Kwara to Fight Fistula with N16 Million

The commissioner for health in Kwara State, Dr Sulaiman Alege, said about N16million was budgeted and already partly released in a bid to eradicate obstetric fistula in the state.

The Commissioner announced this during the formal opening of free fistula repairs organised by the Kwara State Government in conjunction with the EngenderHealth, implementing partners of USAID, held at Kwara State Specialist hospital, Sobi, Kwara state.

He explained that part of the money will be used to support the free fistula repair programs, adding that, the state plans to increase fistula budget line in the Kwara State 2018 supplementary budget which is already in the pipeline.

“Kwara state government is happy working in relationship with EngenderHealth in the area of intervention of fistula in the state. Last year around N10 million was budgeted for fistula in the state. This year, about N16 million has been budgeted for fistula and we have released part of the money.The pool effort is aimed at bringing women with fistula from the various communities in the state for a repair”, he said.

The Commissioner explained that the state is ripe enough to be made a proper fistula centre for the north central region with support from Engender Health Fistula Care Plus Project, and other stakeholders.

In his remarks, the State Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Alhaji Wasiu Odewale said the state is in the process of reviewing the 2017 appropriation Law and promised further support to the health sector.

Alhaji Odewale assured that the ongoing Supplementary budget process would favour increased in the budget line for fistula repairs.

Also speaking, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Ayinke Saka represented by Hajia Aminah Yahya described the fistula repair exercise as women project, saying that women lost dignity as result of stigma against fistula clients.

She enjoined women to attend antenatal care regularly and deliver under the supervision of skilled birth attendants to avoid coming down with fistula.

Earlier in his remarks, the Country Project Manager, Engender Health Fistula Care Plus Project, Chief Iyeme Efem explained that the pooled effort was organised to assist fistula clients to live normal lives.

He showed appreciation for Kwara state for having a fistula desk and being one of the few states that have a budget line for fistula.

Chief Efem said the Project by USAID is supporting a number of hospitals across the country in organising pooled fistula repairs and called for government commitment to sustaining the project.

Guardian

Exclusive Breastfeeding Is It!

Although, health professionals say breast milk contains all the nourishments a new born needs for proper development in the early stages and later in life, out of the approximately seven million children born in Nigeria every year according to the 2014 National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS), only 25 per cent are exclusively so breastfed from age zero to six months. This, in turn, denies millions of such children the benefits of breast milk, an unnecessary and unacceptable phenomenon that should be vigorously campaigned against. But what is responsible for this low rate of breastfeeding?

Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their families, the health care system and the society at large. However, pressure from family members and friends to give water, other liquids, herbal concoctions, and other forms of milk in addition to breast milk prevents them from exclusively breastfeeding their babies. This pressure is needless and it is a disservice to the child as health professionals argue that breastfeeding is beneficial to the child, mother and community. They recommend early initiation of breast milk and that the new born is fed with breast milk within the first hour of its life. Specifically, colostrum, which is the yellow custard-like milk produced in the first few days after birth is described as the infant’s first immunisation because it is very rich in substances that fight infections, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases.

Furthermore, breast milk is the ideal food for babies and infants as it contains nutrients in the right quantity, giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive. Breast milk is easily digestible and well absorbed; it is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses, such as respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea and pneumonia, which are the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide. Exclusive breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of coeliac disease and chances of developing type II diabetes, asthma and other allergic problems. Breastfeeding also prevents obesity in childhood and adulthood, as well as diet-related chronic diseases, such as hypertension and cancers. In addition, breastfed infant are known to show better vaccine responses after vaccination against childhood diseases. They perform better on intelligence tests when compared with infant formula-fed babies. Again, breast milk is readily available and affordable, which helps to ensure that infants get adequate nutrition at all times and at very little cost, and at the right temperature. As a result, the death of children under the age of five could be prevented with increased breastfeeding and the incidence of certain diseases among babies would be significantly reduced.

On the part of the mother, early initiation of breast milk helps to fast track expulsion of the placenta while breastfeeding helps burn extra calories and helps the mother lose pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone, which helps the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding has also been associated with reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type II diabetes and postpartum depression in mothers, thereby reducing the incidence of baby abandonment and abuse.

Exclusive breastfeeding promotes emotional bonding between the baby and the mother, and it also has 98 per cent efficiency in preventing unwanted pregnancy.
Also, the community reaps a lot of benefits when mothers practice breastfeeding because breastfed babies are healthy babies and healthy babies make a healthy nation as cases of and severity of childhood illnesses are reduced, thereby improving child survival. This, of course, leads to a huge reduction in national expenditure because the country will spend less on the importation of formula and curative health care for children.

So, the World Breastfeeding Week, which has just ended, provided an opportunity to engage and sensitise all stakeholders on the importance of breast milk and draw the attention of the world to the need for nursing mothers to lay a healthy foundation for their babies’ growth through EBF for the first six months. However, breastfeeding is not a one-woman job. Mothers need support from their husbands, family members, community, health workers and governments to give children the healthiest possible start in life.

Therefore, husbands and family members should provide good nutrition from available local food stuff for nursing mothers because it is vital in ensuring sufficient and quality breast milk production needed to feed their babies. Furthermore, since Nigerian government recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months, the breastfeeding policies that are already in place in Nigeria should be strengthened such that the maternity leave should be a minimum of six months. Also, the legislature should enact laws to protect the breastfeeding rights of working women such that they would be able to exclusively breastfeed, and employers need to create the enabling environment by providing crèches. While government at all levels should also protect breastfeeding by enforcing its code on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, which ensures that all formula labels state the benefits of breastfeeding; and frown at the free distribution of breast milk substitutes to mothers and health workers.

The health promotion department in the Federal Ministry of Health, their state counterparts, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), and the multilateral and bilateral agencies, and related civil society organisations should adopt participatory approach in their communication planning and information sharing on the benefits of EBF in other to reach the relevant stakeholders within their socio-cultural networks. This will, in turn, lead to improvement in the uptake of EBF amongst nursing mothers in Nigeria.

 

Source: The Guardian

$8.8million Worth of Mosquito Nets For Distribution In Osun

The National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) in collaboration with Catholic Relief Service has earmarked $8.8 million dollars for the procurement of long lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN) to fight malaria disease in Osun state.

The Programme Manager, Catholic Relief Service in the state, Dr. Adetayo Olusola who made this known at a Workshop organised by NMEP in Osogbo, explained that, the said amount was meant for the procurement of the insecticide treated bednets alone’ stating that, other funds were also made available in other areas by the Federal Government and global fund to tackle the dreaded disease.

Dr. Olusola further disclosed that, the insecticidal nets would be distributed across the 30 local governments and 32 LCDAs of the state while 14,000 personnels that would distribute the nets are on ground to carry out the assignment.

The Programme manager who also hinted that 2.2 million nets are to be distributed in the state, affirmed that National Malaria Elimination Programme would do its best to see that people in the state live a malaria disease- free life.

He, however, charged people in the state to sleep inside the net to protect them from mosquito bites that spread the disease.

Eating Protein Three Times Daily Maintains Muscle Strength In Old Age

New research has suggested that regular intake of protein throughout the day could be the key to maintaining strength in the muscle in old age. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, an even  intake of protein throughout the day is good for both sexes in old age.

Yet, frequently eating protein is only linked to improved mobility in elderly men, the research adds.

Eating protein with every meal is thought to replace that which is constantly being broken down. This occurs at a faster rate in older people.

An egg or tablespoon of peanut butter with every meal should be sufficient to boost a person’s protein intake, according to experts.

Researchers from McGill University in Montreal analyzed 827 men and 914 women aged between 67 and 84 over three years.

The study’s participant’s muscle strength was assessed by measuring their hand grip, as well as their arm and leg strength. Their mobility was determined by their ability to stand up from a seated position and their walking speed. Protein intake was assessed by asking the participants what they ate over two 24-hour periods.

Results reveal that having an even protein intake is associated with greater muscle strength in both sexes. Eating protein throughout the day is only linked to improved mobility in men. Muscle strength declined more than mobility over the three-year study.

Study author Stephanie Chevalier said: “The important point is to create three meal occasions with sufficient protein to stimulate muscle building and greater strength, instead of just one.”

 

Gene-Editing Success Promises Prevention For Inherited Diseases

Scientists have, for the first time, corrected a disease-causing mutation in early stage human embryos with gene editing. The technique, which uses the CRISPR-Cas9 system, corrected the mutation for a heart condition at the earliest stage of embryonic development so that the defect would not be passed on to future generations.

The work, which is described in Nature on August 2, 2017, is a collaboration between the Salk Institute, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), United States (US), and Korea’s Institute for Basic Science and could pave the way for improved in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes as well as eventual cures for some of the thousands of diseases caused by mutations in single genes.

“Thanks to advances in stem cell technologies and gene editing, we are finally starting to address disease-causing mutations that impact potentially millions of people,” says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory and a corresponding author of the paper. “Gene editing is still in its infancy so even though this preliminary effort was found to be safe and effective, it is crucial that we continue to proceed with the utmost caution, paying the highest attention to ethical considerations.”

Though gene-editing tools have the power to potentially cure a number of diseases, scientists have proceeded cautiously, in part to avoid introducing unintended mutations into the germ line (cells that become eggs or sperm). Izpisua Belmonte is uniquely qualified to speak to the ethics of genome editing in part because, as a member of the committee on human gene editing of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, he helped author the 2016 roadmap “Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance.” The research in the current study is fully compliant with recommendations made in that document, and adheres closely to guidelines established by OHSU’s Institutional Review Board and additional ad-hoc committees set up for scientific and ethical review.

 

Attempt By Fake Doctor, ‘George Davidson’ To Blackmail, Malign NCDC Country Director, Prof Abdulsalam Exposed

Attempt by one Martins Ugwu Okpe, who has been impersonating as a medical doctor to blackmail the country coordinator of the National Centre for Disease Control has met a brick wall and landed him in police net.

According to investigations, Martins Okpe, a fake medical doctor has for the past nine years been impersonating with the certificate of one Dr. George Davidson which he used in securing employment with the Federal Ministry of Health.

Apart from the impersonation, the fake medical doctor is said to be in the habit of blackmailing top government appointees, especially those he suspects to have skeletons in their cupboard to curry favours for himself. Luck however ran out on him when he tried to blackmail the NCDC Country Director, Prof Abdulsalam Nasidi.

Professor Abdulsalam is a physician with more than 32 years of experience in clinical medicine, public health, virology and the development of vaccines and biological products. He retired as a Director, Special Duties, in the Federal Ministry of Health and was later appointed the Country Coordinator, National Centre for Disease Control as well as the Acting Executive Director of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Surveillance and Disease Control Centre (RCDC).
Martins Okpe, the fake doctor posing as George Davidson, had approached Professor Abdulsalam requesting to share with him part of the fund committed to the containment of Ebola virus in Nigeria. His claim is that a certain percentage of the N1,992,548,500.00 (one billion, nine hundred and ninety-two thousand, five hundred forty eight thousand, naira) approved by the Federal Government for the fight against Ebola was embezzled by the Professor and some others, and so requested to share in the money or make it public.

Convinced that no such money was embezzled from the Ebola fund, Professor Abdulsalam called the bluff of the fake doctor and dared him to go public with his allegation. But Okpe, rather than reporting the alleged embezzlement to the appropriate authority petitioned the police alleging threat to life.

In the petition written on his behalf by the chambers of Festus Keyamo, Martins Okpe (George Davidson) claimed that he is being threatened and in deep fear of elimination from the face of earth together with members of his family by Professor Abdulsalam, Mr. John Akintunde, Dr. Obasanya Joshua, whom he claimed embezzled certain percentage of the 1,992,548,500.00 released by the FG for the fight against Ebola.

However, the outcome of the investigation carried out by the police reveals the contrary as the investigative report reveals that the petitioner’s claim was a desperate attempt to frustrate investigation of his alleged qualification as a Medical Doctor.

According to Police investigation, Martins Okpe (George Davidson) was a purported medical doctor who was in the employment of the Federal Ministry of Health for over nine years before he was discovered to be an imposter.

In the report dated 11th January 2016, with reference number CR: 3000/K/LEG/FHQ/ABJ/vol6/190 addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, the police said Martins Ugwu Okpe has been impersonating as one Dr. George Davidson an acclaimed staff of the Federal Ministry of Health.

“That a careful scrutiny of the petitioner’s allegations could not reveal any fact to establish a case of threat to his life or any staff of the Federal Ministry of Health by Mr. John Akintunde Kahinde, Dr. Nasidi Abdusalam, Mr. Linus Awute and Dr. Obasanya Joshua but rather his claim of assault a desperate attempt to frustrate investigation of his alleged qualification as a Medical Doctor.”

The report further stated that; “the allegation of fraud levelled against the suspects couldn’t be substantiated and even the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) which equally investigated same allegation could not substantiate them.”

Furthermore, the Police hinted that rather the petitioner was; “able to fraudulently secure admission for a Professional Master’s Degree Progamme at the Nigeria Center for Disease Control tagged *Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training (NFELTP)which is a postgraduate program affiliated to the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, with the connivance of Dr. Akin Oye Makinde, the coordinator of the program.”

“That copies of the academic records of the petitioner retrieved from the Faculty of Medicine of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria contained a passport size photograph that bear no resemblance of him but that of one Dr. George Daniel Davidson on residency training at the Bingham University Teaching Hospital Jos, Plateau State.”

Exposing more on the fake Medical Doctor, the report further stated; “that Dr. George Daniel Davidson on residency training at the Bingham University Teaching Hospital Jos, Plateau State and the actual owner of the certificate being used by the petitioner revealed the true identity of the petitioner as Martins Ugwu Okpeh and not Dr. George Davidson as claimed.”

“The man with the true identity as Martins Ugwu Okpeh has confessed that he stole the certificate of Dr. George Daniel Davidson with which he used to secure employment with Federal Civil Service as a Medical Doctor and subsequently posted to Federal Ministry of Health Abuja in 2006.”

In the light of its findings, the police concluded that “Martins Ugwu Okpe’s allegation of threat to life and fraud against the suspects are false, misleading, malicious and a ploy to thwart investigation into his criminal activities by the Federal ministry of health. He has since been charged to court for stealing the Academic Credentials of r. George Davidson and impersonation in accordance with the law.

But while the police investigation as contained in its report has been able to establish the criminal activities of Martins Okpe, the fake doctor is unrelenting in his resolve to tarnish the image of Professor Abdulsalam. His new song is that he is been witch-hunted for blowing the whistle on the alleged embezzlement. Sources said he has vowed to bring down Professor Abdulsalam at all cost.

This medium learnt that some suspected assassins invaded the home of Professor Abdulsalam, located on Cairo Street in Wuse II, Abuja on the 25th July, 2017. The suspected assassins who came into the house at about 9pm same day however met the absence of the professor and left without taking any item from the house.

Although, there are no confirmation as to who may be responsible, sources said Martins Ugwu Okpe is the number one suspect as he is said to have been seen lurking around the home of the Professor days before the hoodlums came calling. A text message he also sent to the Professor on the 8th and 9th of July, 2017 asking the professor to sell his house to him is  suspicious evidence as to his involvement in the invasion of the assassins.

In one of the text message as contained in the document below, Martins Okpe (George Davidson), whose telephone number is quoted to be 09093639356 said to the Professor, “I want to buy your property in wuse 2. How much will you offer it to me? ASAP pls. Dr Davidson.”

Efforts to reach Mr Martins Okpe to get his own side of the story proved abortive as he is said to be in detention and facing criminal prosecution for stealing the Academic Credentials of Dr George Davidson and impersonation.

Okpe was accused of stealing certificates ‎of exemption of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level), all belonging to Daniel Davidson George.

Below are documents of the police report on the investigation carried out on Martins Okpe (George Davidson), the letter from the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), exonerating Professor Abdulsalam and the print out of the text messages Martins Okpe sent to the Professor.

Two Children Cancer-Free After 18 Months Gene-Editing Therapy

TALENS is a form of gene editing that causes specific immune cells, known as T cells, to express proteins that target tumours. The new cancer treatment helped two children with leukaemia be disease-free for up to 18 months, new research reveals. One of the infants has shown no signs of the condition for 16 months, while the other has been in remission for a year-and-a-half, a new study found.

The youngsters received an immune-boosting treatment alongside a gene-editing technique, known as TALENS, that altered their Deoxy ribonucleic Acid (DNA)/genetic material.

Such DNA changes makes it easier to create immune cells that attach to, and destroy, tumours.

Yet, some experts argue it is unclear to what extent their remission is due to the new treatment and how much is the result of their previous chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. Some argue the technique CRISPR is more accurate to target cancer-causing genes. CRISPR works by cutting out a target area of DNA and replacing it with something else.

Cancer-causing genes can therefore be replaced with those that kill tumours.

Researchers from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London investigated a new cancer treatment in two infants with an aggressive form of leukaemia.

The youngsters had previously been treated with chemotherapy and received stem cell transplants.

The researchers made four DNA alterations on immune cells from donors and infused the cells into the patients.

Results revealed that both youngsters have been cancer-free for 16 and 18 months, respectively.

The findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

 

Nigeria Applauded for Accurate Immunization Coverage Data

Global immunization experts have commended the Nigerian government for what they described as “courageous transparency” in a latest world annual report of data on routine immunization and polio eradication .

Dr. Orin Levine of the Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation and Dr. Mike Osterholm from the University of Minnesota, Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, gave the commendation.

Quoting from WHO/UNICEF joint annual report (WUENIC) featuring over 194 countries, the two professors, in a publication, for the first time described, as positive, better and accurate data received on immunization coverage at the sub-national levels for 125 out of 194 countries of the world.
Nigeria, was singled out for commendation, for reporting the most accurate estimates of her immunization coverage.
They called on other countries of the world to emulate Nigeria’s good example in transparency, accuracy and due process in her programme’s data reportage on routine immunization.

The experts also emphasized that it was the best strategy to improve the protection of their communities against vaccine preventable diseases. The publication also acknowledged tremendous progress the world had made at ensuring that no child was left un-reached by lifesaving vaccines.

Their report described childhood immunization as one of the best investments any country could make, stressing that every one dollar invested on immunization resulted in 44 dollars in terms of social and economic benefits.
A three-man high-power delegation of the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (Gavi) led by its Managing Director in Geneva, MS Hind Othman, last week in Abuja announced that Gavi would continue to support Nigeria’s routine immunization of vaccine preventable diseases. This, Gavi MD emphasized, was because of the Nigerian’s commitment to transparency, accountability and good governance.

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole had called on all Nigerians to support the implementation of the Primary Health Centre revitalization agenda and strengthening of routine immunization.
Reacting to the commendation on transparent and accurate data, the Executive Director and Chief Executive, National Primary Health care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib noted with delight that transparency, accountability and the strict adherence to due process, were all parts of positive outcomes arising from the change agenda of the Buhari administration.

Injectable AIDS Drug May Work ‘As Well’ As Pills: Study

A two-drug cocktail injected every month or two may be just as effective as a daily pill at keeping the AIDS virus under control, said a study Monday that promised relief for millions.

At present people have no option but to take lifelong, daily doses of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) which keeps the HIV virus under control, but does not kill it.

People who forget to take their medication run the risk of the virus rebounding to make them ill, or developing resistance to the drugs they were using — which would require a more expensive replacement.

In an ongoing study, nearly 300 HIV-positive people were given an initial course of daily pills to bring the virus under control.

Once this was achieved, some continued taking oral treatment as maintenance while the rest were shifted onto the prototype, injectable ARV, administered every four or eight weeks.

At 96 weeks, the virus was still subdued in 84 percent of the pill-taking group, 87 percent in the four-weekly injectable group, and 94 percent in the eight-weekly group.

The results were published in The Lancet medical journal to coincide with an HIV science conference in Paris of the International AIDS Society.

In 2016, there were some 36.7 million people living with HIV of whom 19.5 million had access to ART, according to UNAIS.

The UN recommends ART for all HIV-positive people.

“The introduction of single-tablet medication represented a leap forward in ART dosing, and long-active anti-retroviral injections may represent the next revolution in HIV therapy by providing an option that circumvents the burden of daily dosing,” said study oc-author David Margo lis of Vi Iv Healthcare, a pharmaceutical company involved in developing the injectable drug.

“Adherence to medication remains an important challenge in HIV treatment.”

Also involved in the study is Janssen Sciences, a company in the Johnson & Johnson group.

Last week, the UN warned that countries must halt the rise of AIDS drug resistance to prevent a swell in new infections and deaths and spiralling treatment costs.

Viruses can become resistant to drugs when people take incorrect doses of their prescribed medication. Resistant strains can also be contracted directly from other people.

Some in the trial group experienced mild or moderate pain at the injection site, two of whom two to stop getting the shots which contain a mix of cabotegravir and rilpivirine.

Other side-effects, including diarrhoea and headaches, were similar in all the groups.

“Trials are ongoing and are needed to confirm the results,” the researchers said a statement.

The experiments were conducted in the United States, Germany, Canada, Spain, France and Germany.

Credit: The Guardian

Scientist Who Discovered HIV Says Efforts for Cure Underway

Nobel Laureate, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, has said efforts are ongoing to develop a universal cure for HIV and cancer through collaboration.

Barre-Sinoussi, a co-discoverer of the HIV, said this in Paris while conducting some select journalists on a tour of the sophisticated laboratories at Institut Pasteur.

Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier co-discovered the HIV in 1983.

She also stated that the HIV Cure and Cancer Forum which opened on Saturday, was inaugurated at the Institut Curie in Paris, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“Efforts are now underway to determine if these cancer therapies can be used to build up the immune system of patients with HIV.
“This will be in such a way that HIV patients can achieve a durable and perhaps life-long treatment–free state of remission,” she said.
The former IAS President said many of the key immune pathways now being therapeutically manipulated to cure cancer were first discovered in studies of chronic viral infections, particularly HIV.

“We know that controlling HIV in the absence of therapy will require the generation and maintenance of powerful CD8+ or Killer-T cells that can target vulnerable parts of the virus.

“The challenge is remarkably similar to that in oncology where the goal of innovative therapies is to generate Killer T cells that recognise and clear cancer cells.

“Timothy Brown is the only person cured of HIV, and this was due to the work of a highly resourceful team of Oncologists.
“His case illustrates that we need to do more to incentivise scientists to work across diseases and to ensure that research funding allows these synergies,” she said.

The Emeritus Director of Research at Inserm expressed optimism that synergy would continue to strengthen the sciences and research.
IAS President, Linda-Gail Bekker, on her part, said that continued support for research was essential.

She said the gathering in Paris would be used to inform the global community that research cuts would reverse the progress made against HIV and put more lives at risk.

Among those who led the IAS team round the laboratories were Olivier Schwartz, Head of Virus and Immunity Unit and Asier Saez-Cirion, the Team Leader, HIV and Inflammation Unit.

Also on the IAS team were Jean-Francois Delfraissy, Jean-Francois Chambon and Francois Dabis.

 Source: This Day

TOUCHING: He died, I lost a leg yet his employers have refused to pay his entitlements —Late LAUTECH doctor’s widow

Yetunde Ajani-Raji is a 47-year-old amputee and the widow of late Dr Ajani Adeniyi Raji, a onetime head at the Department of Haematology, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital. After losing her husband in an accident in 2012, the teaching hospital is yet to pay his salary arrears and entitlements. She laments in this interview with VERA ONANA.

Can you tell us about the accident that changed your life? 

My husband, late Dr Ajani Raji, worked for LAUTECH teaching hospital and was the Head of Department, Haematology unit. He was on a study leave approved by the institution and had a course running in the University College Hospital, London. He travelled to Saudi Arabia in 2012 and on one of my visits to him; we had an accident on 31 May, 2012. My husband lost his life as a result of that accident. I survived but with severe injuries. I lost body parts to the accidents. My left leg was amputated, I had to get a metal implant for my right leg from the hip downward, dislocation of shoulders, my wrist and I have a pipe in my right eye till this moment.

All this happened in 2012 due to the same accident that claimed my late husband’s life. I was hospitalized for 23 months and didn’t have access to our three children because they were denied entry to the same country they visited right before the accident on the premise that their father was no more and I was hospitalized so there would be no one to take care of them.

How has life been?

It has been rough, lonely and really dry but all in all, I give thanks to God almighty because I still have life and I think that is something to be thankful for and I believe that there must be a purpose for this life.

What is your grievance against LAUTECH Teaching Hospital?

My husband before his death was working as a consultant in the teaching hospital and a lecturer in the university. When I got back to the country after his death, I wrote to the University as well as the teaching hospital to claim his entitlements. The university did not respond to me on time because they claimed they had their own financial issues but when they saw my condition, Professor Gbadegesin took up the matter and I was settled in 2014, late 2014.

However, the teaching hospital has not been forth coming. Up until this moment, I have been going to the LAUTECH teaching hospital Osogbo. I have written series of letters, lawyers have written series of letters to the teaching hospital but they are yet to respond. Recently, I called the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Professor Lasisi, who happens to be my late husband’s colleague to inquire if anything has been done about my requests so far. I actually dropped two letters with the CMD personally but he asked me to write another letter requesting that the money should be paid.

Meanwhile, to the best of my knowledge and I have evidence to prove it, the hospital is still owing my late husband salary arrears of almost one year. When I contacted the chief accountant two years ago, he was insisting that my late husband had been paid. I asked him to check their records but he said I should go to the bank and retrieve my late husband’s statement of account. I didn’t have it in the statement of account. After that encounter, he refused to say anything and he stopped picking my calls.

After that event, I received two anonymous calls telling me that I was troubling the system by asking for my late husband’s money because the person that worked for the money was no more. The callers asked me what I wanted to do with the money. The callers were undisclosed but I told them that I was not afraid and that nobody could threaten me. I told them that whoever was calling should reveal his identify or the call would be traced and that was the end of the anonymous calls.

When did you get those calls?

I actually got those calls in late 2014 to early 2015, after I had initiated the process to retrieve my late husband’s entitlements. I travelled to Osogbo twice after those calls. When I met Professor Lasisi in 2016, he explained to me that the institution was under crisis with the state government and most of the workers there were yet to be paid. I remained calm. However, when I called him recently, he told me to write another letter of request. I was shocked. I have been writing letters for years, so I asked him on what basis would I be writing another letter. He told me that he got a different story from some people at the teaching hospital. So, I asked him if I could have an insight into the stories he has been told, maybe I could base the letter he is asking me to write on that but he disagreed, insisting that he could not disclose the information and it was confidential. I agreed to write the letter again and it was at that point I contacted Mr Ibrahim Lawal, a legal practitioner and he has assured me that he will take it up from there. I don’t want to personally write the letter again because I have been doing so all these years and nothing has happened. I think it will be better for the legal practitioners to handle it from now.

How long has this been going on?

For about five years now. The university has done as it should and has settled me but the hospital is the one that has done nothing. I have not got a penny from them. I just want them to prove with hard evidence if they do not owe my late husband as they are claiming. I want to see the evidence that they have paid him.

Are you certain that your late husband has not been paid?

I am certain and I have proof. I have the letter he wrote and up until March of 2012, the year he died, he called the chief accountant I was right there beside him. He even indicated in the letter he wrote that they should pay his colleague by handing over the cheque if they cannot pay him directly and that one would put it in his account.

How have you been coping?

One word, tough. It has been tough. Do you know what it is like for a widow without any backup with three grown children in my condition? My eldest just graduated from the University of Ibadan, he just finished serving two months ago. I have another son in the University of Ilorin and my last is in senior secondary school. So you can imagine what it is like when you don’t have your health and you have to put food on the table, pay bills running on a daily basis and still pay medical bills. I still have to visit the hospital, go for therapy. I live with pain, my daily life is pain. There are pains that can be endured and some that cannot be endured and I live with both every day of my life.

What is your lawyer saying? Is he optimistic?

The legal team will take it up with the teaching hospital. I just initiated the process Barrister Ibrahim.

How would you like the government to help you?

Before the accident, I didn’t know much about amputees. It has been tough but my issue got me interacting with people that have been in this situation for years. They were shocked about how I could still move around, wear my makeup and still look good in this condition. Some of them had not stepped out of their homes for years because they are ashamed. However, I let them realize that they didn’t put themselves in that situation and they have to keep going. I have this appeal for not just the government but every Nigerian, please do not look down on amputees. If there is anything the government can do to make their lives, our lives easier, I appeal to the government to do it. Personally, I have so many needs…finance is top on the list and I want my children to keep moving. I don’t want any break in their education and that is why I am agitating for the payment of my late husband’s unpaid salaries and entitlements. I am not working in this condition. Though I worked in the banking industry for a decade and left during the consolidation era. In 2006, I got into the fabric business, selling laces and jewelry until the accident in 2012 after which I lost everything I had. If my son who just finished serving doesn’t get a job, I would like for him to go for his master’s degree but how do I pay the bills?

Source: Tribune Newspaper