Where are the Men in the Family Planning Discourse? – #NaijaMen4FP

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From inception, family planning interventions and responsibility for the uptake of family planning commodities has pre-dominantly been targeted at women. This seems logical, as women are the end users of most family planning commodities. Yet, men are often the primary decision makers that have an influence on when (or whether) women access family planning services or commodities. So, what would happen if family planning interventions and discussions targeted men just as much as they did women?  How would this affect uptake of family planning services and commodities? More importantly, how would it help Nigeria reach a modern contraceptive rate of 27% among all women by 2020, as the government has pledged?

At the just concluded 2nd THISDAY Healthcare Policy Dialogue, the Nigeria Health Watch press team spoke with Dr. Joe Abah, Country Director, DAI Global. Speaking on the role of men in family planning, he said,

“We live in a patriarchal society where all advice is targeted at women, and men take no responsibility… Men have a vital role in family planning because they have the responsibility to care about the health of their spouses… Men need to first see it as their responsibility… The fact that one party is the one bearing the physical responsibility doesn’t take away the responsibility from the other party to make sure she is in a fit state.”

The first Nigeria Health Watch Forum for 2018 is themed, “The Elephant in the Room – Men as Change Agents in the Family Planning Discourse”. The Forum, a town hall style breakfast meeting, will have four speakers address the role of men in helping Nigeria meet its FP2020 Commitments from their different perspectives.

This will be followed by two panel discussions focusing on the following critical questions:

  • How do we accelerate action to meet Nigeria’s FP 2020 Commitments?
  • How do we engage men to support their partners in seeking FP Services?
  • How do we get men to take responsibility for FP without depending on women?

The speakers and panelists come from a wide range of health care services and specialties, from general practice to community practice. Their work spans from clinical practice, teaching, policy making to management of health services.

Dr. Diene Keita, the UNFPA Country Representative brings a wide breadth of experience having worked across many countries on family planning initiatives. Effiom Nyong Effiom, Country Director for Marie Stopes International Organization Nigeria (MSION), has over 20 years of experience in commercial and social enterprise and expertise in using private sector business models to deliver social benefits.

Dr. Ejike Oji, Chairman, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning, is an experienced doctor with a demonstrated history of working in the health wellness and fitness industry. He has experience in the areas of Non-profit Organizations, Life Coaching, Epidemiology, and Program Evaluation. Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi, Director of Family Health at the Federal Ministry of Health, is currently responsible for initiating policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of health policies on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health as well as Elderly care, Nutrition and Health Promotion.

The panellists are: Dr. Laz Ude Eze, Family Planning Advocate, National Champion for Health; Sa’adatu Hashim, Amira, FOMWAN Kano State Branch; Florida Uzoaru, Founder, Slide Safe; and Rev. Isaac G. Gbaero, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Sabongari, Zaria, Vice-Chairman, Zaria Interfaith for Safe Motherhood/NURHI.

The Health Watch Forum will be moderated by Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Nigeria Health Watch, and CEO, EpiAfric.

Our objective is simple; “To ignite change in the family planning sector by inspiring action through advocacy and innovation”.  We need to ask the tough questions because it is no longer sufficient for the Nigerian government to make declarations, they need to be held to account for outcomes.

For those who have registered to attend the event, we at Nigeria Health Watch would like you to keep three things in mind as you attend: Please download your ticket, ensure that you come early, and come with your questions, ready to learn and network with others working to make the health sector better.

There will be robust conversations both during the health forum and online throughout the day. If you are unable to attend the event, you can watch the event via livestream on our Facebook Page. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter, follow the hashtag #NaijaMen4FP. If you don’t yet, follow Nigeria Health Watch on Twitter @nighealthwatch, as we will live tweet the event.

Join us on April 18th as we explore the critical role that men play in igniting change in Nigeria’s family planning arena. Come hear the voices of #NaijaMen4FP.

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3 cups of tea, coffee per day good for heart: Study

Cup of coffee
Cup of coffee

Drinking up to three cups of tea or coffee per day could protect people from developing irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia, a new study revealed on Tuesday.

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world and the most common form of cognitive enhancement.

However, more than 80 per cent of clinicians in the United States recommend patients with palpitations or arrhythmia to abstain or reduce caffeine.

But the new study which involved researchers in the University of Melbourne’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute along with partners in the United States consistently demonstrated a reduction in atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeats) with increasing levels of caffeine ingestion.

The research analysed multiple population-based studies which involved 228,465 participants to find the frequency of atrial fibrillation decreased by 6 per cent in regular coffee drinkers, while a further analysis of 115,993 patients showed a risk reduction of 13 per cent.

“There is a public perception, often based on anecdotal experience, that caffeine is a common acute trigger for heart rhythm problems,’’ lead author Peter Kistler from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute said.

“Our extensive review of the medical literature suggests this is not the case.’’

“Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea may have long term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,’’ Kistler concluded.

“In numerous population-based studies, patients who regularly consume coffee and tea at moderate levels have a lower lifetime risk of developing heart rhythm problems and possibly improved survival.’’

However, due to significantly higher concentrations of caffeine, researchers advised that energy drinks should be avoided for people with pre-existing structural heart disease. (Xinhua/NAN)

Women, menopause, skin problems, solutions : A Guide

Illustration only: A woman ponders about the crisis of menopause

Menopause causes a dramatic change in hormone levels, including a decline in estrogen, which is what causes the symptoms associated with menopause. The most common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness — but can menopause also cause a rash?

In this article, we look at how estrogen and menopause affect the skin, and whether rashes are related to these hormonal changes:

Estrogen plays a vital role in keeping the skin young, elastic, and healthy. Estrogen helps the skin by:

*Stimulating the production of oil, collagen, and other substances involved in skin health.

*Promoting wound healing.

*Reducing inflammatory skin disorders during pregnancy or periods of high estrogen.

*Possibly protecting against mortality from melanoma and other skin cancers.

*Providing some protection against sun damage.

How menopause affects the skin

While decreasing estrogen levels do have an impact on a person’s skin, there are many other factors involved in skin health. These factors can include:

*sun exposure or damage
*dehydration
*smoking
*fat redistribution
*genetics

Skin changes that may occur during menopause include:

Rash
There is no evidence to suggest that menopause is linked to a specific type of rash. However, as a woman approaches menopause, the body becomes significantly more sensitive to changes in temperature, particularly heat.

During and before menopause, a woman may suddenly feel hot and sweaty, causing her face to become flushed or red. These are known as hot flashes, and they can be mild or severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Decreased estrogen levels can cause the skin to become itchy, sensitive, or irritated. Women may also notice that they are more sensitive to itchy fabrics, soaps, or beauty products. Scratching at itchy skin can cause hives and rashes.

A woman who has a rash should consider switching to natural or fragrance-free products to reduce irritation and inflammation. If rashes become especially problematic, she should see a dermatologist for further advice.

Facial hair

The decline in estrogen and other hormones can cause changes in a woman’s hair, causing it to thin or fall out.

During menopause, women may also notice that hair begins to grow on their face where it had not previously grown. This can include under the chin, along the jawline, or on the upper lip.

Women have many options for dealing with unwanted facial hair. Waxing and shaving are easy at-home options. A dermatologist can provide other options, such as laser treatment or hair removal cream.

Thinning skin
As estrogen levels fall, it can cause the skin to get thinner and more delicate, meaning it is more easily damaged. Thinning skin can even lead to more frequent and noticeable bruising.

It is essential to use an SPF 30 sunscreen every day, even when not spending a lot of time in the sun. While sunscreen cannot treat thinning skin, it can prevent it from getting worse.

A woman should see her dermatologist if thin skin presents a serious problem with tearing or injury. The doctor may be able to suggest medical treatments that can help manage the problem.

Dry skin

In addition to thinning skin, women in perimenopause or menopause are more likely to have issues with dry or flaky skin.

This is because estrogen helps the skin to hold on to water, keeping it soft and moist. Without estrogen, the skin is prone to drying out.

To prevent dry skin, people can use a gentler cleanser, as traditional soaps can be particularly drying for older women. Moisturizing right after showering or bathing is best.

People should avoid using exfoliants or other strong products because they can be particularly damaging to delicate or dry skin.


Age spots

Age spots are a common complaint of menopausal women. This is usually a sign of sun damage that has occurred throughout a woman’s lifetime.

Wearing sunscreen consistently and from an early age is the best way to prevent age spots and skin cancer developing later in life.

Some types of skin cancer can look like an age spot, so it is essential to see a dermatologist regularly. The risk of skin cancer increases with age and sun exposure.

Prevention

Skin changes are a common complaint among women during or approaching menopause.
While these issues are the result of normal hormonal changes, there are a few things that women can do to help prevent them from happening or getting worse. Simple steps include:

*Using moisturizer: An oil-free moisturizer can help to keep skin thick and soft.

*Choose something gentle and free from perfumes or dyes to minimize the risk of irritation.

*Wearing sunscreen every day: Regular use of sunscreen can help prevent skin damage from sun exposure.

*Taking sun protection seriously: In addition to wearing sunscreen, wear hats, sunglasses, and other protective clothing to keep the skin covered up while exposed to the sun.

See the dermatologist: It is important for women to see a dermatologist every year. In addition to screening for cancer or other suspicious marks, it is also a great opportunity to ask questions about problems or concerns about the skin.

Outlook
While there is no evidence that menopause can cause a rash, it is common for women to experience reddening and irritation of the skin during a hot flash. This is usually short-lived and will resolve once the hot flash goes away.

Avoiding skin irritants, applying sunscreen daily, and seeing a dermatologist can help women manage or prevent some of the other skin conditions associated with menopause.

*This article by Nicole Galan was culled from Medical News Today

FAO approves ‘climate-friendly’ solar irrigation pumps for agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has approved solar powered irrigation system as new way to develop agriculture.

josé-graziano-da-silva

The organisation made the disclosure in its news report made available on Sunday, April 15, 2018 in Abuja. It stated that the system was affordable and climate-friendly for both small-scale and large-scale farmers in developing countries.

FAO, however, warned on how to make the most of innovation and guard against water waste that the system needed to be adequately managed and regulated to avoid the risk of unsustainable water use.

It noted that the innovation had become imperative because the sharp and ongoing drops in price of photovoltaic panels gave new impetus to renewable energy source as a way to enhance irrigation capacity.

The report quoted Helena Semedo, the FAO Deputy Director-General, as saying: “A further price reduction could power a revolution in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, where only three per cent of cultivated area was irrigated, seven times less than global average.”

She added that the rapid expansion of more affordable solar-powered irrigation offered viable solutions that span the water-energy-food nexus, providing great opportunity for small-holders to improve their livelihoods, economic prosperity and food security.

She stated that “about 20 per cent of cultivated land across the globe is irrigated, contributing to about 40 per cent of total food output.

“Irrigation boosts agricultural productivity in various ways, as well as allows more and varied crops per year.

“Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America have relatively low deployment of irrigation on croplands, indicating sizeable potential gains there.”

Eduardo Mansur, the Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division, also said that apart from solar energy offering cheaper services, it increased the urgency of making sure that appropriate water management and governance systems were in place.

He urged leaders in sub-Saharan Africa to think strategically about how the technology could be used to encourage sustainable use of groundwater resources to avoid risks such as wasteful water-use and over-abstraction of groundwater.

Mansur said solar powered irrigation systems indicated the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of energy used for water pumping by more than 95 per cent compared to alternatives fuelled by diesel or fossil-fuel driven electricity grids.

The director urged governments to review their incentive schemes to favour “Green subsidies” over fossil fuels.

Mansur said solar irrigation pumps could also cause unsustainable groundwater extraction, as farmers expand planted areas or switch to more water-intensive crops.

He said that irrigation policy decisions should be taken after proper water accounting over larger territorial areas, as rainfall, surface water, groundwater, soil moisture and evaporation processes linked to different land uses are all part of the same hydrological cycle.

The FAO report stated that a survey of technical experts from 25 countries suggested that in three-fourths of nations’ government programmes and policies to promote small-scale irrigation, fewer than half had specific regulations limiting groundwater abstraction for such purposes.

It revealed that solar panels produced energy even at times when no irrigation was needed, opening up significant opportunities to run rice huskers, mills, water purifiers and cold storage units, all contributing to rural development and incomes.

It noted that in some cases, solar power could become “remunerative crop” if farmers were encouraged to reduce over-pumping water by opting to pool and sell their surplus energy to electricity grid.

20 states, 14 African countries join Soyinka in Ogun festival

Festival: Wole Soyinka to lead conference

By Olawale Jokotoye

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and other literary icons will feature in the 2018 African Drums Festival that will be attended by 20 states and 14 African countries.

The conference that will feature the drums festival is scheduled to hold in Abeokuta from April 19 to 22.

Ogun state Governor Ibikunle Amosun said that Soyinka had been scheduled to coordinate a conference on April 20 at the Olumo Rock Tourist Centre, with the theme, “Drums For Advancement”.

During conference, experts would speak on the importance of drums.

He said that an Art exhibition would also hold at the same venue while a “Walk For Drum’’, will also hold from the Cultural Centre at Kuto to the Olumo Rock at Itoku area in Abeokuta.

Amosun said that Africa had a rich culture which predated the Western civilisation, saying that the festival was organised “to re-awake and revive our dying culture’’.

“We have noted that our culture is dying and need to be revived.

“Drums and Drumming are important features of the African culture that cut across the strata of the continent.

“There is nowhere that you don’t have one type of drum or the other and if we are to revive our ideals and ideas as a continent, we must start with a culture that cuts across, which is drumming, ’’ the governor said.

He said that about 70 private cultural groups as well as other countries like Haiti, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, would also participate in the festival.

The governor said that the state government was determined to nurture the festival to maturity, so that subsequent governments would also preserve the legacies of the festival.

“Thereby making it (Drums Festival) a flagship for cultural activities in the state and the country at large,’’ Amosun said.

He said that the festival would continue to hold in Ogun annually on every third week of April. (NAN)

How to end herdsmen-farmers clashes: Gusau Institute

Herdsman
Gusau Institute suggests ways to end herdsmen-farmers conflicts

By Harrison Arubu

The Gusau Institute (GI), a Nigerian think tank, has suggested ways to address the lingering herder-farmer conflicts and irregular migration, two major challenges the nation is currently facing.

The recommendations are products of the first two sessions of the GI Roundtable Series whose reports were made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.

The suggestions  came amid warning by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, that the crisis could escalate in 2019 if efforts are not intensified to create cattle ranches or provide better security against rustling.

In the reports signed by its Director, Mrs M. Maritz, the think tank called for a review of Nigeria’s national security policy and strategy to address the pastoralist-farmer conflicts “more directly and comprehensively”.

The non-governmental organisation said policy guidelines on grazing activities should be retooled to mitigate the challenges of such conflicts.

Clashes between farmers and herdsmen have claimed hundreds of lives, including women and children, across the country in recent times.

Worst hit is the north central state of Benue where deadly attacks blamed on herders have left over a hundred villagers dead in many communities since the night of Dec. 31.

GI noted that a deep understanding by all role players of all the issues involved is critical to reach an agreement on proper, actionable solutions.

“The Federal Government should co-ordinate with state governments to reduce the risk of violence and to define a clear and coherent political approach to resolving the risks of pastoralist related conflicts.

“The state governments should work more closely with traditional institutions and leaders in seeking solutions.

“The engagement and input of traditional community leaders as products of their respective people’s consensus, customs and cultures could help mitigate the friction between pastoralist and agrarian communities.

“A comprehensive study of Fulani culture and pastoralism should be commissioned so as to provide much needed insight into the thought processes that will allow for positive dialogue and negotiation,” the institute said, among other recommendations.

NAN reports that GI is the brainchild of Gen. Aliyu Gusau Mohammed (Rtd.), former Nigerian National Security Adviser and former Minister of Defence.

On irregular migration, it said there was need for the root causes of the problem to be clearly defined and tackled.

To this end, it recommended a media campaign to correct the misconception that there are always are more and better opportunities abroad.

“There is a need to emphasise growing opportunities for freedom and wealth for Nigerians, as well as the fact that entrepreneurship and innovation are in many instances worth more than an educational qualification acquired outside Nigeria.

“Still, economic development remains key,” GI said, urging governments at all levels to strengthen good governance practices, which it noted are critical for productivity and poverty alleviation.

The organisation urged the creation of a broad-based synergy among local stakeholders, security agencies, and government establishments charged with curtailing human trafficking and irregular migration.

“In this regard, reliable and actionable intelligence sharing is crucial if the operations of criminal kingpins and human traffickers are to be disrupted or ended

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the lead government agency on international relations, should become more engaged in migration and mobility issues, including working closely with the international community.

“Regarding the transit route for irregular migrants through Niger, it is suggested that the Minister of Interior should initiate dialogue with the neighbouring Nigerien government on how to address and curb the rising number of migrants transiting Niger.

“The repatriation and re-integration of returnees should be supported in such a manner as to encourage the affected persons to return home and re-start their lives again with dignity,” GI said.

Details of the reports are available in the first two items on the list of publications on the following GI web page: http://gusauinstitute.com/publications/

Toyin Saraki, WHO Directors meet on Healthcare in Nigeria

Mrs Toyin Saraki new Health For All Champion

Mrs Toyin Saraki new Health For All Champion

By Ifeanyi Nwoko

In a bid to strengthen health coverage in Nigeria, Mrs Toyin Saraki on Monday met with WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.

The meeting is part of the meeting of the Global Policy Group (GPG), the highest level of internal governance and policy making within WHO.

Mrs Saraki who is a Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) of the WHO Region Office for Africa (AFRO)

Top on the agenda for discussion was Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria and other issues of strategic importance to the WHO.

L-R Dr Chibi (WHO Rep), Mrs Amy Oyekunle (WBFA CEO), H.E Mrs Toyin Saraki (Founder-President WBFA) and Dr Matshidiso Moeti (WHO Regional Director, for Africa)
L-R Dr Chibi (WHO Rep), Mrs Amy Oyekunle (WBFA CEO), H.E Mrs Toyin Saraki (Founder-President WBFA) and Dr Matshidiso Moeti (WHO Regional Director, for Africa)

Mrs Saraki, who is also the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), commended the introduction of WHO AFRO’s focused curriculum for the professional qualification education of Midwives and Nurses in Africa.

She said that such huge investment in the technical workforce, especially in the nursing and midwifery workforce, was an imperative for achieving UHC.

She commended Dr. Moeti, as the first woman to hold the post of WHO Regional Director and also hailed Dr. Tedros who is the first African to become WHO Director-General.

She commended the duo for breaking new grounds for Africa, saying: “We must push ahead and achieve healthcare for everyone, everywhere.

“As the Founder-Director of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), I work closely with our midwives on the frontline, as part of the global Every Woman Every Child Strategy to end all preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths, including stillbirths, by 2030.

“UNICEF’s recent report “Every Child Alive” reminds us that although there has been tangible progress on maternal and infant mortality rates, there is still much more to be done.

“Five newborn babies die every minute across the world – 2.6 million tragedies every year. Of the ten highest-risk countries, eight are in sub-Saharan Africa. 80% of these deaths are easily preventable – which demonstrates the urgency with which Governments should treat their health systems,” she said.

Mrs Saraki who is the wife of the President of the Nigerian Senate insisted that UHC was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity and effort to change the continent’s future.

She said that all stakeholders must work towards strengthened global health and economic security and achieving the goals of a new era of sustainable development.

”I welcome the leadership shown by the WHO on UHC and I echo their call on all Governments to honour the commitments made to provide healthcare for everyone, everywhere.”

In her remark, the African Region Director of WHO, Dr. Moeti said that the WHO Africa Region is elated to be in partnership with the Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

“We are particularly interested in strengthening midwifery education in Nigeria, as well as working with the WBFA to galvanize efforts across Nigeria to push this amazing country towards the goal of Universal Health Coverage,” she said.

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