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New Report on COVID-19 In Africa Highlights Need for Increased Access to Health Care Services and Protections for Health Care Workers
September 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

More than 24,000 adults in 18 AU Member States provide insight into indirect impacts of virus.

People living in Lagos State in Nigeria, simulate sneezing into their elbows during a coronavirus prevention campaign. Photo UNICEF/Ojo

Most African Union (AU) Member States swiftly implemented public health and social measures (PHSMs) to contain COVID-19; these measures likely slowed the spread of the virus, and caseloads in Africa have remained lower than projected. Though many governments have since loosened restrictions, allowing some economic activity to resume, new research from the Partnership for Evidence-Based COVID-19 Response (PERC) highlights substantial indirect burdens of the virus across Africa and offers recommendations to governments as countries scale up or scale down PHSMs to control the pandemic.

Almost half of people surveyed reported to have skipped routine care during the pandemic, according to PERC’s latest report —the second in its “Using Data to Find a Balance” series—which draws from a survey of more than 24,000 adults in 18 AU Member States, as well as social, economic and epidemiological data from a range of sources. Up to 70% respondents reported problems accessing food in the past week, and just as many survey respondents reported earning less money compared to the same time last year. Still, support for PHSMs remained strong, and 85% of respondents reported wearing a face mask in the previous seven days. 

“African Union Member States have responded decisively to COVID-19,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. “The data presented in PERC’s new report will allow decision makers to go beyond COVID-19 caseloads alone and instead consider a fuller picture of health and wellbeing,  and tailor response measures accordingly.”

Governments and international aid organizations need to act quickly to restore access to health services for care unrelated to COVID-19 and to build back public demand for services. 

Of survey participants who have needed health care during the pandemic, almost half reported skipping or delaying care; among those who needed medications, almost half reported increased difficulty in obtaining them. The most commonly delayed or skipped health care services were routine checkups, followed by care for malaria, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, antenatal care, and care for children under 5 years old.

“As in past outbreaks, we are seeing a high cost from missed and delayed health care,” said Dr Zabulon Yoti, Acting Regional Director, Emergency Preparedness and Response Cluster, World Health Organization.  “Even routine check-ups are critical for screening and treating people for both communicable and noncommunicable diseases. We must protect access to health care by making sure that facilities are equipped to handle COVID-19 infections, and that health workers are protected.”

Most respondents supported reopening their national economies, but reported anxiety about resuming normal activities was also high. The data suggest that COVID-19 is seen as a serious threat, but for many, economic needs outweigh concern about catching the virus. 

Still, adherence to the “3 W’s”—wearing a mask, washing hands, and watching distance from others—remained high, pointing to a way forward for policymakers. Effective government support for these behavioral measures could mitigate the need for more restrictive measures in the future.

“COVID-19 has threatened progress toward all Sustainable Development Goals, and PERC’s data clearly show the importance of targeted relief measures,” said Dr. Elsie S. Kanza, Head of the Regional Agenda, Africa; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, “These are needed to help our economic recovery, to protect health and to prevent inequality from widening.”

The report also highlights gaps in reporting key data, including data on community transmission and adherence to preventive measures, which limits the speed and impact of efforts made to manage local outbreaks, and makes it difficult to calibrate PHSMs.

“Data is essential to our defense against COVID-19, and the more governments in AU Member States can rely on it to support their decisions, the more effective their response will be,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies.           

Key findings in the report include:

  • 44% respondents in need of health care said they or someone in their household had skipped or delayed needed services, and 45% respondents in need of medicine reported the same for accessing medication.
  • 70% of people reported problems accessing food, mainly due to lost income or higher food prices
  • 70% of survey respondents reported earning less money compared to the same time last year
  • Lower income families were more likely to experience a decline in income. About 80% of households with less than US$100 in monthly income saw their income fall, compared to 60% of households with at least US$500 in monthly income
  • Six in 10 respondents agreed that the economy needs to be reopened, and that the health risks of COVID-19 are minimal if social distancing rules are followed
  • 85% of respondents reported wearing a face mask in public in the previous seven days, but as expected given recent relaxing of some PHSMs, a lower share (60%) said they avoided religious gatherings and only half reported staying home instead of going to work, school or other regular activities
  • While more than two-thirds of respondents agreed that many people in their country would be affected by COVID-19, less than one-third (29%) believed their own personal risk of infection was high
  • While most respondents indicated basic knowledge of COVID-19, misinformation about the virus is common, particularly those positing foreign interference in treatments and vaccines. About one in three survey respondents agreed with the assertion that foreigners were discrediting African medicines and testing vaccines on Africans

Recommendations include that governments:

  • Prioritize “boxing in” the virus, by ensuring an adequate supply of testing kits and reagents to identify positive cases, tracing their close contacts, and isolating cases, rather than relying on wide-scale lockdowns
  • Make it as easy as possible for communities to adhere to low-cost personal protective measures, “the 3 W’s”—wearing a mask, washing hands, and watching distance.
  • Protect health care workers by establishing COVID-19 protocols, increasing availability of personal protective equipment and training on infection prevention and control; then encourage people to seek care for health services unrelated to COVID-19 by engaging community leaders
  • Prioritize evidence-based measures to increase food security and economic recovery, including cash transfers and direct food support, with a focus on the lowest income households and vulnerable populations
  • Address misinformation by sharing consistent, evidence-based messages with trusted community members as messages messengers
  • Invest in data collection, analysis and reporting, including core indicators about cases and the public health response, rapid mortality surveillance, data about COVID-19 infections among health workers, and data on utilization of health services.

About the Partnership for Evidence-Based COVID-19 Response (PERC)

The Partnership for Evidence-based Response to COVID-19, a consortium of global public health organizations and private sector firms. PERC member organizations are Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team and the World Economic ForumIpsos andNovetta Mission Analytics bring market research expertise and years of data analytic support to the partnership PERC was created in March 2020 with the objective of providing AU Member States with real-time information and guidance to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the continent. PERC’s first regional report, Responding to COVID-19 in Africa: Using Data to Find the Balance, was published in May of 2020. 

About Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.

About the World Health Organization 

About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies, focuses on preventing deaths from cardiovascular disease and by preventing epidemics. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

About the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team

The UK-PHRST is funded by UK aid from the Department of Health and Social Care and is a partnership between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Public Health England (PHE). University of Oxford and King’s College London (KCL) are academic partners. Through the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST), the UK has the capacity to respond rapidly to disease outbreaks in low- and middle-income countries around the world and conduct operational research into epidemic preparedness, playing an important role in global health security. The team also works to help countries to build their own capacity for an improved and rapid national response to outbreaks.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the third largest market research company in the world, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. Our 75 business solutions are based on primary data coming from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques. “Game Changers”—our tagline—summarises our ambition to help our 5,000 clients navigate with confidence our world of rapid change. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since 1 July 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service

About Novetta

Novetta delivers scalable advanced analytic and technical solutions to address challenges of national and global significance. Focused on mission success, Novetta pioneers disruptive technologies in machine learning, data analytics, full-spectrum cyber, open source analytics, cloud engineering, DevSecOps, and multi-INT analytics for Defense, Intelligence Community, and Federal Law Enforcement customers. Novetta is headquartered in McLean, VA with over 1,300 employees across the U.S.

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. In response to the COVID-19 emergency, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization (WHO), launched the COVID Action Platform. The platform is intended to catalyse private-sector support for the global public health response to COVID-19, and to do so at the scale and speed required to protect lives and livelihoods, aiming to find ways to help end the global emergency as soon as possible.

*Courtesy of Vital Strategies

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Medical Workers of Conviction: Speaking to Cuban Doctors Who Heal the World
September 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Vijay Prashad*

Dr. José Armando Arronte Villamarín

In 2004, Dr. José Armando Arronte Villamarín was posted to head a Cuban medical brigade in Namibia. Cuban medical personnel first came to southwest Africa in 1975 alongside Cuban soldiers; the soldiers had arrived there to assist the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) in the fight for the liberation of Namibia from the apartheid South African military. Dr. Arronte Villamarín, a friendly man with a glint in his eye, tells me how much he has enjoyed his work, not only during his time in Namibia, which lasted till 2007, but also—strikingly—in the United States of America.

I was surprised. I had no idea that Cuban medical personnel had served in the United States, which has—since the Cuban Revolution of 1959—tried to overthrow the government of Cuba. In 2005, Dr. Arronte Villamarín was in Havana for the annual meeting of the chiefs of Cuba’s medical brigades. That was when Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans, destroying the city and putting the entire southern half of Louisiana and other parts of the Gulf Coast in serious peril. Cuba offered to send its medical teams to assist their neighbors to the north. But U.S. President George W. Bush refused. Cuba’s Fidel Castro encouraged the formation of the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade. Dr. Arronte Villamarín’s medical team in Namibia became part of this new brigade.

If Bush said not to come to the United States, then how did Dr. Arronte Villamarín find himself there? In 2017, due to the initiative of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, members of the Henry Reeve brigade—including Dr. Arronte Villamarín—came to Chicago to study and treat high rates of infant mortality. The infant mortality rate among African American mothers in the United States in 2018 was 11.7 per 1,000 live births, while it was 6 per 1,000 for white mothers; in Cuba, the infant mortality rate in 2019 was 5.1 per 1,000 live births. Dr. Arronte Villamarín tells me he was shocked by what he saw. He and his colleagues tried to do the very best that they could, but they were only in Chicago for five months. It was just not enough time to make a difference.

Almost Totally Isolated

The United States government has continued attacking Cuban medical internationalism right up to the current pandemic, making wild allegations against the program that disparage the medical workers. Paul Hare, a former British ambassador to Cuba who teaches in the United States, told Reuters recently that the U.S. is “almost totally isolated” when it comes to its Cuban policy. Each year since 1992, the UN General Assembly votes to end the U.S.-imposed embargo on the island. In 2019, 187 countries said the embargo must end, while the U.S. stood with two of its closest allies (Brazil and Israel); Ambassador Hare’s phrase—“almost totally isolated”—is an understatement.

Dr. Daymarelis Ortega Rodríguez, the chief of the Henry Reeve brigade in Barbados, told me that her work in the brigade gives her “immense pride.” “I enlisted to be part of this brigade by my own will,” she said, “not as a slave or exploited person. I am a fighter for life, for peace, and for human welfare.” Dr. Ortega Rodríguez, whose face lights up with a smile as she talks, is responding to one of the most bizarre accusations: that the Cuban government treats its doctors like “slaves.”

In June 2019, for instance, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio called Cuban medical internationalism “modern-day slavery.” Rubio, along with Senators Ted Cruz and Rick Scott, introduced the Cut Profits to the Cuban Regime Act of 2020, which would target countries that take assistance from the Cuban doctors. The Health Minister of Barbados, Jeffrey Bostic, responded sharply: “Barbados is a sovereign country and we make decisions in the interest of the country just like other countries large and small. We have engaged the nurses from Cuba… and we are not going to buckle under the pressure of any other nation.”

Commitments to Health

Dr. Ortega Rodríguez is sitting on a couch in Barbados, alongside Nurse Yandy Pérez, who is part of her brigade. They are sharing a phone, telling me about what they are doing in Barbados and what they had done beforehand. Both Dr. Ortega Rodríguez and Nurse Pérez are in the midst of the fight against COVID-19. Nurse Pérez had been in Vietnam, while Dr. Ortega Rodríguez had spent time in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, and in Antigua. Nurse Pérez says that he has not worked in Vietnam and in Barbados for any personal gain. “Why do you spend years outside Cuba?” I asked them. “We do it out of conviction,” said Nurse Pérez, “out of solidarity. We do it from the heart.”

Dr. Jany Cabrera Paumier has been a physician since 2012 and an internist since 2016. She is talking to me from Belize, where she is on her first medical internationalist mission. Dr. Cabrera Paumier has a four-year-old daughter, who lives in Santiago de Cuba; her voice breaks as she says that it will be her daughter’s birthday in a few days. “I decided that I wanted to be part of this brigade and its honorable work for the world,” Dr. Cabrera Paumier told me. “Believe me, my choice could not make me prouder to be Cuban.”

This year, the Henry Reeve brigade celebrates 15 years of work, although Cuban medical internationalism goes back to 1960. I have interacted with doctors like Dr. Arronte Villamarín and Dr. Cabrera Paumier over the years and have been overwhelmed by their commitment to health and love, to human possibility. But it is important to remember that they are also human beings, people with lives that are folded into their internationalism.

Dr. Cabrera Paumier’s daughter is proud of her mother. So is Dr. Ortega Rodríguez’s son, who plays the trombone in the Havana theater. So are Dr. Arronte Villamarín’s children, a son who is a dental surgeon and a daughter who is in medical school; they follow in their father’s footsteps. It is not easy to be away from their families, but each of these medical workers thinks that it is worthwhile. “I came to Belize to help people to do the best for their own country,” Dr. Cabrera Paumier told me.

On September 26, these Cuban doctors join Danny Glover and Vijay Prashad to talk about the campaign for the Cuban doctors to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

*This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest book is Washington Bullets, with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.

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Gates Foundation Honors Director of Africa CDC With 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award
September 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

Dr. John N. Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), as the winner of the 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award.Photo credit Reuters

Foundation also announces three Global Goals award winners and launches two innovative partnerships to address COVID-19 impacts in Kenya.

SEATTLE, September 21, 2020 – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today named Dr. John N. Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), as the winner of the 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award. As part of its annual Goalkeepers campaign, the foundation also announced three other Goalkeepers Awards and launched two innovative partnerships that address the impact of COVID-19 on Kenya’s health and economy.

“Dr. Nkengasong and his team at Africa CDC are deeply deserving of this award,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Their commitment to securing the latest innovations from elsewhere in the world—as well as developing them themselves—will go a long way towards ensuring that the continent has the vaccines and medicines it needs to fight COVID-19.”

In addition to Dr. Nkengasong, this year’s awards went to Hauwa Ojeifo of Nigeria, Bonita Sharma of Nepal, and the MASH Project Foundation based in India. Each was recognized for playing a role in addressing the effects of COVID-19 in their communities. More details about each of the awards and their winners follows.

The 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award recognizes an established individual demonstrating significant commitment to health and development, specifically in response to the pandemic. The award is being presented to Dr. Nkengasong, a central voice for Africa’s scientific community. As co-chair of the Africa CDC Consortium for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials (CONCVACT), Dr. Nkengasong is leading the securement of a variety of late-stage vaccine clinical trials on the continent by bringing together global vaccine developers, funders, and local facilitators. This work will be vital to ensure that the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population are identified and scaled up.

The 2020 Changemaker Award, which celebrates an individual who has inspired change using personal experience or from a position of leadership, recognizes Hauwa Ojeifo of Nigeria for her work promoting gender equality (Global Goal #5). Ojeifo is a sexual and domestic abuse survivor and the founder of She Writes Woman, a women-led movement giving the issue of mental health a voice in Nigeria.

The 2020 Progress Award, which celebrates an individual who supports progress via a science, technology, digital, or business initiative, recognizes Bonita Sharma of Nepal for her work promoting good health and well-being (Global Goal #3). Sharma is the co-founder and CEO of Social Changemakers and Innovators (SOCHAI), a youth-led nonprofit working to improve the nutritional health of nursing mothers and young children and to economically empower marginalized women through business opportunities.

The 2020 Campaign Award, which celebrates a campaign that has raised awareness or built a community by inspiring action and creating change, recognizes the MASH Project Foundation for furthering global cooperation and partnership (Global Goal #17). A social enterprise based in India, the MASH Project Foundation is building a global community of social change makers by bridging the gaps between governments, civil society, the corporate sector, youth, and media to drive social impact.

“While the pandemic and the inequalities it highlights will undoubtedly define this era, the world is seeing the very best of humanity emerge,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’re inspired by the energy and drive of this year’s award winners to create a safer, healthier, and more equitable world.”

The foundation also announced two dynamic, cross-sector partnerships called Goalkeepers Accelerators. These partnerships catalyze progress by bringing together partners from different sectors to pool their collective investment, knowledge, and big ideas to tackle one or more of the SDGs. The 2020 Accelerators—led by Sanergy and Educate!—are actively helping stem the spread of COVID-19 in Kenya while defending against the ripple effects of the pandemic on the country’s economy and a multitude of health issues.

Safe Sanitation for a Healthy, Sustainable World: Led by Sanergy, this Accelerator will scale access to safe sanitation services in Kenya’s informal settlements and help stop the spread of COVID-19 by providing soap, PPE and hand-washing education for residents, with the goal of reaching 1.3 million Kenyans by 2025. As part of this Accelerator, Sanergy will expand to Kisumu—Kenya’s third-largest city and the company’s first market outside of Nairobi—to bring its proven sanitation services to 300,000 Kisumu residents by 2025. Partners involved in this Accelerator driving progress toward SDG 6 include the Kisumu and Nairobi county governments, the Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company (KIWASCO), AFD, and Who Gives a Crap.

Preparing Youth to Thrive in the Informal Economy: This Accelerator, led by Educate!, will launch a new series of skills-based, intensive training bootcamps to provide a pathway to a safe and sustainable livelihood by equipping out-of-school youth with the skills they need to succeed in Kenya’s high-growth informal economy. As part of the Accelerator, Educate! will pilot its eLearning platform NawiriPro to train 100,000 youth to become professional motorbike drivers in Kenya by 2023; launch a new bootcamp model supporting women and rural youth by 2021; and create a marketplace for young people to access business services and resources. Partners involved in this Accelerator driving progress toward SDG 8 include the Kenyan ministries of health and trade, Accenture Development Partners, Aspira, the Atlassian Foundation, Imaginable Futures, the Ray & Tye Noorda Foundation, Rippleworks Foundation, Sendy, the Umsizi Fund, and the Waterloo Foundation.

The announcement of the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards and the Accelerators follows the release last week of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual Goalkeepers Report. This year’s report shows how economic damage caused by COVID-19 has reinforced inequities and derailed achievement of the Global Goals, but also spotlights countries innovating to meet the challenge and outlines a path for a shared global response.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers is the foundation’s campaign to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals). By sharing stories and data behind the Global Goals through an annual report, we hope to inspire a new generation of leaders—Goalkeepers who raise awareness of progress, hold their leaders accountable, and drive action to achieve the Global Goals.

About the Global Goals

On September 25, 2015, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, 193 world leaders committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals). These are a series of ambitious objectives and targets to achieve three extraordinary things by 2030: end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change.

Project Everyone, co-creators of Goalkeepers, was founded by writer, director, and SDG Advocate Richard Curtis with the ambition to help achieve the Global Goals through raising awareness, holding leaders accountable, and driving action.

*Gates Foundation

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Covid-19 en RDC : 27 nouveaux cas, 3 décès et 39 guéris samedi
September 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

covid-19

Depuis le début de l’épidémie déclarée le 10 mars 2020, le cumul des cas est de 10.515, dont 10.514 cas confirmés et 1 cas probable. Au total, il y a eu  271 décès  (270 cas confirmés et 1 cas probable) et 9.930 personnes guéries.

  • 27 nouveaux cas confirmés, dont 14 au Kongo Central, 6  à Tanganyika, à Kinshasa, au Sud-Kivu, et 1  dans le Haut-Katanga ;
  • 188 échantillons testés ;
  • 3 nouveaux décès des cas confirmés ;
  • 39 nouvelles personnes  guéries sorties des CTCo et parmi les patients suivis à domicile ;Une nouvelle province a été affectée par le Coronavirus en République démocratique du Congo. Il s’agit de la province du Tanganyika. Cela ramène le nombre des provinces touchées à 21.

 N.B : Le test Covid-19 est gratuit pour tout le monde en République démocratique du Congo. Cependant, le test des voyageurs est payant à 30 dollars américains.
 
*Les 21 provinces touchées :
 

  • Kinshasa             :              8.108 cas ;
  • Nord-Kivu           :              899 cas ;
  • Kongo Central   :              466 cas ;
  • Haut-Katanga    :              325 cas ;
  • Sud-Kivu             :              303 cas ;
  • Ituri                      :              149 cas ;
  • Lualaba               :              103 cas ;
  • Haut-Uélé           :              63 cas ;
  • Tshopo                :              38 cas ;
  • Nord-Ubangi     :              19 cas ;
  • Equateur            :              15 cas ; 
  • Kwilu                   :              6 cas ;
  • Sud-Ubangi        :              6 cas ;
  • Tanganyika         :              6 cas ;
  • Maniema            :              2 cas ;
  • Haut-Lomami    :              1 cas :
  • Kasaï                    :              1 cas ;
  • Kasaï Central     :              1 cas ;
  • Kasaï Oriental   :              1 cas ;
  • Kwango                              :              1 cas ;
  • Tshuapa              :              1 cas.

L’article Covid-19 en RDC : 27 nouveaux cas, 3 décès et 39 guéris samedi est apparu en premier sur Matininfos.NET – Information de la RDC en toute impartialité.

Source: Matininfos

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Youth activist-led social enterprise inspires next generation of female leaders
September 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

Blackboard Africa tackles gender-based violence by inspiring, empowering young girls with leadership skills and practical tools for building a better future.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 16 2020 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Looking out over the skyline of the vibrant city of Johannesburg, one youth activist considers the work that still lies ahead to safeguard women’s rights and safety. In a country with one of the world’s highest rates of gender-based violence, Amonge Sinxoto is making sure young women are empowered to effect change in their communities.

“Globally, women’s safety remains in peril, and they often bear the brunt of gender-based violence. We need to work with young women and cultivate their talent, so they feel confident to help build a safer, more just society.”

Amonge Sinxoto is the co-founder of Blackboard Africa, a 2019 Global Teen Leader and current Allan Gray Candidate Fellow. She has lent her voice to speak on issues related to youth activism on programmes by Google, Facebook, and TEDx. And she’s only 19 years old.

In 2019, Sinxoto attended the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa, where she met SAP Head of Global CSR Alexandra van der Ploeg. After Sinxoto shared a proposal of their plans for 2020, Blackboard Africa was awarded an SAP grant for €15,000 to help fund some of the planned activities. “Alexandra has been a mentor and helped guide us through the disruption from Covid-19 to ensure we can continue our programmes despite lockdown. She has also helped guide us as we make changes to our organisation to ensure we can continue delivering on our purpose, which is more relevant than ever.”

Sinxoto says the statistics speak for themselves: “South African women feel unsafe, bear the brunt of gender-based attacks, and often live in fear even as they contend with immense socio-economic challenges. It’s time to lean into young women and empower them to become the next generation of leaders in our country.”

Accurate figures over South Africa’s rate of gender-based violence are hard to come by, partly because most incidents are not reported. However, in one local study in 2011, data revealed that more than one in every three (37.7%) women in the country’s economic hub of Gauteng have experienced intimate partner violence. And last year, a study by StatsSA found that 43% of women surveyed reported feeling unsafe.

Blackboard Africa is a registered non-profit organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The brainchild of youth activists and social entrepreneurs Amonge Sinxoto and Zingisa Socikwa, Blackboard Africa aims to bridge the leadership gap among young people aged 13 to 25 with a view to addressing Africa’s challenges.

The organisation runs a number of projects, including the Fan Her Flame leadership programme, a Boys Will Not Be Boys outreach programme for young men, and Pass The Baton, which aims to prepare young people aged 12 to 25 to overcome life’s hurdles in the pursuit of social impact.

Sinxoto and her team are currently working with two groups of girls as part of the Fan Her Flame programme, one group from Soweto and another from Alexandra township. “Many of these girls live in trying circumstances with daily battles against poverty and hunger. Despite this, the girls are incredibly bright, but their confidence levels are low. We want to inspire them to see themselves in situations where they can achieve more and make a positive change in the community around them.”

The Fan Her Flame programme takes the format of a series of workshops hosted over several weeks. The goal is for young women to understand their value, learn to better express their challenges and maximise their contribution to the development of their communities. “We want to show these young women that there is power in their voice,” says Sinxoto. “And we want to give them practical tools to help them build a better future, including planning techniques that help them set short and long-term goals that bring them closer to their vision.”

She adds that it’s important that the next generation of female leaders and role models don’t live in fear of violence and abuse. “Tackling the issue of gender-based violence requires interventions at multiple levels. Policy reform is needed to improve the structures that govern women’s rights. Police need to be trained to deal with gender-based issues and increase the intensity at which they investigate gender-based violence. And we need an honest conversation with men, many of whom continue to wage war against the women in our society.”

South Africa’s government is taking the matter seriously. It released a National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in 2020, which features a detailed action plan built on four strategic pillars: Accountability Coordination and Leadership; Prevention and Rebuilding of Social Cohesion; Justice, Safety and Protection; and Response, Care, Support and Healing.

“The challenges are immense,” says Sinxoto. “In one of our communities, up to ten families share a single outdoor toilet. This means young girls often have to walk in the dark of night as far as 1km to use the bathroom, which puts them at incredible risk. These are not problems that will disappear overnight, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t meaningful actions we can take now to improve the lives of these young girls and inspire hope.”

To help deliver on its purpose, Blackboard Africa often works with partners and volunteers to help drive the success of its programmes. “We are always seeking more industry support, particularly to bring in relevant mentors that can inspire and guide the girls on their journey. Funding is always a challenge: some of the communities in which we work face abject poverty. You can’t learn when you’re distracted by hunger, so we work with partners to meet some basic needs within our communities.”

Global head of CSR for SAP, Alexandra van der Ploeg says young women such as Amonge and her colleagues at Blackboard Africa hold the promise of a bright future for the African continent. “Undaunted by the scale of the challenges, Amonge and the Blackboard Africa team work tirelessly to support one of the most vulnerable communities, inspiring hope and creating opportunities for meaningful change in their communities. As a purpose-led organisation, SAP is proud to support the vital work they are doing and will continue working with them to create sustainable, positive impact.”

For more information about Blackboard Africa’s initiatives, please visit www.blackboardafrica.com and here are further links to video content of these young women in action:

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @SAPNews.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.

About SAP
As the Experience Company powered by the Intelligent Enterprise, SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software, helping companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP® system. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises. SAP helps give people and organizations deep business insight and fosters collaboration that helps them stay ahead of their competition. We simplify technology for companies so they can consume our software the way they want – without disruption. Our end-to-end suite of applications and services enables more than 440,000 business and public customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

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Note to editors:
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Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Gates Foundation’s Annual Goalkeepers Report shows COVID-19 has stalled 20 years of progress, calls for a global response to end the pandemic
September 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

Report shows how economic damage has reinforced inequities in Africa and derailed achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals; spotlights countries innovating to meet challenges

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 15, 2020, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/-
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today launched its fourth annual Goalkeepers Report, featuring new data showing how the ripple effects of COVID-19 have stopped 20 years of progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals).

The report provides the most contemporary global data set for how the pandemic is affecting progress toward the Global Goals, showing that, by nearly every indicator, the world has regressed.

Africa has made tremendous improvements in poverty reduction with a 28% decrease in the number of people living in extreme poverty since 1990. But at the end of 2020, 13 million Africans are expected to fall below the poverty line in the best-case scenario, and 50 million at the worst. We could see double the number of malaria deaths this year compared to 2018, and 80 million children under the age of one worldwide may be at risk from preventable diseases.

In addition, the economic damage being caused by continent’s first recession in 25 years is reinforcing inequalities. Women and other vulnerable groups are suffering disproportionally, those in low-income countries are struggling with food and school closures are unfairly disadvantaging rural children.

Despite tremendous constraints, African countries are innovating to meet the challenge, and there is much the world can learn from the continent’s response. The government is deploying mobile testing units in South Africa, the private sector is raising money to bolster resources in Nigeria, and new and improved cash transfers are reaching millions in West Africa. In Senegal, scientists are developing cutting-edge, low cost ventilators, and public-private partnerships are bringing internet connectivity to rural and remote communities in Kenya.

African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa, in collaboration with The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, launched the African Medical Supplies Platform in June. Its purpose is to ensure that countries on the continent have access to affordable, high-quality, life saving equipment and supplies, many of which are manufactured in Africa. Bill and Melinda Gates believe COVID-19 is a true test for the global community.

“The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us some of the best of humanity: pathbreaking innovation, heroic acts by frontline workers, and ordinary people doing the best they can for their families, neighbors, and communities,” Bill and Melinda Gates write. “This is a shared global crisis that demands a shared global response.”

In the report, which Bill and Melinda Gates co-author every year, they call on the world to collaborate on the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatment; manufacture tests and doses as quickly as possible; and deliver these tools equitably based on need, rather than the ability to pay. There are currently several viable paths to help achieve an equitable outcome, including the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, the most serious collaborative effort to end the pandemic, which brings together proven organizations like Gavi and the Global Fund.

The report makes clear that no single country will be able to meet this challenge alone. Any attempts by one country to protect itself while neglecting others will only prolong the hardships caused by the pandemic. Developing and manufacturing vaccines will not end the pandemic quickly unless they are delivered equitably.

According to modeling from Northeastern University, if rich countries buy up the first 2 billion doses of vaccine instead of making sure they are distributed equitably, then almost twice as many people could die from COVID-19.

All people deserve the chance to live a healthy and productive life and while progress in Africa is possible, it is not inevitable. An equitable outcome is needed to end the virus and ensure that reversals in development do not become permanent,” said Cheikh Oumar Seydi, Africa Director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We need strong global collaboration with leaders in government and the private sector to ensure that everyone can access safe, effective coronavirus treatment, leaving no one behind.”

The International Monetary Fund projects that, despite the US$18 trillion already spent to stimulate economies around the world, the global economy will lose US$12 trillion or more by the end of 2021. There are inherent limits to what low- and middle-income countries can do to backstop their economies, regardless of how effectively those economies have been managed. While high-income countries have mobilized 22% of GDP in emergency spending, this is compared to just 3% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Bill and Melinda Gates began learning about and donating money to public health more than 20 years ago, after reading a story about how hundreds of thousands of children living in poverty were dying of diarrhea, something that was easily treatable in the United States. Today, because of global coordination and commitment, 4.5 million fewer children are dying each year from preventable diseases compared to 2000.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Notes to Editors
About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About Goalkeepers
Goalkeepers is the foundation’s campaign to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals). By sharing stories and data behind the Global Goals through events and an annual report, we hope to inspire a new generation of leaders-Goalkeepers who raise awareness of progress, hold their leaders accountable, and drive action to achieve the Global Goals.

About the Global Goals
On September 25, 2015, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, 193 world leaders committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals). These are a series of ambitious objectives and targets to achieve three extraordinary things by 2030: end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Sierra Leone : A heavy toll on all Sierra Leonians from Covid -19 says Mental Health Advocacy Network Director
September 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Ibrahim Hassan Koroma
Ibrahim Hassan Koroma

The Founder and Executive Director of Mental Health Advocacy Network, (MHAN) Ibrahim Hassan Koroma, has said that the Corona Virus  pandemic has affected humans psychologically , socially , mentally , culturally  and even the way humans are behaving  adding that because of the virus , people’s life styles have completely changed in order to conform to the Covid -19 regulations.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with panafricanvision.com at his office , Waterloo, western Rural district on Friday 11th September , on  the effect of the pandemic on people , he said that as a result of global outbreak , it has disrupted our normal way of life, thinking and perception due to the several restrictions that it came with put forward by experts.

“Culturally , in Sierra Leone , we are used to greeting each other or one another and use to shaking hands when we greet but because of the pandemic we do not shake hands again . we used to sympathize with our bereaved families and friends but as a result of CoVID not everyone is allowed to go the funeral occasions. So psychologically that in itself has affected us a lot. Then even our normal behaviour , before the coming of CoVID -19 in the country , we used to do our normal business, we were doing our normal activities but no sooner , the pandemic rock our nation , it has cut off normal way of life,’’ he said , adding that due to the pandemic in the country government instituted measures ,  some of which  are restrictive and that has affected our feelings and behaviour.

He said that the pandemic has affected people’s thinking, feelings and affects their  behaviour stating that  Corona has a greatly  impacted  on the lives of people which he said might also  lead to depression.

“ Because at the end of the day , you wanted to fulfil certain things you are not capable of doing , you will become depressed and can kept  on thinking which can lead to clinical depression,’’ Ibrahim  Hassan Koroma added.

When asked on the effect of the pandemic on the aged , he replied “ the aged are one of the neglected vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone , there is not much focus on them, but they have their own needs . Before now old people used to interact with their families , used to visit , doing things on their own . so, because of the pandemic , most what they used to doing has stopped. That affects them so much .

The MHAN boss went to say there is need for an approach for these old people in our societies ,adding that  they needed good care just as the young as they are vulnerable especially in our society that does not have much schemes, programmes for them to survive from psycho-social support to name a few.

“ The coming of corona, it has added the poverty situation on people especially on things that as a poor country we do not have basic services that looks at the welfare of people . It is people that fen their living . it is difficult . It’s that difficulty that somebody wants his needs and not been able to meet those needs to me that is the greatest aspect of poverty which has affected us ,’’

The MHAN boss further added that government must do more to help people affected by the pandemic , urging people to follow guidelines by the World Health Organisation , the Ministry of Health in order to drive the pandemic in the country so as normalcy to be restored in people’s lives.

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Is Kenya’s Covid-19 curve flattening?
September 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi
Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi

Kenya on Monday recorded 48 new Covid-19 cases as the tally rose to 36,205.

The new infections are one of the lowest figures in recent months.

Speaking during Covid-19 daily briefings in Nairobi, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said the positive cases were confirmed from 1,081 samples tested within the last 24 hours.

All the new cases were Kenyans with the youngest patient being 12-years-old and the oldest is 75-years-old.

In terms of gender, 31 were males and 17 females.

The cases were distributed in the country as follows: Mombasa (20), Nairobi (15), Tharaka nithi (4), Kilifi (2), Kiambu (2), Meru (2), Machakos (1), Wajir (1), Homa Bay (1).

At the same time, 176 patients have recovered from the respiratory illness, 45 from home care programme, and 131 from various health facilities bringing the number of recoveries to 23,624.

Consequently, 2 more patients succumbed to the new virus increasing the death toll to 624.

The CAS noted that cases in Mombasa and Turkana counties are rising.

“While this might seem like a surge, we have set up a team to find out why that is happening. We ask for the maintenance of social distance. If you have an underlying condition, you may not need to be in a place where social distance is not being maintained,” she said.

Dr. Mwangani urged Kenyans to keep on observing the protocols put in place by the Ministry of Health.

“We should not be complacent Covid-19 is still an issue globally and locally. Ministry of Health protocols still stands during political and social gatherings. Personal responsibility is key and no one is being forced to attend meetings,” she advised.

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Covid-19 : Le tout premier cas confirmé au Maniema (Gouverneur)
September 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

coronavirus - covid-19

Le Gouverneur Auguy Musafiri a déclaré l’épidémie du Coronavirus dans la province du Maniema après la découverte du tout premier cas positif.

L’exécutif provincial du Maniema l’a fait savoir lors d’une intervention sur les médias locaux.

Selon luiil s’agit d’un sujet Congolais de sexe masculin et d’une cinquantaine d’années dont l’échantillon prélevé a été déclaré positif par l’Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale

Voici l’intégralité de son message à la population :

« Chers compatriotes, Mesdames et Messieurs, c’est seulement quelques jours après la levée de l’état d’urgence sanitaire par son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République, Chef de l’Etat que le Gouvernement provincial du Maniema toujours engagé dans la recherche active des cas. Ses services de santé ont prélevé et transmis à l’INRB un certain nombre d’échantillons des cas suspects. Après analyse dans son département de virologie, l’échantillon prélevé chez un sujet congolais d’une cinquantaine d’années et du sexe masculin en date du 02 septembre 2020 s’est révélé positif. Compte tenue de la gravité de la situation tout en vous recommandant d’observer scrupuleusement les mesures de lutte contre le Covid-19, je déclare l’épidémie de Coronavirus dans la province du Maniema. Mesdames et Messieurs, Je vous remercie ».

Rappelons que depuis l’avènement de la Covid19 en RDC le 10 mars dernier, au total 10.361 cas sont confirmés dont un probable. Il y a eu également 262 décès et 9622 personnes guéries.

Jules Ninda

L’article Covid-19 : Le tout premier cas confirmé au Maniema (Gouverneur) est apparu en premier sur Matininfos.NET – Information de la RDC en toute impartialité.

Source: Matininfos

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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UTHSC Grows Academic, Clinical Footprint Overseas with Partnership with Teaching Hospital in Zambia
September 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Peggy Reisser*

UTHSC Assistant Professor Denis Foretia, MD, third from right, is among the leaders of the UTHSC College of Medicine’s Global Surgery Institute and has been working for two years to establish a new partnership with Levy Mwanawasa University Medical Center in Zambia. He is shown on a previous visit to Zambia

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center has signed a memorandum of understanding with a major teaching hospital in the capital city of Zambia to create an academic, clinical, and research partnership.

Denis Foretia, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at UTHSC, said the affiliation between UTHSC and Levy Mwanawasa Medical University (LMMU), a university hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, allows the institutions  to undertake a partnership in clinical care delivery; in teaching medical, nursing, pharmacy, and other health care students; and in research.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity, because the potential is really huge across the full spectrum of both universities,” said Dr. Foretia, who is one of the leaders of the UTHSC Global Surgery Institute, which was established in 2017 to provide opportunities for global surgical experience, teaching, and research for residents, students, and faculty to further the outreach mission of UTHSC, and in doing so, improve health care in Tennessee and the Mid-South.

“The memorandum that has been signed between the two universities presents an opportunity for the two institutions to share information and ideas in terms of education, research, and clinical practice,” said Laston Chikoya, MD, FCS, IFAANS, FZCMS, deputy vice chancellor for Administration at Levy Mwanawasa Medical University. “LMMU is a new and unique university tasked to train health professionals and run a teaching hospital. We have a new faculty that will need support in teaching methods and research. We can do joint clinical research at student and staff levels.”

Dr. Foretia, who was born in Cameroon, is dedicated to improving health outcomes in Africa. He joined UTHSC in 2017 to help build the newly established Global Surgery Institute, which has provided health care in Honduras, the Philippines, Tanzania, Japan, Iraq, Zambia, and elsewhere. The institute began primarily as overseas medical mission work and has grown, extending the university’s reach overseas and bringing knowledge and experience back to Memphis that stands to improve care at home.

Dr. Foretia has traveled to Africa seven times in recent years. Two trips to Zambia helped establish the partnership with Levy Mwanawasa Hospital. It has already resulted in UTHSC securing equipment to replace some outdated machinery in the hospital in Zambia. The official affiliation agreement, initially set to last three years, does not involve a financial commitment, however, it envisions long-term collaboration with students and faculty of both institutions.

“It’s really exciting to see this come to fruition,” Dr. Foretia said. “I’ve been working on it for two years.” He had been scheduled to travel to Zambia in the last few weeks. “Because of COVID, everything got changed.”

While he does not know when a UTHSC contingent will return to Zambia, Dr. Foretia said both universities are developing a “robust partnership” focused on research into neglected tropical diseases and emerging infectious diseases, and are working on a joint funding proposal to the National Institutes of Health.

“We are jointly submitting grants for research development to be able to use our expertise here and help develop our research capabilities in Zambia and allow our students, our residents, and our faculty to participate in this research endeavor,” Dr. Chikoya said. “The proposal looks to build the research capabilities of both sides.”

Other joint learning opportunities include Grand Rounds via the internet. “We have a lot of our students interested in traveling abroad and seeing how medicine is practiced outside of Memphis and outside of Tennessee and outside of the United States,” Dr. Foretia said. “To be able to incorporate that in our learning and growth, this agreement really focuses on that.”

Dr. Chikoya said it is anticipated that student and faculty exchange visits and clinical rotations can occur between the two universities post pandemic. “However, before that, we need to start to have virtual meetings and clinical presentations in various fields of medical practice from both sides,” he said. “We need to have departments from both sides to start to engage and establish links so that the partnership can begin to grow.”

Levy Mwanawasa University Medical Center in Zambia is designed to train health care professionals and run a teaching hospital.

As the university expands its global reach in pursuit of building a multicultural Global Health Initiative across all colleges, the benefits back home are great. For example, UTHSC students, who have traveled to Zambia, have been able to see disease progression and pathology that is not seen in the United States, Dr. Foretia said. They have also become aware of health care done with limited resources, making them more aware of eliminating waste when treating patients at home.

“We are extremely proud of the efforts and the accomplishments of Dr. Foretia and the entire UTHSC Global Surgery Institute team,” said David Shibata, MD, FACS, FASCRS, chair of the Department of Surgery at UTHSC. “The agreement with LMMU is yet another example of the spirit of multicultural partnership that is the foundation of the institute. I have no doubt this will be a win-win for both institutions and look forward to numerous successes.”

*Culled from UTHSC News

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Illumina collaborates with 54gene in the creation of a world-class genomics facility in Nigeria
September 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

Partnership will expand 54gene’s sequencing-based research and molecular diagnostics  capabilities with a focus on improving health outcomes through precision medicine.

03 September, 2020,  Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) today announced a collaboration with  54gene, a health technology company whose mission is to advance precision medicine capabilities in Africa through research, advanced molecular diagnostics and clinical programs. The partnership will support the establishment of a new genetics facility in Lagos, Nigeria, equipped with a suite of Illumina’s cutting-edge sequencing and high-density microarray technology platforms, which will generate genetic information for health research and drug development. 

Africa contains more genetic diversity than any other continent because the African genome is the oldest human genome. Yet it is estimated that fewer than 3% of the genomes analyzed come from Africans, making it a potentially rich source of new genetic information for health and drug discovery research, which 54gene intends to leverage as a global research resource while ensuring Africans benefit from cutting edge medical innovations.

Paula Dowdy, SVP, General Manager EMEA, Illumina said, “It’s incredibly important to ensure equitable access to genomic sequencing technology across the world so that genomes can be interpreted in the context of global diversity. Through partnerships such as this with 54gene, we aim to remove barriers of access to sequencing and expand the benefits of genomics to as many people as possible.”

54gene Founder and CEO Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong said, “The addition of Illumina’s cutting-edge technology to our research and diagnostic capabilities is a critical step for 54gene in fulfilling our mission of equalizing precision medicine. This is part of our wider commitment to build capacity and infrastructure in Africa which will allow us to significantly expand genomics research, while also improving health outcomes on the continent. Alongside our many partners in the African medical and scientific community, we want to make advanced molecular diagnostics more accessible to the region, while creating hundreds of skilled jobs in molecular biology and bioinformatics.”

Through the partnership, African samples stored in 54gene’s de-identified biobank, will be genotyped, sequenced and analyzed without the need to send samples overseas, reflecting Illumina’s commitment to enabling Africa to expand its genomic capabilities. Having local infrastructure  will reduce costs and turnaround time for test results. Illumina will also deliver its renowned training to support the use of its sequencing and microarray equipment and ensure ongoing support for 54gene’s growing team of molecular scientists.

54gene is a health technology company advancing the state of healthcare through large-scale discovery and transnational research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and inclusive clinical programs for the benefit of Africans and the global population. Founded in 2019, 54gene utilizes human genetic data derived from diverse African populations, to improve the development, availability, and efficacy of medical products and diagnostics that will prove beneficial to Africans and the wider global population.

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African countries engaging in ground-breaking COVID-19 vaccine initiative
September 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
Vice Minister Mitoha Ondo’O Ayekaba participated in a virtual press conference on COVID-19 vaccine access in Africa
All 54 countries on the continent have expressed interest in COVAX.

BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (Republic of the), September 3, 2020/ — While the race to find safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines continues, African countries are signing up to a ground-breaking initiative, which aims to secure at least 220 million doses of the vaccine for the continent, once licensed and approved.

All 54 countries on the continent have expressed interest in COVAX, a global initiative which is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The partners are working with governments and manufacturers to procure enough vaccine doses to protect the most vulnerable populations on the continent. Through the Gavi-coordinated COVAX Facility, the initiative seeks to ensure access for all: both higher and middle-income countries which will self-finance their own participation, and lower-middle income and low-income countries which will have their participation supported by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

There are eight countries in Africa that have agreed to self-finance their vaccine doses through the COVAX Facility. This expression of interest will turn into binding commitments to join the initiative by 18 September, with upfront payments to follow no later than 9 October 2020.

“Equatorial Guinea has signed up to COVAX as it’s the most effective way to ensure that our people can access COVID-19 vaccines,” said Hon Mitoha Ondo’O Ayekaba, Vice Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Equatorial Guinea. “We are concerned as some wealthier countries have made moves to secure their own interests. We believe that through this initiative we can access successfully tested vaccines in a timely manner and at lower cost.”

In addition, 46 countries in Africa are eligible for support from the financing instrument, the COVAX AMC which has raised approximately US$ 700 million against an initial target of securing US$ 2 billion seed funding from high-income donor countries, as well as private sector and philanthropists by the end of 2020.

“COVAX is a ground-breaking global initiative which will include African countries and ensure they are not left at the back of the queue for COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “By reaching beyond the continent to work together with other governments and manufacturers on a global scale and pooling buying power, countries can protect the people most vulnerable to the disease in Africa.”

CEPI is leading COVAX vaccine research and aims to develop up to three safe and effective vaccines which will be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. Nine candidate vaccines are currently being supported by CEPI; two are currently being tested in South Africa, in addition to other regions around the world.  

“It’s critical that countries in Africa participate in vaccine trials, in addition to the clinical trials taking place in other regions of the world,” said Dr Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer, CEPI. “Testing vaccines on the continent ensures that sufficient data is generated on the safety and efficacy of the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population so they can be confidently rolled out in Africa once vaccines are approved. CEPI is investing in the research and development of a diverse range of vaccine candidates, with the aim of delivering safe and effective vaccines to those who need them most through COVAX.”

Through COVAX, vaccines that have passed regulatory approval or WHO prequalification will be delivered equally to all participating countries, proportional to their populations. Health workers and other vulnerable populations will be prioritized and then vaccine availability will expand to cover additional priority populations in participating countries.

African countries will need to have in place the right systems and infrastructure to define the regulatory and ethical pathways for a quick approval of a candidate vaccine. They will need to have logistics and supply chain systems which can reach not only the traditional target populations for routine immunizations and campaigns but be ready to vaccinate a much larger target population.

“To roll out a vaccine effectively across countries in Africa, it is critical that communities are engaged and understand the need for vaccination,” said Dr Richard Mihigo, Programme Area Manager, Immunization and Vaccine Development, Programme Area Manager, Immunization and Vaccine Development, WHO Regional Office for Africa. “It is important to already start working with communities to prepare the way for one of the largest vaccination campaigns Africa has ever experienced.”

Dr Mihigo, Dr Hatchett and Vice Minister Mitoha Ondo’O Ayekaba participated in a virtual press conference on COVID-19 vaccine access in Africa today facilitated by APO Group.

About CEPI:
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has moved with great urgency and in coordination with WHO in response to the emergence of COVID-19. CEPI has initiated nine partnerships to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus. The programmes are leveraging rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI as well as new partnerships.

Before the emergence of COVID-19, CEPI’s priority diseases included Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever and Chikungunya virus. CEPI also invested in platform technologies that can be used for rapid vaccine and immunoprophylactic development against unknown pathogens (Disease X).

About WHO Regional Office for Africa:
The World Health Organization contributes to a better future for people everywhere. Good health lays the foundation for vibrant and productive communities, stronger economies, safer nations and a better world. As the lead health authority within the United Nations system, our work touches people’s lives around the world every day. In Africa, WHO serves 47 Member States and works with development partners to improve the health and well-being of all people living here. The WHO Regional Office for Africa is located in Brazzaville, Congo.
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