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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Health concerns throughout Nigeria (March issue)

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Dear Reader,

As the global battle against cancer continues, the Nigeria Nuclear Radiation Authority (NNRA) has said only eight certified radiotherapy centres are available for the nation’s estimated 220 million population.


The agency’s Director General, Yau Idris, also disclosed that Nigeria has only seven linear accelerator machines for cancer treatment while South Africa with less than 60 million population has 92 of such and Egypt has 76.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (2018-2022) revealed that cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths in the country annually, with a reported 102,000 new cases each year.

Worried by the dire situation, the government announced plans to establish six cancer centres across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones. The Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Tunji Alausa, announced this at an event to mark this year’s World Cancer Day.


Apart from the government’s planned intervention, a veteran broadcaster who will be 70 in a few days, Bimbo Oloyede, also launched a campaign to raise N100 million in support of cancer care in the country.

While Nigeria takes steps to address the cancer burden, it continues to be hit by Lassa Fever and Meningitis. As of 18 February, deaths from Lassa Fever had risen to 84 from 476 confirmed cases according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. The figure, however, is exclusive of three healthcare workers and a patient who died at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital Kaduna (44 NARHK), Kaduna State, on 23 February.

Lassa Fever is spread by the mulitimmate rat and the Nigerian government has now said it would go after rats through a deratisation project. The Minister of State for Environment, Isiaq Salako, said the ministry in response to the outbreak, had constituted a team and recommended that deratisation be carried out to reduce the population of rats.

Gombe State, North-east Nigeria, also announced the outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM), an infectious disease associated with the inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes. The announcement came after the members of the House of Representatives demanded investigations into what they termed a “strange disease” ravaging communities in the state.


Earlier, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) issued an alert against the heat wave being experienced in the country, which experts believed could heighten the chances of Meningitis spread.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate. [PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter handle of Mr Pate |]Meanwhile, about 70 years after implementing programmes to eliminate malaria, the country’s Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, said Nigeria still bears 30 per cent of the global burden with an estimated 68 million cases and 190,000 deaths from the disease as of 2021. The revelation came at a time when Cameroon launched the world’s first routine vaccine programme against malaria.

Mr Pate, in a post on his official X account, said he met with the Malaria Alliance, RBM Malaria Partnership, and WHO Global Malaria Programme, “to reassess efforts and mobilise technical and financial resources towards eliminating the malaria scourge from the country.”

Also during the past month, as part of efforts towards addressing the challenge posed by the increasing number of Nigerian healthcare workers fleeing the country, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) via a memo dated 7 February and signed by its Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, Faruk Abubakar, introduced revised guidelines for certificate verification for nurses and midwives seeking opportunities abroad.

But the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has protested the “draconian” policy, insisting on its reversal.

To address the challenge caused by the brain drain, the Nigerian government has embarked on massive recruitment of healthcare workers. A total of 2,497 healthcare workers including medical doctors, nurses, midwives and community health extension workers (CHEW) were recruited between May and December last year, the health minister said.

Also in February, President Bola Tinubu was appointed the champion for Human Resources for Health and Community Health Delivery Partnership by the African Union.

Mr Tinubu later said his administration is strongly committed to providing excellent healthcare facilities for all Nigerians and will prioritise domestic and foreign direct investments in the sector. He said this at a meeting with Afreximbank President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Benedict Oramah, who was accompanied by a delegation from King’s College Hospital, London (KCH) which visited to conclude their partnership to establish Africa Medical Centre of Excellence (AMCE), scheduled for completion in 2025.

NAFDAC Headquarters, Abuja

Mr Tinubu, to revamp Nigeria’s health sector, also appointed chief executive officers for some health agencies including the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The NAFDAC DG who was reappointed, Mojisola Adeyeye, later said a total of 105 applications for the construction of drug manufacturing facilities have been approved across the country.


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