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Archive for April 30th, 2013

African Hero Nelson Mandela ageing well.

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2013

Nelson Mandela was jailed for 27 years by the apartheid regime of South Africa. He survived the prison life. On his release, he was elected the country’s president. He ruled for one term and retired. His life history is amazing.

Now at 94 years old, he has been admitted to hospital a number of times this year. He is now back home from the hospital. He is still receiving medical attention.

Born in 1918, Mandela is a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. The first black African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representive, multiracial election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically a democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.

A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the Afrikaner nationalists of the National Party came to power in 1948 and began implementing the policy of apartheid, he rose to prominence in the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Campaign, was elected President of the Transvaal ANC Branch and oversaw the 1955 Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961 but was found not guilty. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the South African Communist Party he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, leading a bombing campaign against government targets. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, first on Robin, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990. Becoming ANC President, Mandela published his autobiography and led negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish Multi-racial elections in 1994 in which he led the ANC to victory. He was elected President and formed a Governemnt of Natonal Unity. As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses, while introducing policies to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy Thabo Mbeki, subsequently becoming an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Controversial for much of his life, right-wing critics denounced Mandela as a terrorist and communist sympathiser. He has nevertheless received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Federation and the Soviet Order of Lenin. He is held in deep respect within South Africa as the “Father of the Nation” and is often known under his Xhosa clan name of Madiba.

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Kenya: Presidential election petition – Supreme Court Judges ruled against Raila Odinga who wanted Uhuru Kenyatta’s election as President nullified

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2013

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga who lost to President Uhuru Kenyatta i the elections on 4th of March 2013 went to court seeking to nullify the elections. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy President Ruto. The two were sworn in as president and deputy president on the 9th of april.

This leaves Raila in the cold. It was his third time trying to get elected as Kenya‘s president. When the next presidential elections come in 2017, Raila will be old to get elected since he will be clocking 73 years old.

Click here to read the ruling against Raila’s wishes to nullify the elections listed as nr. 1 and how Raila lost the the petition listed as number 2. : >

  1.  www.africanpress.me/ – Kenya Supreme Court: Full Judgement on Presidential election petition – april-16-2013.pdf
  2. http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000082727&story_title=how-raila-lost-petition-at-the-supreme-court&pageNo=1

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African Political Parties Form Continental Council, Elect Zambian as Chair

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga,
A two-day conference of major political parties from 34 African Countries came to a close in Khartoum, Sudan, with the formation of a continental body -The Council of African Political Parties – as a platform for a more active engagement in the continent’s social, economic and political initiatives and challenges.
The constitutive conference formally launched the Council at the end of the marathon meeting and break away committees and formed a 30 member Executive Committee consisting of six members each drawn from Eastern, Central, Southern, Western and Northern Regions of Africa.
Zambian Justice Minister Winter Kabimba who is also the Secretary General of the ruling Patriotic Front was elected the first chairman of the Council for a four-year term.
The Council’s headquarters and secretariat will be in Khartoum, Sudan with the country providing the Secretary General to steer the organization in realizing its goals and objectives , which they said will include complementing the efforts of the African Union in building peace, security and continental integration.
President Omar Al-Bashir formally opened the Conference with a call to African states to choose its global partners carefully adding that some had shown unchecked greed for the continent’s natural resources.
Al-Bashir, who is also the leader of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) recalled the struggles by the founding fathers of Africa adding that it was time the political parties to mobilize the people towards peace and sustainable development to ward off unwarranted external influence.
The conference, which was attended by representatives from the two major parties from 34 African countries discussed and adopted recommendations contained in 4 key working papers prepared over the lasts even months since the initiative was mooted.
The presentations dwelt on four key areas: The conceptual framework of the Council outlining the nature and objectives of the conference, the role of African political parties in enhancing democracy, development and integration, Africa and the
technological revolution and Statute of the Council of African Political parties.
The issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC) dominated the conference with both direct and indirect references to it as “a tool by the Western Countries to intimidate” African leaders and states.
The Deputy leader of the Sudanese ruling party NCP Dr.Nafie Ali Nafie said ICC had been rejected by Africans adding that the recent polls in Kenya, which saw two indicted politicians Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto elected president and deputy president respectively was “a vote against ICC”.
The conference was attended by observers which included a powerful delegation from the Chinese Communist Party along with representatives of the Asian Political Parties Council, representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean African Union and diplomats from different countries accredited to Sudan.

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Mozambique’s first HIV vaccine trial underway

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2013

HIV vaccine trial underway

MAPUTO,  – Mozambique has completed its first HIV vaccine trial and is set to embark on a second, a demonstration of the country’s increased HIV research capacity.

Last month, Researchers at Mozambique’s Polana Cancio Centre for Research and Public Health completed a trial evaluating the safety of an HIV vaccine candidate. The study was conducted through the UK HIV Vaccine Consortium’s Tanzania and Mozambique HIV Vaccine Programme (TaMoVac). Preliminary results from the Phase I trial indicated the vaccine was safe, but researchers say it will be months before they know if the vaccine produced an immune response in participants.

The country also launched its second HIV vaccine trial, this one of a Phase II HIV vaccine candidate, also through TaMoVac, this week. As part of this multi-site study, which is taking place in both Mozambique and Tanzania, Mozambique will recruit 20 percent of the 200-patient sample.

According to Ilesh Jani, director general of Mozambique’s National Institute of Health, the studies, while small, mark important first steps towards bolstering clinical trial and research capacity for diseases such as HIV and malaria. These diseases, along with malnutrition, continue to drive death rates in the country.

“We should be in the driver’s seat, not sitting in the back of the car waiting for someone to find the answer,” Jani told IRIN/PlusNews. “We need to get involved and take leadership to find the solutions.”

“Maybe we don’t yet have the capacity to develop these products in the lab, but we have the capacity to test them and accelerate discovery,” he added.

Larger HIV vaccines trials in the pipeline

The centre – which is located on the outskirts of the capital city, Maputo – aims to help the National Institute of Health understand the health concerns of the country’s increasingly peri-urban population.

“Maybe half of Mozambique will be living in peri-urban areas in the next 10 years,” Jani said. “It’s a setting where we don’t completely understand the determinants of health.”

Understanding these determinants will require household mapping and an HIV prevalence study. Researchers at the centre expect that this study will show an HIV prevalence rate of at least three percent in the local community.

If this is true, Polana Cancio could become a clinical research site for larger, more advanced HIV vaccine trials. Nationally, Mozambique has an HIV prevalence rate of about 11 percent, according to UNAIDS.

The centre will also be conducting a study into common causes of fever.

Jani added that, while it might not be possible for the all the products tested by the centre to enter the market patent-free, he hopes that products tested at the centre – and found to be effective – will be affordable for use in countries like Mozambique.

llg/kn/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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AFRICAN MEDIA AND MALARIA NETWORK ASK GOVERNMENTS TO STEP UP WAR AGAINST MALARIA

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga, 
As the World marks Malaria Day, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership(RBM) is set to launch a three-year campaign under the theme “Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria.”
The campaign is to help strengthen political will and generate the funding needed to continue averting deaths in malaria-endemic countries.
According to sources mapping progress against key milestones on the road to 2015 shows how the collective efforts of the global malaria community contribute to creating a healthier and more prosperous world.
The source adds that the RBM campaign will help mobilize the resources and support the malaria fight through 2015 and beyond.
The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), a Network with membership in 10 African countries engaged in malaria control advocacy, believes the global malaria community is doing the right thing by taking stock of the promises and realities of ending malaria deaths at the targeted date of 2015.
According to Mrs Charity Binka of Ghana who is also the AMMREN CEO, many African countries missed the 2010 Abuja targets to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality by half.
Binka pointed out that with less than two years to meeting the 2015 targets of further reduction of 75% in morbidity and 50% reduction in mortality, countries are now scaling up efforts to at least sustain the modest gains made over the last decade.
The CEO said her AMMREN is of the view that the gains made in malaria control are fragile and could easily be reversed unless malaria continues to be a priority for decision-makers, donors and the communities.
According to her ,this is because the efforts and resources that will be invested in control efforts over the next years will have an impact on whether or not the malaria map will keep shrinking or expanded by the malaria parasites.
While commending, governments, donors, health officials and other key players for efforts made in past decade to bring down malaria morbidity and mortality figures, she said AMMREN is of the view that the widespread negative practice of the treating malaria without diagnosis is likely to hinder the acceleration of the control efforts.
Over 80% of cases of malaria is still being treated without diagnostic testing in many malaria –endemic countries in Africa according to WHO.
The world health body reveals that the universal diagnostic testing will ensure that patients with fever receive the most appropriate treatment, and that antimalarial medicines are used rationally and correctly.
AMMREN is now calling for the scaling up of diagnosis before treatment and a massive deployment of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) to ensure that appropriately diagnosed cases are treated promptly and correctly.
Some African countries have made significant gains in this regard. The WHO indicates that 60 African governments were providing ACTs free of charge to all age groups as at 2010.
The network is of the view that there must be a scaling up of these laudable efforts so that millions of African who still lack ready access to appropriate treatment will be covered to ensure that every confirmed malaria case gets treated.
It is also asking for a focused attention on preventive activities through the use of treated bed nets. This is because in the fight against malaria, prevention is the best of all options. The higher the number of people using bed nets, the bigger the rate of reduction in malaria cases.
It shares in the optimism of African scientists, the donor community and stakeholders, that malaria can be pushed out of Africa this century.
However, this optimism must be measured against promises made about 13 years ago, when 40 African Heads of State made a declaration in Abuja, Nigeria to reduce the malaria burden on the continent by setting targets.
Many countries have missed the 2005 and 2010 targets and also likely to miss the 2015 targets unless conscious efforts are made increase access to essential malaria interventions such as diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
The continued existence of taxes and tariffs on commodities for malaria control in some countries shows lack of commitment towards dealing with malaria.
Taxes and tariffs and non-tariff measures make these life-saving products unaffordable to the poor and vulnerable.
Despite challenges, in the last decade, there have been some investments in new tools such as long lasting insecticidal nets, rapid diagnostic tests, indoor residual spraying and ACTs. The scaling up of these activities has resulted in modest progress as some countries are now moving from control activities to malaria elimination.
Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2009, according to a Roll Back Malaria report, have joined other countries in their region to form a sub-regional malaria elimination initiative known as Elimination 8.
The Gambia, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe and Madagascar have also secured global funds to prepare for elimination. And since 2007, countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has shown the intent to eliminate malaria.
“As of 2010, the total number of reported cases of malaria in Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland were relatively low raising hope of elimination,” the report added.
With talks of malaria elimination slowly making its way to the front burner, the question of malaria vaccines, as an additional tool must be given urgency and supported by all stakeholders to ensure that it is quickly incorporated into the National Immunization Day schedule once a vaccine receives licensure.
So far the RTS,S, appears to be most promising malaria candidate vaccine. If all goes well the vaccine could be available for targeted use in the next couple of years for young children.
Indeed there is hope on the horizon and AMMREN will continue to lead in providing accurate and timely information on malaria as part of its effort to wipe out the disease from the face of the globe. AMMREN also urges other African journalists to join in the malaria elimination crusade.
Kicking out malaria from Africa is a responsibility of governments, identifiable organizations, communities and individuals. April 25 should be seen as a day of renewal of commitment to work towards a malaria free society.
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