.

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young people learning sewing skills for economic independence  photo credit: Ug youth skills training project

This is why World youth skills day is so important: to remind the world that youth need to be equipped with necessary skills for them to survive as well as drive global development in the 21st century and centuries to come.

ON THE CURRENT ISSUE OF MALNUTRITION IN NIGERIA

 

The Federal ministry of health has come out to say that about 2300 children under 5 die daily in Nigeria with malnutrition accounting for over half of these deaths and has even more recently declared a nutrition emergency in Borno state with increasing concerns over the nutrition status in other states of the North-East.

Malnutrition is increasingly becoming a huge problem in Nigeria, especially the Northern parts with the devastation resulting from years of insurgency and the Internally Displaced Persons camps already being overpopulated beyond their capacities.

The Nigerian government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) and other development partners, both in the public and private spheres are currently doing a lot of work in combating malnutrition and reversing the trend, especially in the North. However, a lot still needs to be done.

But first, it is important to understand what malnutrition is, its effects, the factors that contribute to it as well as possible solutions.

What is malnutrition

Malnutrition is generally defined as a lack of proper nutrition, not eating enough of the right things or being unable to use the food that one eats.

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a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition in one of the IDP camps in Nigeria. Photo credit:africanspotlight.com

Effects of malnutrition

People who are malnourished, especially children experience a lot of developmental problems as a result of inadequate intake of protein, calories and other nutrients necessary for optimum development. These developmental problems can be short term or long term in nature.

Short Term Effects: development is a life process that takes place throughout the life of an individual and most of this happens during childhood. Malnourishment, especially undernutrition in children can have serious short term effects on the development of a child. Examples include; reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to diseases, diseases resulting from micronutrient deficiencies such as anaemia (iron deficiency), scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) and rickets (vitamin D deficiency) and reduced or slow growth.

Long Term Effects: prolonged malnutrition in children can lead to serious lifelong irreversible effects. Examples of some long term effects of malnutrition include; stunting from limited bone growth, neurological and cognitive disorders such as decreased IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, memory deficiency, reduced language and social skills and reduced problem solving skills, delayed sexual development, osteoporosis and of course, death.

Factors that contribute to malnutrition

There are a lot of factors that can contribute to malnutrition and these have been broadly classified into three (Food, Disease and Lifestyle).

Food: this includes not eating enough food or eating too much of one type of food that cannot provide all the nutrients the body needs.

Disease: chronic illnesses such as cancer, malaria, diarrhea can interfere with the body’s ability to utilize nutrients taken in through food. In addition, mental illness such as depression can also affect the way a person eats or the amount of food eaten. Other health related issues such as parasitic worm infections such as roundworm infections can interfere with nutrient uptake and utilization. So, it is important to deworm children regularly.

Lifestyle: little income/poverty, displacement, breastfeeding practices, lack of sanitation and hygiene, alcohol or drug dependency, social isolation, having limited knowledge about nutrition are all lifestyle and social factors that can contribute in one way or another to malnutrition.

All these factors are interconnected; you cannot deal with one and ignore the others. For example, having little or no income will usually mean little or no food or eating one type of food that is easily accessible. In the same way, lack of sanitation and proper hygiene will lead to an increase in diarrheal and parasitic worm infections just as not eating enough food will predispose a person to both physical and mental illness and the cycle continues.

Solutions

Short term solutions to tackle the emergency include emergency interventions to provide ready to eat therapeutic foods, nutrient supplements to combat nutrient deficiencies, treatment of diseases that can cause malnutrition such as deworming children etc.

In the long term, Education is a very important factor in combating malnutrition, especially educating mothers on the importance of healthy nutrition and simple cost effective ways of ensuring adequate nutrition for their children such as breastfeeding and combination of local food sources that are easily accessible and give necessary the nutrients in meals as well as simple cost, effective ways to enrich diets. People, especially mothers who are the primary care givers in homes also need to be educated on good hygiene practices such as proper hand washing and sanitation to prevent diarrheal and other diseases. Over the years, Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative has always educated women on and demonstrated the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, good sanitation and proper hand washing  as well as regular deworming of children in all of her community programs.

According to Zakari Fusheni, a nutrition specialist in UNICEF Abuja office, “policies need to be put in place to prevent children from dying as malnutrition is beyond poverty and educational status, with more emphasis on the enlightenment of mothers”. Therefore, it goes beyond education and government and institutions should look into formulation of policies that will directly impact nutrition such as breastfeeding friendly policies like extending paid maternity leave and having breastfeeding spaces in the workplace.

BLOOD IS LIFE

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The theme for Blood Donors Day 2016 is Blood connects us all. As the world celebrates one of the finest health innovations ever known to man, we take a look at how it has affected Maternal and Child health.

The largest cause of maternal mortality is hemorrhage, which accounts for approximately 25% of maternal deaths. Blood loss during pregnancy, labour or post-partum are detrimental to the health of the mother and can rapidly lead to death.

A common complication of malaria, severe anaemia can quickly lead to child deaths. However, it can be easily remedied by Blood transfusion. Most children present in the hospital today need blood transfusions. The problem is, there are no Blood donors.

There are some misconceptions associated with blood transfusion with a direct implication of about 90% of Nigerians not wanting to donate blood. The remaining 10% are sometimes discouraged by the health system. According to studies, no fewer than 26,000 women lose their lives yearly because of blood shortage. 20,000 children die for the same reason. One in four patients in the hospital need blood.

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a gift of blood: a gift of life photo credit: freebloodbank.com

Many Nigerian health professionals have lamented about this problem for so long. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target of achieving 100% voluntary non-remunerated donation by 2020. Nigeria, as a member nation in WHO has made little progress in this respect. Currently, a large majority of blood donors in Nigeria are family members or paid donors.

A lot of people are still very sceptical about donating blood unless a family member is involved and it becomes absolutely necessary.

Some common factors that account for the very low percentage of blood donors in Nigeria include:

Lack of reliable testing systems: there are important tests that need to be carried out before a person can be allowed to donate blood. Examples of such tests include packed cell volume (PCV), tests for diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B etc. which can be transmitted through blood. A lot of these tests are often skipped because most times, blood comes from paid donors.

Poor blood banking systems: blood is a biological fluid consisting of different cells and water. Preservation of blood is a very important aspect of blood donation systems. It does not make much sense if someone donates blood only for it to be rendered useless because conditions for preservation are less than optimal.

Erroneous beliefs associated with blood donation: some have the belief that something unpleasant happens when one donates blood, while others believe that if they donate blood, they will die. Some men have also linked donating blood to the onset of impotence.

All these problems can be taken care of by:

  • Implementation of functional, reliable blood testing systems for prospective blood donors
  • Provision of functional, effective and efficient blood banking systems such that people are confident that the blood they donate will not end up in the trash.
  • Mass literacy, awareness and education on the importance of blood donation to disabuse the minds of people about the myths and misconceptions associated with blood donation.

According to Mr Agba, Pharmacist and MD of Tyonex healthcare limited, at the World blood donor day celebration 2015, “People die every day in our hospitals due to loss of blood and blood shortage in blood banks. This is needless loss of lives. We can help by donating blood. We should see it as a civic responsibility

Remember, blood donation will cost you nothing but it will save a life and Your Droplets of Blood May Create an Ocean of Happiness.

blood donor (transatlanticclimes.com)

a happy blood donor photo credit: transatlanticclimes.com

Blood is life, blood connects us all…donate blood and save a life today.

SAVING MOTHERS AND BABIES IN KEBBI

In continuing to work towards ensuring that mothers and children get the care they deserve and ultimately reducing maternal and child mortality rates in Nigeria, SLNI took her services to Ambursa town and Ujariyo village, both in Kebbi state in a community program targeting expectant mothers tagged “Saving mothers and babies in Kebbi state”.

It is common knowledge that Kebbi and Adamawa states share the highest burden of maternal mortality rates in Nigeria so every intervention in this regard is much needed.

According to Alhaji Mohammed Atiku Kende, the permanent secretary, Kebbi state ministry of Health, programs like this are highly appreciated and it is our hope that SLNI returns again for more programs like this in Kebbi state.

The program which took place on the 17th of May 2016 featured health talks on stages in pregnancy, essential tips for ensuring a safe delivery, child spacing and family planning, importance of exclusive breastfeeding, importance of routine immunization, essence of personal hygiene and clean environment, importance and demonstration of proper hand washing routine and ultimately, the distribution of birthing (safe delivery) kits and vitamin supplements to the expectant mothers. At the end of the program in both communities, a total of 300 birthing kits and vitamin supplements were distributed to highly overjoyed expectant mothers attending ante-natal classes.

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In future, it is our hope that we will be able to go to more communities and provide this much needed intervention to women in Kebbi state and Nigeria as a whole.

Here are more pictures from the program: