From festivals in Florida to touring Dracula’s digs in Romania, we round up the best destinations to visit this October. As summer abandons Europe again this October, eke out the last of the rays and raves in Ibiza, where nightclubs will be going out with a bang for the winter break. When the party finally stops head to the island’s north.


Dogara Wants Health Sector Overhauled

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has decried the high rate of foreign medical trips by Nigerians, calling for a total overhaul of the health sector to allow efficiency.

Speaking at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Health on two bills at the National Assembly in Abuja  , Dogara stated that the attendant brain drain in the health sector was becoming worrisome while calling for a quick intervention to guarantee efficient and effective delivery.

The two bills under consideration were a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Health Records Officers (Registration, etc) Act, CAP. H2 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Re-Enact the Health Information Practitioners Council of Nigeria for effective and efficient Health Information Management, to Regulate the Training, Practice and Management of Health Information System in Nigeria; and a Bill for an Act to Amend the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria Act, CAP 1.112, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, to Provide for the Role of the Chemist, the Regulation of Practicing Fees by Members of the Institute; and for Other Related Matters.

Dogara said, “The ultimate aim of these legislations is to ensure that we have a more efficient service delivery in the health sector. There is a compelling need for us to overhaul our health sector in view of the continuous public outcry against our defective health care delivery.

“The high number of Nigerians who go on foreign medical trips and the brain drain that we witness among our professionals in the sector, are indications that our health sector requires a serious surgical operation.”

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WHO Links Nigeria With Fresh Measles Outbreak

World Health Organisation has listed Nigeria as one of the nine African countries where measles outbreaks have resurfaced.

WHO in a statement signed   by Collins Boakye-Agyemang, its spokesman for Africa, listed other countries to include Chad, Cameroon, DR Congo, Liberia, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali and Uganda.

The world health body said the global measles crisis is an urgent wake-up call to the need for countries to ensure that all children – no matter where they live – receive life-saving vaccines.

It said African countries have experienced a resurgence of measles outbreaks in the last 12 months, adding that Madagascar, in particular, has had a large measles outbreak affecting more than 122,000 cases in the months between October 2018 and April 2019.

 Measles is a highly contagious disease that accounts for 13 per cent of all vaccine-preventable deaths in children younger than 5 years in Africa, infecting nine in ten people who are not vaccinated.

According to the WHO/UNICEF coverage estimates as of 2017, only 16 countries in the World Health Organization’s African Region had achieved 90 per cent or more immunisation coverage of the first dose of measles vaccine (MCV1).

Across the region, MCV1 coverage has stagnated, at 70-73 per cent since 2009.

At the launch of the ninth African Vaccination Week on Wednesday in São Tomé and Príncipe, immunisation partners stressed the importance of countries remaining vigilant in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases.

 The theme for this year’s African Vaccination Week is: ‘Protected Together: Vaccines Work!’, emphasising the power of vaccines in saving lives and keeping everyone healthy, from infants to elders.

The African Vaccination Week, from 22 to 28 April, also celebrates the vaccination heroes who help expand the coverage of immunization services across the African region – from parents and community leaders to health workers and innovators.

“We need to work together to improve immunization delivery so that all children are protected from preventable diseases. Recent disease outbreaks on the continent remind us of the urgency of this goal,” the statement quoted Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying.

“Outbreaks of measles in Madagascar and Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo underscore the need for increased investments in immunization as a fundamental part of strengthening primary health care systems,” she said.

WHO said vaccines are one of the most effective and cost-effective public health interventions available. Yet, one in five children in Africa still does not have access to all the necessary and basic vaccines a child should receive.

The body said every year, more than 30 million children younger than 5 years in Africa fall sick due to vaccine-preventable diseases. Of them, more than half a million die – representing 56 per cent of the global deaths related to vaccine-preventable diseases.

It pointed out that, in Africa, vaccine-preventable diseases also impose an economic burden of US$ 13 billion every year – funding that could be used to fuel economies and drive development.

In 2017, African Heads of State endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunisation at the African Union Summit, committing to reach all children with life-saving vaccines.

While political will for immunisation across the region is high, WHO said African Vaccination Week 2019 is a reminder for countries to renew their commitments and redouble efforts to achieve universal access to vaccines.

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Why Your Body Will Itch – Study

Chinese researchers have found a group of neurons related to scratching in mice, which may help develop new drugs for chronic itching.

Itching can be triggered by a lot of causes including allergies, irritating chemicals, parasites, pregnancy and cancer treatments.

Itching is important for the survival of animals. Animals can get rid of harmful substances on their skin as itching leads to scratching. In some cases, the skin lesion caused by scratching can evoke strong immune responses.

But patients with chronic itching may get skin damage for compulsive scratching. Effective treatments are still lacking due to limited knowledge about the neural mechanism behind itching.

Previous studies show that the periaqueductal gray (PAG), a deep located brain region, serves as the primary control center for pain modulation. Researchers from Institute of Neuroscience with Chinese Academy of Sciences suspected that the PAG could also be involved in the itching process.

In the study published on the latest issue of U.S. journal Neuron, the Chinese researchers recorded neuron activities in the PAG region among lab mice induced to itch and scratch.

When mice were induced to scratch, the PAG neurons produced a neurotransmitter called glutamate and a neuropeptide called Tac1.

The researchers found that the induced itching scratching behavior decreased significantly when the PAG neurons producing Tac1 were removed. By contrast, stimulation of the Tac1-producing neurons triggered spontaneous scratching even when the mice were not induced to itch.

Sun Yangang, lead author of the research, said that he and his team planned to investigate which molecules in the Tac1-producing PAG neurons could be targeted by drugs in future studies.

“These studies will help us design new approaches or develop new drugs for the treatment of patients with chronic itching,” Sun said.

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FG To Disburse N56bn Basic Healthcare Fund To States

Family Planning Health Providers on Family Planning Long Lasting Reversible Contraceptive Service” in Minna on Tuesday, the fund was being supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Jibril explained that the money would be sent to the benefiting health care agencies “directly” to improve their facilities, engage more staff and also provide some basic infrastructure.

The commissioner expressed optimism that the release of the money will bring a new lease of life to the health sector in the country, adding that: “People will be able to access health care facilities with less stress and less amount.”

He decried the present situation where most people in the state had no access to health care facilities, saying to redress the situation, the state government had sponsored an executive bill that would bring about “a Peoples Health Insurance scheme” even as he added that the bill had passed the second reading in the House of Assembly.

He disclosed that the embargo placed on the employment of medical health personnel for more than 15 years had been lifted resulting in the engagement of no fewer than 500 secondary health workers by the present government.

In addition, the commissioner disclosed that the government had commenced the implementation of the special salary packages for all health workers and therefore urged the beneficiaries to be more alive to their responsibilities.

The Country Director of MARIE STOPES, Mr Effiom Nyong Effiom, in an address, said apart from the 225 providers trained, another 130 nurses from the three senatorial zones of the state were given special training on modern family planning methods.

Represented by the Regional Manager, North-central zone, Mrs Mary Okoli, said another set of master trainers were trained and given equipment to perform their assignments.

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