African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Archive for May 1st, 2012

“He was still holding his shoes when he died”

Posted by African Press International on May 1, 2012

Teresa Nyakouth points to where a bomb fell in her home town of Bentiu, South Sudan

BENTIU,  – Teresa Nyakuoth, a 24-year-old mother of two, was shopping in the market next to her home in Rubkhona, a district of the South Sudanese town of Bentiu, when a Sudanese bomb fell on 23 April.

The blast killed one teenage boy instantly, and another died later that day in hospital, where he had been admitted with severe burns and head wounds.

Around a dozen people were wounded in the bombing, which caused widespread panic among local communities.

At least five people were killed about a week earlier when a bomb hit a tea shop in Bentiu, the capital of Unity state.

During IRIN’s visit to Bentiu, two rockets landed near a bridge leading to Rubkhona.

According to South Sudanese officials, Bentiu, which lies at least 70km from the border with Sudan, has been bombed four times in 10 days.

Residents IRIN spoke to expressed their frustration that although South Sudan had bowed to international pressure to withdraw from the contested borderland oilfields of Heglig, Sudan had ignored similar pressure to halt its aerial attacks south of the border.

Nyakuoth recalled the events of 23 April:

“I heard some noise when the plane bombed people, and immediately people were running away, and then I saw a boy had been bombed and died.

“Shops were burning up and everyone was scared of the plane.

“The boy used to go to school and play with the other small boys in the football field.

“His father told him to go with three other boys and buy some shoes. He was still holding the shoes when he died. He was only a teenager.

“The main bomb fell on that shop, and then fire spread to two other shops.

“That plane came to kill people. It wasn’t targeting the army, as if you want to get them you bomb the front lines.

“Now I fear being here. The day that there was bombardment, all the reeds of of my fence collapsed around my house. Children were there. It was only God who could know if somebody was going to survive.

“I am scared of being in my home but I have nowhere else to go.

“There was a lot of fear when troops withdrew from Heglig. There a lot of military around here now [there is a barracks and airstrip a few kilometres away] and I’m scared that the enemy might come into the town, because they are not seeing enough soldiers in the front line.

“Most of my neighbours have already fled. Two households next to me, five opposite, and others even down the other side.”


Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

The Bill seeks to harmonize HIV policy and legislation across the region

Posted by African Press International on May 1, 2012

The Bill seeks to harmonize HIV policy and legislation across the region (file photo)

NAIROBI,  – East Africa’s Legislative Assembly has passed a regional HIV/AIDS Bill that seeks to protect the rights of people living with HIV and harmonize regional legislation and policy on the prevention and treatment of HIV.

Activists have welcomed the passing of the Bill, which, unlike some of the laws in the region’s individual member states, does not criminalize the deliberate transmission of HIV.

“Criminalization impedes rather than promotes the fight against HIV, because it violates the rights of people living with HIV on many fronts,” Nelson Otuoma, the coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK), told IRIN/PlusNews.

Member countries whose HIV legislation has criminalization clauses will be pressed to amend the laws to reflect the spirit of the regional Bill. Three of the East Africa Community’s five member states – Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania – have passed HIV laws with clauses that criminalize wilful transmission, while Rwanda and Uganda have not yet passed legislation.

“This [regional] Bill has a human rights approach to HIV as a major component, and criminalization was never its intention. We expect countries to use this Bill as a template for their legislation and we will lobby towards that end,” said Joyce Abalo, a programme officer at the East Africa National Networks of AIDS Service Organizations (EANNASO).

“This Bill is an important first step towards strengthening HIV response in the region, because HIV issues must also be at the core of regional cooperation, which countries are quickly embracing,” Abalo said. The proposed legislation also outlaws discrimination, guarantees rights to privacy and ensures the provision of health care, regardless of HIV status.

NEPHAK’s Otuoma said the Bill would improve access to HIV services in the regional bloc. “You can’t move freely to another country if you are not sure you will get your [HIV] treatment there. Now, should this bill become law, one knows that even he is Kenyan, he can get his treatment in Uganda.”

The East Africa Community HIV and AIDS Prevention and Management Bill (2012) was passed by the East Africa Legislative Assembly on 23 April at its fifth session, held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. The heads of state of the member countries are expected to assent to it before it becomes law.


Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

Stem cell transplant wait time considerably longer in poor countries

Posted by African Press International on May 1, 2012

Stem cell transplant wait time considerably longer in poor countries. Nigeria’s recently established bone marrow registry promises to boost lifesaving matches

LONDON,  – Only a fraction of the millions of people worldwide with blood and autoimmune disorders survive – especially those in poorer countries – partly due to the lack of bone marrow stem cell transplants. A recently established Nigerian bone marrow registry hopes to boost matches between donors and patients, and survival chances.

Some 200,000 babies are born annually in sub-Saharan Africa with sickle cell disease, a blood disorder in which mutated red blood cells can clump and block blood vessels, causing pain, infection and organ damage. Nigeria has up to two million sickle cell patients, many of whom can benefit from stem cell transplants.

Stem cells are the building blocks of blood and immune cells. “Establishing the mechanics of stem cell transplantation in Nigeria is a very important milestone,” said Terry Schlaphoff, deputy director of South Africa’s bone marrow registry.

Bone marrow registries hold key information about stem cell donors to help match them with patients. There are currently two such registries in Africa, one in South Africa and now Nigeria.

In countries with low per capita incomes, stem cell transplants remain relatively rare due to lack of knowledge, trained health workers and, most importantly, availability of stem cells. “African patients who need a matching donor have virtually no chance of survival, unless they are wealthy enough to travel abroad for treatment,” said Seun Adebiyi, founder of Nigeria’s bone marrow registry.

Matching bone marrow or blood cells collected from donors to the patients who need it can offer lifesaving treatments for more than 70 diseases, including leukaemia, lymphoma (cancer) and sickle-cell anaemia.

Limited availability

Worldwide, there are fewer than 15 million registered donors, and patients far outstrip the number of donors, according to the Netherlands-based information centre, Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW).

Reflecting only a fraction of overall need, 14,206 transplants from non-relatives and 4,255 transplants from umbilical cord blood were provided to patients worldwide in 2011, said Machteld Oudshoorn, chair of BMDW’s editorial board.

For most patients in developing countries, awaiting a transplant “remains associated with significant morbidity and mortality, and represents one example of high-cost, highly specialized medicine”, according to a recent medical report.

Adebiyi, himself diagnosed with stem cell leukaemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma, is also calling for the establishment of Nigeria’s first umbilical cord bank, as the cord can provide stem cells without having to collect them from donors, thereby increasing matches and reducing waiting times.

The more donors there are, the better the chances are of finding a match, said Schlaphoff. “It is said that the likelihood of finding a match is one in 100,000, but for some patients it may be one in a miracle. Because of …the need for very close matching [of cells], no country is self-reliant.”

Globally, it is already difficult to get a stem cell transplant from a non-relative, with only one-third of patients able to do so, said Oudshoorn. Nearly half of all stem cell transplants occur with cells originating outside the patient’s country of residence.

None of the some 50,000 transplants performed in 2006 were in countries with incomes below US$700 per capita, according to the most recent data compiled by BMDW and only 2 percent of bone marrow transplants took place in the Eastern Mediterranean and African regions combined. Most transplants took place in Europe (48 percent) and the Americas ( 36 percent).

Three countries in Africa are able to harvest and transplant bone marrow – Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria.

“I think it is very important to establish a national registry, but there should also be transplant centres experienced in performing transplantations with allogeneic [genetically different human] donors,” said Oudshoorn.


Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: