Tag: World Health Organization

R.I.P. Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Former United Nations Secretary General

Kofi Annan was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his humanitarian work with the UN. (Photograph: Allison Joyce/Reuters)

by Chris Johnston via theguardian.com

The former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, has died at the age of 80 after a short illness, his family and foundation announced on Saturday.

The Ghanaian was the seventh secretary general and served for two terms between 1997 and 2006. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work jointly with the UN as an organisation in 2001.

He died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland in the early hours of Saturday with his wife, Nane, and three children Ama, Kojo and Nina, by his side. He had retired to Geneva and later lived in a Swiss village.

Annan’s foundation issued a statement on his Twitter account on Saturday that described him as a “global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.”

The statement added that Annan, who succeeded Boutros Boutros-Ghali as UN leader, was a “son of Ghana and felt a special responsibility towards Africa”.

The current UN secretary general, António Guterres, whom Annan appointed to lead its refugee agency, said: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”

The former UK prime minister Tony Blair said on Twitter that he was shocked and distressed by Annan’s death. “He was a good friend whom I saw only weeks ago. Kofi Annan was a great diplomat, a true statesman and a wonderful colleague who was widely respected and will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy go to Nane and his family,” he said.

Annan was chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace and human rights founded by Nelson Mandela. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former prime minister of Norway and the body’s deputy chair, said she and her colleagues were devastated by Annan’s death.

“Kofi was a strong and inspiring presence to us all, and The Elders would not be where it is today without his leadership. Throughout his life, Kofi worked unceasingly to improve the lives of millions of people around the world,” she said.

Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said the world had lost a great leader: “Kofi’s dedication and drive for a more peaceful and just world, his lifelong championing of human rights, and the dignity and grace with which he led will be sorely missed in a world which needs these characteristics more than ever.”

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Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289 Million to Dewayne Johnson, 46, as Jury Rules its Weedkiller Roundup Caused His Cancer

DeWayne Johnson listens during the Monsanto trial in San Francisco last month. (Photograph: Reuters)

by Sam Levin and Patrick Greenfield via theguardian.com

Monsanto suffered a major blow with a jury ruling that the company was liable for a terminally ill man’s cancer, awarding him $289 million in damages.

Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former groundskeeper, won a huge victory in the landmark case on Friday, with the jury determining that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure. The jury further found that Monsanto “acted with malice or oppression”.

Johnson’s lawyers argued over the course of a month-long trial in San Francisco that Monsanto had “fought science” for years and targeted academics who spoke up about possible health risks of the herbicide product. Johnson was the first person to take the agrochemical corporation to trial over allegations that the chemical sold under the brand Roundup causes cancer.

In the extraordinary verdict, which Monsanto said it intends to appeal, the jury ruled that the company was responsible for “negligent failure” and knew or should have known that its product was “dangerous”.

“We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that … Roundup could cause cancer,” Johnson’s lawyer Brent Wisner said in a statement. The verdict, he added, sent a “message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits”.

Speaking in San Francisco on Friday, Johnson said that the jury’s verdict is far bigger than his lawsuit. He said he hopes the case bolsters the thousands of similar lawsuits pending against the company and brings national attention to the issue.

Johnson’s case was particularly significant because a judge allowed his team to present scientific arguments. The dispute centered on glyphosate, which is the world’s most widely used herbicide. The verdict came a month after a federal judge ruled that cancer survivors or relatives of the deceased could bring similar claims forward in another trial.

During the lengthy trial, the plaintiff’s attorneys brought forward internal emails from Monsanto executives that they said demonstrated how the corporation repeatedly ignored experts’ warnings, sought favorable scientific analyses and helped to “ghostwrite” research that encouraged continued usage.

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African Nations Celebrate a 55 Percent Drop in Child Mortality Rates Due to Immunization

(photo via venturesafrica.com)
(photo via venturesafrica.com)

article by Cynthia Okoroafor via venturesafrica.com

As the Ministerial Conference on Immunisation in Africa commences today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, vaccine experts and officials representing 26 African countries from the ‘meningitis belt’ celebrate the introduction of MenAfriVac® and its achievements in the continent’s public health system. In five years, MenAfriVac, which is designed, developed and produced for use in Africa, has nearly eliminated serogroup A meningococcal disease from the meningitis belt countries and is now being integrated into routine national immunisation programs.

Since the vaccine was first introduced in Burkina Faso back in 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that 16 of the 26 countries in the African meningitis belt, between Senegal and Ethiopia, have conducted initial mass vaccination campaigns to protect their citizens. As a result of this, more than 235 million children and young adults, between the ages of 1 and 29 years old, have been immunised, eliminating meningitis A disease in those areas.

Manuel Fontaine, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund’s (UNICEF) Regional Director for West and Central Africa stated that “It’s clear that the rollout of the meningitis A vaccine has been a great success story in sub-Saharan Africa. At UNICEF, we’ll continue to work with national authorities, health workers and traditional and religious leaders so that vaccines remain well accepted and reach every community across the meningitis belt.”

The officials at the conference thereby plan a transition from mass campaigns to vaccine use in childhood immunisation programs to prevent the resurgence of deadly epidemics. Cases of meningitis A reduced from over 250,000 during an outbreak in 1996 to just 80 confirmed cases in 2015 and those were in countries that had not yet conducted mass immunisation campaigns.

Speaking ahead of the conference yesterday, Prof. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, the Minister of Health and Social Services of Senegal, encouraged African countries to reflect on the common goals and aspirations made in 2012 regarding achieving Universal Access to Immunisation by 2020 and improving healthcare for children.

“Thanks to immunisations, there has been a 55 percent reduction in child deaths in the past 25 years…Vaccines are a cost-effective proven investment that spur national development. Studies show that every dollar spent on immunization programs can provide economic returns up to sixteen times for a given country. Treating vaccine-preventable diseases places an enormous strain on public health systems by redirecting limited human and economic resources towards treatment instead of prevention.” 

Furthermore, she stated it is essential to prioritise health for every child in every part of Africa to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. According to her, the Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa represents a key moment for African nations to catalyse support and accountability to ensure that universal immunization is made a reality.

To read full article, go to: http://venturesafrica.com/how-a-vaccine-is-improving-the-african-childs-health/

 

World Health Organization Declares the End of Ebola in Guinea

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A health worker wearing protective equipment assists an Ebola patient at the Kenema, Sierra Leone, treatment center run by the Red Cross Society Nov. 15, 2014.  (FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The World Health Organization recently declared Guinea free of Ebola transmission, and Guineans plan to celebrate.

The West African country was the site where the original Ebola chain of transmission began two years ago. A menacing disease, it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and seven additional countries. According to the New York Times, the December 2013 Ebola outbreak led to its largest epidemic in history—taking more than 11,300 lives worldwide.

WHO notes that over 40 days have passed since the last person confirmed to have Ebola tested negative for a second time (which was after an incubation period). Further, Guinea is under a 90-day surveillance period to identify and treat new cases of the virus.

Still, WHO doctors remain hopeful.

“This is the first time that all three countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—have stopped the original chains of transmission that were responsible for starting this devastating outbreak two years ago,” says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

Read more at the New York Times and BBC News.

article by Felice León via theroot.com

Nigeria and Senegal Declared Free of Ebola Virus by World Health Organization

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 11.03.30 PMNigeria has been declared officially free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.  WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, speaking in the capital Abuja, said it was a “spectacular success story”.

Nigeria won praise for its swift response after a Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July.  The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

An estimated 70% of those infected have died in those countries.  The WHO officially declared Senegal Ebola-free on Friday.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to discuss how to strengthen their response to the threat posed by Ebola.

Speaking on the sidelines, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he expected the meeting to appoint a co-ordinator to galvanize the EU’s response to the epidemic.

“My colleagues are unanimous in saying that this idea of a European co-ordinator for the fight against Ebola is a good idea. The name will be chosen in the coming days. I think it’s a very important step.”

European countries have committed more than 500m euros (£400m; $600m) but the UK is pressing to double that amount.

The money is being sought to help reinforce over-stretched healthcare systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and to mitigate the damage Ebola is doing to their economies.

Earlier, the Spanish government said a nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa had tested negative for the virus.

article via bbc.com

Texting Becomes a Health Tool in Kenya

Red Cross volunteer uses mobile phone RAMP survey to gather health information in rural Kenya.  (Credit: IFRC)

Mobile phone use in Africa has spread far, wide and fast. By the end of last year, it was estimated that 70 percent of the population would have a mobile phone. Now, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says it’s using the technology to save lives.In Kenya, the IFRC has developed the Rapid Mobile Phone-based survey, otherwise known as RAMP. It allows the medical aid group to learn a lot about the health of people in remote, rural communities in very little time.  Jason Peat, the senior health officer for malaria, says the idea for the survey came from IFRC volunteers.

“There are volunteers using those mobile phones to communicate. They’re doing it two ways. They’re using them as a regular phone, but more often than not we see them use the phones to send text messages back and forth because they’re a very inexpensive way to communicate. Red Cross volunteers and other community health workers at a very local level were already figuring out a way to manage activities, to manage programs and not just health programs, but all programs using mobile phones,” he said.

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African Students Create Anti-Malaria Soap, Win Business Competition

malaria soap cropped

Moctar Dembele (pictured right) and Gerard Niyondiko (pictured) have won the Global Science Venture (GSVC) competition for creating an anti-malaria repellent soap, reports CP-Africa.  Burkina Faso native Dembele and Burundi native Niyondiko created Faso Soap from different herbs, including karate citronella. According to the product profile:

In many countries of tropical Africa, malaria is the leading cause of death for the population. It represents 30-40% of hospital admissions and up to 40% of public health expenditure.

Solution:  Production and marketing of soap “mosquito,” based on shea butter and enriched with essential oils of lemongrass and concern, to protect its users from malaria.

Impact:  Reduction massive number of people affected by malaria, especially among the poorest and basic hygiene.

According to Niyondiko, the soap will initially be available in African countries hit hardest by malaria. “The soap will be available first here, and then given to NGO.”

Watch the Faso Soap GSVC pitch below:

 

“We want a simple solution, because every one uses soaps, even in the very poor communities,” Dembélé added.

Dembele and Niyondiko have not only helped Africa with their creation, they’ve also made history.

They are also the first non-Americans to win the GSVC, which challenges students across the world to create their own business plans for social ventures. The grand prize is $25,000.

According to the World Health Organization, the African continent accounts for 85 percent of malaria cases and 90 percent of malaria deaths worldwide. Eighty-five percent of those deaths occur in children under 5 years old.

article by Hannington Dia via newsone.com