A Professor of Virology, Sunday Omilabu, has urged the Federal Government to put efforts in place to aquire smallpox vaccines in the fight against monkeypox.
Omilabu, who spoke in an interview aired on Arise TV on Sunday, said research had shown that the smallpox vaccine was effective against the monkeypox virus.
He said that monkeypox which is a zonotic disease is a virus transferred from animals to humans.
He said: “Government should negotiate for smallpox vaccine as other European countries are doing to prevent more cases of the virus.
“People above 60 years are lucky because they got a shot of the smallpox vaccine sometime ago but people who are presently below 50 years didn’t get the shot.
” The Public Health expert said that the capacity and structure used for COVID-19 should not be discarded, noting that it had helped in case detection of the virus.
“We have laboratory facility to detect this virus and this is as a result of the structure put in place during COVID-19. “This structures should be highly maintained,” he said.
Omilabu called for more enlightenment to educate people on monkeypox, adding that health workers should be well protected.
“Monkeypox is not as deadlier as COVID-19 but it is very scaring when you see people infected with the virus.
“People should be enlightened about the causes and how the virus is spread from animals to humans,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently classified the different variants of monkeypox as Clades l, llA and llB to avoid social, cultural offence.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says a group of global experts has agreed on new names for monkeypox virus variants.
The organisation said in a report on Friday that it was part of ongoing efforts to align the names of monkeypox disease, virus and variants or clades with current best practices.
The report said that the experts agreed to name the clades using roman numerals.
“The monkeypox virus was named upon first discovery in 1958, before current best practices in naming diseases and viruses were adopted.
“Similarly for the name of the disease it causes.
Major variants were identified by the geographic regions where they were known to circulate,’’ it said.
According to it, current best practise is that newly-identified viruses, related disease, and virus variants should be given names with the aim to avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional.
It said others are professional, or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare.
For disease, it said the assigning new names to existing diseases was the responsibility of WHO under the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications (WHO-FIC).
“ WHO is holding an open consultation for a new disease name for monkeypox.
Anyone wishing to propose new names can do so here.
” It said that for virus, the naming of virus species was the responsibility of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), which has a process underway for the name of the monkeypox virus.
According to it, for variants and clades, the naming of variants for existing pathogens is normally the result of debate amongst scientists.
“In order to expedite agreement in the context of the current outbreak, WHO convened an ad hoc meeting on August 8 to enable virologists and public health experts to reach consensus on new terminology.
“Experts in pox virology, evolutionary biology and representatives of research institutes from across the globe reviewed the phylogeny and nomenclature of known and new monkeypox virus variants or clades,’’ I said.
The report said thy discussed the characteristics and evolution of monkeypox virus variants, their apparent phylogenetic and clinical differences, and potential consequences for public health and future virological and evolutionary research.
It said the group reached consensus on new nomenclature for the virus clades that was in line with best practices.
The report said they agreed on how the virus clades should be recorded and classified on genome sequence repository sites.
“Consensus was reached to now refer to the former Congo Basin (Central African) clade as Clade one (I) and the former West African clade as Clade two (II).
“ Additionally, it was agreed that the Clade II consists of two subclades,’’ it said.
It said that the proper naming structure would be represented by a Roman numeral for the clade and a lower-case alphanumeric character for the subclades.
“ Thus, the new naming convention comprises Clade I, Clade IIa and Clade IIb, with the latter referring primarily to the group of variants largely circulating in the 2022 global outbreak.
“The naming of lineages will be as proposed by scientists as the outbreak evolves.
Experts will be reconvened as needed.
“The new names for the clades should go into effect immediately while work continues on the disease and virus names,’’ the report said.
Dr Muhammad Abbas, Head of Department, Microbiology and Parasitology, Bayero University, Kano State has decried the low vaccination of dogs to eliminate rabies in Nigeria by 2030. Abbas, an expert in vaccine preparation, kicked against the inadequate vaccination of dogs against rabies in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja.
Abbas said that vaccination remains the most cost-effective means of preventing, controlling and eradicating infectious diseases.
He stated that some countries had acted to strengthen rabies’ control efforts by scaling up dog vaccination programmes, and making human biologicals for post-exposure and pre-exposure prophylaxis more accessible.
The don said that such countries had been proactive by engaging communities on rabies.
According to him, Nigeria, however, is yet to intensify efforts toward the elimination of this disease.
Abbas says the Global Strategic Plan sets three objectives for affected countries, development partners, and key stakeholders, to effectively use vaccines, medicines, tools and technologies.
He saId that these measures would stop dog rabies transmission and reduce the risk of human death emanating from the disease.
“Countries are to generate evidence-based guidance and high-quality data, to measure impact and inform policy decisions and to harness multi-stakeholder engagement, to sustain commitment and resources,” he said.
According to Abbas, rabies is one of the neglected tropical vaccine-preventable diseases and predominantly affects poor and vulnerable populations, who live in remote rural locations.
He said: “Vaccinating dogs is the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people.
“Dog vaccination reduces deaths attributable to rabies and the need for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as a part of dog bite patient’s care.
“In Nigeria, more than 50,000 people die each year from human rabies, with rabid dogs accounting for over 90 per cent of confirmed human infection.
“We are not sure of the estimated Nigerians that receive PEP each year after being exposed to animals with suspected rabies, because there is no data to support this confirmation.
“Rabies PEP is close to 100 per cent effective.
Rabies is fatal in more than 99.9 per cent of humans that develop the disease.
“ The don called on the government to do more, to meet the Global Strategic Plan. He advised the Federal Government to generate accurate data to monitor the trend of disease and also intensify awareness of rabies’ prevention and dog vaccination in Nigeria.
Abbas called for the provision of cost-effective vaccines that would be able to reach Nigerians at the right time.
NAN reports that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had in 2018 introduced a new global strategic plan to eliminate dog-mediated rabies by 2030. The organisation described rabies as one of the oldest and most terrifying diseases known to man.
Written and pictorial records of rabies date back more than 4,000 years and today, it is endemic in more than 150 countries around the world.
Even though the disease can be prevented, it kills an estimated 59, 000 people each year, mostly in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.
About 40 per cent of the victims are children younger than 15 years, living in Asia and Africa.
A staggering 99 per cent of human cases are acquired via the bite of an infected dog, rather than through exposure to the many and varied wild animals.
According to WHO, these animals act as viral reservoirs on different continents.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has trained leaders of various unions and organisations on requisite strategies to curb the spread of COVID-19 infection through testing and vaccination.
Mr Tahir Hashim, the Assistant Secretary General, NLC, presented an ‘Overview of C19SM Social Mobilisation for the Update of COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination at Work Guidelines on the virus Prevention and Control’ at a 2day training held in Ilorin on Monday.
Hashim explained that the programme was aimed at upscaling awareness campaign for more Nigerians to be tested and vaccinated.
He disclosed that “as at Feb. 28, there has been 434,154,739 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with 5,944,342 deaths reported by World Health Organisation (WHO) out of which Nigeria has 254,560 confirmed cases with 3,142 deaths”.
According to him, different variants of SARS-Cov-2 have been identified so far; Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron with main symptoms of fever, tiredness and sore throat, among others.
“There is no cure for COVID-19. However, vaccines are available to reduce morbidity and mortality.
“The non-pharmaceutical measures include wearing nose mask, physical distancing and frequent hand washing, general and respiratory hygiene are some of the effective ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19 virus,” he said.
On the training, Hashim noted that the management of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria continues to evolve in the light of changing circumstances and risks posed to the health systems and economy.
“The development of guidelines has been necessitated by the spread and consequences of the virus in Nigeria and the world at large.
“It is also in realisation of the key roles which governments, employers and workers can play in ensuring safe and healthy practices in work place and as well to provide information on strategies for the containment of the spread and the mitigation of the impact of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
” Hashim informed that the global funded sponsored-programme was targeted at training over 200 peer educators, who are expected to replicate same in at least 20 persons in their various organisations for the message to percolate the grassroots.
He declared that Occupational Safety and Health Department of Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment would continue to train and equip factory inspectors in collaboration with relevant stakeholders for effective and safe monitoring, as well support compliance with the guidelines as the battle against COVID-19 continues.
Earlier, Mr Issa Ore, the Kwara NLC Chairman, stated that COVID-19 has ravaged the world while adverse effect was devastating since its outbreak in 2019. He expressed worry about the lingering COVID-19 outbreak, saying that it is against this backdrop that the leadership of NLC in partnership with other organisations like NCDC and NACA organised the training to scale up preventive measures.
While advising participants to make use of whatever they learnt judiciously, Ore said: “When we thought we were overcoming it, scientists discovered another variant, which was stronger and killing faster than COVID-19. “We appreciate the Nigerian government for its foresight, and to have worked assiduously with States and other countries in sharing information towards ameliorating the virus transmission.
“With the training, participants will undergo series of presentations with facts and figures on the effects of the disease.
“Valuable suggestions would be made available to assist Nigerians, and the world at large to overcome the crisis,” Ore said.
In her goodwill message, Jessica Akinrongbe, Senior Emergency Response Officer for Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) Abuja, spoke of the readiness of NCDC to partner NLC in the fight against the virus.
“Our hope is that at the end of the training, people would be able to realise that if you save a family, you save a nation,” she added.
Dr Amina Bello, Wife of Niger Governor and Chairperson of the state Gender Based Management Committee (GBV), is advocating girl-child education to ensure equal opportunity in the society.
She made the call at a one-day Anti GBV Close Out Project Workshop organised by the Niger state GBV Management Committee, supported by Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) in Minna on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger had in 2021 inaugurated a 20-member GBV management committee chaired by Dr Amina Bello to address the menace of domestic based violence.
Bello, who explained that girl-child education was extremely important, added that educating a woman made a family to prosper.
She, however, said that though GBV affected women and girls more, boys and men were also affected in lesser degree.
Bello added that GBV limits the potential of individuals, families and communities to live their full potential.
She disclosed that statistics of World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that one in every three women and girls experience GBV in their lifetimes and three in every 10 women in Nigeria have experienced physical violence by the age of 15. In her address, Hajiya Fati Ibrahim, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, commended the NAS for technical and financial support given to the committee to minimise occurrence of GBV in the state.
She said that progress had been made in efforts to reduce to the barest minimum cases of GBV in the state through sensitisation, prevention and reporting channels of GBV cases.
“Many segments of communities have been effectively mobilised to participate in fight against GBV in the state.
We have reached out to traditional and religious leaders to be at alert to respond to all forms of GBV in their domains,” she said.
In her remarks, Prof. Ekanem Braide, NAS President, said that the academy in 2020 partnered with Niger, Ekiti, Edo and Abia states to address GBV.
She added that the project was aimed at strengthening response to GBV in the four states.
Braide commended the governor’s wife for effectively coordinating the committee and members on the project for successful implementation and conclusion of the project.
She urged the Niger to sustain the project in order to serve as a model to other states.
Also, Hajiya Kaltum Rufai, Secretary of GBV Management Committee and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Women Affairs, said that 175 rape cases were reported to the Sexual Assaults Centre from January 2021 till date.
She said out of these cases, only eight offenders were convicted out of 77 prosecutions with 160 cases still under trials.
She added that the centre also recorded 3,500 withdrawal cases of school children, 67 street hawking and 21 forced marriages.
In his remarks, Emir of Minna, Dr Farouq Umar, represented by Malam Iko Adamu, commended the efforts of the governor’s wife and the team for successful implementation of the project.
Umar added that the emirate would give necessary support for sustainability of the project.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has reported 24 additional monkeypox cases in seven days from across 12 states in the country.
The NCDC reported the cases via its official website.
It stated that a total of 157 positive infections of monkeypox were confirmed between January 1 and July 31. The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that monkeypox is an ongoing outbreak, a viral disease that was confirmed in May 2022. The initial cluster of cases was found in the United Kingdom, where the first case was detected on May 6, in an individual with travel links to Nigeria.
NAN recalls that researchers are yet to discover why monkeypox seems to be propagating so readily and unconventionally in the current global outbreak.
The monkeypox virus spreads through direct contact with respiratory secretions such as mucus or saliva or skin in lesions.
Skin lesions appear soon after infection as a rash , small pimples or round papules on the face, hands or genitalia.
These lesions may also appear inside the mouth, eyes and other parts of the body that produce mucus.
They can last for several weeks and be a source of viruses before they are fully healed.
People usually develop symptoms five to 21 days after exposure to the virus and symptoms last for two to four weeks.
The Public Health Agency said that out of the 24 additional cases, Ondo State has five while Lagos and Kano have three each.
Abia, Adamawa, Bayelsa and Kwara have two each and Delta, Anambra, Gombe, Rivers,and Nasarawa, one each.
It said that four deaths had been recorded in four states, which are; Lagos, Delta, Ondo and Akwa Ibom .
According to NCDC, from January 1 to July 31, there have been 413 suspected cases and 157 confirmed cases, with 105 males and 52 females.
The agency said that these cases were from 26 states.
“From September 2017 to July 31, 2022, a total of 12 deaths had been recorded in nine states: “Lagos ( three), Edo (two), Imo (one ), Cross River (one ), the FCT (one ), Rivers (one ), Ondo ( one ) Delta (one ) and Akwa Ibom (one),” it stated.
Meanwhile, unlike COVID-19, the monkeypox virus requires intimate, often skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual’s rashes, scabs, bodily fluids, or contaminated linens to spread.
With at least some known transmission routes, available diagnostic tests, and two vaccines on offer, monkeypox should have been easy to manage across the globe.
Cases among men who have sex with other men—are still rising at an alarming rate that the World Health Organisation (WHO), has now declared a public health emergency, Since May, more than 80 countries where monkeypox was not endemic had reported nearly 28, 000 cases.
including about 7, 500 in the U.
S. All states, except Montana and Wyoming had confirmed cases, but more than half were recorded in New York, California, Illinois, Florida, and Texas.
Among the cases with available data, 94 per cent were in men who reported recent sexual or close intimate contact with other men.
54 per cent of cases were among Black and Hispanic people, a group that represents about 34 per cent of the general US population.
The share of cases among black people has grown in recent weeks, according to the US Centre For CDC analysis.
Meanwhile, some Public Health experts have recommended practising safer sex and having fewer sexual partners, particularly anonymous partners, even when they do not have symptoms.
They warned against stigmatising anyone from the LGBTQ+ community, adding, ”whenever any kind of infection is linked with sexual transmission, it comes with a stigma.
” They said that monkeypox has not been considered a sexually transmitted infection, although it is transmitted through close sexual contact.
Experts have called on the Federal Government and other employers of labour to implement six months maternity leave and make the workplace conducive to enable mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding for their babies.
The experts, who made made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan on Sunday, decried the low exclusive breastfeeding rate put at 29 per cent in Nigeria.
The President, Nigerian Society of Neonatal Medicine, Dr Olukemi Tongo, said the theme for 2022 Breastfeeding Week: ‘Step Up For Breastfeeding, Educate and Support’ was apt.
Tongo said the low exclusive rate put at 29 per cent in Nigeria was not acceptable, hence the need to increase support for mothers.
“And, we need mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life for all the benefits accrued from breastfeeding; the babies growth, good development, emotional development, immunity to fight infections.
“Such that in the future they will have lower disease chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, allergies and all that.
Aside that the cognitive development of baby is superb with breast milk.
“Even when they start complementary food after six months, they should continue with breastfeeding for up to two years,” she said.
Tongo, who is also a Consultant Paediatrician Neonatologist University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, said whereas the cost of exclusive breastfeeding is low compared to formula food.
“If there is a creche in the place of work or attached to the place of work or a breastfeeding place at a place of work, mothers can keep their child there; the mother will be at rest and can be more productive.
“But when the child is so far away, you don’t know what is happening, the mother’s heart would not be at rest, she would be tense.
“Even the mother’s breast will be full and engrossed and painful, she might not be able to concentrate at work though she is physically present,” she said.
The neonatologist said employers needed to know that they too would benefit from making the environment conducive for their workers to breastfeed.
She said there should be no discrimination against nursing mothers such as denying them employment or making life difficult for them at work.
Also, Mrs Motunrayo Oduneye, Chief Dietitian at Dietetics Department UCH, said including water as part of babies’ food for the first six months of life used to be a major contending factor with this art of breastfeeding, that is giving water alongside breast milk.
“The composition of water in breast milk is about 75 per cent.
So, there is no need for water alongside breast milk for the first six months of a baby’s life.
“Other challenges in the art of breastfeeding include mothers being working class either with state or Federal Government or being entrepreneurs or self employed, this could hinder exclusive breastfeeding for their babies.
“Because they want to support the home they look forward to resuming back to work as soon as possible.
“But getting back to work has been a limiting factor to practicing exclusive breastfeeding, for example, by three and a half months mothers working with the Federal Government have to resume back to work because it is yet to declare the six months maternity leave.
“Oyo State is one of the five or six states that has confirmed six months maternity leave.
“This is one of the things that we rely on that can help to improve the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Nigeria,” Oduneye said.
According to her, in Oyo State, the breastfeeding rate is not bad, however, we are still battling with improving the data of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
Oduneye said psychosocial perception of breastfeeding has been a limiting factor because some mothers still believe that only breast milk will not be enough for a child.
“But breast milk in the first six months of life contains all the necessary nutrients in quantity and quality that a child requires at this stage of life.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given sufficient information on the importance of breastfeeding, adding that after giving the breast milk exclusively for the first six months, it should continue with other food added for two years,” she said NAN reports that the 2022 Breastfeeding Week is commemorated from 1st to 7th August.
Prof. Muhammad Ali-Pate, Executive Chairman, Chigari Foundation, on Saturday identified health security as a critical element towards ensuring socio-economic and political stability of any nation.
He stated this when he led a team of foundations and NGOs on a courtesy visit on Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State at Government House in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the delegation include representives from World Health Organisation (WHO), Solina and Sultan Foundations.
Ali-Pate, who is the team leader and a former Minister of state for Health, said: “The purpose of our mission centred around health insecurity, there are infectious diseases that affect our children, young ones, women and adults everyday.
“Whether they are things like; measles that afflict our children and lead to loss of lives or pneumonia or tuberculosis or hepatitis or menengitis, all kinds of infections that can take the llves of a young child or young person.
“Those diseases are very preventable, there are tools of science that can prevent them, things like immunisation can prevent those infectious diseases.
“The absence of systems to deliver those vaccines and immunisation services itself is a contributor to health insecurity because if you have infectious disease from one person to another you are actually undermining the ability of people to have a chance of surviving to adulthood to be healthy and productive contributors to societal growth and development.
“Health insecurity can also affect economic security, we saw a pandemic crippling the world, it started as a health problem but suddenly even those who didn’t have the disease were affected by the consequences of the pandemic.
“So, health security is very key part of development agenda of any reasonable society.
In our country, for many years we have been trying to improve primary healthcare and immunisation.
”He lauded the Sultan of Sokoto, who according to him, about 12 years ago mobilsed and convened all traditional leaders in Northern Nigeria and they engaged in a programme in collaboration with the state government which led to a dramatic progress and improvement in immunisation.
“We thank God Almighty and also thanks to all your contributions as we succeeded in stopping wild polio virus.
That means future generations are secured, they will exist in a world where that virus is not going to threaten them, that is a big accomplishment.
“But that engagement between the state and traditional institutions is key to that success, here in Kebbi State, His Royal Highness, the Emir of Argungu has been a key leader of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare representing the Kebbi State Traditional Council of Chiefs and Emirs.
“And all across Northern Nigeria, that group with leaders across the chain, worked hard to contribute in achieving that success,” he said.
While appreciating the efforts of the state government in various health intervention programmes in previous years, the former minister advocated for more concerted efforts to record more success in the immunisation exercise.
The Kebbi State Government on Saturday said it renovated 140 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) while work on 36 others was currently in progress.
Gov. Atiku Bagudu disclosed this while receiving Chigari Foundation and other NGOs on a courtesy visit at Government House in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the delegation included representives from World Health Organisation (WHO), Solina Foundation and Sultan Foundation.
Bagudu was represented by Alhaji Babale Umar-Yauri, Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
Bagudu said: “On infrastructure development, it is our wish to have at least an equipped primary healthcare centre in each of the 225 political wards in the state.
” So, we will have about 170 but before the end of this administration, all the remaining ones will be renovated and equipped.
“In the area of human resources, we have given approval for recruitment of 850 health workers to bridge the existing gap.
“On community development, the state government in collaboration with USAID, had established the state Social Insurance Scheme.
” Bagudu said immunisation coverage indicated that Kebbi was able to record 55 per cent immunisation, assuring that before the end of this administration, government was targeting 90 per cent coverage.
According to him, government is doing its best to improve the healthcare delivery across the state for the good of all Kebbi residents.
He recalled that the state government had launched primary healthcare under one roof and the results from the state and local government indicated 82 per cent success.
An NGO, Chigari Foundation in collaboration with others, has taken immunisation campaign to grassroots through traditional rulers, in an effort to end killer diseases in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that other NGOs included representatives of World Health Organisation (WHO), Solina Foundation and Sultan Foundation.
Speaking when he led the NGOs to Abdullahi Fodio Palace in Birnin Kebbi and Emir of Argungu’s Palace in Argungu, the Executive Chairman of Chigari Foundation, Prof. Muhammad Ali-Pate, said the essence of involving traditional rulers in the exercise was to pave way for greater successes.
Ali-Pate, a former Minister of State for Health, said they were in the two palaces to seek royal blessing and to strengthen what the traditional rulers were doing to ensure a healthy society.
He said: “The visit is on issue of development and health incentives.
With your support, we have been able to put an end to wild polio virus in Nigeria and it is in this line that we want you to come in again and educate our people on the need to end all the killer diseases in Nigeria.
“Government is doing its part and as traditional rulers you have a significant role to play to ensure eradication of these preventable diseases because you are closer to the people and as traditional leaders, you can advise, instruct and direct your subjects on issues.
”The former minister said on issues of development, the leaders of people needed to be engaged to be able to record meaningful success.
He recalled that 14 years ago, the wild polio virus was stampeedding in about 27 states of Nigeria, adding that it was a major crisis that reached to World Health Assembly.
He, however, said that traditional leaders in Northern Nigeria, through the Sultan of Sokoto, accorded them a grace of listening and engaged with them which culminated into a huge success.
“Thank God that efforts provided a decisive opportunity that ultimately translated in finishing polio virus.
“That lesson revibrates not only in Nigeria but all over the continent and beyond and not only for now but for posterity.
“Because we came together, government, traditional and religious institutions worked towards a common purpose and defeated a disease and many others like this.
” Different kinds of insecurity remained with us, the physical insecurity which is visible that everybody talks about, we pray Almighty God will make it easy.
“But there are other forms of insecurity, people would say food insecurity but there is also health insecurity and we saw at least for the wealthier countries a virus which started in health that destroyed their economy.
“Therefore, health security is so important to economic security, to national security and to political security,” he said.
Ali-Pate observed that in spite of the roles traditional institutions played before, the NGO felt there was the need to re-energise their efforts to play such roles again.
“In view of the fact that we succeeded the other time because we listened to you, that’s why we feel we should re-energise you again.