Are Energy Drinks Bad For You?

Are Energy Drinks Bad For You?

By Tunde Oguntola
Years of research have identified a variety of serious health risks such as liver damage, increased blood pressure, tooth erosion and more associated with people who consume energy drinks,. TUNDE OGUNTOLA writes.

Reports have associated energy drinks with adverse health effects, most commonly related to the cardiovascular system. Caffeine content is probably the main culprit, but sugars also play a part, and so could other ingredients — or their combination. As with all things, energy drinks can do harm but their actually doing so depends on many factors, such as the amount being consumed and the health state of the consumer.

Between 2007 and 2019, population surveys reported that a good chunk of the young population drink energy drinks. So what makes energy drinks so popular among the young? The simple desire for an energy boost is a major factor, of course: energy drinks have become the coffee of a new generation, thanks to successful marketing campaigns and the resultant peer pressure. Other factors include availability, cost, and taste. Negative health effects seem a common experience but a small deterrent.

Energy drinks are usually marketed with the lure of more energy or a mental or physical boost, no thanks to those days when all you want to do is sleep even though somehow you have to find the energy to keep going. Maybe you have an interview at the end of the day or promised friends you’d make it to a late-night party.

Here are dangers of energy drinks:

Energy Drinks Can Kill

Globally, it was reported by Food and Drug Administration that 13 deaths were caused by 5-Hour Energy shots alone. At that time, an additional 30 life-threatening situations like heart attacks and convulsions were reported. Additional overdoses from energy drinks have been reported, particularly in children and teens.

Energy Drinks Contain Unhealthy Doses Of Caffeine

This may seem obvious. Of course an energy drink is packed with caffeine — it’s why it does its job so well. What’s worrisome is just how much caffeine energy drinks contain. While a typical serving of coffee has up to 150 milligrams of caffeine, some energy drinks contain up to 500 milligrams. Since caffeine is most absorbable in a solid form, energy drink companies add chemicals to the drink to make it more absorbable to the body and to ensure the customer gets that extra kick of energy. This accounts for the immediate pick-me-up effect of energy drinks and also explains the cases of insomnia, nervousness, and headaches that are reported.

Sugar Overload:

If you’re trying to lose weight or stay away from sweets, drinking an energy drink is the last thing you want to do. Some brands have up to 62 grams of sugar, which translates into roughly 15½ teaspoons of straight sugar. The crazy-high amounts of sugar make energy drinks chock-full of calories. Consider an energy drink as comparable in calorie content to a large bottle of soda.

You Can Become Addicted

Energy drinks seem harmless enough, but for some people, habitual caffeine consumption can lead to dependency. People who become addicted to energy drinks will experience classic withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches or fatigue. In addition to caffeine withdrawal, energy drink fanatics often experience caffeine intoxication, which includes feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and gastrointestinal disturbance while drinking the caffeine-heavy beverages.

They Can Cause Heart Problems

A study that looked at instances of cardiac problems after teens consumed energy drinks, found that energy drinks increase the risk of cardiac events, especially in teens with underlying heart conditions. This danger is increased further when mixed with exercise. The study determined that energy drinks should never be consumed before or after exercise or by people who have potential heart conditions.

They’re Dangerous When Combined With Medication

You probably already know mixing energy drinks and alcohol can be dangerous, but mixing energy drinks with medications should also be avoided. Some of the ingredients in common energy drinks can interact negatively with prescription medications, especially those taken for depression.

Credit: Leadership

If a Dog Bites You, Do These 7 Things Now

If a Dog Bites You, Do These 7 Things Now

Infection is the biggest danger

You’re playing with your dog, and somehow, between growls and tail wags, it can happen. Those canine teeth can bite or scratch. Or alternatively, you could be walking down a street and an unknown mutt can attack without warning.

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Either way, there are steps you need to take right away to treat the wound and reduce the risk of infection. You’ll need professional medical attention the same day.

A dog’s front teeth will grab and compress your tissue, and their smaller teeth can also tear your skin. The result is an open, jagged wound. If the wound becomes infected, it is often severe, says Emergency medicine physician Stephen Sayles III, MD.

“The No. 1 concern with these bites is infection,” he says. “You may need hospitalization and require intravenous antibiotics. You should always see a primary care provider if you’re bitten.”

No matter what, make sure you see a doctor within eight hours of a dog bite, he says. Waiting longer raises your infection risk. If you have diabetes or are immunocompromised, your infection risk is even greater.

7 steps to treating a dog bite
If a dog bites you, take these steps right away:

Press on the wound gently to cause some bleeding to help flush out as much bacteria as possible.
Wash the wound with mild soap and water.
Slow the bleeding with a clean cloth.
Apply over-the counter antibiotic cream if you have it.
Wrap the wound in a sterile bandage. Keep the wound bandaged and see your doctor.
Change the bandage several times a day once your doctor has examined the wound.
Watch for signs of infection, including redness, swelling, increased pain and fever.
What will your doctor do?
Your doctor will want to know more about the dog that bit you and how it happened. He or she will also likely clean the wound again, apply antibiotic ointment and prescribe antibiotics, such as Augmentin, if there’s an infection concern.

Your doctor may also give you a booster shot if your tetanus vaccine is out-of-date.

Depending on the wound, your doctor may also recommend stitches. Generally, though, dog wounds are left open to heal unless they are on the face or if they could leave particularly severe scars if left unsutured.

Bacteria from bites raises infection risk
Roughly 50 percent of dog bites introduce bacteria, including staphylococcus, streptococcus and pasteurella, as well as capnocytophaga.

Unvaccinated and feral dogs can also potentially carry — and transfer — rabies, so your doctor will want to know details about the dog that bit you.

Ultimately, Dr. Sayles says, caring for a dog bite is about keeping bacteria from causing an infection.

Stress, the silent killer

Stress, the silent killer

By Maje Ayida, Contributor

You are stressed. You cannot live in Lagos and not be stressed. It’s an extreme environment and I don’t think people realize that they can fight back, they can reverse the effects of stress on their lifestyles. You may not be clear what I mean when I talk about the effects. This explains why the life expectancy of the average Nigerian is so low.

Stress can have an enormous impact on your physical, emotional and mental health. It’s important to note that the body cannot distinguish between one stress and another.
Everybody suffers from stress in one way or another but how stress is perceived is a very subjective matter. For example, someone who works with bears would be less stressed when confronted with a wild bear than someone who sees a bear for the first time. Here are list of signs that indicate you are suffering from stress and ways to combat your daily stress levels:

If you suffer from heavy amounts of stress then it is not uncommon for your sex drive to go down. Stress is a response to a threat whether that is physical (being attacked), mental (worrying about financial security), emotional (relationship issues), Chemical (medical drugs), and Nutritional (toxic unnatural foods).

During stressful times the hormone cortisol is released which increases energy supplies by elevating sugar in the blood but at the same time suppresses non-essential things like reproduction. When under threat of getting an erection is the last thing the body is concerned about.

Take Action
Discover your largest source of stress and deal with it. Here’s a true story about a stress that overtook my life. Some time back I started developing anxiety and it grew worse to the point where I couldn’t function. I tried everything to combat the anxiety from changing my diet, to exercising more, and even meditation.

Nothing worked until I addressed the thing I had feared the most, the relationship I had with a girlfriend. The relationship ended, there were tears but it was transformational. The anxiety attacks slowly disappeared. Then, I was blind to the impact the relationship was having on my life but now I see how that relationship was my biggest stress. By taking action to deal with that stress everything else fell back into place. So identify your biggest stress and take action.

If you have difficulty sleeping at night then you may want to take another look at your stress levels. Stress is caused by the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate as well as elevating your energy levels. During the evening you need to slow down your heart rate and reduce energy levels ready for a good nights rest.

Take Action
Wind down in the evenings. Avoid stimulating foods and drinks after 4 pm that means caffeine, sugar and chocolate. Exercise in the mornings and not late at night. Take a nice warm bath before bed and try drinking chamomile tea. Avoid bright lights in the evenings and swap TV for a nice book. Lavender oil on your pillow or wrists can also help.

Aches and Pains
Some people just can’t seem to get back into full health. They always have an ache or a pain somewhere. If you find that you take a long time to heal following an injury or a workout session then you may be suffering from stress. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, is released when you are stressed. Cortisol is responsible for suppressing growth responses that would usually help you recover from an injury or workout.

Take Action
Ask your partner for a massage or better still visit a professional massage clinic. Receiving a massage will help de-stress and also reinvigorate soft tissue by bringing fresh blood to damaged areas. Spend 30 minutes every evening stretching all your tight areas, or invest in a foam roller and start rolling! Work on getting to bed early, asleep by 11 pm latest!

Mood Swings
Stress has a large effect on the brain. The constant release of the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenaline is not only hard on the body but on the mind too. Stressed out people often suffer from depression, have energy swings, and struggle with mental clarity including memory issues.

Take Action
Get your mind away from your troubles by trying some meditation. You don’t need to sit cross-legged to meditate. Try going for an evening walk. Also, try starting a new hobby, or making some new friends.

Basically, try to find a way to distract yourself from your daily stresses. Simply counting 20 slow deep belly breaths can be all the distraction you need from time to time. Give yourself a 5-minute break from whatever is bothering you and focus instead on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly.
Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Credit: The Guardian

How to stay hydrated all day long during Ramadan

How to stay hydrated all day long during Ramadan

Amid the blessed month of Ramadan, it’s critical to make sure to eat a reasonable eating regimen and keep hydrated during the day of fasting. Doing as such will help keep you active all day long.

Getting enough water following a multi-day of fasting is significant as water is important to keep your body working. There’s a danger of being dehydrated on the off chance that you don’t drink enough water before fasting, and that can cause dizziness, migraines, fatigue and more.

Here are some tips to help you avoid dehydration when you’re fasting.

1. Avoid drinks containing caffeine

Tea and coffee are our daily dose of motivation but these drinks contain caffeine. Caffeine has a diuretic impact that builds pee creation, in this way flushing out salt and water from the body.

An excessive amount of caffeine can result in expanded thirst, so to remain hydrated for the duration of the day, it’s ideal to stick to water. Make a point to have a glass of refined water alongside a sweet organic product like dates while breaking the fast

2. Breakfast with plenty of fruit and vegetables

It’s healthy to eat fruits and vegetables, they also help to keep you hydrated. Certain fruits and vegetables have high water content and make for a nutritious and refreshing way to replenish your body after a long day of fasting.

Some good fruits and vegetables to eat during this season of fasting are watermelons, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes and star fruits. They’re perfect to help you stay hydrated with their high water content.

3. Avoid spicy or salty food

When you eat Spicy or salty food it increases your body’s need for water, so keep this in mind and stick to small portions. Keep the salt-limited.

4. Avoid drinking a lot of water in one go

Drinking your water in one go will cause your body to flush it out soon after. It’s best to sip water throughout the non-fasting hours of the day.
It’s important to keep a bottle of water with you amid those hours so you can take a few sips at whatever point you’re feeling thirsty.

5. Avoid exposure to heat

Exposing yourself to heat is inevitable in this horrible climate, it is highly recommended to try avoiding the heat as much as possible.

Hot temperatures will cause sweating to lead to fluid loss. Try to limit your time outdoors and stick to the shade or cool environments or even if you do then keep your head covered.

Just sit at home and relax with your T.V


With zero sperm count you can still be a father

With zero sperm count you can still be a father

Dr. Abayomi Ajayi

Infertility has traditionally been thought of as a woman’s problem. But as it turns out, men are also affected. About one out of every three cases of infertility is due to the man alone, and men are involved in infertility about half the time.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for 12 months without success, the best thing you and your partner can do is to visit your doctor or fertility clinic.

The reason is that infertility is a couple’s problem. A man could be affected as much as a woman. Even if either you or your partner has a child from another relationship, both of you should get tests done.

Common causes of male infertility, described as the “male factor” vary widely. Most often, the problem lies in the process of either making or moving the sperm.

Not being able to father a child can make you feel you have failed at one of your most primal responsibilities. If you’ve been trying to have a baby and it’s just not happening, you might have a low sperm count. Don’t panic. It’s actually one of the most common causes of male infertility. For many men, advances in male infertility treatment offer real help.

The good news is that there are new treatments bringing about more pregnancies for infertile couples with male factor infertility.

The goal of male infertility treatment is to ensure that as a man, you can achieve pregnancy and father a child. Sometimes, the cause of the infertility is reversible and conception can result from natural sex or In-Vitro Fertilisation.

By now, every regular reader of this column should know that sperms are made in the testicles. I have discussed this in some past editions, so you may refer to them for details.

However, I’ll remind you that sperms are stored inside the epididymis, which lies on top of each testicle. These sperms are nourished by semen, made by glands inside the vas deferens. During ejaculation, normally about 150 million sperm are released mixed with semen through the penis. This whole process depends on there being proper levels of testosterone and other hormones as well as correct signalling from the nervous system. Low sperm count means that the fluid (semen) you ejaculate during an orgasm contains fewer sperm than normal.

A low sperm count is also called oligospermia. A complete absence of sperm is called azoospermia. Your sperm count is considered lower than normal if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen.

Having a low sperm count decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilise your partner’s egg, resulting in pregnancy. Nonetheless, many men, who have a low sperm count are still able to father a child.

Now, it is reasonable to ask, what could cause you to have a low sperm count or abnormal sperm?

We will briefly talk about some of the problems responsible for this kind of infertility. Retrograde ejaculation is a good example. In this condition, semen ejaculates backwards into the bladder instead of out the penis. Usually a previous surgery is the cause. When you have such an abnormality, you may not produce enough sperms in an ejaculate.

Also, the absence of the main sperm-supplying vessel (known as the vas deferens) is a genetic problem. An obstruction can occur anywhere between the testicles and the penis to cause blockage of sperm delivery.

Antibodies can abnormally attack a man’s own sperm on their way to the egg. Up to one in four of infertile men have what is described as idiopathic infertility. That means they have abnormal or low sperm counts for no identifiable reason.

Varicocele is quite commonly associated with low or abnormal sperm parameters. It is an abnormal collection of bulging veins above the testicle.

Undescended testicles is another problem. Other causes include infections in the testicles (orchitis), the prostate (prostatitis), or elsewhere in the body that causes a fever.

In some cases, these problems can be reversed but other times they can’t. An evaluation is the only way to sort it out.

Sometimes, making sperm isn’t really the problem, rather, the problem is getting the sperm where it needs to go. If you are a man with this type of male infertility, you may have normal sperm in your testicles. But the issue is that the sperm in your semen is very low in number, or not there at all.

Do not lose hope because there is treatment and millions of men with such problems have benefited from available treatment. The fact is that several men with zero sperm count have become proud fathers of their own biological children.

In many cases in the past, the old fertility treatment methods didn’t work, and it meant lifelong male infertility. Today, however, assisted reproductive techniques such as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection are available. In ICSI, a single sperm is injected through a tiny needle into an egg. The fertilised egg is then implanted in the uterus. ICSI can be performed when sperm counts are extremely low or abnormal.

Modern male infertility treatments are available to give sperm an artificial boost to get into an egg. With such scientific advancement, conception is possible even for men with very low or abnormal sperm.

Sperm and semen analyses can help assess your sperm count, their shape, movement, and other variables.

Generally, a higher number of normal-shaped sperm means higher fertility but exceptions are common. You could be diagnosed with low sperm count or abnormal semen and still remain fertile. In the same vein, about one in five of infertile men are known to have normal semen and plenty of normal sperm.

If you don’t produce any active sperm in the ejaculate, it is often possible to extract sperm from the testicles. But are there things you can do on your own to maximise your fertility. For one, don’t do things to hurt your chances of having viable sperm. Hard drugs, tobacco, and more than two alcoholic drinks a day harm sperm production.

Diagnosis of male infertility brings about profound disappointment. For some men, no male infertility treatments seem to help. Finding out that you’re infertile can be an unpleasant surprise, to say the least. You may feel emotional stress with a diagnosis of infertility.

One thing you should not do is to confuse libido and potency with fertility. Most problems with male reproduction do not affect the ability to produce male hormones, sexual function or maleness. But even if things look bleak, there is always hope if you keep trying.

To know for sure if you have no sperm in the ejaculate, you need at least two semen analyses and at least one should be done using advanced sperm technology.

In general, there are four explanations why there could be no sperm in the ejaculate. One is that the testes are making sperm but there is a blockage. Two, the brain is not stimulating the testes to make sperm, or three, the testes are not producing any sperm. Lastly, the testes may be producing a tiny amount of sperm but it is not coming out in the ejaculate.

If sperm is produced but there is evidence of a blockage, the chances of getting your partner pregnant remains very good. If it is a reversible blockage, this can sometimes be fixed with a minor procedure.

If there is not a reversible problem such as a missing vas deferens (tube that carries the sperm), success rates of retrieving sperm approach 100 per cent. Pregnancy rates in this situation are usually greater than 50 per cent with IVF depending on factors such as your age, your partner’s age and the health of your female partner.

If you have no sperm at all in the ejaculate and there does not appear to be a blockage or a brain issue, can you still get your partner pregnant? The answer is yes. Men with no sperm in their ejaculate, who likely have a problem with sperm production can achieve pregnancy. All this is possible thanks to modern assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF and ICSI.

Sperm may be retrieved with either a minor procedure or a more extensive procedure based on your particular situation. The success rates in retrieving sperm are usually about 50 per cent in this situation.

The fact is that blockage can occur at any level including within the testicle, in the tubes that drain the testicle, in the epididymis, in the vas deferens, near the ejaculatory ducts or in the urethra.

When you don’t have enough sperm, there’s less chance that they’ll reach and fertilise the egg, which can lead to fertility problems.

Even if you have a normal sperm count, they still have to be healthy enough to make the journey from your partner’s vagina to the cervix and uterus to the fallopian tubes. If they’re not, you’ll have a hard time getting her pregnant.

Credit: PUNCH.

Why malaria may never be eliminated from Nigeria

Malaria may never be eliminated in Nigeria as efforts suffer setbacks

By Chukwuma Muanya

The global drive to eliminate malaria by 2030 is gaining momentum. The optimism is derived from the fact that several diseases have successfully been eradicated and eliminated such as smallpox and yaw.
Experts on the occasion of the World Malaria Day (WMD), April 25, have come up with another slogan, “Zero malaria starts with me,” a grassroots campaign that aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilise additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.

Unfortunately, more reasons have emerged why malaria may never be eliminated from Nigeria and perhaps worldwide.

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2018 World Malaria Report, after more than a decade of steady advances in fighting malaria, progress has levelled off and no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2015 to 2017. The estimated number of malaria deaths in 2017, at 435,000, remained virtually unchanged over the previous year.


Funding gap, sectarian crisis, misuse smear marginal progress
In Nigeria, funding gap is threatening the marginal progress made in reducing malaria cases and deaths.

National coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), Dr. Audu Bala Mohammed, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian said there appears to be some increase in the reported number of cases since 2015.

The NMEP boss said the recent increase in cases, though not mortality, are attributable to significant shortfalls in funding requirement. He said about $1.12billion (N403.2 trillion) is needed, for the period 2018 – 2020, for the procurement of the malaria intervention commodities.

Mohammed, however, said the government and development partners could only meet about 50 per cent of this need and so in the last 18 months thereabout, malaria intervention has not been on any significant scale in 13 states of the country.

Mohammed said they already anticipate the implication of that in the next round of reporting and government has approached some banks – World Bank, Africa Development Gap, and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to raise some financial instruments to address the gaps in these states and hopefully, the activities will commence again in the third quarter (Q3) of the year.

Mohammed said there are also challenges of places that are difficult to reach either because of sectarian crisis or difficult terrain that makes access challenging. He said there are also issues with misuse, non-use or abuse of some of the intervention commodities. “We have instances of the nets being used for a variety of non-malaria related activities such as farming, there is the inadequate practice of testing before treatment and inadequate capture of data especially of activities from the private health sector,” Mohammed added.

Fake drugs top reasons malaria still kills so many
Some studies have blamed the slow progress in efforts to eliminate malaria to rise in fake anti-malarials.

According to a report published by The Conversation, research on the pharmaceutical industry has revealed that one reason for malaria’s continued virulence in the developing world is ineffective medicine. In fact, in some poor African countries, many malaria drugs are actually expired, substandard or fake.

According to recent WHO estimates, globally, some 200,000 preventable deaths occur each year due to anti-malarial drugs that do not work. Substandard and counterfeit medicines may be responsible for up to 116,000 malaria deaths annually in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

A 2014 article in the Malaria Journal showed fraudulent pharmaceuticals are on the rise and reports of counterfeit or falsified anti-malarials rose 90 percent between 2005 and 2010.

How true is this and what is the situation and efforts to curb the menace in Nigeria? The NMEP boss said evidence from surveys by researchers and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has not demonstrated that the country has such a large-scale challenge of fake drugs when it comes to the Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs).

Mohammed added: “We will continue on our pharmacovigilance. There is a general context of combating fake drugs in the country. But my point here is that we do not have a situation on our hands where we need to attribute any increase in malaria burden to fake drugs. We need to continue to be vigilant but we also need to do the right things when it comes to malaria. Let us get tested and be sure it is malaria we are treating instead of blaming non-response on fake malaria.”

Meanwhile, in 2012, a research team from the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that about one-third of anti-malarial medicines distributed in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa were of poor quality. A few years prior, fully 44 percent of anti-malarial supplies in Senegal had failed quality control tests.

For as long as effective medicines have existed, people have produced fake versions. That is because counterfeiting pharmaceutical drugs is profitable business for manufacturers. This illegal activity is most common in places with little government oversight and limited access to safe, affordable and high-quality medicines.

Various reports have found that many fake medicines originate in India, followed by China, Hong Kong and Turkey. Some illicit drug manufacturers appear to have connections with organised crime groups.

Poor sanitation and waste disposal fuel proliferation of mosquitoes
Refuse dumps and stagnant water bodies are common sites in most Nigerian cities and even villages.

Unfortunately, several researches have shown that poor sanitation and waste disposal fuels the proliferation of the malaria vector, mosquito.

According to the WHO, mosquitoes transmit the world’s most important parasitic infectious disease, which breed in fresh or occasionally brackish water.

A study published in the Nigerian Journal of Medicine concluded that regular cleaning of house surroundings was associated with reduced prevalence of malaria infection in rural areas in Nigeria.

Another study published in African Journal of Health Sciences found inhabitants of houses surrounded by bushes or garbage heaps and swamps or stagnant water showed higher malaria parasite prevalence and densities compared with those from cleaner surroundings.

“Our data indicates that poor environmental sanitation and housing conditions may be significant risk factors for malaria parasite burden…”

President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, urged Nigerians to clean their environment, especially by draining stagnant water to put malaria, a disease caused by anopheles mosquitoes, at bay.

Ohuabunwa said malaria thrives in dirty environment, thus cleaning the surroundings is non-negotiable to rid the country of the disease.

He said: “The PSN calls on the community to take action by cleaning your environment, get rid of stagnant water and pools; cover up gutters in residential areas and ensure your garden is not over grown. Interrupting at least three mosquito life cycles can potentially stop the transmission of malaria parasite by mosquito.”

The PSN President, however, said a concerted effort is required to achieve this and therefore called on Local Development Authorities to coordinate and implement an environmental policy to achieve this.

Growing drug and insecticides resistance
The largest ever-genetic study of mosquitoes revealed the movement of insecticide resistance between different regions of Africa and finds several rapidly evolving insecticide resistance genes.

According to the study published 2017 in the journal Nature, mosquitoes transmit malaria and rising resistance to insecticides is hampering efforts to control the disease.

Earlier genetic analysis of mosquito populations in Africa showed that recent successes in controlling malaria through treated bed-nets has led to widespread insecticide resistance in mosquitoes.

Also scientists at the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, had in June 2017 revealed that mosquitoes in 18 states in Nigeria have developed resistance to the Long Lasting Insecticide treated Nets (LLIN) insecticide nets, with Lagos, Ogun and Niger state having the highest incidence of cases.

Other states where the resistance were also detected include Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Benue, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau, Anambra, Enugu, Rivers, Ondo, Osun and Oyo state, with the outcome of the study identified as a major threat to the eradication of malaria in Nigeria by 2030.

Also, scientists had in 2017 alerted to the rapid spread of ‘super malaria’ in South East Asia, which they said posed a global threat to efforts to eliminate the mosquito-borne disease.

They feared that this dangerous form of the malaria parasite has become untreatable with the WHO recommended drug-of-choice, ACT.

The researchers from the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok in their study published in The Lancet Infectious warned that the menace is spreading. It emerged in Cambodia but has since spread through parts of Thailand, Laos and has arrived in southern Vietnam.

The fear is palpable in Nigeria and indeed Africa where resistance to the drugs would be catastrophic, since 92 per cent of all malaria cases happen in the continent.

What is the current situation in the country as regard resistance of the malaria parasite to the drug of choice and the growing resistance of the malaria vector, mosquito, to insecticide-treated bed nets?

Mohammed, however, said without equivocation that malaria remains sensitive to the nationally recommended ACTs. He said the drug efficacy studies continue to demonstrate sustained sensitivity of 95 per cent and above to the drugs.

The NMEP boss said the major challenge is the need to optimise testing before treatment and need to emphasize that not all fevers are due to malaria. He said they are aware of various anecdotal claims of resistance to the ACTs but each rigorously conducted study proves to the contrary in Nigeria.

Mohammed said they are also aware of the challenge of resistance in South East Asia and are collaborating with partners to monitor resistance in Nigeria. “So, for now, we do not have resistance to ACTs but we encourage testing to be sure that malaria is the cause of a given fever episode,” he said.

Mohammed, however, the NMEP have evidence of insecticide resistance in some parts of the country and are currently conducting entomological surveillance so as to update the map. He said, for the places where resistance to the insecticide has been reported, they are making efforts to deploy a different type of LLIN.

What is NMEP doing about growing insecticide? Mohammed said: “We remain focused on monitoring and responding appropriately to resistance issues as they emerge. For now, we are fine with the drugs. For the nets we are assessing where the resistance level warrants a change in the type of net to be deployed and we are acting accordingly with our partners.”

Nigeria carries more than 25% per cent of global burden
Despite efforts by the governments at all levels and the international community, malaria still kills no fewer than 81,640 Nigerians and infects 53.7 million yearly.

The country also loses N450 billion yearly in intervention and treatment costs due to malaria.

Mohammed said: Currently, it is estimated that about 53.7million cases of malaria occur in Nigeria. Nigeria has 25 per cent of global burden and 53 per cent of cases in West Africa annually and with about 81,640 deaths that is 19 per cent of global burden and 45 per cent of deaths in West Africa.”

How much does Nigeria lose to malaria yearly? Mohammed said: “It is difficult to estimate. Some scholars had estimated this to be N132 billion annually. But that was an old study and the commodities we use for malaria control has changed since that publication.

“In 2013 another study indicated that at the household level, direct expenditure is between N4000 to N7000 for malaria. With about 40 million households this figure will be translating to N160 – N280 billion directly lost to malaria. As indicated above the need by the country is close to N450 billion. If Nigeria was to be free of malaria, close to half a trillion could be saved in intervention costs.”

Mohammed, however, said from 2010 -2018 there has been a steady decline in malaria-related deaths from 145,000 to the current figure to current figures of greater than 81,640. Regarding cases, he said, there was a decline up to 2015 but since then there appears to some increase in the reported number of cases.

What are the economic implications of malaria to Nigeria? Mohammed said malaria affects the country economically in terms of cost of its prevention and treatment, demonstrable reduction in productivity of the farming population, significant loss of work days for victims of malaria and their relatives who have to look after them, and overall impairment on the development.

Lack of tested, effective, cheap and available vaccine
Despite Nigeria having the greatest burden of malaria in Africa and indeed the world, Malawi last week became the first of three African countries to launch of the world’s first malaria vaccine in a landmark pilot programme.

According to the WHO, Malawi is the first of three in Africa in which the vaccine, known as RTS,S, will be made available to children up to two years of age; Ghana and Kenya will introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks.

Malaria, according to the WHO, remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes.

Why was Nigeria not chosen? The WHO explained: “Following a request by WHO for expressions of interest, the pilot countries were selected from among ten African countries. Key criteria for selection included well-functioning malaria and immunization programmes, and areas with moderate to high malaria transmission.”

What informed the pilot studies? Proven results: Thirty years in the making, RTS,S is the first, and to date the only, vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children.

Can malaria truly be eliminated considering the complications and how?
Globally, the elimination net is widening, with more countries moving towards zero indigenous cases: in 2017, 46 countries reported fewer than 10 000 such cases, up from 44 countries in 2016 and 37 countries in 2010.

The number of countries with less than 100 indigenous cases – a strong indicator that elimination is within reach – increased from 15 countries in 2010 to 24 countries in 2016 and 26 countries in 2017.

WHO certified Paraguay as malaria free in 2018, while Algeria, Argentina and Uzbekistan have made formal requests to WHO for certification. In 2017, China and El Salvador reported zero indigenous cases.

One of the key Global Technical Strategies for malaria 2016-2030 (GTS) milestones for 2020 is elimination of malaria in at least 10 countries that were malaria endemic in 2015. At the current rate of progress, it is likely that this milestone will be reached.

In 2016, WHO identified 21 countries with the potential to eliminate malaria by the year 2020. WHO is working with the governments in these countries known as “E-2020 countries” to support their elimination acceleration goals.

Although 11 E-2020 countries remain on track to achieve their elimination goals, 10 have reported increases in indigenous malaria cases in 2017 compared with 2016.

The World Health Assembly adopted the GTS in May 2015. It provides a comprehensive framework to guide countries in their efforts to accelerate progress towards malaria elimination. The strategy sets the target of reducing global malaria incidence and mortality rates by at least 90 per cent by 2030.

However, the WHO said urgent action is needed to get the global response to malaria back on track – and ownership of the challenge lies in the hands of countries most affected by malaria.

Founder/Chairman, Safe Medicines Foundation and Immediate Past President of PSN, Ahmed I. Yakasai, that he sincerely believe that if Uzbekistan, Iraq, Argentina, Costa Rica, Oman, Turkey, Georgia, Syria and Sri Lanka can eliminate Malaria, then Nigeria can. But, the pharmacist said, for Nigeria to eliminate malaria it cannot be business as usual, that it will require committed and concerted efforts by all stakeholders.

Yakasai said government must increase funding to malaria elimination programmes and decisions on strategies to adopt including surveillance must be evidence-based.

“Timely detection and reporting of malaria incidence must be systemized, high risk area must be adequately spared. Education on hygiene, malaria prevention, and use of Long Lasting Insecticides Nets must be strengthened. This information must reach the people in rural communities not just urban centres. It must cascade to the grassroots,” he added.

Yakasai said Nigeria is currently the world capital of malaria but honestly that should not be the case. He said Nigeria could eliminate malaria in the next two decades if only we look inward not outward. “Harness all our human and capital resources and declare a war against malaria in the best interest of our citizens and nation,” Yakasai said.

Mohammed said: “Malaria can be eliminated from any geographical entity and ultimately eradicated globally. However, to achieve this, it requires the concerted effort of all. It is not only government-based actions. Individuals, organisations, politicians, private sector, researchers, media, teachers, religious leaders, etc. all have their roles. The approach consists of disease prevention, correct diagnosis, effective treatment, active surveillance, and effective use of data. There is a need for stronger political will and well-coordinated engagement of relevant sectors.”

He said the WMD celebration is not primarily to celebrate successes but Nigeria has made progress. “Malaria deaths continue to drop, we are getting back on track with net distribution, Most places have ACTs, there is some increase in domestic resources, malaria will benefit from the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and primary health care is being strengthened.

However the major goal of the WMD is to sensitise the world, the nation and all stakeholders about the unfinished business of malaria elimination.

Hence the theme for this year’s celebration is “Zero Malaria Starts With Me” and to this we are saying Join Me,” Mohammed said.

WHO’s Strategy for Malaria Control, which forms the basis of the Roll Back Malaria initiative, identifies four main interventions:

*Reducing mortality, particularly among children, by early case-detection and prompt treatment with effective anti-malarial drugs

*Promoting the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, especially by children and pregnant women

*Prevention of malaria in pregnancy by applying intermittent preventive therapy

*Ensuring early detection and control of malaria epidemics, especially in emergency situations.

Where appropriate, the WHO said, countries and communities are being encouraged to reduce mosquito-breeding sites by filling in and draining water bodies and through other environmental management schemes.

Ohuabunwa added: “We also call on other health professionals to ensure quick and effective response to save lives especially in at risk populations, children under five and pregnant women. To end malaria for good, while communities are taking actions to control the vector, we must do our part by providing effective treatment. A combination of disruption of breeding and elimination of parasite from the system has been proven to lead to zero malaria.

“Finally we call on the policy makers including the Federal Ministry of Health to strengthen National Malaria Surveillance by incorporating reports from pharmacists operating in community settings. Evidence currently shows that most patients visit their community pharmacist first when they suspect malaria. Therefore health data reports from community pharmacists will improve data quality and resulting intervention. Today we start a zero malaria community and it start with me.”

Credit : The Guardian

How to stay healthy during pregnancy — Expert

How to stay healthy during pregnancy — Expert

By Usman A. Bello, Benin

It is important for women to do some things and also avoid certain habits and practices in order to stay healthy during pregnancy as experts have said doing so also helps protect the health of the foetus up to birth and thereafter.

A Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Dr. Victor Ohenhen, said certain peculiarities of pregnancy, including lifestyle and socio-cultural factors, predisposed pregnant women to illnesses and diseases.

Dr. Ohenhen explained that human pregnancy began from the point of fertilisation of the female gamete (ovum) by the male spermatozoa to form a zygote.

“It is important to stress that pregnancy is not a disease, but a normal process in the female reproductive cycle,” he said.

A mother of four, Mrs. Ifueko Omonigho, said observing health dos and don’ts during her pregnancy made her have “stress and disease-free pregnancies”.

Mrs. Omonigho said it also contributed in ensuring her children were healthy even after birth.

Dr. Ohenhen, who is also the Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Central Hospital, Benin, Edo State, gave the following tips for staying healthy when pregnant:

Plan every pregnancy: Adequate planning improves outcome for both mother and baby. Also, because every pregnancy takes its toll on the health of the mother, it is important to avoid getting pregnant frequently. It is recommended that women give at least a two-year gap between pregnancies.

Seek care early: Seek ante-natal care early. It is advised that the pregnancy is booked at the second missed period to allow for early identification and treatment of possible problems.

Get plenty of sleep: Getting between seven to nine hours of sleep per day keeps the pregnant woman refreshed and mentally alert. Also, midday naps are an excellent choice during pregnancy.

Reduce stress: Stress wears the body out. It is, therefore, wise to limit activities when pregnant. Get help for certain things beyond your reach whenever possible.

Eat right: Eating the right meals in adequate proportions ensures that you and your baby stay healthy throughout the entire pregnancy period.

Get a support system: This is one aspect of staying healthy that is too frequently ignored. The pregnant woman needs assurance and guidance from her social network. It is not a time to live in isolation but a period to build support systems. This is important for her mental health.

What to eat and do when pregnant

Dr. Ohenhen also advised that women should eat or do the following:

Water: Simple things mean a whole lot during pregnancy. Pregnancy increases your need for water due to a drop in plasma volume that occurs. Water helps to prevent constipation, haemorrhoids and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). It is recommended that a pregnant woman takes at least eight cups of water daily.

Fruits and vegetables: The importance of fruits cannot be overemphasised. Fruits like avocado are an excellent source of Vitamins C, E and K. They are also rich in fibre. Spinach and orange are rich in folic acid, an important nutrient that helps to prevent neural tube defects during the early phase of pregnancy.

Legumes: Legumes are a superb store of protein, iron, folate and calcium. Examples of legumes are beans, soybeans and groundnuts.

Sweet potato: They are rich in beta carotene that is converted to Vitamin A which is important for a healthy diet.

Eggs: Eggs are the ideal health food because they contain a little bit of almost all nutrients. They are a great addition to your meals during pregnancy.

Lean meat: Moderate amounts of beef, pork and chicken are excellent sources of high quality protein.

Exercise: Reasonable degree of physical activity that suits your tolerability is helpful when pregnant.

The medical expert also advised that women should not eat or do the following when pregnant:

Alcohol: Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is a harmful habit that has well documented effects on the developing child. Examples of these are birth defects and slow growth of the baby referred to in medicine as Intrauterine Growth Restrictions (IUGR). Alcohol consumption, especially when heavy during pregnancy, causes Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

Herbs and plants: Pregnancy period is not a time to use herbal products or supplements as this may result in very serious conditions in the baby, especially congenital defects at birth.

Caffeine: Several studies have shown a link between high amounts of caffeine intake and miscarriage.

Junk food and refined sugar: These are not advised during pregnancy due to their effects on the child. It is important to limit the consumption also of carbonated drinks during pregnancy.

Cigarette: Cigarette smoking generates a number of free radicals which immensely affect the health of the baby.

Dr. Ohenhen added that pregnancy period was an exciting time and should be regarded as such.

“With proper health behaviour and adequate diet, a healthy baby and mother is the outcome of the nine-month ‘journey’”, he said.

Credit : Daily Trust

Seven Ways To Take Care Of Your Skin Without Spending A Dime

Seven Ways To Take Care Of Your Skin Without Spending A Dime

Skincare is of utmost importance to every individual in the world but taking care of our skin sometimes isn’t a priority due to conflicting demands on our time and finances. Since our skin is a reflection of how are on the inside; a mirror showcasing the stress and wear of the life we live daily it is of vital importance that we take out time to pamper our skin as frequently as possible. Below are a few ways to care for your skin without spending a kobo

Shorten Your Shower

Taking long showers everyday can actually strip your skin of its natural oils. Practice taking short showers and moisturize immediately after drying off.

Slay in Your Sunnies

Skincare expert Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip says “always wear your sunglasses. The skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin on our bodies and is very susceptible to damage from UV rays. Wearing sunglasses will help prevent fine lines and wrinkles as well as skin cancer.”

Ice Cubes

The Coded skincare trick making the rounds in beauty circle is the power of Ice Cubes. It involved rubbing ice cubes on your face create the illusion of firmer, glowy skin, after taking a lukewarm 10minds shower. It is advised though, that you put on a skin barrier first, like a cream, oil or even yogurt from the fridge before applying the ice cubes.

Put In What You Take Out

Water and exercise is great for your skin but be cognizant of the balance between your water intake and water loss. According to Dr. Helen Knaggs, Vice President of Global Research and Development at Nu Skin, having more or less of either one is what contributes to dry skin.

Accept Changes

Yes you will have breakouts or sudden skin rashes any more at one point or the other in life. The simply rule to help you out on the other end with your great skin is to accept it and leave it alone. Covering it with more makeup or going on a frantic beauty product spree may leave you worse off.

Zhao says, “for example, anything that occurs right before your period, such as cramps, breast tenderness, blemishes, bloating is considered pre-menstrual syndrome.”

Reduce Caffeine and Salt Intake

Limiting salt, caffeine, and cutting out sugar will help reduce skin and body’s water retention, which in turn will help tremendously in reducing bloating.

Less is more!

Your skin naturally knows what to do to rejuvenate, so sometime it best to leave your skin especially your face as God intended it. Simply wash your face with a mild moisturising soap and leave it be.

Asthma: Avoid dust, smoking

Asthma: Avoid dust, smoking

By Paul Adunwoke

As World Asthma Day comes up on Tuesday, experts have cautioned person who are susceptible to shun things that could trigger the ailment. Similarly, they should avoid smoking, wash curtains and beddings regularly, clean surfaces with damp cloths, avoid dusty areas, as well as regularly clean fans and change air-conditioner filters, among others.

Consultant Respiratory Physician at Lagos State College of Medicine (LASCOM), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr. Olayinka Olufunke Adeyeye said asthma is a chronic respiratory condition in which the sufferers’ airways are inflamed, the muscles of the airways contract and the airway linings are twitchy, swollen and the lumen becomes smaller with limitation to airflow.

She said: “The sufferers have chronic cough, particularly at night, episodic breathlessness, chest tightness and noisy breathing wheeze. This occurs on and off and may get better with or without treatment. Some patients may complain of cold that frequently becomes chesty.

“Asthma results from a complex interactions between genetics and environment. Some types of asthma are inherited, some run in families, whereby some members have what is called atopy. This includes itchy eyes, recurrent running nose and some skin diseases and atopic dermatitis.

“Interaction with the environment leads to development of such symptoms as air pollution, both indoor and outdoor. Some individuals are allergic to dust mite and cockroaches, among others. In the younger age, more males are affected compared to females, but after 14 years, more females will be at risk of having asthma. Obesity also increases the likelihood of developing asthma.”

Adeyeye explained that exposure to certain triggers, such as dust and exrcise can lead to development of symptoms in those that are already predisposed.

She said: “Although asthma cannot be cured, it can be totally controlled. The process required cooperation between the patient and healthcare managers. Treatment of an asthmatic is not only with medication. There must be good and continuous education about the disease, the long-term nature and the need for the sufferer to take charge. He or she needs to know about the triggers, dust, cold, change in weather, exercise and emotional issues, all of which can increase the symptoms.

“Patients should avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for pain relief and B blockers, among others. Drug treatment includes, reliever medications and preventer medications.

“The preventer medications are those the patients must use every day, whether or not they have any symptoms, while the reliever medications are used only when they have symptoms to ameliorate it. Unfortunately in our environment, many asthma sufferers are under-treated and so suffer immense discomfort, hospitalisation, absenteeism from work and school, with even the risk of death from a severe attack just because they are not taking preventer medications.”

Adeyeye said asthma is common and that sufferers can have good quality life, be productive and be symptom free. But to achieve this, they need to partner with their doctors to achieve total control.

“It is not a thing to be ashamed of,” she explained. “An asthmatic needs clean environment, and should understand his/her triggers and avoid them. He/she will need to have daily preventer medications and reliever medications to be used when necessary. Asthma need not limit anyone’s aspiration. There is need for more awareness about asthma.

“There is need for government to increase awareness about asthma, so that cases can be diagnosed early and treatment commence. Government needs to partner with pharmaceutical companies to make available low cost medicine for asthma sufferers.”

A Family Physician Dr. Chukwuma Ogunbor, said: “Although asthma most commonly develops in early childhood, a significant percentage of sufferers have their first attack during adulthood. This is known as adult-onset asthma (AOA).

“It is impossible to predict when asthma will strike, and the best course of action is to steer clear of so-called triggers. A trigger is anything that causes inflammation in the airways, leading to asthma symptom.”

He urged parents to protect their children against dust mites, which are tiny insects that feed off human skin and hair and are one of the most common asthma triggers. They tend to live in beds, carpeting, upholstered furniture and soft toys.

“Dust mites can be killed by steam-cleaning mattresses and furniture and washing clothes, toys and bedding at temperatures higher than 55ºC.

Children should avoid contact with pets. This is because at least 30 per cent of people with asthma are allergic to animals, especially those that have dogs.

“However, pets are not to blame, just that people should try to protect their children from playing with pets. The problem is the body’s reaction to a protein found in the animal’s dander, dead skin flakes, saliva, urine and feathers. If you have a pet, limit your child’s exposure to the animal.

“People should also limit their stress level because people who are under stress tend to have higher asthma rates. Researches have shown that up to 69 per cent of asthmatics regard stress as a trigger.

“Stress causes the so-called “fight or flight” response in our bodies, involving a surge of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This leads to among other things shallow and fast breathing, which puts us at a higher risk of asthma symptoms like tight chest and coughing.

“It is very important for asthma patients to get vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia. Staying current with vaccinations can prevent flu and pneumonia from triggering asthma flare-ups.”

Credit: The Guardian

Sleep could fight infections

Sleep could fight infections’

By Appolonia Adeyemi

Researchers in Germany said adequate sleep could contribute to many aspects of physical and mental well-being. According to their findings published in the ‘Journal of Experimental Medicine,’ sleep contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. The research team from the University of Tübingen in Germany found a mechanism linking sleep to the functioning of the immune system.

The study shows, according to them shows that sleep could enhance the target ability of immune cells inside human body to help fight off infection. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), stated that adequate sleep (AS), defined as seven to nine hours per night regularly for adults, was a critical factor in health and health-related behaviours.

The NSF is a United States (U.S). non-profit organisation that promotes public understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. While previous studies have shown that being sleep deprived was akin to over drinking when it comes to its effects on the brain, the recent research suggested that poor sleep increased pain sensitivity and might raise the likelihood of developing cardiovascular problems. According to the report of the current study, “This finding shows that sleep has the potential to enhance the efficiency of effector T cell responses.” Researchers said that compared with the wake condition, sleep significantly increased the mean fluorescence intensity of T cells, a type of white blood cell that fights off infection inside human body.

“Our results demonstrate that a couple of hours of sleep loss suffice to reduce the adhesion capacity of antigen-specific T cells,’’ the researchers stated. They asserted that the findings could help develop new therapeutic strategies with the aim of improving the target ability of T cells, especially when they are killing tumour cells.The ‘Medical News Today’ reported that T cells contributed to the body’s immune response when a potentially harmful foreign body enters the system.

A T cell, or T lymphocyte, is a type of lymphocyte (a subtype of white blood cell) that plays a central role in cell-medi ated immunity. These immune cells recognise pathogens then activate integrins, which are a type of protein that allows T cells to attach to and tackle their targets. The researchers noted that little was known about how T cells activate integrins, as well as what may prevent these cells from attaching to potentially compromised targets.