Stop Consuming Artificially Ripened Fruits, NAFDAC Warns Breastfeeding Mothers

Mohammed Shosanya

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned lactating and breast feeding mothers to be wary of the fruits that they consume,saying some of the fruits may pose serious health challenges to their children.

It noted that fruits that are artificially ripened by calcium carbide and other dangerous substances may lead to vomiting and even pose serious health consequences on their children, lead to a state of coma, which may eventually result to deaths.

The Director General (DG), NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye,who disclosed this during the North Central Zone of the NAFDAC media sensitization workshop on dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide, also raised concerns over the increase of illegal hawking of drugs in the open market.

The programme also exposed journalists to some of the harmful effects of illegal hawking of drugs.

Represented by the Director, Chemical Evaluation and Research, Dr Leonard Omopkariola, the NAFDAC boss warned that since babies consume what their mothers eat through breastfeeding, consumption of artificially ripened fruits, may also lead to irregular heart beats, if the phosphorus, carbide and arsenic materials from such fruits get into their system and are eventually consumed by their babies.

She explained that some of the impurities contained in calcium carbide include arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus,adding that the impurities are capable of causing cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure.

Other ailments include frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer among others, while higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in lungs (pulmonary oedema).

Prof Adeyeye further advised members of the public not to purchase dangerous non-retailed packed items in the open market in order to prevent the risk of taking contaminated and substandard drugs.

She said:”The ripening of fruits with carbides is another public challenge facing us today and the agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.

“Fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits. Fruit ripening is a unique aspect of plant development, which makes the fruit edible, softer, sweeter, more palatable, nutritious, and attractive.

“However, the consumption of fruits such as mango, banana, plantain, guava, orange, grape, etc or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health. NAFDAC has noticed the dangerous practice of sale and consumption of fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide as well as illegal hawking of drugs in the open market.

“Calcium carbide generally contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, etc., that pose several very serious health hazards. Consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure.

“They may also cause frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer and so forth. Higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in lungs (pulmonary oedema).

“Acetylene produced by calcium carbide affects the neurological system and reduces oxygen supply to the brain and further induces prolonged hypoxia.

“The impurities are hazardous to pregnant women and children and may lead to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral oedema (swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids), sleepiness, seizure etc.

“Calcium carbide is alkaline in nature and erodes the mucosal tissue in the abdominal region and disrupts intestinal functions.

“Other symptoms of poisoning include diarrhoea (with or without blood), burning or tingling sensation in abdomen and chest difficulty in swallowing, irritation in eyes/skin, sore throat, cough, shortness in breathing, numbness etc.”

81.6% Nigerians Use Traditional Medicine-FG

Mohammed Shosanya

The federal government says 81.6% Nigerians use African Traditional Medicine (ATM) for cure of ailments.

This is not expected to be on the decline in the near future, especially in the face of the predicted increase in the global burden of diseases (WHO Global Status Report on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), 2011),the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate,said at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja.

He said all member states are urged to review the progress of implementation of the objective of institutionalizing Traditional Medicine into national health systems.

Represented by the Director Human Resources, Hassan Salam, Pate added that, “It is on record that Nigeria has been observing the ATM Day for the past two decades with activities for awareness creation and promotion of appropriate use and practice of Traditional Medicine in the Country. With about 80% of the rural population using TM as a primary form of health care, traditional medicine has made an invaluable contribution to the health and well-being for all.

He said:”This year’s theme, “The Contribution of Traditional Medicine to Holistic Health and Well-being for All,” encapsulates the essence of our commitment to recognizing and harnessing the rich heritage of African Traditional Medicine. Today, as we celebrate, we must acknowledge the role of traditional medicine in our lives and its connection to our holistic health and well-being.

“Studies have shown that traditional medicine use in The Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu,seeks to bolster the economy by prioritizing Universal Health Coverage which is expected to frontally address the nation’s healthcare challenges. The healthcare plan will also focus on encouraging and improving funding for local research of new drugs and vaccines. It is a well-established fact that many medicines have their origin from herbal medicine which is a form of traditional medicine.

“Our approach to optimizing the strengths of our traditional medicine will also focus on favourable policies, institutional and political support, our rich biodiversity, qualitative data, scientific research, and the use of innovation to optimize the contribution of traditional medicine to universal health coverage and sustainable development, and will also be Quided by respect for our indigenous resources and intellectual property rights.

“During the COVID-19 period, a number of traditional medicine practitioners made claims on possible medicines for the management of the disease. The Ministry received about 35 products from these practitioners which were forwarded to NAFDAC for further analysis and possible listing. We can also recall the Madagascar Organic COVID-19 cure originated from medicinal plants”.

Pate further stated that, the strengths of traditional medicine, we must also strive to address the challenges that persist. Integration and collaboration between modern medical practices and traditional medicine are essential.

He added:”We must ensure that our traditional healers have access to proper training, research, and resources, allowing them to standardize their expertise while also aligning with international best practices. This collaboration can lead to a healthcare system that is truly comprehensive and inclusive, benefiting all members of our society”

He said Nigeria will mobilize evidence-based actions in support of traditional medicine which serves as initial recourse for millions worldwide seeking to address their health and well-being needs.

Earlier, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti,who was represented by Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the WHO Representative in Nigeria called on member states to scale up their efforts and further implement evidence-based traditional medicine (TM) approaches to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and promote health and well-being for all at all ages.

She urged member states to apply local knowledge, science, technology, and innovation to unlock the contribution of TM to advancing planetary health and people’s well-being across the life course, through regional and culturally appropriate nutrition and lifestyles within sustainable environments.

Nigerians Consume 38.6m Soft Drinks Daily,Risk Increased Kidney Diseases

Mohammed Shosanya

Dr. Amadi Dorothy, Deputy Director, Non-communicable Diseases, Public Health Department of Federal Ministry of Health has said that estimated 38.6 million soft drinks are sold daily in Nigeria, making it the highest soft drink consuming nation in the world

She gave the hint at inaugural meeting of the ad-hoc committee organized by the Non-Communicable Disease Division of the Federal Ministry of Health had representatives of different Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government with important roles to play in the implementation of the SSB tax for the tackling of Nigeria’s NCDs burden.

According to her,the explosion in consumption of SSBs in Nigeria is a public health concern that is connected to the rise in non-communicable diseases such as weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, and cancer, among others.

She explained that SSBs is any drink that contain natural or added sugar including Soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweetened water, coffee, tea beverages added sugar, energy drinks, maltose drinks et cetera.

She added:”NCD is associated with frequent consumption of SSBs leading to increase in obesity, diabetes, incidence of dental issues, heart diseases, like stroke and hypertension.

“SSBs consumption has also been linked to all forms of cancers, an estimated 38.6 million of soft drinks are sold daily in Nigeria, making Nigeria the highest soft drink consuming country in the world”.

Amadi noted that SSB tax has been identified as the most effective way of reducing the consumption of SSBs, consequently reducing the incidence and prevalence of NCDS.

NAFDAC Approves Glucozil Herbal Drug For Diabetes Cure

Mohammed Shosanya

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has certified the use of GLUCOZIL for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Its Head of Corporate Communication,Mike Aladenika,who disclosed this in a statement on Thursday,said the herbal drug, is produced by Edo State Government-owned Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.

It said:“Its bid to reclaim its enviable position among the comity of institutions, grounded in research and higher learning, has received the approval of NAFDAC, as well as the rights of production and patents of GLUCOZIL.”

Dr. Jonathan Emeka Emordi, Head, Department of Pharmacology and Sub-Dean, Basic Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, AAU, who produced the drug, said: “GLUCOZIL is a natural product that is prepared for the treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

“GLUCOZIL as a natural product, manufactured to cause a regeneration of the better cells that have been destroyed.If the product is used for a very long period, it will not only manage diabetes but cure it completely.”

According to him, GLUCOZIL, which can be used for the management, treatment and cure of diabetes, has bonus clinical indications for the treatment of BPH, commonly known as enlarged prostate.

He said: “In my analysis of the product, it was discovered that it has the capacity to shrink the prostate so that surgical operations can be avoided.The product is scientifically tested, right dose confirmed, safety proven in both humans and animals.

“It is also capable of flushing the human system. Simply put, it is a detoxifier. It has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities which makes it an immune booster.”

Lauding Emordi, the AAU acting VC, Prof. Sonnie Adagbonyin, said the management was happy with the feat achieved at the College of Medicine and the Department of Pharmacology.

He said: “We are proud of the ranking of our scholars who are determined to excel, do us proud despite the various human and environmental challenges.

“Management is proud of Dr. Emordi and I enjoin other scholars to see his achievement as motivation for them to break new grounds, open new frontiers of knowledge and innovation for the further progress of this university.”

USAID Partners Emzor Foods On Improved  Nutrition In Nigeria

Mohammed Shosanya

The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has signed a new private sector partnership with Emzor Foods and Beverages Limited, on improved nutrition in Nigeria.

It conveyed this in a statement made available to journalists by the Media and Public Affairs Section, U.S. Department of State, Abuja, on Thursday.

It said,USAID and Emzor will build a medical-grade groundnut paste processing facility in Nigeria.

The statement quoted that goundnut paste is an essential ingredient in life-saving Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a treatment for malnourished children.

It lamented that in Nigeria,3.6 million children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), concentrated mainly in northern states, adding that 50 percent of deaths in Nigerian children under the age of five result from malnutrition.”

It said that “RUTF, an energy-packed paste made from groundnut paste, oil, sugar, milk powder, vitamin and mineral supplements is the standard treatment for SAM. Treatment with RUTF successfully brings SAM-afflicted children back from the brink of death by providing vital nutrients.

“After years of using expensive, imported groundnut paste from Argentina and India, Nigeria, through this game-changing partnership, will be able to treat children with locally produced RUTF, a more affordable and sustainable solution that will also create economic opportunities for Nigerian groundnut farmers.”

It stated that in their dedication to reducing the number of malnourished children in Nigeria, Emzor and USAID each contributed $1 million to establish the UNICEF-approved groundnut paste processing facility, which will be one of only two on the African continent.”l

At the signing event, USAID Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson, commended Emzor Managing Director, Dr. Stella Okoli, for embarking on the partnership and joining forces with the U.S. government.

Dr. Patterson added: “Together, we will improve access, availability, and acceptability of RUTF, and ultimately contribute to improved treatment for severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria.

“In addition, the increase in demand of local medical-grade groundnut paste production will create new opportunities for local groundnut farmers, serve as a boon to Nigeria’s agriculture sector, and broaden inclusive economic growth.”

Okoli said: “This partnership highlights the private sector’s important role in addressing Nigeria’s most difficult development challenges. When complete, the plant will produce 400 kilograms of paste per hour, providing a local solution to severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria.”

Resident Doctors’ Strike Unreasonable–Perm Sec

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Daju Kachallom has has faulted the action of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to go on strike without a Minister in place as highly unreasonable.

She appealed to the conscience of the striking medical professionals to shelve their planned nationwide protest in the interest of Nigerians who rely on them for medical care in hospitals across the country.

Kachallom, who had a brief interaction with the media to highlight some of the constraints facing the ministry, lamented that Nigerians were dying in their numbers owing to Doctors absence in the hospitals.

She noted that government was working assiduously to meet all the demands of NARD within the shortest period of time, adding that the major demands of NARD was being responded to including:; the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) and timely replacement of doctors as some are leaving the system for greener pastures.

She also said that while the committee set up to look into the issues raised by NARD needs to conclude their work within the time frame given and submit recommendations for government to work with, government had appealed to the striking doctors to exercise little patience for ministers to come on board.

She added: “We held another meeting here on the 17th of July 2023 to review the level of implementation from the government side and we appealed to them (NARD) that complete carry away unless governments see to what they can do because this is a new regime; we just came in on the 29th of May, and we couldn’t welcome them with a strike.

“To be honest, federal government on its side has done quite a bit of trying to who ensure that the National Association of Resident Doctors do not go on strike but they still went ahead.

“The main crux of the matter for now are two main issues; payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund and one on one replacement of exited doctors

“On the immediate payment of 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund we appealed to them that they should kindly await when ministers are in place because permanent secretaries have a threshold and what the government is expected to pay is far and above the threshold of the permanent Secretary secretary. Very soon we are sure that ministers are going to be in place and we told them to please tarry a while we understand the plight of where you’re coming from.

“We are pleading with them to call off the strike. To be honest, the Federal Ministry of Health their parent ministry actually wrote to the Presidency on the issue in the health sector for him to intervene, we are awaiting his response.”

Explaining further she said an inter-ministerial committee was set up to look into the one on one replacement of doctors. Her words: “we need to determine and establish who exactly are exiting because we’re all guided as civil servants by the public service rules. There’s a difference between exits from an office, there is study leave, there is leave of absence and different kinds of leave so we need to be sure.

“We all know how these things work in the Federal civil system and we pleaded again for a little more time for the committee to wrap up and when recommendations are made we will bring them forth”.

Shell,Partners Resuscitate Flooded Hospital In N’Delta

Mohammed Shosanya

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and its joint venture partners have resuscitated government owned Edagberi Cottage Hospital in Ahoada West Local Government area of Rivers State.

The 20-bed hospital was ravaged by flood in 2012 which rendered it disused until the multi-million-naira intervention by the NNPC/SPDC/TotalEnergies/NAOC Joint Venture, leading to the recent reopening of the facility on July 27.k.

Speaking recently,Commissioner for Health in Rivers State, Dr. Adaeze Chidinma Oreh, described the intervention by SPDC and its partners as a critical move that would change the face of health care delivery in Edagberi community and its environs.

“Shell and its partners, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, have proved that they really value their hosts in the scheme of things and for which reason we thank the joint venture for coming to the aid of government to revamp the hospital,” said the commissioner, who was represented at the reopening ceremonies by the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State Health Management Board, Dr. Bright Ogbonda.

SPDC’s Community Health Manager, Dr. Akin Fajola, noted that the close collaboration between the state government, the community leadership and the joint venture partners made the revamp project a success. He therefore advocated stronger ties between the community and SPDC for a peaceful environment that would allow for the delivery of social investment projects.

In his goodwill message,SPDC’s Director and Country Head, Corporate Relations, Igo Weli, who was represented by the Corporate Relations Manager, Evans Krukrubo, called for a sustainability system by the hospital management board in collaboration with the community to ensure the availability of the facility to serve the people. “Revamping the hospital is not enough but ensuring that the managers sustain a maintenance culture that keeps the hospital in good service shape at all times,” Weli said.

The Edagberi Cottage Hospital is one of the five supported by the SPDC-operated joint venture in Rivers State. The renovation included the provision of a standard laboratory, a blood bank, a diagnostics centre, a maternity ward, and a well-equipped theatre and an emergency room with a suction machine and an automated external defibrillator (AED). The hospital has also been provided with an ambulance and staff accommodation.

As part of the reopening ceremonies, over 800 people benefitted from a medical outreach programme which offered surgical services, general consultation and treatment, pharmaceutical services, laboratory services including grouping and cross matching, a blood bank for blood transfusion, emergency services, handling of minor procedures and immunization services

Impose Consumption Tax On Tobacco, CISLAC Tells Tinubu

Mohammed Shosanya

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC),has implored President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to impose consumption tax on tobacco to address public health issues in Nigeria.

Speaking with newsmen in Kano at end of one day media round table on Taxation and Tobacco, the executive Director, CISLAC, Auwalu Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani urged the President to as a matter of urgency put the machinery running to implement effective tobacco tax regimes in Nigeria.

He was represented at the event by the Senior Programme Officer,CISLAC,Solomon Adoga.

He disclosed that World Bank Development Update on Nigeria has it that Nigeria could generate more than N600 billion annually by increasing excise duties on tobacco and alcohol.

He noted that “Nigeria is yet to achieve 6% of total allocation to health and thereby contributing little to improve the state of health care in the country.

“Amidst the poor state of health care in the country, the prevalence of consumption of harmful products such as tobacco continues to further stretch the already overwhelmed facilities in the country and calls for more concerted efforts on the part of government to control the use of such products.”

He lamented that “Nigeria remains one of the leading tobacco markets in Africa, with its young and growing population a constant attraction to the tobacco industry. ”

He said:”Government must move to protect its young people and children by ensuring it does not succumb to the interference tactics of the tobacco industry that only aims to undermine effective tobacco control in the country”.

Oyo Moves To Review Public Health Law

Mohammed Shosanya

The Oyo state government,has inaugurated a 20-man committee that will review its public health law, to meet current realities and solve health challenges in the state.

The committee, drawn from relevant ministries, agencies, law enforcement agencies,health institutions, civil society organizations amongst others, is expected to converge next week for the task ahead.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusoji Adeyanju, in a chat with journalists, shortly after the inauguration at the Conference Hall of the Ministry, said the move was based on the need to continually preserve and promote community health.

He explained that the law after review will play a significant role in curtailing the outbreak of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

He noted that the job before the committee requires collective efforts, urging them to come up with workable and applicable laws that will stand the test of time.

Adeyanju said: “The task ahead of the committee is to ensure the law shows the current reality on ground in the health sector and public health issues that are of public health importance”.

“The people of Oyo state will benefit from it and their health will be sustained and promoted, I believe the committee will do justice to that”, he said.

Also speaking,the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor-General of Oyo State, Mrs. Evelyn Akintunde maintained that the document, which would be reviewed according to the extant laws of the State, would help improve the health status and well-being of residents of the state.

Stressing the import of the review, Mrs. Akintunde explained that the Oyo State Government identified several lacunae in the law and set up a committee which will come up with a draft containing proposals.

She emphasized that the review of the state’s public health law is long overdue, as the law has not been reviewed since 1978, adding that the committee will ensure the draft conforms with national health practices and addresses public health challenges.

“We commend the ministry of health and other relevant MDAs who would join in this review, and we will ensure the draft conforms with national practices that will address public health challenges”, she said.

The Oyo state Commissioner of Police, CP Adebola Hamzat represented at the event by Mr. Patrick Okafor, lauded the state for its pace setting activities.

He revealed that having existing workable laws in place would make the enforcement easier.

Hamzat pledged the support of the Nigerian police during the process of reviewing the law and after the enactment.

Killer Diseases: 600,000 Kano,Katsina,Jigawa Children Yet To Receive Vaccination -UNICEF

Over 600, 000 children are yet to be immunized against killer diseases in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states,the United Nations Children Fund,UNICEF,has said.

The Chief,UNICEF Field Office, Kano, Mr. Rahama Rihood Mohammed Farah,disclosed this on Wednesday, during a media dialogue on routine immunization and the zero dose campaign,in Kano.

He said:”In the three states of the Northwest of Nigeria: Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, there are over 600,000 children who have not been vaccinated against childhood killer diseases.

“This is closer to about 40% of the total unimmunized children in Nigeria. Over 300,000 of those children are in Kano State, representing 50 per cent of the three states under the UNICEF Kano Office.This situation is unacceptable and should be reversed urgently.”

Mr. Farah implored the governments of Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states to take concerted action to strengthen their primary healthcare system.

He urged them to implement the Nigeria primary health care under one roof policy to ensure one-stop functional primary health care centre per ward, particularly, those local government areas with unimmunized children.

He further emphasized the need for the governments of the three states to ensure an integrated package of primary health services are provided to families in one functional health facility.

They should also increase strategic interventions to address persistent gap in human resources and recruit additional skilled critical cadres of health workers, including vaccinators, Community Health Influencers and Promoters Services (CHIPS) agents for immunization demand creation.

Mr. Farah advised governments of the three states to provide essential medicines and health commodities, infrastructure, electricity, and water supply for quality integrated Primary Health Care service for people.

He reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to work with and support the governments of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states towards ensuring that the well-being of children and their rights are fulfilled and protected.

He added: “Immunization is the single, most cost-effective, and high-impact intervention which protects children against illness and death caused by vaccine- preventable diseases.

“Yet, despite proven safety, efficacy, and availability of vaccines, Immunization uptake has not always been optimal. Myths, disinformation, misinformation, and rumours, have contributed a great deal to poor immunization uptake, exposing children to high risk and death that can be avoidable when they don’t get immunized.

“The National Immunization Coverage Survey Results have shown that over the years, Nigeria has made progress in Immunization coverage, however, it is also clear that gaps exist.

“As the UN agency mandated for the protection and promotion of children’s rights, we are extremely concerned, when children don’t get immunized, when children have no access to immunization services their basic fundamental right is not fulfilled.

“I also take this opportunity and urge traditional and religious leaders, community leaders, and civil society organizations, to forge partnerships to eliminate the number of unimmunized children in Nigeria.

“I therefore, urge media participants at the media dialogue today, and indeed every media practitioner across the country, to create the demand for immunization and to raise awareness of the importance of Immunization by providing accurate information to caregivers, families, and communities.”