Category Archives: Health

#Cancer Control: The task before the next President of Nigeria

Laz Ude Eze

Dr Laz Ude Eze

Last year, I met Mgborie (not real name), a 27 year old lawyer battling breast cancer and soliciting for funding support. The cancer was already in a late stage (Stage 4) and she was scheduled for surgery and radiotherapy having completed chemotherapy. She was the first child with six siblings all of whom were in school and had lost both parents. The family looked forward to her graduation to enable her secure a job and support the training of her younger ones. Four years earlier, she found a lump in her breast and went to a hospital where it was surgically removed. The lump reappeared 2 years later and was found to be cancerous. She battled the disease with hope of survival and lost the battle last year. If she was not living in Nigeria, she would have probably won the battle and still be alive. “Why”, you may ask, please find out in the subsequent paragraphs of this article.

Cancer is a disease which abnormal cells of the body divide uncontrollably and destroys the body tissue or organ. It may affect virtually every part of the body except the hair and nails. It is treatable and curable especially when detected early. According to the latest estimates by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the global burden of cancer rose to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018. In Nigeria, more than 100,000 cases are diagnosed annually and over 90% of them die from the disease, thereby putting us in an ignominious position of being the country with the highest number of cancer deaths globally.

In fact, Nigeria is plagued by a triple whammy – a high burden of communicable diseases, a rising burden of non-communicable diseases and persistently high incidence of road traffic injuries. The health system is very weak and unable to meet most of the health needs of the citizens. The funding for the health sector has remained very poor and continuously decreasing especially in the past six years. Yet, the rising burden of diseases is an indication for a substantial and sustainable increase in public funding for health care.

Each year on 4 February, the global community commemorates the World Cancer Day to enable every one of us across the world to show support to people fighting cancer, raise our collective voice against the disease, take personal action and press our governments to do more on cancer control. This year’s is not an exception as government and civil society organisations have lined up activities to commemorate the day. Coincidentally, Nigerians will be going to the polls to elect a new set of leaders at the national and sub-national levels. It provides an opportunity for citizens to elect candidates with demonstrable commitment to prioritise health and improve access to qualitative screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in Nigeria.

The essential ingredients required for cancer control are cancer awareness and early detection with prompt and effective treatment. To improve knowledge and understanding of cancer prevention practices, consistent public awareness must be created using multiple mass media platforms and inter-personal communication models. To prevent cancer, healthy diets, regular exercise and HPV & HBV vaccination must be promoted and made available and accessible to everyone who needs it. To detect cancer early, there must be a screening program for common cancers like breast, cervical, prostate and colon cancer. For this to be successful there must be citizens’ awareness and education, available of a well-motivated skilled manpower and equipment and equitable distribution of both across the country. When cancer is detected, immediate commencement of qualitative treatment is required. For treatment to be qualitative, it must be done by a team of experts including oncologists, nutritionists, radiologists, clinical psychologists, etc; in a timely manner using well-maintained modern equipment and facilities. Do we have all these in Nigeria? Your guess is as good as mine.

Please permit me to quickly summarise the experience of most cancer patients in Nigeria. They usually present in late stages (more than 80%). The diagnostic tests are usually invasive and sometimes take months, delays caused by overcrowding of facilities, inability to pay for the tests or health workers strike. After confirmation of cancer diagnosis, the patient may go into the denial stage with utterances like “I reject it! It is not my portion!!” Many family members or friends would recommend a religious treatment centre for divine healing; others may recommend traditional medicine while a few may opt for orthodox medicine. While some who opted for miraculous or trado-medical healing may succeed, majority of them end up in hospitals in critical conditions.

More so, many of the people who went for the orthodox treatment option usually have gory tales arising from inability to pay out-of-pocket, long waiting time in health facilities, poor counseling services, rude behaviours of some care providers and frequent treatment interruptions caused by unavailability of some chemotherapy drugs, lack of or frequent breakdown of CT scan and radiotherapy machines, and health workers strike. The available treatment facilities are grossly inadequate. For example, the Pink Oak Cancer Trust paid for radiotherapy at the National Hospital Abuja for a cancer patient in November 2018 but she’s yet to be commenced on treatment due to a long queue of patients. There were only two functional radiotherapy centers in Nigeria in January 2019; more than 200 is needed for our population. Lobbying for treatment is at its peak. A patient told me she was going to the hospital every day by 7.00am and sometimes waited till 1.00am of the subsequent day in order to get treatment. “Horrific”, you may say but it’s only a tip of the iceberg.

Do you now realize why Mgborie died? Hers was a case of mismanagement. Had the doctor that removed her breast lump in 2014 done biopsy, the cancer might have been detected, treated and cured. When the lump recurred in 2016, the cancer had already spread to other parts of the body, prognosis poorer and a chance of survival was minimal.

How do we solve this problem? The approach to health care in Nigeria must shift from management of diseases to management of health. This is where the next set of political leaders has a big role to play. All levels of governance have a critical role to play in cancer control. The local government should be responsible for awareness creation and health education in communities. The state and federal government should work collaboratively to ensure availability and access to cancer screening services, well-motivated skilled manpower, chemotherapy drugs, equipment and maintenance of same and sustainable financing for cancer care.

According to Nigeria’s National Cancer Control Plan (2018-2022), an estimated sum of N97.3 billion is required to implement the plan. The next President must lead this effort by investing substantial public funds in cancer control and inspiring states and local government areas to do same. The office of the president is the most powerful office in the country and should be used to save the lives of the predominantly productive population that is being cut short by cancer. The next president should strengthen the six building blocks of the health system and create an enabling environment for a humongous private sector investment in health care including cancer control. Private sector investment can be encouraged through offer of tax incentives, loan facilities with low interest rates, health insurance coverage for cancer prevention and treatment services, and availability of uninterrupted power supply in such facilities. The governors should also replicate same in their respective states. Can the next President and Governors say this, “I am and I will” implement the above recommendations? In the efforts to beat cancer, everyone has a responsibility. I am and I will continue to play my part, what about you?


Dr Laz is a public health management expert, Producer of TalkHealth9ja and the Executive Director of the Pink Oak Cancer Trust – Nigeria’s 1st Cancer Treatment Fund. You may contact him through He tweets as @donlaz4u.

#WorldStrokeDay: Say Something! by Biodun Ogungbo


I am writing today to urge all our leaders to deliver a statement or a public address for the record, recognizing October 29th as World Stroke Day. World Stroke Day is celebrated yearly all over the world to heighten awareness about stroke and reduce its impact as a major killer in many communities. Nigeria is no exception. Taking a minute to educate Nigerians about the causes and symptoms of stroke will help raise awareness of this life-threatening disease and help reduce the number of strokes.

Dr Biodun Ogungbo

Dr Biodun Ogungbo

For your information

A stroke is a “brain attack” and can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle power are lost. It is a leading cause of long-term disability and death. Each year, more than 160, 000 Nigerians die from stroke though we do not know the actual number. This is more than Malaria and HIV combined anyway. However, stroke is not truly recognized as a killer and given the due dishonourable credit it deserves. Many of the deaths and disability is often ascribed to Malaria and witch craft.

For survivors and their families, the long-term costs, both financial and in terms of quality of life, are often overwhelming. Over two-thirds of survivors must live with chronic conditions, such as paralysis and reduced physical activity, speech problems, and the ability to understand speech. These conditions can impact an individual’s ability to return to work, return to school, and become a functioning member of society once again.

Please say it in your language

World Stroke Day is a time to raise awareness for the devastating impact, causes, and symptoms of stroke. As our leader, you must ensure Nigerians understand that stroke is treatable and preventable, as long as citizens arm themselves with the proper diagnostic tools and health information. Common stroke symptoms include: sudden weakness of the face, arm, or leg; sudden confusion; trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble walking or seeing; loss of balance; and sudden, severe headache. The ability to recognize these symptoms and seek medical attention immediately is critical to surviving a stroke and minimizing long-term disability.

Stroke affects people of all ages, but several underlying factors that put individuals at higher risk include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, obesity, tobacco use and physical inactivity. Understanding the risks involved with certain lifestyle choices and making healthier choices can often help reduce a person’s risk of stroke. Everyone must know the root causes of stroke such as high blood pressure and diabetes. High blood pressure or hypertension is the biggest underlying cause of stroke in Nigeria. Many people do not know they have high blood pressure because they have not checked. We need to change this. Others who have been diagnosed stop taking medications for various reasons. Some because their pastor said they were cured at the last retreat!

The government recently inaugurated a special group, the Nigeria Stroke Reference Group (NSRG). The NSRG is mandated to help deliver a strategic plan and direction for stroke care in Nigeria. It will liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) to deliver a stroke registry for Nigeria, educate healthcare practitioners and conduct serious advocacy for Nigerians to mitigate the effects of stroke.

There are a few pertinent things for Nigeria. We need to develop an emergency telephone number for Nigeria and a coordinated ambulance service as well. You see, to treat stroke effectively, the stroke victim should be able to call an emergency response number and be transported to a dedicated stroke centre within minutes, for clot bursting drugs to be administered. At the stroke centre, a brain scan is mandatory and must be performed immediately to see what type of stroke the person has suffered. Then, if suitable and within the recognised time window of about 3 to 4 hours, clot bursting drugs can be given to reopen the pipes that are blocked in the brain. In some situations, this leads to immediate recovery from the stroke.

The clot bursting drugs such as Alteplase, Streptokinase and Urokinase are not readily available. Where they are available, they are too expensive for the common man to buy. For the rich who have money to fly out of the country, Europe, America and India are too far to go for a drug that must be administered within 3 hours. In effect, developing a local solution to cater for everyone favours both the rich and the poor.

Many nations are concentrating on the advocacy and effective treatment in stroke centres. We know that treatment in a stroke centre reduces the disability and death significantly. Therefore establishing such centres in Nigeria is the way forward. So, stroke centres need to be developed to provide effective emergency management of stroke victims. Some centres exist in Benin and Abeokuta but they need serious financial support to deliver quality of care.

The government through the FMOH must find ways to effectively support stroke survivors and their families through the advancement of new treatments. By raising awareness, we can minimize the rates of disability and mortality resulting from stroke.

Therefore, please join us in recognizing October 29th as World Stroke Day in order to continue to educate Nigerians about stroke symptoms, prevention, and treatment. If you could, please pop into Transcorp Hilton on the day and be part of our success story this year. To sponsor or attend the events, please call Florence on 08189999902. Join us to fight stroke.


Dr Biodun Ogungbo, MBBS, FRCS, FRCSEd, MSc

Consultant Neurosurgeon

Director, Stroke Action, Nigeria

Member, Nigeria Stroke Reference Group

#HAPPYdonorNG: Why should I Donate Blood? See More Q & A on Blood Donation!


happy donorQ.Why Should I Donate Blood?
The need for blood affects us all. Eight out of ten people need blood or blood products at some time in our lives. One out of every ten patients in hospital requires blood transfusion. The number of blood donations that patients receive depends on their medical condition. Although an average of three donations is transfused to a patient, some patients require many more. Blood is in constant demand for the treatment of patients involved in accidents, patients with cancer, leukemia or with a bleeding disorder such as haemophilia among others. Many surgical operations would not be possible without the availability of blood. Blood may be needed during or following childbirth or for an exchange transfusion in newborn babies. The need for blood never stops. Blood donors save lives. Every blood donation gives the person who receives it a new chance at life.

Q. Are There Any Risks?
There are no risks when donating blood. A finger prick test is performed in order to ascertain if your haemoglobin level is within a safe range for donation purposes. In addition, your pulse rate and blood pressure will also be checked.
Potential donors will be permitted to donate only if these measurements are within the defined, acceptable range. If everything is in order you will proceed to donate your blood.
Your body replaces the blood volume (plasma) donated within 24 hours. Red blood cells are replaced by the bone marrow into the circulatory system within three to four weeks, while the lost iron is replaced over approximately six to eight weeks.

Q. Can one be infected through equipment?
No, Certainly not. You cannot get HIV or any other infectious disease by giving blood. The materials used for your blood donation, including the needle, blood bags, tubes and finger prick needle are new, sterile and disposable. These are used only once for your blood donation, dumped in a specialised waste container and incinerated.

Q. Can HIV be spread through blood donation?
Strict procedures are in place to ensure that donors act responsibly when pledging their support by donating blood. These measures ensure that they are not donating blood as a way of getting free HIV/AIDS test, but for the sole purpose of helping to save lives.
The commitment of our blood donors ensures the safety of blood supply. NBTS attempts to encourage donors to give blood for purely altruistic reasons. People who participate in unsafe lifestyle behaviour such as casual sex, male-to-male sex or taking intravenous drugs are advised not to donate blood.
Donors who deliberately donate to spread the HIV only incur more operational costs for NBTS. These costs are incurred in the form of collection of blood, storage, transportation and testing, ultimately, be discarded. It is also the donor’s responsibility to be honest when donating blood. However NBTS uses a Nucleid Acid Implification Technology (NAT) that detect the HIV 6 – 11 days from the day of infection.

Q. Why should I donate?
Donating a unit of this “precious gift of life” saves lives of those in dire need of blood. One must develop a habit of donating blood in order that National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) has sufficient blood stock to ensure that in cases of emergency quality blood is always available for needy patients.

Q. Is there anything special I need to do before donating?
Eat at your regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluid before you donate blood. Have a snack at least four hours before you donate, but do not eat too much right before the donation. Before you leave the blood donor clinic after your blood donation, have some tea, coffee or a soft drink to help replace the blood volume (approximately 480 ml) which has been reduced as a result of your donation. Avoid taking aspirin or aspirin-like anti-inflammatory medication in the 72 hours prior to your donation, because aspirin inhibits the function of blood platelets. If you have taken aspirin within this period, your blood platelet component cannot be transfused to a patient.

Q. What is the procedure when I donate blood?
Firstly, you will be asked to provide personal details such as your name, address, age, weight, ID number and / or date of birth. A medical history is taken by means of a written questionnaire.

These questions are designed to ascertain that it is medically safe for you to donate blood and that the recipient of your blood will not be harmed in any way. In addition, very personal questions relating to your social behaviour are asked to ascertain that you are not an individual at increased risk of potentially transmitting infection through transfusion. People are asked to exclude themselves from blood donation if any of the exclusion criteria apply to them.

A finger prick test is performed in order to ascertain if your haemoglobin level is within a safe range for donation purposes. In addition, your pulse rate and blood pressure will also be checked. Potential donors will be permitted to donate only if these measurements are within the defined, acceptable range. If everything is in order you will proceed to donate your blood.

Q. How long does the donation take?
The procedure, which is performed by a trained, skilled nurse, takes approximately 30 minutes. You will give about 480ml of blood, after which you will be advised to remain on the donor bed for a few minutes longer while having some refreshments. Plan to spend about half an hour to an hour at the blood clinic for the entire process, depending on the size of the clinic and the number of donors.

Q. Does the needle hurt the entire time?
No. There may be a little sting when the needle is inserted, but there should be no pain whatsoever during the rest of the donation.

Q. How long will it take my body to replenish the donated blood?
Your body replaces the blood volume (plasma) within 24 hours. Red blood cells are replaced by the bone marrow into the circulatory system within about three to four weeks, while the lost iron is replaced over approximately six to eight weeks.

Q. How will I feel after the donation?
Most people feel great! Donors who know what to expect and have eaten regular meals, or have had a snack and fluids before donating, are usually fine. Most people who donate blood have no after-effect. Drink extra fluids four hours following your donation. A small number of people feel light-headed and others occasionally faint after donating.

In the unlikely event that you feel faint, be sure to quickly lie completely flat. Lying flat, even if on the floor, with your legs elevated, will usually resolve any feelings of dizziness or light-headedness quite quickly and may prevent fainting. In the event that you do not feel well after a blood donation, please contact the staff at your nearest blood donor centre.

Q. Can I donate during my menstrual period?
Yes, if you are feeling well.

Q. How soon after donating can I participate in sport?
After donation, it’s best to have a snack and drink plenty of fluids over the next four hours. You can then resume routine sporting or training activity. It is advisable not to donate blood three to four weeks before participating in a major sporting event such as the Comrades Marathon, or a competitive rugby or soccer match, where you intend to push yourself to the limit of your ability.

In the unlikely event that you do feel faint, light-headed or unwell during any sporting activities, the standard good advice is to immediately stop the activity and rest. Many active sports people are active blood donors. Sportsmen who frequently push themselves to their limit during their sporting activities should consider donating only platelets. In this situation the red blood cells are returned to the donor after the donation and the individual’s oxygen-carrying capacity and performance aren’t compromised.

Q. How often can I donate blood?
You may donate either whole blood or a specific blood component such as blood platelets. Each type of donation requires a certain waiting period before you can give again. After a whole blood donation, a person must wait at least 56 days before donating again.

This makes six donations a year quite possible. Most people can comfortably give four donations per year. Women of childbearing age are advised to give no more than four donations per year. Platelet donors are able to donate as often as once a month (12 times per year), while dedicated whole blood donors can even fit in seven donations every second year.

Q. Is it possible to get AIDS from donating blood?
No, certainly not! You cannot get Aids or any other infectious disease by giving blood. This is a commonly asked question, especially among young people, who have heard of the link between HIV and blood. The materials used for your blood donation, including the needle, bag, tubes and finger prick needle are new, sterile and disposable. These are used only once for your blood donation and then destroyed after use.

Q. What is a “unit” of blood?
A unit is about 480ml of donated blood. The average adult has between four and five litres of blood in his or her body, and can easily spare one unit.

Q. Why Nigerians Should Donate Blood?
Nigerians are often reluctant to donate blood voluntarily. But there are good health implications of doing so Former Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, last week, lamented that only 1,130,000, units of blood are collected annually through the various types of donations as against 1,336,000 estimates of blood units needed by Nigerians to survive. That deficit, according to him, has resulted in numerous preventable deaths especially among women and children and people living with certain diseases. “In Nigeria, we are currently faced with a situation, whereby 60 per cent of all blood donations are from commercial donors, 30 per cent from family replacement and only 10 per cent are from voluntary donors”, he said.

Chukwu who made this disclosure on the occasion of the 2012 World Blood Donor Day, added that deaths associated with lack of blood can be avoided if only two per cent of Nigerian adult population committed themselves to regular voluntary non- remunerated blood donation. We join the health minister in the call for Nigerians to voluntarily donate blood.

According to medical practitioners, those who need blood transfusion include victims who have been involved in road accident and have lost blood, patients going for surgery and those with blood disorder, like sickle cell anaemia. There are also patients whose blood don’t clot (hereditary bleeding disease e. g. haemophilia) as well as children whose blood cells have been depleted by malaria. Cancer patients also use lots of blood as well as do those with burns. Women on ante-natal or about to deliver a baby use lots of blood while statistics have indeed revealed that women use at least 53 per cent of the blood that is collected, men only use 47 per cent. Also, with the increase in the wave of terrorism, bomb blasts, suicide bombing, etc., there is now a serious demand for blood to treat emergency cases.

Source: National Blood Transfusion Services Blood Donor FAQ

[#Nghlth15] 18 Promises! How President @MBuhari intends to Improve Health in #Nigeria

Muhammadu Buhari: President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Muhammadu Buhari: President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Earlier today, Muhammadu Buhari took oath of office to lead Nigeria for the second time. Below were the 18 promises President Buhari and his party – @APCNigeria made on how they intend to improve health in Nigeria during his tenure.

Prioritise the reduction of the infant mortality rate substantially; reduce maternal mortality rates to the levels acceptable by the World Health Organisation; reduce HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases drastically and improve life expectancy by an additional 10 years on average through our National Healthy Living program.

Increase the number of physicians from 19 per 1000 population to 50 per 1000 through deliberate medication education as epitomize by nations such as Ghana. I will increase national health expenditure per person per annum to about N50,000 (from the less than N10,000 currently).

Increase the quality of all federal government owned hospitals to world class standard by 2019.

Invest in cutting edge technology such as telemedicine in all major health centers in the country through partnership programmes with communities and the private sector.

Provide free ante-natal care for pregnant women; free health care for babies and children up to school going age and for the aged; and free treatment for those afflicted with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Boost the local manufacture of pharmaceuticals and make non adulterated drugs readily available.

Set an effective prosecution and punishment systems, for those importing or adulterating drugs in the country.

The enhancement of the Epidemiological Units / Centres for Disease Control to meet up with Global standards in containment of disease outbreaks, proper vaccine storage and research.

Create an Insurance Policy for our Journalists as the nation faces hard times and our Journalists faces more dangers in the discharge of their investigative work, to educate Nigerians in their rights and responsibilities.

Provide universal basic health care with N500 annual contribution per family in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Immediately increase the proportion of Federal spending on healthcare from 5.5% to 10%, with the aim of bringing it to 15% by 2020

Build a network of local and mobile clinics providing free health services and drugs, with the aim of ensuring that no Nigerian lives further than 5km from a free clinic.

Improve life expectancy through a grassroots National Healthy Living Programmes

Implement the National Health Act 2014, which guarantees financial sustainability to the health sector and minimum basic health care for all and ban medical tourism by government officials.

Launch special programme to improve availability of water and sanitation.

Review occupational health laws and immediately commence enforcement of the provisions to reduce hazards in the work place.

Unveil a health sector review policy to ensure the efficient and effective management of our health systems

Mobilize the health workforce needed for the all round implementation of our primary health programmes for rural communities.


Credit to @BudgITng

#Choice4Life Advocates Want Immediate Assent to #VAPPbill


#VAPPbill was assented to 24hrs after the release of this Press Statement.


A Press Statement by #Choice4Life Advocates – 24th May, 2015

After a thirteen-year sojourn at the National Assembly, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill was passed by the Senate on 5th May, 2015. It was earlier passed by the House of Representatives on 14th March, 2013. While the bill awaited legislative action, thousands of Nigerians fell victim to various forms of violence and many lost their lives. Now that the bill has been passed by both chambers of the national assembly, harmonized and transmitted to the president, we call on President Goodluck Jonathan to further pen his name in the history books by assenting to it immediately.

Sexual violence, a crime the VAPP bill seeks to address appears to be on the rise in recent times. Adolescents and youths, particularly young girls are the main victims of this form of violence. Unfortunately, 52% of victims do nothing about it (National Demographic Health Survey 2013) due to minimal support structure on ground. Domestic violence, female genital cutting, electoral violence, and many others have also caused tremendous damages in our national polity.

Troubled by the sufferings of these victims who hardly ever get justice or support, the #Choice4Life advocates, a group of young Nigerians from diverse ethno-religious and professional backgrounds joined the advocacy for the passage of VAPP bill into law. For the past 13 months that we led the #Choice4Life campaign via social media, television and radio, we observed a high acceptance of the bill by Nigerians.

We believe that it is a pleasant coincidence that the bill got passed at a time many girls and women who are victims of Boko Haram terror are being rescued from captivity in Sambisa Forest. They are victims of physical, emotional and sexual violence and will benefit greatly from the provisions of the bill when assented to.

The VAPP bill provides a robust legal framework needed for justice and rehabilitation of the rescued girls. It will also boost the confidence of the citizens in our country and will serve as a legal protection of citizens against all forms of violence regardless of sex, age, culture, tribe or religion.

We hereby salute the 7th National Assembly for passing this bill into law. We also commend well -meaning Nigerians, organizations and development partners who have championed the cause of this bill for the past 13 years.

By signing this historic bill, Mr President would have written his name in gold as one who gave life to a law that will protect millions of Nigerians particularly the women whom he cares so much about. #PGEJSignVAPPbill to save lives! God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!


Dr Laz Ude Eze

Team Lead, #Choice4Life Advocates

How #Choice4Life Advocates Responded to the Passage of #VAPPbill by the Senate

Choice4Life Advocates

A cross-section of #Choice4Life Advocates

The number “13” signifies 2 major times during the sojourn of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill which was passed by the Senate on Tuesday, 5th May, 2015. #VAPPbill spent a total of 13 years at the National Assembly having been read for the first time on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 28, 2002. Also, it got passed on the 13th month since a team of Nigerian youths known as #Choice4Life Advocates resolved to use social media to advocate for the passage of the bill. 32 persons started the group on April 3, 2014; the number increased to 42 in October and 54 in November 2014. The Team Lead of the group is Dr Laz Ude Eze (a public health physician) while Mr. Francis Anyaegbu (a youth development consultant) and BigMo of @WazobiaFMAbuja are Co-Leads.

This is how some of the advocates reacted to the news of the passage of #VAPPbill;


“Congratulations to everyone. This is a great news for us all. We should move to the next line of action immediately, which is to Lobby Mr President to Sign. ” – Olalekan Badmus @Weabless

“The #VAPPbill has been passed!!!! #Choice4Life we did it!!!” – Pharm. Mukhtar Ijaiya @Mukhtar_Dotun

“Congrats on the passage of the #VAPPbill! Great work! Well done. So what’s next? Presidential assent abi?” – @toluogunlesi

“Cooooorrrrrect!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ehen. Now the sense is made.” – Jeremiah Agenyi @JerryAgenyi

“#VAPPBill  Yaaay!” – Nze Sylva Ifedigbo @nzesylva

“Beautiful. Am so sure the president will sign it before leaving the office.” – Jennifer Amadi @AmadiJen

“VAPPBILL passed. Positive news. More ahead… #choice4life” – Franklin Uzor @franchl

“This is really great news. We should all be proud to have contributed, in every small way to this 🙂 And thank you to Ipas and partner organizations who have broken their backs for all these years pushing this. Posterity will remember you kindly! Now to Presidential assent & implementation” – Dr Chijioke Kaduru @dr_kaduru

“13th yr in NASS, 13th month of #Choice4Life Advocacy; & #VAPPbill got passed on my wife’s birthday!
I’m extremely excited!” – Dr Laz Ude Eze @donlaz4u

“This is great news. Well done all!” – @BukkyShonibare

#Choice4Life Advocates

#Choice4Life Advocates at Family Planning Conference 2014

“Yesssss!!! Together we made it. Unto the next one, staying positive of Mr President’s assent.Cheers team!” – Dr Hamid Adediran @doctalk01

“Best news today VAPP Bill Passed by the Senate” – Uche Chuta @nnabros

“Thanks to the Senate for passing the #VAPPBill, Dear PGEJ, Kindly sign it before you leave. Now the real work starts” – Blessing Timidi-Digha @SuperGirlTimidi
“This is wonderful news,kudos to the team!” – Chika Uneke @disisck
“Ths is awesome! I am glad our hashtag will change! Congrats to us all. This is great news I must say!” – @AyodejiOsowobi
“This is great! Well done, guys!” – Barr. Gabriel Okoro @Okoro212
“This is great news as this bill will cancel out the section in the penal code that violates womens rights!” – Dr Ugochi Nnaji @guchluv
“Congrats to everyone. I am glad to hear this, great news indeed. Next line of action, is for Mr. President to sign it. Once again, well done guys.” – Ayodele Taofiq-Fanida @AyodeleFanida
“Waoh! Awesome! ‎ This is great news. ‎Congrats everyone for this. I’m so elated!” – @FrancisAnyaegbu
“Wow!!!! This is great news. At long last, I guess the next step is to ensure the president sign it into law before the expiration of his tenure.” – Kamil Alebiosu @Al_Agowee
“#SenateThankYouForPassingTheVAPPBill e remain make Presido GEJ give am pass mark before May 29th.” – BigMoNaija

Follow the hashtag #Choice4Life for more reactions.

[Laz Ude Eze] #NigeriaDecides: Do @PDPNigeria & @APCNigeria Want to Kill Off the Health Sector


Within the past one year, government-owned hospitals in our dear country didn’t function optimally for a cumulative period of 5 months (July-Aug 2014; Nov 2014-Jan 2015). Many lives were lost to lack of access to health care services or mismanagement of cases by incompetent folks in some private hospitals (my uncle was victim). Some had to sell their valuables to be able to afford health care in private hospitals.

It’s election time. PDP hasn’t apologised to Nigerians and people adversely affected by the strikes (including me). They haven’t assured us with believable evidence that there won’t be a repeat between 2015 and 2019 if the party gets re-elected at the national level. Apart from setting up Yayale Ahmed Committee, the present/PDP administration has been unable to resolve the lingering health sector crisis over the past 5 years (for GEJ) and 16 years (for PDP).

In same vain, APC promised free health services for some categories of people, but hasn’t told us how they would solve the crisis in the health sector which has claimed many lives of innocent Nigerians. Or how would people be able to access good quality services with the current industrial disharmony between Drs and other health workers? Is the challenge not serious enough to be a key issue in this campaign? Could it be because APC-led Lagos State was unable to manage it well, when it purportedly sacked all Drs after weeks of strike in 2012? Or probably because APC Gov. Rauf Aregbesola is yet to pay salaries of health workers in Osun State since November 2014?

Why are Nigerians not asking pertinent questions in this regard? Why do GEJ and GMB supporters prefer to debate and fight daily over propaganda and conspiracy theories being propagated on regular intervals and focus less on the real issues that affect our lives? One of the greatest achievements of the present administration is the enactment of the National Health Act – the first policy framework that regulates practices in the health sector. Has any of the the leading parties (APC & PDP) shared with us their strategic implementation plan for this act if elected into the presidency or governorship positions? If no, would it be incorrect for one to believe that many politicians of both PDP and APC extractions, wittingly or unwittingly, are gradually killing the health sector?

Fellow Nigerians, some progress have been made in the health sector within the past two decades but we are still very far from where our health system deserve to be. Millions of people still die from highly preventable and curable health conditions like malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, child birth, etc. The work environment in hospitals has become too hostile and health workers no longer have job satisfaction.  Many are moving to non-clinical jobs while others leave the country to practice elsewhere. Let’s put more pressure on our government especially states and LGAs to lead efforts for sustainable investments in health, resolve the crisis in the sector and strengthen the health system. Those who think they may not be affected should know that not all medical emergencies will keep one alive till s/he gets to overseas for care. Or is it an offense if Nigeria becomes renowned for providing quality and accessible health services to the citizens and becomes a destination for medical tourism?

May God continue to bless our dear country, Nigeria.