OAUTHC introduces affordable kidney transplant, dialysis


 SOLA OGUNDIPE. VANGUARD. June 25, 2013 

AS part of measures to improve the wellbeing of Nigerians afflicted with kidney disease and End-Stage Renal Disease, ESRD, the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, OAUTHC, Ile-Ife, Osun State, has introduced what it describes as affordable renal care services.

Under the package, one session of haemodialysis (renal dialysis) costs N15,000, while a patient who requires kidney transplant pays N2.5 million for the surgical operation.

Plans have also been initiated to set up an endowment fund to cater for indigent patients seeking healthcare services at the tertiary health institution.

Chairman of the OAUTHC Board, Pharm Matthew Urhoghide, who disclosed this to Good Health Weekly in a chat, said the subsidised renal care services were introduced primarily to encourage Nigerians to patronize local health facilities, and, secondarily, to stem the tide of patients flocking abroad especially to India, for haemodialysis and kidney transplants.

“Renal disease has become so rampant in Nigeria that we are looking at a statistic that one out of every 10 people has a compromised kidney.

“On daily basis, we  see Nigerians complaining of kidney diseases and asking for help. They would say they have opened an account and in need of N8 million to go to India for kidney transplant.

“We want to reduce the movement of Nigerians abroad to seek medical services and expertise that is available here and is cheaper. Government has asked us to help and that is what we are doing,” Urhoghide remarked.

Noting that Nigerian medical experts are in health institutions all over the world, he in the United States of America and the United Kingdom alone, there are over 4,000 Nigerian specialists, and several people who have gone to India often realise the environment is not better than what is available in Nigeria.

“In other hospitals, even at the  University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, one session of renal dialysis  costs N30, 000  to N40, 000. Here, we charge N15, 000. We charge that low  because of an existing tradition here to charge the locals low to help them afford it. Again, we know that majority of the people who use this facility are not from here but are attracted by our lower prices.

”In this place, it actually costs less than N3 million to have a kidney transplant. In India it is about N7 million to N8 million  But this is what we offer here. The idea is to reduce capital flight, and the Federal government  has a transformation agenda to enable people have access to healthcare in Nigeria rather than go abroad.”

Further, Urhoghide said part of the goal was to try as much as possible to reduce medical tourism and minimise capital flight. He said with overseas medical care, a patient spends up to two or three times of what is required at OAUTHC.

In his view, the excuse that good health facilities are not available in Nigeria is no longer tenable.

Urhoghide lamented the ignorance of people of the fact that someone can have one functional kidney that will carry him or her throughout life.

“One of the major challenges of carrying out kidney transplants in this environment is getting people to donate kidneys.

“Our people are ignorant of the fact that a person can survive on one kidney. Someone can have one functional kidney that will carry him or her throughout life. We believe that if we are able to increase the public awareness, we will reduce kidney-related death rates in Nigeria,” he asserted.

The Board Chairman pointed out that the OAUTHC which has carried out 13 kidney transplants till date and has one earmarked for July, recently commissioned a brand new organ transplant theatre. “OAUTHC has the best facilities for kidney transplants. People don’t know we carried out the first kidney transplant in Nigeria in 2002. Most other institutions depend on this place for such feats, but this is the only teaching hospital that is fully indigenous in operation.”

Calling for increased public awareness to reduce kidney-related death rates, he said kidney transplant is not just taking people to the theatre and taking the kidney and replacing it.

“It is required to have a special theatre, a specialist (called a kidney surgeon) and a nephrologist. At the OAUTHC, we have a tissue typing lab for carrying out preliminary work of taking a part of the tissue from any part of the body to determine if the kidney to be transplanted will be compatible. OAUTHC is  the only institution to have this laboratory in Nigeria.

“Previously, tissue samples from here were taken to Egypt for confirmation but now we do market render such services, and other institutions send samples here for confirmation,” he said

Records from the health institution’s Renal Unit show that the incidence and prevalence of chronic kidney disease and ESRD have increased exponentially in recent times.

Only a very small fraction of the ESRD population ever gets transplanted and among reasons adduced for this development is  high cost of accessing renal care leading to unaffordability and inaccessibility. Other constrains include shortage of donor organs and poor legislative support among others.

On the setting up of an endowment fund for indigent patients, he said the institution was  working towads engaging philanthropists and charity organisations in that respect.

“Many of our centres have several patients that cannot pay at the point of discharge. It would help if the Governor can come to their aid, particularly if they are from this State, even if it is at certain fraction of the cost.”

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Julius Berger begins work on 2nd Niger Bridge


 

SEBASTINE OBASI.VANGUARD.June 25, 2013

Work on the long-awaited second Niger bridge  has commenced.

Niger-Bridge-412

   

Wolfgang Goetsch, Managing Director of Julius Berger stated this at the 43rd annual general meeting of the company in Abuja.

Goetsch also said the Federal Government had given Julius Berger a letter of intent, which would enable it to do preliminary work such as, soil testing and engineering design.

According to him, the bridge is to be built under the private public partnership arrangement.

Goetsch said: “A consortium that included a company from South Africa participated in the bidding for the project. In January 2013, our group became the preferred bidder. We are excited because it will be the first of its kind in Nigeria”.  He also said mobilization to site for the construction of the 125-kilometre Lagos-Sagamu road will begin in 10 days.

Five lanes are expected to be added to the road. The Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT, arrangement the Federal Government had with Bi-Courtney Highways Services Limited, had been terminated.

At the annual general meeting, Julius Berger declared a profit before tax of N12.34 billion, for the 2012 financial year, as against N9.93 billion recorded in the previous year.

Profit after tax stood at N8.02 billion, as against N4.41 billion, while the company approved an increased dividend of N2.50, resulting in a total gross dividend payment of N3 billion.

This is a marked improvement over that of 2011 fiscal year, which was N2.40 per share.  Retired Air Vice Marshal Nura Imam, chairman of the company, said the performance in 2012 increased by 17.7 percent from 2011.

“This commendable achievement is attributable to a number of factors, including the handover of large-scale projects such as the Admiralty Alexander link bridge in Lagos, the Escravos Gas-to-liquids plant, as well as the completion of a major segment of the Lagos-Badagry expressway and several projects in Akwa Ibom State,” he said.

Tax Evasion: Court Orders ExxonMobil To Pay $83m To FIRS


Bode Gbadebo ,LEADERSHIP. June 24, 2013

The activities of international oil firms operating in the oil sector and milking the economy came to the fore as the Tax Appeal Tribunal, Lagos Zone, on Friday ordered Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to pay $83.4 million (N13 billion) education tax to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reported.

Photo credit: au.ibtimes.com

Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, an ExxonMobil subsidiary operates an oil export terminal off Akwa Ibom coastline connected by a pipeline network to its two oil blocks in a Joint Venture with NNPC. The tribunal gave the order while delivering judgement on an appeal filed by the oil company against the FIRS.

Chairman of the five-man tribunal, Mr. Kayode Sofola (SAN), said the amount represented the company’s education tax liability for 2008 alone. The company had instituted the appeal on May 5, 2011 when FIRS issued it an education tax liability of 83.4 million dollars for 2008. The appellant’s lawyer, Mr T. Emuwa, had claimed that the assessment breached an agreement signed by the company with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Emuwa said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was first signed in 1986 and renewed in 2000. He said the 2000 MoU allowed the company to deduct all amounts paid to other agencies from the tax due to the federal and state governments.

FIRS had through its counsel, Mrs B.H. Oniyangi, claimed that the 2000 MoU was signed for a three-year term, adding that its validity ended on Jan.1, 2003. Oniyangi held that the federal government, through a letter issued by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Jan. 17, 2008, also confirmed that the MoU had lapsed. According to her, the 2000 MoU was replaced by the Petroleum Profits Tax Act (PPTA) which was used to issue the disputed assessment. Delivering the judgment, Sofola agreed that the said MoU was only for a three-year term, noting that there was no evidence before the panel that it was renewed. He said: “The 2000 MoU thus expired at the end of 2002. The parties never did anything to keep it alive longer, as stated in clause 7.1. “In effect, clause 7.1 contains an option to renew, exercisable at the joint instance of all the parties. This option was never exercised, and thus no renewal or extension was triggered.’’ Sofola said the appellant was no longer entitled to make deductions allowed under the 2000 MoU, in calculating their education tax. “The PPTA is the legislation in force and cannot be subordinated to the mere contemplations of the MoU. “We uphold the respondent’s (FIRS) assessment of the appellant to education tax of $83,414,793. “We order the appellant to pay accordingly,’’ the tribunal chairman added. –

Four convicts hanged in Edo as Oshiomhole ignores Amnesty International, others


Ben Ezeamalu.PREMIUM TIMES.  June 24,2013 

The governor acted within the law, the attorney general said.

Update: Four convicts hanged in Edo as Oshiomhole ignores Amnesty International, others 

Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole    

 
 

Four death row inmates were hanged in Benin City, Edo State, Monday, after their death warrants were signed by the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole.

The inmates included Osaremwinda Aigbuohian and Daniel Nsofor, whose lawyers have been struggling to obtain a stay of execution on the death sentence; and two other convicts whose identities are yet to be ascertained.

Mr. Oshiomhole allegedly signed the death warrants of the unnamed duo last month, despite appeals by local and international organizations including Amnesty International and Access to Justice.

President Goodluck Jonathan had directed state governors to exercise their constitutional rights by signing death warrants of death row inmates in order to reduce the rising level of criminality in the country.

Henry Idahagbon, Edo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, confirmed the development adding that the governor merely carried out his constitutional requirement by signing the warrants of the convicted criminals.

Mr. Idahagbon said that the defence team of the death row inmates, led by a civil society group, LEDAP, had tried up till the last minute to stop the hanging but did not succeed.

Three of the inmates were convicted outside Edo State and all the executed inmates had been issued the death penalty years ago, according to Mr. Idahagbon.

The Attorney General admitted that his office received petition papers for a stay of execution but could not do anything since the hanging had nothing to do with the state government.

It was gathered that notable Senior Advocates of Nigeria had backed the governor in the debate that followed his signing of the death warrant of Messrs Aigbuohian and Nsofor last September in exercise of his Prerogative of Mercy.

According to the Supreme Court, Mr. Aiguohian killed and dismembered the body of his victim while Mr. Nsofor forcefully robbed, tortured and strangulated his victim to death.

In Mr. Aiguohian’s statement of defence during trial, he described his action as a “mistake” but the Supreme Court in the affirmation of his death sentence in 2004 said, “the likes of Aiguohian belongs to Hades.”

The second convict, Nsofor, who also had his death sentence affirmed by the Supreme Court, was said to have strangled a woman to death after forcefully taking her money and torturing her.

Nigerian security arrests 2 Chinese over ‘illegal’ mining in Minna


Premium Times.  June 24,2013

 

The SSS said it would prosecute the two Chinese.

Operatives of the SSS.

       

The Department of State Security Services (SSS) has arrested two Chinese nationals allegedly involved in illegal mining, excavating and exporting of gem stones.

The Director of SSS in Niger State, Larry Obiagwu, who said this when he briefed newsmen in Minna, said the suspects carried out their activities with their Nigerian collaborator.

Mr. Obiagwu said the Nigerian suspect acted as a mediator between the locals who dug for the stones and the Chinese at Koyugba Village in Jere ward of Paikoro Local Government Area.

He said the department placed surveillance in dense forests across the state, and particularly at Paikoro following a tip off. He said the command’s investigation established that the suspects had spent about N3 million in settling the local diggers engaged in excavation of the gem stones.

The director said that they had plans of illicitly developing other mining sites that abound in the state but for their arrest.

According to him, the Chinese nationals will be arraigned at the Federal High Court in line with Nigerian laws to serve as deterrent to foreigners who thrive on impunity.

He said that their activities were against the Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 which prohibited exploration and or exploitation of Minerals without authority.

One of the suspects, who spoke through an interpreter, said he had been in Nigeria for the past two years doing the business of exportation with a registered company, Fosta. He claimed that he had a license to do business in Nigeria, adding that he only went to Paikoro to buy the products.

Similar, Mr. Obiagwu said that the command arrested four suspects over their involvement in the vandalism of armoured cables.

He said the cables belonged to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and Nigeria Telecommunication Limited (NITEL) in Minna.

Mr. Obiagwu said the cables were stolen within Minna metropolis and were sold at different times at the Panteka market and the proceeds shared among the suspects.

“The activities of the suspect had caused serious damage to NITEL and PHCN infrastructure in Minna and they are being arraigned,’’ he said.

Snowden Asks Ecuador for Asylum – Foreign Minister


RIA NOVOSTI.JUNE 23,2013

Ecuador’s foreign minister said Sunday on Twitter that Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor wanted by the United States for revealing a highly classified surveillance program, had requested asylum in Ecuador.

 

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.© REUTERS/  Courtesy of The Guardian/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras

 
 “The government of Ecuador has received an asylum request from Edward J. Snowden,” Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño Aroca wrote on his Twitter page.

Snowden, 30, left Hong Kong on Sunday, a day after the United States  formally requested his extradition. A passenger who was on an Aeroflot  flight that Snowden is believed to have taken to Moscow told RIA Novosti  that Snowden had gotten into a car with diplomatic plates on the tarmac  at Sheremetyevo Airport.

However, media reports cited airport officials as saying that Snowden  would not be allowed to leave the premises because he did not have a  Russian visa and would therefore only be able to fly to a third  destination.

Anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, which has released thousands of  classified US government messages, said Sunday in a statement that  Snowden was “bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the  purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal  advisors from WikiLeaks.”

That organization’s founder, Julian Assange, has been staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than a year.

Snowden, who worked for US defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, hit the media spotlight in early June after he leaked to the press information about a US government surveillance program that allegedly monitored phone and electronic conversations of millions of Americans.

Foreign investors eye Nigeria’s middle, upper class


    

Oluwaseyi Bangudu. PREMIUM TIMES. June 23,2013        

More companies are showing interest in the Nigerian market.

Despite the challenging business environment, foreign investors have continued to eye the Nigerian market, recently exhibiting more interest and focus in its middle and upper class.

The investors’ interest range from automobile, to assorted wines and brewery, mobile phones, Jewellery, among others. Despite the obvious challenges the nation suffers, such as lack of sufficient infrastructure, lack of adequate electricity, political instability, insecurity, multiple taxation among others, the investment choice of foreign brands have not been hampered but rather, appears to rise.

Athmane Lakhlifi, Head of Export Sales, Miele, a German based manufacturer of high-end domestic appliances, commercial equipment and fitted kitchens, based in Gütersloh, Germany, said on Saturday that the company has taken its time to study the Nigerian market and concluded that Nigeria is the most suitable nation to invest in and open its mega outlet, the first of the firm’s outlet in West Africa.

“We find customers that can afford our appliances everywhere in the World, and we also find them in Nigeria. However, it is not all about being able to afford the products, but handling the customers as well,” he said, adding that the firm took time out, about a year, to study the Nigerian market, the culture and the people and is convinced that they can handle the seeming challenges and work with the citizens.

The Managing Director, Miele Nigeria, Mustapha Olorunmbe, said the products are already being received with open arms, as about eight of ten prospective customers end up buying the products.

“Our products belong to the upper and middle class of the society and knowing that, we have brought the right products that would give them the value they deserve. If we don’t bring these products to them, they will travel abroad to buy them,” he said.

The organisation said it views the Nigerian market as a big market, despite the fact that it is already operating in over 40 countries globally. It said it understands the Nigerian electricity problems and has sorted out challenges that can erupt from issues such as low voltage and power outage.

Founded in 1899, the firm’s products include freezers, fridge freezers, dishwashers, tumble dryers, washer dryers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cooking appliances, rotary irons; built-in convection, steam, and speed ovens; hobs (cooker hoods, cook tops); freestanding and built-in refrigerators, freezers, and wine coolers; and coffee systems.

In 2007, Miele, which has won series of awards over the years, was given an award for being the most successful company in Germany that year, beating the previous year’s winner, Google, which placed second, and Porsche, which came in third.

Miele is, however, not the only company eyeing Nigeria’s high end market.

Earlier in the week, Tecno Telecom Limited, a high-tech company specializing in the production, sale and service of mobile communication products, though acquainted in the Nigerian market and otherwise considered a phone maker for low-end users, announced that is seeking a niche among the big names in the phone manufacturing industry by introducing its first major high-end user smartphone, the Phantom A.

A major supplier of premium brands and premium services, the organisation expressed its desire to play in the high-end phone user market, as this first of its kind product would compete with top brands that produce such products with a very competitive purchasing price.

Chidi Okonkwo, the Deputy General Manager, Tecno Telecom, Nigeria, said “We are taking a giant stride with the launch of Phantom A. The phone was designed with a passion to give everybody access to innovation unlike other brands of similar quality, which are reserved for the high-end customer by reason of their prices alone”.

The Phantom A smartphone is the outcome of a collaborative effort of the firm’s French and Korean design team. It is a 5.0 inch high definition touch screen and dual-SIM hand set with 1GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB internal memory, an 8-mega pixel camera (front), the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Operating System and a flash share which allows users to share information without either WiFi or internet connection. The phone also has a 13-month warranty.

Tecno partnered with Etisalat, a telecommunications company in Nigeria, on this product, and the partnership guarantees that the phone comes with a 12 months free data bundle powered by the firm’s 3.75G, HSPA+ network.

The firm said it is achieving great success with its strategy which resolves translating advanced technology into superior localised products, with fast growth in Africa, especially in Nigeria, where it plans to establish a manufacturing plant.

Finance experts have said foreign investments can make a positive contribution to Nigeria’s economy by providing employment, technology, management resources, and capital that would otherwise not be available and thus boost her economic growth.

Over the years, Nigerians have benefited from both the direct and indirect employment effects of foreign subsidiaries of international organisations located in Nigeria.  Their technology and management resources have helped to stimulate economic development and industrialization, and improve efficiency.

The presence of these firms also increases the number of players in the local market and hence consumer choice. This increases the level of competition, thereby driving down prices. Furthermore, imports from these countries bring in a variety of products previously unavailable because local manufacturing companies were unable to provide them.

A major challenge, however, is that consumers are often quick to buy the imported goods rather than purchase locally-made ones, further contributing to the downfall of local industries.

Nigerian exporters are also not doing badly in their exploits. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, in quarter 1, 2013, the total non-oil export earnings by Nigerian exporters stood at US$1,136.33 million at the end of the review period. This indicated an increase of 15.1 and 9.3 per cent above the levels in the preceding quarter and the corresponding quarter of 2012, respectively.

According to the regulatory body, the development was attributed, largely, to the 66.9 and 70.3 per cent rise in receipts from the industrial sector and manufactured products, respectively. A breakdown of the proceeds in the review quarter showed that industrial, manufactured, agricultural, minerals and food products earned $634.2 million, $322.6 million, $89.9 million, $67.9 million and $21.7 million, respectively.

The shares of industrial, manufactured, agricultural, and food products as well as mineral and transport in non-oil export proceeds were 55.8, 28.4, 7.9, 6.0 and 1.9 per cent, respectively.