Dr. Ifeanyi m. nsofor
Dr. Ifeanyi McWilliams Nsofor is a graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Medical School and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He is a Senior New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity at George Washington University. He is the CEO of EpiAFRIC and Director of Policy and Advocacy at Nigeria Health Watch. He is a leading advocate for universal health care. Ifeanyi’s health communications and health advocacy efforts are hinged on the University of Global Health Equity’s mantra, to achieve equity in healthcare, there must be equity in health education. Ifeanyi is a Thought Leader in Global Health. he has written more than 50 opinion pieces. Ifeanyi is a TEDx Speaker – his 2018 TEDxOguiRoad Talk is titled, “Without Health, We Have Nothing”. In March 2020, Ifeanyi spoke at “Exploring Media Ecosystems Conference” at the Samberg Center of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Title of his talk was “Forward this to 10 People: The epidemic of health misinformation in Nigeria”. The Conference was organized by Media Cloud – a joint project by the MIT Center for Civic Media & the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. In March 2020, Ifeanyi was also recognized among the Coronavirus Top 100 healthcare professionals globally. Ifeanyi is married to Omegie and they have 2 daughters (Yagazie and Chimamanda) and a dog, Simba.
About Ifeanyi Nsofor
Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity at George Washington University and Senior New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute. A graduate of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Nnamdi Azikiwe University School of Medicine. He is the CEO of EpiAFRIC. He is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Nigeria Health Watch. He has 21 years post-graduation experience working to improve public health across Africa. He was a 2006 Ford Foundation International Fellow. He is married to Omegie – they have two lovely daughters. His dog, Simba is a close companion.
Ifeanyi graduated as a medical doctor in 1998. He did his national youth service with the Guards Brigade Medical Centre, Mambila Barracks, Nigerian Army, Abuja. He began his public health career in 2002 with Nigeria’s National Programme on Immunization. Since then he has worked with Pathfinder International, TY Danjuma Foundation, Nutrition International, Nigeria Health Watch and EpiAFRIC. Ifeanyi has led various researches in Zambia, Ghana, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
As a thought leader in global health, I write opinion pieces covering different aspects of healthcare in Nigeria, Africa and globally. I have written opinion pieces on COVID-19, mental health, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, health and technology, universal health coverage, health financing etc. Please click on the tabs below to read my opinion pieces.
Africans Mourn Chadwick Boseman: 'A Great Tree Has Fallen'
The death of actor Chadwick Boseman last week at the age of 43 came as a shock to many Africans. I liken it to the death of a great African King. In my Igbo culture, when a great king passes on, we say, "Oke osisi adaala n'obodo," which means "a great tree has fallen in the land." It is a rare occurrence for great trees to fall. However, the fall is also not the end of the tree because its deep roots ensures it keeps sending out new sprouts. Boseman's life is like that. Part of him will continue to live on through his films and inspire us, especially his role as King T'Challa in Black Panther. The 2018 film was a hit across Africa. The fictional country of Wakanda, which was depicted in the movie as the most technologically advanced society in the world, was the nation that Africans wish they had. The film reminded us of what is possible for African countries – and how our continent could be powerful and respected. Read more here.
The COVID Comorbidity Crisis
Growing evidence shows that COVID-19 survivors can suffer from long-term health effects, not least heart-related complications. New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that many people who recover from the virus have heart inflammation (myocarditis). Of 100 survivors in the study, 78 had evidence of previous heart inflammation, and 60 showed ongoing inflammation at the time of observation. op_moyo3_Peter Zelei ImagesGetty Images_coronaviruseconomymap The Post-Pandemic Economy’s Barriers to Growth DAMBISA MOYO sees at least five major obstacles, all of which have been raised higher by the COVID-19 crisis. 8 Add to Bookmarks Previous Next This medical complication should worry us all. As of August 25, 2020, there were more than 23 million cases of the disease worldwide, 16 million recoveries, and more than 800,000 deaths. Using the JAMA study as a benchmark, we could conjecture that around ten million of those survivors have heart inflammation, implying a massive increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Read more here.
- Beyoncé's Black is King Movie
- Google and Disability in India
- Disability and COVID-19
- Epidemic Preparedness
Opinion: We Are Africans. Here's Our View Of Beyoncé's 'Black Is King'
There are two kinds of reactions to Beyoncé's new Black Is King video: lavish praise – and deep criticism. The praise comes from her many fans and from many reviewers. The criticism often comes from Africans. We are both from Africa. Esther Ngumbi was born and grew up in Kenya. Ifeanyi Nsofor was born and grew up in Nigeria. We can understand the critiques – and have some of our own. But in the end, we think the positives outweigh the problems. In a world full of racism, a world where being Black makes many doubt their capabilities, Beyoncé Knowles' Black Is King – a visual companion to the 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift — is a breath of fresh air. In it she shows that Black is beautiful. Black is glorious. The 85-minute film, written, directed and produced by Beyoncé, was released on July 31 on Disney+. Read more here.
Google’s $10 Billion Investment in India Should be Inclusive of Persons with Disabilities
Over the next seven years, Google will invest a whopping $10 billion in India to improve technology, health and education, according to CEO Sundar Pichai. This is unprecedented and could be a game changer that could improve health, education and economic empowerment. While Google should be commended for such foresight, it is also pertinent to note that there was no mention of how this investment would benefit India’s 26 million persons living with disabilities. Without a doubt, investments in the Indian economy must be all-inclusive. This means including persons living with disabilities, particularly women and children. Read more here.
Opinion: 5 ways to meet the needs of people with disabilities during pandemics
A 12-year-old visually impaired girl in India recently died for lack of food, medicines, and financial help — all things which were harder to access during the coronavirus lockdown. She could not get the social services she needed because she did not have an Aadhaar card — a unique identification card. Her death underscores the neglect and poor care that persons living with disabilities face in this time of COVID-19. Globally, there are cases of persons with disabilities suffering untold hardships at home, in communities, hospitals, and hospices in this time of COVID-19. In the United Kingdom, a man living with mental distress and diabetes starved to death because he was unable to secure home deliveries from supermarkets. He was obeying the government’s stay at home directive. Read more here.
How Google's Project Loon Can Improve Epidemic Preparedness
Twenty kilometers above the ground, giant balloons are hovering in the sky, providing high-speed internet spanning 50,000 square kilometers across central and western Kenya, with spillover to parts of Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda. These balloons are part of an initiative by Google's Project Loon and Telekom Kenya. Although this project has been long in the making, it was fast-tracked by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is greatly needed as Internet access is poor across Africa. Alliance for Affordable Internet reports that about 28% of Africans have access to the internet. However, the statistics vary by country: 20% in Kenya, 26%in Rwanda, 18% in Ethiopia and 40% in Nigeria. In addition to the low internet penetration in Africa, low internet speed is another major impediment to connectivity on the continent. It is expected that the Google Loon project will address both challenges. Read more here.
Strengthening Biosecurity Preparedness in Africa
Time is of the essence for reducing the many biosecurity threats faced by 54 countries in Africa. As of April 26, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) African Region reported 98 infectious diseases outbreaks and 11 humanitarian crises including COVID-19 in 47 countries; Lassa fever, measles, cholera, and yellow fever in Nigeria; Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and yellow fever in Uganda; chikungunya, measles and cholera in Kenya; and hepatitis E in Namibia and South Sudan. The list is a grim reminder of the shape of things to come. Read more here.
The new dexamethasone- COVID-19 study should be viewed with caution
If you consider the fact that COVID-19 has infected more than 8 million, killed above 480,000 with 4.4 million recoveries, one would understand why it is imperative to come up with a treatment to reverse this trend. However, the global health community must exercise caution and always weigh risks against benefits. In other words, all things being equal, do the benefits of dexamethasone as a treatment for COVID-19 outweigh its risks? These are four points to consider as the discussions on the efficacy of dexamethasone continue. Read more here.
Nigeria’s Mental Health Desert
To most Nigerians, mental illness is “when someone starts running around naked.” It is a shocking misconception, yet a full 70% of respondents to a recent mental-health survey – the country’s largest in nearly 20 years – believe it. And that was just one of the many misguided and harmful beliefs that the poll revealed. deaton11_CHANDAN KHANNAAFP via Getty Images_usprotestcoronavirus United States of Despair ANNE CASE & ANGUS DEATON America finds itself in the grips of two epidemics, each of which has exposed deep inequalities across races and levels of educational attainment. Between rising "deaths of despair" among working-class whites and higher COVID-19 mortality rates among African-Americans, the stunning secular decline in US life expectancy will continue. 2 Add to Bookmarks Previous Next The survey of 5,315 respondents, conducted by our organizations – EpiAFRIC and the Africa Polling Institute – found that 84% believe that mental disorders are attributable to drug abuse, 60% link such disorders to “sickness of the mind,” 54% to “possession by evil spirits,” and 23% to “punishment by God.” Nearly one-third – 32% – believe that mental disorders run in families.. Read more here.
Countering Misinformation Should be Part of Health Interventions
Lessons from the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria in 2014 shows how deadly fake news and misinformation can be. The misinformation about bathing with saltwater to “prevent” Ebola led to the deaths of at least 2 people and hospitalization of about 20 others in Nigeria. Now, the World Health Organization says COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an infodemic – an overwhelming amount of information on social media and websites. Some of this information are accurate while a majority are false. The result of our opinion poll confirms there is already an infodemic in Nigeria. It is a threat to efforts to contain COVID-19. Read more here.
Four Ways to Combat Malaria in the Time of COVID-19
Globally there are more than 5.1 million cases of COVID-19 with most cases currently in high income countries. The U.S. and Europe are responsible for 72% of COVID-19 cases, 63% of recoveries and 82% of deaths. In contrast, World Health organization estimates there were 228 million cases of malaria and 405,000 deaths due to malaria worldwide in 2018. Africa bore the burden of these statistics, accounting for 93% of malaria cases and 94% of malaria deaths. As African countries ramp up testing capacity, COVID-19 statistics will no doubt increase. Recently, the WHO cautioned that Africa may soon become the new epicenter of COVID-19. If this happens, Africa would suffer a double burden of killer diseases due malaria and COVID-19. Read more here.
Remote work is good for business, and the world
The success of remote work is no coincidence. Studies have shown that when it is done right, remote work can improve employee productivity, creativity and morale. It has also been established that remote work leads workers to take fewer sick days and less vacation time, resulting in more workdays overall. Moreover, it can save businesses thousands of dollars a month per employee in office and other expenses. After being compelled to invest in tools that make remote work easier and more efficient due to the coronavirus pandemic, and experiencing the benefits of this new work model, many companies are considering allowing their employees to work from home indefinitely. Read more here.
As a public health physician in Nigeria, I have worked in communities along these land borders and seen firsthand how porous they are. Some of them are farmlands, some are forests while some are parts of households. Apart from a few portions that serve as official crossings, the land borders are pretty much open for all. This has always bothered me, and I have spoken about this weakness previously. Countries located around Nigeria's vast land borders include Cameroon (north east and south east); Republic of Benin (north west and south west); Chad and Nigeria's Republics (northern) and the Atlantic Ocean via the Bight of Biafra (Southern). As at April 5 2020, these countries reported the following numbers of cases of COVID-19: Cameroon (306); Niger (98) Benin (13) and Chad (8). Read more here.
One Health in Nigeria
The abattoirs were filthy with animals slaughtered on bare floors, and dogs feeding on leftovers. Car tires were used to burn furs off slaughtered animals. We wrote extensively about our visits here. It seemed zoonotic diseases were lurking in the nooks and corners of these abattoirs. The conditions were similar in other parts of Nigeria and the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans and vice versa. Bushmeat from hunted or poached wildlife including bats, rodents, snakes, crocodiles, and antelopes is freely available in Nigeria. Research shows that bushmeat consumption is a threat to biodiversity and increases the risk of infectious disease transmission from animals to humans. Read more here.
Neglected Diseases Kill More People than COVID-19 – It’s Time to Address Them
Lassa Fever is an example and is endemic in Nigeria and other West African countries such as Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone. At present, it kills about 17.8 percent of those infected in Nigeria. In 2020 alone, there have been nearly 4,000 suspected Lassa fever cases and more than 160 deaths. First reported in 1969, there is still no viable vaccine to prevent it. An acute viral haemorrhagic illness that is similar to Ebola, the infection could last anywhere from two days to twenty-one days and is spread to humans through contact with food or household items that have been contaminated with rodent urine or faeces or from person-to-person. Read more here.
News Agencies Must Paint a Complete Picture of Coronavirus
Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “We have an epidemic caused by Coronavirus, but we have a pandemic caused by fear “. This fear is worsened by how news agencies report the outbreak. These are some examples.
“Bodies ‘pile up’ in morgue as Iran feels strain of coronavirus” – CNN
“First UK death from coronavirus confirmed as cases surge to 115” – The Guardian UK
“Coronavirus: Global death toll exceeds 3,000” – Premium Times Nigeria
“Death toll from coronavirus in Italy rises to 148: Live updates” – Aljazeera “Coronavirus update, map as death toll reaches 3,200.
Infections soar in Italy, Iran and South Korea” – Newsweek
News outlets are often quick to report the number of infected and deaths due to Coronavirus. However, they do not highlight as prominently the number of Coronavirus survivors. Yet, there are many survivors. Read more here.
Businesses can help stop coronavirus and future infectious disease outbreaks
COVID-19 has infected more than, 82,000 people and killed nearly 3000. It’s also causing the global economy to lose a predicted $280 billion in the first quarter of 2020. Thus, one lesson from the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is that infectious disease affects everyone — no sector is spared. Everywhere you look, businesses are bleeding losses due to COVID-19. Businesses in China and other countries that depend on supplies from China are especially feeling the impact. Asian markets are recording losses; several airlines have canceled flights to Mainland China; Apple’s global supply chain has slowed down and sales negatively affected; Saudi Arabia has suspended travels by pilgrims to the country leading to losses by travel agents and airlines; Maersk, the global leader in shipping has canceled 50 trips to Asia; Goldman-Sachs says U.S. companies will not generate earnings growth in 2020. The list is endless. Read more here.
Let’s Prevent Post-partum Depression and Provide Care to Those in Need
Recently, Nigerian feminist author Ukamaka Olisakwe spoke about her post-partum depression after giving birth in the city of Aba, southeast Nigeria. This follows her 2019 Longreads essay, in which she narrated painful details of her experience. In 2007, Olisakwe was 24 years old when she had her first encounter with post-partum depression. She had just given birth to her first child of three – a daughter. Olisakwe’s experience convinced her that, No one really cares about how the women feel, if they are still haunted by the memories of childbirth, how they are coping with the immense bodily changes, if they are emotionally ready to have sex, if they even want to go through pregnancy ever again. They are expected to perform their roles as virtuous wives and good mothers, or they’ll fall short of societal expectations, of which the consequences are grave. Read more here.
Protect healthcare workers fighting outbreaks
The continuing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a reminder that healthcare workers are in the line of fire when responding to infectious disease outbreaks and we must ensure that they are protected. Li Wenliang sounded an alarm about a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-like viral infections while working at China’s Wuhan Central Hospital as a physician but the authorities did not believe him. Instead, he was hounded by the police to stop “making false comments”, and now he’s dead from the same virus he was concerned about – the new Coronavirus. As of yesterday (17 February), the virus which Wenliang so desperately wanted authorities to investigate had 58,182 cases and killed 1,696 people, according to the World Health Organization. Read more here.
Why the Coronavirus Should Worry Us All
The coronavirus outbreak — which began in Wuhan, China, and causes a pneumonia-like illness — is raging across Asia, infecting close to 300 people and killing four. It was initially known to be transmitted from animals to human, and was just confirmed to be transmitted from human to human. The rapid nature of its origin and speed in transmission reminds us that national security is threatened when a pathogen can travel from a remote village to major cities on all continents in 36 hours. Therefore, global health security should be given the same priority as national security. The history of infectious disease outbreak is not new. In 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic infected about 500 million people globally (a third of world’s population then) and caused the death of 20 million to 50 million victims. The 2014 -2015 Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone infected 28,000 and killed over 11,000. By the end of the West Africa Ebola outbreak, the three nations lost a combined GDP of $2.8 billion. Infectious diseases continue to be a huge problem. Of recent, Ebola and measles outbreaks in DRC have killed 2236 and over 6,000 respectively. Read more here.
Why an Ebola Vaccine Is Not Enough
When the US Food and Drug Administration approved the new Ebola vaccine Ervebo last month, I was elated. Ervebo can generate a quick immune response after a single dose, with protection occurring within ten days. If only such a vaccine had existed a few years ago, I thought. In 2015, I co-led an African Union-commissioned evaluation by EpiAFRIC of the AU’s efforts to address the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. For two weeks, my team and I traveled throughout the three countries, interviewing AU volunteers, community members, international partners, senior managers at health ministries, and other stakeholders who worked to stem that outbreak. We also visited a Coyah Ebola treatment center in Guinea. Read more here.
It’s Time to Put a Full Stop on Period Poverty
Recently, when I used a men’s restrooms at the George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health in Washington, DC, I was pleasantly surprised to see free packs of tampons and sanitary pads. This was a first for me. When I looked it up online, I learned they are intended for transmen or others who may biologically need tampons but prefer using men’s bathrooms. I also read there was a student-led campaign to make these sanitary products freely available in four sets of restrooms on campus since at the store, a box of tampons is $9 or sanitary pads $15. Sadly, the offering of free sanitary products is unusual worldwide. It shouldn’t be. Read more here.
Four Lessons to Reverse Inequity in the Global Health Workforce
Recently, Madhukar Pai, the Director of McGill University Global Health Program wrote about the inequity in global health research. He observed that researches are skewed in favor of the global north. We agree that this inequity exists. However, we also have found that global fellowships such as the Atlantic Fellowship, of which we are both Senior Fellows, are platforms to reverse this inequity, foster international partnerships and amplify voices of development practitioners from the global south. Shubha Nagesh is a medical doctor by training and thereafter specialised in Global Health from Karolinska Instituet, Sweden as an Erasmus Mundus Fellow. She presently works with children with developmental disabilities in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. Ifeanyi Nsofor is a Nigerian medical doctor and a graduate of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He is a Senior New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute and 2006 Ford Foundation International Fellow. Ifeanyi is a leading advocate for universal health coverage in Nigeria. Read more here.
It's time to channel household expenditures into health insurance in Nigeria
Ten years ago, our first child, Yagazie, was born, her Igbo name meaning “it is well.” She weighed 3.5 kilograms at birth and was a bubbly child. As new parents, my wife and I were elated. Yagazie’s grandparents were joyous about meeting their first grandchild. As the days progressed, however, we noticed things were not well with her. Yagazie was not feeding properly, and she was losing weight and crying irritably. She turned blue most times and was short of breath. Read more here.
Lay media reporting of monkeypox in Nigeria
The majority of articles described governments as their source of information, but only 11% actually cited the source. Outbreak information included number of cases and deaths, newly confirmed cases as well as response activities. The majority of the information on the outbreak from the government was from the NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health. Others were from State Ministries of Health, State Ministries of Information and government hospitals. Read more here.
Four Ways to Prevent Lassa Fever Deaths
Dr. Wouter, a Dutch doctor who helped perform surgeries and train colleagues in surgical skills in underserved areas of Sierra Leone died of Lassa Fever. He was infected as a result of performing a Caesarean section on an infected pregnant woman. This was a very painful and avoidable death. I mourn with his family and the Dutch people over this loss. No health worker should die while trying to save lives. Sadly, every year 5,000 West Africans die from Lassa fever. Read more here.
Community Efforts are Key When Addressing HIV/AIDS
Three years ago, I led an evaluation of an HIV project that focused on increasing access to quality care and supporting services for people living with HIV in Nigeria. It also aimed to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination. The project achieved these goals by strengthening support groups, using homebased care services for sick persons and providing Savings and Loans Association membership to improve the livelihoods of persons living with HIV. These outcomes point to the power of community in managing HIV. The first of December is celebrated globally as World AIDS Day. The theme of the 2019 celebration is, “communities make the difference“. This reminds us to re-focus on the power of community as we try to end the HIV pandemic. Read more here.
Gasping For Air: Doctor’s Death Exposes Inherent Risks Of Nigerian Public Hospitals
The late Dr. Rosemary Chukwudebe, 42, was the Head of the Internal Medicine Department at the Kogi State Specialist Hospital (KSSH) in Lokoja. She was a graduate of the University of Benin, a caring wife and mother to three beautiful young children. Known as a dedicated doctor who worked tirelessly, she would often continue attending to her patients when doctors were on strike, saying that “Two people cannot be mad at the same time”, referring to the Kogi State government and the medical trade unions who have “normalised” strikes as the method of agreeing appropriate remuneration levels in the public health sector in Nigeria. Dr. Rosemary Chukwudebe was an exemplary doctor, the type every patient would love to meet when they are most vulnerable. Despite her deep dedication to duty and commitment to her patients, Rosemary, unfortunately, died in the same hospital where she worked, in the same department she headed. Read more here.
4 ways to end the abuse of women during childbirth
In Canada, 24 percent of 410 women who responded to a survey about their childbirth experience at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto said that they did not feel that their bodily autonomy was honored and respected. In the U.S., there is a racial dimension to abuse of women during childbirth - women of color with low socio economic status are more likely to be mistreated than white women of the same social class. The abuses experienced by women in America include, loss of independence, being shouted at, being threatened, being ignored, and receiving no response to requests for help. Read more here.
Four ways to address the heart disease-related outcomes of malaria
It has been several years since I last had malaria, but I still vividly remember my high temperature, throbbing head, torturous sleep, severe body aches, and non-existent appetite. I was totally knocked out mentally and physically, unable to perform even basic tasks like house chores. I took time off work. However, I know my situation could have been so much worse if the disease had led to heart issues as well. Recent research shows malaria increases the risk of heart failure by 30%, implying a double jeopardy for the health and wellbeing of people in malaria-endemic countries. The unique connection between malaria and heart failure means an increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases. Read more here.
How to Keep Kids in School and Fight Malnutrition
The devastating impacts of malnutrition were recently apparent when my colleagues at Nigeria Health Watch visited the Zamfara camp for children with acute malnutrition. Located in north Nigeria, the camp is never empty. Young mothers who seem lost for solutions hold their children, many so malnourished that sores cover their bodies and their ribs are visible under their skin. The children often suffer from pneumonia, diarrhea and any number of tropical diseases. Camp staff deliver emergency high-nutrient food until the children are strong enough to go home. But these children need daily healthy meals, which their parents cannot afford to provide. Read more here.
Four Ways the African Development Bank Can Support a More Secure Africa
According to preventepidemics.org, a website which ranks countries’ levels of epidemic preparedness, no country in Africa is ready for the next epidemic. The African Union must act now to increase the capacity of member countries to detect, respond and manage disease outbreaks. Managing disease outbreaks is not cheap but it is cost-effective. Read more here.
Medical Negligence in Nigeria Must End
Gucci tweeted how two hours later; the doctor strolled in leisurely, unperturbed. He acted as if there was no emergency and did not offer any direct treatment to her son. Instead he wrote some prescriptions for Gucci to buy and left for the mosque to pray. Thirty minutes later, he returned and attended to other patients. Gucci felt these other cases were not as serious as her son's, whom she could see was struggling and struggling to breathe. Ultimately, tragically, her son died more than 6 hours after arriving at the hospital. Read more here.
Dear President Buhari; Without Health, We Have Nothing
Dear President Buhari, congratulations on your election to a second term as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You are the second president to achieve this feat since our foray into democracy as a nation in 1999. Today, you were sworn in to serve Nigeria for the next four years. As the nation celebrates your inauguration as Nigeria’s fifth democratically elected president, we at Nigeria Health Watch reflected on some of your achievements in the health sector and share recommendations for your second term. Mr. President, “without health, we have nothing”. You clearly understand this, for when you were ill you went to great extent to get excellent healthcare. We are thankful that you got the quality of healthcare you needed from the United Kingdom and are now stronger to steer the ship of governance. Read more here.
59: Great Lofty Heights Unattained
Today Nigeria celebrates its 59th year as an independent nation. Special prayers are being offered in churches and mosques. Speeches will be made and wreaths laid by politicians. Businesses are tapping into the occasion to make brisk sales. Beyond the celebration, let us imagine that Nigeria is a 59-year-old woman named Wazobia. This is a fair assumption because a society’s level of development is measured by looking at the status of women and the level of their empowerment. What has been the state of Wazobia’s health since Nigeria’s independence in 1960? Is she living her best life? What about her children and family? The questions are numerous. Read more here.
Preventing pneumonia must involve more than tech tools
Recently, the Butterfly iQ, a hand-held ultrasound scanner that can be connected to an iPhone, was used to successfully diagnose pneumonia in children in resource-poor settings. This is a very timely lifesaving invention, and the developers should be commended. But as promising as Butterfly iQ may be, it can be constrained in the impact it can make in the prevention and treatment of pneumonia and should not be treated as the ultimate solution. Read more here.
Human-centered plastics recycling interventions can help combat climate change
It is snowing plastics in the arctic — a team of German researchers found more than 10,000 micro-plastics in one liter of snow. This is a wakeup call to anyone who ever doubted the harmful effects of climate change. Equally alarming, there have been instances when plastics were found in dead marine animals. In 2019 a whale in the Philippines had 40 kilograms of plastics in stomach; in 2018 an eight-month old Seal pup in Scotland also had plastic in its stomach; and more than 800 micro-plastics found in all 102 turtles assessed in a research. Read more here.
Want to prevent vaccine deaths? Show people the consequences of unvaccinated nations
People’s confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines is greater in poor than rich countries, according to Wellcome’s recently published Global Monitor, a survey of 140,000 people from over 140 countries. For instance, beliefs in vaccine safety are at 99 percent in Rwanda and 97 percent in Bangladesh but 72 percent in the U.S. and 47 percent in France. Read more here.
Institutionalized racism is keeping black Americans sick
More African American men and women aged between 35-64 are dying due to heart failure compared to people the same age in other racial groups, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology said this month. Heart failure means that the heart is not pumping blood around the body the way that it should. Research has shown that institutional racism is one of the reasons African Americans acquire and die from cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure. Read more here.
Angela Merkel has Done Much to Help Africa; Her Successor Should Continue the Relationship
The big questions then become, upon Angela Merkel's eventual exit in 2021, will the commitments she has initiated continue? Will Africa continue to enjoy the support of Germany or will her exit mean the end to the great relationship and privileges including financial support that Africa has received from Germany? Will her successor carry on her legacy or will they erase it altogether? Read more here.
Let Plants Be Thy Medicine - You Are What You Eat
While 45 percent of deaths in children are from nutrition-related causes, mainly malnutrition, diet-related non communicable diseases like obesity is a fast-growing problem across the world causing low- and middle-income countries to face a double burden of malnutrition. Read more here.
Another lady I met was denied university admission because she is HIV positive. She was screened for HIV without her consent, her HIV-positive status was disclosed publicly, and she was asked to leave the private university. Read more here.
It is official: With 9.3 billion mobile connections, the number of mobile devices on earth now surpasses the 7.6 billion people population. This creates huge opportunities to advance global health and food security through mobile phones. Read more here.
Today TB infects 25 percent of the world’s population, killing 1.6 million people every year. And as I saw firsthand years ago, it is becoming increasingly resistant to conventional drugs. This infectious disease must be taken seriously: it kills more people than HIV and malaria combined. Read more here.
Rwanda's Lessons on Universal Health Coverage
Of course, the people of Rwanda have gone through deep trauma in their national development - particularly the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. Over one million Rwandans were killed, thousands fled the country and victims were intentionally infected with HIV. Read more here.
Another lady I met was denied university admission because she is HIV positive. She was screened for HIV without her consent, her HIV-positive status was disclosed publicly, and she was asked to leave the private university. Read more here.
African Leaders Need to Develop Sustainable Ways of Financing Healthcare
About 37 percent of payments for healthcare at the point of need in sub-Saharan Africa is out-of-pocket, compared to 30 percent in the Middle East and North Africa. This pushes millions into poverty. Already, more than 50 percent of the world's extreme poor live in sub-Saharan Africa. If the trend continues, nearly nine in 10 of the extreme poor will live here by by 2030. Read more here.
World Health Organisation’s New Effort Can Help End Neglected Tropical Diseases
NTDs disproportionately affect 1.6 billion poor people worldwide. Most of the burden is in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Africa accounts for more than 50% of the global burden of NTDs. South East Asia has the second highest burden of NTDs – the region accounts for 74% of reported cases of leprosy globally. Read more here.
Tooth decay is a disease of inequality. Here's how governments can improve dental care
In the U.S., 2014 data shows that Hispanics and African Americans are less likely to have used health or dental care in the past year compared to whites. In Europe, there are significant socioeconomic inequalities in the lack of use of dental care. Africa has just about 8,000 dentists to service more than 1.2 billion people. In comparison, there are about 200,000 dentists providing services to 300 million people in the U.S. Read more here.
Making the Most of the Malaria Vaccine
Each year, malaria kills one million people worldwide, the majority of whom are children under five years of age. The economic costs of the disease in Africa – treatment expenses, absenteeism from work, foregone education, decreased productivity, and loss of investment and tourism – are estimated to reach $12 billion annually. Read more here.
Here’s How the World Can Be Better Prepared to Handle Epidemics
To be better prepared for epidemics, a country must have a ReadyScore of 80 percent and above, otherwise the international community cannot categorically say that all G20 countries can prevent, detect and rapidly respond to infectious disease outbreaks. So, what needs to happen next? Read more here.
Why Doctors Should Consider Prescribing 'Nature' to Patients
In 2018, doctors in Shetland, Scotland, first began prescribing nature to patients for treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as mental illness, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic stress. Nature, as prescribed in Shetland, entails 10 or so options for outdoor activities per month from which patients can choose. Read more here.
How good urban farming can combat bad eating
Unhealthy diets pose a bigger global health risk than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined. This is according a new report that estimates 820 million people are underfed and that many more consume low-quality diets that substantially increase the risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Read more here.
Remittances could be a gamechanger in the quest for UHC. Here's how.
Remittances by the African diaspora, if properly channeled, have the potential to be the game changer in Africa’s push toward universal health coverage — programs that ensure that everyone has access to quality health care for basic prevention and treatment without suffering financial hardship. Read more here.
Don't Call Me Chief: The Need to Redefine Respect in Nigeria's Medical Community
Nineteen years ago, I graduated as a medical doctor. Throughout medical school and during my housemanship training, I was compelled to address my senior colleagues as “Chief” at ward rounds, in clinics and even outside the hospital premises. It was taboo to call your senior colleagues by name. Nineteen years later, it remains a taboo. Read more here.
African Expertise Key to Stopping Ebola - Then and Now
I was a member of the EpiAFRIC team that evaluated the response of the African Union (AU) to the West African epidemic. The AU had recruited over 800 volunteer medical experts from across the continent to combat the epidemic raging across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In its wake, we travelled extensively through the affected areas, interviewing medical personnel, community leaders and people who had lost loved ones to the disease. Read more here.
There is hardly anyone in Nigeria who does not have a personal tale of road crashes to tell. In 2007, my mother died due to complications of a head injury sustained from an ‘‘okada” (commercial motorcycle) crash. It was a painful and an avoidable death. Read more here.
Victor Idowu was a young medical doctor with a passion to reform health care in Nigeria. A recent graduate of the University of Nigeria, in January 2018 he was at the start of his in-hospital clinical training when he examined a seven-month old baby with an abnormally high fever. He was the only doctor on duty. It was his last duty. The baby had Lassa fever Read more here.
In 2009, our first daughter appeared healthy at birth, lively, and unspeakably cute. However, just four weeks later, her health was failing. She could not nurse and was rapidly losing weight. She cried inconsolably. An echocardiogram revealed the cause. She had congenital heart defects and needed open heart surgery, immediately. Read more here.
I grew up in poverty, within a disadvantaged community much like the ones where Nigeria’s out-of-school children live. Yet my story is a testament to how education can improve one’s station in life – it very literally lifted me out of poverty. Read more here.
Nigeria is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, together with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since July 24, 2014, Nigeria has not recorded any new case of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV). In 2014, Nigeria recorded only 6 cases of WPV. This is a huge deal in a country that has battled polio for a long time. Read more here.