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Health safety practitioner and senior registrar in the Department of Community Health at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Odusolu Yetunde, explained that zinc is a common element in human and an essential trace element or micronutrient needed for immune regulating function, which helps to prevent diseases, especially of bacterial and viral origin.

She said: “It is also known for the vital role it plays in the normal growth and development of the reproductive organs and brain. It helps in wound healing and is important for proper sense of taste and smell. It is also associated with assisting the body in the production of protein and its DNA. In fact, zinc has been associated with over 300 biological functions. The body does not produce zinc. So, it must be obtained through food or supplements.

“Zinc deficiency in children is caused, when demand is greater than supply, which can be occasioned by inadequate intake through the diet, decrease absorption due to diarrhoea episodes, as well other malabsorption syndromes.”

She explained that it could also result from a diet high in phytate (it limits the bioavailability of zinc) and some chronic diseases, such as that of liver and kidney. “Zinc deficiency in children is particularly marked by increased susceptibility to such infections as diarrheal and respiratory tract infections and associated growth retardation. Other features of zinc deficiency are dermatitis of the skin, anorexia and alopecia.”

She said deficiency in zinc could also manifest in behavioural changes and neurological disturbances. Also, the deficiency has also been linked to poor cognitive performance, which may affect academic performance, as well as the motor development and activity of children.

She said: “Zinc intake is closely related to protein intake. Consequently, zinc deficiency is an important component of nutritionally related morbidity globally. Its deficiency has been associated with poverty and malnutrition, and is part of the hidden hunger associated with micronutrients.

“Zinc deficiency can also be due to a genetic cause, which manifests in form of a rare autosomal recessive disease called idiopathic acrodermatitis enteropathica (AE) in which the child’s acral and periorificial dermatitis and low serum zinc levels. In this case, treatment with zinc is for life.

There is another type of zinc deficiency known as transient infantile zinc deficiency (TIZD), which is a disease that is clinically indistinguishable from idiopathic AE, although they have different pathologic mechanisms. It occurs during the first six months of life, usually in infants with increased zinc requirements and/or inadequate diet concentrations of zinc, which is due to low zinc levels in the maternal breast milk. Zinc deficiency can be managed in children by supplementation of zinc or by treatment.”

Odusolu disclosed that zinc deficiency is estimated to be related to 750,000 deaths annually and according to the WHO; stunted growth is found in over a quarter of under-five children, and they are at risk of dying and having other adverse consequences throughout life. However, it has been shown that zinc supplementation has greater impact on the linear growth of stunted children, compared to non-stunted ones.

“Zinc supplementation is safe and has been recommended as an effective intervention to reduce morbidity (disease state) associated with especially diarrhoea and lower respiratory tract infections in young children,” she said. “The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for infants aged 0-6 month(s) is 2.0 mg, and it is 3.0 mg per day for young children aged 7-36 months, 5.0mg per day for 4- 8years old, 8.0mg per day for 9-13years old.

“Mild zinc deficiency should be treated with zinc supplementation at two to three times the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), whereas moderate to severe can be treated at four to five times the RDA. The treatment can last from three to four months or as long as six months. Zinc treatment is inexpensive, safe, and easy. It is usually instituted in children with acute diarrhoea episode. Zinc treatment shortens the diarrhoea episode, reduces the risk of episode being persistent, and reduces the risk of future diarrhoea or pneumonia.

“Zinc treatment has been found to reduce mortality. The World health organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have recommended 10-14 days of zinc treatment for under-five children with each diarrhoea illness. The recommended dosage is 20 mg per day for ages six to 59 months and 10 mg per day for age less than six months for a period of 10-14 days.

“Some foods are found to be rich in zinc. Therefore, parents are urged to give their children food rich in zinc, such as meat (beef, pork), poultry (turkey, chicken), fish (sardines, salmon), legumes (beans, kidney beans, lentils), nuts and seeds (cashew, pumpkin seeds), dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cheese), egg, whole grains (oats, brown rice), vegetables (mushrooms, peas and shellfish (oysters, crab), among others.”

She explained that the challenges of daily administration of zinc supplement, especially in poor resource setting like Nigeria, may include constraints of procurement and distribution of supplements over an extended period of time, limited access to and poor utilisation of health services by the target population, inadequate training and motivation of frontline health workers, inadequate counseling of target recipients or their care givers and low adherence by the intended beneficiaries.

“Zinc deficiency can also be controlled, when the problems of hidden hunger are addressed through: Food diversification, which can be done effectively through food based strategies, such as home gardening, educating people on better infant and young child feeding practices, food preparation and storage/preservation methods to prevent nutrient loss.

“Food fortification, which includes commercial food fortification that adds trace amounts of micronutrients to staple food or condiments during processing. This helps to get the recommended levels of micronutrients, when consumed. For example, wheat flour can be fortified with zinc.

Food supplementation: As discussed above, this can be scaled up in our country, as it has been done in some climes (SUZY-Scaling Up Zinc Nutrition in Young Children).

“Food biofortification is a relatively new intervention that involves breeding of food crops, using conventional or transgenic methods to increase their micro micronutrient content. Biofortified foods can provide a steady and safe source of certain micronutrients for those that are not reached by other interventions. Example of biofortified food is zinc rice and zinc wheat, among others.”

As at May 21, globally 5,209,860 were COVID-19 positive, 2,092,757 had recovered while 334,878 persons were pronounced dead. In Africa, there were 101,684 positive cases, 40,588people have recovered with 3,115 deaths. Nigeria has 7,016 positive cases, 1,907 had recovered while 211 people have died of the virus. One major precaution that is often repeated in campaigns against the virus is the need to be hygiene conscious, reason citizens were told to regularly wash or sanitise their hands aside maintaining social distance and wearing facemasks.

But is there a place for good diet and nutrition in the management of COVID-19 spread and treatment according to experts. They have argued that malnutrition severely weakens immunity, increasing people’s chances of getting ill, staying ill, and dying because of illness

President, Federation of African Nutrition Societies and the immediate past President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Professor Ngozi Nnam stated that though diet is not a risk factor in contracting Coronavirus, diet can help in curbing it, as it plays a significant role in helping individual’s recovery process.

According to her, healthy diet is very important at this time, because consuming diet rich in food nutrients will boost the immunity. “COVID-19 is a virus, with no vaccine to treat it at present, so we are relying on body immunity to fight and kill it. Some people after testing positive will receive care and days after, they will test negative, it is because their body immunity is high. Yet, some people that went to the isolation centre with them will still be receiving treatment, ten days after they are still positive.

“The treatment they are getting is not for the virus, the treatment is to take care of the manifestations, as a result of the virus attacking the body system. So, the virus would be suppressed, if the individual’s immune system is high, because the individual has the ability to fight back the virus.

“The implication is that we should be taking adequate diet rich in nutrients that can help boost our immune system. And such nutrients are Vitamin A, B complex, D and E, because vitamins are good at boosting the immune system. And the foods that are rich in these vitamins are within reach. We have fruits and vegetable, which are often neglected in meals. So, at this time, we need to take a lot of fruits and vegetable, including avocado peer. Then, the normal legumes and cereals; all help us to grow well; rice, beans, yam very important with vegetable.”

The nutritionist, nonetheless, said Nigerians should not wrongly believe that with high immune system, they cannot contract Coronavirus, good nutrition only helps to weaken the virus when it enters the body, as the high immune system will suppress and not allow it to thrive.

The professor of nutrition noted that taking unhealthy diet would lead to malnutrition, which makes the body immunity to be very low, and if such a person gets infected with COVID-19, the virus will continue to thrive and multiply in the body system, with the system unable to fight and kill it.

“And the likelihood of recovery will be longer, and the person is likely to develop complications as a result of COVID-19. The numbers that are being announced is not the actual number of people that are infected with COVID-19, the number is much higher, because many people are infected without knowing, their immune system is suppressing it and there will be no manifestation of symptoms sometimes till they recover. Some may even have mild manifestation, but because they are not very sure they have it, they do not call the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) officials, yet they will recover, because their immune system has suppressed the virus, so that is the place of nutrition.

“Mind you, we have avenues for all these nutrients, like vitamin D, just coming out during the early morning sun, the skin will synthesize enough Vitamin D from the sunlight. You don’t need money for that, just stay in the sun during mid-day for 30 minutes.”

Nnam said as the country continues to battle the pandemic, it is important government and all stakeholders step up nutrition advice to get people informed about healthy eating.

She noted that some Nigerians do not feed well, not necessarily because they do not have money to buy food to feed well, but because they are not well informed. “They do not buy food that they can combined for adequate diet. Some will buy expensive food, thinking it will give adequate diet; it might not necessarily be, so people need to be informed.

“Some people say it might be difficult for the poor to eat adequate diet, no, because not all nutritious foods are expensive. The rains are here; vegetables are cheaper in the market now. And some of the foods are still within the reach of the poor because most of the locally available foods are rich in these nutrients; the protein foods- beans and crayfish are good components,” Nnam said.

Dr Patience Ikeme Ogbuli, a nutritionist, said “By healthy nutrition, we mean adequate consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, protein of high biological value, and reasonable daily calorie, less consumptions of sweet foods and beverages, and adequate intake of water daily.  Safe and healthy practices that will help build immune health include limited alcohol and tobacco consumption, possibly total cut off tobacco, daily exercises, adequate sleep and less stressful lifestyle.

“It is rather unfortunate that it took COVID-19 pandemic to expose the poor immune health of Nigerians. The majority of Nigerians due to insufficient finances, power failure, excessively long working hours, and lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables depend on vendor and street foods for daily subsistence. Indomie, bread, high carbohydrate foods and snack, and sugary beverages, and low protein foods are the mainstay nutrition in Nigeria. It cannot be a mistake that hunger, malnutrition and poor unhygienic environments will kill many Nigerians before COVID-19 may find them to finish the job.

“It behooves the stakeholders of our nation to consider the pandemic of hunger, starvation, and filthy environment and attack it more aggressively than the pandemic of COVID-19. The former has killed and will continue to kill more Nigerians than COVID-19.”

On availability of advice on nutrition advice, Ogbuli said advice would make sense if the people have good chance of adhering to the advice. Rather, she said government should improve food supply and make them affordable. “We have enough people in the nation to do the job of nutrition education. It takes job restoration, improvement in job creation, and improved wages to begin to heal the nation.” She said that it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to change the picture of the pathetic nutritional status of many Nigerians, not just that of government alone.

On her part, a Clinical Nutritionist, Funmilola Wunmi Ijiwola stated that healthy food doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, as the key point in achieving healthy diet is knowing the right quantity and quality of nutrients to be included in a meal. She advised Nigerians to eat seasonal foods, which are cheaper. “Beans with sweet potato and grated crayfish cooked with palm oil makes an adequate diet. Also, eating avocado pear with bread and vegetable, which is now in season, are rich in fatty acid and protein. Using fruits in season as snacks also contributes to healthy eating and good health status.”

She noted that malnutrition causes a general imbalance of nutrient composition in the body, it’s either low nutrient, which is deficiency or too much nutrient, which is excess. “If their is an imbalance, the body doesn’t function well and the malfunction will eventually lead to symptoms that can be corrected with adequate diet or lead to a permanent damage of some organs or system in the body.”

Ijiwola also implored government to step up advocacy for good nutrition, because food is the first ‘drugs’ to make the body function well and ensure good health. “If our food intake is taken care of, there won’t be need for treatment of disease conditions. Good nutrition is the perfect description of prevention is better than cure”

Dr Abimbola Odusote, also a nutritionist stated that a virus as COVID-19 attacks the body and the body fights back to overcome it, so if the body is not healthy and the immunity is not strong, the virus would overwhelm the person.

“A person can build his immune system through what he feeds his body. It cam also be through rest, reduction of stress, adequate exercise, sunlight and fresh air. This is the time to up our micronutrients, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and remove the junk foods. Those giving out palliatives should consider what are in the packs- are they packaged processed foods? Why not consider adding fresh fruits and vegetables to the packs? We have lots of fruits rotting away that can be put to good use.”

Odusote said it is important that people learn what foods to buy with little money, which is why nutrition advice at this time is important.

Experts have emphasised on the need for Nigerians to embrace family planning fully as part of measures to curb maternal and infant mortality in the country.

They lamented that despite the drop in the fertility rate from 5.5 percent in 2013 to 5.3 percent in 2018, according to the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), with a two-percent increase in the total contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) from 15 percent to 17 percent, the acceptance rate of family planning in some communities still remain low due to several barriers such as religion, culture and fear of the unknown among others. The implications, they said, remain multiple pregnancies and births, population explosion that puts pressure of the nation resources, as well as unsafe abortions, which increases the risk of maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria.

Speaking at a two-day media workshop on sexual reproductive health and rights, organised by Marie Stopes International Organisation Nigeria (MSION) in Ibadan, Oyo Sate, the Director Programme Operation, Emmanuel Ajah lamented that religion, sociocultural inhibitions and stigma, especially in rural communities, are discouraging women to demand for reproductive health care services. He said these pose great danger to the women and the society, as maternal mortality would be very high, especially with the belief held against birth control and population explosion regarded as a blessing by the communities.

Ajah said most of the women, in a bid to reduce childbearing, eventually engage in unsafe abortion, which end up costing their lives, as they fail to embrace contraceptive/family-planning commodities. “Unsafe abortions is the third leading cause of maternal deaths in Nigeria, and an overwhelming health problem in the country, yet it has not generated enough policy attention. Women who die from unsafe abortion are all pregnancy related, as millions of women have unmet need for family planning

“Other reasons for seeking abortion are too many frequent pregnancies, lack of awareness on fertility management, contraception failure, lack of access to quality family planning information and/or services,” he said.

Also speaking, the Head, Marketing and Strategic Communication, Ogechi Onuoha said Nigeria as country is very complex with different religious and ethnic backgrounds, which require massive awareness and sensitisation movement in certain states that are yet to accept family planning as a means of reducing maternal mortality. She said all stakeholders including the government must work together to address the socio-cultural norms such as, religious tenets, and women’s lack of decision-making power related to sexual and reproductive health to improve maternal survival in the country.

Onuoha said there must also be improvement in the family planning programmes in communities, as well as the availability of and access to services and commodities to slow the rate of population growth, which would put the country on a path to a healthier future for women and families.

“The focus is on dispelling myths and misconceptions about family planning, expanding the provision of family planning services and supplies to the last mile, and enabling an environment in which women and girls make informed choices on their health,” she added.

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With the vast majority of people surrounded by computers and the internet, either at home or work, sometimes tracking your life can be more convenient when it’s done online. Whether you’re calorie counting, tracking your weight or devising a new exercise plan, there are a number of free online tools that can help you to achieve success. If you’re considering starting a new exercise regime or eating plan, be sure to check out these great online tools for some handy hints and great tracking techniques.

Online Tools For Tracking Your Health

Calorie Burn Calculator

The Calorie Burn Calculator can help you to determine how many calories your everyday activities will burn. You may be surprised but simply daily tasks, such as brushing your teeth and carrying an infant, all burn calories. While the Calorie Burn Calculator helps to track your everyday life, you can also add just about any activity, including the difficulty level and duration of the exercise. If you’re an avid cyclist, for instance, you can enter cycling for leisure, fast-paced riding, and even mountain biking, to determine how many calories you have burned.

If you haven’t yet discovered the benefits of cycling, it’s time to see what all the fuss is about. With various mountain bikes for sale, you can easily find a style that suits your skill level and your budget. One of the best things about cycling is that you can ride in just about any environment. Get the most out of your exercise routine and bring the fun back to your weekends, by leisure cycling along pristine coastlines or breathtaking mountain ranges.

Diet & Weight Loss Trackers

What seems like a limitless number of diet and weight loss trackers are now available on the internet. When beginning a new health kick, most people will record their starting weight to enable them to keep track of their progress. A diet and weight loss journal or tracker is a great way to regulate your eating and exercise habits. Tracking what you eat will enable you to see what foods make you gain weight and which foods help you to lose weight. An activity log can also help by allowing you to record your daily or weekly exercise routine.

While it’s sometimes easy to slip away from your dieting plan and enjoy an unhealthy snack or two, recording your results often helps people to be more honest with themselves, about what they are actually consuming. Understanding why you are gaining weight or developing an unhealthy lifestyle is the first step in changing your future.

Free online tools are a great way to gain extra motivation and encouragement for your diet plan. If you’ve tried dieting in the past but have failed miserably (haven’t we all!) then why not enlist the help of professionally designed programs online?

Can the contents of your kitchen seriously save your life? A growing body of research suggests that what you eat and drink can protect your body against myriad health woe. Studies have also shown that up to 70 percent of heart disease cases are preventable with the right food choices.

“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain and good for you in general,” says Arthur Agatston, MD, a renowned cardiologist and founder of the South Beach Diet.

There is just one little trick to turning your kitchen into a hub for heart health: Don’t stick to the same few foods. The secret is by varying the types of fish, vegetables, whole grains and other items you enjoy every day. With that in mind, we’ve compiled the world’s top foods for your heart—mix and match a handful of them every week to eat your way toward a healthier you.

Yams

This is a great source of Vitamin C, calcium and iron, which helps to reduce high blood pressure. Eat the skin, too, which is full of heart-healthy nutrients.

Wild salmon (not farmed)

Broiled, grilled or baked, this tasty, fleshy fish is replete with omega-3 fatty acids that improve the metabolic markers for heart disease. It also has a rich level of selenium, an antioxidant that studies have shown boosts cardiovascular protection. (Of course, not all salmon is created equal: Find out what the ‘Invasion of The Frankenfish’ means for your health.)

Sardines

These spiny little creatures are also loaded with omega-3s in the form of fish oil, which increases “good” cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks in people who have experienced previous attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stick to fresh ones to avoid the canned variety’s high salt content.

Liver

Liver contains fats that are good for the heart, says William Davis, MD, a Wisconsin-based preventive cardiologist and author of ‘Wheat Belly’. “That’s the way humans are scripted,” he says. “Primitive humans ate the entire animal. Livers contain a lot of fats and that’s healthy.”

Oatmeal

The highly publicised benefits of eating your oatmeal have long shown it’s a wonder meal for reducing cholesterol. But eat only the plain, non-processed kind. Instant and flavoured oats are often drenched in processed sugar.

Coffee

Caffeine junkies rejoice. According to Dr Agatston, studies have shown that coffee is high in antioxidants and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Up to three cups a day also increases cognition levels and helps decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Agatston says. (That’s not the only thing a cup of java can do. We’ve got four more coffee cures that will convince you to drink up.)

Red wine

Back to the importance of resveratrol, a compound with antioxidant properties, which can also help prevent cancer. According to a recent study from the UK’s University of Leicester, resveratrol is found in dark-skinned berries and grapes. Madirans and Cabernets typically contain large amounts of procyanidins, an antioxidant that helps to reduce cholesterol and increases arterial health.

Pineapple, a delicious tropical fruit, has been celebrated for centuries not only for its unique taste but also for its miraculous health benefits. The health and medicinal benefits of pineapple include improving the immune system, respiratory health and digestion, strengthening bones, reducing inflammation, curing coughs and colds, and weight loss.

Aside from the interesting story and appearance of this fruit, it is also a storehouse of huge health benefits due to its wealth of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, beta carotene,  thiamin, B6, and folate, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber, and bromelain.

A pineapple fruit is known to offer a lot of benefits, which include a stronger immune system, weight loss, improved respiratory health and strengthened bones, among others. Let us discuss each benefit in detail;

Treats arthritis

Boosts immunity

A single serving of pineapple has more than 130 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C for human beings, making it one of the richest and most delicious sources of ascorbic acid. Vitamin C helps in reducing illnesses and boosting the immune system by stimulating the activity of white blood cells and acting as an antioxidant to defend against the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous by products of cellular metabolism that can damage various organ systems and disrupt function, as well as cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous ones. The vitamin C content of pineapples defends against this.

Improves cellular health

One of the commonly overlooked benefits of vitamin C is its essential role in creating collagen. This is partly the reason why it is seen as a healing vitamin because collagen is the essential protein base of blood vessel walls, skin, organs, and bones. High vitamin C content in pineapple helps you heal wounds and injuries quickly, along with defending your body against infections and illnesses.

Prevents cancer

Pineapple has been directly related to preventing cancers of the mouth, throat, and breast, as it is rich in various other antioxidants, including vitamin A, beta carotene, bromelain, various flavonoid compounds, and high levels of manganese. Manganese is an important cofactor of superoxide dismutase, an extremely potent free radical scavenger that has been associated with a number of different cancers.

Treats cough and cold

The normal immune system boosting power of vitamin C is well known, but that special enzyme, bromelain, is also connected with the reduction of phlegm and mucus build up in the respiratory tracts and sinus cavities. Pineapples, rich in bromelain and vitamin C, therefore prevent and treat respiratory illnesses, and eliminate phlegm and mucus from your body if you’ve already contracted an illness or infection.

Improves vision

Vision is one of the most important senses for human beings and pineapples have been directly connected to improving eye health and preventing the age-related eye deficiencies that often occur. Macular degeneration affects many elderly people, and beta carotene can help delay this vision problem. Keeping proper amounts of beta-carotene in your diet from fruits and vegetables is essential in maintaining good eyesight as you age.

The following are steps to take if you want to live longer…

Don’t overeat

If you want to live to 100, leaving a little bit of food on your plate may be a good idea. Author Dan Buettner, who studies longevity around the world, found that the oldest Japanese people stop eating when they are feeling only about 80% full.

St. Louis University researchers have confirmed that eating less helps you age slower; in a 2008 study, they found that limiting calories lowered production of T3, a thyroid hormone that slows metabolism—and speeds up the ageing process.

Live healthy, live longer

Making just a few changes in your lifestyle can help you live longer.

A recent study found that four bad behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years.

Fortunately, you can do something to correct these and other unhealthy behaviours. Adopt the following nine habits to keep your body looking and feeling young.

Get busy

Having satisfying sex two to three times per week can add as many as three years to your life. Getting busy can burn an impressive amount of calories—sometimes as much as running for 30 minutes. (Which would you rather do?)

Regular sex may also lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep, boost your immunity, and protect your heart.

Reach out

Research shows that you’re at greater risk of heart disease without a strong network of friends and family. Loneliness can cause inflammation, and in otherwise healthy people it can be just as dangerous as having high cholesterol or even smoking.

Loneliness seems to pose the greatest risk for elderly people, who are also prone to depression.

Eat fruits and vegetables

Getting fewer than three servings of fruits and vegetables a day can eat away at your health. Nutritional powerhouses filled with fiber and vitamins, fruits and veggies can lower your risk of heart disease by 76% and may even play a role in decreasing your risk of breast cancer.

As an added bonus, the inflammation-fighting and circulation-boosting powers of the antioxidants in fruits and veggies can banish wrinkles.

Focus on fitness

Daily exercise may be the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. A 2008 study found that regular high-intensity exercise (such as running) can add up to four years to your life, which isn’t surprising given the positive effects working out has on your heart, mind, and metabolism.

Even moderate exercise—a quick, 30-minute walk each day, for example—can lower your risk of heart problems.

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At least 500 Nigerians die of HIV/AIDs daily, with an average new infection of 600 people every day, says Sani Aliyu, Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDs, NACA.

Mr. Aliyu gave the figure during an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, about HIV/AIDs, aired on Saturday night.

He said although the country has achieved great heights with the support of government and the international community, a lot of help is still needed from private individuals to address the challenges posed by the existence of HIV/AIDs in Nigeria.

Mr. Aliyu noted that Nigeria is still the second most affected country with HIV/AIDs, globally behind South Africa. He called on government and stakeholders to ensure increased education of the girl child and women empowerment as a means of addressing the challenge.

He added that the global theme for this year’s event to mark the World AIDs day, “Hands up for HIV/AIDs prevention,” was adjusted for Nigeria, to match with the country’s current prevalence rate of 3 per cent.

“You know that for Nigeria the topic for this year is not ‘hands up’; when you say hands up you are giving up. It’s ‘hands on’ for us in Nigeria,” said Mr. Aliyu.

About 72,000 adolescents are reportedly living with HIV in Lagos State, officials have said.

Also according to the Borno State’s coordinator for HIV/AIDs, no fewer than 5,000 Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in 27 camps in the state are currently living with the virus.

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Dr Okezie Emenike, an Abuja-based medical doctor, on Monday, said that people with Bulimia Nervosa are at risk of life threatening illnesses.

Emenike disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

He defined Bulimia Nervosa as a psychological disorder characterised by overeating spree in a short period of time, followed by purging in an attempt to get rid of the food consumed by vomiting or taking laxatives.

He said the condition was associated with a sense of loss of control and immediately followed by feelings of guilt and shame.

According to him, bulimia affects more women than men and is common in teenage girls and young women.

He noted that the cause of bulimia was unknown but attributed genetics, physiological, family, society and culture as factors that could pose risk of developing the condition.

He added that bulimia could be dangerous as it could lead to serious health problems, stressing that a person with the condition often indulge in self induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, among others.

He said that “due to excessive vomiting, there can be a permanent damage in the stomach, tears in the oesophagus, swelling of the throat and dental cavities.

“It can also lead to lack of fluid in the body, low level of potassium in the blood, hard stools and constipation, damage of the pancreas and haemorrhoid.’’

He further said that the condition could make a patient go into extreme social isolation, forced withdrawal from school, withdrawal from family, loss of job and infertility.

Emenike also said that bulimia could lead to internal bleeding, drug and alcohol addiction, heart attack, inability to sleep, self injury behaviour and even suicide.

Besides, Emenike said, treatment for such eating disorder should start from psychological therapy, interpersonal therapy and administration of medications such as antidepressants.

He urged people with such eating disorder to seek medical help, noting that the condition could result to irreversible complications.

NAN

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Mavis Tabi-Boateng, a midwife at a health centre in Watreso, Ghana, often sees patients who travel long distances for antenatal care visits. During these visits she checks to see if the mother and baby are healthy.

Mavis remembers caring for Ama Mensah (not real name), a pregnant 24-year-old farmer, who had travelled 4 km for a final antenatal care visit before the birth of her child. She noticed the mother’s mental state was poor so she referred her to a district hospital for care, since mental health services were not available at her clinic.

Later, Mavis heard the woman had died after childbirth. She had given birth to her baby on a farm with no medical support. Giving birth outside of health facilities with no assistance from a trained health provider is a contributing factor behind maternal deaths in the country.

“This was an unnecessary loss of life,” says Dr Joseph Mensah-Homiah, technical officer at the Millennium Villages Project, an initiative dedicated to transforming the way health providers document patient data in Ghana.

“Strengthening care in health facilities is essential,” he adds. “But, we first need to understand why women are dying in order to prevent future deaths.”

Collecting data in real-time saves lives

In 2015, an estimated 2,800 women in Ghana died during childbirth. However, this is not the complete picture because deaths that take place outside of health facilities, especially in rural areas, are sometimes not recorded.

In partnership with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health, the Millennium Villages Project is working to improve and speed-up data collection, which is a key component of WHO’s work to help countries implement Maternal Death Surveillance and Response. MDSR is a continuous cycle of identification, notification and review of deaths among pregnant women and those who recently gave birth, followed by actions and monitoring of the response to prevent future deaths.

In 2008, the Millennium Villages Project initiated a vital records registration system to register all births and deaths and causes of death, but quickly realised the paper-based system was difficult and time-consuming for health workers to analyse.

The project then introduced CommCare, a smartphone-based system to help health workers record real-time information during home visits. A specialist in verbal autopsies also assists community health workers to conduct and record in-depth investigations into the cause of each death. The data are then put into an electronic database accessible on mobile phones and are reviewed once a week by a local medical team.

“Mobile technologies have allowed community health workers to keep records of mothers and their children even in rural areas where there are no health facilities,” says Dr Mensah-Homiah.

WHO is working with the Ministry of Health to scale-up and implement all aspects of MDSR in the country. While Ghana has improved data collection, there is still a need for national death review committees and an annual report on the findings of the death reviews so action can be taken to prevent future deaths.

Ending preventable maternal mortality worldwide

WHO and partners have been working with countries, like Ghana, to map progress in implementing MDSR in order to reduce global maternal mortality to less than 70 deaths per 100 000 live births by 2030, as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals and WHO’s “Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health”.

The current global maternal mortality ratio is 216 deaths per 100 000 live births.

Building on the existing programmes for maternal death reviews, the MDSR system is helping countries count and record all maternal deaths in communities and health facilities within 24 to 48 hours. The improved data collection and maternal death audits then enable countries to properly evaluate the impact of their health programmes aimed at reducing maternal mortality and improving maternal health.

Source: The World Health Organisation