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Africa Leaders Summit presents opportunity to intensify talks on funding for malaria
July 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

Immunization at a clinic in Nigeria Immunization at a clinic in Nigeria[/caption] The African Leaders summit, being held in Washington on August 4-6, will seek to advance trade and investment opportunities between Africa and the United States. Fifty African countries have been invited to convene and discuss ways of stimulating growth and opportunities across the continent. The event, the largest any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, aims to forge stronger economic ties between the United States, Africa and other global markets. The theme of the summit is Investing in the Next Generation, with debate focusing on areas seen as critical drivers for economic growth, sustainable development, and security in the region. On the agenda are food security, leadership opportunities for African women in government and across civil society and health. The latter will see senior health policy makers, Ministers of Health and African leaders discuss current constraints to achieving shared health goals, including malaria. Economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa’s 48 countries is predicted to increase but will inevitably be uneven (19 are designated fragile and conflict-affected countries, 11 low income, 13 middle and seven upper-middle income). The International Monetary Fund predicts that four of the world’s six fastest-growing economies in 2014 will be in sub-Saharan Africa. Many countries are already seeing an increase in income per capita, although not necessarily an increase in quality of life, where issues around governance, inequality and access to education and healthcare are yet to be addressed. To ensure sustainable economic growth, continued efforts are needed to improve access to healthcare delivery systems, in particular in lower income malaria-endemic countries. Progress around malaria prevention and control has been well documented. World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that between 2000 and 2012, estimated malaria mortality rates decreased by 42 percent worldwide and by 49 percent in the African Region. Deaths in children under five are estimated to have decreased by 48 percent globally and by 54 percent in the African Region.  The African Union and Roll Back Malaria have supported national commitments to creating health policy frameworks and government investment in reducing malaria is having considerable success in some countries. Despite this, malaria continues to pose a major constraint to economic development and remains a critical issue in most sub-Saharan African countries. There were an estimated 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2012 (WHO), mostly in sub-Saharan Africa (90 percent) and in children under five. The facts are hard to argue with. A case of severe malaria can change the course of a child’s life: mortality rates from other health related causes are significantly higher and, for those who survive, 19 percent suffer serious neurological and cognitive conditions, including impaired vision, behavioural difficulties and epilepsy. And it doesn’t just affect children. In Nigeria, for example, malaria is the cause of 11 percent of maternal mortality. The loss of a mother substantially increases the risk of infant mortality, while malaria in pregnancy results in severe anaemia increasing obstetric risk and causes low birth weight. In a country where malaria is the leading cause of child deaths, gains made in reducing the impact of the disease will remain fragile without sustained political and financial commitment. Last year, during the Abuja Summit in Nigeria, African heads of state and Government committed to step up the mobilisation of domestic resources to ensure sustainable financing for health, including malaria. And it can’t come too soon. Since the 1930s, there have been 75 documented local resurgences of malaria, the majority linked to decreased funding.  Although countries with higher mortality rates and lower national incomes have seen increased investment in malaria control, especially in Africa, domestic government investments across the region are highest in wealthier countries and lowest in countries where malaria mortality rates are high. Malaria control has proven to be a highly cost-effective public health strategy. Lives saved from malaria are estimated to account for 20 percent of all progress in reducing child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000, resulting in less infant and maternal mortality, fewer days missed at school and work, and increased productivity. It is widely accepted that poor health can undermine economic growth while good health can enhance it. Continuing to develop new interventions and strategies to prevent and treat malaria, including drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines, is crucial to maintaining progress and mitigate against the threat of drug and insecticide resistance. The African Leaders Summit offers a timely opportunity to address constraints to achieving shared health goals. For all 50 countries, discussion around intensifying malaria control and elimination efforts and should be high on the agenda. *Michelle Davis is Senior Communications Manager at Malaria Consortium ,an international NGO working in malaria, neglected tropical diseases and child health.  Malaria Consortium works in Africa and Asia with communities, governments and non-government agencies, academic institutions and local and international organisations to ensure evidence-based delivery of effective services.    ]]>

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Winner of African Story Challenge Focuses on the Health Toll on Miners
June 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Rebecca Davis receives the award trophy from Dr. Anil Deelchand, Ag. Director of General Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, Republic of Mauritius.Journalists and media organizations in Africa often shy away from development stories, such as those on health and social justice, and instead opt to cover politics. Rebecca Davis, of South African daily online newspaper Daily Maverick, says African news organizations “feel [development] stories are boring or [that readers] have ‘poverty fatigue.’ ” But journalists like Davis are working to change that. Last month, her story “Coughing up for Gold,” which looked at the toll that mining has taken on the health of former South African mine workers, emerged the winner of a continent-wide reporting contest, the African Story Challenge. For her work, Davis wins an international reporting trip. The African Story Challenge is a project of the African Media Initiative (AMI), the continent’s largest association of media owners and operators, in partnership with the International Center for Journalists.Joseph Warungu, AMI’s content strategies director, developed the challenge during his ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship. Story ideas are selected to receive grants of up to US$20,000 to support journalists in producing comprehensive multimedia stories in three categories that are organized in cycles – agriculture and food security, disease prevention and treatment, and business and technology. Davis won in the disease prevention and treatment category. “The African Story Challenge reminded me of the importance of Africans telling their own stories,” Davis said in an interview about the making of “Coughing up for Gold.” She urged journalists to “always put a human face at the center of the story, and that’s how you draw your audience, no matter how dry the subject matter may seem at the outset.” More of her interview is published below with permission from the African Story Challenge: African Story Challenge: How would you describe your experience as an African Story Challenge Finalist and Winner? RD: The African Story Challenge has been a priceless opportunity for me. The training I received during the Story Camp in Lagos was particularly useful as I learned a lot on data journalism. Now I have some of the skills to make my own graphics. I work for a news organization that doesn’t have a lot of resources so anything we can do ourselves, we do. Above all, the financial support was invaluable. In this day and age, few organizations have the time or money to do such in-depth investigative reports. If we hadn’t received this grant from the African Media Initiative, we would not have been able to do this story. ASC: You had six weeks to produce “Coughing up for Gold.” How did you go about it? RD: In doing “Coughing up for Gold,” I wanted to look at the complex issue of silicosis amongst former miners whose plight has been neglected by government and other industry players. Silicosis has everything: it’s politics, money, race, sort of South Africa in a microcosm, and that’s why I found it such a fascinating issue. My cameraman, fixer and I travelled to the Eastern Cape, sometimes for many kilometers in very remote areas and into the mountains to find these ex-miners. We found them sick, and living in conditions of heartbreaking poverty. They couldn’t work due to the disease, and if they had been paid compensation, it was too little. They were welcoming and willing to talk to us, and it was quite humbling to experience their hospitality considering the hardship of their living conditions. It was very hard to get access to the mines themselves, but at short notice, we were able to visit Sibanye Gold, one of the biggest gold producers. We wanted to get a general feel of what mining conditions are like. We were able to speak to top mining officials there who obviously gave us a sanitized version, but it was still interesting to hear what the mines had to say about the situation. We carried out other interviews with mining experts from the chamber of mines and other officials who didn’t want to go on the record, who gave us interesting insights into exactly what the industry knows about the problem and what they are doing about it. One of our biggest coups in doing the project was finding two health experts attached to the national institute of occupational health, Dr. Jill Murray and Dr. Tony Davis who gave us an interview. They had been carrying out autopsies on former miners for years and years and were in the best position to cut through the PR waffle from the mines because they are the ones looking at the lungs of the miners, and can show you the graphs of how incidences of Silicosis and TB are rising year after year. Every journalist should be so lucky to find such knowledgeable interview subjects who aren’t scared, and are willing to talk at length and explain the subject to a layman. We finished off by interviewing the lawyers who’d been involved in taking up the compensation cases for a legal perspective. ASC: What has been the feedback from the story? RD: The feedback has been quite positive, even from people within the mining industry. We’ve had a couple of people come forward to say that though the story was hard hitting, it was essentially valid. The lawyers for the miners have asked to use part of the project, such as the videos, in their own documentation, which was quite heartening. I hope it can be of use to them in the fight for compensation. In general, a lot of people said that although they were aware the issue of silicosis existed, they hadn’t seen it in such a comprehensive package before, and “Coughing up for Gold” managed to inform them in that way, and that has been an incredibly worthwhile thing. The African Story Challenge reminded me of the importance of Africans telling their own stories. A lot of journalists and media organizations shy away from development stories and particularly those on health and social justice because they feel these stories are boring or have “poverty fatigue”. Part of what I’ve learnt from the African Story Challenge journey is to always put a human face at the center of the story, and that’s how you draw your audience, no matter how dry the subject matter may seem at the outset. *ICFJ .This story was also published on IJNet, which is produced by ICFJ.]]>

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Sierra Leonean Healthcare Professionals in UK Want to Contribute to Home Country’s Health Sector
February 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals in the UK are keen to volunteer for short term assignments to fill acute healthcare staffing shortages in their country of origin. The finding emerged from a report: Mapping of Sierra Leonean Health Professionals in the United Kingdom, commissioned by IOM and produced by the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD). Report co-authors Moses Okech and Denise Awoonor-Renner interviewed over 100 Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives, researchers, psychiatrists and health policy advisers. The report provides an overview of their location, educational, professional and employment profiles, and explores the extent of diaspora engagement from the UK. It also lays out some of the issues and challenges that need to be addressed to better harness Sierra Leonean healthcare diaspora skills. “What comes out strongly is that Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals are able, willing and ready to give to their country of origin. The policy framework and structures here (in the UK) and in Sierra Leone need to be improved to harness this passion and enthusiasm,” says Denise Awoonor-Renner. The report is the outcome of a year-long project by IOM exploring how acute human resources shortages in Sierra Leone’s healthcare system might be addressed through diaspora knowledge and skills transfer. “The Sierra Leonean government recognizes the important role that Sierra Leonean health professionals in the diaspora can play in improving healthcare in Sierra Leone. This report outlines some of the challenges and barriers that they face and suggests ways to overcome them,” said IOM Chief of Mission in the UK Clarissa Azkoul. Similar mapping exercises have also been undertaken in the US, Canada and Germany. *Source International Office of Migration (IOM)/APO  ]]>

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Senegal to host new company for Generic Drugs in Africa
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

Africa will soon have unbridled access to generic drugs for some of the most common ailments plaguing the continent with a daring move by some young Africans to set up a specialized company in Senegal. Led by Dr Ousmane Diouf, the project known as Sub-Saharan Generics intends to give Africans access to cheap and safe treatments for their most common ailments. Educated in some of the best Universities in Europe and with stints in prestigious pharmaceutical companies, the Team   is not just  out for business but also has the strong desire to give back to Africa. Herman Brodie. working as consultant for the project says it will manufacture “high-quality generic drugs locally to treat the five most common complaints – diabetes, tuberculosis, pain, malaria and hypertension – and sell them at ethical prices.” Brodie says the interview has already been registered with a management team in place  and there are expectations that with the right partners, production should start by 2015. First in your own word words can you give us a background into Sub-Saharan Generics? If you were a seasoned executive in the pharmaceutical industry and you wanted to give something back to your native Senegal, what would you do? If you had earned a Master’s Degree in Drug Design and a PhD in Organic & Medicinal Chemistry, what is the greatest contribution could you make, not only to your home country, but to the entire sub-Saharan region? Some might say support research towards a cure for HIV or some other cutting edge development, but Dr Ousmane Diouf would disagree. To help the maximum number of people using hard-to-come-by capital resources, it would be better to simply give Africans access to cheap and safe treatments for their most common ailments. The project Sub-Saharan Generics intends to do just that. It will manufacture high-quality generic drugs locally to treat the five most common complaints – diabetes, tuberculosis, pain, malaria and hypertension – and sell them at ethical prices. Why the focus on the five diseases you have in mind and how prevalent are they in Africa? Generic drugs exist for all of these ailments and they can be manufactured cheaply. In the developed world they are so readily available most people take them for granted. In sub-Saharan Africa however, the cost is sometimes so prohibitive the sick often have to make the choice between buying food and buying essential medicines. Even when they are able to pay, supply disruptions sometimes mean treatments have to be delayed or interrupted. Alternatively, people rely on drugs from informal distribution channels, many of which are counterfeit and potentially dangerous. In 2000 it was estimated that some 7.5 million adults between the ages of 20 and 79 suffered from diabetes. This figure is much higher now of course and is set to double over the next 25 years. The prevalence of hypertension is also growing rapidly because of changing lifestyles and diets on the African continent. In the case of malaria, it is estimated that 90 percent of the annual 300 million acute cases worldwide, and the more than one million deaths, occur in Africa. Malaria is also responsible for a fifth of all child deaths on the continent, and approximately 200,000 newborns die each year because of infection during pregnancy. Similarly shocking are the numbers on tuberculosis: a quarter of the almost 10 million cases globally occur in Africa. Finally, who in the developed world can imagine not having access to basic painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin? So at what stage is Sub Saharan Generics now? Have you started producing the requisite medical products and if not, when should people expect to start using your drugs? S2G was registered as a limited company in Senegal in July 2013 and has already assembled a management team led by Dr Diouf. It is still in the process of raising capital from would-be investors, but already enjoys the support and endorsement of some key strategic actors including the country’s sovereign wealth fund and the Senegalese government. It has also acquired a plot of land at new industrial development just outside Dakar and will shortly begin construction of the manufacturing installation. Drug production is expected to begin in 2015. How different are your drugs expected to be from the ones that are produced by western pharmaceutical companies? No different. This is precisely the point. S2G drugs will be manufactured to the same exacting standards as those sold and consumed in Europe and in the US with respect to the cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products, and the World Health Organisation. What has been the reaction of the public to your initiatives? So far, only potential investors and key regional actors have been exposed to the project. The response, however, has been universally enthusiastic. Even investors who for reasons of geographical or sectorial constraints have not been able to commit capital to the project, have recognized the necessity and the merit of S2G’s ambitions. About your team or the brains behind this initiative, may we have an idea about the expertise you have or that is there to help in the success of the project? The management team is composed of experienced pharmaceutical industry professionals in the functions of R&D, finance, logistics, market research and technical analysis. Each member brings more than 20 years of experience to their respective domain and has been recruited from senior management positions. Collectively, they have considerable experience of drug design and production, and of construction and management of a drug production facility. Dr. Ousmane Diouf, Director of the Steering Committee and future President of the structure. Boumy Mr Gueye, Head of Buildings Design in compliance with cGMP and Site Director, Conakry, Guinea Mr Abdou Diagne, Business Analyst, Recruitment Officer, Human Resources Director and Chief Financial Officer Mr Cheikh Ahmadou Tidiane Diouf, Director Key Accounts, Project Manager Dr. Moustapha Diawara, Chief Operating Officer Dr. Jerome Theobald, Director of Strategy and Development Dr. Pierre-Yves Leroy, Technical and Scientific Director Dr. Birane Ba, Director of Marketing and Communications Mr Mamadou Sow, Chairman of the Supervisory Board  In what way do you intend to strike a balance between the economic realities of the continent where many cannot afford drugs and profit incentives that drive business or at least to sustain your project? [caption id="attachment_8159" align="alignright" width="85"]Herman Brodie Herman Brodie[/caption] The ‘economic realities’ you mention include severe poverty. Millions of people in the region live on less than one US-dollar per day. And even though, the vast majority of S2G’s output will be sold to the public sector, healthcare budgets are stretched in Africa in the same way as they are elsewhere in the world. The key, therefore, is to produce essential drugs more cheaply. In the price of a generic drug imported from a developed economy, labor probably accounts for up 80 per cent of the manufacturing costs. In Africa these labor costs are far lower, allowing for profitable production even with much lower retail prices. Also, we believe pharmaceutical companies need to be more intelligent with the packaging when operating in sub-Saharan Africa in order keep costs low. One way is to make sure that the package contains no more of the drug than the patient actually needs to consume. As unfortunate as it is, many African governments trivialize health issues, from budgets, to infrastructure, training of Doctors and so on, what is the situation like in Senegal where the project is located, what has been the response of the government? We do not believe this statement applies to Senegal. The current government has made the implementation of universal healthcare a major political goal. For under-5s and over-65s this is already a reality. Similarly, out of concern for public health, some drugs, like those for the treatment of tuberculosis, are already purchased centrally and distributed freely to the population. On the education front, the Universite Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in Dakar specializes in Pharmacology and is recognized in the West African region as a center of competence. Africa, well some parts of Africa are living through very exciting times and projects like yours are part of the reason people are growing increasingly confident, what does the continent need to get that break through, what needs to be to be done so that some of the genius of the Africans like you and others can be adequately put to the service of development? Africa simply needs more success stories. Who are some of the other partners that Sub Saharan Generics is working with? S2G already has the financial support of the sovereign wealth fund (FONSIS), the sovereign loan guarantee fund (FONGIP)   as well as a number of domestic institutional investors. Among these are ASKIA Assurance Senegal and CNART Assurances (Compagnie Nationale d’Assurance et de Réassurance des Transporteurs), both insurance companies; and CSTT-AO (Compagnie Sénégalaise de Transport Transatlantique – Afrique de l’Ouest), a transport and logistics company. LOCAFRIQUE, a company that specializes in financing agricultural equipment, will support the venture in kind through the favorable conditions for leasing some of the equipment. The future suppliers of active ingredients for S2G’s drugs will include Navasep Synthesis (France), Axyntis (France), and Amyris (USA).]]>

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Cameroon clamps down on illicit clinics
January 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Infections have rapidly fallen after aid groups and government ramped up treatment and prevention. In August, President Ernest Bai Koroma declared the outbreak a national emergency  © Otto Bakano/IRIN Infections have rapidly fallen after aid groups and government ramped up treatment and prevention. In August, President Ernest Bai Koroma declared the outbreak a national emergency
© Otto Bakano/IRIN[/caption] Cameroon is cracking down on more than a thousand illegal clinics and medical training institutions that have sprung up mainly in the capital, Yaoundé, and the coastal city of Douala. Some clinics simply operate without a licence; others are run illegally from private homes. Some owners clandestinely use licences obtained under a so-called Common Initiative Group (CIG) – a government scheme to ease the establishment of not-for-profit self-help groups, which are exempt from taxation and need no proof of initial capital – to run clinics. More than 500 medical training centres and over 600 private clinics are set to be closed in a four-month operation launched in December 2013. “We have launched operations to bring order to the medical sector, which has gone out of control, with anybody now able to own a medical institution. Most of them lack the training, appropriate staff, equipment and infrastructure to operate either a medical training institution or a clinic,” said Biwole Sida, national health inspector at the Ministry of Health. Recently a patient with severe burns was brought to a private clinic in Yaoundé but had to be taken to a nearby government hospital because the clinic had been closed due to the crackdown. The clinic’s attendant arrived later and told IRIN that the facility actually still operates, though now only by phone-scheduled appointments. “Most patients come to the hospital at the verge of death after they have wasted time in small private clinics, which are not even equipped – be it technically or professionally – to handle emergency cases,” said Francois Penda, a medical officer at the government hospital where the burn patient was treated. “An accident like this is so complicated and requires very delicate [procedures] and sophisticated medical equipment. Any unprepared attempt on it will complicate the patient’s chances [of recovery],” said Penda. Costs But some private clinic operators say that the cost of medical care in government facilities is prohibitive. That is why most people prefer the small private health centres, they say. “The government hospitals cannot cater for all patients. They are usually crowded, making it difficult to receive proper treatment,” said Maxwel Fonyu, a laboratory technician and owner of small clinic in Yaoundé. “There are millions of people living in urban slums who depend on affordable medical care from private clinics found in their neighbourhoods. In my clinic for example, instead of asking for 5,000 francs [US$10] for a malaria test, like it is done in big hospitals, I only charge them 500 francs to conduct a malaria test [and to] prescribe and sell them medicines that are affordable and vital for their treatment,” Fonyu said. The proliferation of private clinics has, in part, resulted from a plethora of illegal medical training institutions. “There is a need to [better] regulate the whole sector in Cameroon. Most training institutions operate illicitly,” said Etienne Tsou of the Health Science Faculty at the Catholic University in Cameroon. Many of these private training institutions fail to provide formal instruction, he said. “I don’t see how a medical professional can be trained on the job and not through formal education. Most retired nurses and doctors think they are qualified to open their own centres and train others when they don’t have all what it takes,” Tsou said. Brain drain “The sector may lack qualified professionals, but putting the lives of innocent citizens in the hands of charlatans will lead to a bigger public health problem,” Tsou cautioned. “There are, however, many Cameroonians with good graduate diplomas, but their services are exported to countries where they are better paid.” According to the Ministry of Health, about 5,000 Cameroonian medical doctors are currently working abroad, with around 500 to 600 in the US alone. Tetanye Ekoe, the vice president of the National Order of Medical Doctors in Cameroon, said that out of the 4,200 medical doctors in Cameroon, only about half are actually practicing. About a thousand are on secondment to the Ministry of Health, where they mainly do administrative work. The rest are university lecturers or work with NGOs and the private sector. Bolstering training To improve the quality of health professionals, the government in 2013 carried out an evaluation of the 10 official medical training institutions. Four state universities and two private universities were then permitted to continue training. The government also introduced a national entrance examination for higher institutions under the supervision of the National Medical Council. For the first time in Cameroon, over 8,300 candidates sat for a common national university entrance examination in October last year, competing for 500 spots for medical doctors, 150 places for pharmacists and 150 places for dental surgeons. More than 500 medical students and some 5,000 nurses graduate every year in Cameroon, which has nearly twice the minimum health worker-to-patient ratio recommended by the World Health Organization, at 1.9 health workers per 10,000 (the sub-Saharan average is 1.3:10,000), according to a recent World Bank report * Source IRIN]]>

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Government criticized as malaria deaths spike in Cameroon
November 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

Nearly 800 people have died in a recent malaria outbreak in northern Cameroon, one described by public health officials as “a severe and sudden epidemic.”

Doctors treating more than 12,000 victims of the disease say those who died in the past three weeks were mostly young children and pregnant women.

Heavy rains have flooded the region around Maroua, giving mosquitoes ideal breeding conditions.

“This is a severe and sudden epidemic. I see no end in sight,” Dr. Amos Ekane, a malaria specialist treating more than 2,000 victims in Maroua, told CNN.

Wednesday, a panel of Cameroonian journalists on state radio criticized the government for not spreading the news about the outbreak and not requesting international aid.

According to the Public Health Ministry, more than 12,000 people are seriously ill and have been admitted to hospitals. But there are fewer than 10 treatment centers are available to help those who’ve contracted the mosquito-borne illness, and thousands of children and women are forced to sleep in the open or in overcrowded rooms without mosquito nets.

“Three of my children have died here. Here is my wife lying helplessly with drips tied to this tree,” Abubakar Ardo Miro told CNN, pointing out the conditions at the overcrowded Maroua regional hospital.

“Only a few qualified physicians are available in the regional government hospital to handle malaria cases. This cannot yield a favorable result,” Ekane warned

The Cameroon Medical Council — a body governing the medical core in the West African nation — estimates a ratio of one doctor to every 40,000 patients. Less than 1,000 physicians currently work in the country, the council says, and toil under poor conditions and low wages.

“This is really a mess to the Cameroon government,” Tataw Eric Tano, a newspaper publisher in Cameroo, told CNN by phone.

The government footed the bill to transport thousands of voters to parliamentary and municipal elections earlier this month, he said, but is not transporting dying patients to other areas with less-crowded hospitals.

Observers have criticized President Paul Biya of ignoring the mounting malaria death toll as he focuses on lavish preparations to celebrate his 31 years in the presidency November 6.

“Even the propaganda state radio CRTHealth experts blame the upsurge of malaria cases on the poor use of malaria nets that were distributed free of charge among nearly 9 million Cameroonians in 2010.V is talking against this,” said political analyst Prince Tanda.

But a dwindling economy and the scarcity of food has forced some families to use the nets for other purposes.

“There is no reason for me to sleep under this net while my children need food to eat,” Elias Mbengono, a local fisherman, told CNN as he demonstrated how he could use the nets to catch fish for his family.

Climate change researcher Kevin Enongene said recent heavy rains and flooding in Northern Cameroon have transformed villages into mosquito breeding grounds. Lake Chad continues to spill water over its banks and no levee has been created to stop the flood, Enongene said.

“This should be taken seriously,” he added.

Public health experts are now targeting the heads of families in a daily campaign to stave off the malaria epidemic in Maroua.

“Sleep under the mosquito bed net. Do not use them as fishing nets,” one campaign banner read.

But state public health officials are raising fears that the death toll could reach the thousands in the next few weeks if international support is not received soon.

More than 660,000 people around the world died from malaria in 2010, according to the World Health Organization.

*Source CNN


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The Africa Union Joins the Global Fight to End Neglected Tropical Diseases by 2020
May 4, 2013 | 0 Comments

Africa Union Health Ministers Call for Increased Investments to Rid Africa of Neglected Tropical Diseases


Dr. Neeraj MistryManaging Director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases,

Dr. Neeraj MistryManaging Director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases,

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, April 29, 2013— The Sixth Conference of African Union Ministers of Health (CAMH6) concluded on April 26, 2013 with a strong call for African countries and development partners to increase support for neglected tropical disease (NTD) control and elimination programs. This call for action supports the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal to control or eliminate ten of the most common NTDs by 2020.

 NTDs were prominently featured at this year’s CAMH6 which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from April 22-26, 2013. The African Ministers of Health acknowledged the tremendous work done by country governments, the WHO Regional Office for Africa, and development partners, highlighting the development of 36 multi-year, national NTD control and elimination plans, the WHO Roadmap for Implementation titled, Accelerating Work to Overcome the Global Impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases, and the January 2012 London Declaration on NTDs. The Ministers called on African governments and partners to build on this momentum by making financial commitments towards the implementation of the national NTD control and elimination plans.

NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that infect more than one billion people around the world, most of whom live below the poverty line. These diseases cause malnutrition and anemia, pregnancy complications, blindness, disfigurement and delays to physical and cognitive growth among children, often perpetuating the poverty of those they infect.

During the conference, the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, co-hosted a high-level breakfast discussion to showcase the current challenges and available solutions to combat NTDs in Africa. The meeting outlined clear actions for African governments and development partners to ensure NTD control and elimination by 2020.

This breakfast discussion, which included remarks by His Excellency Dr. Mustapha Kaloko, AUC Commissioner for Social Affairs; Ambassador Michael Marine, chief executive officer of the Sabin Vaccine Institute; the Honorable Dr. Sabine Ntakarutimana, Minister of Health for the Republic of Burundi; and Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, regional director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa.

“Africa has the highest burden of NTDs in the world, with just under 50 percent of the global NTD burden. NTDs pose a threat to healthcare, economic development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals,” said His Excellency Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner of Social Affairs at the African Union. “CAMH6 is reigniting this issue with the hope of triggering strong action against these diseases.”

“This week’s focus on NTDs confirmed African leaders’ commitment to advancing the region’s health and development,” said Ambassador Michael W. Marine, chief executive officer of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “This strong commitment will be a clear signal of increased ownership of this issue by African governments and will catalyze greater financial contributions from development partners.”

Burundi became the first francophone country in the region to officially launch an integrated national plan to combat NTDs in February 2012. Dr. Sabine Ntakarutimana, the Honorable Minister of Health for the Republic of Burundi, encouraged other African nations to adopt a similar commitment to eliminate NTDs by 2020.

Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, regional director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, highlighted the new and growing momentum to eliminate NTDs. Dr. Sambo added that, “government leadership and commitment remains critical to accelerating the control and elimination of NTDs and enhancing development in Africa.”

 To learn more about NTDs in Africa, visit

Media Contacts:

Amber Cashwell

Policy Officer, Sabin Vaccine Institute

Tel: +1 202-621-1695 or Mobile: +1 (864) 978-9335

 Wynne Musabayana

Deputy Head of Information and Communication

African Union Commission


 About NTDs

NTDs are a group of 17 parasitic and bacterial infections that are the most common afflictions of the world’s poorest people. They blind, disable and disfigure their victims, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and disease. Research shows that treating NTDs lifts millions out of poverty by ensuring that children stay in school to learn and prosper; by strengthening worker productivity; and by improving maternal and child health.


About Sabin Vaccine Institute 

Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world’s most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat, and eliminate these diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating use of existing vaccines, and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information please visit


About the African Union

The African Union Commission is the Secretariat of the African Union whose vision is that of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.” The mission of the Commission is to become “An efficient and value-adding institution driving the African integration and development process in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens.” Guided by its values and principles, the Commission will endeavour to achieve its mission through implementation of clear goals and strategies and by committing the requisite resources for effective discharge of its mandate. This would require the AUC presenting specific proposals to give full effect to its texts, and bring new possibilities and benefits to the citizens of Africa.



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Equatorial Guinea Moves Towards Partnership with GB Group Global To Improve Health Standards
April 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

Equatorial Guinea  (EG) Ministry of Health meets in Washington,DC with GB Group Global andTNI Biotech (OTCBB:TNIB) to launch major innovative health solutions and improve pharmaceutical quality for its citizens.



 GB Energy Washington, D.C. The EG Ministry of Health met with Dr. Gloria B. Herndon of GB Group Global in the nation’s capital recently as part of Equitorial Guinea’s efforts to dramatically raise its standards of health care. These endeavors include building a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in EG, implementing pharmaceutical quality control and policies,  and exploring the release of a new treatment (Low Dose Naltrexone LDN) against cancer and HIV/AIDS.

 The purpose of the visit of Dr. Diosdado-Vicente Milang Nsue, the Delegate Minister of Health & Social Services and Dr. Consuelo Ondo Efua the D i r e c t o r  G e n e r a l  o f Drug Supply and Medical Equipment, was to engage with organizations who through assistance, partnership and the sharing of best practices could close knowledge gaps and help bring improved health care to Equatorial Guineans. The visitors’ meetings with members of the medical community were facilitated by Dr. Herndon, President and Managing Member of GB Group Global andits wide ranging auxiliary companies, GB Energie, GB Pharma and GB Oncology and Imaging Group.

 Presiding over their near week-long stay, Dr. Herndon said the government of EG had included the improvement of health care as a facet of the “Industrialization Plan-2020”, which was defined by the government and stretches across all sectors of the country to focus on raising the economic level and quality of life of the country’s citizens by year 2020.

Among issues discussed, Minister Dr. Milang Nsue raised a problem rampant overseas: The need for affordable high quality medicines. “The devastating effects of substandard and counterfeit medicines in circulation lead to treatment failure, increased mortality; and the development of drug resistance.” Dr. Milang Nsue also stressed that “…establishing in Equatorial Africa a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility with an analytical laboratory would be of paramount importance.” The proposed facility was part of conversations with TNI Bio Tech Inc., GB Pharma, Gb Oncology & Imaging Group,  Howard University and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) representatives, with whom partnerships were discussed.

The Director of Pharmacology, Dr. Ondo Efua said “With the availability of a drug manufacturing facility to treat the most current pathologies, we could secure the safety and high quality of medicines either produced in EG or imported. We would have taken an important step to halt the traffic and commercialization of the counterfeit medicines that undermine the quality of the health services delivered to our population” Further, as EG is concerned with the global struggle to combat the scourge of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, new developments regarding the therapy known asIRT-103 Low Dose Naltrexone* (LDN) were explained during the sessions with TNI Bio Tech Inc. (OTCBB:TNIB) IRT-103 is an active immunotherapy for patients with deficient functioning of the immune system. It works within the body by activating the patient’s immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells and controlling infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS. The therapy  has been hailed in other countries where it will be used as inexpensive and simple to manage, requiring only one dose each day, taken orally.

The process to initiate approval of the treatment of HIV/AIDS and cancer by IRT-103 should begin soon. This step will change the lives of the country’s citizens, by decreasing the sufferings and death of the killer diseases, and will permit Equatorial Guinea to take a leadership position in eliminating these plagues. A meeting will be held in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, with the technical team of TNIB, GB Pharma and GB Oncology & Imaging Group in order to present the significance of IRT-103 to the medical and scientific community of EG and acquainting them with IRT-103’s most recent advances and widened scope. Concluding the sessions, Dr. Herndon said she felt the exchanges had been productive, and was pleased that “…we (GB Group Global) were able to demonstrate our commitment to viable and sustainable solutions to the issues of the citizens well being and the growth of the nation.”

 GB Group Global’s entrepreneurial founder, Dr. Gloria B. Herndon, has more than 35 years of successfully conducting business internationally. Her social give-back programs in education, healthcare and municipal development are just a few areas the GB Group champions together with its collateral partners. The GB Group currently focuses on innovative and sustainable solutions in the energy, environment and health sectors. 

                GB Group Global

                        providing innovative & sustainable solutions while doing good




Jan Du Plain






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Wave of Celebrity Support Boosts Global Effort to Eliminate Seven Diseases by 2020
August 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Sabin Admin on Wed, 08/01/2012 – 10:32

END7 campaign fights treatable Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that infect more than 1 billion people

 Washington, DC—August 1, 2012—Celebrities from around the world called on their fans and followers to join the END7 campaign, a global effort to eliminate seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020. Music, entertainment and fashion stars, including Katy Perry,  Slash, Ewan McGregor, Stella McCartney, Tom Felton, Alyssa Milano, Danny DeVito, Amos Lee, Norah Jones, MC Hammer, Aaron Neville, The Kooks, Rosanne Cash and many others reached out to their Twitter and Facebook fans to help END7 raise awareness about these devastating diseases of poverty that infect one in six people worldwide, including 500 million children.

 “Join us in ending 7 diseases by 2020! Follow @END_7 today and find out how to make it all possible!” tweeted pop singer Katy Perry (@katyperry) to her 24 million followers.

“My fans mean the world to me. Today you meant the world to millions of kids suffering with NTDs,” tweeted British actor and a star of the “Harry Potter” movie franchise, Tom Felton (@tomfelton).

“Thousands of you have joined me to help #End7 preventable diseases today. You inspire me!” Felton also posted.

Yesterday’s social media push reached more than 50 million people through Twitter and Facebook, and put the END7 campaign on the map for millions who had never heard about NTDs.

“This week marks a turning point for the END7 campaign, as millions of people are learning just how easy it can be to eliminate or control a group of diseases that plague the world’s poorest people,” said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases. “We are incredibly grateful for all of the new support we have seen over the past week and hope that it continues to inspire others to join our cause.”

It costs just 50 cents to treat and protect one person for an entire year against all seven of the most common NTDs. Pills to treat these diseases are donated by pharmaceutical companies and many programs use existing infrastructure, such as schools and community centers, to administer the treatments, making NTD treatment one of most cost-effective public health initiatives available today.

“See how you can help stop 7 different kinds of diseases with a donation as small as 50 cents,” posted Stella McCartney (@stellamccartney), fashion designer and daughter of Beatles member, Sir Paul McCartney.

NTDs cause blindness, massive swelling in appendages and limbs, severe malnutrition and anemia.  These diseases prevent children from growing and learning. They reduce adults’ economic productivity and ability to care for their families, keeping communities trapped in a cycle of poverty and disease.

The END7 campaign, launched earlier this year by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, aims to raise the public awareness and funding required to cover the cost of distributing medicine and setting up treatment programs for NTDs. It is the first global public awareness campaign dedicated to NTD treatment and elimination and relies heavily on compelling visual content disseminated through various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread its message.


To see a full list of our celebrity supporters and to learn more about NTDs or to join the END7 campaign, please visit END7 on Facebook. Together we can see the end!

About END7

END7 is a grassroots campaign that seeks to raise money to expand access to NTD treatments and catalyze support for NTD control efforts to encourage major political and philanthropic leaders to increase funding for this important global health issue. The U.K. and U.S. governments, as well as major pharmaceutical companies, have already made significant contributions. END7 works with the World Health Organization and many other global partners.

About NTDs

NTDs are a group of 17 parasitic and bacterial infections that are the most common afflictions of the world’s poorest people. The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases focuses on the seven most common NTDs that account for 90 percent of the disease burden – elephantiasis, river blindness, snail fever, trachoma, hookworm, whipworm and roundworm. They blind, disable and disfigure their victims, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and disease. Research shows that treating NTDs lifts millions out of poverty by ensuring that children stay in school to learn and prosper, by strengthening worker productivity and by improving maternal and child health.

About Sabin Vaccine Institute 

Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world’s most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat and eliminate these diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating the use of existing vaccines and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information please visit



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Despite Strong Economic Growth, Neglected Tropical Diseases Remain a Barrier for Human Development in Nigeria
August 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Sabin Admin

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases published a comprehensive report showcasing the high burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Nigeria. The paper’s authors, Drs. Peter Hotez, Oluwatoyin Asojo and Adekunle Adesina, found that despite Nigeria’s recent economic growth, progress in human development areas such as public health have lagged, contributing to high rates of NTDs in the country.

Among all African nations, Nigeria has the highest number of people infected with high-prevalence NTDs, such as soil transmitted helminth (STH) infections, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (LF). In fact, Nigeria not only has the highest prevalence of both schistosomiasis and river blindness in Africa, but also the highest global rates of these debilitating NTDs. The resulting enormous disease burden adversely affects maternal and child health and worker productivity in Nigeria, a pattern repeated throughout Africa.

“NTDs often perpetuate the cycle of poverty,” said Dr. Hotez, president of Sabin Vaccine Institute and director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. “Because they can cause severe illness and long-term disability, they prohibit children from attending school and adults from working or even caring for their children.” Dr. Hotez is also the founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

However, Nigeria is in a unique position to quickly improve the devastation caused by NTDs. It has the third largest economy in Africa, with a gross domestic product (GDP) that is similar to western European countries such as Belgium and Sweden. As a result, Nigeria is better equipped than other neighboring countries to provide affordable access to NTD treatment and control programs.

NTDs are some of the most cost-effective public health programs available today. In Nigeria, the approximate cost to treat the population for the most common NTDs is 0.1 percent of the GDP.

Some strides have already been made to help eliminate NTDs in Nigeria. For example, Nigeria has been successful in its efforts with the Carter Center and the World Health Organization (WHO)to eradicate guinea worm. Through investments with the Nigerian government that exceeded US $2 million, along with other public and private support, the disease’s transmission has been halted there since 2009. Additionally, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health has successfully collaborated with the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) to ensure that 96 percent of the 35,000 at-risk communities have received and/or continue to receive treatment to prevent river blindness. In addition to calling for an expansion of ongoing NTD control and elimination efforts, the authors call for continued collaboration between the Nigerian government and public health organizations such as UNICEF, WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) and the Carter Center to continue this important work to reduce the burden of NTDs.

“Nigeria can build on past success by aggressively expanding its national disease prevention programs to include integrated mass-drug administration (MDA) programs to treat several NTDs at once, helping to stop the disease transmission cycle and ultimately see the end of these diseases,” said Dr. Adesina, also at Texas Children’s Hospital and the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

The authors also called for new treatment and prevention tools, such as simpler and less expensive diagnostic reagents and more research and development for NTD vaccines, which is currently underway at the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

“Nigeria’s research institutes and universities have an enormous potential to contribute to the development of a new generation of drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for these conditions,” said Dr. Asojo, a scientist and faculty member at the National School of Tropical Medicine.

“A Nigeria free of NTDs will accelerate the country’s economic development through improvements in worker productivity, pregnancy outcomes and childhood education,” concluded Dr. Hotez.  “By expanding integrated NTD control, Nigeria could quickly become a role model for all of Africa.”

The full paper, “Nigeria: ‘Ground Zero’ for High Prevalence Neglected Tropical Diseases,” can be found at

About NTDs
NTDs are a group of 17 parasitic and bacterial infections that are the most common afflictions of the world’s poorest people. They blind, disable and disfigure their victims, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and disease. Research shows that treating NTDs lifts millions out of poverty by ensuring that children stay in school to learn and prosper; by strengthening worker productivity; and by improving maternal and child health.

 About Sabin Vaccine Institute 

Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world’s most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat, and eliminate these diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating use of existing vaccines, and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information please visit

About Baylor College of Medicine



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