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‘A momentous milestone’: Africa now free from wild polio virus | News

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Health authorities have declared Africa free of the wild polio virus after decades of efforts, a major step in the campaign to eradicate the crippling viral disease worldwide.

Tuesday’s historic announcement by the African Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication during a World Health Organization (WHO) event came four years after the continent’s last case was reported in northern Nigeria.

The commission, an independent body, confirmed that all 47 countries in the WHO’s Africa region have eradicated the disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours. 

The news was hailed by health experts, who also urged continued vigilance over the still-existing threat posed by polio vaccine-derived outbreaks in more than a dozen countries.

“This is one of the greatest public health achievements, demonstrating that with science and solidarity we can beat viruses and save lives,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director, called for a continuation in the efforts to protect children across the continent “against all forms of polio and other childhood diseases”.

She added: “We must take the lessons learned and best practices from eradicating wild polio virus to achieve Africa’s other public health goals and improve healthcare for all Africans.”

However, the declaration does not mean Africa is polio free. Cases remain of the so-called vaccine-derived polio virus, which is a rare mutated form of the weakened but live virus contained in the oral polio vaccine.

That mutated virus can spark crippling polio outbreaks, and 16 African countries are currently experiencing one.

“Today’s celebration must be tempered by the expanding scope of outbreaks of vaccine-derived polio and the broader impact related to coronavirus,” said Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance as reported by WHO Africa on Twitter.

Globally, wild polio case numbers have been cut drastically due to national and regional immunisation for babies and children. The disease remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, however.

“Until wild polio virus is eradicated everywhere, it’s still a risk everywhere,” Michael Galway, a polio expert at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told Reuters, urging continued vigilance.

“There’s nothing that prevents the virus from making the route from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Africa,” he said.

Despite the existing threats, the news brought a glimpse of hope as the continent is still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, an Ebola outbreak in western Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the persistent deadly challenges of malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

The WHO says this is just the second time a virus has been eradicated in Africa, after the elimination of smallpox 40 years ago.

The final push to combat the wild polio virus focused largely on northern Nigeria, where the armed group Boko Haram has carried out a deadly armed campaign since 2009.

Health authorities say success was delayed because vaccination was stopped for years amid community mistrust and Boko Haram attacks.

“The challenge was inaccessibility; how you deliver vaccines in hard-to-reach areas; how you gain the trust of those who need the vaccine,” Anis Siddique of the United Nations Children’s Fund told Al Jazeera.

Health workers at times carried out vaccinations on the margins of the insecurity, putting their lives at risk.

Tunji Funsho, chairman of Rotary International’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, underlined the great efforts and sacrifices made by health workers.

“We did not accomplish this alone. Tens of 1000s of health workers have dedicated their lives to fighting polio throughout Africa,” Funsho said on Twitter.

In 2015, Nigeria had been removed from the global list of polio-endemic nations, a step towards being declared polio free, but new cases were reported a year later in children in the north – a stark example of the difficulties in combating the disease.

Health authorities have warned that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted vaccination work in many countries across Africa, leaving more children vulnerable to infection.

In April, WHO and its partners reluctantly recommended a temporary halt to mass polio immunisation campaigns, recognising the move could lead to a resurgence of the disease. In May, they reported that 46 campaigns to vaccinate children against polio had been suspended in 38 countries, mostly in Africa, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Eradicating polio requires more than 90 percent of children being immunised, typically in mass campaigns involving millions of health workers – campaigns that would break physical distancing guidelines needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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