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Why Africa’s success in eradicating polio is important today | Africa

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“Could you patent the sun?” This is how American virologist Jonas Salk responded when asked whether he would be patenting his breakthrough polio vaccine.

The polio virus, which once killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of children every year and led to summertime lockdowns, is a step closer to being consigned to the history books. 

With no recorded cases since 2016, the African region has received certification as wild polio virus free by the World Health Organization (WHO) – and this is one of the greatest achievements in public health history.  

Delivering polio vaccines to every child in the African region and wiping out the wild virus is no small feat, and the human resources, skills and experience gained in the process leave behind a legacy in how to tackle diseases and reach the poorest and most marginalised communities with lifesaving services. 

Leadership from all levels of government across party lines, a historic public-private partnership which raised billions, millions of health workers reaching children across the region – from conflict zones to remote areas only accessible by motorbike or helicopter – and a culture of continual improvement were all critical to overcoming challenges and bottlenecks. 

As countries work to suppress COVID-19, many of the same basic traditional public health methods used in polio eradication, including contact tracing and surveillance, are key to breaking the chains of transmission and saving lives and livelihoods from the first coronavirus pandemic in human history.

As recently as 2012, half of all globally recorded cases of wild polio virus were in Nigeria – the last country in the region to rid itself of the virus. However, as with the COVID-19 pandemic, the lesson is that it is never too late to turn a disease outbreak around. Through hard work, new innovations and ensuring that no child was missed, Nigeria and the entire African region have now defeated polio.

Across the region, health workers go village to village and door to door vaccinating children multiple times and offering health advice and support to the community. It is a remarkable effort started by Rotary International, which in the 1980s – when there were hundreds of thousands of cases every year – made a global call for eradication.

The unique public-private partnership was spearheaded by governments from across the world that politically and financially backed the effort, as well as a host of partners including Rotary International, WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

There is a very good reason why the world’s best scientists are racing to find a vaccine for COVID-19. Bringing polio to the brink of eradication was only possible because of safe and effective vaccines that were developed jointly by the United States and the USSR at the height of the Cold War.

Putting the common interest of humanity before nationalistic endeavours was a worthy act that paid off not only for the US and the USSR, but for the whole world.

Using the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which aims to fast track diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, WHO is currently working with the public and private sectors to hasten the scientific process and ensure that when new tools are available, they reach those who need them. 

Learning from past cooperation and sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in the national interest of every country.

With the African region hitting the golden number of zero cases of wild polio, the world’s attention will now shift to the remaining places where the virus hides. And the good news is that the two remaining countries that still register cases of wild polio, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have resumed polio vaccination after a brief suspension due to COVID-19. 

A surge of resources and effort is needed to ensure that the world uses this critical window of opportunity to protect all children in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the upcoming low season, during which there is a natural decline in cases of the polio virus.  

Now is the moment to work with all partners and put child vaccination first so that we can end polio and the global health community can go on to tackle other childhood diseases like measles, pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhoea which can be prevented with a vaccine.

While thanking and congratulating governments, health workers, civil society and all groups that have been part of this titanic struggle, it is important to use the momentum to invest further in health systems, as well as the health worker force, to protect people from this pandemic, and prepare them for future disease outbreaks.

Polio and COVID-19 both demonstrate that the best ways to break the chains of disease transmission are working together in solidarity, accelerating the science and continually cooperating to solve problems on the ground and improve service delivery.

Salk’s vision of a polio-free world is within our grasp. Let us grab it with both hands and use it as our inspiration for a safer, healthier world.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



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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