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60m Nigerians are suffering from mental illnesses – Psychiatrist

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Prof. Taiwo Obindo, President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), says that more than 60 million Nigerians are suffering from mental illnesses.

Obindo, who is also the Chairman, Faculty of Psychiatry, West African College of Physicians, Nigeria Chapter, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.

“Mental healthcare is in a sorry state given that we have more than 60 million Nigerians suffering from various mental illnesses and the fact that only about 10 per cent of them were able to access appropriate care.

“We are left with more than 90 per cent who are unable to access care and this group is called the treatment gap for mental illnesses,” Obindo said.

He said the gap was as a result of various factors like the knowledge gap in which people do not have appropriate information about the causes and treatment for mental illnesses.

Obindo said some factors hindering the management of mental illness in Nigeria included myths and traditional beliefs; inadequate mental health facilities and number of mental health professionals.

According to him, the few available mental health facilities were located in the city centres.

“Knowing that 60 per cent of Nigerians live in the rural areas, they do not have access to appropriate care and have to travel long distances to access facilities,” Obindo said.

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He also said that the number of mental health practitioners was low as it fell below the ratio recommended by the World Health Organization.

According to him, the few that were trained were often eager to leave the country.

“The environment in which we practice, the security situation and the remuneration that people were given in the country tend to push them out.

“And then of course, the pull factor from the developed countries where they tend to poach on the already trained medical practitioners in the country, particularly the psychiatrists,” he said.

Obindo said that the cost of hiring practitioners in low medium income countries was low; so ”it was easier for developed countries to poach the already made products rather than training such professional locally.”

He said there was the need for Nigeria to implement its Mental Health Policy on the practice of psychiatry.

Obindo added that although the document was last reviewed in 2013, it was not being implemented.

He said one major component of the policy was the integration of mental health into primary healthcare, which was yet to be achieved after nine years.

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The psychiatrist added that the law operational in the country was the “lunacy act”, which was first enacted in 1916 and reviewed in 1958.

“The Mental Health Bill by the mental health stakeholders led by the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), in conjunction with the National Assembly and the Ministry of Health was yet to be assented to by the President.

“This is the most recent effort in 30 years,” he said. (NAN)

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Tinubu approves upgrade of Federal College Dental Technology Enugu to University

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Tinubu won’t resign, Fed Govt replies PDP governors
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

As part of his dedicated efforts to build robust human resources for the health and social welfare sector, President Bola Tinubu has approved the conversion of the Federal College of Dental Technology and Therapy, Enugu, to a full-fledged University of Allied Health Sciences.

This is contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale on Thursday in Abuja

He stated,”The Federal College of Dental Technology and Therapy in Enugu will now be known as the Federal University of Allied Health Sciences, Enugu, and will be domiciled under the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

“This presidential directive comes at a time when President Tinubu, who doubles as the African Union (AU) Champion for Human Resources for Health, is set to train 120,000 frontline health workers nationwide within 16 months; to double the number of primary health facilities in local communities across all local government areas of the federation from 8,800 presently to over 17,000 over the next three years, and is doubling the number of health personnel graduating from accredited nursing and midwifery institutions over the next three years in order to meet the aspirations of Nigerians for accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare services across the nation.”

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Japa: 26,715 health workers left Nigeria for UK

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Japa: 26,715 health workers left Nigeria for UK
•National President of MHWUN, Comrade Kabiru Ado Sani Minjibirq
The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) has said that available records from the British government showed that a total of 18,224 Nigerian health workers were granted visas by the United Kingdom in one year.

It said that the worrisome brain drain in the country ‘s health sector is becoming really scary.

According to the union, Nigeria presently topped the list of emigrant health workers in Africa as the number of Nigerians under the health and care skilled work visa has risen by 215 per cent (18,224), from 8,491 in 2022 to 26,715 as at end of 2023.

Quoting the figures from the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), the National President of MHWUN, Comrade Kabiru Ado Sani Minjibir, also said that about 75,000 nurses from Nigeria have left the shores of the country to practise their trade in the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Australia and others between 2017 and 2023.

Minjibir gave the mind-blowing statistics in a speech delivered at the 11th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of MHWUN in Abuja Friday.

He lamented that the current economic woes in the country is impacting negatively on the health sector, adding that workers in the health institutions in Nigeria are worst hit as the economy degenerates.

He blamed the exodus of health professionals from the country on the poor welfare conditions and dilapidated facilities, saying that many health workers who were unable to stand the heat choose to leave for foreign countries.

Giving further insights on the state of affairs in the country’s healthcare system, Minjibir said: “Today in Nigeria, the doctor to patients ratio has ballooned to about one doctor to 5,000 patients. Instead of one nurse to 144 patients, the figures have shut to one nurse to 1,660 patients.

“The result is that the few remaining health workers are overloaded with an overwhelming healthcare burden of a population of over 220 million people.”

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In the area of welfare, Minjibir said the remuneration structure and delivery in most of our public health Institutions constituted a disgrace.

He said that a comparative analysis of the salaries earned by doctors in Nigeria and five developed countries showed that from 2019 and since the adjustment of the minimum wage to date, an average doctor in Nigeria earns about $5,912.

“In contrast, an average medical doctor in Canada earns about $75,460. Doctors in the US earn about $79,400 annually while those in the UK earn an average $63,600. In Germany, a doctor earns about $143,500 in a year, while it is $83,927 in France and $70,386 in Italy. This humongous difference in salary applies to other cadres of health workers,” he said.

Minjibir said that it is not only doctors and nurses that are leaving the country but other health professionals in fields of radiography, laboratory science and technicians, morticians, community and environmental health workers.

He said that anotherr worrisome dimension is that most of the health workers that left the country were hardly replaced thus compounding the occupational stress of the few remaining workforce in the health sector.

However, the MHWUN president said that there are still many Nigerian health workers who are willing and committed to stay in the country and make sacrifices despite the poor remuneration but that they are being discouraged by unattractive work environment.

On the efforts made by the union to improve the situation in the health sector, Minjibir said that both MHWUN and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has held series of engagements with the Federal government which culminated in the signing of several agreements.

He said that some of the successfully negotiated agreements include the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), increased hazard allowance for health workers, consultancy status for different health sector professionals, COVID-19 allowance, wage award and the flagship (CONHESS) adjustment, among others.

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Apart from ensuring that the conditions of work, especially health infrastructure, is standard, Minjibir said that government should overhaul public health policies to ensure adequate healthcare financing, investment, research and innovation.

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Is menopause getting worse? How obesity, birth control and ‘forever chemicals’ in water are making hot flashes more intense

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Is menopause getting worse? How obesity, birth control and 'forever chemicals' in water are making hot flashes more intense
  • Women of more recent generations report more hot flashes than older ones

Women are experiencing more severe menopause than previous generations of women, research suggests.

Doctors and data researchers are now coming to the conclusion that a multitude of factors – obesity, medication use, chemicals in food and pollution – are making women genetically prone to worse symptoms.

For example, nearly four in 10 middle-aged women are obese, which leaves them with chronic inflammation that already causes a host of issues the menopause makes worse – trouble sleeping, aching muscles and hot flashes. 

And there is some evidence people today living in cities with high rates of air pollution have genetic mutations that make them vulnerable to inflammation.

Additionally, women today are also more likely to speak up about their symptoms, discuss them with other women, and seek treatment from doctors, which researchers add could be responsible for the inflated numbers and help explain why women today seem to experience worse transitions.

Hot flashes are the most commonly reported symptom of menopause, with 75 percent of women having these sudden, brief increases in body temperature

Women born in 1954 and 1966 were nearly twice as likely to experience daily hot flashes at age 50 than women born in 1918 and 1930, regardless of obesity, smoking status and stress

Women born in 1954 and 1966 were nearly twice as likely to experience daily hot flashes at age 50 than women born in 1918 and 1930, regardless of obesity, smoking status and stress

Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop making estrogen, the female sex hormone.

Women are considered menopausal when they haven’t had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, at which point their normal periods stop completely and they can no longer have babies.

Most women experience it between the ages of 45 and 55, but the average age in the US is 51.

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Night sweats and hot flashes are the most commonly reported symptoms, but a sweeping study across generations has shown women born earlier had fewer of them.

The data comes from Sweden, where researchers investigated groups of 50-year-old women born in 1918 and 1930 – the ‘earlier-born cohorts’ – and those born in 1954 and 1966, the ‘later-born cohorts.’ Those born in the later generation had more frequent hot flashes than those preceding them.

Even after taking into account smoking history, perceived high stress levels, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, hormone therapy, and hormonal contraceptives, recent birth cohorts still showed higher odds of experiencing daily hot flashes compared to earlier cohorts.

It could be a function of women being more open about menopause overall. The condition has traditionally been viewed as a time in a woman’s life when she is no longer vital or attractive.

The menopausal transition usually lasts about 7 years, during which time women can experience a long roster of symptoms that go beyond just hot flashes and night sweats

The menopausal transition usually lasts about 7 years, during which time women can experience a long roster of symptoms that go beyond just hot flashes and night sweats

But now, there is a growing number of women willing to share their menopause experiences to raise awareness and benefit others in the same transitional life stage. With that has come support groups and an increased willingness in the medical community to learn how to treat the symptoms.

Menopause is also increasingly becoming a viable market for pharmaceutical companies, too.

The global menopause treatment market is expected to reach a value of more than $22 billion in 2032, up from $13.3 billion in 2022, according to Future Market Insights’ most recent industry analysis.

Still, almost a quarter of women do not feel comfortable talking about menopause, which is discussed in hushed tones.

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But social acceptance of the topic has grown since the latter half of the 20th century with the women’s reproductive health and feminist movements.

The world has changed drastically since the older cohorts in the Swedish study were born. Before the 1980s, for instance, obesity was a rare condition.

In the US today, roughly four in 10 women have obesity, a marker for poorer all-around health and a higher risk of chronic diseases.

Obese women are more likely to report hot flashes than women with a normal BMI.

Body fat is like insulation. When there’s more of it, it’s harder for heat to escape, leading the body to get overheated more easily, causing hot flashes.

Just as obesity rates have changed over time, so have concentrations of people living in areas with unhealthy levels of pollution.

An estimated 119 million Americans live among air pollution that could harm their health, and humans live with the threat of microplastics and forever chemicals contaminating food and drinking water.

Dr Susan Reed, an obstetrician/gynecologist and professor at the University of Washington, told the Washington Post: ‘Our DNA is more complex than just what gets passed down through our eggs and sperm.

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‘There’s no question that the complexity of our environment today is modifying our DNA if we look at behavior through time and how organisms adapt.’

Pollution, particularly certain chemicals found in the air and water, such as PFAS, are known to disrupt the endocrine system, which governs the balance of hormones in the body, potentially affecting estrogen, progesterone, and other hormone levels – all of which factor into menopause.

Prolonged exposure to endocrine disruptors may contribute to irregular menstrual cycles, fertility issues, and alterations in menopause onset.

The intensity of menopause isn’t the only thing that’s changed over time.

A separate 2020 study of 312,600 women born in Norway between 1936 and 1964 found the age of menopause onset increased by more than two years between women in the earlier cohort (born between 1936 and 1939) and women in the later cohort (born between 1960 and 1964), rising from 50.3 years old to 52.7 years old.

Late menopause has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, but also with an increased life expectancy.

Daily Mail

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