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Rwanda diabetes patients receive 12 million test strips support by Abbott
January 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo

Rwanda’s diabetes healthcare has got a boost of glucose meters and test strips to advance disease management for people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in Rwanda for the next four years.

The donation of glucose meters and around 11.7 million test strips was announced yesterday during a press briefing in Kigali, as a result of a partnership between Rwanda’s Ministry of Health and Abbott through Team Type 1 Foundation.

Glucose meters and test strips are important tools to help people manage their diabetes, however, some living with Type 1 diabetes are unable to afford meters or test strips. The FreeStyle Optium Neo glucose meters and 11,680,000 FreeStyle Optium test strips from Abbott will provide access to ongoing diabetes care in Rwanda. The donation is in partnership with Team Type 1 Foundation, a non-profit organisation pursuing a global mission of education, empowerment and equal access to medicine for everyone affected by diabetes.

Receiving the donation, Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, Rwanda’s Minister of State in Charge of Primary Healthcare , said the Government of Rwanda has responded to the global call to tackle the increased burden of diabetes by ensuring improved access and quality of care is delivered at all levels of the health system including primary health facilities close to the population.

“The fight against diabetes and other NCDs is a high priority on the agenda of the Ministry of Health and will continue to work with all our partners to mitigate the impact of this deadly disease,” added the Minister.

Rwandan government officials (centre) receive a donation of FreeStyle Optium Neo glucose meters and 11,680,000 FreeStyle Optium test strips from Abbott through Team Type 1 Foundation. Courtesy Photo
Rwandan government officials (centre) receive a donation of FreeStyle Optium Neo glucose meters and 11,680,000 FreeStyle Optium test strips from Abbott through Team Type 1 Foundation. Courtesy Photo

Bernard Brisolier, Business Unit Director for Abbott’s diabetes care business in Africa, said “By working together with the Ministry of Health and Team Type 1 Foundation, we will empower thousands of people living with diabetes in Rwanda to monitor their glucose levels and manage their diabetes, which will help them lead healthier and fuller lives.”

“It is a dream come true to receive this donation from Abbott. Since 2010, the Team Type 1 Foundation has been present in Rwanda through the Tour of Rwanda and our work with the Rwanda Diabetes Association. We have seen the will of the people to succeed against the challenges diabetes presents, which is why Team Type 1 has been so dedicated for the past 10 years to advance access to diabetes care in Rwanda,” Team Type 1 Founder and President Phil Southerland said.

Abbott is an active healthcare provider in Africa in general and in Rwanda in particular. Since the beginning of 2019, the company has collaborated with the Ministry of Health and a leading NGO, on a pilot program including the launch of eight second-generation health posts in the Eastern Rwanda’s Bugesera District. The initiative aims at providing primary healthcare services within a 30-minute walk of all Rwandan homes. Health post workers will test and treat people, including pregnant women and new-born children for multiple infectious and non-communicable diseases.

According to the STEPS Survey 2014, Diabetes prevalence in Rwanda is 3 per cent and 2,000 among the patients have type 1 diabetes.

According to the Health Ministry, Rwanda aims to protect her population from morbidity and mortality related to NCDs including Diabetes. This can be achieved through cooperation with different stakeholders at national and international levels.

Rwanda has put in place different measures to fight diabetes. These include community check-up and sensitization for early detection, decentralization and integration of diabetes care to health centre level, health system strengthening through capacity building and development of normative tools, increase of accessibility and affordability of diabetes commodities, medicine and lab tests, inclusion of diabetes care into medical insurance scheme, among others.

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Public-Private Collaboration commits to Accelerate Access to Health Services in Africa, reaching 1.7 Million People
January 16, 2020 | 0 Comments
Healthcare companies and philanthropies to fund training of thousands of community health workers as part of larger initiative led by Last Mile Health and Living Goods to advance universal health coverage
BASEL, Switzerland, January 16, 2020/ — Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.com), Lilly (Lilly.com), Novartis (Novartis.com), Pfizer (Pfizer.com), GSK (GSK.com) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (GatesFoundation.org) have joined forces with Last Mile Health (LastMileHealth.org) and Living Goods (LivingGoods.org) to increase access to community-based primary healthcare for nearly 1.7 million people in up to six African countries, as part of their shared commitment to accelerate universal health coverage. The Health Worker Training Initiative is a three-year investment, generously matched by The Audacious Project, and totals USD $18 million.

Harnessing the synergy of cross-industry collaboration is key to advancing universal health coverage. Living Goods and Last Mile Health have pioneered the community health worker model and are continually exploring novel approaches to training and retaining community health workers. By teaming up with Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, GSK and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, precious resources and acumen can be maximized. All are united by the belief that community health workers play a catalytic role, and all share a commitment towards advancing universal health coverage.

Leveraging the unique expertise of each organization will drive tech innovation and deepen impact. In addition to financial contributions, industry partners will contribute disease-specific expertise and experience in the discovery and development of new tools, which will supplement the community health worker models pioneered by Last Mile Health and Living Goods, in partnership with government.

Investing in community health workers produces some of the best returns in health. Community health workers can yield a 10:1 return on investment, due to a healthier population, increased employment, and lower odds of health crises. In addition, community health workers can help primary healthcare systems serve the majority of a population’s health needs, which means community health workers are one of the most efficient and effective ways to achieve universal health coverage. This partnership is a response to the growing call to action globally to advance universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goal 3.

“Focused investment in community health workers can accelerate progress to make universal health coverage a reality,” said Dave Ricks, chairman and CEO of Lilly and president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations. “Public-private collaboration is critical to help governments lower barriers to quality care and innovative medicines that save and improve people’s lives.”

“Community health workers are the critical frontline to sustainably impact the health of communities in resource poor settings,” said Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis.  “Novartis is committed to strengthening healthcare systems and is proud to be part of this coalition to use digital technologies to reimagine the future of community health delivery.”

The three-year investment will cover three areas:Supporting the training and deployment of 2,500 digitally-enabled community health workers, reaching nearly 1.7 million people by 2022. Community health workers will be trained and deployed in Liberia, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and up to two additional countries.Supporting Last Mile Health’s Community Health Academy, which is an open source, digital learning platform for community health workers and health systems leaders used worldwide. Training curricula for community health workers initially focuses on diarrheal diseases, family planning, malaria and pneumonia, with further modules expected to address non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension.Contributing expertise and personnel to Living Goods’ new Kenya Performance Lab to develop mobile-based tech innovations that will improve community health worker productivity, strengthen supply chains and better identify obstacles to coverage. The Lab will leverage the knowledge and assets of partners in areas including data science, behavior change, performance management, analytics and technical health expertise. Innovations would be introduced in Kenya and then scaled to other countries within the broader initiative.Together, these pieces of the investment aim to scale up access to life-saving primary healthcare while building stronger, tech-enabled community health programs for the future.

“Well-trained community health workers play an integral role in providing quality care in low-resource settings,” said Andrin Oswald, Co-chair of the CEO Roundtable Executive Council and Director of Life Sciences Partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The Gates Foundation is committed to working with partners across sectors to achieve universal health coverage, which is necessary to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and reducing the burden of diseases that disproportionately affect pregnant women and young children. We thank the companies involved in this initiative for their efforts to increase data-driven solutions to train and deploy effective community health workers.”

“This partnership will play a critical role in helping to scale and empower the world’s most promising health resource—community health workers—so that they can thrive and effectively save lives,” said Dr. Jane Aceng, Uganda’s Minister of Health. “Ensuring community health workers have the right training, digital technology, medical equipment and supervision is critical for ensuring they can help transform health outcomes, no matter where people live.”

Each of the six investors will contribute USD $1.5 million total over the next three years. This funding will be matched by the Audacious Project through an existing USD $50 million matching commitment to scale community health workers in Africa, resulting in an USD $18 million total investment.

This investment will also support the sustainability of community health worker programs. Living Goods and Last Mile Health partner with governments to deploy digitally-empowered community health workers. Not only will this partnership support community health workers to reach more patients, but the curricula and tools developed through the investment will support improved community health worker performance for years to come.

“We are inspired that healthcare companies are taking collective action to strengthen community health systems in the public sector across sub-Saharan Africa to advance universal health coverage,” said Liz Jarman, CEO of Living Goods, and Dr. Raj Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health. “This partnership is much more than a financial commitment; it joins a growing movement of philanthropists, companies, and governments that have committed to scale digitally-empowered community health workers and build stronger primary healthcare systems across Africa to ultimately save more lives.”

To learn more about the community health movement and efforts to advance universal health coverage in partnership with governments, watch this video (http://bit.ly/30sBwEg) produced by Freethink.

https://youtu.be/SXN76-EZnsM

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (GatesFoundation.org) 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 GSK:
GSK (GSK.com) is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. For further information please visit www.GSK.com/about-us.

About Johnson & Johnson:
At Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.com), we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities, and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life. Today, as the world’s largest and most broadly-based health care company, we are committed to using our reach and size for good. We strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. We are blending our heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity.

About Last Mile Health:
Last Mile Health (www.LastMileHealth.org) partners with governments to design, scale, strengthen, and sustain high-quality community health systems, which empower teams of community and frontline health workers to bring life-saving primary healthcare to the world’s most remote communities. To learn more, visit
LastMileHealth.org.

About Lilly:
Lilly (Lilly.com) is a global health care leader that unites caring with discovery to create medicines that make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by a man committed to creating high-quality medicines that meet real needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Across the globe, Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to those who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and give back to communities through philanthropy and volunteerism. To learn more about Lilly, please visit us at Lilly.com and lilly.com/newsroom.

About Living Goods:
Living Goods (LivingGoods.org) is a nonprofit that saves lives at scale by supporting digitally empowered community health workers who deliver care on call – making it easy for families in need to get the care they need. Beginning its operations in Uganda in 2007 and expanding into Kenya in 2015, Living Goods works with governments and partners to ensure community health workers have access to the digital technology, medical treatments, supervision and compensation to cost-effectively deliver high quality, impactful health services. At the end of 2019, Living Goods was supporting more than 10,000 CHWs to deliver care to more than 7 million people.  Learn more at www.LivingGoods.org.

About Novartis:
Novartis (Novartis.com) is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach more than 750 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 109,000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Find out more at
www.Novartis.com.

About Pfizer Inc.: Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives:
At Pfizer (Pfizer.com), we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us. We routinely post information that may be important to investors on our website at www.pfizer.com. In addition, to learn more, please visit us on www.pfizer.com and follow us on Twitter at @Pfizer (http://bit.ly/38ab7hl) and @Pfizer_News (http://bit.ly/2FXjdO8), LinkedIn (http://bit.ly/30BsDZv), YouTube (http://bit.ly/3akO19R
and like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Pfizer (http://bit.ly/2FVBxYg).
SOURCE
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Novartis, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Last Mile Health, Lilly, Living Goods, Pfizer Inc
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Embryo Transfer facility set to be established in Kenya
January 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma|@journalist_27

Livestock Principal Secretary (PS) Harry Kimutai .Photo Standard Newspaper
Livestock Principal Secretary (PS) Harry Kimutai .Photo Standard Newspaper

Kenyan government announced on Tuesday, January 14 that it will put in place the Embryo Transfer Technology to improve breeds.

Embryo Transfer involves placing embryo into the uterus of a female with the intention of establishing a pregnancy. It is useful where a species is needed to produce young ones annually.

Livestock Principal Secretary (PS) Harry Kimutai revealed the new development in Kisumu during a public participation meeting on the draft Livestock Bill 2018. The PS said that they have received a grant from Polish government to construct the facility which will be equipped with state art of technology.

According to Mr. Harry the technology will assist in production of high quality breeds to enhance livestock production and make the sector a key player in the economy. He added that it will make the livestock products from the country competitive globally.

“We have already worked on the concept and we are just waiting for the National Treasury to allocate funds so that we implement the project. We have also received a grant from the Polish government who have been supporting us to develop the sector,” said the PS.

He noted the Kenya is doing well in livestock production compared to her neighbouring countries mentioning two semen production centres in the country. He went ahead and mentioned zebu breeds and other improved breeds which the East African country boasts of. He further divulged that farmers have been given free hand to import new breed to add to the existing ones.

To promote the sector, Harry reiterated that the government will set up Special Economic Zones (SEZ) targeting livestock production.

Livestock Bill 2018 proposes measures which will boost livestock production should it sail through in Parliament. It will be tabled when the House resumes its operations following festive holiday.

Some of the proposals are creation of a Livestock Marketing Board to help market livestock products locally and on the international market, the establishment of the Kenya School for Animal Sciences, which shall combine all the existing training institutions within the livestock industry and formation of a regulatory board for inputs, animal feeds and products quality like honey and other animal products that have had no regulators before.

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Cameroon: U.S Triples HIV/AIDS Support to over $97 million
January 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

The U.S government has indicated its commitment to support Cameroon to end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The United States government says it is tripling its assistance to Cameroon’s HIV programme to over $97 million for 2020 (approximately 5.7 billion FCFA).

The announcement made in a communiqué dated January 13, 2020, commended laudable measures taken by the government of Cameroon to eliminate user fees for all HIV services at public health facilities, and accredited community sites.

“Eliminating user fees will help Cameroon reach epidemic control of HIV: it also reflects the cooperation the Cameroonian and U.S governments and other HIV stakeholders,” the communiqué read in part.  

According to the communiqué, Cameroon has nearly 530,000 people living with HIV. As of July 2019, only 58% of them — a little over 304,000 people — were on antiretroviral treatment. With the removal of the user fees for HIV/AIDS patient, it is understood that more patient should be able to get tested, follow treatment, and stay virally suppressed.

The U.S government through PEPFAR has been a constant supporter of the Cameroon government in the fighting and accelerating progress. “In 2020, PEPFAR’s support to Cameroon includes provision of antiretroviral treatment, testing for HIV, and providing care and support for orphans, vulnerable children, and their caregivers,” the communiqué stated.

Speaking during a special CRTV programme for World AIDS Day in early December, Ambassador Barlerin noted that the battle is not yet won, but it is winnable.

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Gambia: First Lady Donates Gifts To 2020 Babies
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

First Lady, Fatou Bah-Barrow personally presided over the presentation of cash prizes and baskets of gifts to the 2020 babies

As part of her New Year day engagements, First Lady, Fatou Bah-Barrow personally presided over the presentation of cash prizes and baskets of gifts to the 2020 babies born at the dawn of the New Year at health facilities in Banjul and Kanifing regions.

Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) in Banjul, the Sere Kunda General Hospital in Kanifing and the Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital were each visited by the First Lady.

Similar presentations were made by delegates from the Fatou Bah-Barrow (FaBB) Foundation, who were dispatched to deliver cash prizes of D15, 000 and D10, 000 respectively to each of the first two babies born at major health facilities across the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmadou Samateh described the event of welcoming new babies at the beginning of the New Year as promising. He applauding FaBB for providing support to the families and the hospitals. 

The Health Minister noted the support of the First Lady’s Foundation towards the modernisation taking place at EFST hospital and in the health sector in general.

“They brought in hundreds of beds, tens of equipment, a lot of support including construction materials donated to enable us achieve our goal of modernisation of the hospital. Patients have been supported at various levels; individual donations towards their upkeep in the facility and they have been there for us,” Minister Samateh asserted

Already, the tender for renovation of all health facilities is underway and 2020 is expected to usher in more progress in the sector. 

“There are a lot of equipment that have been procured and we are going to procure a lot more. We have started residency training. We have trained many and we will be training a lot more. Further training for the specialization of nurses are also prioritized so as to achieve our goals of a standard service delivery system in the sector.” The Health Minister revealed.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Bundung Maternal and Children Hospital states that 2019 recorded 4,286 deliveries. 365 (8.5%) were delivered by Cesarean section operations while 98% were delivered as life births. Only one maternal death was registered in 2019 and its resolution for 2020 is no maternal death. 

At the Kanifing Hospital, Senior Midwife, Isatou Cham said “It is definitely a true motivation for us the staff to work for the whole year and expecting your First Lady to come and say thank you to the staff; see fellow women who underwent pregnancy and child birth with handshakes and smiles. We are very appreciative.”

This year, Gamtel/Gamcel, Kar Power and Africell partnered to support the FaBB First Baby Event.  In addition, the medical staff on duty were also donated a token at the said facilities to motivate them for their services.

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Rasha Kelej Honoured for her poignant ‘More Than a Mother’ Campaign
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Rasha Kelej was recently honoured by New African Magazine

Egyptian born Rasha Kelej was recently honoured by New African Magazine for her poignant More Than a Mother Movement, which has touched many hearts.

New African Magazine at the end of each year releases a list of the 100 most influential Africans who would have done remarkable work in their field of work. New African Magazine’s 100 most influential Africans project has been running for several years now and in the 2019 edition, it rightly recognized Rasha Kelej, the Egyptian who took it upon herself to break the stigma around infertility and empower infertile women.

 Rasha’s story dates back to 1972 when she was born. Growing up in a world in which she saw many people being stigmatized and discriminated at due to what the society termed ‘undesirable’, a passion to break some stigmas began to develop in her at such a young age. After completing her basic education, Rasha proceeded to Alexandria University where she pursued a degree in Pharmacy. Afterwards, she proceeded to study for an MBA from Robert Gordon University, Scotland on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Integration with Business Strategy.

Having completed her education, Rasha in 1994 joined the International Pharmaceutical industry where to date; she has over 25 years of experience. Rasha has spent the majority of her time in the pharmaceutical industry working for the German nonprofit organization Merck which she joined in 1996 serving in different roles.

Adding to her pharmaceutical work, Rasha has also undertaken many leading commercial roles at Merck including serving as the Chief Social Officer and Head of Global Social Responsibility & Market Development. Currently, Rasha is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Merck Foundation, a division of Merck Germany tasked with combining many of Merck’s corporate responsibility activities under one roof. Merck’s corporate responsibility activities primarily aim to support and further interests in healthcare, education, citizens’ initiatives, development cooperation and intercultural understanding.

Combining her two roles, that is, pharmaceutical and commercial, Rasha has managed to successfully use her job to establish many uplifting women programs. The numerous programs that Rasha spearheaded since 2013 centering on healthcare capacity, raising community awareness, breaking the stigma of infertility, and empowering women and youth through education and STEM led to the development and formation of Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany.

Some of the programs spearheaded by Rasha include Merck STEM for women and youth, Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI), Merck Cancer Access Program, Merck Capacity Advancement Program and Merck More Than a Mother. Out of all these programs, it is the historic campaign ‘More Than a Mother’ which has enjoyed much success.

The success of More Than a Mother movement stems from the very nature of the movement itself, that is, its objective, goal and vision. The main aims which led to the formation of Merck More Than a Mother campaign were to empower the childless and infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset and economic empowerment. The campaign also aims at raising awareness about male infertility.

To ensure the success of More Than a Mother campaign, Rasha successfully established strong partnerships with 18 African First Ladies including those from the Central African Republic, the Gambia, Chad, Niger, and Guinea as Ambassadors of More Than a Mother campaign in their countries. In addition to ‘recruiting’ First Ladies as ambassadors of the campaign, More Than a Mother also works with Ministries of Health, not for profit organizations, media, local societies, academia, and gender departments of various African countries.

Together with its partners, More Than a Mother undertakes different initiatives in African societies with the sole aim of breaking the stigma around infertility in the same vein empowering infertile women. Some of the initiatives include hosting Film Awards, Fashion Awards, Media Recognition Awards, Health Media Training as well as collaborating with musicians in developing African songs that aim at breaking the stigma of infertility in various societies.

The success of the More Than a Mother campaign has led women like Grace Kambini, a Kenyan infertile woman to share her story of stigmatization with the world with the intention of changing the narrative that infertility is something to be shunned upon. In an interview, Kambini said that “If I have half of the knowledge back then I would have sorted a lot of issues that were there back then and today things would be different. I encourage all girls who are experiencing issues bearing children to go to hospital together with their spouses to seek for treatment.” Kambini was rejected by her husband and in-laws after nine years of being childless. 

Rasha’s More Than a Mother campaign has not only received recognition from the New African Magazine; she has also been recognized by Spain which awarded her a Women Empowerment Award, International Federation of Business and Professional Women as well as various accolades from African governments.  

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that more than 180 million couples in developing countries (equating to one in every four couples) suffer from primary or secondary infertility. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa, infections account for infertility of 85 percent of women compared to only 33 percent worldwide. This, therefore, shows the importance of infertility prevention programs in Africa hence the extreme importance of Rasha’s More Than a Mother campaign. 

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Sierra Leone: US based Sierra Leonean Health Professionals provide free diabetes and pressure screening to thousands of people
December 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The US based Health Professionals taking to people during the screening process

The Association of Sierra Leonean Health Care Professionals in the United States of America (TASHPUS) has on Friday ended free screening of diabetes and pressure screening  and also providing medicines to thousands of people in the Northern part of Sierra Leone.

The Association which is a non -profitable organisation which is based in the state of Delaware in the United States of America founded in 2014  comprises  Sierra Leonean  Health Care professionals whose aim is to provide free  medical help to the country saw thousands of  people in Mile 91, Lungi, Yoni , and at Port Loko Government Hospital at Port Loko Town.

 Founder of the Association,  Aminata Conteh,  a nurse practitioner in the US said,  the creation of the organisation sprang up during the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone  in 2014 and  as a health professional she wanted to complement the efforts of the government and to see how she and her colleagues  can provide medical help to the country.

“ I put together a team about 6 of them that were willing to come with me but the logistics and the rate at  which health professionals were becoming infected , the logistics to fly them out of the country , we did not have guarantee from the government that if something happens to one of us promptly they will fly us out for medical treatment . And I need that in writing before I commit other people’s lives to come to render help to the country,’’ she said.

She said  that they as professionals decided to provide free diabetes and pressure screening because they see the need  not to only for them to  intervene whenever there is a health crisis in the country but to also help when there is no emergency  adding that there are many Sierra Leonean Health Care professionals in the US thus they are giving back to their country.

“I started calling people that I know, and I told them let’s do this , lets formalise this organisation . Let’s apply for non -profitable status and register it in the state of Delaware and then if there is any health disaster in our country , we already have  a platform to go with . But in the meantime, let’s look for something that we will do that will  have impact in the country . So that’s how the whole thing come about and when we have decided it ,we choose the Northern region to provide them free screening for diabetes and pressure,’’ Nurse Conteh explained.

Nurse Conteh added that they decided to do the test of High Blood and diabetes instead of child and maternal health because these two  health problems are problems that people sometimes have for a very long time  and does not realise  that he or she  has it until there is failure in the organs.

“They called them silent killers , they do not really have symptoms ,you will not feel that you have them until something started happening to you. So,  we said let’s do this one and I contacted the country’s  Medical Director Dr. Kargbo and sounded to him that we  wanted to come home and do screening and he said well if you are doing screening is well and good. But you if you are doing screening and do not give medicines; people would not come,’’ Nurse Conteh added.

The TASHPUS Founder went on to say based on the advice of the country’s medical director to provide medicines for those screens for at least three months as he believed  that they will be able to find a way to continue taking their treatment thus she said  they heed to his  advice by providing three months medicines to every one they screened.

‘’We went to Mile 91, Lungi, Yoni , and Port Loko where we spent two days because Portloko is a big area . The reason of choosing the North was a result of ballot and eventually the north won . Our organisation cut across all tribes and region . After the North , the next place could south , or East depending on what left with us and what we will raise for the next screening exercise.,’’

The TASHPUS Founder  revealed that as an association they spent over $22,000 just on the medication for the free screening exercise in the country adding that not mentioning the other logistics like transportation , lodging and accommodation among others which she said she can’t quantify the exact amount on money on the free screening process.

One of the beneficiaries of the free blood pressure check-up and free diabetes test , Aminata Kandeh Kamara heaped praises on the Sierra Leonean Health Professionals for their kindness and timely intervention to their health stating that the screening helped her aware of the two diseases and how one can saved from them.

“They have done  something good for me. I was not  feeling good. They check my pressure and the sugar level in my body . Everything was normal, and they advised me not to eat Maggie , and salt including  to do lots of exercise. They gave me medicine . They have done great for us for the people of Portloko,’’ she said.

Another beneficiary Pa Abdulai Daramy , expressed thanks and appreciation for the kindness TASHPUS did for him adding that he was very pleased and happy for the medicines , medical advice they have given him boasting that he will take them as per the advice of the medical team and hoped that they will continue their good will to them whenever they are in the country.

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Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation makes it to the list of 100 Most Influential Africans 2019, for empowering many women through Merck More Than a Mother Movement
December 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

Rasha Kelej has been recognized for her efforts to empower women in general and infertile women in particular through the “Merck More Than a Mother” campaign

NAIROBI, Kenya, December 10, 2019/ — Merck Foundation CEO, Rasha Kelej, featured in the list of 100 Most Influential Africans, released by New African Magazine, for poignant “Merck More Than a Mother” Movement; The campaign has been empowering childless women across Africa and Asia.

Merck Foundation CEO, Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother has been featured in the list of 100 Most Influential African 2019, released by New African Magazine .

Rasha Kelej has been recognized for her efforts to empower women in general and infertile women in particular through the “Merck More Than a Mother” campaign, which is a historic movement that aims to empower childless and infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets.

Rasha Kelej, who hails from Egypt, commenting on her inclusion, emphasized, “I am thrilled and honored to receive this recognition and to be included in this prestigious list among such an eminent group of people. As an African and an Egyptian woman, I strongly feel the need to empower girls and women, to be able to help them reach their true potential. Through our Merck Mother Than a Mother Campaign, we have always strived to bring a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses, in addition to empowering girls in Education and women in STEM fields. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.”

She added, “this recognition will motivate me to do more. It is my turn now to empower other women in my beautiful continent, I promise to use my influence and experience to support women and girls as much as I can.”

H.E. PROF. GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother said, “Congratulations to Dr Rasha for this recognition, she deserves it. We will continue to support our people. Africa needs women like her who are able to mentor others”.

Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of Health of Uganda said, “I would like to congratulate our adored Sister and distinguished global leader, Dr. Rasha Kelej upon this well-deserved achievement. She has beyond description worked hard to get on this list; serving Africa and the African People with honor, dignity, diligence and distinction. You make us ALL PROUD, Dr. Rasha”.

The list includes 100 personalities from various African countries, and from various fields like political, economic, social and sports. It includes many other prominent personalities of Africa like,
H. E. NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, The President of Ghana was re-appointed as the Co-Chair of Sustainable Development Goals Advocate Group by UN Secretary General;
H.E. Paul Kagame, The President of Rwanda for his sheer dynamism and the impact his decisions have on other countries;
Mohamed ‘Mo’ Salah, Football Player from Egypt, for showcasing extra ordinary talent in the game. He has so many followers that he no longer belongs to Liverpool or for that matter, Egypt – he belongs to the world;
Alaa Salah, an activist from Sudan who is called ‘Lady Liberty’, one of the iconic symbols of Sudan Uprising;
Siya Kolisi, Captain of South African Rugby team came from a desperately poor beginning, his parents could not afford basic school fees, let alone his rugby kit. Fast forward 2019….he is the World Cup Champions Captain;
Eliud Kipchoge, from Kenya who has been crowned as Male Athlete of The Year by World Athletics;
Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations is one of the most respected female figures in the world today for her determination to advance poverty eradication, gender equality and inclusive development in a peaceful world.
Thando Hopa, born with Albinism, this activist, model and professional lawyer from South Africa became a powerful voice and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the beauty and fashion industry, among others.

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign;
“Merck More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign 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, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists 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 local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. 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 BotswanaH.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The GambiaH.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique
H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of BurundiH.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea ConakryH.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia
H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African RepublicH.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of LiberiaH.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger
H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of ChadH.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of MalawiH.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone
H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo BrazzavilleH.E. DR. MAESAIAH THABANE, The First Lady of LesothoH.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGW, The First Lady of Zimbabwe
H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of GhanaH.E. KEÏTA AMINATA MAIGA, The First Lady of MaliH.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia

Merck Foundation provided for more than 140 candidates, three months to six months 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, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, 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 COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAPAIGN, 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
  • Children storybook, localized for each country
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SuperEagles Defender, William Ekong Leads Charge Against Neglected Tropical Diseases That Affect Over 120 Million Nigerians
December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

.the Super Eagles defender is campaigning in partnership with the END Fund and Common Goal

LAGOS, Nigeria, December, 3rd, 2019 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Nigeria national team defender William Ekong has started a campaign to draw attention to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that affect more than 120 million Nigerians. In partnership with the END Fund and Common Goal, William appears in a public service announcement where he calls on affected Nigerians to seek free treatment.
Neglected tropical diseases are a group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that affect more than 1.7 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including 1 billion children. They include intestinal worms, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), river blindness, trachoma, and lymphatic filariasis.

Translated in pidgin, the public service announcement sheds light on how NTDs affect all aspects of life. Thus, calling upon Nigerians to take advantage of the ongoing mass administration of medication (MAM) efforts being led by community health workers all throughout the country.

Please visit your local health center for more information on how to get treatment in your local government area in Nigeria.

*AMA

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Gambia: Gov’t Purchases 7 Containers of Medicines and Surgical Items
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Health Minister with Chinese Ambassador
Health Minister with Chinese Ambassador

The government of The Gambia has procured Seven containers of medical supplies and surgical items, disclosed the Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmad Samateh.

He made the revelation in the President’s Meet the People tour at a meeting in Kabada, Kiang East. The drugs are already in-country and will be distributed to health centers across the country soon, Dr. Samateh added.

The gathering was also informed that the government of The Gambia, under the direction of President Barrow, is embarking on a major rehabilitation program of health centers and replacing dysfunctional medical equipment at major hospitals.

The Health Minister announced plans of his Ministry to construct seven (7) health centers with funding from GAVI and UNICEF, assuring that the communities on the Kabada belt of the Lower River Region will be beneficiaries.

New Ambulance Service

The Minister also inform the public of the introduction of a new ambulance service in the country, especially hard-to-reach areas of the provinces.


The initiative will allow villages to be able to directly call for help in case of emergencies, ensuring that patients are picked from their
homes.

Blood Donation

Due to acute shortage of blood in health centers leading to avoidable deaths, particularly in maternity, Minister Samateh called on the general public to become regular blood donors.

Blood donation is fulfilling and saves lives. He dispelled myths around giving blood, stating that lab scientists will not take blood from anyone to whom it will be detrimental.

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Zimbabwe:Apostolic Woman Takes On Maternity Role As Government Health Sector Crumbles .
November 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Grandmother Esther Zinyoro Gwena claims to be guided by the holy spirit.Photo credit:Africans Live
Grandmother Esther Zinyoro Gwena claims to be guided by the holy spirit.Photo credit:Africans Live

Harare—-An Apostolic Traditional Mid-Wife bare handed, with no gloves, no enough water, no suitable clothing for salvaging neo-natal babies born in Harare’s high density of Mbare is doing maternal service wonders. Esther Zinyoro  , popularly known as Mbuya Gwena of St Johns Apostolic Church of the Whole World  a traditional mid-wife                                          has saved more than 300 lives of neo-natal born babies since the time nurses strike took toll in Zimbabwe  .

This has occurred at a time nurses were on strike following the Government’s failure to come up with better inflation beating salaries. The mid-wife does not charge even a cent for the maternal health services. Many expecting pregnant women have consulted her free maternal health services from all walks of Harare.

‘’ I deliver more than 200 babies in 10 days up to this week. I receive knocks on my door in the middle of the night. My sympathetic heart makes me do this freely because I know the situation on ground. It is now my 4th month doing the work. At first in two weeks I delivered 79 neo-natal. The past 2 weeks I have delivered more than 200 making it close to 300.

‘’Sometimes I get invited in Municipal clinics to deliver women or a woman who nurses fail to help. Sometimes they can- not come to my place because I only have two rooms. The problem is space in my rooms. Water is disconnected. I am helped by some sympathetic men and women to fetch water so that I can do the work well.

‘’I started working without even gloves but now it’s a bit better but still I am facing the similar problem. There are some people who heard of me. They sacrifice to buy gloves, cotton wool and all the necessary facilities. I use to do this on the floor but now it’s a little bit better than ever before. Still I have challenges because some mothers fail to get anything.

‘’Sadly, mothers with HIV who fear transmitting the virus are at a disadvantage. I do not know anything about HIV. Such mothers are disadvantaged in this case. HIV pregnant women testify before I work for them. This is my challenge but I am happy not even a single woman or neo-natal has died during my service delivery to them’’. She said.

Esther Zinyoro Gwena holds one of the babies she has just delivered in her tiny apartment in the poor suburb of Mbare in Harare, Zimbabwe, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.Photo: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP
Esther Zinyoro Gwena holds one of the babies she has just delivered in her tiny apartment in the poor suburb of Mbare in Harare, Zimbabwe, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.Photo: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP

Role of Traditional Mid-Wives in Africa Comes of Age Again

 ..

 …Asked to comment Esther Muia UNFPA Country Representative commented that it shows the role of Traditional Mid-Wives is a story in the African culture that must not be ignored. She pointed out as well that Governments in Africa must take such roles and responsibilities seriously because this is all about life and care of the new born baby.

‘’The role of traditional mid-wives comes of age again. It means that our tradition and culture is so wonderful to go by. Africa must emulate this Heroine Esther Zinyoro .’’

‘’Traditionally women used to do the work rather than clinics and hospitals. This is excellent work at a time in Zimbabwe the country has no enough budget for medicines, drugs, health facilities, infrastructure and enough to pay Health Workers. Such kind of challenges are everywhere in Africa because traditionally mid-wives are everywhere around the continent.

‘’Let us see traditional mid-wives increasing in the African continent. We shall as United Nations fight to see this taking place so that we ease the burden of health professions, allopathic drugs shortage and the little Health Budgets African countries get. They get less than 3%. Ministries of Health in Africa have challenges. This is against the Abuja Declaration of 2002 which proposes them to get 15%,’’.

Civil Society working with African Health Organisations and those looking at general issues have vowed to amass resources for the woman.  Among them AFRICARE is working on a plan to get help. USAID, DFID and Elizabeth Glacier Paediatric AIDS Foundation have come to the rescue. The Government has planned to give a full house to the woman. Some Directors from International Organisations still to be mentioned out names have done and given full package of support. Esther Zinyoro in conclusion reveals that there are sweet deals in the pipe-line so far

‘’I have come of age in terms of my work coming from the talent I have. There are sweet promises. Many organisations are now certain and confident of importance of our Tradition and Culture. They now give support to traditional mid-wives work, a move meant to reduce extreme poverty and vulnerability in terms of maternal health.

‘’ The Government has taken heed to several calls. I will be working in a full house with all the facilities, health care equipment and supplies. This will spread the whole continent because still women play this role in Africa as a whole.’’

The Government of Zimbabwe has completely failed the Health sector with nurses on strike. Many Doctors have been fired. Women expecting to deliver find all doors closed at maternity clinics where all the necessary clinical and medical facilities are seriously lacking. Bevy of pregnant women are being turned away from clinics and hospitals owned by the Government. Private clinics and hospitals have become extremely and highly expensive this causing challenges with pregnant expecting mothers. At the time of going to Press Government had no solution at all.

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Zimbabwe: SAFAIDS Ignites Debate on Universal Health Care
November 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Diana Mailosi
Diana Mailosi

Harare Zimbabwe-SAFAIDS [Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Services] and a Humanitarian consortium of a number of Civil Society Organisations have joined hands to spark interesting discussions on Universal Health Coverage.

Kicking on in Harare, the dialogue attended by a bunch of several organisations at heart with the HIV and AIDS scourge, the symposium dealt on an objective meant to drive the Health System of Zimbabwe. Diana Mailosi the Moderator coming from the Advocacy Core Team pointed out on main objectives rallying on the need to salvage country populations affected by several diseases that need attention of the medical experts, the Government and Civil Society. This she directs a point to reality needs the existence of the importance of the UHC.

Diana points out quickly on another point that life saving strategies and mechanisms must centre on the lives of all People regardless race, colour or creed. She lastly reiterates on the need for Governments to fetch funding abroad and domestically for Health. She elucidates, health funding mechanisms are a vital action towards eradicating poverty related to Health service delivery. Diana touches as well on best practices in terms of fiscal transparency, driving off corrupt activities in Health and avoiding activities like capital flight that could be a detrimental challenge in pushing forward the Health Sector.

 ‘’UHC, this is time to take it seriously so as to save lives of millions in the country who have no access to medicines, health food and ARV’s. It is pathetic in the Health Sector. Doctors neglect duties. Some have left the country. The situation tightens .Saving lives of those affected by scourge of a number of diseases is a concern of our heart. That is why UHC matters most. Population Health is on the edges as a number of people face Health challenges related to what we focus on most that is HIV and AIDS, Cancers and some other ailments affecting communities at high prevalence rates. Primary Health Care must surface to make Community Health work. This is all linked to UHC.’’

‘’The Health Sector is in doldrums. This is everyone‘s responsibility, role of Civil Society to roll on programs and end the mess of Doctors, drugs shortage and improve on Infrastructure. This comes at a time we have a number of thorny challenges in Health. We are not talking about UHC because we have the problem, it has always been our desire to make it heard by all.’’

‘’Our collective push is towards making the political will work in making Health a central concern during these times of hardships. Governments must stick to UHC principles. Secondly the need to stick to International standards and guidelines in sharpening Health Sector must be accompanied by delivery of drugs , information , access to services at all angles and provision of better Infrastructure and medical and health professionals .

‘’Funding, yes is a challenge but once we have a budget we have to track on monitoring and evaluation. This becomes vital since we will be in a position to stamp out corrupt activities in the whole set-up. Corruption might not be the issue but it creates wave of transparency and accountability. UHC will bring us to the standards and principles and as well helps in the provision of adequate Health services of best practice’’.

Lloyd Dumbure of SAFAIDS adds that Community engagement brings the whole system to accountability and transparency. Community engagement, he says makes communities get sensitised and brings awareness and advocacy on issues related to the importance of Health to them.

‘’SAFAIDS is ready to make Communities get geared towards participation and engagement in a proper way of total community inclusivity. The need for organisations to come together for this cause creates room for tolerance towards proper management of Health systems’’.

 Donald Tobaiwa of Jointed Hands puts a straight point that Political will in every country makes the idea of UHC work without any challenge from the grass-roots. Many Governments lack commitments to political will in line with Health because of the bigger budgets it needs. This Donald attributes to failure of the Health delivery in any country.

‘’Political will is critical as we dwell on Governance and Politics to manage the whole side of the story. Health hinges more on funding sources from outside. Less is from our country in terms of Health taxes extracted from the sale of some commodities. It is all about how we manage our finance, direct it accountably towards Health. This is done by the Government, .Thus why we say political will. Policies as well come in through the Government effort.

‘’Secondly, Democratic Political Accountability makes UHC see reality by the end of the day. Once there are correct measures in the system we win on Goals of Health. There are vital and core additional at the top after preventive and curative medicine, proper infrastructure, health professionals and the lining up and implementation of Health policies.

‘’Thirdly, It is our link to efficiency and efficacy and the access to medicines to serve the country. The whole system is driven by political will that must link UHT. This should be a priority as enunciated in the Abuja Declaration’’.

Other presenters touched on other areas of concern to make UHC a reality. These are areas of Gays HIV and AIDS, Intravenous Drug Users, young people and drug abuse. The status of healthcare delivery in Zimbabwe remains important as the World looks at International Human Rights. One such International protocol is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights .Secondly, addressing Criminalisation of Key-Populations, focus on key populations and commercial sex workers sparked a row debate until to the end.

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