Over 10million people die from consumption of alcohol, sugary beverages yearly – WHO

The World Health Organisation has called for increased taxes on alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce deaths from drinking alcohol and unhealthy behaviours.

The WHO, in a press statement on Tuesday, said globally 2.6 million people die from drinking alcohol every year and over eight million from an unhealthy diet.

It said imposing taxes on alcohol and SSBs would reduce these deaths.

In new data released on Tuesday, WHO revealed that globally the taxes on unhealthy products, such as alcohol and SSBs, were low.

The findings highlighted that the majority of countries were not using taxes to incentivise healthier behaviours.

“Half of all countries taxing SSBs are also taxing water, which is not recommended by WHO. Although 108 countries are taxing some sort of sugar-sweetened beverage, globally, on the average excise tax, a tax designated for a specified consumer product, represents just 6.6 per cent of the price of soda.

“At least 148 countries have applied excise taxes to alcoholic beverages at the national level. However, wine is exempted from excise taxes in at least 22 countries, most of which are in the European region.

“Globally, on average, the excise tax share in the price of the most sold brand of beer is 17.2 per cent. For the most sold brand of the most sold spirits type, it is 26.5 per cent,” WHO said.

A 2017 study showed that taxes that increase alcohol prices by 50 per cent would help avert over 21 million deaths over 50 years and generate nearly $17tn in additional revenues.

This is equivalent to the total government revenue of eight of the world’s largest economies in one year.

“Taxing unhealthy products creates healthier populations. It has a positive ripple effect across society – less disease and debilitation and revenue for governments to provide public services. In the case of alcohol, taxes also help prevent violence and road traffic injuries,” said WHO Director for Health Promotion, Dr Rűdiger Krech.


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Anambra has over 98,000 HIV/AIDS patients – Commissioner

The Anambra State Aids Control Agency and the state Ministry of Health have disclosed that no fewer than 98,960 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in the state.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike, gave the figure in Awka, on Thursday, during a media briefing ahead of the 2023 World AIDS Day observed every December 1, since 1988.

Obidike said the state was making the needed progress towards the attainment of the Global 95-95-95 targets after it ranked fifth highest in the country.

He said, “With the national prevalence of 1.4 per cent, our state HIV prevalence is ranked fifth highest in the country and the highest in the South-East.

“It is estimated that 98,960 residents are living with HIV out of which 58 per cent know their status and 44,808  are currently on treatment.

“The state is making the needed progress towards attainment of the Global 95-95-95 targets of which we are at 65:81:93.

“And worthy of note is the gradual decline in new infections, which is at 46 per cent between 2021 and 2023 and AIDS-related death, which is at 32 per cent  between 2021 and 2023.

“We are scaling up Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission services to ensure that no woman transmits this infection to her baby. The good news is that with the advent of Anti Retro-viral Therapy, HIV is no longer a death sentence.”

According to the commissioner, the state was also scaling up access to HIV self-testing to tackle stigma and discrimination.

Also speaking, the Director of Public Health, Dr Afam Anaeme, described HIV/AIDS as one of the diseases of public health importance.

Anaeme said, “With the participation of everyone, we can reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Anambra.”

In his remarks, the Executive Director of ANSACA, Mr Johnbosco Ementa, urged residents to take advantage of the free testing centres across the state to know their status.

He said that the state government increased the number of HIV treatment sites from 104 to 1,182, with the collaboration of implementing partners.

“We also deployed mobile testing units, home-based testing, and community outreaches, to significantly improve HIV testing coverage and accessibility.

“We appreciate our partners,  Achieving Health Nigeria Initiative,  AIDS Health-care Foundation, UNAIDS, CHAI and Global Fund, for their support,” Ementa added.


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Breast cancer not demonic – Nigerian Medical Association

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has said breast cancer is not demonic.

The Chairman of the Cross River chapter of the association, Dr Felix Archibong, said breast cancer is a medical issue that can be treated physically.

Archibong disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar during the Go Pink Day celebration.

The chairperson, who also urged patients to pray, advised that they should equally visit hospitals and get the correct diagnosis, adding that it was unfortunate that most cancer cases were presented late.

“This is an open campaign even to religious bodies, breast cancer is not demonic but a medical issue, so, don’t stop going to church or praying but seek care in a medical facility.

“A lot of people believe the breast is a private part and should not be exposed. This is why we are sensitising people on ways to carry out self breast examination once a month, one week after menstrual flow.

“Also, medical breast examination should be done at least once a year, let it be like your birthday gift to yourself annually, so, you don’t forget because noticing cancer early makes it easier to treat.”

(Daily Post)

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Save lives first before insisting on Police report, Health Minister, Pate warns hospitals

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, yesterday warned hospitals in the country to prioritise saving lives above any other thing.

Recall that that had been public criticism of hospitals not attending to emergency cases, especially gunshot wounds, until police reports are provided.

Consequently, so many people have died as a result of this, prompting the minister’s present warnng

The minister, who gave the warning in an interview on Channels Telecision’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the federal government had issued a directive to hospitals to always save lives first before making other demands.

He said:  “Recently, there have been concerns about patients who show up at the emergency facilities and police reports being asked about gunshots or accidents. ”That’s really unfortunate, but in all federal teaching hospitals, for instance, I was in Maiduguri at the weekend, life has to be saved first.

“Life first and we have reemphasised that. All our hospitals I believe are doing that. No person should come with an emergency, or life-threatening challenge and be made to lose their life while awaiting police report.

“Saving lives comes first and that is the direction we have given; that is what we would pursue and we hope all hospitals, including private ones, will have this mindset that in health, it’s lives first.”

Prof. Pate said it was expected that states across the nation would also follow up with the federal government’s directive in their various hospitals, insisting that private hospitals also had the obligation to follow the same directive.

He reminded them that as health practitioners, saving lives was priority everywhere in the world, stressing that Nigeria could not be different.

He also said the federal government had resolved to expand health insurance in the country, with the recent launching of the National Health Insurance Authority, NHIA.

The minister noted that access to affordable quality healthcare for all Nigerians was critical on the path to achieving Universal Health Coverage, UHC.

Recall that that the minister had said that 90 per cent of Nigerians had no access to health.


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Diphtheria: Yobe records 117 deaths, 1,796 suspected cases

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), on Monday, confirmed that 117 children died following the diphtheria outbreak in Yobe since 2022.

The agency, however, said that 1,600 children had recovered from the disease within the period under review.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive-Director of the Agency, stated this during an inspection visit to the diphtheria isolation centre in Potiskum, the epicentre of the disease in the state.

He said that 1,796 cases of the disease had been reported in Yobe since November 22, adding that the disease was more prevalent among children age five to 14 years.

Shuaib, who led the Diphtheria Emergency Task Team to the state, expressed satisfaction with diphtheria vaccination conducted in Potiskum and 17 other local government areas of the state.

“By October 12, more vulnerable kids will be provided with vaccines to curtail the disease. Vaccines are powerful, they are safe and they work.

“Diphtheria is a disease of ancient times; with vaccination, deaths are preventable,” he said.

He noted that low vaccination rates were responsible for the recent outbreak of the disease across the country.

“In 2016 and 2017; MICS NICS survey, an independent survey of National Bureau of Statistics, indicated that only 33 per cent of Nigerians were covered by vaccinations.

“Due to concerted efforts by the Federal Government and development partners, the figure rose to 70 per cent in 2019.

“But the outbreak of COVID-19 which prevented many people from taking their children for vaccination due to lockdown and fear of contracting COVID-19, there was a deep in coverage down to 57 per cent,” he said.

Shuaib said that improvement in environmental and personal hygiene would eliminate the disease in spite of Yobe being second only to Kano State in cases of diphtheria across the country.

The NPHCDA boss commended the Yobe government and development partners for their roles in tackling diphtheria and pledged continued support to enable the state to improve healthcare service delivery.

He stressed the need for an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for effective monitoring, referral and management of diphtheria cases.

(Daily Post)

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Hepatitis likely to kill more people than malaria, TB, HIV combined — WHO

The World Health Organisation has raised the alarm that viral hepatitis could kill more people than malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV combined by 2040 if the current infection rate continues.

According to WHO, hepatitis causes liver damage and cancer and kills over a million people annually. Of the 5 types of hepatitis infections, hepatitis B and C cause most of the disease and deaths.

WHO made this known in a statement it issued as the global health body joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2023 World Hepatitis Day, themed, “One life, one liver”.

The health organisation noted that while Hepatitis C could be cured, only 21 per cent of the people living with the infection are diagnosed and only 13 per cent have received curative treatment.

Who added that only 10 per cent of people living with chronic hepatitis B are diagnosed, and only 2 per cent of those infected are receiving lifesaving medicine.

“Viral hepatitis could kill more people than malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV combined by 2040 if current infection trends continue.

“Hepatitis causes liver damage and cancer and kills over a million people annually. Of the 5 types of hepatitis infections, hepatitis B and C cause most of the disease and deaths. Hepatitis C can be cured; however, only 21% of people living with hepatitis C infection are diagnosed and only 13% have received curative treatment.

“Just 10 per cent of people living with chronic hepatitis B are diagnosed, and only 2per cent of those infected are receiving the lifesaving medicine.”

WHO emphasised the importance of protecting the liver against hepatitis for living a long, healthy life, saying, “Good liver health also benefits other vital organs – including the heart, b, rain, and kidneys – that rely on the liver to function.”

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that despite available preventive measures and treatment, many people are undiagnosed.

“Millions of people are living with undiagnosed and untreated hepatitis worldwide, even though we have better tools than ever to prevent, diagnose and treat it.

“WHO remains committed to supporting countries to expand the use of those tools, including increasingly cost-effective curative medication, to save lives and end hepatitis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

To combat viral hepatitis, WHo called for global communities to ensure access to treatment for all pregnant women and vaccines for babies at birth.

“To reduce new infections and deaths from hepatitis B and C, countries must: ensure access to treatment for all pregnant women living with hepatitis B, provide hepatitis B vaccines for their babies at birth, diagnose 90% of people living with hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C, and provide treatment to 80% of all people diagnosed with hepatitis.

“They must also act to ensure optimal blood transfusion, safe injections, and harm reduction.

“The reduction of hepatitis B infections in children through vaccination is a key intervention to limit viral hepatitis infections overall. The target for hepatitis B incidence is the only Sustainable Development Goal health target that was met in 2020 and is on track for 2030.

“However, many countries in Africa do not have access to the birth dose hepatitis B vaccines. Gavi’s recent restart of its Vaccine Investment Strategy 2018 – which includes the birth dose hepatitis B vaccine – will jumpstart newborn vaccination programs in West and Central Africa, where mother-to-child hepatitis B transmission rates remain very high.

“To help eliminate mother-to-child transmission, WHO recommends that all pregnant women should be tested for hepatitis B during their pregnancy. If positive, they should receive treatment and vaccines should be provided to their newborns. However, a new WHO report shows that of the 64 countries with a policy, only 32 countries reported implementing activities to screen for and manage hepatitis B in antenatal clinics.

“For people who want to maintain liver health, WHO recommends hepatitis testing, treatment if diagnosed, and vaccination against hepatitis B. Reducing alcohol consumption, achieving a healthy weight, and managing diabetes or hypertension also benefit liver health,” WHO stated.


Israel’s PM Netanyahu hospitalised

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hospitalised on Saturday after feeling “dizzy”, his office said, adding the politically and legally beleaguered 73-year-old was likely dehydrated but “in good condition”.

“The prime minister arrived at the Sheba medical centre a short while ago,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement of Israel’s largest hospital, located near Tel Aviv.

“He is in good condition and undergoing medical evaluations,” the statement said.

In a second statement, his office said Netanyahu on Friday spent time in the scorching heat of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel’s north.

“Today, he felt slightly dizzy, and at the advice of his personal physician, Dr Zvi Berkowitz, was taken to Sheba’s emergency department,” the statement said.

“The initial examinations showed normal findings,” it added. “The initial evaluation is dehydration.”

The premier will undergo a series of further tests, his office said.

Netanyahu, who was reelected late last year, is heading a hard-right coalition whose proposed judicial overhaul has triggered weekly demonstrations since January.

The premier is also standing trial for corruption charges he denies.

In October, Netanyahu was hospitalised for overnight. His office said at the time he was feeling ill while observing the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur.


Slimming teas, weight loss medications may cause kidney, liver damage — Experts warn

Medical experts have warned that taking slimming teas and medications with the intent to lose weight raises the risk of kidney and liver damage.

They instead, recommended a safer approach that entails embracing healthy eating habits and regular exercise.

According to them, some slimming teas lack scientific evidence backing their efficacy as claimed by manufacturers and marketers, while certain medications have undesirable side effects.

The experts concluded that no one can lose weight within a few days or weeks by merely taking certain teas or medications, and warned that many of them touted as efficacious have ingredients that tend to cause excessive diarrhoea.

National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Adewale Oladigbolu, while speaking with PUNCH Healthwise, decried the fact that Nigeria had become a dumping ground for weight loss products.

He noted that some of the drugs used for weight loss could be subjected to abuse by users over time.

Oladigbolu, who is a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, pointed out that many products marketed for weight loss have not passed through robust scientific evaluation by the regulatory agencies to validate their claims and efficacy.

He said, “People should know that drugs are foreign to our bodies. So, when we ingest them, they must pass through some processes to be able to leave the body. Those processes depend on the liver and kidney to carry out that function.

“People using some of these weight loss products risk liver and kidney injury. These are critical organs to the overall health of the patients. And some of these injuries take a long period before they even start to manifest.

“Most of the time, if care is not taken, once it gets to a particular point, there is no reversal. So, they cause morbidity and mortality.”

Oladigbolu said the regulatory agencies should do more to ascertain the safety of weight loss products being marketed in the country and urged Nigerians to seek healthcare advice from qualified personnel.

“So, the general recommendation for losing weight is calorie control and exercise.  If you are taking a drug to lose weight, you must be very sure of what you are taking.

“You need the recommendation of a doctor or pharmacist, who must have evaluated you and knows that the drug will do more good to your body than harm”, he added.

According to Cleveland Clinic, most herbal supplements have limited or no consistent data to support long-term weight loss efficacy and safety.

Also speaking exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise, a Professor of Nursing Science at the University of Calabar, Cross River State, Mary Mgbekem, noted that weight reduction should not be drastic, but rather, should be done using diet and certain lifestyle modifications.

She said, “Weight loss simply means a reduction of the total body mass by a mean loss of fluid, body fat (adipose tissue or lean body mass, bone mineral deposits, muscle and connective tissues).

“Excessive weight gain and obesity are now an emerging epidemic globally. Reduction in weight loss is advertised every day on the internet and in all forms of media nowadays.

“Slimming teas and medications are purported to be the immediate solutions to weight loss. Slimming teas or weight loss teas are very common and have been around with us for years.  Like slimming pills and fad diets, they are sold as another magic bullet for weight loss.

“These teas are often marketed as skinny teas, detox tea or skinning coffee. These teas feed on an individual’s desire to lose weight fast even if it means compromising health.”

She told our correspondent that some users of slimming teas come down with serious health complications and said some of the ingredients in the teas do not promote any weight loss at all.

Professor Mgbekem, described the marketing of slimming products as a scam, adding, “These teas for me are a marketing scam that helps people to waste their money.

“The advertisers claim they contain herbal ingredients such as dandelion leaves or ginseng roots, which all sound very natural and safe. Often, some of the ingredients don’t promote any weight loss at all.

“Some of the teas often contain senna, which is a laxative for the treatment of constipation, so when non-constipated individuals take them, they will have diarrhoea.”

 “Some of the products contain caffeine, so when taken in large quantities, can make one feel anxious, shaky and possibly, with heart palpitations.”

The professor further noted that most slimming teas with spurious claims have been linked to many health complications.

Highlighting recommended methods of weight loss, she suggested dietary intervention and lifestyle modification, stressing that they are an essential part of lifestyle modification.

She said, “Many types of diets are propagated for weight loss and no single diet can be universally applicable to everyone.

“Diet has to be tailored according to affordability, comorbidities, food preferences, and cultural factors. The most commonly recommended diets are those rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, seafood, fish, and olive oil.

The primary source of nutrients is plant-based, rich in fibres, low in glycemic load, and high in antioxidants and micronutrients.”

the Professor of Nursing Science advised those desiring to lose weight to shun junk food, embrace a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly.

She maintained that slimming teas and medications are just marketed to attract the attention of those conscious of their weight and who are eager to lose the pounds immediately.

Meanwhile, the United States Food and Drug Administration has warned against the use of most dietary supplements, including slimming teas, mainly due to a lack of reliable studies and evidence of their safety or effectiveness.


65% Nigerian men over 40 exposed to erectile dysfunction risk — Expert

A health expert and founder of Paddy Paddy Wellness, Dr David Paddy, has said that over 65 per cent of Nigerian men were at risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction at the age of 40 and above.

He attributed the situation to a lack of regular exercise, continuous consumption of processed foods, eating and resting patterns, among other unhealthy habits.

According to him, men who suffer from erectile dysfunction might be more at risk of stroke, heart disease and premature death.

”It is imperative for men to take action and tackle this issue head-on before it takes a toll on their overall health and well-being,” Paddy said.

He stated this at a health sensitisation program in Abakaliki on Thursday while calling for urgent measures to checkmate the issue.

Paddy said, “The issue of erectile dysfunction is alarming because, on a daily basis, I get countless questions from people asking me how they could get rid of the problem. I sent out a survey recently to know which was the biggest problem men are facing currently. And among these issues, erectile dysfunction in the form of low libido, weak erection and premature ejaculation was the highest.

“This is not surprising because in 2019, Dr Festus from the University of Ife conducted a survey and he found out that the percentage of men suffering erectile dysfunction as of 2019 was around 44 per cent.

”It got us thinking that if we had 44 per cent of men having this issue in 2019, imagine what the number is in 2023. If you look at the statistics, you will now understand the need for us to begin to educate our men.

“Among the causes of this, we have infections, abdominal fats and low testosterone levels (which is largely attributed to age) because as you grow older your testosterone level decreases. But God has blessed us with natural herbs to take care of all these things. He has provided a lot of natural resources to increase our hormonal levels and a lot more. God knows that as you age your testosterone and hormonal level is growing low and He has provided things around us with which to increase it and thereby increase our performance. 

“But as I said, ignorance is one of the reasons why a lot of people don’t know that these things exist, let alone use them to help themselves.

“The rate of erectile dysfunction is alarming. It’s very alarming and I can tell you this for sure. It’s increasing on a daily basis and we have to do something about it.

“Let me give you an instance as to why I said this. Clinical research or study carried out about a couple of years ago showed that the average sperm level in men was about 40 million cells. Now, a decade later it was discovered that the average number of sperm cells in men had reduced to 15 million. 

“Can you see the huge gap? Can you see the difference? This simply tells you that there’s a problem. It should tell us that there’s a very serious silent killer on the prowl among men.

“This is killing men gradually, and the problem is that most men are too embarrassed to talk about it. It’s hard for men to walk up to a doctor and say I can not perform in bed. But when we put our messages out there, it will attract them and it becomes easier for them to reach out and speak out.”

He further added, “About 65% of Nigerian men are likely to suffer from the stigmatisation of having weak or no erection once they are 40 years old.

“This silent humiliation and suffering have given rise to an urgent need for conversation and effective solutions to address this pervasive problem.”


Cancer scare: NAFDAC concludes probe, says Nigerian noodles safe

The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, on Thursday, said the outcome of the laboratory investigation conducted on Indomie and other noodle brands in Nigeria following the alert raised by the health officials of Taiwan and Malaysia showed that locally-produced Indomie instant noodles in Nigeria are safe for consumption.

This is according to a statement on Thursday titled, ‘NAFDAC meets MAN, reassures consumers of safety of Indomie noodles in Nigeria.’

In the statement, made available to The PUNCH by NAFDAC Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, the agency “assured consumers of Indomie and other noodle brands in Nigeria of the safety of the staple food amongst children and some adults, insisting that investigations by the agency have revealed that Indomie Noodles implicated in the recalls in Malaysia and Taiwan is not in Nigeria.”

It quoted the NAFDAC DG  to have made the disclosure during the quarterly interactive session between NAFDAC and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.

NAFDAC had early last month launched an investigation after Taiwan and Malaysian authorities said they detected a compound called ethylene oxide, a potentially cancer-causing substance, in Indomie’s ‘special chicken flavour’ which led to the recall of the product.

Speaking on the outcome of the probe, the NAFDAC DG explained that, “The agency has run all the necessary tests but we needed a chemical standard. It’s all science. We are a science organisation, and our processes are science-driven. We cannot conduct our own Nigerian science. No. We have to use the international standard chemical agents and things like that.”

Adeyeye, however, noted that noodles generally had been banned in Nigeria by the Federal Government many years before she assumed office as the DG to protect the local manufacturing sector.

She urged MAN to take advantage of the opportunity to generate foreign exchange for the nation’s economy.

The Director General of MAN, Segun  Quadri, pledged to work with NAFDAC to enhance the nation’s GDP and competitiveness index.


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