Kenya rolls out landmark malaria vaccine introduction
September 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
The malaria vaccine pilot programme is now fully underway in Africa, as Kenya joins Ghana and Malawi to introduce the landmark vaccine
HOMA BAY, Kenya, September 16, 2019/ — The World Health Organization (WHO) congratulates the Government of Kenya for launching the world’s first malaria vaccine today in Homa Bay County, western Kenya.
The malaria vaccine pilot programme is now fully underway in Africa, as Kenya joins Ghana and Malawi to introduce the landmark vaccine as a tool against a disease that continues to affect millions of children in Africa.
The vaccine, known as RTS,S, will be available to children from 6 months of age in selected areas of the country in a phased pilot introduction. It is the first and only vaccine to significantly reduce malaria in children, including life-threatening malaria.
Malaria claims the life of one child every two minutes. The disease is a leading killer of children younger than 5 years in Kenya.
“Africa has witnessed a recent surge in the number of malaria cases and deaths. This threatens the gains in the fight against malaria made in the past two decades,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The ongoing pilots will provide the key information and data to inform a WHO policy on the broader use of the vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa. If introduced widely, the vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.”
First vaccination: a day to celebrate
Distinguished health officials, community leaders and health advocates gathered in Homa Bay County – one of eight counties in Kenya where the vaccine will be introduced in selected areas – to mark this historic moment with declarations of support for the promising new malaria prevention tool and to demonstrate a ceremonial first vaccination of a 6-month-old child.
Speaking at the event, WHO Representative to Kenya Dr Rudi Eggers said: “Vaccines are powerful tools that effectively reach and better protect the health of children who may not have immediate access to the doctors, nurses and health facilities they need to save them when severe illness comes. This is a day to celebrate as we begin to learn more about what this vaccine can do to change the trajectory of malaria though childhood vaccination.”
Thirty years in the making, the vaccine is a complementary malaria control tool – to be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention, including the routine use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying with insecticides and timely access to malaria testing and treatment.
Malaria vaccine implementation in Kenya
The Ministry of Health, through the National Vaccines and Immunization Programme, is leading the phased vaccine introduction in areas of high malaria transmission, where the vaccine can have the greatest impact.
The aim is to vaccinate about 120 000 children per year in Kenya across the selected introduction areas, including Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga and Kakamega counties. Within the eight counties, some sub-counties will introduce the vaccine into immunization schedules while others are expected to introduce the vaccine later.
More about the vaccine pilot programme
The WHO-coordinated pilot programme is a collaboration with the ministries of health in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi and a range of in-country and international partners, including PATH, a non-profit organization, and GSK, the vaccine developer and manufacturer, which is donating up to 10 million vaccine doses for this pilot.
Financing for the pilot programme has been mobilized through an unprecedented collaboration among three key global health funding bodies: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and Unitaid.
Tanzania unveils first Senographe Pristina Digital Mammography: another key milestone for early detection of breast cancer in East Africa
September 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
Launch of the digital mammography system in line with the country’s Health Sector Strategic Plan to improve prevention and management of non-communicable diseases
|DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, September 13, 2019/ — GE Healthcare’s (www.GEHealthcare.com) Senographe Pristina is engineered by Women for Women to help reduce pain, discomfort and anxiety women experience during a mammography; Launch of the digital mammography system in line with the country’s Health Sector Strategic Plan to improve prevention and management of non-communicable diseases.
The Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam (AKHS) has installed GE Healthcare’s Senographe Pristina, a more advanced and comfortable mammography system for patients, with next-generation 3-D digital technology for the first time in Tanzania. The hospital endeavors to give greater access to high quality breast healthcare for women as a part of its comprehensive cancer care program and its vision to provide access to quality healthcare within the country. The launch is also in line with the government’s Health Sector Strategic Plan to improve prevention and management of non-communicable diseases.
Designed by a team of female GE Healthcare engineers who used their own insights coupled with feedback from more than 1,000 other patients, technologists and radiologists, Senographe Pristina helps to address the fear of discomfort that women face around mammograms. The system offers comfort features for a better patient and technologist experience, including rounded corners instead of sharp edges that used to poke patients’ ribs and armpits, and armrests for women to lean on instead of conventional handgrips, so women can relax their muscles during the exam, which simplifies positioning, compression and image acquisition.
Speaking during the launch Mr. Sulaiman Shahabuddin, Regional Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Health Services, East Africa said, “Radiology department at AKHS has been a pioneer in investing in advanced technologies to enhance diagnostics which play a key role in modern day management of patient. Mr. Shahabuddin added, “We were proud to the first to start MRI services in the country, initiated provision of image guided minimally invasive procedures including biopsies and drainages, installed a first ever complete Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) and Radiology Information System (RIS) and the only private institution with a Cardiac Catheterization lab, Radio Nuclear Medicine & Chemotherapy suite.”
Mammograms play a key role in the detection of breast cancer, a disease if caught earlier is more likely curable. This ultra-modern unit will further boost the efforts of the institution to not only increase awareness with screening campaigns performed every first Saturday of the month but will also aid in early detection of the disease.
Chief guest Dr. Daisy Majamba, Regional Dental Officer, Dar es Salaam representing Dr. Yudas Ndungile, Regional Medical Officer, Dar es Salaam said, “Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after cancer of the cervix and second leading cause of cancer mortality among women in Tanzania. It is predicted that there will be 82% increase in number of new breast cancers diagnosed in Tanzania by 2030 with an increase of 80% in breast cancer deaths by 2030. The launch of the digital mammography system is a huge milestone in the country’s public-private partnerships in the fight against cancer”.
Andrew Waititu, Managing Director of GE Healthcare East Africa commending on the launch said, “Breast cancer is a scary thought for every woman and hence early detection of the disease remains key in the disease control. We are proud to partner with AKHS to bring digital mammography services for the people of Tanzania that will help in the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of the disease.”
Tanzania is the second country in Sub-Sahara Africa to install the mammography with the next-generation 3-D digital technology after South Africa.
Banishing blinding trachoma in Egypt
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Antibiotics to treat the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness have been delivered to nearly 300,000 people in Egypt. It was the first mass drug administration (MDA) of its kind in the country for trachoma and is crucial in preventing children and adults from going needlessly blind. It was delivered by the ministry of health and district level governates, with other organisations such as Sightsavers and other NGOs playing a vital role in distribution and facilitating its success.
Trachoma is an infectious and painful condition, which traps millions of people in a cycle of poverty because they are often unable to work. Over 1.7 million people in Egypt are at risk of trachoma, and a further 11 million live in areas where the disease is endemic, according to surveys taken in 2015.
To tackle the disease, community programmes have raised awareness and understanding of trachoma and how to prevent it, but until now no drugs had been mass distributed.
Egypt has a successful track-record in treating other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It was the first country in the Eastern Mediterranean to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (aka elephantiasis) and has made inroads to eliminating Schistosomiasis (snail fever). It is hoped this experience will help the country eliminate trachoma as a public health problem.
Philip Downs, Sightsavers’ Technical Director for NTDs said:
“This is a real milestone for public health in Egypt. Blinding trachoma has been causing suffering in Egypt since the age of the Pharaohs – yet could very soon be banished to the history books if it is made a priority.”
“This is the first time there has been such a large-scale distribution of antibiotics in the country. The Egyptian government, regional governments and other partners, have done a fantastic job to make this happen and proved that collaboration is key to overcoming challenges.
“But it’s important to remember that this is just the first step – more work is needed before Egypt follows in the footsteps of other countries and eliminates trachoma.”
The first trachoma MDA in Egypt happened in Matay, in the Menia region, at the end of July, where nearly 10 per cent of children aged one to nine had symptoms of the disease. Over the course of seven days health workers distributed doses of the antibiotic Zithromax®, donated by Pfizer, to 288,365 people aged six months and up. Children under seven received their dose in the form of syrup. Teams issued medical advice as well as distributed the antibiotics, and included a nurse and a recorder. The teams went house to house in 24 villages and three suburban areas, travelling across difficult terrain, to villages nestled into the base of mountains, and even visited a Matay prison, where the director of health personally took a dose of the antibiotic in front of prisoners to encourage acceptance.
The 468 health workers also prepared communities for the drug distribution and shared information about trachoma through local media, social media, community leaders, policy makers, faith leaders, and other community organisations.
Dr Ahmed Mousa, Chairman of Nourseen, on the frontline of delivering the programme, said this community engagement was key to the success of the programme as it meant people knew what to expect and why it was important. He added: “The community was very receptive to receiving the drugs and the distribution went smoothly. Health education helps reduce a certain amount, but you need the drug to treat a big slice of the community all at once.”
The treatment programme was delivered by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and district level governates, and was the result of a global collaboration with international organisations including Sightsavers, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nourseen foundation, KCCO and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). Local government and NGOs played a vital role in distribution and facilitating the success of the treatment programme.
For more information about the global drive to eliminate trachoma please visit https://www.sightsavers.org/protecting-sight/ntds/towards-trachoma-elimination/
For images and/or more information please call 01444 446739 or email Katya Mira at email@example.com
Notes to Editors
- Funders of the MDA in Egypt are the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population and the Menia governorates in the Matay district, with Zithromax® provided by Pfizer and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). The project was made possible through a partnership with Sightsavers, the World Health Organisation, Nourseen Charity Foundation for Community Ophthalmology, Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) and ITI.
- If momentum continues, trachoma could be just years away from elimination. In 2012 Oman became the first country WHO validated as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, followed by Morocco in 2016, then Mexico, Cambodia and Laos in 2017, and most recently Ghana, Iran and Nepal in 2018. China, Togo, The Gambia and Myanmar are also believed to be on the cusp of elimination.
Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities. It is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) www.sightsavers.org
Sightsavers holds Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status, making us one of the only international non-governmental organisations to hold this status in the UK. We conduct high quality research to address global gaps in knowledge and put research findings into practice by feeding them back into the design of our programmes.
There are 36 million blind people in the world; 75% of all blindness can be prevented or cured.
In the six decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:
- Supported over 1.1 BILLION treatments for neglected tropical diseases
- Carried out over 10.2 million operations to restore sight
- Trained more than 795,427 primary eye care workers
- Carried out rehabilitation training for 225,954 blind or low vision beneficiaries
- Supported 62,908 blind or low vision children to gain a school education
Zimbabwe Grapples with Big Shortage of ARVs.
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
The Government of Zimbabwe has been urged to un-lock the US$400 Million Global Fund HIV and AIDS Finance. This will make it work way-forward solutions to prevent the further spread of HIV and AIDS. The call has come at a time the country is running serious shortage of ARVs.
Secondly, the Executive Director of the Zimbabwe AIDS Net-Work [ZAN] Taurai Nyandoro advised the Government to pay US $6, 9 Million owed to suppliers of ARVs between 2017 and 2018. This, he said is the other reason why suppliers of ARVs are not supplying the country with drugs.
According to ZAN Director, to un-lock the Global Fund US $4 million, the Government must increase support to programs that focus on HIV and AIDS.
‘’ Zimbabwe must un-lock US$ 400 million Global Fund HIV finance which can help in alleviating poverty related to the spread of the deadly HIV which progresses to AIDS if not well managed .
‘’How-ever, to un-lock the finance, the Government must support programs in line with HIV and AIDS in the country.’’
‘’We want the number of those clients under the Global Fund to increase from 710,000 clients to a much bigger figure. The Government working with NAC has 113, 000 [Anti-Retroviral Therapy] ART Clients while PEPFAR has 193 clients .This will help eradicate HIV. Even by 2030 it’s possible to eliminate HIV if as well 90%, 90 %, 90% targets of the UNITED NATIONS are put in place.
Nyandoro further highlighted that the Ministry of Health and Child-Care has 100,000 people on ARV TEST and TREATMENT. This brings to 8000 new clients a month accessing services. He further advised the Government to give 15% support to the Health sector in its budget. This 15% increase which is Z$502 million makes it easy to get Global Fund support.
‘’The need to unlock the Global Fund finance facility is a big way-forward in making an end to the spread of HIV. There is shortage of ARVs of which the problem must be solved as fast as possible in the country’’, concludes Nyandoro .
A National AIDS Council official who declined to be named out said NAC in 2019 availed Z $23 million for HIV and AIDS in the country. He pointed out that besides this big money availed, the shortage of ARVs and STI Anti-Biotics is there because the Government owes suppliers much money.
‘’Yes. The shortage of ARVs must be addressed now. Anti-Biotics on Sexual Transmitted Diseases Treatment are on the short supply list as well. The challenge is now with those who use ARVs, the HIV positive people’’, he said.
Gambia to apply law against public smoking before end of 2019
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Adama Makasuba
The Gambia’s health sector has announced to enforcing a law that bans smoking in public dubbed Comprehensive Tobacco Act before end of 2019.
The move according to the officials is aim at curtailing tobacco mayhem. The press conference was organized by RAID-The Gambia.
The Act was implemented in 2013 after Gambia’s ratifying the World Health Organization’s FCTC on June 5 2005 and enforced the tobacco control law in 2016.
Speaking at the press conference, Modou Nja health director said: “we have a lot of work to do, we need to fight and enemy and the enemy is tobacco and we need to ensure that we try to educate on the danger of use of tobacco.”
He warned parents who send their children’s to buying cigarette that “is illegal” and that anyone who smokes needs to smoke a distance of 100 meter (size of a football field).
“People have to understand that both pregnant and lactating women wherever they are seated they are not supposed to smoke tobacco around them,” he warned.
Momodou Gassama, an official at World Health Organization said: “people who were dying because of second hand smoke was somehow years ago was about 600, 000 people but current estimate as far as WHO ‘s recent estimate is concerned nearly one million people die now are due to people smoking second-hand or inhaling or expose to second-hand smoking.”
“We’ve been quoting 6 years back that nearly 6 million people were dying now it is far more than that. The conservative estimate is that almost 8 million or more people die every year of tobacco instead of that 6 million people,” he added.
He said among the measures that could help fight against the use of tobacco that it is by enforcing drastic measures on the use of tobacco, adding that WHO report indicates that tobacco use has decline drastically across the world.
Cameroon Humanitarian Relief Initiative statement on operations
September 1, 2019 | 0 Comments
As unfortunate actions continue to escalate the ongoing crisis in Southern Cameroons, CHRI counts on your support in order to continue to take actions to alleviate the suffering. On the 31st of July 2019, the Cameroon Humanitarian Relief Initiative, CHRI, successfully carried out its latest outreach to the refugees at Ikom settlement camp, Cross River, Nigeria. We distributed 20 bags of clothing donated by Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Benin, Nigeria (see photos). The church also raised 1 million naira to support refugee relief. CHRI extends appreciation to Our Lady of Fatima church and the Nigerian community at large for supporting those affected by the crisis.
Starting on August 3, CHRI is hosting a series of webinars with other NGOs engaged directly with internally displaced persons in Cameroon or refugees in Nigeria to discuss ways to collaborate/coordinate to optimize our collective response to the crisis. Action plans arising from these positive discussions will be provided in future updates.
On July 11, 2019, CHRI carried out its 22nd monthly donation of food items to SC detainees at Kondengui Central Prison in Yaounde, Cameroon. Due to protests at the prison and related challenges, we have suspended this important outreach initiative until the appropriate conditions are in place to continue.
On behalf of CHRI, I would like to appreciate and encourage your continued support to the victims of this unfortunate crisis. Since our inception last year, we have raised $77,796.68 and spent $66,197.2 supporting these victims. We are planning our next outreach to the many refugees in Nigeria who are not currently covered by UNHCR. To channel your support through CHRI, I kindly request you to visit our website at chrelief.org/donate to make a donation or mail a check to: CHRI at 4413 Nuttall Road, Fairfax, VA 22032
Five African countries bid to host 2021 ICASA conference
August 28, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Five African countries have submitted bids to the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) to host the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) 2021 conference.
The society has revealed that the countries which have submitted their bid for pre-selection to be the host of ICASA 2021 are Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda and Tunisia.
The pre-selection started from 14 August 2019 ending on 29 August 2019, according to the society.
ICASA is a major bilingual international AIDS conference which takes place in Africa.
This year the 20th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa will take place in Kigali, Rwanda.
It is reported that the conference represents a tremendous opportunity to highlight the diverse nature of the African region’s HIV epidemic and the unique response to it.
It is also added that the conference theme this year “AIDS Free Africa – Innovation, Community, and Political Leadership” engages the whole continent and all stakeholders in the Post-SDG Framework, where sustainability of the response in reaching 90, 90, 90 UNAIDS will not be possible if human rights are not a key priority for a new of leadership in the context of strengthening the application of science-based evidence.
ICASA is a major international AIDS conference which takes place in Africa. Its current biennial hosting alternates between Anglophone and Francophone African countries.
The society says that the convening of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa represents a tremendous opportunity to highlight the diverse nature of the African region’s HIV epidemic and the unique response to it.
The biennial International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for professionals working in the field of HIV, as well as leaders, people living with HIV and others committed to ending the epidemic. It is reported to be a tremendous opportunity for researchers from around the world to share the latest scientific advances in the field, learn from one another’s expertise, and develop strategies for advancing all facets of collective efforts to treat and prevent HIV.
The Society for AIDS in Africa was established in Kinshasa in October 1990 during the 5th International Conference on AIDS and Associated Cancers in Africa, a precursor to the International Conference on AIDS
and STIs in Africa (ICASA).
It is reported that the formation of the Society for AIDS in Africa, was facilitated by the (W.H.O) to encourage the African continent to host international conferences on HIV/AIDS, a disease whose scourge has hardest hit the continent.It is reported that the move encourages and empowers Africans to directly address and respond to the challenges posed by the HIV and AIDS pandemic on the continent.
The Society envisions an HIV free Africa with capacity to confront all related consequences and diseases. The Society enables a positive environment for research on HIV and related diseases. The Society for AIDS in AFRICA (SAA) is governed by an Executive Council drawn from South, North, East, West and Central Africa. SAA collaborates with
AFRICASO, SAFAIDS, SWAA, NAP+, and Network of Youth in Africa and enjoy the support of the UN- System, as well as various International organizations, including the International AIDS Society (IAS).
Since its inception, SAA has successfully organized 19 International Conferences on HIV /AIDS and STIs in 14 Africa countries. On 6th December, 2017, in Abidjan, during ICASA 2017 the Sofitel Hotel Ivoire, the Minister of Health of Rwanda in the presence of ICASA 2017 President and the ICASA Director and other Executive Board Members, won the bid to host the 20th International Conference on AIDS and STIs which was conferred to Rwanda. Rwanda’s selection was a result of a rigorous evaluation of 3 countries to host ICASA 2019.
With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Minister of Health and SAA with the strong support of the Rwandan Government, Dr. Ihab Ahmed, SAA President, officially declared Rwanda as the next host
country of the 20th edition of ICASA, ICASA 2019.
Merck Foundation to conduct 6th Edition of “Merck Africa Asia Luminary” October 2019 in Ghana
August 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
African First Ladies and Ministers of Health, Gender, Information and Education from 20 African countries will attend the conference
ACCRA, Ghana, August 26, 2019/ — The 6th edition of Merck Africa Asia Luminary will be co-chaired by H.E. MADAM REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation.com); The President of Ghana, H.E. MR. NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO will officially inaugurate the “Merck Africa Asia Luminary”; 2nd Anniversary of Merck Foundation will be marked during the Luminary; African First Ladies and Ministers of Health, Gender, Information and Education from 20 African countries will attend the conference; More than 1000 healthcare providers and policy makers from 60 countries will benefit from the Luminary.
Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany plans to conduct the 6th Edition of “Merck Africa Asia Luminary” in ACCRA, GHANA on 29th & 30th of October 2019. It will be co-chaired by H.E. MADAM REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.
“Together with First Ladies Of Africa and Ministers of different sectors, we will work on strong strategy to build healthcare capacity and provide the necessary training to establish a strong platform of experts in Diabetes, Hypertension, Cancer and Fertility care in their countries and define interventions to break infertility stigma. During the two days Luminary, the Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Committee will be conducted to discuss different topics of discussion, follow up, monitoring and decisions.” Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized.
Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG will inaugurate the luminary and will participate in the Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Committee which will conducted during the two days Luminary.
During Merck Africa Asia Luminary, in order to contribute to the social and economic development of Africa and Asia, more than 1000 Healthcare providers, policy makers, academia, researchers and health media from Sub- Saharan Africa, more than 60 English, French and Portuguese speaking countries will benefit from the two days conference to benefit from valuable educational and social development sessions by top International experts in Diabetes, Fertility, Oncology and women health, Cardiology with the aim to raise health awareness and improve disease management, early detection and prevention, build healthcare capacity and improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions across the continent .
During the Inauguration Session on the 29th of October, a High–Level Ministerial Panel will be conducted where the Ministers of Health, Information, Gender, Education & Science will share solutions and activities to help in Building Healthcare Capacity. Also, there will be a discussion about the challenges & solutions of Infertility, Oncology, Diabetes and Hypertension care in Africa and Asia.
During the conference, Merck Foundation will also mark an important occasion; the 2nd Anniversary of Merck Foundation.
Moreover, winners of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ Media Recognition, Fashion and Film Awards of Ghana will be announced during the Award ceremony on 29th of October.
African and Asian Countries participating include: Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central Africa Republic, Cambodia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea – Bissau, Guinea – Conakry, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, U.A.E, UK, Uganda, US, Zambia, Zimbabwe and more.
About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign;
Merck More Than a Mother” initiative aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and health and by changing mind-sets. This powerful initiative supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention and management. In partnership with academia, ministries of health and international fertility societies, the initiative also provides medical education and training for healthcare providers and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.
With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training the skills of local experts, building advocacy in cooperation with decision makers and by supporting childless women in starting their own small business. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.
The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are: H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana; H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic; H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad; H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo; H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana; H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia; H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry; H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Republic of Liberia; H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi; The First lady of the Mauritania; H.E. DR. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique; H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger; H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone; H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGW, The First Lady of Zimbabwe; H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia.
Also, part of the campaign is our Merck Embryology & Fertility Training Program, a three-month hands-on practical course in partnership with IRSI, Indonesia, IIRRH, India and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Manipal University), India to establish the platform of fertility specialists across Africa and developing countries. Merck Foundation provided for more than 135 candidates, in clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 35 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, CAR, Cote D’IVOIRE, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malaysia, Liberia, Mali, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Niger, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, The Gambia, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia & Zimbabwe.
Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck more than a Mother such as;
• Merck More than a Mother media recognition award and health media training
• Merck More than a Mother fashion award
• Merck More than a Mother film award
• Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
About Merck Oncology Fellowship Program:
The Merck Oncology Fellowship Program, a key initiative of Merck Cancer Access Program, focuses on building additional capacity through medical education and training. The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.
Merck Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa and Developing countries. The program provides One-year fellowship program at Tata Memorial Centre – India, One and half-years Oncology Fellowship programs at University of Malaya – Malaysia, Two years Oncology Fellowship Program at University of Nairobi – Kenya and Two years Master degree in Medical, Surgical, Pediatric and Radiation Oncology at Cairo University – Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia. Launched in 2016, over 70 candidates from more than 25 African countries have rolled in the Merck Oncology Fellowship Program. The program will continue to build cancer care capability in African countries such as Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
About Merck Foundation:
Ministerial gathering to shape Africa’s health agenda opens in Brazzaville
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
Sixty-ninth session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for Africa
BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (Republic of the), August 19, 2019/ — The 69th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa opened today in Brazzaville, with Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso calling for stronger health systems, concrete action on counterfeit medicine and universal access to health care.
The Congolese leader drew attention to ongoing health development initiatives in his country.
“Each meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa should better highlight decisions and facilitate the consideration of African health issues by bodies such as the Executive Board and the World Health Assembly, said President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. “The endeavours of African States should be complemented by the global momentum for health for all. This is one of the best bets for humanity.”
In his opening remarks, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus highlighted that many countries have made impressive progress in delivering essential health services at the district level, yet large gaps remain. Only one third of people in the 47 WHO Member States can access essential health services, and only one third can do so without fear of financial hardship.
“Strengthening primary health care must therefore be the number one priority for every country,” he said. “The best investment in primary health care is in human capital. Nurses, midwives and community health workers are especially important for delivering the services that can promote health and prevent people from needing a hospital.”
In welcoming the participants, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, highlighted progress made by countries: Access to HIV services has expanded significantly, with the number of people on antiretroviral therapy having more than doubled in the past six years. The region is recording some of the fastest declines globally in new cases of tuberculosis and is on the verge of polio eradication. The Regional Director noted that political will is needed to tackle the emerging burden of noncommunicable diseases, which are expected to account for an additional 28 million deaths in Africa in the coming decade.
“All the health priorities and challenges I have mentioned coincide with an opportunity – that the day for universal health coverage has finally come. If governments, partners, WHO and other United Nations agencies combine our forces towards UHC we will be able to make health for all a reality for people in our region,” said Dr Moeti.
She called for a minute of silence in honour of health workers who have lost their lives while on the job. She remarked that in the face of complex challenges, the Member States are better prepared to respond to emergencies but must overcome huge funding gaps in implementing national action plans for health security. She commended the DR Congo Government for demonstrating sound leadership and ownership of the response to the Ebola outbreak, in coordination with partners.
Among the issues on the agenda of the five-day meeting is the Regional Strategy for Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response which if implemented, will improve preparedness and response to disease outbreaks. Delegates will also discuss the strategic plan to reduce the double burden of malnutrition in the WHO African Region. The strategy provides guidance to countries to stem the tide of rising malnutrition, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases by 2025. The Health Ministers will also discuss how to bring vector-borne diseases under control and how to strengthen district health systems for achieving universal health coverage. They will also the nominate the next Regional Director, who will serve a five-year term.
The Regional Committee is the highest decision-making body on health in the region, involving ministers of health from the Member States of the WHO African Region. It meets once a year to review critical health issues affecting the continent and to advise on appropriate strategies to improve health outcomes.
DRC resorts to visa requirements from Rwandans to curb Ebola outbreak
August 16, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
Since this Thursday no Rwandan national is allowed to cross into Republic Democratic of Congo without getting a visa.
The decision was made by General Directorate of Immigration in DRC after Ebola outbreak killed more than 1800 since August last year.
Rwandans who live in Rubavu district bordering with Goma City of DRC, used to cross to DRC upon presenting their identity cards.
Now any Rwandan who want to cross to Goma, have to pay a visa worthy 20 USD with one year warranty.
Rwanda has also started asking visas DRC nationals interring its territory to curb the spread of Ebola outbreak.
Since last month, three people have died of Ebola in Goma city, raising the fear on Rwandan side.
More than thirty thousands people cross Rwanda-DRC border every day, including business people and students on both side.
Congolese officials told Radio Okapi on Friday that they aware of their people in Rwanda who are being required visas.
Rwanda has put much efforts into avoiding Ebola on its territory by screening anyone entering in the country and preparing a center were patients of Ebola could be treated if found.
Cameroon: Hospital Director suspended following death pregnant woman and child
August 10, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
The director of Kaele District Hospital, Doctor Djongmo Daissala in Mayo Kani Division, Far North region of Cameroon has been slammed with a three-month suspension from his responsibilities following the death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
His suspension attributed mostly to negligence is contained in a communique signed by the Minister of Public Health, Dr Manaouda Malachie.
The communique suspends Dr Djongmo Daissala from his responsibilities as Director of the State institution for absence of a deontology and serious breach of professional obligations as he failed to deliver in his duties resulting to the lost of two lives which could be very much prevented.
Last weekend, a 38-year-old pregnant lady died due to lack of medical attention at the Kaele District hospital. Reports hold that she was not attended to due to absence of health personnel and finally succumbed to her labour pains.
Angered the news, the Health minister who has made it his mission to restore professionalism in the public health sector in Cameroon, took the decision to sanction the recalcitrant director.
The same communique appoints the District head of the Kaele health centre to replace him during the three months suspension period.
This is not the first time a pregnant lady in dying in Cameroon due to negligence on the part of health personnel. In 2016, Koumate Monique who was seven months pregnant with twins died at the La Quintinie hospital in Douala due to the passiveness of hospital staff who are reported to have requested down payment before she’s attended to.
Cancer at it again in Kenya
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma|@journalist_27
The World deadly disease cancer has hit Kenya hard after it consumed the life a young legislator on Friday, July 26. Hon. Ken Okoth Breathed his last breath in Nairobi Hospital after battling colorectal cancer for quite number of months. Mr. Okoth was rushed to the hospital on Thursday after his condition worsened. In a span of four hours while in the facility his condition further deteriorated and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Following the failure of his organs the doctors were forced to put him on the life support machine against his wish. The lawmaker had put it clear to his family not to put him on the machine. On Friday he died few hours after the machine had been put off. His death was made public by his brother.
“We want to inform the nation, that people of Kibera (the constituency he served for seven years), that the leader they trust, a servant leader, Hon. Ken Okoth is no more. He passed on while ago,” announced his brother. The news about his death was shocked the whole country. A number of people including the President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed their sadness for the loss of the leader whom they described as vibrant, committed, selfless, eloquent and dedicated.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and the opposition leader Raila Odinga lead the whole country in mourning the fallen hero. Social media pages were flooded with condolence messages from grieving Kenyans. His personality and leadership skills were the most celebrated aspects of his life. Some Kenyans went to an extent of urging other leaders to acquire his style of leadership which they described as inspiring and positive.
President Kenyatta described the deceased as an intelligent who inspired lives of many Kenyans especially the needy in the society. He said, “It is with a heavy heart that I have this afternoon received the sad news of the death of Hon. Ken Okoth. Death has robbed us of an astute legislator. May God comfort his family, friends and indeed all Kenyans during this difficult period of mourning.”
Ruto said, “Okoth had a dogged personality, tenacity that elevated him among his pears and gave him an invincible aura. His battle with cancer exemplified his brevity, endurance and strength in Adversity.” And the African Union envoy for infrastructure Raila Odinga hailed the legislator for his bravery in battling the disease and his selfless leadership.
The National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi reiterated that Okoth has left a huge gap in the parliament saying he was a great leader. “It is unfortunate that his demise comes at a time when we all looked forward to his recovery and comeback to the National Assembly after his return to the country recently. The Parliament has lost a valuable comrade, Kenya and indeed his constituents,” said the speaker.
The 41-year-old lawmaker had been in Paris, France for seven months for treatment and he returned to the country in July. Early this year, he revealed to a local newspaper how he discovered he was suffering from cancer. He said that for a year he was on treatment for ulcers and bacterial infections noting the doctor prescribed for him pills to manage stress and anxiety. When the situation persisted he went for cancer screen and he was diagnosed by stage 4 colorectal cancer.
His death came at a time when government his being urged to declare cancer a national disaster. The disease has been killing thousands annually and various leaders call for government to take action before it gets out of hand. Research says that cancer is the third leading cause of deaths and second among non-communicable diseases in the country.
Okoth’s death comes barely one month after another prominent person in the country died of cancer. The dominant mobile service provider Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore succumbed to Acute Myeloid Leukemia on July 1. Collymore was diagnosed with the disease in October 2017 and he was forced to take a nine month leave to seek medication in the United Kingdom. The two joined the list of nine people who have lost their lives due to cancer in the past two years.