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Chinese scientists celebrate breakthrough in infertility treatment

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Chinese scientists are celebrating a breakthrough in infertility treatment that enables young women with damaged reproductive organs to have children.

Regenerative medicine experts at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and doctors at Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital have successfully used human umbilical cord mesenchyme stem cells to rehabilitate a woman’s damaged ovary.

This is to enable her to give birth to a healthy boy in January.

The 34-year-old mother had been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure (POF) three years ago and treatment began in 2015.

POF affects women under the age of 40.

In China, it affects more than 1 per cent of women of childbearing age, and is rising especially among younger women, says Sun Haixiang, chief gynecologist at Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital.

“A failed ovary cannot supply a woman with eggs,’’ says Sun.

The most common therapy is estrogen and progesterone, but it has little effect, and many doctors view POF as incurable.

The research was led by Professor Dai Jianwu, of the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology under the CAS.

He has studied the stem cell therapy since 2009 and started cooperating with Sun’s team in 2015.

“I saw so many families spending years and savings on various treatments to no avail. Some people lost their jobs, and some lost their marriages,’’ says Dai.

One difficulty was how to retain the stem cells at the injury site of the organs.

After years of experiments on animals, including rats and pigs, researchers developed an injectable and degradable smart collagen scaffold with biomaterials to solve the problem.

The mother, surnamed Fang, had undergone stem cell transplants three times since December 2015, and became pregnant in May 2017.

Over the past two years, 23 patients have been treated this way.

Nine have gradually recovered their ovarian functions, and two are pregnant.

Dai has had previous successes in repairing reproductive organs with stem cells.

In 2014, his research team and gynecologists of Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital successfully implanted bone marrow stem cells into a woman’s damaged endometrium.

Four months later, she was pregnant after her uterus functions improved.

Since then, many other women have undergone the therapy and had babies.

China has more than 50 million infertile women, says Dai About 20 per cent to 40 per cent of them suffer from endometrial damage.

Stem cell transplants are less painful than other treatments and cut surgery time from 3 hours to 1 hour.

Stem cell therapy is also cheaper than in-vitro fertilisation, says Dai, who believes endometrial damage would disappear as regenerative technology develops further.

In 2015, his team also pioneered stem cell therapy on patients with chronic spinal cord injuries.

Dai has a lot of confidence in regenerative medicine, saying it is possible that all human organs could be regenerated in the future.

“I am glad to see many patients recovering and realising their dream of having children. A scientist has a responsibility not only to unite people with advanced technology, but also with hope.’’

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Why Nigerian Doctors Are Leaving Nigeria—NMA

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The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has attributed poor remuneration and inadequate health facilities as some of the major reasons for mass exodus of medical doctors.

Dr Ekpe Phillips, the FCT Chapter NMA Chairman, said this at the opening of the Annual Health Week of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Phillips described the pay package of doctors in Nigeria as poor, stressing the need for government to increase the remuneration of doctors to address the challenge.

He noted that many doctors who left the country to take up foreign appointment did so due to inadequate facilities among other factors.

He listed mass unemployment, lack of placement for residency faced by a high proportion of medical professionals in Nigeria as other factors.

Phillips said Nigeria is losing doctors to foreign countries, adding that Nigerian doctors are leaving the country for greener pastures and the workload is becoming too much on the doctors that stay.

“We hear doctors collapsing because the workload is too much because their colleagues have left to find a greener gesture.

“We have internal and international brain drain; Nigeria now has one doctor catering for 5,000 patients instead of one doctor to 600
patients.

“Brain drain is now becoming pandemic and sad news because government did not and still is not doing enough; there is no serious commitment to stemming this syndrome.

“Nigeria which was one of the richest 50 countries in the early 70s has metro greased to become one of the 25 poorest countries in the
World today,’’ he said.

Dr Michael Olarewaju, the President of Association of Residents Doctors, FCT chapter, said that brain drain was a massive problem to Nigeria’s health system.

He said that if the problem was not properly tackled in the next two to three years there would not be enough doctors to treat patients in the country.

He observed that initially the problem in the sector was strike by health workers “but now they are not going on strike but are exiting the country’’.

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Immunization Is Free And Safe -NPHCDA

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From Peter Inalegwu, Abuja Immunization against all vaccine preventable diseases in Nigeria remains free and safe, the Executive Director National Primary Healthcare Development Agency NPHCDA Dr. Faisal Shuaib has said.

According to a release signed by the Head, Public Relations,NPHCDA Saadu Salahu, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaibdescribed as false, the information trending in some social media platforms that the Federal Government had stopped free immunization for the Nigerian children.

He assured members of the public and parents in particular that Nigeria has adequate vaccines for immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases, emphasizing that immunization of all antigens in the national immunization schedule remain free of charge to all parents and members of the public.

The Executive Director seized the opportunity to reiterate the benefits of immunization as contained in the national immunization schedule which includes saving the lives of children and women of childbearing age and strengthening population immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases. He further stated that vaccines and health commodities used by the Agency for all public health programmes are pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and certified safe for use by National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Dr Faisal Shuaib called on Nigerians to continue to support Government at all levels and make their children and wards available for immunization at Primary Health Care facilities nearest to them. He also dismissed some of the very misleading video and audio clips on social media insinuating that vaccines are harmful.

Dr Shuaib urged all Nigerians to disregard the audio and the video clips and any publication that suggests anything less than safety, protection of life and strengthening of population immunity with immunization exercise and activities. The Executive Director urged all Nigerians to desist from playing politics with lives, safety and growth of Nigerian Children. As entrusted public health professionals, NPHCDA undertakes its mandate of making Nigerian citizens healthy with the utmost sense of integrity and moral responsibility.

He expressed the profound gratitude and appreciation of Government at all levels and the people of Nigeria to all the Development Partners and Donor Agencies for their huge investment in immunization towards the growth, wellbeing and the safety of the Nigerian children and women.

He pledged the continued determination and commitment of the Federal Government to work closely with religious and traditional leaders, development partners, donor agencies and the civil society organizations.

Dr. Shuaib charged health care providers not to charge the public for immunization services as the vaccines are provided free and requested the public to direct any inquiries on immunization and PHC to the following Toll-Free numbers; 0803123o415, 08031230416.

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Nigeria Needs 155,000 More Doctors

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No fewer than 155,000 additional doctors at the ratio of one doctor to 1000 people would be need in Nigeria to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Prof. Usman Ahmed, Provost, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Federal University Dutse has said this is to make more people have access to healthcare.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Universal Health Coverage aims to ensure that all people have access to the needed services of sufficient quality without exposing persons (recipients) to financial hardship.

Ahmed, who is also a professor of health sciences, University of Manchester, UK told the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja that data from the Federal Ministry of Health shows that there were 45,000 doctors registered and practicing in Nigeria, which is a ratio of one doctor to 4008 people.

“Even if we take it as one doctor to 4000 people and we want to have UHC, meaning a minimum of one doctor to 1000 people, we will need to have at least 200,000 doctors in Nigeria today.

“ It also means that we will need nearly a million nurses because for each doctor we need several other nurses, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, audiologist etc. and we don’t have them complete in Nigeria,’’ he said.

He said Nigeria should realise that WHO recommended one doctor to 600 people, adding that “if we use WHO’s recommendation, we may need more than 155,000 doctors today.’’

The don recommended one doctor to 1000 people to replicate a model used in India, adding that India had 840,000 doctors in a ratio of one doctor to 1800 people.

He said the Indian Universal Health Care Commission recommended that the country should migrate from one doctor to 1800 people to one doctor to 1000 people to UHC .

“They call it Modicare. Therefore to achieve that they need additional 200, 000 new doctors to add to the existing 840,000 doctors; they also plan to achieve the required doctors in 10 years by opening more medical schools,’’ he said.

Ahmed said: “If we want to look after ourselves, we need to be serious about UHC through remodelling the National Health Insurance Scheme Act and the National Health Act 2014.’’

He said the transformation of the two Acts and establishment of pilot universities of health sciences would provide a good framework for UHC in Nigeria.

NAN reports that on Sep 21, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, during 38th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) at Ibadan, Oyo state, said there was “no serious shortage” of doctors in Nigeria.

“The data obtained from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria shows that as of May 30, only 45,000 are currently practicing and that gives us a ratio one doctor to 4,088 persons,” he said.

Adewole noted that what was perceived as a shortage of doctors was actually the uneven distribution of practicing doctors within the country.

According to him, the ratio of one doctor to 4,088 patients in Nigeria is better compared to other African countries.

“Compared to many other African countries the ratio is not bad, for example, in South African it is one (doctor) to 4,000; in Egypt it is one to 1235;

“in Tanzania it is 1: 14,000; in Ethiopia, it is one to 1 to 118,000, in Kenya, it is one to 16,000 and in Cameroon it is one to 40,000,” he said.

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