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Nipost – The Journey so Far

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The history of the Post in Nigeria dates back to 19th century. The first post office was established by the British Colonial Masters in 1852. It was considered to be a part of the British postal system. It was a branch of London General Post Office and this was the situation till 1874.
In  1862 when the Post Office began its career as a full fledge Department , the Royal Niger Company (RNC) which was actively involved in economic activities in the country, set up its own postal system in Akassa in 1887, Calabar in 1891, Burutu in 1897 and Lokoja in 1899. Mails were being moved from these trading stations to and from Lagos by a weekly mail boat.
In 1898, the British Post Office established post offices at Badagary, Epe, Ikorodu, Ijebu-Ode, Ibadan and Abeokuta. In 1892, the Royal Niger Company became a member of the Universal Postal Union. By 1908, Money Orders and mail were directly exchanged with the German West African Colonies instead of via London, as it was the practice.
In 1925, Royal Airforce planes flew from Kano to Cairo carrying mail for the first time outside the country. From January 1, 1900, the Southern Nigeria Government took over the responsibility of running the postal system in the entire country. There were not too many good roads in those days as such mail were conveyed by canoes, launchers and runners which could only operate at intervals of two weeks or less.
The first post-office in Northern Nigeria was established and located at Lokoja in 1899. While mail delivery was initially the business focus, British Postal orders were being sold and encashed as from 1907 in post offices located at headquarters of all District Commissioners. Internal AirMail flights started in 1931. By 1906, 27 Post Offices were operating and at the time of independence in 1960, 176 Post Offices, 10 sub Post offices and 1,000 Postal agencies were in the country.
At independence, the post was administered jointly with Telecommunications as a government department. Later, postal establishments and services grew in leaps and bounds. The Federal Government by Decree No. 22 of 1966 made the department a quasi-commercial organisation, a step towards making it more efficient and responsive to public needs.
The Nigeria Postal service Department came into being with the establishment of the Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) on January 1, 1985. NITEL emerged from the merger of the Telecommunications arm of the defunct Post and Telecommunications Department of the Ministry of Communications with the former Nigeria External Telecommunications Limited (NET). Through the promulgation of decree No. 18 of 1987, NIPOST became an Extra-Ministerial Department.
The decree provided among other functions of NIPOST, the following:  To provide and operate facilities for collection, dispatch and distribution of inland and overseas mail at reasonable cost, To provide and operate facilities for remittance of money through the money or postal order systems,  To provide and operate philatelic services in Nigeria,
To print and provide postage stamps for payment of postage tariff and payment of stamp duties, and To represent Nigeria in its relations with other postal administrations and other bodies concerned with postal services.
 Prior to 1992, NIPOST operated as an Extra-Ministerial Department in the Ministry of Communications while Decree 18 of 1987 went through various amendments. 
In response to the call to grant NIPOST some measure of autonomy, the Federal Government promulgated Decree 41 of 1992 and classified NIPOST as a Government Parastatal having the following basic functions: To develop, promote, and provide adequate and efficiently coordinated postal services at reasonable rates, To maintain an efficient system of collection, sorting and delivery of mail nationwide, To provide various types of mail services to meet the needs of different categories of mailers,
To establish and maintain Postal facilities of such character and in such locations consistent with reasonable economics as will enable the generality of the public to have ready access to essential postal services,and To represent the Federal Republic of Nigeria in her relations with other Postal Administrations and International bodies.
In addition to the above stated functions, NIPOST also has powers: To determine the need for Post Offices, Postal facilities and equipment, To prescribe the amount of postage stamps and the manner in which it is to be paid,  To provide Philatelic Services, To establish and review Postal Tariff,  To explore additional services to boost its revenue, and  To provide and establish non-postal or similar services.

 


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Blood Test Could Predict Parkinson’s 7 Years before Symptoms – AI Test

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A simple blood test could predict Parkinson’s disease seven years before symptoms appear, marking a “major step forward” in diagnosis of the condition.

Blood Test Could Predict Parkinson’s 7 Years before Symptoms – AI Test

Researchers believe early prediction and diagnosis would help in finding treatments that could slow or stop Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves.

The test uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the disease, which is caused by the death of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

When these nerve cells die or become impaired, they lose the ability to create a chemical called dopamine.

People with Parkinson’s are currently treated with dopamine replacement therapy after they have already developed symptoms, such as tremors or slowness of movement.

It is thought that early diagnosis and treatment would help protect the dopamine-producing brain cells.

Dr Michael Bartl, co-first-author of University Medical Centre Goettingen and Paracelsus-Elena-Klinik Kassel, alongside Dr Jenny Hallqvist, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, said: “By determining eight proteins in the blood, we can identify potential Parkinson’s patients several years in advance.

“This means that drug therapies could potentially be given at an earlier stage, which could possibly slow down disease progression or even prevent it from occurring.”

Professor David Dexter, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, said: “This research, co-funded by Parkinson’s UK, represents a major step forward in the search for a definitive and patient-friendly diagnostic test for Parkinson’s.

“Finding biological markers that can be identified and measured in the blood is much less invasive than a lumbar puncture, which is being used more and more in clinical research.”

The research found that when a branch of AI called machine learning analysed a panel of eight blood-based biomarkers whose concentrations are altered in patients with Parkinson’s, it could provide a diagnosis with 100% accuracy.

Professor Kevin Mills, senior author of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said: “As new therapies become available to treat Parkinson’s, we need to diagnose patients before they have developed the symptoms.

“We cannot regrow our brain cells and therefore we need to protect those that we have.

“At present we are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted and we need to start experimental treatments before patients develop symptoms.”

He added that with sufficient funding, it is hoped the test will be used by the NHS within two years.

The experts suggest that with further research this test could potentially distinguish between Parkinson’s and other conditions that have some early similarities.

The team also looked at whether the test could predict the likelihood of someone going on to develop Parkinson’s.

Blood from 72 patients with Rapid Eye Movement Behaviour Disorder (iRBD) was analysed as it is known that about 75% to 80% of these people will go on to develop a synucleinopathy – a type of brain disorder caused by the abnormal build-up of a protein called alpha-synuclein in brain cells – including Parkinson’s.

The patients were followed up over 10 years and researchers say the AI predictions have so far been correct, with the team correctly predicting 16 patients would go on to develop Parkinson’s and being able to do this up to seven years before the onset of any symptoms.

According to Parkinson’s UK, around one in 37 people alive today in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their lifetime, and there are 153,000 people already living with the condition.

The researchers are hoping to secure funding to create a simpler test where a drop of blood can be spotted on a card and posted to the lab to investigate if it can predict Parkinson’s even earlier than the seven years before the onset of symptoms in this study.

The research, which was funded by an EU Horizon 2020 grant, Parkinson’s UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Research GOSH Biomedical Research Centre, and the Szeben-Peto Foundation, is published in Nature Communications.

 

 

 


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Don’t Blame Telcos for Data Depletion, NCC Explains How and Why

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that telecommunications companies are not blame for draining the data bundles of Nigerians.

Don’t Blame Telcos for Data Depletion, NCC Explains How and Why

The NCC through its Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB), claimed that active background apps and malware are usually to blame.

This is against the backdrop of the legion of complaints from subscribers about fast data drainage from service providers such as MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile.

However, the NCC on its official website highlighted several factors that could be responsible for rapid data exhaustion to include:

“Excessive usage: One of the main reasons for data depletion is excessive usage. If you use your phone to stream videos or music, download large files, or use data-intensive apps for a long time, your data limit can quickly be depleted.

Background apps: Some apps continue to consume data even when you’re not actively using them. Background data usage can quickly add up and deplete your data allowance.

“Automatic updates: Automatic updates for apps, operating systems, and other software can also use up a significant amount of data.

“Location services: GPS and other location services can consume a lot of data, especially if you use navigation apps like Google Maps.

“Advertisements: Some apps display ads that use data. These ads can consume data even if you don’t interact with them.

“Roaming: If you travel abroad and use your phone, you may be subject to data roaming charges, which can quickly add up and deplete your data allowance.

Malware: Malware and viruses can consume data without your knowledge. If you suspect that your phone has been infected, it’s important to remove the malware as soon as possible.”

The Commission also advised mobile users to disable location services for some specific apps as such services consume a lot of data.

For unsolicited advertisements, the telecom regulator advised the subscribers to install ad-blockers.

NCC also suggested connecting to Wi-Fi whenever possible for mobile subscribers to avoid using their cellular data. “You can connect to Wi-Fi at home, work, or in public places like cafes or libraries,” the Commission said.

NCC further advised that any subscriber who consistently runs out of data should consider upgrading to a larger data plan.

 

 

 


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Lagos State Government, Interswitch Group Sign MoU Smart Health Information Platform

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The Lagos State Government has officially signed a concession agreement with one of Africa’s leading integrated technology enablers, Interswitch, through its Healthtech subsidiary, Interswitch eClat, to develop and manage the Lagos Smart Health Information Platform (LAGSHIP).

Nigeria’s healthcare industry remains grossly underfunded with several other challenges, lacking a truly national/integrated framework for healthcare service delivery due to fragmentation among health stakeholders.

A recent report from Knight Frank estimates Nigeria would require about $82 billion of investment in health-care assets to reach the global average. Healthcare institutions continue to struggle with daily operations due to a myriad of constraints and process inefficiencies.

The foregoing is the backdrop against which this latest public-private partnership milestone championed by the Lagos State Government is being launched with a view to positioning Lagos, Nigeria’s largest economic hub as a model for sub-nationals in strategic healthcare delivery interventions.

The Executive Governor of Lagos State, H.E. Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu highlighted the significance of the Lagos State Smart Health Information Platform Project as one unprecedented in Nigeria till date.

The Governor, in his remarks asserted that “The signing of the Concession Agreement between the Lagos State Government and Interswitch for the implementation of the Smart Health Information Platform (SHIP) is a ground-breaking development which signifies the start of a comprehensive technological overhaul in Lagos State’s health sector, aimed at enhancing residents’ access to healthcare services.”

Governor Sanwoolu further remarked that “I believe that this platform represents a significant and innovative approach to utilizing technology for accessing health information. It is poised to deliver numerous benefits and eliminate payment barriers, thereby encouraging citizens to actively engage with the process.”

Capitalizing on over 2 decades of experience and strategic expertise digitizing transactions and aggregating technology platforms across Africa, by virtue of this concession, Interswitch will support the State Government in securely leveraging data harnessed from electronic medical records deployed across all hospitals (public and private) and allied locations within the industry value chain, to create enhanced experiences for all stakeholders, from administrators to medical personnel, patients, as well as for better planning and policy-making, ultimately.

The strategic objective is to address gaps within the healthcare delivery system by creating an ecosystem that facilitates deeper connections between stakeholders and essentially addressing fragmentation by connecting patients to doctors, practices to public offices and patients to their medical data, thereby solving the operational problems of hospitals and healthcare providers through the robust over-arching technology infrastructure that LAGOS-SHIP represents.

Commenting after the signing ceremony, which was jointly signed by the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Akin Abayomi and the Special Adviser to The Governor on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Mrs. Bukola Odoe, and witnessed by the Executive Governor and selected members of the Lagos State Executive Council at the State House, Marina, Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch, remarked:

“22 years ago, we set out with a clear vision to solve social problems in Nigeria, starting by digitizing the use of cash, making it available to Nigerians just-in-time. Today, despite the incremental efforts of Interswitch and other players over the years, digital payments are estimated to be still less than 20% of total transactions in the economy.

This realization suggests that there is tremendous value, financial and otherwise, locked up in sectors and areas where government is a key player, particularly in the aspects of healthcare, transportation, and other basic social services.

This vision we had from the outset underpinned our acquisition of eClat Healthcare 5 years ago, and initiatives such as Lagos-SHIP are unfolding strategic interventions along that transformational roadmap.

We are highly delighted that after a rigorous selection process, the Lagos State Government has deemed it fit to partner with us at the Interswitch Group on this epoch-making journey to digitize the healthcare system, uniting disparate elements into one holistic platform that creates value and enhances the experience of all stakeholders, just like we’ve done in the sphere of financial services, leveraging technology.”

Also speaking at the signing ceremony, Managing Director for Interswitch eClat, Interswitch’s Healthtech Venture, Dr. Wallace Ogufere opined that the Lagos State Government’s pioneering initiative in the form of LAGOS-SHIP is significant in terms of advancing the outlook for Healthcare Management and Administration in a frontier-market such as Nigeria, and moving closer to what obtains in developed economies.

In his words “The go-live of the Lagos Smart Health Information Platform will significantly close many identified gaps in electronic medical records management, essentially addressing long-standing constraints including process inefficiencies, limited transparency and inadequacy of necessary tools and supplies, among other challenges.”

This partnership between the Lagos State Government and Interswitch represents a unique model for public-private partnership in the healthcare delivery space, and one which is expected to be a veritable reference point for national and sub-national governments in Africa going forward.


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