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Press Releases

Nigeria’s Senate Passes HIV Anti-Discrimination Law

Nigeria’s Senate has passed a bill seeking to prevent the stigmatisation of and discrimination against those living with, or affected by HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.

 

The upper chamber also approves a punishment of either two-year jail term or a maximum of N1m fine on any institution or organisation which disclosed the status of an infected person.

 

Any individual who discloses the status of an infected person which he or she obtains in confidence, according to the bill, shall be liable to a fine of N.5m or a one-year jail term.

 

The bill, according to the Chairman,  Senate Committee on Health  Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, essentially seeks to protect the human rights and dignity of people living with HIV/AIDS.

 

Okowa adds that the bill is packaged to encourage those who are infected,  to declare their HIV status in a more friendly Nigerian community.

 

The senator expresses confidence that the risk of transmission would be greatly reduced if the bill is invariably signed into law

 

The bill makes it an offence for any employer, institution, body or individual to require an HIV test as a pre condition to an offer of employment,  access to public/private services or opportunities.

 

It further made it an offence for any educational institution, private or public, to demand HIV/AIDS testing as part of its routine medical testing requirements for admission or accreditation of learners.

 

The bill further stipulates that every person living HIV/AIDS shall be assured of freedom from unlawful termination of his or her employment by reason of his or her status.

 

Senate President, David Mark, who presided over the session in the Senate, said the issue of HIV/ AIDS is not something that people should be ashamed of anymore “because we all know that it exists.”

 

He said those affected should make their status known to those concerned in order to get necessary support and assistance.

 

EBOLA VIRUS – Symptoms, spread and prevention

Ebola is caused by a virus.

Common yet unknown facts about the Ebola Virus

•Causes a severe illness, with bleeding

•Up to 90% will die

•No vaccine, and no treatment are available

•Many people can quickly become infected……Ebola Information ENG

WHAT AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS CAN DO TO FIGHT MALARIA

 

By Akudo Anyanwu*

Almost 20% of all infectious diseases are “vector-borne”. These diseases – the theme of this year’s World Health Day – are transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. They include lesser-known conditions such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, cat scratch disease and sleeping sickness (or trypanosomiasis).

 

They also include some of the world’s most destructive diseases, like malaria and dengue fever.

 

They are caught outdoors, when children are at play, or while people are enjoying themselves in some of the most naturally beautiful places in the world. Collectively, vector-borne diseases cause significant damage; Lyme disease now infects over 30,000 people in the United States every year; Rocky Mountain spotted fever caused over 4,000 US cases. Dengue fever affects millions worldwide and is the fastest-growing vector-borne disease. Forty percent of the world’s population is at risk from dengue, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

The most deadly vector-borne disease, however, is malaria, which kills over 600,000 people annually. Sadly, most of these deaths are African children under the age of five. Over 200 million cases of malaria are reported every year and 80% of these occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a child dies every minute from the disease. “The fact that so many people are infected and dying from mosquito bites is one of the greatest tragedies of the 21stt century,” said Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.

 

Governments around the world have struggled for decades to control vector-borne diseases. The unpredictable habits of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas and the microbes that they carry are significant obstacles.

 

Climate change hasn’t helped either. We are likely to see an increase in these diseases as the planet gets hotter. Global warming has an escalating influence on biting rates, breeding sites and reproduction rates. And as globalization spreads, the reach of these disease carriers increases with it.

 

Limited resources in the poorest countries, where the disease is most prevalent, also make controlling the malaria-causing plasmodium – carried in the gut of female anopheles mosquitoes – extremely difficult.

 

WHO recommends “Integrated Vector Management”, which focuses on the connections between health and the environment. Environmental management (eliminating breeding sites, like stagnant water), biological controls (the use of larvicides where there are few, easily locatable, breeding sites) and chemical methods (indoor spraying) can together prevent the spread of vector-borne disease.

 

Of course, this should be combined with early diagnosis and treatment of malaria, and prevention using insecticide-treated bed nets.

 

In Africa, health advocacy efforts to fight malaria have been led mainly by local and international civil society groups. Advocacy at the international level is sustainable and effective only when combined with advocacy at the local level.

 

Certain traditional advocacy methods such as flyers and billboards should be replaced with more innovative techniques involving celebrities and mobile technology. Friends Africa, a pan-African non-profit that fights AIDS, TB and malaria, uses Nollywood stars and soccer players to educate the public about malaria, and we have found them to be a powerful and effective voice. They can certainly make the use of bed-nets sound much “cooler” to a teenager than any government.

 

It will take significant innovative financing, leadership and technology to win the battle against malaria. African governments need to play a stronger role in securing finance for malaria programmes, monitoring transmission trends and designing national strategies to control the disease.

 

Governments also need to increase domestic funding for operational research to ensure locally-tailored approaches are being used. They should also provide effective public outreach to educate people about treatment and control of these diseases. The question is, do already overwhelmed governments in Africa have the capacity to do this?

 

The Roll Back Malaria partnership has been successful in focusing the world’s attention on malaria, and has shown that significant progress has been made in fighting the disease. Since 2000, the number of people killed by malaria in Africa has been cut nearly in half. The Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria partnered successfully with African countries to bring about this change. This shows that our governments do have the capacity to fight vector-borne diseases.

 

Unfortunately, funding to control mosquitoes is being reduced, while progress in fighting malaria is also threatened by growing parasitic resistance to anti-malarial drugs. The combination of a renewed international commitment to fight malaria with increased domestic financing of malaria programmes and investment in technology is needed to win the battle against this disease. I believe that through successful private-public partnerships in Africa, we can achieve this.

 

African governments are engaged on the issue. I have witnessed first-hand how excited our presidents are about progress on malaria. But there is a long road ahead, and we must not give up.

 

*Akudo Anyanwu is CEO of Friends Africa and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

 

This article was first published on the World Economic Forum Blog

UN chief, in Brussels, urges scaled-up investment in fight against malaria

 Highlighting the critical importance of keeping investments in health high on the international development agenda, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged African decision-makers today to fund programmes for the eradication of malaria.

 

“Since the Millennium Development Goals were launched, we have seen proof that fighting malaria is a good investment that saves lives and speeds up economic progress,” said Mr. Ban earlier today at an African Union-sponsored Roll Back Malaria event in Brussels.

 

The Secretary-General, who has been in Brussels much of this week holding talks with European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) officials on a host of pressing global issues, said in a 12-year period, larger-scale malaria interventions saved 3.3 million lives, 90 per cent of which were children.

 

As the 2015 deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, Mr. Ban urged countries to boost their funding for malaria control. As of 2012, only half of the $5 billion needed to reach everyone had been funded.

 

“As one [World Health Organization] official put it, this “half” amount can be seen as a glass half full or half empty,” said the UN chief. “We would all prefer to see the glass half full. But for too many people, the glass is half empty. This is true for parents who have no nets to cover their children and patients who cannot get treatment. It is also true for the displaced families who run from conflict after so much loss – and then have to struggle against malaria as well.

 

The Secretary-General went on to explain that malaria affects primarily the most vulnerable populations such as children and displaced persons. “Eight out of every ten [Central African] refugees arriving in Cameroon are affected by malaria and other diseases,” he deplored, adding that “even in secure parts of Africa, where governments are strong and societies are at peace, hundreds of thousands of people fall ill and die from preventable diseases every year.”

 

Mr. Ban applauded the efforts made to “fill the glass” by the Roll Back Malaria UN-partnering campaign. The initiative is the global framework to implement coordinated action against malaria. It mobilizes for action and resources and forges consensus among partners.

 

“We need to ensure that Governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, and private sector contributors increase their levels of funding to support all needed efforts to address malaria around the world,” concluded Mr. Ban, as he called “on all partners to contribute to health interventions now that will save costs and lives in the future.”

 

 

 

My TB Story – Nigerian TB Survivor, Daniel Ekechukwu Gideon shares his story.

“…would I die this way? From a bout of ordinary cough?”…Nigerian TB Survivor, Daniel Ekechukwu Gideon shares his story.

My experience during my stay at the hospital was terrible, the pain was unbearable, I couldn’t speak out loud because if I tried to talk, I would cough out blood. I saw people die before my very eyes. My family was barely allowed to see me. I was quarantined for days, it hurt, and I felt so alone. Was there something I could have done to make things different, was there an early test that would have detected this? If I survived, would there be side effects? Would I ever leave here again? All around me, people were suffering, dying and lamenting all from this dangerous disease called Tuberculosis.

It all started while I was in the University, in my 300 Level to be precise.

I noticed I was always coughing but because the weather was cold then, I paid no serious attention to it; but this cough wasn’t just going despite all the prescribed medication I took. I constantly coughed out large amount of phlegm.Daniel

Not long, after our second semester exams, I went to Kenneth Dike Library at the University Of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria for my Industrial Attachment (SIWES) as a Librarian in training. While there, what I thought was an ordinary cough became worse. I took all sorts of Cough syrups yet there was no ample relief.

I noticed that the phlegm from my cough had become thick and brownish and when I coughed, it often affected my chest and my breathing and if I took anything cold or stayed close to an air conditioner, it would worsen my cough. I kept holding on, trying to manage with my meagre resources since I didn’t have enough money to visit the doctor.

One fateful day, sometime in September 2005, I had managed to go to the Library. I remember working in the Circulation Unit of the Library at the time and I was very close to one of the industrial ACs. I suddenly started coughing profusely, I couldn’t stop it. I tried my best; I took permission just to spit outside. What I spat out shocked me; I stared at it for such a long time hoping the sight perhaps would change what I saw… BLOOD!

Walking towards me were some students who had no idea what was happening to me. I decided to leave work.

On getting to the bus stop I realised I was losing strength and I could not see clearly. To this day, I can only remember students in a particular taxi cab disembarking to take me to the school clinic. I faintly heard them asking, “are you a student? Where is your ID? I kept coughing out blood as they took me to the clinic. At the clinic, the nurses on duty were asking if I knew anyone in the school but the students angrily moved me to the doctor. I was afraid. I still couldn’t believe it was me. Eventually, one of the fellowship members where I worshipped when I came to Ibadan arrived. He contacted my aunt and I was taken to UCH, University College Hospital, Ibadan.

For the very first time in my life I was carried in an ambulance, siren blaring. As tears trickled down my eyes, I realized I was afraid and I asked “is this the end… would I die this way …all from a bout of ordinary cough”

Upon arrival at the hospital, the doctor informed me that I had Tuberculosis. What?! In a matter of minutes I became a ‘rare specie’, a case study for medical doctors at the teaching hospital.

My experience for my duration of time at the hospital was terrible, the pain was unbearable, I couldn’t speak out load because if I tried to talk, I would cough out blood. I saw people die before my very eyes. My family was barely allowed to see me. I was quarantined for days, it hurt, and I felt so alone. Was there something I could have done to make things different, was there an early test that would have detected this. If I survived, would there be side effects, would I ever leave here again. All around me, people were suffering, dying and lamenting all from this dangerous disease called Tuberculosis.

I made friends, some of whom died while I was there, some others after I had left. I loved singing and I couldn’t at the time, because any attempt would lead to a blood bath. I lost weight.

In the end I was discharged after several tests and medications. I was given several drugs and a prescription of drugs which I took religiously for six whole months. I could remember how I limped home that very day, glad to be alive, happy to be away from all the sadness, loss and misery I had experienced at the hospital. It was an emotional battle. It was a place I never wanted to be in, “ever again”.

Hmmm, yes, it’s all in my past now but the memory is still fresh in my mind. Can I ever forget?

Today, people all over the world have set aside World TB day as a day to create awareness of this silent killer disease. I join hands with them and lend my voice too.

Let no one under rate TB. Never take it for granted. It is real. It kills even faster than AIDS and it is even more contagious.

Yes, spread the news! Keep hope alive. I survived! Others can too!

One love,

Daniel Chimaroke Ekechukwu Gideon.

4th Replenishment Pledging Conference in Washington D.C

 The Global Fund’s Fourth Replenishment pledging conference was held in Washington D.C on December 2nd and 3rd2013. Hosted by President Barack Obama, it was a celebration of the World AIDS day by the US government with very high level members of various Federal and State government country representatives in attendance.

Nigeria’s delegation to this replenishment was led by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, and the lead Global Fund advocate organization for Africa, Friends of the Global Fund Africa (Friends Africa) provided several visibility platforms for the delegation as well as other high level representatives from across Africa.TEAM DC

Friends Africa and the Woodrow Wilson center for scholars co-hosted a high level panel discussion for civil society, academia and global fund advocates leading into the briefing at the White House which was themed “Going the whole Nine yards, What Is Needed for an Africa Free of AIDS, TB and Malaria.”

Replenishment PHOTO

Click here for more photos

The discussion featured topics pertaining to the effectiveness and benefits that have accrued to Africa since the fund was established and the continuing need to have a fully operational Global Fund. Also discussed was the need to amplify the voices of leading advocates in the fight for an African continent free of HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria so as to support the proposed replenishment target of $15 billion.

As part of her discussion, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala highlighted the need to remind ourselves on what the funding towards these three diseases can provide and the need to show that demonstrated intervention of the Global Fund gets substantial results. She also spoke about the dramatic changes seen in Africa as a continent and her country Nigeria, with these three diseases showing noticeable reductions in new infections and increase in treatments. Although she mentioned that “there is still a lot of room for improvement and moving forward.  She also highlighted the fact that the fight in these three diseases does not solely depend on the issue of increased financing but instead tracing resource flows and identifying how resources are effectively managed, whether or not they are going to the right places, how resources are impacted upon, if people are considered to be more accountable and if results are easily seen.”

Early on the 3rd of December, a high level congressional breakfast dialogue on country ownership, sustainability and continued investments in the live saving work of the Global Fund took place with announcement of contributions towards the Replenishment.

NOIWEALA

Watch the webcast here

This was attended by philanthropist and Co-Chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Dr Bill Gates, Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs Honorable Susan Rice, senior U.S congress representatives and congressional staff (Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi and others), Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu-Nigeria’s Health Minister, Hon. Dr Joseph Kigbu the chairman house of representative committee chairman on HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and Leprosy, Dr Kelechi Ohiri from the Ministry of Finance, Friends Africa’s CEO- Dr Akudo Anyanwu Ikemba and technical programs manager- Foluke Ojelabi,  Dr Agnes Binagwaho Minister of Health Rwanda, Dr. Richard Kamwi Minister of Health and Social Services The Republic of Namibia, UK Secretary of State for International Development Honorable Justine Greening, Executive Director of the Global Fund Dr. Mark Dybul, US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Ambassador Samantha Power and several other dignitaries.

The launching of the Replenishment was to allow for sustained funding over the 2014-2016 period so that the Global Fund can effectively plan and support programs that prevent, care, treat and save millions of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria globally. The turn out of this year’s Replenishment was successful with $12 billion pledged for the next three years. Although, below the anticipated total financing goal of $15billion it is still the largest amount ever committed. This total donation shows a 30% increase from the $10.4billion that was pledged in October 2011 at the start in the previous three year cycle. This year’s Replenishment adopted a new and distinctive approach by seeking support from four main pillars which include: traditional donors, implementing partners, emerging economies, and the private sector to assist in fighting the scourge from these three epidemic diseases.

DYBUL DCIn line with the recent commitment taken during the Abuja+12 Declaration 2013, the Federal Government of Nigeria committed to spending $1billion over the next three years to tackle the problem faced by these three diseases. The pledge was announced by the Nigerian Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. A total of $150million will be contributed in incrementals of which $120 million will directly go to strengthening HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and the rest towards Malaria and Tuberculosis programs in Nigeria.  The Minister also announced a $30 million contribution to the Global Fund.

Other African countries including Zimbabwe, Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya gave significant contributions towards the Replenishment of more than $150million in an effort to fight against AIDS. Kenya pledged $2 million, Zimbabwe pledged $1 million, Malawi donated $500,000 and Cote d’Ivoire announced a $6.4 million donation through the debt-swap Global Fund Debt 2 Health program. As described by the Executive Director of the Global Fund, this is ‘a Replenishment of hope’. He also spoke about lifting the human spirit and working hard to extend treatment to the most vulnerable group such as women and girls, sex workers, drug users, men who have sex with men, transgenders, people in prisons and migrants. He also mentioned that support on this fight has to be a collaborative effort.

AFRICA HEALTH INNOVATION MEETING 2014

On the occasion of the World Economic Forum, Africa; Friends Africa, the RBM Partnership, UNITAID and the Global Fund will convene global leaders and technical experts at the “Africa Health Innovation Meeting…Leapfrogging Development Challenges to Transform Africa’s Health” on May 7th, 2014 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, Nigeria from 9am – 3pm.

AHIM  Logo (1)

The first-of-its-kind in Africa, the conference will welcome attendance from very high level participants and thought provoking leaders who will critically examine decades of institutional challenges faced by Africa’s healthcare systems; highlighting how sustainable growth and development can be achieved.

 

Interesting discussions will center on;

Innovative Financing

Transformative Technology

Meta Leadership 

 

To RSVP please send an email to healthinnovation2014@friends-africa.org.

 

 

Guinea: Gambia on Alert After Guinea, Sierra Leone Ebola Outbreak

Health authorities in The Gambia appear to have been alerted by the deadly outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever – Ebola disease – in neighbouring West African countries after 59 out of the 80 people infected in Guinea reportedly died, whilst Sierra Leone is making efforts to contain it.

 

The Daily Observer Sunday afternoon gauged the reaction of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for comments on the potential threat the highly contagious disease poses to the population, and from all indications they are ready to deal with it in case of any suspected incident. “The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare would like to inform the general public of the outbreak of ebola virus in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. The general public is hereby informed that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is fully aware of the situation and closely monitoring it. All the required logistics and manpower are readily available to deal with the situation in case of any suspected or confirmed case of the disease. The general public should look out for the following signs and symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weakness, bleeding from the nose, mouth, anus and vagina plus history of travel or occupational exposure to wild life. All suspected cases should be reported to the nearest health facility. The disease is serious and contagious. Once again the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare wishes to assure the general public that there should be no cause for alarm,” it concluded.

 

About Ebola

Ebola virus is an uncommon viral infection which kills nearly 90% of its victims. Researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) have identified five types of Ebola virus and discovered something in the virus that causes the significant internal bleeding that almost always results in death. The viral glycoprotein is believed to destroy endothelial cells that line the walls of the blood vessels.

 

Causes of Ebola virus

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (also called Ebola fever) is the human disease associated with the Ebola virus and it happens when the virus enters the body.

Four of the five Ebola viruses cause disease in humans. The four deadly variants are: Bundibugyo virus, Ebola virus, Sudan virus, and Taï Forest virus. So far, only parts of Africa have reported the disease in humans, but the Reston type of Ebola virus (not harmful to humans) has now been identified by scientists in the Philippines.

Reach the 3million. Find, Treat, Cure TB

Of the nine million people a year who get sick with TB, three million of them are ‘missed’ by health systems. On World TB Day this year, we call for a global effort to find, treat and cure all those ill with TB and accelerate progress towards zero TB deaths, infections, suffering and stigma.

 

This joint brochure, issued today by the World Health Organization, the Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, highlights the problem of the millions missing out on quality care and calls for everyone suffering from TB to have access to quality TB care including diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure. It provides an overview on who is missing out on care and why, and highlights examples of effective solutions that can be pursued by grassroots organizations, governments and the global community.

 

Dr Mario Raviglione, WHO Director of the Global TB Programme said, “We hope our focus this year on the people ill with TB who are missed helps drive practical action in the field.  We cannot miss the opportunity now with new TB strategy, new diagnostics, and more partners engaged in universal health coverage and TB efforts, to reach all people and communities – they have a right to access quality diagnosis and care.”

 

TB DAY

“It is easy to reach people like me with TB services, but to reach those most vulnerable, most at risk, those that are poor, weak, scared, stigmatized, and alone – for this, you need additional efforts, you need innovative thinking and, beyond anything else, you need to care. I am happy we are having this conversation on reaching, treating and curing everyone with TB at a global level. This is what it is all about,” said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.

 

“Our partners are driving a more targeted approach, and we fully support that,” said Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of the Global Fund. “People in countries with these missing cases can take advantage of the flexibility and agility of the new funding model to reach more people affected by TB.”

 

To download the full brochure click here.

 

 

 

 

A Healthier Africa for Women….From Inspiration to Action

 

The International Women’s Day established in 1911 is a unique day set aside to recognise and celebrate seen and unseen women who are making a difference in the lives of people across the world.

 

Today is a day of sober reflection and yet unexplained joy as I think through the tumultuous journey women have been through as we struggle to improve our lives and the lives of thousands across the world.

 

As we celebrate, I am reminded of the journey through the centuries – from civil right activist Rosa Louise McCauley Parks who initiated a new era in the American quest for freedom and equality to 11 year old Child Ambassador Zuriel Oduwole who made the list among the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Africa”; indeed we are constantly being reminded that women are  the bedrock for the development and change every nation needs.

 

Today as we unite to celebrate women’s accomplishment in health, government, business, science, arts, public service, athletics and in all sectors; birthing new hopes and dreams and inspiring people to make a difference, let us be charged to continue to make a case for millions of unseen women who do not reflect on our maps but  continue to suffer  stigma and discrimination due to their HIV status-women who are subjected to violence, increased maternal and infant mortality, lack of access to education,  clean drinking water among others.

 

If we increase our commitment to domestic financing for health in our respective countries – these women will one day be assured of the right and opportunity to lead healthier, more connected lives.

Today as we celebrate every woman whose voice has never been heard but works tirelessly in the rural area, remote villages, in faraway hidden mountains, refugee camps, dessert etc. to provide for her family and community; It is our deepest cry that sooner than later our health sector in Africa can take a stronger position and make sustainable commitments; allowing our women to continue to dream and find self-expression. They can be reminded that each woman is different, special and unique in her own way.

 

As we look beyond ourselves, we must see that we cannot inspire change and development if we do not continue to advocate, collaborate and promote a healthier Africa for every woman.

We must be reminded that every woman has a right to dream and enjoy the benefit of a high quality and long life. This can only be achieved through a system that protects the rights of women and provides access to health, education and economic growth. In the words of multiple award winning actress Lupita Amondi Nyong’o; she does so because her Dreams are Valid!

 

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Dr Akudo Anyanwu Ikemba

CEO/Founder, Friends Africa

 

 
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