Tag Archives: Laz Ude Eze

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

Standard
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 laz.eze@pinkoak.org. He tweets as @donlaz4u.

Advertisements

[Laz Ude Eze] Postponement of 2015 Election: 11 Questions on my Mind

Standard
Laz Ude Eze

Dr Laz Ude Eze

After weeks of debates, speculations and peaceful protests, the Nigeria’s national electoral body (INEC) has formally announced the postponement of the nationwide elections from Feb 14/28 to March 28/April 11. Let me share some questions on my mind;

1. Why did the NSA who hardly speaks on national issues choose to make call for election shift in London without previous official correspondence with INEC on the issue?

2. Was it a mere coincidence that groups and persons sympathetic to the PDP started voicing out in support of poll shift as suggested by the NSA?

3. Why would security agents chose to begin “final onslaught” against insurgents from the week an election scheduled one year ago is set to hold.

4. If our security agents believe they could rout BH in 6 weeks to allow for peaceful election, why did they wait this long and allowed BH to continue its carnage against the Nigerian people? Will they also #BringBackOurGirls within this period?

5. With many Nigerians yet to collect their PVCs and prospective INEC ad hoc staff yet to be trained on the use of Card Readers 1 week to the election, why was the INEC insisting on going ahead with the election as previously scheduled for Feb 14?

6. Why did INEC choose to make the official announcement of the postponement late at night?

7. Why are the APC and its supporters vehemently opposed to the postponement of elections?

8. Why did some people who hailed Jega – the INEC Boss in recent past for conducting credible polls turn round to lead calls for his resignation?

9. Given the poll shift, will the Senate to resume and complete their good work by passing the Violence Against Persons Prohibition #VAPP Bill in addition to the budget?

10. Will government institutions be able to function normally between now and March 28?

11. What happens to the new words and hashtags like -> FeBuhari, #FailBuhari, #GEJmyVal

Let peace reign in #Nigeria! #SenatePassVAPPbill!! #Choice4Life !!!

[LazUde Eze] 11 Questions for the Good People of Ohanivo

Standard

Concerned about the developmental status of his area and the people, Dr Laz Ude Eze, a public health physician and development consultant posed the following questions;

Dr Laz Ude Eze, MPH

Dr Laz Ude Eze

“Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo LGAs (Ebonyi State) have some of the brightest brains in this country. Ohanivo boasts of so many industrious sons and daughters.
1. But why should our land be regarded among the least developed in the Southeast and many graduates in Ohanivo stay without well paying jobs?
2. Should the youth of Ohanivo continue to lament in their closets or on social media with little or no action to improve on the present regrettable predicament of our people?
3. Should young people in Ohanivo continue to celebrate mediocrity and abysmal performance of some of the political office holders!
4. Should Ohanivo youth continue to wait on luck or miracle to achieve their God-given potentials?
5. Should Ohanivo youth continue to cast their hope on some selfish kleptomaniacs in power who only use them to achieve their selfish goals and dump them thereafter?
6. Should we as a people continue to tolerate lies and retrogressive politics during every election cycle?
7. For how long shall we continue to leave our public schools remain with extremely poor infrastructure and private secondary schools becoming haven for examination malpractices?
8. For how long shall poor health service delivery remain in Ohanivo while hundreds of our Children, parents and siblings die annually from preventable and curable health conditions?
9. For how long should many parts of Onicha, Oshiri, Akaeze, Ukawu, Isu, etc remain without being connected to the national grid of power supply?
10. For how long should Isu-Onicha-Okposi-Amasiri Road, Okposi-Ugwulangwu-Ukawu, etc remain in deplorable condition?
11. Should we fold our hands and watch the current unsatisfactory situation persist OR should we THINK and TAKE ACTION for the DEVELOPMENT and BUILDING A HEALTHIER FUTURE for the good and amiable people of Ohanivo?”

[Laz Ude Eze] NMA vs FG: 15 Consequences of Nigerian Doctors’ “Sack”

Standard

The purported sack of resident doctors and suspension of residency training means the following, at least for now (You may add to the list):

1. NMA Strike continues
2. No doctor works in teaching hospitals, therefore, no teaching for medical students.
3. Medical Students stay longer in medical schools; parents/guardians will spend more for their training and less money for other expenses.
4. No health care service delivery in govt-owned hospitals.
5. No delivery of specialist clinical services in more than 90% of tertiary hospitals in the country.
6. Doctors and other health workers continue to provide health care services in private hospitals to people who can afford them.
7. Overcrowding and reduced quality of health care in private health facilities.
8. No access to health care services for more than 70% of Nigerians who may not be able to afford them in private hospitals.
9. Suspension of ongoing clinical research in tertiary health facilities.
10. Bad business for pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies.
11. Good business for alternative, traditional or voodoo medicine practitioners.
12. Growing loss of confidence in the health system.
13. More quackery,
14. More complications/morbidity and deaths from treatable/curable health conditions.
15. Worse health indices for Nigeria.

Government and people of Nigeria, THINK!!!

[Laz Ude Eze]: 11 Questions for My Rep – Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie

Standard

Hon. Linus A. Okorie

Hon. Linus A. Okorie


Tuesday, June 5, 2014 made it exactly 3 years that Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie was sworn in as the 4th representative of Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo Federal Constituency since 1999. I sent a congratulatory email to my representative and also asked some pertinent questions as a friend and concerned constituent. Part of the mail read;

“As you are very much aware, you enjoyed overwhelming goodwill from our people particularly the youth. Your entry into the race and eventual victory gave me and many of my friends hope that your era would be the best in terms of quality of representation. You started quite well, communicating regularly with constituents, online and offline; sharing your vision and thoughts and getting inputs as well. That has since stopped. I and many other friends who campaigned vigorously for you using social media and our home networks are usually faced with questions from other peers whom we campaigned to. I’m also no longer familiar with the activities of my legislator, who also happens to be a senior friend.

Consequently, I feel like putting up the following 11 questions to you trusting that you will make out time from your busy schedule to provide written response within this week. Some of the questions came from my close associates, those who like me believed in you and worked hard to sell your candidature to the electorates 3 years ago. In the event that we meet anytime soon, it may provide opportunity for more interaction”.

The 11 Questions I asked include:

1. You made the following promises before your election (details here -> https://donlaz.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/i-want-to-be-known-as-a-pro-poor-legislator-hon-linus-abaa-okorie/), kindly state which one(s) you have fulfilled. Please give specific examples of what has been done in each case as may be required.
– To sponsor a bill to provide for federally- funded education programme for traders.
– To put the developmental problems of Old Ohaozara on the national front burner in order to attract adequate solutions
– To assiduously campaign against the high incidence of poverty in Old Ohaozara.
– To Work in concert with NGO’s, to introduce and support a policy of social mobilization, organization and enlightenment that empower groups and segments; especially women, economically and politically for greater social development.
– To nurture a virile youth population that is educated, skilled, enlightened and productively engaged for positive development.
– To seek out and partner with local and international agencies in the key areas of the MDGs for the benefit of the people.

2. After your election, you committed to doing the following;
– ICT Training for young people in the constituency and provision of funding support for skill utilization.
– Support rural women groups to form profitable microcredit societies.
– Provision of a web portal for constituents to upload CV (creation of database for the educated unemployed/under-employed youth)
Please state whether or not you have done them. Provide web links or references where applicable.

3. At different periods, you advertised some job positions and asked for CVs of interested constituents. How many of our constituents have you helped to secure jobs?

4. Did you provide scholarship, financial grant or official recommendations to students in our constituency? If yes, how many persons and at what level of education?

5. How many FG-funded development projects (different from usual constituency projects) have you attracted to our constituency? Please name the projects, locations and status of completion.

6. You carried out sensitization program on YouWin for our constituents in 2013, how many of the sensitized persons were provided with technical support during the application process? How many of them scaled through the first round already shortlisted.

7. You provided a Constituency House in Abuja within your 1st year in office. Is the apartment still available for the use of constituents? Till date, how many of our constituents have made use of the place?

8. There were pockets of violence, kidnappings/killings recorded in the constituency recently, specifically in Onicha and Okposi. What specific action(s) did your office take to help to restore peace and forestall future occurrence?

9. 18 months ago (November 2012), I and Humphrey Chidi Awo (two of your key supporters and campaigners in 2011) conducted a qualitative assessment of your performance, collated opinions and suggested way forward and shared with you. It is also published on my blog here -> https://donlaz.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/ohaozara-people-assess-rep-linus-okorie/ . Did you find it useful? Did it in any way influence your actions as a representative of our people?

10. In a recent opinion poll conducted online and monitored by me, 55% of our constituents who responded feel that your representation is “Not at all effective”, 35% thinks it is “Slightly effective” while only 5% think you are “Very Effective”. What do you think about these findings? What steps do you plan to take to improve this rating?

11. In a scale of 1-10, 1 being lowest and 10 being highest, how would you rate your performance in the past 3 years in each of the following areas;
– Sponsorship of bills (law-making)
– Effective representation of our constituency
– Executive oversight

I’ve waited for more than 5 weeks to get answers to the above questions but yet to get any. It is a well known fact my friends and I (like so many other constituents) have supported Hon. Okorie covertly and overtly before, during and after his election. He has also supported me to achieve some of my goals and remains a senior friend. So many other constituents made individual sacrifices to ensure his success at the election and everyone hoped for a superlative and effective representation. However, the quality of representation I have observed so far fall below my expectations. I anticipate Hon. Okorie’s response to the questions because Ndi Ohaozara have the Right to Know. His responses will also help us see how we may support him to do better in the remaining months of his tenure. I also look forward to seeing and sharing very positive and exciting activities of my rep yet again. May God continue to bless the good people of Ohaozara Nation!

#BringBackOurGirls Family Responds to Purported Police Ban on Protests

Standard
PRESS RELEASE
 
Re: Purported Ban on All Protests on the Chibok Girls in FCT by Police Commissioner 
 
We are members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, a citizens movement advocating for the speedy rescue of the over 200 girls abducted from Chibok Secondary School, Borno state. Ours has been a single-issue campaign for the safe return of the abducted girls. In the last 34 days we have done so through peaceful daily sit-outs, and some marches to key governmental actors urging them to act swiftly to rescue the girls from the terrorists.
 
Earlier today we received with shock the statement credited to the FCT Commissioner of Police Joseph Mbu that “…All Protests on the Chibok Girls is hereby banned with immediate effect…”
 
We wish to remind the Commissioner of Police Mbu that he cannot take any action that violates our Constitutionally guaranteed rights as citizens, particularly our rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, amongst others as enshrined in Chapter Four (Section 40) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
 
We are puzzled about the inconsistencies in the communication emanating from the Nigerian Police. We recall that on 12th May, 2014, the Nigeria Police Force on its website published a news item with the title: “Police Not Against Peaceful Assemblies” in which the Inspector-General of Police, M.D. Abubakar restated the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to the protection and enforcement of the fundamental rights of citizens.
 
Over the last 34 days, we have been widely acknowledged, including by the Police and the Federal Government delegation, which represented President Jonathan at one of our meetings for the peaceful, disciplined, and decorous manner we have always conducted the activities of our movement. In consonance with our approach, we shalltomorrow be in court with our lawyers, Femi Falana SAN to file a suit challenging this purported ban by C.P. Mbu.
 
In the interim, we shall not hold our sit-out tomorrow 3rdJune, because we shall be accompanying our lawyers to the Court where we hope to obtain an immediate restraint on this unconstitutional, undemocratic and repressive act. Our Movement is legitimate and lawful and cannot be arrested by the police whose responsibility is to enforce, not betray the law.
 
We, the members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, remain   resolute and will persist in using all lawful means to sustain our peaceful advocacy for the safe rescue of the Chibok Girls. We therefore encourage all those in Nigeria and other Nations that have similarly taken a stand for the cause of the girls to continue to do so with the clarion call: BRING BACK OUR GIRLS, NOW AND ALIVE!!!
 
Signed:
Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman
 For the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family
 
 
Editor’s Note: I’m a member of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family; I endorse the statement above and will continue to stand with the traumatized  Chibok Girls and families.

#BringBackOurGirls: In Readiness for the Return of Our Girls by #Choice4Life Advocates

Standard

Image

A PRESS STATEMENT ON THE MISSING CHIBOK SCHOOL GIRLS BY THE #CHOICE4LIFE ADVOCATES, MAY 5, 2014

Since Monday, April 14, 2014, more than 200 girls, mostly teenagers, were reportedly abducted by heavily armed men from their school in Chibok, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria. The news of this event sent ripples across the nation, and many are yet to recover from the shock of such a catastrophe. While some of the abducted girls have escaped and returned home, the exact whereabouts of the others remain unknown.

Reports regarding this event, are increasingly dominating the media, especially the new media with the launch of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Also, Nigerians, especially women and some parents of the abducted girls have taken to the streets in different states and countries around the world. They all show solidarity through protests pressurizing government to swiftly and continuously take necessary actions to ensure the girls are returned home alive.

Apparently, incessant kidnappings have recently being on the increase in Nigeria. Victims suffer untold traumatic physical, psychological and emotional consequences. In this particular case, it is imperative to note that these girls are at high risk of sexual violence. While we earnestly anticipate their quick return in order to stop the continuous abuse they may be going through, it is imperative that we consider our readiness, especially our legal and health systems, to ensure that the victims immediately commence the process of full recovery upon their return.

We recognize the challenges of handling insurgencies such as this, as we unreservedly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of our military, para-military and other security personnel towards ensuring that peace, order, and security of lives and properties is restored in Nigeria.

We commend all the efforts of well-meaning Nigerians who have toiled over the last couple of weeks, to raise awareness about the kidnapped girls, and who have worked to pressure the government to go the extra mile towards bringing our girls home.

We appreciate the support from non-Nigerians, global leaders and the international media to the campaign for government to rescue our girls and bring them back alive.

We commiserate with the families and relatives of all the kidnapped girls, assuring them that Nigerians stand as one with them through these trying times.

To this end, we, the #Choice4Life Advocates, a group of young Nigerians from diverse ethno-religious and social background across Nigeria, who use social media to advocate for non-violence and promulgation of relevant policies needed to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights of women; therefore demands that;

  1. The Federal Government and the Borno State Government, through relevant security agencies, intensify and strengthenImage all current efforts being made towards the quick release of the girls.
  2. Given the fact that our current laws on violence against persons, especially women, is insufficient in ensuring justice for the abducted girls upon their much-anticipated return, we request the National Assembly pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (#VAPPbill) without further delay so as to guarantee a robust legal framework needed to seek justice for the girls. The swift passage of the VAPP Bill will also, among others, boost the confidence of the citizens in the polity as well as serve as a legal protection of citizens against all forms of violence regardless of sex, age, culture, tribe or religion.
  3. A policy on the right of every Nigerian to education should be formulated and included in our National Constitution and/or relevant documents so as to protect and guarantee the right of citizens to education regardless of cultural and religious beliefs. This is expected to take preeminence over any local, cultural, and/or religious policies, which are against right of citizens to education.
  4. The education and empowerment of women should be given the adequate priority and urgent attention it requires.
  5. All necessary structures and actions should be put in place immediately to forestall a repeat of this and similar incident in any part of Nigeria.

We do look forward to the earnest return of all the girls unharmed. It is time to #BringbackOurGirls Alive! Thank you.

Signed:

  1. Dr Laz Ude Eze
  2. Mr Francis Anyaegbu
  3. Mrs. Bukky Shonibare
  4. Dr Chijioke Kaduru
  5. Mr. Alkasim Abdulkadir
  6. Pharm. Tolu Ogunlesi
  7. Dr Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
  8. Ms Busolami Tunwase
  9. Mr. Akachukwu Okafor
  10. Mr Kolo Kenneth Kadiri
  11. Ms Oluwabusayo Sotunde
  12. Mr Uche Briggs
  13. Barr. Gabriel Okoro
  14. Mr. Moses Nwokedi (Big Mo)
  15. Dr Ugochi Nnaji
  16. Mr. ‘Fisayo Soyombo
  17. Dr Isa Jiddah Mohammed
  18. Ms Joy Odiete (J’odie)
  19. Mr. Ayodele Fanida
  20. Mr. Stephen Oguntoyinbo
  21. Dr Chioma Enyi
  22. Engr. Stanley Azuakola
  23. Mr. Kamil Alebiosu
  24. Mr. Franklin C. Uzor
  25. Dr Patrick Ezie
  26. Mr. David Nnaji
  27. Mr. Jeremiah Agenyi
  28. Mr. Stanley Achonu
  29. Ms Tosin Ajibade
  30. Dr Hamid Adediran
  31. Mazi Moses Idika
  32. Mr. Uche Njoku

Image

#Choice4Life

#Choice4Life Advocates – a group of passionate young Nigerian leaders promoting Women Reproductive Health and Rights.