WHO to set up medical emergency hub in Nairobi

WHO to set up medical emergency hub in Nairobi

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has picked Kenya as one of the African countries to host its centres for coordinating response to, and dealing with, medical emergencies.

A World Health Emergency Hub will be set up in Nairobi by the end of the year following the commendation by the WHO Regional Office for Africa.
The hub, which will start with 10 staff, will act as a sub-regional resource and response centre for Eastern and Southern Africa. WHO recommends at least 22 staff.

Health secretary Cleopa Mailu said the choice of Kenya to host the facility affirmed the country’s preparedness to handle emergency operations.
“We hope that the hub will contribute to capacity building of locals and build linkages for emergency action with local and international partners,” said Dr Mailu.

He said the ministry had taken measures to strengthen capacity in emergency medical care through technical assistance, provision of modern equipment and enhancing public and private partnerships.

“There have been some training on emergency medical care through agencies like the Kenya Red Cross, St Johns and others,” he said.
“We have also partnered with the National Hospital Insurance Fund to support emergency medical care and the government is in the process of rolling out the referral strategy and guidelines so far covering 22 counties.”

New world health boss has a great record as a swift innovator in Africa

New world health boss has a great record as a swift innovator in Africa

The first African to lead the World Health Organisation (WHO) as its director-general, Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, started on July 1 and hit the ground running. Using Twitter to effect (he has a considerable following), he declared that universal health coverage, health emergencies, women’s, children and adolescent health and the health effects of climate and environmental change will be priorities under his leadership.

The man knows his onions and has his feet on the ground. He comes to the job with a widely acclaimed record as a dedicated innovator and reformer, illustrated no less by measures he introduced to drive a 30% decline in child mortality when he was Ethiopia’s health minister.

His record in combating infectious diseases is exemplary. He is well-qualified, chaired the Global Fund between 2009 and 2011, attracted many awards and was once identified as one of 50 people who would change the world.

Tedros has quite a job. Under his predecessor, Margaret Chan, the WHO did many things reasonably well but moved at a dolorous pace during the West African Ebola outbreak, taking far too long to declare a public health emergency of international concern.

Under her, the WHO did not want to offend the overwhelmingly Catholic countries of South America by being more assertive in providing contraceptive advice to women during the Zika outbreak, which it should have, given the medical consequences.

In response to Yemen’s cholera outbreak, Tedros moved swiftly, accepting $66.7m from Saudi Arabia’s minister of state, Ibrahim al-Assaf, to help combat the highly contagious bacterial cholera, which is caused by poor access to clean water and sanitation. There is a certain irony in the fact that the 14.5-million Yemenis who have no access to the basics are in this situation because of an intractable war that involves the Saudis.

The cholera outbreak is severe. It has spread to 21 of the country’s 22 provinces, infecting 269,608 and killing 1,614 people, the latter figure larger than all the cases reported to the WHO worldwide in 2015.

The UN Children’s Fund’s Anthony Lake said the world was facing its worst cholera outbreak, with an average of 5,000 cases a day. Of the dead, a third — more than 500 — were children. Almost 19-million people, more than two-thirds of Yemen’s total population, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

It is about to become worse. On July 11, the UN announced it was suspending Yemen’s planned cholera vaccination campaign, reversing a decision made a month ago. As the New York Times observed, the disease’s rampant spread and the ravages of war there would render such an effort ineffective. Tedros briefed the UN Security Council on the catastrophic situation as a result.

Disease outbreaks in war-torn countries such as Yemen, Syria or South Sudan are examples of what are known as multiple-hazard risks, where severe conflicts in human affairs (or natural catastrophes such as earthquakes) have epidemic or pandemic consequences. But there are also infectious disease risks that come with the failure of countries to detect, prevent, mitigate and treat disease because of a lack of investment in health personnel, biosurveillance and other technologies and health systems.

By making universal access to healthcare the WHO’s first priority, Tedros is telling individual countries that do not invest in their countries’ health systems to remedy this, or for countries such as SA, which spends the second-largest budget item on health but delivers pitiful outcomes, to sort themselves out with better governance and management.

Health is a public good that cannot be left entirely to market forces, but public health systems must be subject to exacting performance requirements in turn.

It will no doubt take time for the health performance of countries to improve. But it is in everyone’s interests that there is a global back-up for emergencies. As Tedros pointed out in his speech to the Group of 20 (G-20) assembly of leaders on July 8, “pandemics of infectious and other threats to health, such as antimicrobial resistance, transcend borders and national interests, so vulnerability for one is vulnerability for all of us. And viruses actually do not know or do not respect borders.”

This is why the Global Health Security Agenda was set up in the first place, to help countries comply with the WHO’s 2015 International Health Regulations. Launched in February 2014 and given impetus by the West African Ebola outbreak that killed 11,312 people, the agenda has grown into a co-operative enterprise that involves more than 50 nations, international and nongovernmental organisations.

“A stuttering, uncoordinated early response, which exposed the overwhelmed public health capacity of the region and claimed the lives of thousands was followed by one of the most successful global partnerships to stem an international health crisis,” observed Mark Siedner and John Kraemar in the Lancet.

The agenda’s interventions, framed by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are wide-ranging and focus on prevention (antimicrobial resistance, animal-borne disease, biosafety and biosecurity and immunisation); disease detection (real-time surveillance, laboratory systems, disease reporting and health-workforce development); and responses (establishing emergency centres, linking public health with law and multisectoral rapid response and advancing medical countermeasures and personnel deployment).

The US Trump administration has identified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for budget cuts. The organisation’s former director, Tom Frieden, estimates it will lose $1.8bn from its $7bn budget, a 25.7% cut.

There is a proposal to shift the organisation towards block grants, generally viewed as naïve and short-sighted. Block grants for tuberculosis (TB) programmes gave rise to deadly outbreaks of drug-resistant TB that cost more than $1bn to deal with. Georgia’s public health commissioner, Brenda Fitzgerald, was recently appointed to run a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention squeezed by President Donald Trump’s narrow-minded bean counters.

It is in response to the Trump administration’s nationalistic insularity that Tedros made a strong pitch to the G-20 for “sustainably financing the global health security system”. Importantly, he remarked that “ensuring a guaranteed level of contingency financing for outbreaks and emergencies would be a great start”.

Tedros made the health effects of climate and environmental change a WHO priority. As health minister battling the effects of climate change on disease vector controls, he persuaded Ethiopia to invest heavily in its National Meteorological Agency.

Though he was criticised for how he managed the antimalarial and anticholera campaigns in Ethiopia, he understood well enough that climate change was having a direct effect on the ecosystem habitat of the malaria-bearing mosquitoes that afflict the country during the wet seasons.

He also understood that no one government agency – or one government — can tackle such worldwide issues alone. On this score, Tedros will find strong support from US science institutions and their leaders, as Trump and his merry band of climate-change denialists are blowing against the wind.

Ten Years of Saving Lives: Controlling Cancer in Zambia

Ten Years of Saving Lives: Controlling Cancer in Zambia

The wards may be full and the waiting times long, but at least the patients at the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) in Lusaka, Zambia have a chance of surviving their illness.

Before the centre opened in July 2007, cancer sufferers who could not afford private care had two options: they either had to join a long waiting list for treatment in Zimbabwe or South Africa or, more often, they simply died.

The CDH is the first and only cancer treatment centre offering radiation therapy in this country of over 14 million people. In the past ten years, around 16 000 people have been diagnosed and treated at the hospital. The country has witnessed a three-fold increase in the number of cancer cases since the hospital opened. Seventy percent of cancer patients are women.

The IAEA, through its Technical Cooperation Programme, has supported the hospital since planning began in 2002.

Radiation medicine is a vital component of cancer control. Procedures such as X-rays, CT scans and mammograms are used for the early detection and diagnosis of cancer. Radiotherapy can treat and manage the disease and provide substantial pain relief for patients when cure is not possible.

Rebecca Siabwati received radiotherapy for cervical cancer at the CDH in 2010. The retiree now works voluntarily as a counsellor, encouraging women to be screened for cancer and supporting them before and after treatment. “In our community, there are a lot of myths,” she said. “People just associate cancer with death, so they’re afraid to come forward for screening.”

“Sometimes they go to traditional African doctors, who give them herbs or medicines from trees. They even sell their cows and property to pay for this. But they’re just wasting their money and time.”

As part of her work, Siabwati attends gatherings in towns and rural areas where she informs women that cancer can be detected early and treated.

“At the hospital, I talk to patients. I give them hope. I tell them that I’m a cancer survivor, I’m not dead. If I survived, then there is hope for them too.”

Rachel Mwale was treated for breast cancer, but the cancer spread to her lungs and she needs further treatment. “I felt very sad at first. I thought about my children. But now I have hope. Sometimes when the doctors and nurses talk to you, they give you hope,” said the 52-year-old. “This hospital is very good and the staff is very helpful.”

IAEA support

The IAEA contributed to the design of the facility, arranged training for medical professionals, assisted in the establishment of radiation protection measures for patients and staff and even helped the Government secure a loan to finance the project.

“Without the assistance of the IAEA, it would have been very difficult for us to set up a highly technical centre like this one and care for so many patients,” said Lewis Banda, the CDH’s Senior Medical Superintendent.

The IAEA still plays an important role. It sends medical students from other African countries for two-year training programmes and continues to help the hospital acquire essential medical supplies.

The centre’s two teletherapy machines administer 130 sessions of radiotherapy per day. Two brachytherapy units treat the rising number of patients with cervical cancer, the commonest cancer in Zambian women. There are also mammography services for the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.

Cancer care in the rest of Zambia

Outside Lusaka, the situation for cancer patients is very different.

At the central hospital in Livingstone, in Southern Province, there are facilities to screen and make a clinical diagnosis of cancer, but there are no services to treat cancer or even analyse tissue samples.

Chief Surgeon Kelvin Moonga said: “We don’t even have a pathologist here, so we need to send samples to Lusaka. It can take up to a year to get results back. Sometimes we lose patients because it just takes too long.”

When faced with a cancer diagnosis in Livingstone, patients are told that they need to make the seven-hour journey to Lusaka, at their own cost and often without their families and friends. “We tell patients the cancer treatment is free, but you have to get to Lusaka. They have to make multiple visits for treatment. This is expensive and most of our patients can’t afford it,” said Moonga.

He added that many patients do not even start their treatment, while others do not finish it.

To cope with the chronic lack of cancer treatment facilities, the Zambian Ministry of Health has launched an ambitious project to expand services throughout the country.

The towns of Livingstone and Ndola have been designated as the locations for the first phase of the expansion plans. The IAEA will be helping Zambia to prepare for this expansion through expert advice and training.

“If we have a cancer treatment centre here in Livingstone, it will mean there are no travel costs for the patients,” said Moonga. “It’s these costs that sometimes stop them getting the treatment they need. And if they have direct access to treatment, they’ll be more motivated to seek it, before it’s too late.”

Norfolk nurse runs to raise funds for African street children

Norfolk nurse runs to raise funds for African street children

The adventurous nurse, who works at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, wanted to try and make a difference to some of West African country’s most impoverished children.

Jenny Walker, a mental health nurse and non-medical prescriber based in Great Yarmouth, visited Africa in late May alongside 12 other runners and a filmmaker from St Thomas’ Church in Norwich.

During the week-long trip, they had the opportunity to see some of the work carried out by the charity Street Child, before completing a 5km, 10km, half marathon or marathon to raise funds.

Ms Walker, who only began running last February, opted for the half marathon distance and has so far raised more than £2,500 for her efforts.

The group began their trip by visiting a rubbish dump in Kissy, which is a workplace and home to many families.

They also met people who have set up their own businesses with Street Child’s support, as well as travelling to a school run by the charity.

They finished by completing their run in over 33 degree heat, cheered on by crowds of locals and joined by children who wanted to run alongside them.

“The half marathon was a fantastic experience,” she said. “People lined the streets and were cheering, and children were keen to hold our hands and run with us, as it is one of the highlights of their year.

“The whole experience has changed me and was incredibly inspiring,” added Ms Walker, a 35-year-old mother of three. “I feel that I got far more out of it than I could ever offer the people of Sierra Leone by trying to raise money.

“Since the civil war and ebola crisis, the country has been through such a difficult time; they have such high levels of deprivation, poor sanitation and accommodation,” she noted.

“Despite this, it was a very uplifting experience,” she said. “Sierra Leone is a beautiful country and it was a real pleasure to meet such wonderfully warm and resilient people.

However, despite running a half marathon in the scorching heat, she described the visit to the rubbish dump as the “most difficult thing” the group did during its trip.

“Your instincts are telling you that you don’t want to be there because of the smell, but, at the same time, these are people’s homes, and there were a lot of children working there,” said Ms Walker.

“Some wanted to show us where they lived, and we were amazed that they had made such beautiful homes, which they were so proud of, from things they had found on the dump,” she said.

She highlighted that street child also supports people in setting up their own businesses so they can become self-sufficient and pay for their children to go to school.

“We were lucky enough to visit some of those projects, and were really impressed with this empowering work,” she said.

“Visiting the school was a real eye-opener,” she said. “Although the classroom was packed with children, they had no resources and the classrooms were bare, the children were however so grateful to attend school.

“What struck me as a nurse were the lack of basic facilities such as toilets and running water, and the village was completely cut off and had no real access to medical care,” she said.

She added: “The visit to Sierra Leone showed me the huge difference that such a small amount of money can make. I would love to go back one day and would even considering doing the half marathon again.”

Ms Walker works for the trust’s Eastern Recovery Team, which provides assessment, treatment and review for patients within the community who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

The team receives referrals from GPs, acute hospitals and other health professionals, and offers a range of services from support to medication and physical health review, psychological input, graded exposure work, care and crisis planning.

Eco Medical Village Limited enters into a $300 Million binding Commitment Letter with Milost Global

Eco Medical Village Limited enters into a $300 Million binding Commitment Letter with Milost Global

Palewater Global Management Inc. is pleased to announce that Eco Medical Village Limited has signed a binding commitment letter with Milost Global Inc under the Mesa Fund 1, a global opportunity fund that is managed by Milost global Inc. This is for a facility of up to $300 million to fund the development of the largest private hospital in West Africa, which will be constructed right at the heart of Accra in Ghana. The commitment is made up of $100 million in equity and $200 million in debt capital. Within the two weeks, the Company will also appoint a US based PCAOB registered accounting firm that will work hand in hand with the company’s Ghana based audit firm, Audax Chartered Accountants to complete an SEC approved audit with the purposes of preparing for the IPO filing with the SEC in August.

“The completion of this financing will significantly reduce Eco Medical’s interest expense and will provide the working capital necessary to support the Pre-IPO Road Shows in the US, Canada, and Africa from the beginning of August. We look forward to working with Eco Medical to continue to grow our company to become the largest hospital group in Africa.” This transaction is advised and managed by Palewater Advisory Group Inc.

President & CEO of Milost Global, Egerton Forster, stated, “We are pleased to have partnered with Eco Medical Village Limited in this great opportunity. This is part of Milost Global’s strategy to develop Africa and deploy at least $10 Billion in African opportunities within the next 12 to 18 months.

Peter Ahiekpor, the CEO of Eco Medical Village Limited, said, “Milost Global equity funding has indeed changed the dynamics of funding projects in Africa. It has shown that Africa as an emerging market needs to attract more private funding to sustain its economic growth. Our final objective is to replicate this medical facility model across the length & breadth of Africa. We know with the involvement of Milost Global, this reality will come to fruition. Once again, this investment shows there is a market in Africa for medical services that will improve the life expectancies of the average African.”

Mandla J. Gwadiso, the Chief Investment Officer of Milost Global Inc also stated, “The Eco Medical Village team, which is supported by a very strong Board of Directors, demonstrates a very clear and straightforward business model where we feel that our resources will be used in a way that will generate good financial results and build shareholder value that surpasses our Fund’s expectations. It is our goal to invest in opportunities like this, where the upside outweighs the opposite and management’s innovation is at the fore of the industry.”

About Eco Medical Limited

The Eco Medical Village Limited is a Ghana based investment company that seeks to develop a 500-Ward (1,100 bed) State of the Art International Hospital Complex, Eco-Medical Hospital, for the middle and upper class citizens and residents of the West African sub region, who usually go to South Africa, North America, Europe, Cuba and India for medical care. The hospital is intended to be located in Accra, the Capital of Ghana with Satellite Units in all the countries in the sub-region.

Turning kenya into global medical hub

Turning kenya into global medical hub

The world watches in bewilderment as the US Senate fumbles all its attempts to revise the American healthcare system and erase former President Obama’s legislative legacy.

Make no mistake about it, American healthcare exists in a state of chaos. Where can one go for the best specialist care in the world? Where can one also see the some of the largest proportions of formal sector wage earners still unable to afford any healthcare at all? Which country subsides as the only “developed” nation that fails to guarantee medical care as a basic human right through socialised health coverage for its entire population? These contradictions sadly all point to the same nation: the US.

How can Kenya capitalise on the medical turmoil on the other side of the world? Enhance its medical innovation cluster focus on making Kenya, and Nairobi in particular, a global healthcare hub. While Kenyan healthcare is by no means perfect and the sector strikes highlight some of the major issues, we still dominate the region with the citizens of neighbouring nations and beyond flocking to our private hospitals, surgical units, and specialist consultants.

Various medical hubs exist in the world. Minneapolis, Cleveland, Chennai, and Bangkok all immensely benefit from specialised medical tourism. Up and coming medical hubs include our very own Nairobi as well as Dubai and Mauritius. Kenya carries most specialties of medicine and retains relatively high quality of medical education. Highly skilled doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and administrators fill our landscape. Drugs, specialised tests, and consultant visits in Kenya all stand at a fraction of the price of America.

Social science provides a framework for the role that a government can play to boost an industry that it deems plausible to compete on global or regional levels. First, governments can fund research and development in a sector. Government funding that covers operating losses does not help and instead creates lazy inefficient systems in any industry. Instead, governments should finance research and development as well as domestic industry association prizes and competitions. Such actions prove highly effective at building an innovative cluster, like in our example of an affordable medical tourism destination.

Second, governments hold enough local purchasers and become a purchaser of a critical mass of industry output. In the private hospital sector, the Aga Khan University Hospital and Nairobi Hospital continue to expand. Local consumers of private medical care exist, but the government could do more to channel purchasers through more patient tax write-offs and NHIF reform, as examples.

Third, governments must build infrastructure to support the medical sector. Swifter import of medical equipment through streamlined procedures, eradication of import duties on patient medical equipment to individuals in theory and in practice, wider roads leading to major hospitals, among others are methods utilised in other nations who endeavour to boost their medical innovation cluster.

Fourth, the Central Bank of Kenya can incorporate specific macroeconomic goals to further the sector, such as deflating the shilling so medical tourists can afford procedures even easier or reducing inter-bank borrowing rates to reduce interest rates further so private hospital systems can borrow cheaply and expand. Selecting an industry to focus on in building an innovation cluster, the sector must get priority even when macroeconomic actions might hurt other sectors of the broader economy.

Fifth, governments must foster robust education in a targeted innovation cluster. Enhancing education should not merely focus on tertiary education and reducing fees in government medical education institutions, such as KMTC, but also infuse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) deeper into primary and secondary education. Additionally, expand post-graduate qualification offerings and quality in different medical fields.

Do you agree that medical tourism as an innovation cluster should become an important government priority? What other industries could Kenya compete in on a global scale? Kenya already dominates regionally or continentally in ICT, banking, securities, accounting, entrepreneurship, and holiday tourism, among others. Could any of these expand to global competitive stature? Yes, if public-private partnerships target a few industries only and put substantial resources and implement the above five specific actions into practice.

LGC Capital unveils new South African medical cannabis deal

LGC Capital unveils new South African medical cannabis deal

LGC Capital Ltd (CVE:QBA) revealed its joint venture with London listed AfriAg Global Plc (LON:AFRI) has struck a deal to acquire 60% of South Africa-based company House of Hemp.

The latter has a large greenhouse located in the Dube TradePort AgriZone, within the precinct of Durban International Airport.

Serial investor and well known London entrepreneur David Lenigas is chairman of AfriAg and co-chair of LGC Capital (which was set up as Lenigas Cuba, initially intended as a vehicle to invest in the opening up of the Caribbean island to the United States).

He was also one of the architects of the so-called ‘Gatwick Gusher’ oil discovery near another airport – Gatwick, UK.

House of Hemp’s operation, a 405,000 square foot site, is the only approved indoor growing site in South Africa, signed off by both the South Africa Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health.

“This is an important deal for LGC, that launches the Company straight into the global medical cannabis sector,” said John McMullen, LGC’s chief executive.

He added: “We see a real global competitive edge as we will have minimal capital costs going forward and plenty of scope to cheaply increase the growing footprint within the Dube TradePort AgriZone.

A tie-up between AfriAg and LGC was announced last month, with the partnership setting a stated goal of setting up Africa based cannabis production for export into foreign markets where it has been legalised for medical use.

Medical and recreational cannabis usage is growing.

New kid on the block Friday Night Inc (CNSX:TGIF) is focused on what it sees as a thriving Las Vegas recreational market, after a recent law change in Nevada.

Toronto-listed WeedMD Inc (CVE:WMD) is already a licensed producer of medical cannabis pursuant to the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) in Canada.

But the group is also preparing to take full advantage of what is sure to be a large increase in demand for product through new legal channels.

“With legalized recreational use just around the corner, the supply opportunity is immense and we have a long-term plan in place to be one of the top-tier players,” finance chief Keith Merker has said.

Afreximbank, Kings College Hospital, Nigerian Ministry of Health sign MOU in Abuja

Afreximbank, Kings College Hospital, Nigerian Ministry of Health sign MOU in Abuja

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Kings College Hospital (KCH), London, and the Nigerian Ministry of Health have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate in developing a centre of excellence for healthcare in Nigeria.

Following a strategic alliance formed in 2014 between Afreximbank and KCH to establish a network of centres of excellence in tertiary healthcare across Africa, Nigeria was selected, on the basis of a macro-economic and sectorial study, as host country for the first centre. The centre will specialise in the treatment of cancer and sickle cell diseases and will cover four broad areas of medical practice, namely, clinical care, diagnostics, research, and education.

Under the terms of the MOU signed in Abuja on 17 July, Afreximbank, the Ministry of Health and KCH will collaborate in the development of the centre by working together to raise funding and develop relationships, expertise and activities.

They will also collaborate to build capacity, provide technical support and promote integration with national and private healthcare insurance schemes while also exchanging information and building links to teaching hospitals and other training facilities.

The agreement also provides for special privileges to be granted by Nigeria to ensure optimal implementation of the project.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank said, “It is well known that Africans are among the largest populations that travel for medical services globally, with Nigeria alone spending about $1 billion in medical tourism”.

Deploring the high number of deaths across the continent due to inadequate healthcare facilities, he said, “As a Bank, we want to contribute towards changing this pattern. This is why we launched the Centre of Excellence initiative, in partnership with KCH, to foster the emergence of world class medical facilities and research centres across the continent.”

Responding, Prof. Isaac Adewole, the Nigerian Minister of Health, commended Afreximbank for the initiative and gave his ministry’s assurance of full support to make it a success.

“Investments in health are a prerequisite for economic development,” he said, adding that such investments constituted a significant contribution to GDP.

In his remarks, Prof. Ghulam Mufti, a non-executive director of the Board of KCH and a professor of haematological oncology at the hospital, said that the centre would ensure that Nigeria was in a better position to deal with ailments that are common in Africa, especially non-communicable diseases that had seen rising incidence due to changing lifestyles.

According to him, the parenting from KCH will ensure a strong research component and the transmigration of latest technological and clinical advances to the centre. Those will be key to attracting back medical professionals from the Diaspora, he said.

Afreximbank launched the Health and Medical Tourism Programme in 2014 to foster the emergence of world class medical and research infrastructure across Africa while also promoting employment, increasing intra-African medical tourism, limiting foreign exchange outflows and enabling African countries to diversify their economies, particularly in terms of service exports, in line with its IMPACT 2021 strategy.

Charity groups unite to tackle hunger and famine in the Horn of Africa

Charity groups unite to tackle hunger and famine in the Horn of Africa

Eight U.S.-based international relief groups have joined forces to desperately urge the public to donate to a new relief fund aimed at addressing looming famine and hunger in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and neighboring nations.

“In the 21st century, innocent children should not be dying from hunger. People caught in this crisis are generously opening their homes and sharing what little they have, but they have run out of time and resources — they need our help now,” said the groups making up the Global Emergency Response Coalition in a news release Monday.

On Monday, the coalition — made up of CARE, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision — announced its Hunger Relief Fund. The groups said the coalition was the first of its kind.

The Global Emergency Response Coalition said that its groups were working in 106 nations and that donations made to the fund would “help those already going hungry and on the brink of famine survive and lay the groundwork for recovery.”

Its partners, which are helping to bring awareness and monies to the effort, include Google, Twitter and Visa.
Recently, ABC News anchor David Muir and his team traveled with Save the Children as it traveled to the deserts of Somaliland to identify children suffering from malnutrition.

Carolyn Miles, the CEO of Save the Children, told Muir the malnutrition crisis was one of the worst she’d seen since World War II.

“We really need people to realize what’s going on. … We can actually make a difference for these kids if we act now,” she said.

More than 20 million people are at risk of starvation, the coalition said. The groups also said that without immediate help, 1.4 million severely malnourished children could die.

According to the Global Response Coalition, $10 can get:

1. A month’s worth of water for a child at school.
2. Basic health services for a child in Somalia.
3. One week’s worth of highly nutritious peanut paste for a malnourished child. (Brand name: Plumpy’Nut)
Save the Children said that $2 in Somalia can provide a child with water at school for one month; $23 in Ethiopia can provide one child with lunch at school for a month; and $5 in South Sudan can buy medicine to treat 10 children suffering from malaria.

Dr. Yusef Ali, the regional director of health in Somaliland, told Muir during his visit to the region that the country was on the verge of famine.

“We’re seeing it [famine],” Ali said. “It’s here. … We are losing them [children]. There are so many unreported cases. We are losing them.”

Govt to acquire 50 X-ray machines for health facilities

Govt to acquire 50 X-ray machines for health facilities

The X-ray machines will be deployed to cover 53 per cent of the country.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made this known in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, at the International Conference on tuberculosis (TB) and other lung diseases in Accra.

The conference, which is being organised by the Union Africa Region, a health-based non-governmental organisation, is themed, “Accelerating implementation through partnerships to end TB, HIV/TB, tobacco and other related non-communicable diseases (NCDs).”

Participants in the conference include researchers and healthcare professionals, including doctors, public health nurses, clinical nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technologists and public health administrators.

Civil society representatives, pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers working on TB and lung disease controls in Africa are also attending the conference.

Statistics

President Akufo-Addo said as a nation, “we have rapidly assimilated and updated our policies for accelerated TB control”, adding that the new diagnostic equipment known as ‘GeneXpert’ machines would cover 53 per cent of the country.

He said by the end of the year, plans would be advanced to cover the entire country with more diagnostic equipment.

“It is time to do things differently to achieve the desired TB case detection impact.

“TB must be controlled everywhere and anywhere, across borders, and countries must work in sub-regional networks such as the West Africa Regional Network for TB Control (WARN-TB),” he stated.

Fight against TB

“Africa has come a long way in fighting the TB epidemic” and therefore accelerating implementation to end the disease and other related conditions is apt,” the President noted.

He said the country would continue to work with its technical partners, including The Union African Region, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to end the TB epidemic in the country.

“Our efforts as a country are yielding dividend. Ghana has good TB treatment outcomes and has one of the lowest drug-resistant TB levels in Africa and indeed the world over,” he added.

The TB Ambassador, Nana Ehunabobrim Prah Agyensaim VI, who is also the Assin Kusheahene and President of the Assin Owirenkyi Traditional Council, said the time had come for Ghana and Africa as a whole to eradicate TB and other lung diseases.

The President of the Union African Region, Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa, in an address said the organisation was committed to fighting TB and other lung diseases across the world.

Awards in the categories of General Africa Region Heroes were presented to some groups whose work impacted positively on the association, as well as past presidents of the union.