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Half a million families got succour from N1b across Nigeria says VSF COVID-19 taskforce

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Half a million families got succour from N1b across Nigeria says VSF COVID-19 taskforce

Victim Support Fund (VSF) COVID-19 Task Force has indicated that its preliminary N1b earmarked for cushioning the effect of Coronavirus pandemics was used to reach out to about 500 000 families across the country in real terms.
Speaking while delivering some of the support items that included laptops computers, and other technical equipments to the Federal Ministry of Health recently, the Chairperson of VSF COVID-19 Task Force, Toyon Akerele-Ogunsiji said they calculated that an average Nigerian will have a father, mother and four children, hence they provided food that will last them for at least a few weeks to a month.

She said from that point they observe to see what the government would do next from there.
According to her, the spread of Coronavirus could have peaked between March and April but for their intervention in providing more than enough food to the tune of of N1b.”For Abuja we spent about 20% out of the preliminary N1b, for Lagos 20% then for Yobe, Adamawa and Ogun State they got 10% each, maize, rice all in 10kg, sugar, salt in 2kg, 4litres gallon for cooking oil.
“One of the things priortized in our donation is the dignity of our beneficiary.
We didnt just want to donate food because we considered them as indegent of the vulnerable population.
“It was important that the food we donated will keep and sustain their families for a while.
“People were able to feed, we were giving out drugs because we priortized the immunity of Nigerians at that time. We have multivitamins, pain medicines and other supplement.
“We bought about 300. 000 pieces of tablet soaps because hand washings the single preventive mechanism against Coronavirus.”

She reiterated the fact that healthcare is not only about providing medication and drugs adding that the taskforce extended its support in combating the COVID-19 pandemic beyond drugs and medicals to human capacity development as well as provision of technical support for the Federal Ministry of Health. She said the quality of human capacity will determine to a very large extent the successes the ministry will achieve in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today we are providing technical equipments to the Federal ministry of health, we are supporting them with the ministerial expert advisory committee and we are also providing support for the development and the management of the national pandemic action plan.
“We are going to be supporting the ministry by renovating the elevators within the ministry because now we have more staff coming in and out spending more time within the ministry than they use to and we are providing support for the secretariat.
“We are paying for Zoom subscription, we are covering the cost of Wi-Fi of the COVID-19 of the FMOH we believe that healthcare is not just about providing medication and drugs, the human capital element is also very crucial.
She said the VSF earmarked N1B naira in the first phase of its intervention, adding the the second phase got N832, 720, 000,480 adding the the third phase will get a little less than N1b.
She said so far the task force has given support worth more than N150m to the federal ministry of health which is apart from the support it gave to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
On the extent to which the support of the taskforce has impacted positively in bringing down the pandemic she said,
“I am very bold to say that we are probably the first private sector led humanitarian initiative in this country that responded to the COVID-19 pandemic at the peak of it.
“COVID-19 task force was set up by General Danjuma and was inaugurated on the 30th of March and we tried to take action and by 14th of April we were already in Abuja here at the Malaysian Garden in Karu to give out food items, medicals, PPE, drugs, family care drugs to IDPs in Abuja from Abuja on the same day we were in Borno to meet with Governor Babagana Umaru.
“From Borno we were in Yobe to Kano and from there we moved on to Lagos and Ibadan and Ogun State.”
She said they chose to intervene in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja because they were the frontline COVID-19 locations
She said, “The people were so Hungary they could not stay at home, they had to go out. As schools resumes she said, “We are going to set wash facilities going forward, we are going to providing wash facilities for schools, support the gradual reopening of schools from Nursery to primary and secondary because we want children to be able to wash their hands.
“We will setup more boreholes, donate tablet soap for hand washing, wristband hand sanitizers that children can press constantly and sanitizer their hands support teachers, we know that education is important and we cannot stop the education of children.
“What we must do as a responsible organisation is to make sure we set in motion a system where the health and the hygiene of children are not compromised as they go to school.”

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HealthPlus: Why PCN must remain neutral

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HealthPlus: Why PCN must remain neutral

By Kasim Adeyemi

The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) has recently involved itself in a needless controversy over the disagreement between Alta Semper Capital, a renowned U.K. investment firm and Mrs. Bukky George, the founder and erstwhile Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of pharmaceutical retailer HealthPlus Limited.

It all started in 2017 when Alta Semper began talks with HealthPlus to give a lifeline to the business and help grow it. At the time Mrs. George approached the PCN to secure a letter of “no objection” to the investment. Although such a letter was neither a pre-requisite for foreign investment in a pharmaceutical company in Nigeria, nor has the PCN ever issued it before, the regulatory body honoured the request in a bid to support Mrs. George and save HealthPlus from a potential collapse due to paucity of funds.

The letter was issued by PCN in October 2017 and by March 2018, Alta Semper invested an initial sum of $10 million dollars, thus becoming majority owner of the company. The investors had a window to inject another $8million subject to certain conditions, which were never satisfied.

Aside from selling the majority of her shares to Alta Semper, Bukky George had entered into a Management Agreement with HealthPlus. The Management Agreement details the terms of her employment and provides for automatic termination in certain circumstances, including where Mrs. George commits any act which in the opinion of a majority of the Board expressed in writing, constitutes serious professional misconduct. It was on this basis that the Board terminated her employment in September 2020 due to serious breaches to corporate governance.

It was at this point that Mrs. George started to peddle her influence around, complaining that her company was being taken away from her. Never mind that she sold majority stake to investors who brought in $10million when the firm was going broke. And never mind that she freely agreed to that termination mechanism when she signed the Management Agreement.

On 2 March 2021 news filtered into the public domain that the PCN had withdrawn the “no objection” letter issued to HealthPlus. Mrs George quickly issued a statement to stakeholders saying that Alta Semper and their agents are no longer authorized by law to own or manage a retail pharmacy business in Nigeria.

As an investment analyst, I know for sure that a “no objection” letter is not required for any investment in pharmaceutical business in Nigeria. The PCN Act does not provide for this, neither does any regulation issued by PCN or any other authority. It is therefore not within the statutory powers of the PCN to pronounce foreign investment legal or otherwise. The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act and the Poisons and Pharmacy Act 1992 (PPA) permit foreign investors to own all the share capital in retail pharmacy companies.

Mrs. George’s statement was therefore a clear attempt to spin the news and misrepresent the facts of the matter – and the letter of the law – using PCN’s letter as cover. Her plan quickly fell apart as HealthPlus issued a counter statement to stakeholders stressing that the letter of “no objection” from the PCN was not a pre-requisite for their investment.

Indeed, the PCN itself had noted clearly in its communication withdrawing the “no objection” letter that the document “has no bearing on the corporate structure and the relationships within HealthPlus.”

I do not intend to take sides with Mrs. George or Altа Semper, but it is my considered opinion that by withdrawing its “no objection” over a dispute between shareholders, PCN has undermined its own credibility and exposed the body to potential disrepute.

Foreign investors may now be seriously deterred from further investing in pharmaceutical business in Nigeria as the credibility of regulatory authorities is among the factors that contribute to enhancing the attractiveness or otherwise of a business operating environment. Nigeria has lost huge foreign investments in the last half decade and the government is working hard to restore investor confidence in the economy. A regulatory body should therefore not be seen to be inconsistent in its position.

I believe that the PCN issued the initial letter in good faith. What is however unclear is why it withdrew the letter, even though it acknowledged that the document was inconsequential in determining the legality of the investment. The PCN is charged with the responsibility for regulating and controlling Pharmacy Education, Training and Practice in all aspects and ramifications in Nigeria. It is important for the regulatory body to exercise more caution and avoid unnecessarily reversing itself so as to preserve its hard-earned reputation.

Adeyemi is an investment analyst writing from Ebute Metta, Lagos

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President Buhari, Osinbajo receive COVID-19 vaccine as Bello says he will not take vaccine

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President Buhari, Osinbajo receive COVID-19 vaccine as Bello says he will not take vaccine




President Muhammadu Buhari
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo have been vaccinated against the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19).



The President received the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday at the New Banquet hall, Presidential Villa Abuja.
Osinbajo was administered the vaccines by his personal physician, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
After the vaccination, both President Muhammadu Buhari and Osinbajo were presented with their E-vaccination cards.

However, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has maintained his hardline posture against the dreaded COVID-19 which he said is a business venture by those he said were deceiving Nigerians.
He said he would neither take any vaccine nor compel any one in the state to take it.

Earlier at the Banquet hall, the Minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire thanked the President for always supporting the health sector in meeting its challenges.

Osagie lauded Buhari for deciding to take the vaccine publicly, adding that the move would help to convince Nigerians on the effectiveness of the vaccine.

It was reported that the President, Osinbajo and other top government officials were scheduled to take the vaccine on Live Television on Saturday.

Also, all governors in the 36 States in Nigeria will be vaccinated on Wednesday March 10.

Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this at the second edition of State House weekly briefing.

Meanwhile, as at March 6, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at 158,042, with 1,954 deaths, while no fewer than 137,025 patients have been successfully treated and discharged.
The Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has insisted COVID-19 is not Kogi’s headache, he will not take vaccine.
However, he said if the Federal Government is gracious enough to send the vaccine to the state, the government would accept it and ask anyone willing to take it to come forward.

There has been controversy between the Kogi State Government and federal health authorities over COVID-19 cases in the state.

The government of Bello has consistently declared that the state is COVID-19 free.

As the Federal Government rolled out the AstraZeneca Vaccine Jabs on Friday, Nigerians were encouraged to take the vaccine.

But the Kogi Governor restated that COVID-19 is not the business of the state.

Bello said, “COVID-19 is not our business in Kogi State. We are dealing with more serious issues in Kogi State, not COVID-19. COVID-19 is just the minutest aspect of what we are treating in Kogi State.

“There has been an outbreak of Lassa Fever, Yellow Fever and those were handled without making noise. On the last Yellow Fever outbreak, we vaccinated our people against it, we encouraged them, we educated them and they felt the impact because it ravaged some communities in Kogi State.

“They came up and we vaccinated them. So if the Federal Government is gracious enough to give us COVID-19 vaccines, we are only going to sensitize our people, whoever wishes to come and take should come forward and take the vaccination but I am not going to subject the people of Kogi State to vaccination. I will not make them the guinea pigs.”

Asked if he would join President Muhammadu Buhari to take the vaccine on live TV, he said, “Mr. President is the leader of this country. I respect him so much. All of us respect him so much. We love him and he is leading by example. If he needs to take the vaccine and he takes it, it is a welcome development. As far as I am concerned. I, as a person, don’t need to take a vaccine. Nothing is wrong with me, I am hale, hearty, 100 percent healthy. I can give you my health report anytime you desire it.



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Senate alters 26 year old law to give Lafia Teaching Hospital headway

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Senate alters 26 year old law to give Lafia Teaching Hospital headway

The Senate, Wednesday, commenced amendment to the University Teaching Hospitals (Reconstitution of Boards) Act 1985, to pave way for the Federal University of Lafia Teaching Hospital to have legal framework The move to amend the Principal Act in this direction came with the consideration of the University Teaching Hospitals (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which scaled second reading during plenary.  The bill was sponsored by Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura (APC, Nasarawa South). Leading debate on the bill, Al-Makura noted that the bill in particular seeks “to amend the University Teaching Hospitals (Reconstitution of Boards, Etc) Act No.10 1985 (In this Bill referred to as the “Principal Act”), to include an additional Teaching Hospital, the “Federal University Lafia Teaching Hospital” thereby giving full recognition to the Teaching Hospital sought to be included in the Principal Act through this Bill.” According to the lawmaker, the proposed amendment when passed, would complete all the required legislative enactments to bring the Federal University Lafia Teaching Hospital into full operation.  “I wish to state that in compliance with Order 77(3) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015 as amended, this Bill when passed will have no immediate financial burden on the Federal Government treasury as the facilities for the immediate takeoff of the proposed Teaching Hospital for the Federal University, Lafia and its Management Board have been donated by the Nasarawa State Government”, Al-Makura added.  The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, after the bill scaled second reading, referred same to the Committee on Health for further work. The Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe-led Committee is expected to report back within four (4) weeks.

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