African Women

$20-Million Women’s Health Initiative Kicks Off With Training In Nairobi

By the end of 2015, roughly 99% of the world’s maternal deaths had occurred in developing regions with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for two-thirds of that number. Added to this alarming statistic is the fact that the risk of a child dying before reaching five years of age is seven times higher in Africa tha in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.

The need to improve the quality, access and affordability of healthcare around the world presents a challenge that GE sees as an opportunity to make lasting changes with initiatives such as the Healthymagination Mother and Child Programme. This initiative was launched by GE and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship in March to accelerate much-needed medical innovations in nine African countries. The primary objective of the $20-million joint venture is to address maternal and child mortality by supporting social entrepreneurs operating in the health sector across Sub-Sahara Africa.

After a rigorous evaluation process, 17 social entrepreneurs from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Zambia and Uganda were selected to participate in the programme’s first cohort. The candidates attended a three-day workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, where senior Miller Center mentors and GE business leaders trained them on business fundamentals to improve their strategic thought processes, and to develop business plans that demonstrate growth as well as long-term financial sustainability.

Organisations, which were considered for the programme, met the following criteria:

– had been in operation in Sub-Saharan Africa for a minimum of three years,

– were involved in delivering healthcare services to mothers and children,

– had experience in distribution, training, use and maintenance of medical equipment for pregnant women or children,

– developed products or technologies that improved knowledge and/or access to care, such as telemedicine, mobile technologies, data analysis or image interpretation,

– provided infrastructure services or facilities associated with needs arising from pregnancy to paediatric care, and

– were for-profit, non-profit, or hybrid enterprises.

This training and mentoring program combines Silicon Valley entrepreneurial principles with the Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) methodology, which has been refined through 12 years of working with more than 570 social enterprises worldwide.

The overall goal of the programme is to ensure that women have access to high-quality health services during pregnancy and childbirth by addressing problems such as the availability of screening tools as well as potentially fatal conditions such as pregnancy-induced hypertension.

“Social innovations and entrepreneurs in the health sector have in recent years yielded sustainable solutions to some of the world’s biggest health challenges,” said Jay Ireland, GE Africa president and CEO.

“It is for this reason that the healthymagination Mother and Child Programme is focusing on training and mentoring social entrepreneurs working on increasing the quality, access and affordability of maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa, thereby enabling more women and children to experience better health,” said Ireland.

A six-month online accelerator programme follows the initial workshop where Silicon Valley-based executives — who have also completed rigorous mentorship training with Miller Center — coach the entrepreneurs on developing an action plan, operational and social impact metrics, a presentation deck for investors, and an investment summary document.The programme will culminate in February 2017 with a premier pitch event in Africa where the 17 participants will present their respective enterprises to an audience of potential investors.

Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

Tanzania: State to Distribute Over 21 Million Condoms

Mbeya – The government plans to distribute over 21 million condoms free of charge across the country to reduce new HIV infections.

The acting Director General of the Aids Control Programme at the ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, the Elderly and Children, Eddah Katikiro, said this on Thursday in Mbeya, during a preparatory meeting for the launch of a condom distribution exercise to be held on Friday.

She emphasised that the condoms would be distributed freely at selected locations to the public. “The condoms will be distributed at the offices of village executives, bars, hotels and any at health facilities,” she said.

The ministry’s information officer, Shoko Subira, said the programme was being implemented following the government’s strategy of controlling new HIV/Aids infections, with the aim of halting new infections by 2030.

Subira said the condoms given by the government have been branded Zana ya Ukweli, meaning ‘tool of reality’ are expected to be launched by health minister Ummy Mwalimu.

The medical equipment registration officer at the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA), Goodluck Botola, said the authority has confirmed the quality of the condoms.

Mbeya Region’s Aids Control Programme co-ordinator Francis Phiri, said the region had received 1.5 million condoms.

Ethiopia Flag

East Africa: Ethiopia On Right Track to Eradicate Guinea Worm

The Ethiopian Public Health Institute said efforts are under way to eradicate Guinea Worm Disease (GWD) in a strengthened manner.

Briefing journalists on Drancunculiasis Eradication Programme yesterday, Institute Deputy Director Dr. Dadi Jima said that contrary to the previous years, Ethiopia is presently close to eradicate the disease which requires the concerted effort of all.

Jointly with stakeholders the Institute has offered pure water in some parts of the country, especially in Gambella State. It is also constructing Case Containment Center for patients to avoid contamination.

Though the Institute is on the right track to eradicate the disease, the participation of the people is decisive to achieve the desired objective, he added. The public has also been requested to provide information via 8335 and win 2,000 Birr award.

Carter Centre Country Representative Dr. Zerihun Tadesse on his part said that Ethiopia should work aggressively for the eradication of the disease for it is prevalent in Gambella State.

He also said that the country is highly engaged for the eradication by identifying states based on the symptoms and the prevalence rate of the disease. Accordingly, much attention has been given to Gambella State where 13 woredas are identified requiring support and follow up.

He also called on the media to provide the public appropriate information to protect themselves from the disease.

The 2016 WHO report indicated that GWD is prevalent in four countries including Chad, Ethiopia, Mali and South Sudan.

Male health workers from Tupange

Africa: A New Male Contraceptive Could Help Men Bear the Family Planning Burden

A new method of male contraception that is as effective as a vasectomy but entirely reversible with little to no side-effects is being tested and is showing promising results in animal trials.

If it is successful, it could drastically change the field of contraception. It would give men the power to prevent a pregnancy without any input from women using a method that is not permanent, such as the vasectomy.

The vasectomy is currently the only reliable contraceptive option available to men. It is a minor surgical procedure where the the duct that conveys sperm from the testicle to the urethra is tied or cut. The challenge is that it is not reversible.

The new contraceptive – Vasalgel – is a type of no-scalpel vasectomy. It has no hormonal effects or other side-effects, and can be reversed when the man wants to start a family.

In the same way that a vasectomy would, Vasalgel blocks the flow of sperm from the testicles to the penis. But it does not require any surgery. Instead of severing the tube that carries sperm – called the vas deferens – a gel is injected into the tube, forming a barrier that blocks sperm but allows other fluids to pass through.

Low uptake of vasectomies

Vasectomies are usually quick and straightforward procedures that carry minor risks like bleeding or infection. There is also a small chance that a man might experience post-vasectomy pain due to pressure build-up in the testicles.

Although very few vasectomies fail or go wrong, globally there has been a low uptake of this procedure.

In 2013 only 2.2% of men globally had vasectomies. This compares to 18.9% of women who underwent female sterilisation. Although some countries like Canada have higher rates of men who have undergone a vasectomy (22%), in Africa only 0.1% of men have undergone vasectomies.

On the continent, vasectomies could be one of the most effective male birth control methods because they are inexpensive and could therefore have a major impact on sustainable development and population growth. But the procedure is misunderstood and, as a result, is poorly used.

A second attempt

The new contraceptive is not the first time a male contraceptive has been introduced. Several years ago, the idea of the “male pill” was abandoned and more recent research efforts have been focusing on intra-vas devices, including Vasalgel.

Previous efforts to develop a male contraceptive focused on hormonal manipulation, which is how the contraceptive “pill” for women works. A man would basically be given hormones (like testosterone and progesterone) and these hormones would then interfere with certain processes in the body and cause the testicles to stop producing sperm.

The male hormone testosterone is linked to sperm production and by lowering the testosterone level in a man’s testicles you can prevent the production of sperm. But to lower testosterone in the testicles, you have to increase testosterone levels in the blood. Several studies have shown that there are too many unpleasant side-effects to this. These include aggression, depression, fatigue, low libido, high blood pressure and an increase in cholesterol levels.

Researchers have also tried to tweak the method of hormonal male contraception by adding other hormones, like the female hormone progesterone. But it still had too many side-effects and wasn’t effective enough.

Final steps

Vasalgel is currently being tested in humans but its reversability has only been shown in animal studies. These studies have shown rapid restoration of sperm flow.

For the reversal to happen, the man gets an injection of a bicarbonate solution into the duct that conveys sperm from the testicle to the urethra. This bicarbonate solution will dissolve the Vasalgel and it is flushed from the duct.

The challenge with Vasalgel is that although it blocks the flow of sperm, it does not offer any protection against the transmission of sexually-transmitted infections such as HIV.

Family planning is still considered a woman’s responsibility in many parts of the world. This has prevented men from being more involved in family decisions about fertility. It has also limited their access to family planning services targeted at them. The new method could be the first step to change this.


Liberia Declared Ebola Free for 4th Time

Liberia is officially free of the Ebola virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday Thursday, after the country successfully passed 42 days without a confirmed case of this often-fatal disease, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.

“WHO commends Liberia’s government and people on their effective response to this recent re-emergence of Ebola,” said Dr. Alex Gasasira, the organization’s representative in Liberia.

“WHO will continue to support Liberia in its effort to prevent, detect and respond to suspected cases,” he assured.

This is the fourth time that Liberia has been declared free of the virus since the epidemic began in December 2013. The most recent flare-up was traced to a woman who had been exposed to the virus in Guinea and traveled to Liberia with her children. They subsequently became infected thereby spreading the virus.

By late last year, when the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak virtually over, the virus had killed more than 11,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the three most seriously affected West African countries.

Mgabathi Hospital in Nairobi

Large Kenyan Government-led Program to Modernize Health Services

The Kenyan Ministry of Health’s program to modernize core healthcare services at 98 hospitals and government facilities across the country is being heralded as “the first Government-led program of its kind in Kenya – and one of the largest undertaken to date in Africa to support sustainable healthcare development.” As a technology provider, GE Healthcare will supply the radiology modernization tranche of the program as well as training and technical support for medical staff to ensure the optimal operation of the equipment. Read more. More about GE in Africa in this BRIEFING.

In Pic: Patients wait to be treated at Mgabathi Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya on June 15, 2016. Mgabathi Hospital is one of the 98 hospitals in Kenya that will benefit from the program being led by the Ministry of Health to modernize core healthcare services at key government facilities across the country.

MEDEXPO KENYA 2016 – East Africa’s Prime Medical & Health Care Trade Fair

The 19th MEDEXPO, East Africa’s biggest event on the Medical & Health Care Industry is to be held at a new venue from June 16 to 18 this year. Seeking more exhibition and parking space, the trade event will be hosted at the Carnivore Grounds. According to the organizers, Expogroup, the event is already 15% bigger this year presenting exhibitors from 25 countries booked already.

“We are overwhelmed with the response this year on both the international and local fronts.” said Divine Anella, the Public Relations Manager for the event.

“We are very positively expecting a much higher flow of visitors as well this year. Having changed the venue, we will have much more parking space which was missing at the KICC, the previous venue “, she added.Continue reading

Namibia: Africa Focused On Eliminating Malaria – Kamwi

Former minister of health Dr Richard Kamwi says eliminating malaria in Africa by 2030 is possible though it will require concerted efforts.

“We have an array of tools which, when used in combination, give us a very effective method of attack against the disease,” said Kamwi, who is one of the Elimination 8 (E 8) ambassadors.

E 8 is a coordinated eight-country effort intended to eliminate malaria in four southern African countries by 2020, namely, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland and subsequently pave the way for the elimination of malaria by 2030 in four more countries, namely, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.Continue reading

Ethiopia: Hospital Construction Phase II Cornerstone Laid

The cornerstone for the phase II construction of Tirunesh Beijing General Hospital was laid yesterday. The expansion is meant to provide special treatment to patients and would be undertaken on 5,750 square meter.

Health Ministry Health Infrastructure Development Director Mekonnen Engida on the occasion said that the project is intended to give specialized maternal and child medical treatment. It is also aimed at providing residential quarter to hospital staff to facilitate service delivery, he added.Continue reading

Wasso Designated Hospital Gets Medical Facilities Support

Arusha — Loliondo division, not only the second largest but also a remotest division of Ngorongoro District, is under a nasty experience as it depends on a single health facility of Wasso District Designated hospital.

But the Wasso Hospital has problems of its own that include acute shortage of over 70 patient beds, limited medical personnel and regular visits from ferocious wild animals and patients who escape without footing their medical bills, aided by the fact that the entire health centre does not have a fence.
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