Get Through Harmattan Well, Warm and Fresh

After 2018 ended with little more than a whiff of the cold dry wind many love to hate, the harmattan’s grand entry as the past year wound down came as a shock. The absence of traffic on Lagos roads due to the annual exodus of residents to their hometowns seemed to pave the way for the gusts carrying dry, cold air and dust from the Sahara. One morning you were battling the simmering heat, the next you woke up with your nose dry.

Here comes winds whose voices you hear conversing, faces white and dried up and air that goes up your nose and settles behind your forehead head with some hammering. All of which is reminiscent of the Night King in that last battle.

Hair

Your hair doesn’t have to be like that of Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands. There are a wide variety of oils and organic hair products you can use to keep your hair from being more frizzy than usual. Wrapping the hair in a silk scarf while you sleep is even more important right now so you don’t lose moisture while you go out, remember to keep it protected. Do you remember how in elementary science class, we were taught that our hair, scarves and even bedsheets will have sparks of electricity due to the friction generated by the air’s quality at this time. How magical it is to run fingers on beds and see the sparks flying about.

person pouring plastic tube bottle

Moisturize

Oiled Skin

As a danfo coasted down a busy Lagos road, the driver teasing someone standing by her stall, “See as harmattan come make your face dull.” It was a young girl and it appeared they knew each other as she smiled at him with recognition and mild bemusement. Then he went, “me wey i dey talk na my beard dey hide my real face. My face be like person wey dey suffer. This harmattan ehn.”

You don’t want to look like you were mistakenly locked in a walk-in cold room for some time, lips dry, white and chapped, white lines appearing whenever you scratch your body and colour draining from them. Body moisturizers would help you lock in moisture. Leaving your skin unprotected will make it dry and may lead to itching.

sliced-lemon-fruit-in-glass-picher-1320998

Drink Water

Imagine your kidneys pulsing with glee as they get what they need to keep your internal plumbing going smoothly. Kidney disease is a chronic condition that can be expensive, long term and stressful. If there’s a way to prevent it or reduce your chances and it is drinking water please do it. This weather would make you more thirsty than usual, please do not wait for this to happen before you drink water.

white mug

Home

Dress warm as the cold can be biting at least in the morning. You could use water heaters or just boil water for your bath. Don’t be a hero like Folabomi Amoo said. Be humble and care for your body. Dust the surfaces at home and work more frequently, keep your windows shut and get a humidifier if possible.

Fire Safety

Be more watchful of fire as the dry air makes fire a big risk at this time. Turn off cooking gas when not in use, unplug electrical appliances, check your car is functioning properly, keep flammable objects like matches, lit candles and phones (yes, phones) away from diesel cans, petrol kegs and our ubiquitous continually droning generators.

Medical conditions

Sickle cell patients need to drink more water, dress warm, drink warm fluids when it is cold and keep their clinic appointments. The weather may increase the frequency of crises. People with asthma need to protect themselves by wearing masks. The Yoruba say, ‘ma fi itiju karun’. Roughly translated as not to fall sick due to worrying about what people will say. Wear your mask or use a clean handkerchief. The exhaust on this city’s roads is bad enough, don’t let the dust be another trigger for you. If you are living with any other condition like kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes and are worried about how this weather may affect you, please do not wait till you feel worse, see your doctor.

Vulnerable groups

Children, pregnant women and the elderly are more vulnerable at this time and we must do our best to keep many people as warm as possible. Homeless people, mentally ill people who are not being cared for in a psychiatric facility but are left to roam the streets are also at risk. You can leave extra sweaters somewhere they can find. You could donate to the organizations procuring blankets and warm clothing for people in the northern part of Nigeria who feel the cold more. Remember the temperature drops to 11 degrees in some places and that these areas mostly do not have access to a regular power supply and central heating.

Lastly, men!

Before harmattan, some used to have white lines, ash-like feet. It’s 2020, please moisturize. It doesn’t make you less of who you are. Even better, it keeps you healthy, confident and keeps your loved ones happy to see you. Besides, you would be raising a new generation of boys who look up to you and realise that adequate self-care is important and a complement rather than a dent on masculinity. Keep your beard from being frizzy with the variety of oils available.

In all, this period may be tough for many reasons. That cold air especially can make one feel ill but everything has its end, we only have to do our best to survive. Two good things though- clothes get to dry quickly unlike in the rainy months. Secondly, agbalumo is out!

How do you cope with harmattan?

Social Media Ethics For Health Professionals – How working to solve a problem birthed a book

Social Media Guide For Health Workers

“In today’s world of putting out thoughts and opinions online in a flash, how does a health professional maintain a profile within the limits of ethics?

In recent times, there have been concerns about how some health workers post content on social media. This made it imperative for some of us at Health Hub Africa to come together and work out a way of salvaging the situation. The general theme on this forum is to avoid complaining about problems that pop up everyday or surround us. Rather, we work on providing a solution or even put forward proactive ones to other problems we think can be nipped in the bud by observing trends before they become a menace. These deliberations developed gradually until we had a book on our hands!

Dr Ayomide Owoyemi, Dr. Ronald Kelechi Ikpe, Foluke Olaniyi-George, Olusegun Abraham, Weyinmi Erikowa-Orighoye, Iyewande Dipeolu M.D. and I are happy to present this ebook to you.

It is an honour to finally be able to do so

You can now download (for free) the Social Media Guide for Health Workers ebook using these links

http://Bit.ly/smhguidefull
http://Bit.ly/smhguideabridged

It is our hope that it helps health professionals leverage on social media while staying within the limits of ethics. This will protect not only their patients but themselves and the general public.”

Dr Mariam Toye

A page from the book on good social media conducts

REVIEWS

“Knowing what not to do is equally as important as knowing what to do.” ~Steve Harvey

For medicine, it might be more important, if the first thing you must know is to do no harm. This guide contains well written instructions for putting your exquisitely manicured foot forward. It not only tells you what not do with very relatable examples, it explains in just 18 pages how to optimize your social media to the benefit of your career.”

Dr Ifeoma Ndigwe

How to avoid unethical conduct on social media

This instructional manual details how transformation in technology especially in our social engagements has fed directly into the practice of modern health care; shedding light on its mismanagement and how to make the best of this modern innovation.

Considering the misconduct of health services in social media spheres, this book aptly brings to one’s remembrance the oft-ignored moral codes that form the pillars of medicine as a discipline. The information therein is all-encompassing, easy to understand and addressed in relatable social media colloquialisms.

It also properly recognizes and delineates the nuances in the different social media platforms. By illustrating actual examples of some gaffes, it brings to life the reality of this trend. I must commend the effort put into bringing this to fruition. It is an important recommendation for all health care workers: the social media savvy and naive alike.


Dr Balogun D.I

Illustrations of improper conduct

Social Media Usage for Health Workers is an easy-to-read guide. I like the way Mariam Toye and her team make it so relatable, giving examples which are very relatable and ethical dos and donts which are easy to understand and follow.

Medicine is a delicate profession where you would want to be mindful of what you say to protect the Identity of your patient but at the same time use this New Age Avenue/Market, which is “The Social Media” to educate the public. So, if you don’t want to say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered to your face on a billboard like Erin Bury says; as a health professional, please use this guide!”

Dr Rebecca Solomon

What Exactly is Lupus? – 10 facts to mark World Lupus Day

Goodreads review

“Am I dead yet,”…Diagnosed during her high school years, the author decided to keep a personal diary of her confusion,

fear, and challenges of being diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus, also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a

disease that can affect many different body systems, including the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart, and lungs.

Facts about LUPUS

1.Full meaning Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE

2. It is an inflammatory autoimmune disease caused by genetic abnormalities.. This means that the body’s defence attacks

its own cells, tissues and organs.

3. Women are affected in 90% of cases.

4. Symptoms include feeling of unwellness, fatigue, fever, rash, joint pain, loss of appetite and weight loss.

5. Its rash is unique in the way it spreads, flatly across the bridge of the nose and cheeks in a butterfly pattern.

Hence the symbol on campaign posters.

6. SLE causes damage to the kidneys, heart, nervous system and other organs.

7. People affected experience intervals of wellness and this is part of why the ongoing damage to vital organs

becomes life-threatening.

8. Doctors make a diagnosis of lupus with the presence of 11 criteria

9. Treatment involves medication to reduce inflammation, steroids and in severe cases, chemotherapy.

This is carried out by a specialist who is called a rheumatologist.

10. People living with SLE can reduce the severity of symptoms and progression of the disease by avoiding

direct contact with sunlight, using their medication as prescribed and seeing their doctor for close monitoring.

.

If you learnt something new from this post, kindly share.

Dr Mariam Toye

Founder and Editor at OumissaInspire

Collaboration, The Key to Healthcare Reform in Nigeria

Image Source- Nigeria Health Watch

The healthcare sector in Nigeria is in need of urgent development. Only when this change is led by the most influential players can the results be tangible. Titans of the industry and stakeholders from other sectors of the economy came together in Lagos recently to deliberate on solutions based on the public-private partnership model. The policy dialogue tagged ‘Disrupting Healthcare: PPPs As A Model For Health System Strengthening In Nigeria’ was organized by Nigeria Health Watch and PharmAccess group, two bodies improving access to healthcare in Nigeria using advocacy and technical assistance respectively.
Through partnerships, international organizations have rehabilitated health centres that had hitherto been operating below par. Most of this effort is targeted at the primary care level which is the first contact for eighty per cent of the population.

Nevertheless, health transformation is a struggle that must be undertaken across different levels. Much emphasis was placed on the new idea that for it to be sustainable, healthcare must be run as a business and not a social service.

Simple yet effective solutions like clean water and sanitation will yield the remarkable results in a country where forty-six million citizens stool in public. Currently, there is the binary option of care with the rich accessing the best available care and the rest of the country scrambling for what is left. The level of care in some primary healthcare centres is tragic. Quality is, therefore, a key element of viable healthcare PPPs.
There were two panel discussions with members from government and private institutions. The first emphasized the need for a stronger influence by doctors and other health stakeholders to push for reform at the federal level. The masses are more likely to protest against fuel price hikes but this energy is not reserved for another vital aspect of life- the dismal healthcare obtainable in many parts of the country.

It was also noted that the nation is in dire need of more health economists, health finance experts to formulate policy in the various health ministries. The current situation where every decision is made by only doctors whose training sadly often doesn’t include these fields will not help us achieve our goals.

Panel Session 1

Panel Session 1Session 1: Mr Voke Oshevire, Executive Director, Dr Ola Orekunrin-Brown, CEO, Flying Doctors Nigeria. Dr Jide Idris, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State. Mr Anthony Abou Nader, CEO, Tanit Medical Engineering. Dr Olaokun Soyinka, Director, Independent Verification Agent for Saving One Million Lives Nigeria. JNC International Ltd. Mr Abiodun Amokomowo CEO, Ibile Holdings Limited. Mr Felix Ezeh, Investment Executive, GroFin.
According to a recent TechCabal report on health tech sector, there are over eighty health tech companies in Nigeria providing solutions to a myriad of problems. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs often lack access to financing and incentives to scale their companies. Creating an option for medical or premise licenses to be used as collateral was put forward.

Contrary to popular belief, finance is not limited to cash but includes personnel, material, endowments, real estate. It is imperative we are open to options and not be myopic. Patience is required of all involved for the process often isn’t an overnight one. Available resources must be maximized as wastage poses a huge threat to the proper utilization of allocated funds.

The true measure of a community’s health is the quality of its maternal care. –Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor

Government initiatives put in place through the Basic Health care Fund include those that simplify the payment process for people in need of care. The banking sector is contributing to healthcare by improving access to funds, educating providers on the cost benefits of establishing optimal services and facilitating partnerships. They also help health facilities bring their accounting systems to standard, provide flexible payment models and ensure controls are put in place to tackle the lack of trust.
In between the discussions were documentaries highlighting different missions to underserved areas showing the drastic impact personnel and cash financing bring to underserved communities, many of which are remote. Through initiatives like hospital camps, free emergency surgeries, education and health insurance; the quality of life in these communities was vastly improved with the joint efforts of PharmAccess and Toronto Hospital, local and state governments.

Panel Session 2

Panel Session 2

Session 2: Dr Tayo Lawal, Permanent Secretary, Lagos Primary Healthcare Board. Mrs Clare Omatseye, President, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria and Founder, JNCI. Dr Ben Nkechika, DG Delta State Contributory Health Commission. Dr Jide Idris, Commissioner for Health, Lagos. Prof Chris Bode, Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital. Dr Oyebanji Filani, Senior Technical Assistant, Hon Minister for Health. Engr Chidi Izuwah DG/CEO, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission.

Distrust of digital health records is rife in many centres necessitating gradual implementation and compromise. Pregnancy should not be an emergency as there is ample time to plan for childbirth. The absurdity of the current risk associated must be communicated with all members of the community. Mobile health clinics can be used in some areas to provide care and this circumvents the huge cost of facilities. These are a few examples of the unconventional options being applied in interventions across the country. In addition, adapting from a wide variety of working health systems worldwide to our local context will help us move closer to the desired level of development.
Nigerians spend millions of dollars on healthcare abroad. This amount is comparable to the health budget. This is a symptom of a deeper problem! Efforts need to be amped to ensure the working conditions here are brought to standard if we are serious about stemming the current tide of brain drain and haemorrhaging of funds to countries with better health systems. While some level of specialized care is available, most Nigerians do not know about it or trust it.

Documentary

Documentary

The onus is on us to build and maintain world class institutions to keep our health professionals, patients and money at home. To achieve this, the expertise and management of the private sector should be combined with the infrastructure and political will of the public sector. The distrust that currently exists between them can be mitigated by putting quality control in place. Within the private sector itself, collaboration rather than competition should be the watchword. This will help the health sector to be unified force and voice at the policy-making table for lasting progress.

The future is so bright, you are going to need sunglasses.

Mrs Clare Omatseye

On the bone of contetion that is health insurance in Nigeria, theappalling extent of coverage ofe constitues a barrier to providing universal health care. This has left the crowdfunding method of health financing as the only hope of many in need of expensive care. The estimates hover around one to five percent. Only twenty-eight states have a legal framework for health insurance with some like Lagos and Osun implementing state level schemes.

Through public-private partnership, government centres have been outsourced to the private sector with improved efficiency of service delivery, a marked reduction in mortality, increased profits and sustainability. Adequate communication at all levels with all stakeholders is however crucial to the success of these models as there exists cynicism towards it. Infrastructural gaps have been filled.

It is reassuring to see many stakeholders working and committing to improving the Nigerian health sector. Hopefully, these forged partnerships yield measurable results soon. To achieve the phenomenal change needed, we must be ready to disrupt!

Dr Mariam Toye

Of Prevention and Cures – Fighting Cervical Cancer



On either side of the Atlantic, two passionate individuals are taking the fight to cervical cancer. Both are women, have earned the Dr. title and are working tirelessly to save women from a preventable killer disease. What is particularly intriguing is the possibility that neither of them has met the other but are using different means to achieve a common goal; saving lives. These two are a source of inspiration for many. More crucially, they have become role models for millions of young women in developing countries and will motivate them to take up careers in STEM.Two days ago, the UN marked itsInternational Day for Women and Girls in Science.
For centuries, the immense contribution of women to science has been obscured. It is both illuminating and painful to discover advances in physics, chemistry, mathematics, health, programming, space science etc made or contributed to by women whose names have been buried in the footnotes. It is therefore imperative to celebrate those in our time doing such revolutionary work.


Meet our Women Crush Wednesday: Dr Onyedikachi Chioma Nwakanma and Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos.




Dr Nwakanma is a Nigerian doctor using storytelling for health advocacy. She is one of the foremost health advocates in a country where lack of health information increases the burden of disease and leads to thousands of death. She is a strong campaigner for cervical cancer awareness providing prevention, screening and treatment information to half a million people online.











Her impact is not restricted to the intricate highways of the internet. She is as tireless offline where she works on a variety of health programs. She organizes free health outreaches taking quality healthcare to underserved communities. Earlier today, Her Smile With Me NGO carried out a successful free cervical cancer screening program for hundreds of women in Lagos and Abia states. You can find her here on Twitter.




Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos is a Mexican scientist who has been working for two decades to find a cure for human papillomavirus, the pathogen implicated as the known cause of cervical cancer. She is a researcher at the National Polytechnic Institute. How does one keep up such determination and hope for that long? Many would have been discouraged but Dr Gallegos trudged on until a couple of days ago, she achieved her dream. Using photodynamic therapy, she and her team completely eliminated HPV in 29 infected patients. This article details the groundbreaking achievement that we must celebrate given its potential of saving millions of women.



We have a personal interest in this disease and thus all efforts and news like this make us jump for joy. It has always bothered us that something that can be easily treated and prevented still kills so many women. It feels like rainbows to know we now have a cure for the causative infection. There are valid concerns that historically, medical science has not given equal importance to women’s health. It is therefore of striking significance when women achieve feats that close that gap. This cure needs to be made accessible globally so it reaches those who need it the most.


To all the nerds and geeks out there you rock! Your work saves lives and its impact is felt around the world. To all who are working on an innovative solution to the problems facing us, hang in there and be patient. Learn from Dr Gallegos- stay strong, believe in your dream no matter what, keep working at it and don’t accept defeat.

The world awaits your work.

Oumissa,
Lagos Nigeria,
130219







Health and Books – My Social Media Week Lagos Experience

KhamisLifestyle Read a Book and Go Offline

The two books I just fell in love with at the KhamisLifestyle Social Media Week Lagos Event. I read a few pages from each and was enthralled!
(Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
And A Platter of Gold by Olasupo Shasore).

Two days ago, I hosted a session as CEO, KhamisLifestyle – Story Story: Read a Book And Go Offline with Spa Pampering At Home for its Offline Wellness Studio at the Social Media Week Lagos event. It was all shades of amazing. I had a great time with great participants.

Last Thursday was one of the most hectic and yet rewarding days I’ve had. All morning and afternoon was for the Hellocare Nigeria Telling Great Stories in Healthcare, a Social Media Week Off-Campus event which held at Doctoora Health hub at Surulere.

that smile is what everyone deserves to have.

Then came the rushed cab ride through Costain and Island traffic to Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island to host the KhamisLifestyle event. I wish I had a helicopter! Of course I got there behind schedule but I had the best facilitators and participants who got things started. (Thank you!)

It was fun being on teams organizing two Social Media Week Lagos events in one day! I thought it was impossible at first but with a solid support system and positive affirmation I pulled through ( This throbbing headache is worth it!)

Harnessing the power of social media to change lives

I am immensely grateful to every single person who helped me do this. The donations, the kind words of encouragement, the listening ears, the backbreaking work, networks , flurry of calls and emails and so much more make me believe that humanity is alive and thriving.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learnt this past week is “Believe in yourself and your power to do great stuff. Don’t worry, Allah’s got it.”

_________

With Love,

Oumissa

090219

Vaccine Safety:World Immunization Week

Despite the fact that vaccines are among the most effective and cost-efficient health interventions, many children still die or have their development stunted due to rejection on the part of their parents.

This stems from the dual doubts of efficacy and safety. This piece explores both.

Read the rest of the article.