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Nigeria plans to set up a healthcare fund to cover up to 83 million poor people



Nigeria plans to set up a healthcare fund to cover up to 83 million poor people who cannot afford premiums for insurance schemes, President Muhammadu Buhari said at the signing of a universal health coverage law.

Nigeria, with its 200 million population, is struggling to reform its healthcare to improve the sector but funding has been a major constraint coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic that has stretched its inadequate workforce.

The West African country has 0.4 doctors per 1,000 people, as per World Bank’s latest data, less than the global average of 1.8 doctors. It also has a fledgling health insurance sector which has struggled to increase enrolees.

Buhari on Thursday signed a National Health Insurance Authority Bill into law seeking to provide universal healthcare access, his office said in a statement.

Analysts have questioned where funding for the new law will come from. Nigeria has struggled to fund its large deficit budget as spending ballooned with subsidies on imported petrol and debt service gulping up bulk of government revenue.

“For the large number of vulnerable individuals who are not able to pay health insurance premiums, a vulnerable group fund will be set up,” Buhari said.

The fund will have a basic healthcare provision fund, health insurance levy, special intervention fund, and any investment proceeds, donations and gifts to the health authority, Buhari added.

Africa’s most populous country faces a shrinking labour market, double-digit inflation and low growth in the face of mounting insecurity. So far, schemes have been funded mainly from contributions from millions working for the government or big companies.

But there are untapped opportunities in the informal sector, analysts say, adding that the schemes needed to overcome challenges associated with healthcare pricing and reimbursements to hospitals and patients to make a profit.

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Facts and Myths about Weight Loss: Finding Your New You



You would agree with me that the social and digital media has been saturated with innumerable diet advices and trends. Influencers would promise everything from “easy quickie” weight loss; nutrition habits to diet management, using those to engage and lure unsuspecting naive readers who fall for the gimmicks. At last, they leave people disappointed, discouraged, and often weighing even more than they did before they started.

My name is Faith Ononye Onyechefuna, your provider at the Walter J. Family and Wellness Clinic. Based on my observation from several patients I have interacted with, I will share with you in this article, the facts and myths about Weight Loss.

Now let’s get to business:

First is the perception that it does not matter what you eat as long as you count calories

Here are the facts: Believe it or not, what you eat matters. According to National institute of health, a calorie is a unit of energy in food. Our body uses energy derived from foods to function. 1 gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories, 1gram of protein is 4 calories, 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories according to department of health. Adult females need between 1,600 to 2400 calories a day and adult males need 2,000 to 3,000 calories according to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines.

One notion about weight loss is the tendency to reduce calorie intake but one must be careful not to cut back too much. Caloric counting encourages quantity over quality. The main goal is to focus on the appropriate range of calories for amount of fuel you are burning. One also need to consume nutrient dense diet that stabilizes blood sugar and help trigger satiety

Another perception is cutting back on carbs to lose weight

Here are the facts: Are you aware there are different forms of carbs? Simple and complex. Simple carbs can be found in junk foods like cookies, candies which lacks nutrients. Foods with complex carb like whole wheat bread and fruits have lots of nutrients that are good for you. Cutting back on sweets like the simple carbs are wonderful way to navigate toward healthy eating habits

Next is setting high goals if you want to lose weight and it is one size fit all

Here are the facts:  weight loss goals are attainable when it is realistic. High goals maybe unattainable and make you give up. Weight loss process is highly individualized. What works for someone else may not work for you. Be ready to modify your plan as you and your healthcare provider discovers what works for you. Weight loss is a lifetime commitment. It is a journey that begins when you are ready. Weight loss readiness questions include:

  • Are you motivated to make long term lifestyle changes?
  • Have you identified and address the big distractions in your life? Such as marital problems, job stresses, illnesses, financial worries
  • Do you have a realistic picture of how much weight you’ll lose and how quickly? The aim of losing 1 to 2 pounds a week until you reach your goal is more realistic than loosing 1 to 2 pounds daily.
  • Do you have support and accountability? Having someone to offer encouragement can help or you may consider joining weight loss support group. One must commit to regular weighing and tracking of diet and activities to achieve effective weight loss goals.

Another significant misconception we have about weight is that obesity is by choice, not nature

Here are the facts: Obesity is not by choice. Obesity is caused by cascades of genetic variables. The body has many biological pathways and hormones that function harmoniously to regulate body weight; these pathways may be dysfunctional in people that are obsessed, making weight loss goals unattainable. Numerous medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian disease, depression have been linked to one or more disruptions in hormonal levels thereby increasing risk of weight gain. For instance, body resistance to hormone leptin may lead to obesity. Leptin is a hormone that inhibits hunger and regulate energy balance, so the body does not trigger hunger responses when it does not need energy. Resistance to leptin makes the brain think one is in starvation mood and thus consume more. Therefore, for a weight loss program to be effective, a provider must draw labs to check hormonal level and make necessary correction to achieve realistic weight loss goals.

As a wellness professional, I can tell you right away that path to healthy, enduring weight management habit is not very rosy but could be turned into an exciting fun activity if you seek professional counsel. By the way, Walter J. is a Pearland, Texas – based family clinic providing individualized affordable healthcare to families across lifespan; preventing illness and improving quality of life through education, wellness, treating and controlling diseases. Our weight-management programs are most innovative and highly effective.

For free consultation about your weight, you may call me directly: 832-400-2118

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Houston Health care clinic and home health owners sentenced for fraud



Alatan was the owner of Colony Home Health Services, while Ekene was the owner of Milten Medical Clinic, both businesses located in Houston.

HOUSTON, TX — Two individuals have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions of conspiracy to commit and committing health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

A federal jury convicted Francis Ekene, 71, Sugar Land, on all counts following a three-day trial.

Today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake imposed a 120-month-term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the prison term, Judge Lake noted that despite his health issues, it was important for him to serve his punishment.

Also convicted at trial was Alfred Olotin Alatan, 63, formerly of Houston and now residing in Fulshear. He was previously sentenced to 120 months in prison.

Alatan was the owner of Colony Home Health Services, while Ekene was the owner of Milten Medical Clinic, both businesses located in Houston.

At trial, the jury heard that Alatan paid recruiters to bring patient information to be billed for home health services regardless of whether they needed it or not. Beneficiaries testified in trial and admitted they did not need home health services at the time the health care service providers billed them.

Additional testimony revealed a doctor had signed off on plan of care forms at the Milton Clinic when patients were not actually under his care.

Previous employees Susana Bermudez and Rita Kpotie Smith also testified. Bermudez admitted she and Smith operated both clinics and that Alatan was the leader of the scheme. Both Alatan and Ekene would consult Bermudez and Smith who directed them and provided assistance in carrying out the scheme within both offices.

At trial, the defense attempted to convince the jury they were not involved in the daily operations and did not know the provided services were unnecessary and fraudulent.

Alatan and Ekene were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Bermudez and Smith, both 55, and of Houston, previously pleaded guilty to their roles as co-conspirators in the scheme. Bermudez is currently serving 30 months in federal prison, while Smith is serving is serving a 60-month sentence.

The Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tina Ansari and Grace Murphy prosecuted the case along with paralegal Judith Cardona assisted with the case.

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Why Africans and Americans Africans Must Participate in Clinical Research Trials



Clinical research trial is a vital component of medical research, as it invests significant resources emphasizing on disease prevention, treatment comparisons, identifying people who are at risk for developing a type of disease, or testing a treatment for a rare/emerging disease.

Clinical Research has been known to improve clinical outcomes, giving birth to major medical and technological advancements that have tremendously improved our overall quality of life.

Clinical research trials test the effectiveness and safety of new medicines or treatments. Some breakthroughs and advancements through clinical research include the development of new medications and treatments options for diseases, new diagnostic approaches, and new ways of reducing disease risk factors.

In my recent journey into clinical research investigation, I have observed that African American immigrants are yet to embrace the essence of clinical research studies.

While several studies have shown that the most common barriers to African Americans’ involvement in clinical research included mistrust in the system due to lack of information, and a fear that history may repeat itself, personal stories abound as to the safety and potential benefits of including this population in research studies.

Some other barriers include societal, educational, cultural, and financial reasons.

Could this be different for the immigrant African American?

Immigrant African Americans are known to be some of the most educated immigrants in the United States, and part of the education centers around understanding the essence of research, and participating in it.

Immigrant African-Americans suffer significantly from diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and heart diseases when compared with their Caucasian or Asian counterparts, but they are frequently marginalized and underrepresented in clinical trials of these diseases.

What we must understand is that, it is impossible to generalize the results of any study, without considering samples from different populations that will potentially be affected by the results of such studies.

Efforts to improve enrollment of immigrant African-American subjects entail that we all recognize the numerous medical problems that require totally new treatment approaches, or a modification to existing modalities.

The incidence of heart disease, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and several other viral diseases in immigrant African-Americans necessitates that this population be specifically involved in clinical trials for medical and surgical research purposes.

I am therefore calling upon all immigrant African Americans, and Africans all over the world, to participate in clinical research trials happening around them, so as to be well represented, and considered in the medical advancements, and production of pharmaceutical products made for diseases that could potentially affect us.

♦ Edith Nkem Declan an Adjunct Nursing Professor and Clinical Research Nurse Practitioner, based in Houston Texas.

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