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Novo Nordisk to Offer Free Insulin to Diabetic Children in Nigeria, Ghana

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Novo Nordisk, a multinational pharmaceutical company, on Saturday announced the introduction of a programme to supply free insulin to children living with Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in Nigeria and Ghana from 2021.

Jude Abonu, Business Unit Head, English West Africa, Novo Nordisk, made the disclosure at a webinar organised by the company to mark the 2020 World Diabetes Day (WDD) with the theme “The Nurse and Diabetes’’ .

WDD was created in 1991 by IDF and the WHO in response to growing concerns about the increasing health threat posed by diabetes.

The day became an official United Nations Day in 2006 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225.

It is marked every year on Nov. 14, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.

The 2020 theme aims to raise awareness around the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes.

An online medical website, Healthline.com says, “Diabetes mellitus , sometimes called “sugar diabetes’, is a condition that occurs when the body can’t use glucose (a type of sugar) normally.

“Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas,” it says.

According to Abonu, the free supply of insulin to children project, tagged “Changing Diabetes in Children”, will start in 2021 in Ghana and Nigeria in fulfillment of the company’s goal to ensure full access to its insulin.

“Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a lifelong disease condition that requires holistic approach in its management.

“Insulin consumption in Nigeria is the least in the world and this implies that most Nigerians who are supposed to be getting it cannot getting it.

“All healthcare practitioners should work together to ensure that the outcome and prognosis get better for patients who are living with diabetes.

“In contributing our quota to diabetes care and management, Novo Nordisk is going to launch “Changing Diabetes in Children’’ in 2021.

“Through this programme, we are going to be giving free insulin for the next three years to children who are below 21-years, living with diabetes. It is going to be launched Quarter one of 2021.

“It has been approved. We are also working on how to give insulin at highly subsidised price to seniors. Those who are above 55 who are indigent, who do not have enough income or money to pay for their insulin,’’ he said.

Prof. Antonia Ogbera, a Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, said that many people, both children and adults, have died because they could not afford medications for DM.

Ogbera spoke on the topic: “The rising burden of diabetes: the facts, the figures and the drivers of the disease in Nigeria”.

According to Ogbera, 19 million adults are living with diabetes in Africa and by 2045, the figure may rise to 47 million.

She said: “Globally, 463 million people have diabetes and by 2045, it is estimated that 700 million people will have it.

“In 2015, about 5.0 million people died in Africa from diabetic mellitus.

“ South Africa and Nigeria are top countries in Africa with the highest cases of diabetes with 4.6 and 2.7 adults living with it respectively.

“About 63,958 persons are estimated to have died from diabetes-related disease in Nigeria and about 60 per cent of diabetes mellitus in Nigeria are undiagnosed.’’

Ogbera said that drivers of the epidemic in Nigeria include behavioural and lifestyle factors, urbanisation and health system related issues.

To reduce the spike, Ogbera said that diabetes screening and diagnosis at primary healthcare must be scaled up.

“Scale up health education using different channels such as radio, television, print and social media.

“Treat patients to target. Conduct national prevalence survey and ensure access to medication at primary care level,’’ Ogbera advised.

She said there was urgent need for governments to subsidise both screening and diabetes medications to reduce DM related deaths.

Also, Dr Ejiofor Ugwu, a Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist at the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUTH, advocated subsidy for diabetes medications as the drugs are too expensive.

Speaking on “`Diabetes Prevention and Control: Why Multidisciplinary Care and Multisectoral Response Are Needed in Nigeria”, Ugwu said that many hands were required for the treatment of diabetes.

“It requires multidisciplinary care because it can’t be handled by one person alone, but requires professionals from different range of disciplines to work together.

“The benefits of such collaborative effort will lead to good glucose-metabolic control.

“It will help patient get motivated and involved in self care,’’ he said

He acknowledged nurses as being integral members of the multidisciplinary care team and urged for improved welfare, funding and support for the profession.

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Kenya-UK Trade Pact Awaits Approval from EAC Council of Ministers

The virtual meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of the Ministers of Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) will also discuss other regional matters such as EAC policies on trade, non-tariff barriers, customs, budgets, standards and quality, industrialisation and the tripartite agenda.

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This week, the East African Council of Ministers will hold their last meeting of the year with Kenya hoping to get approval to separately sign a trade agreement with the United Kingdom ahead of the December 31 deadline.

The virtual meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of the Ministers of Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) will also discuss other regional matters such as EAC policies on trade, non-tariff barriers, customs, budgets, standards and quality, industrialisation and the tripartite agenda.

Kenya is pegging its hopes on Article 37 of the EAC Customs Union Protocol, which allows partner states to separately conclude or amend trade agreements with foreign countries provided the terms do not conflict with the provisions of the Protocol.

Under the Customs Union Protocol, the first pillar of regional integration, East African Community countries are required to negotiate matters related to trade with third parties as a bloc. However, a member may separately negotiate bilateral trade agreements, subject to notifying other members.

Earlier this month, Kenya and the British government reached a critical agreement on a new trade deal that grants Kenyan products duty-free quota-free access to the UK market after December 31.

Related: Kenya, UK, Secure Trade Deal

The deal, which includes clauses from the old Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) under the European Union, is expected to be formalised through signing of the agreed texts by the two countries.

The British government is adamant with its timeframe, but it is willing to apply the Principle of Variable Geometry under the EPAs to allow EAC member states that are ready to sign the agreement while others join later.

“With respect to other East African states, the UK is willing to proceed with those that are ready and allow others to join at a later date as per the current EPAs text,” said Kevit Desai, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the State Department of EAC Affairs.

Kenya is racing against time to individually negotiate and sign a new trade agreement with the UK to avoid paying duty on its products destined to the British market starting January, 1 2021.

The UK formally exited the European Union on January 31 with an 11-month transition period to re-negotiate new trade agreements with its trading partners outside the 27-member bloc.

Related: East African Countries Amass $73b in External Debt

All existing trade agreements with the UK under the EU terms, which are not rolled over, will expire on December 31.

East African member countries, which run a common Customs Union, are required to negotiate and sign this agreement as a bloc. However, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi appear not to be keen on the deal, thereby calling for the extension of timelines for the negotiations by one year, citing country specific issues including election cycles.

But, with or without a new trade agreement these four countries, which are classified as less developed countries, have a window to continue enjoying duty-free quota-free access to the UK market beyond the December 31 deadline under the “Everything but Arms” initiative introduced in 2001 under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

Kenya, on the other hand, is classified as a lower middle-income country.

The Kenya-UK agreement is expected to provide continuity for businesses, investors and supply chains besides setting foundations for further economic development.

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13 Percent of Libyans Need Mental Health Care – WHO

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The World Health Organisation in a new report says no fewer than one in 7 Libyans needs mental and psychological health care.

Citing the ongoing political and security crises in the country, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO stated that the coronavirus epidemic in Libya is the most serious in the North African region.

The WHO stated in its report of the epidemiological situation in Libya, that between the 12th and 26th of November 2020, Libya recorded a total of 161 deaths per 1 million people is “second only to Tunisia” in the North Africa region.

The report states that in the last two weeks, Libya has recorded a 13 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, during the reporting period, new deaths increased by 16 percent, bringing the number to 1,125.

The WHO pointed out that the impact of the ongoing political and security crisis in Libya and the coronavirus epidemic have affected the mental health and standard of living of Libyans, migrants and refugees.

Libya now has 82,809 confirmed coronavirus infections, of which 27,808 are still active, 53,818 have been treated and 1,183 patients have died since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in March.

The WHO also estimates that mental health problems more than doubled when populations are affected by conflict, adding that “it is likely that one in seven Libyans, nearly one million people, will require mental health care for conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder”.

A survey conducted by the UN agency in 2019 showed that mental health services were available in only five cities — Tripoli, Benghazi, Sebha, Ajdabiya and Misrata.

It lamented that “even before the beginning of the conflict, six hospitals, one health clinic and four primary health care facilities were providing mental health services”.

After decades of neglect, it may take years to create services capable of responding to emerging needs, the WHO said, pointing out that “there is only one mental health specialist per 300,000 inhabitants in Libya, while “neighbouring Tunisia has one mental health specialist per 100,000 inhabitants”.

The WHO announced that it will soon launch a two-year project to strengthen mental health services throughout Libya.

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Botswana to Repatriate Elephants to Angola

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Botswana, the country with the largest number of elephants in the world, says it is sending thousands of the mammals back to neighbouring Angola to reduce overpopulation and conflict with farmers.

The southern African country has an estimated 130,000 elephants. However, tens of thousands are actually refugees from Angola’s civil war between 1975 and 2002. They are now expected to repopulate and recolonise their former habitat, in southeast Angola.

Botswana’s National Assembly opposition lawmaker, Kgoborego Nkawana, explains that elephants have a big home range that includes Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Angola.

“They have always stayed in those areas, but they had to move out of Angola because of the war. Part of the ranges in Angola have to be demined for them to move. I know Angola has been working with the United Nations to try and demine some of these areas,” he said.

“What you have to understand is that elephants do remember their past experiences and they will always try to avoid where there is danger…” he added.

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