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UK scientist invents face mask that ‘kills COVID-19 and other viruses’

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A Nottingham Trent University scientist, Garreth Cave has invented a face mask that can ”kill viruses including COVID-19 and influenza upon contact.”

Mirror reported that while most face masks feature a three-layer design, this mask features five layers, including an antiviral layer made of nano-copper. It also has ions that are emitted once in contact with a virus, causing the virus to die and stop reproducing.

Dr Gareth Cave, who designed the mask said;

“The mask we’ve developed has been proven to inactivate viruses upon contact; the antiviral layer kills virus which has been blocked by the filter layers.

“The challenge with conventional surgical-type masks is that they only block virus from entering or exiting the mask. They don’t have an active mechanism for killing it once it’s trapped in the mask.

“Our new antiviral mask has been designed to utilise the existing barrier technology and combine it with our nanotechnology to kill the virus once it is trapped there.

“We’ve added the barrier layer to both sides of the mask so not only does it protect the wearer but also those around. By killing the virus on contact, it also means that the used face mask can be safely disposed of and not be a potential source of passive transfer.”

During tests, the face mask was shown to be able to kill more than 90% of Coronavirus and influenza viruses over seven hours, and had a filtration efficiency of 99.98%.

The masks are expected to go into production this month, and will be commercially available from December for healthcare, transport and food service settings.

Cave added;

“It’s exciting to see our technology move forward and make a real impact towards the fight against the spread of COVID-19.”

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X-raying Delta’s health insurance scheme

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The quest for universal health coverage appears to have gained momentum in Delta State within three years, OKUNGBOWA AIWERIE writes.

When on February 24, 2014, the landmark National Health Bill was passed on the floor of the red chambers at the NASS, incumbent Delta Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, then a serving senator, and chairman, senate committee on Health , was instrumental to the passage of that piece of legislation.


For Okowa, the quest for universal health coverage came full circle when early in his tenure as governor, on February 4, 2016, signed the Delta State Contributory Health Scheme into Law.


The scheme, a state supported health insurance program, was established to improve both physical and financial access for all residents of Delta State to quality and affordable healthcare services.

The insurance scheme operates three healthcare plans. They include the Formal Health Plan – which covers workers in the Public Service and the Organized Private Sector. The Equity Health Plan – which cover vulnerable people as described in the DSCHC Law and The Informal Health plan – covers all residents not captured in the aforementioned plans.

According to Delta Information Commissioner Charles Aniagwu, the scheme has enrolled 702,413 participants comprising Formal Health Plan-168,516, Informal Health Plan-11,187 and Equity Health Plan- 522,710.

He said premium contribution for enrolees on the formal plan is a percentage of salary for those working in organisations with a payroll system to cover the principal participant,spouse, and four biological children below 18 years.

While premium contribution for the Informal plan is N7000 per year to cover only an individual. Family registration attracts a discount.Those in trade unions will be enrolled under the identifiable taxation programme.

Also premium contribution on the Equity plan comprising pregnant women, children under 5 years, widows, aged and physically challenged will be paid from a pool comprising federal and state grants and contributions from philanthropists and international donors.

With over 350 accredited hospitals within 3 years of existence, social health insurance scheme appears to have gained traction in Delta State.

Its growth, notwithstanding, the scheme still grapples with sundry administrative issues and poor perception of the schemes’ benefits by enrolees.

For example, the directive to health providers by the scheme to use only generic drugs for treatment comes with a problem. Many enrolees misconstrue the drugs cheap, and of a less quality.

Many enrolees complain of illegal deductions of spouses on the scheme and failure to refund such deductions.

While enrolment figures for the formal plan, which houses public servants and organised private sector, is high, low enrolment figures have continued to plague the informal health plan.

Another vexed issue is alleged sale of drugs and payment for diagnostic tests covered in the schemes’ prescribed drug formulary and drug tariffs by patients at accredited hospitals.

Health providers have also been criticised for poor service delivery, some enrolees cite poor interpersonal skills on the part of care givers as a major disincentive.

For Mr Tony Efe, 57, a civil servant working at the Delta State Government House Library in Asaba admits that his family of six have benefitted from the health services provided by the scheme, but wants the scheme to pay his backlog of deductions since 2017.

Mr Efe, whose wife is also a civil servant, said following a series of complains, the insurance scheme stopped making deductions from his salary, but laments that his backlog has not been paid since 2017.

Efe said it was imperative to get his backlog paid because he was retiring soon.

His words: “The social insurance scheme is not a bad idea. I have recently benefitted when sometime last month I was admitted at St Luke’s Hospital in Asaba after my blood pressure rose uncontrollably. I only had to get to the hospital to get treatment. But I am unhappy that my backlog deductions since 2017 has not been paid. I am retiring soon what will be my fate? So I want my money paid so I do not lose it.”

Another civil servant, who pleaded anonymity, said the N2000 monthly deductions was not commensurate with the quality of treatment provided by accredited health provider.

According to her,” I was sick recently and went to the hospital. I was shocked to be given malaria drugs and sent away. I cannot understand how N2000 will be deducted from my salary monthly when I don’t fall sick regularly. I feel that my monthly payments is too much.”

Inside Asaba Specialist Hospital
Inside Asaba Specialist Hospital

While for Mrs Faith Okebunor, a junior worker on grade level 07 while narrating her experience accused the medical doctors at Okwe General Hospital, Oshimili South of intimidating patients.

According to her an argument broke out over allegations of illegal payment. She said no body defended her when the doctor on duty was rude to her and insisted she pays for drugs she was entitled to receive free.

Mrs Okebunor, whose retired husband regularly visits Okwe General Hospital under the scheme, noted that the idea of walking into a hospital without money in one’s pocket was good, adding that in many occasions her family has benefitted from the services of the insurance scheme.

To further deepen the schemes’ reach, Okowa, on November 2017 , approved the Access to Finance Framework initiative: a public/private partnership aimed at tackling the lack of quality health services at the primary healthcare level in the State.

The initiative supports the outsourcing of defunct healthcare facilities to the private sector to revitalise and provide services to the participants of the health insurance scheme, especially in rural areas.

In addition, through a matching fund arrangement between the Bank of Industry and the state government, the private sector haS access to loans with concessionary interest rates to renovate these facilities.

With agreements signed between the partners at a ceremony in Asaba for the 26 defunct health facilities, Board chairman, Dr Isaac Akpoveta said: “With this agreement, the private sector will take over the running of the centres, equip them to standard and ensure that they are operational 24 hours for our people who have enrolled in the contributory health insurance scheme.”

Akpoveta said the partnership ensures round the clock quality health care services across Delta for its Contributory Health Scheme, adding that it provides continuous services during industrial disputes while providing health service options for residents.

Akpoveta added: “The initiative is a pseudo private/public arrangement with funds from Delta government, Bank of Industry and PharmAccess, a Dutch NGO , also providing funds that is warehoused in BoI. We advertised for doctors willing to manage such hospitals built by NDDC, DESOPADEC and philanthropists in rural areas that had become moribund.”

He said healthcare providers shortlisted on the scheme could access N40 million loans at concessionary rates, stressing that only those willing to manage hospitals in rural areas qualify.  His words: “Following an advertisement, shortlisted doctors, were allowed to do a needs assessment of the hospitals and make a list of equipment needed which PharmAccess certifies before a loan is given through BoI for basic care.”

He insisted the scheme is being sustainably administered and highlighted some of its revenue sources to include .5% of the state’s annual budget, 3.5% contributions from government and enrollees and investment of funds in liquid assets amongst others.

His words:” The State is funding the whole insurance scheme. Civil servants contribute 1.75% while government provides another 1.75% as counterpart funds making 3.5% of total remuneration which is given to us. The law of the commission mandates government to set aside .5% state revenue for health insurance. So as soon as the budget is determined, that amount is set aside.

According to him, “The system if properly administered is sustainable.90% of premium paid is for primary care while 70% is for secondary care and between 10-20% for tertiary care. Also 10% is allocated for administration; a certain percentage is set aside from administration’s fund monthly for buffer funds. We also our funds in semi liquid assets”.

He said fifteen hospitals are currently running such partnerships in Delta State, stressing that 11 more hospitals will ready soon but warned that only doctors that meet the commission’s stringent standard will get on the programme.

Responding to accusations of lapses in the scheme, Akpoveta enjoined enrolees to be conversant with the benefit package a booklet that contains the rights of a patient.

His words: “It is untrue that care given at accredited hospitals is not commensurate with deductions. You must be conversant with the provisions of the benefit package. It contains what we offer the enrolee for paying us some money. We provide primary, secondary and tertiary care. For primary care which includes malaria, typhoid, wounds, headache. If a patient walks into accredited hospitals in the state with the above ailments, he will be checked and treated. The scheme has paid “capitation” money in advance to the healthcare provider for such ailments. But if they find you have pain in your lower right abdomen and they suspect appendicitis, that is secondary care. The caregiver gets in touch with the scheme for approval. An approval is sent to them and the required surgery is done. For that type of care we pay “par diem” because not everyone will require surgery at the same time.

“If you take the basic social health scheme, there is a limit. There are ailments not covered by the plan. That is the reason we issued a booklet called benefit package to spell out your rights. It contains along with the drugs tariffs all diagnostic tests a patient is entitled to. If the drug you require is not in the drug formulary and tariffs, it can be sold to the patient. We have not proclaimed that all drugs and ailments can be provided by the scheme.”

On the issue of the use of generic drugs in accredited hospitals, he said the decision to use generic drugs was informed by the need to reduce cost of health bill, adding that the scheme pays only for the active ingredients in drugs.

According to him, “You can have a drug Azithromycin. It is a generic name, but that same drug produced by a big pharmaceuticals will typically be branded and be more expensive. Both are efficacious in the treatment of the particular disease but one is more expensive. This scheme is for the very indigent people. So it makes sound economic sense to insist on the use of generic drugs by caregivers.”

He lamented that 11,187 enrolment figures recorded on the informal health plan was poor, attributed it to socio- cultural attitudes of the people.

He said: “The informal plan can only grow gradually. This sector is very reluctant partly due to cultural attitudes. We are hopeful that it will grow. Rwanda is 98% insured, but it took them twenty years. We are just three years active. We have the reserve funds and political will to run the scheme.”

Although, the scheme has yet to activate the plan for physically challenged persons and the elderly, plans are currently being fine-tuned to accommodate these groups of Deltans.

Okowa assured that the contributory health insurance scheme will upscale to include other groups of Deltans.

Okowa said: “Consideration is also being given to some of the widows and as things improve we will scale it up to include the elderly and the physically challenged.

“That programme has done so well both in the state and nationally that we had become a model for some states.

“Other states are now coming to us as a state to know how we are running our contributory health insurance programme.  “Delta has become the focal point of the study of the health insurance programme.”

The Nation

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Curbing mental health challenges – The Nation Nigeria News

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Stories abound of lovers murdering each other for flimsy motives, celebrities taking their own lives for mundane and unfounded reasons, students downing full bottles of pesticides to end their depressed lives. Mental health is a concern not only in Nigeria but the world over. However, the difference lies in the way, strategies, and systems put in place to mitigate its debilitating blows by countries of the world, write CHINAKA OKORO and MOSES EMORIKEN

 


The streets are filled with people who behave consistently incoherent, walk about naked or almost naked, look totally unkempt, and take abode in dunghills. The environs of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) have its sizeable population of people in this category.


In Nigeria, an estimated 20 per cent – 30 per cent of the population are believed to suffer from mental disorders. This is a very significant number considering Nigeria has an estimated population of over 200 million.

Mental illness does not show on the face, and sometimes takes time to become fully manifested in behaviour. Like malaria and other kinds of sickness, mental illness can happen to anybody with the right situations and triggers.

Mental disorders or illnesses, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), comprise a broad range of problems, with different symptoms. However, they are generally characterised by some combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others.

Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN) President Prof. Taiwo Lateef Sheikh said: “Mental illness is the cause of certain impairments or disability or handicap that can be attributable to the functioning of your brain. When it is not allowing you to fulfil your role within your socio-cultural setting, then we say that the individual is mentally ill.

“While mental health is about looking after the totality of your wellbeing in terms of physical, emotional and social in relationship with the adjustments in your life, mental wellbeing is not the same as freedom from mental illness.

“It means the ability to be able to relate in a very good equilibrium with your environment; to be able to have your own aspirations, pursue them in a very meaningful manner and contribute effectively to the society you are living. Truth is, you may not enjoy good mental wellbeing even in the absence of mental illness.

“A lot of people are carrying this around even if they have not broken down to be mentally ill. This can degenerate to mental illness because it predisposes you to very high level mental disorders.

“A person may be meeting up with his or her family, relational or occupational roles but with a lot of struggles.

“The facts that an individual has not broken down, be admitted to a psychiatric ward, or showing signs of mental illness, do not really mean they are enjoying adequate mental wellbeing. It is a danger because people don’t know you have a problem.”


QUICK FACTS and FIGURES

  • An estimated 264 million people globally suffer from depression, one of the leading causes of disability, with many of them also suffering from symptoms of anxiety.
  • Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity
  • 50 million Nigerians suffer mental health disorders, of which about 1.1 per cent are said to be HIV positive
  • Of employers offering effective health and wellness programmes, 67 per cent reported increased employee satisfaction, 66 per cent reported increased productivity, 63 per cent reported increased financial sustainability and growth, and 50 per cent reported decreased absenteeism.

There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illnesses. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal.

Condition of mental health in Nigeria

Despite obvious signs that majority of Nigerians suffer from mental imbalance and need attention, authorities seem to lack the will to put in place adequate policies and programmes that would help in addressing the menace.

According to a WHO report released in October last year, one in four Nigerians (about 50 million people) is suffering from some sort of mental illness. It also noted that the country is ill-equipped to tackle the problem judging from the fact that there are only eight federal neuropsychiatric hospitals in Nigeria.

A Report of the assessment of the mental health system in Nigeria using the World Health Organisation-Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS) Ibadan, Nigeria notes that “there is no coordinating body to oversee public education and awareness campaigns on mental health and mental disorders. There are no formal structures or provisions for interaction among mental health providers and members of staff of primary health care. Also no systematic reporting of information exists for mental health.” These are debilitating situations that have been a lot of many a Nigerian.

A mental health in Nigeria survey conducted in January, this year by Africa Polling Institute and EpiAFRIC reveals that mental ill-health has a great effect on society as it also affects an individual’s productivity and causes the reduction of health-related quality of life.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) EpiAFRIC, Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor, said: “Given its effects on the life of an individual, family and society, one wonders why such inadequate attention and resources are devoted to understanding and providing mental health services. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, by including mention of mental health in health-related goals brought mental health to the global development agenda. Yet, there is still much to be done. His view was corroborated by the Executive Director, Africa Polling Institute (API) Bell Ihua who said: “There is a need to deepen the conversation on mental health in Nigeria; and the need for government, practitioners and stakeholders to work together towards achieving the personal well-being of citizens.”

Projection

Pundits have expressed the fear that if urgent steps are not taken to reposition the nation’s health sector, which, in turn will enhance mental health in the country, there would be an increase in the level of mental illness cases than could be imagined.

Referring to the projection by the United Nations (UN) that by 2050 Nigeria’s population would further increase, the Nigeria Health Watch noted that with Nigeria’s population on the upsurge, the country will have to enhance its health infrastructure if it wants to prevent an upsurge in mental illnesses.

The WHO took a swipe at the Nigerian authorities for not doing enough in the area of mental health, 2011 WHO report said Nigeria had made “insufficient progress” towards in that regard. And by 2018, the country had allocated just 3.95 per cent of its budget to funding its Ministry of Health.

A tale of unimplemented policy

In 1991, Nigeria formulated a Mental Health Policy document which was to address mental health issues, and its components include advocacy, promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. It was later revised in 2013. Till date, the policy on mental health is seated somewhere in the ministry of health gathering dust.

Sheikh said: “We have a policy of 1991 which was revised in 2013. So we are using that 2013 revision. It is there on the shelf of the federal ministry of health and some state ministries, nobody has touched it.

“All the things incorporated in the 2013 policy that was adopted by the federal government have not been implemented. So we have a 2013 national mental health service policy and everything contained in that policy has never been implemented.

“No desk exists in the ministries at any level for mental health issues and only about four per cent of government expenditures on health is earmarked for mental health.”

The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill remains unpassed long after it was proposed. The bill seeks to address the problem of universal access to mental health care. It seeks to establish the National Agency for Mental Health and Substance Abuse and increase funding for mental healthcare.

The Nation

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‘This Is heart-wrenching,’ Kogi Commissioner weeps as he inspects damaged, vandalised medical equipment (Video)

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Kogi State Commissioner for Health, Saka Audu was moved to tears on Wednesday as he inspected the vandalized Kogi State Medical Store complex located in Lokoja, the state capital.

Audu, while addressing journalists in an emotion-laden voice said equipment worth billions of naira were destroyed by the vandals, ChannelsTV reports.

See also: Toke Makinwa reacts after some Nigerians alleged she was paid by the govt to claim she had COVID19

According to him, the Kogi State Health sector as lost its medical equipment which includes Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machines (MRI), Computer Tomography Machines, Digital Mammography, Digital Radiography, Test Kits, Drugs, Pharmaceuticals Consumables, Refrigerators for vaccines,  Solar Power unit, laboratory equipment’s, among others.

We lost the entire contents of Kogi State medical store.

“Equipment worth billions of naira were stolen. Those that couldn’t be stolen, like the walk-in refrigerator for immunization, where our vaccines are stored, components of our MRI and CT scan were vandalized beyond repair. Others were moved from the store and broke into pieces in nearby bushes.

“It is indeed a very unfortunate development that the state will find it difficult to recover from as we don’t have the capacity to provide what have carted away or vandalized in a short time,” Audu said.

Watch video below;

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