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Just in: Abia doctors begin strike over kidnap of colleague

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Doctors in Abia State have begun an indefinite strike in protest against the kidnap and continued detention of their colleague, Prof. Uwadinachi Iweha.

Iweha was Kidnapped on Sunday June 6, 2022, around 4pm, in front of his house at Umuokpara in Umuahia South Local Government Area.

The doctors had during their earlier protest last Friday, threatened to down tools if after 47 hours their Kidnapped colleague were not released.

Declaring the decision of the doctors Tuesday after a rally and prayer session at the car park of the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia, the Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Abia State, Dr Chimezie Okwuonu, said the action was to alert the world that the safety of doctors in the state was no longer guaranteed.

NMA argued that there was no way doctors would continue to provide maximum services amid uncertainties over the safety of their members who are always on duty to serve humanity.

Reading from a prepared speech he co-signed with the Secretary of the body, Dr Robinson Ugwuanyi, the NMA Chairman said:” As an Association deeply involved in the welfare of Medical Doctors in Abia State, we are worried that 9 days down the line, Prof Uwadinachi Iweha is still within the kidnappers Den. This is traumatic, depressing, dehumanising and has instilled a lot of fear within the medical community whose primary objective is to save the life of Abians from the medical point of view.

“The Nigerian Medical Association Abia State hereby condemns the kidnap of its member and calls on the Abia State Government and security apparatus to do all that is necessary to secure his release.

“Our ernest prayer is that his health condition does not deteriorate further and he comes back alive to us and his family.

“The recent spate of kidnap with its attendant consequences on the morale of its citizens has the capability of eroding the achievement we have made, as a state, in the area of security.

“Medical Doctors work all round the clock. This includes normal duties, surgeries, clinical calls, emergencies and administrative duties. The nature and scope of our work involves been on the road any time you are called, as more than 95% of Doctors reside outside their place of work.

“With the current state of fear caused by the kidnap and detention of our colleague, safety cannot be guaranteed and it will be difficult to attend to duties as normal as no one knows who will be the next victim.

Arising from its meeting on Friday 10th June 2022, the NMA Abia State Branch took a peaceful protest to the Government house where it registered its displeasure at the kidnap of its senior medical colleague.

“We were received by the Chief of Staff Chief Okey Ahaiwe, who assured us, on behalf of the Governor, that government will do all the needful to ensure release of its colleague. We are still looking up to this promise.

“Today, Tuesday 14th, the NMA Abia State has commenced a withdrawal of services in both public and private sectors, to register its deep displeasure at this unfortunate incident and give its members time to join the family in searching for its members.

”However, emergency services are still going on to enable our members attend to critical patients.

“We shall also take out time to pray for Prof Iweha and carry out a very peaceful rally to show that we stand by our own in this time of trial. These, in addition to this press conference, are the main three activities for today.

“Our Physicians pledge, as amended by the 68th World Medical Association General Assembly Chicago in 2017 states in line 11 ‘ I will take care of my health and well being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standards’.

“With the kidnap and continued detention of our colleague, we are not assured of our health and well-being as Doctors in this environment; hence may not provide care of highest standard.

“It is our utmost desire that the Government enables a secured release of our colleague and restores the peace and security we enjoy.

The Nigerian Medical Association Abia State wishes to ask its members to pray for Prof Uwadinachi Iweha, and ask any member of the public with useful information about his whereabouts to report to the nearest police station.”

Prof Iweha served as the Chief Medical Director of Abia State University Teaching Hospital Aba; and Abia Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Centre.

He is currently the Provost of Gregory University College Of Medicine, Umuahia Campus.

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Resident doctors threaten strike, gives FG two-week ultimatum 

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The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has given the Federal Government a two-week ultimatum to implement the agreement reached on the welfare of its members.

The association gave the ultimatum after its national executive council meeting on Saturday in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital.
The association said should the FG fail to comply with its demands, it would embark on an industrial action.

The communique was signed by Dare Ishaya, NARD president; Suleiman Abiodun, the secretary-general, and Alfa Yusuf, publicity and social secretary.
“The NEC observed with dismay, the unnecessary delay in the implementation and payment of the new Hazard Allowance for over seven (7) months since its approval on 22nd December 2021 in a circular with reference No. SWC/S/04/S.218/11/406,” the communique reads.
“The NEC observed that the skipping arrears covering 2014, 2015 and 2016 have remained unpaid despite several negotiations with the Federal Government over the matter.”
The association alleged that years after the implementation of a new minimum wage, some of its members are yet to benefit from the adjustment.
NARD also expressed displeasure over the condition of its members in Imo, Ondo, Ekiti and Gombe states who are “owed 10, 5, 3 and 2 months respectively”.
The association urged the federal government to expedite action on the payment of the newly reviewed Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF).
“The NEC demands the immediate implementation and payment of the new Hazard Allowance and arrears as contained in the circular from the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) dated 22nd December 2021 with reference number SWC/S/04/S.218/11/406 within two (2) weeks, ” the communique read.
“The NEC demands immediate payment of consequential adjustment of minimum wage to our members who have been deprived this benefit since it was implemented several years ago.
“The NEC demands an immediate review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and other related allowances given the current economic situation in the country, and also in line with the agreed terms from the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that it will be reviewed regularly.
“The NEC enjoins the Federal and all State Governments to look into the issue of assault on doctors and thoroughly investigate the ongoing cases and put measures in place to nip this menace in the bud to forestall future occurrences, as these inhumane acts have affected our members both physically and mentally.
“The NEC urges the Federal Government to take steps toward curtailing the brain drain in the health sector and find ways of eliminating all bureaucratic bottlenecks in the employment and replacement of the Resident Doctors leaving our institutions daily to seek greener pastures.”
The association said it will reconvene in two weeks to review the “progress made so far and take further actions for which nationwide industrial harmony may not be guaranteed.”

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NIMR Discovers New Severe Malaria Vector In Northern Nigeria

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The Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) says it has discovered a new malaria vector named Anopheles stephensi in northern Nigeria.

According to Wikipedia, Anopheles stephensi is a primary mosquito vector of malaria in urban India and is included in the same subgenus as Anopheles gambiae, the primary malaria vector in Africa.

It is a highly competent vector of Plasmodium Falciparum and P. Vivax, considered an efficient vector of urban malaria.

The Anopheles stephensi mosquito has long since been considered an Asian malaria vector. It is native to parts of South-East Asia and parts of the Arabian Peninsula

Director General of the Institute, Professor Babatunde Salako, told newsmen in Lagos during his 63rd birthday ceremony on Monday night that the discovery was one of the institute’s recent research discoveries.

The vector, according to him, spreads malaria called plasmodium falciparum.

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He described the vector as a rugged one that is very difficult to eradicate.

“This has implication for malaria control in Nigeria because hitherto, the vector was known in West Africa sub-region,” he said.

Professor Salako further disclosed that the Institute is currently looking at vaccine development as a lot of studies have been done. According to him, the institute is working with five groups in a consortium to develop local vaccines in Nigeria.

He explained that development of vaccine, which the institute is into, is different from vaccine production.

The idea behind the vaccine development, he said, is to ensure that Nigerian researchers are able to learn the development process from the beginning to the end.

“This is important so that when we have a new epidemic or disease, known or unknown, it would be possible for Nigeria to develop its own vaccine,” Salako added.

He further disclosed that the institute is working on testing 2,000 people in Nigeria with a view to knowing whether the three COVID-19 vaccines evoked a response or not and also also to know how long it can be effective in their bodies.

“The essence of this is to know the effectiveness, side effects and responsiveness of human body to COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.

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Monkeypox common among gay men – WHO

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The monkeypox outbreak is prevalent among men who have sex with men, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this on Saturday at a media briefing where he declared the multi-country monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of global concern.

He said, “So, in short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations.

“Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment, this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.

 

“That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups.

“It’s therefore essential that all countries work closely with communities of men who have sex with men, to design and deliver effective information and services, and to adopt measures that protect both the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities.”

A study published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine also revealed that cases of monkeypox are prevalent among men who have sex with  men.

According to the study, out of 528 infections diagnosed between April 27 and June 24, 2022, at 43 sites in 16 countries, 98 percent of the persons with infection were gay or bisexual men.

“These data point clearly to the fact that infections are so far almost exclusively occurring among men who have sex with men,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Brown University.

“And the clinical presentation of these infections suggest that sexual transmission, not just close physical contact, may be helping spread the virus among this population.”

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