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Archive for August 20th, 2013

Kenya politics. Lawyer and political analyst Mr Njenga Mwangi

Posted by African Press International on August 20, 2013

 

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Liberia has indeed made progress, particularly in attracting international investment

Posted by African Press International on August 20, 2013

A busy market in central Monrovia

MONROVIA,  – Liberia is getting back to its feet after a protracted civil war that killed over 200,000 people, displaced over a million, and largely destroyed the country’s infrastructure and institutions. After a decade of peace, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) is pulling out of the country, saying its needs are shifting from humanitarian to developmental.

Liberia has indeed made progress, particularly in attracting international investment that has led to steady growth in GDP, and most importantly in maintaining peace. But poverty and unemployment remain rife, corruption is pervasive, and little headway has been made towards post-war justice or reconciliation. In short, significant challenges remain.

To mark World Humanitarian Day, IRIN spoke to a few key individuals who worked on ECHO-funded projects – most of them health-related – during and after the war, to learn how far Liberia has come.

Moses Massaquoi, doctor

Moses Massaquoi, doctor:

Moses Massaquoi started working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) after being displaced by a rebel attack in July 1990. He went on to work with the NGO in numerous postings across Africa before returning to Liberia with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).

“The main challenge in the post-war [era] is a challenge of building the system, from the point of view of having the necessary human resources,” he told IRIN. “So I would say the big challenge is capacity. How do you build the capacity, with all systems broken down – health, education and everything?”

Massaquoi has committed himself to rebuilding a health system left in tatters by the conflict. In particular, he would like to see Liberia producing its own medical specialists.

He says he wants the country “first and foremost, in my own medical profession, to bring back a system of specialization. We didn’t have control of producing our own specialists. The government had to send people out [abroad], and when they go out, they don’t come back,” he explained.

A sign of progress in this area, he says, is a post-graduate training program currently being established by the government, which will see its first students starting in September 2013.

Barbara Brillant, nurse

Barbara Brillant, nurse:

Another former MSF employee currently engaged in medical training is Barbara Brillant, who runs a nursing school in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

Brillant first arrived in Sierra Leone as a missionary in 1977. “I arrived here [in Africa] as a young lady… with a lot of enthusiasm, and I was going to cure the world and teach everybody. And I ended up here 38 years later, having learned a lot,” she told IRIN.

“It [the conflict] was very, very sad. For me personally, it was scary, no doubt about it. But as a missionary and having lived with the people of Liberia, the sorrow was more seeing the Liberian people in the condition they were in,” said Brillant.

She says she saw both resilience and pride, but also “evil at its worst” during the conflict.

Sister Barbara, as she is known to the 450 students in the nursing school, is concerned that behind Liberia’s current peace there is no true reconciliation. She sees little improvement in the quality of life of most Liberians.

“It’s a pity, because… the hurt is still there, the anger is still there. You can only pray and hope that time will heal a lot of the wounds. They will never ever forget it, that’s for sure… They’re having a very hard time.”
Despite peace, “it’s a difficult place to live in,” she said, with cost of living having risen steadily over the years. “To rent a house now is insane,” she added.

Nyan Zikeh, programme manager

Nyan Zikeh, programme manager:

Like Massaquoi, Nyan Zikeh began working for MSF while himself a refugee. He returned to Liberia in 1998 and has since worked with the NGOs Save the Children and Oxfam, where he is currently a programme manager. He says he now feels the dividends of Liberia’s lasting peace. “What I’m grateful for is that we have peace, and the chance to raise a stable family now exists,” he explained.

His plans for the future are to leave his job and become an agricultural entrepreneur, which he says will create opportunities for others to work, earn a living and learn. “I will still be working in development, but not in charity,” said Zikeh, who is concerned about the dependence being created by Liberia’s current aid culture.

“It is also to let the authorities know that we can make examples, that we don’t have to sell all of our land to very large companies,” he said. Recent large-scale land acquisitions by foreign businesses have been criticized for exploiting local communities and engaging in corruption in the awarding of concessions.

A recent audit revealed that only two of 68 land concessions awarded since 2009 fully complied with Liberian law.

Nathaniel Bartee, doctor

Nathaniel Bartee, doctor:

When the war broke out in 1989, Nathaniel Bartee was a doctor who had just returned from earning a master’s degree in the UK. He started the organization Merci to deal with the humanitarian situation in Monrovia; it quickly expanded into the provinces.

During the conflict, Bartee was at times separated from his family. “I didn’t want to leave Liberia because of the amount of suffering, and the [numbers] of health personnel were not many. So I stayed to guide a younger generation of doctors.” By the end of the conflict, he was one of just 50 doctors left in the country.

Bartee says there has been clear improvement in the provision of health services since those days. “Today I think health is much better. Most of the health workers have returned, and there are more graduates being produced,” he explained.

But he is concerned that the Liberian government is not sufficiently prioritizing healthcare. For this reason, he intends to become a senator to push for increases in the health budget in parliament.

Ma Annie Mushan, women’s peace activist

Ma Annie Mushan, women’s peace activist:

In late 1989, Ma Annie Mushan was, in her own words, “not a woman to speak of”.
“I was just a housewife” she told IRIN. During the war, Mushan was displaced from her village and ended up living in the town of Totota, where she was approached by the women’s peace movement that had sprung up in Monrovia.

Mushan eventually became the leader of the Totota branch of the women’s peace movement, which ultimately played a significant role in putting an end to the conflict.

Like many Liberians, she is frustrated by the slow pace of post-war development. “Even though there is progress, people in Liberia are looking for jobs up and down… There are so many people that are not working in Liberia – not a day. That has been one of the major problems we’re faced with.”

She now works on the Peace Hut project, which emerged from the women’s movement, and seeks to address the problem of gender-based violence, which she sees as one of Liberia’s biggest challenges. Mushan feels the existing court system in Liberia is unable to effectively deal with cases concerning women’s issues.

“My focus will stay on the women, to build their capacity up. I still want to be working for the Peace House [Hut], because it is the Peace House [Hut] that got me where I am today,” she concluded.

tt/aj/rz  source wwq.irinnews.org

 

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CHINESE AND AFRICAN LEADERS HERALD A NEW ERA OF HEALTH COOPERATION AT FIRST CHINA-AFRICA HEALTH MINISTERS’ MEETING

Posted by African Press International on August 20, 2013

  • By   Dickens  Wasonga reporting for API,

Leaders issue Beijing Declaration to set priorities for health collaboration at the first meeting of health ministers under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)

 
Today, dozens of African health ministers and Chinese health officials gathered at the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Development to map out new efforts to support Africa’s long-term health progress and shape the future of China-Africa health cooperation.
This was the first-ever meeting of health ministers under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) since it was established in 2000, demonstrating the highest level of political commitment to tackle Africa’s most pressing health challenges together.
At the Forum, health ministers and officials launched the Beijing Declaration of the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Development, which sets a road-map for jointly addressing key health challenges across Africa, including malaria, schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, immunization and vaccine preventable diseases.
Under the Declaration, China and African countries will embark on new efforts to achieve sustainable, long-term health solutions, such as increasing partnerships on joint research and addressing the shortage of healthcare workers.
China and African countries will engage further with private enterprise to encourage technology transfer and increase access to low-cost health technologies that meet high quality standards. The Declaration emphasizes that such health cooperation efforts will align with African countries’ priorities as well as national and regional development plans.

“China and African countries have enjoyed strong and effective partnerships on health for half a century, based on our common experiences and our shared vision for a brighter and healthier future for all our citizens,” said Hon. Min. Awa Coll-Seck, Minister of Health of Senegal.

“The Beijing Declaration solidifies our governments’ commitments to developing and implementing Africa-led strategies that drive sustainable health progress and improve the lives of people across the continent.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of China sending medical teams to African countries, with the first team sent to Algeria in 1963. Since then, thousands of medical personnel have served in 43 African countries.
China has also worked with African partners and international organizations to build hospitals and malaria centers, train health workers and increase access to antimalarial treatments and other health technologies. Academic institutions and private companies have also supported these efforts.
Now, China and African countries are exploring opportunities to build on this progress and contribute new resources, innovation and leadership to drive health progress across Africa. “Chinese and African citizens live on the same planet, under the same sky.
China’s partnership with Africa is rooted in humanitarianism. As President Xi described, this love has no borders,” said Hon. Dr. Li Bin, Minister of China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission. “I believe the Chinese Medical Teams will strive to make a greater contribution in the future.”
In this new era of collaboration, Chinese and African government officials and other stakeholders will work closely together to identify sustainable solutions to health challenges.
This will include bolstering human resources capacity in African countries, supporting domestic manufacturing capacity, and increasing access to low-cost, high-quality health products.
These joint efforts will draw on and leverage China’s own experiences with improving public health in a resource-limited setting. China will also share the tools and expertise it has acquired through its investments in health research and development, the production of health technologies, and its current health reform effort to expand healthcare to all citizens.
China and African countries will also work closely with key global health stakeholders to support China-Africa health cooperation, including multilateral organizations, international NGOs and civil society organizations.
Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, African Union, World Bank, GAVI Alliance and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria were observers of the Forum.
These international partners have been critical to the health progress already made in both China and African countries, and their expertise and experiences can support deepened and more effective China-Africa health cooperation.
“The decades of collaboration between China and Africa has long been characterized by friendship and goodwill,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.
“China is now a significant force in Africa’s development, with substantially increased commitments and engagements. This is a south-to-south model of development cooperation based on mutual interests and respect.”
The Ministerial Forum builds on important discussions in Botswana at the 4th International China-Africa Health Cooperation Roundtable, which took place for the first time in Africa in May 2013.
The Forum is held under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and is hosted by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, formerly the Ministry of Health.
Together, these meetings have laid the groundwork for continued South-South collaboration between China and African countries on pressing health challenges.
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Ethiopian Army intensifies it’s extra-­‐judicial killings, torture, rape and confiscating the private properties in the Ogaden.

Posted by African Press International on August 20, 2013

 

www.africanpress.me/ – Ethiopian Army Turns the Ogaden into big Prison

 

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