SOUTH AFRICAN TODDLERS PRESCRIBED MIND-ALTERING STIMULANTS, ANTIDEPRESSANTS AND ANTIPSYCHOTICS

South Africa reports having one of the highest rates in the world of prescribed stimulants for children labeled with so-called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—a rate even higher than in the U.S.[i] While The New York Times recently reported the prescription of dangerous antidepressants and antipsychotics to children aged two and younger in the U.S.,[ii] South Africa also shows antidepressants are being prescribed to children aged two and younger[iii] and powerful antipsychotics like Risperdal are approved to treat disruptive behavior in children older than 5 with mental retardation.[iv] Wanting South Africa to avoid the epidemic of psychotropic drug abuse of children seen in the U.S., CCHR (http://www.CCHR.org) International has launched a campaign to inform South African parents and teachers about prescribed psychotropic drug risks in children.

As part of the campaign, fliers are downloadable (http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/prescribed-psych-drugs-harm-sa-children-and-youth.pdf) to be distributed to parents to become better informed and to refuse to sign consent forms for children to be screened for psychological or mental “disorders” through schools. Parents can also download, print, and sign a form to protect their child (http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/parent-exemption-form.pdf) from invasive school questionnaires that could lead to a referral to a psychiatrist for psychotropic drugs. South Africa adopted an “Integrated School Health Policy” in 2010, which included a mental health program. It likely opened the door to more children potentially being drugged, CCHR says.

Stimulants sales are a $9.9 billion (R150 billion) a year industry in the U.S. and are among the leading drugs of abuse by teenagers. South African students snort and swallow Ritalin to get high. The drug is referred to as “smarties,” “rit” or “kiddie cocaine.”[v] The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says methylphenidate (Ritalin) is “closely related to cocaine.”[vi]

Psychostimulants can cause hallucinations, liver problems, seizures, stunted growth, psychotic or manic symptoms, and suicidal thoughts. Unlike for diabetes, heart problems or medical conditions, there’s no scientific test to prove that ADHD exists, as agreed by many doctors. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has warned governments about the excessive diagnosis of ADHD and the need for alternatives to stimulants prescribed to treat it.

Conflicts of Interest

Another parallel between South Africa and the U.S. is the conflicts of interest—the financial ties between psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies that help fuel the increases in psychiatric drug prescriptions. The South African Society of Psychiatrists Treatment Guidelines for Psychiatric Disorders was written by ten psychiatrists (one of which passed away prior to reporting any conflicts of interest). Six had financial ties to drug companies that manufacture psychiatric drugs.[vii] The Guidelines cite the U.S. psychiatrist Prof. Joseph Biederman from Harvard University whose failure to disclose to the university the $1.6 million (R24.1 million) he made in consulting fees from drug makers was uncovered by a U.S. Senate investigation. According to The New York Times his research helped cause a 40-fold increase (1994 to 2003) in the diagnosis of childhood “bipolar disorder” in the U.S. and the rapid rise in dangerous antipsychotics to treat it.[viii]

The Anti-Drug Alliance of South Africa says many doctors are receiving kickbacks including paid holidays abroad for prescribing certain drugs in the treatment of ADHD.[ix] The South African guidelines, especially relating to ADHD, should be rejected, CCHR says.

The use of Ritalin and other drugs to treat ADHD was reported in January 2014 as soaring among primary school children in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape province. A local pharmacist reported an increase of nearly 50% in Ritalin prescriptions over the previous year.[x]

Antidepressant use in the South Africa has increased by 39% over the past four years.[xi] In 2005 the South Africa Medicines Control Council issued a “Drug Alert: Warning” that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressant packaging include a warning of increased suicidality in children and adolescents.[xii]

Despite this, a study published in 2013 shows that in South Africa the average number of antidepressant prescriptions claimed per patient increased with age and infants and adolescents aged 16 to 18 are prescribed the drugs.[xiii] A co-author of a December 2015 study reported about 60 to 70% of people who take antidepressants “experience side effects and some of the side effects are severe suicidal thoughts.” [xiv]

CCHR agrees that parents and children may need help. However, parents are not being given all the facts, especially that there is no medical test to confirm that any mental disorder is a physical “disease.” South African parents have the right to know about safe alternatives for their child and to ask their doctor about non-drug treatments. Download the flier for more information, here (http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/prescribed-psych-drugs-harm-sa-children-and-youth.pdf).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR).

Contact: Media Director, Citizens Commission on Human Rights International
Media Dept.: media@cchr.org

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Categories: AFRICA

Power Africa Launches Roadmap to 60 Million Connections and 30,000 MW by 2030

Today at the Powering Africa Summit, Power Africa partners launched a roadmap to meet President Obama’s goals of adding 30,000 megawatts and 60 million connections across sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

The U.S. Government committed an initial $7 billion that has leveraged nearly $43 billion in commitments from over 120 public and private sector partners. The Power Africa Roadmap outlines how it will add 30,000 MW by maximizing value from existing transactions, advancing new opportunities for deal flow, and increasing the efficiency of existing generation. It also highlights how Power Africa will add 60 million connections by scaling up grid roll-out programs and intensifying its Beyond the Grid efforts.

“With a robust financial foundation in place and an expanding group of partners committed to producing results, Power Africa is breaking the logjam on energy infrastructure and keeping eager capital flowing to worthy projects,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Gayle Smith. “Building on our progress so far, this Roadmap lays out a clear path to achieving President Obama’s ambitious vision of bringing electricity to 60 million African homes and businesses. And the Power Africa Tracking Tool offers unprecedented insight into the actual deals that will facilitate that success.”

“Sub-Saharan Africa is rich in renewable energy sources-solar, hydropower, geothermal-yet only one in three people has access to power. For those who have electricity, the supply is often unreliable; sub-Saharan Africa loses 2.1 percent of gross domestic product from blackouts alone,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “We must find solutions-in our partnerships with African governments and the Power Africa initiative-that will give millions of African people the opportunity for a better life with something most of us take for granted: access to electricity.”

“Africa is tired of being in the dark. Lack of electricity puts a break on Africa’s economic growth and development. I applaud President Obama’s leadership and bold Power Africa Initiative,” said African Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who recently launched the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aligns with the Power Africa Roadmap, last week at the World Economic Forum. “To accelerate universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025, the African Development Bank developed the New Deal on Energy for Africa and launched the Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa. Working together with Power Africa, private sector, development partners and African governments, we will light up and power Africa.”

Also launched today, the Power Africa Tracking Tool (PATT) allows for easy, real-time tracking of transactions across the continent. The PATT provides previously unavailable data that will increase transparency and drive the competitiveness of African markets. The iPhone app and web portal allow for easily accessible information on 45,000 MW in power transactions from stakeholders on the ground. A release of the Android app is planned for February 2016.

President Obama launched Power Africa in 2013-a partnership to help double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, working with African governments, the private sector, and bilateral and multilateral development partners. Since its launch in 2013, Power Africa has helped projects expected to generate over 4,300 MW of new, cleaner electricity reach financial close and is actively supporting an additional 25,000 MW of projects. Over three-quarters of these projects involve clean, renewable technology. From wind parks in Kenya, to solar arrays in Rwanda, and geothermal generation in Ethiopia, Power Africa is putting the continent’s vast renewable resources to work. Power Africa’s aim is to help African governments build cleaner, more climate-resilient power sectors that serve all people.

Power Africa partners will discuss the Roadmap and Tracking Tool in greater detail at EnergyNet’s Powering Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. today and tomorrow. The Summit is convening energy sector leaders from around the world to identify new opportunities for partnership on projects across Africa.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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Categories: AFRICA

UN and African experts urge Sierra Leone’s President to save millions of women’s lives by signing the 2015 Safe Abortion Bill

A group of United Nations and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission experts* today urged the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, to sign the 2015 Safe Abortion Bill for it to enter into force without further delay.

The human rights experts warned that reluctance towards the decriminalization of abortion by some parties, including religious organizations, has resulted in delays in signing the Bill, as the President sent it back to Parliament for reconsideration.

The 2015 Safe Abortion Bill, passed by Parliament last December, is aimed at ensuring women’s and adolescents’ access to safe services regarding abortion and authorizes the termination of a pregnancy under any circumstances up to 12 weeks and in cases of incest, rape, fetal impairment as well as when the woman’s health is at risk, up to 24 weeks.

“Sierra Leone has a great opportunity to save hundreds of women’s and adolescents’ lives by adopting the bill,” they said. “This bill is a cornerstone legislation to advance women’s and adolescents’ right to health, including sexual and reproductive rights in a country where maternal mortality rates are one of the highest in the world.”

According to the World Health Organization, Sierra Leone still had a maternal mortality rate of 1100 deaths for 100,000 live births in 2013, despite a reduction of 54% of maternal-related deaths since 1993. These deaths are mainly due to unsafe abortions and the lack to access lifesaving treatments. Denial of reproductive health services can also cause tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering, inflicted on the basis of gender.

“By adopting the bill, Sierra Leone would become one of the leading African nations to take effective measures to reduce maternal mortality and reaffirm women’s human rights,” the experts said noting that the ACHPR has just launched, on 18 January 2016, a global campaign for the decriminalization of abortion in Africa.

The UN and ACHPR experts also called on Sierra Leone “to respect its obligations under international and regional human rights law by ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for women, including maternal health care and access to all methods of contraception.”

(*) The UN experts: Eleonora Zielinska, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Dainius Pûras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; the ACHPR expert: Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on the rights of women

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Source:: UN and African experts urge Sierra Leone’s President to save millions of women’s lives by signing the 2015 Safe Abortion Bill

Categories: AFRICA

Tunisia: Council extends asset freeze by one year

On 28 January 2016, the Council extended until 31 January 2017 a freeze on the assets of 48 persons deemed to be responsible for the misappropriation of state funds in Tunisia and those associated with them.

The decision will be published in the Official Journal of the EU on 29 January 2016.

The sanctions were initially introduced on 31 January 2011, targeting former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his wife and 46 other persons. They have been renewed annually.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Council of the European Union.

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Categories: AFRICA

Tunisia: Council extends asset freeze by one year

On 28 January 2016, the Council extended until 31 January 2017 a freeze on the assets of 48 persons deemed to be responsible for the misappropriation of state funds in Tunisia and those associated with them.

The decision will be published in the Official Journal of the EU on 29 January 2016.

The sanctions were initially introduced on 31 January 2011, targeting former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his wife and 46 other persons. They have been renewed annually.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Council of the European Union.

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Categories: AFRICA

USAID Administrator Gayle Smith to Lead United States Delegation to the 26th Annual African Union Summit

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Gayle Smith will lead the U.S. delegation to the 26th Annual African Union Summit. Joining the delegation will be Department of State Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski, National Security Council Senior Director for Africa Cathy Byrne, USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa Linda Etim, U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Don Booth, and Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Tom Perriello.

The AU Summit brings together senior government officials, representatives from regional economic communities, civil society organizations, the private sector, members of the diaspora, international media and invited dignitaries. Discussions will also focus on regional peace and security priorities, including the situation in Burundi, the need for implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan, and developing innovative financing mechanisms in support of AU peacekeeping initiatives.

Following the AU Summit, Administrator Smith will visit sites in Ethiopia where the U.S. government is working with local and international partners to respond to the drought and build resilience to extreme weather events like El Nino.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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Source:: USAID Administrator Gayle Smith to Lead United States Delegation to the 26th Annual African Union Summit

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The 570th AUPSC meeting on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the three most affected countries in West Africa, namely, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 570th meeting held on 21 January 2016, adopted the following decision on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the three most affected countries in West Africa, namely, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone:

Council

1. Takes note of the comprehensive Final Exit Report of the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) and the Evaluation Report of the African Union’s Response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in West Africa, submitted by the Commission to Council. Council also received statements from the representative of Senegal, in its capacity as the current Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as from the representatives of France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the European Union and the United Nations;

2. Recalls all its earlier pronouncements on the EVD, in particular, Press Statement PSC/PR/BR. (DLXV) adopted at its 565th meeting held on 17 December 2015;

3. Commends the Commission of the African Union, in particular, the Department of Social Affairs, for the leadership role it demonstrated in the successful fight against the EVD, as well as in the current post-EVD socio-economic recovery efforts in the most affected countries, through the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA). In particular, Council commends the ASEOWA health care volunteers who risked their precious lives in order to save other lives. In this regard, Council requests the Commission to recognize the efforts of all those who participated in the fight against Ebola under ASEOWA, including the staff from the AU Commission;

4. Congratulates the authorities and people of the three most affected countries, in West Africa, for successfully controlling the EVD. Council commends them for their ongoing post-EVD socio-economic recovery efforts and urges them to persevere. In this regard, Council reiterates the need for these countries to adopt a very comprehensive approach that effectively addresses the wider social, psycho-social, economic and political consequences of the EVD outbreak, including the need to invest more in strengthening the health systems in order to build the necessary resilience against future public health threats;

5. Underscores the imperative need for the Commission to continue to closely monitor the post-EVD situation in the three most affected countries, in spite of them having been already declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO). In this regard, Council urges the three most affected countries to continue to remain extra-vigilant vis-à-vis the risk of new EVD outbreaks and cases of relapses, as well as to maintain effective surveillance mechanisms, including cross-border surveillance;

6. Stresses the importance of expediting the establishment of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). In this regard, Council welcomes the ongoing efforts being deployed by the Commission to this end. Council also welcomes the ongoing efforts to establish the African Health Volunteer Corps;

7. Underscores the need, in view of Africa’s prevention efforts, for the WHO to expedite the certification process for the Ebola vaccine production;

8. Expresses deep appreciation to all AU Member States which extended support of various forms to the three most affected countries and urges them to maintain this spirit of pan-African solidarity, which will be instrumental in effectively addressing similar future epidemics and other complex emergences. Council also expresses deep appreciation to the African private sector for the generous assistance it extended to the three countries most affected by the EVD. Council further expresses its deep appreciation to the AU partners, as well as to the wider international community for their continued support in the fight against the EVD and urges them to continue to extend their support towards the post-EVD socio-economic recovery efforts of the three most affected countries;

9. Endorses all the recommendations contained in the two reports submitted to the Council by the Commission. In this regard, Council requests the Commission to take necessary follow-up action and to provide regular updates to the Council on the implementation of these recommendations;

10. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

– See more at: http://www.peaceau.org/en/article/the-570th-aupsc-meeting-on-the-ebola-virus-disease-evd-outbreak-in-the-three-most-affected-countries-in-west-africa-namely-guinea-liberia-and-sierra-leone#sthash.jmM9lbUg.GyNSw6Y7.dpuf

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: The 570th AUPSC meeting on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the three most affected countries in West Africa, namely, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

Categories: AFRICA

Audience with the president of Togo: joint commitment to peace and security in West and Sub-Saharan Africa

The Holy Father Francis today received in audience the president of the Republic of Togo, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions the Parties acknowledged the good existing relations between the Holy See and Togo, and the prospects for their further consolidation. Mention was made of the contribution of the Catholic Church to the development of the country and the integral progress of the Togolese population, especially in the field of education.

Attention then turned to various challenges affecting West and Sub-Saharan Africa, with special emphasis on the need for joint commitment to the promotion of security and peace in the Region.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Vatican information Service (VIS).

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Source:: Audience with the president of Togo: joint commitment to peace and security in West and Sub-Saharan Africa

Categories: AFRICA

WFP dispatches food to displaced families in eastern Libya

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing food in eastern Libya for the first time since last June to provide one-month’s assistance over the coming four weeks to nearly 80,000 displaced people in and around Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.

“Libyans who have had to flee their homes and are now displaced, especially in Benghazi, are suffering the consequences of the ongoing conflict,” said WFP’s Country Director for Libya, Wagdi Othman. “This winter, they are living under dire conditions without food, medical care or electricity and are in desperate need of assistance.”

WFP is providing each household with a family ration that includes pasta, couscous, rice and other food items. The ration is enough to feed a family of five for one month.

WFP had dispatched the food over the past two weeks across the Egyptian border to the warehouse of its distribution partner LibAid. The Libyan relief organisation is carrying out the food distributions to families who have left their homes in eastern Libya, particularly Benghazi, which has been hard hit by conflict for more than a year.

In 2016, through its partner, WFP plans to reach at least 70,000 people each month in Libya. This includes internally displaced people, host communities, refugees and asylum seekers. WFP plans to gradually increase its capacity in the country, as it receives more funding, to eventually reach as many as 210,000 people by the final three months of this year.

WFP relies entirely on voluntary contributions to finance its humanitarian and development projects. In 2016, WFP needs to raise US$29 million to be able to continue to help the most vulnerable in the country.

In 2015, WFP reached over 290,000 people across Libya with food assistance, but had to suspend distributions from September to November due to lack of funding.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).

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Source:: WFP dispatches food to displaced families in eastern Libya

Categories: AFRICA

Commissioner Acyl articulates the dire need for Africa’s structural transformation in line with the Agenda 2063

The Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission (AUC) had a press briefing today on the margins of the 26th African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government, under the theme: “The African Union’s Trade and Industry Agenda as a catalyst for Africa’s Development”.

H.E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl highlighted the Department of Trade and Industry’s initiatives within the context of the Agenda 2063 and expressed the urgent need for Africa to industrialize.

According to the Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Africa faces an imperative for structural transformation. H.E. Mrs Fatima Haram Acyl observed that we need to address the paradox of a rich continent with poor citizens. Therefore urgent steps must be taken to create sustainable jobs that will improve the well-being of the people of Africa, especially women and youth.

The Commissioner for Trade and Industry also pointed out that African Union’s trade and Industry agenda is looking to support the continent’s structural transformation agenda, in line with Agenda 2063 and underscored that the fall of the commodities prices have reinforced the imperative of diversifying away from commodities based economies. “I want to highlight two critical initiatives that are central to ensuring that the AU’s trade and Industry agenda will play a catalytic role in the continent’s transformation agenda. These are initiatives related to the Africa Mining Vision as well as the Boosting Intra African Trade and fast tracking the Continental Free Trade Area”, she said. Commissioner Acyl mentioned that the Africa Mining Vision provides a framework for providing technical assistance currently provided through the 5 year African Minerals Development Center (AMDC) project involving AUC, UNECA, AfDB, UNDP and other partners in a manner that ensures ownership by African governments of these interventions.

The Commissioner also announced the AUC has been mandated to develop a Continental Commodities Strategy that will address the issues of commodity pricing and commodity based industrialization more broadly, building on the experiences of the past decades. “The strategy reviews the state of play of agriculture, mining and energy commodities in Africa and identifies and articulates areas of national, regional and continental policy and will be finalized this year”, she echoed.

With regards to the Boosting Intra-African Trade and the negotiations of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), Commissioner Acyl indicated that the establishment of the CFTA, will create a single market for goods and services in Africa for over a billion people and a GDP of over 3 trillion dollars provides a good reason to invest and partner in Africa. The CFTA, she said, could increase intra-African trade by as much as $35 billion per year, or 52 percent above the baseline, by 2022 especially with the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. She thanked Member States and development partners for their technical and financial support during the preparatory phase and indicated that all efforts have been made to facilitate negotiations for 54 countries. She concluded by announcing that the first negotiating session of the CFTA negotiations will take place in February in Addis Abba, Ethiopia.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: Commissioner Acyl articulates the dire need for Africa’s structural transformation in line with the Agenda 2063

Categories: AFRICA

Nigéria – Attentats à Chibok (27 janvier 2016)

Quai d’Orsay – Déclarations du porte-parole – 28 janvier 2016

La France condamne les attentats suicides perpétrés le 27 janvier dans la ville de Chibok, qui ont fait une dizaine de morts et une trentaine de blessés.

Nous présentons nos condoléances aux familles des victimes et aux autorités nigérianes. Nos pensées vont aussi vers les jeunes filles enlevées à Chibok il y a près de deux ans, ainsi que vers leurs familles.

La France soutient le Nigéria et ses voisins dans la lutte contre le terrorisme.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministère des Affaires Etrangères de la République Française.

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Source:: Nigéria – Attentats à Chibok (27 janvier 2016)

Categories: AFRICA

Libya conflict lingers leaving nearly 2 million in need of health care

As Libya’s yearlong peace talks aimed at establishing a unity government stall again, the lives of millions of people needing urgent health care linger in the balance. WHO and health partners require a total of US$ 50 million in 2016 to meet the urgent life-saving needs of nearly 2 million people.

Speaking at a special briefing on Libya in Geneva, Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative for Libya, urged, “We cannot wait for a political solution in order to respond, we need to act now. We need both financial resources and the international humanitarian community to step up efforts to help save the lives of children, mothers and the elderly who are most at risk. This is not about politics, it is about health needs.”

Since the escalation of the conflict in July 2014, violence and instability have spread to almost every part of the country, with more than 3 million people – nearly half of the total population – affected. Almost 2 and a half million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, of which 1.9 million people have serious, unmet health needs.

“The health situation in Libya is rapidly deteriorating, with extensive displacement, damage and closure of health facilities in conflict areas. Repeated rounds of violence have not allowed for a proper recovery of the health system, which even prior to the crisis was struggling to meet the basic needs of the Libyan population,” said H.E. Dr Reida Oakely, Libya’s Minister of Health.

Haemorrhaging health workforce

Even bleaker, as the security situation deteriorates due to fighting, health personnel have fled the country. More than 80% of all nursing staff were evacuated in 2014. Attacks on health care workers also continue, with 5 health workers killed and more than 20 health facilities damaged in the past 18 months alone. Consequently, several aid and UN agencies have reduced staffing levels and moved international staff to neighbouring Tunisia in 2014.

Shortage of medical supplies

In addition to staff shortages, hospitals, laboratories, blood banks and other health facilities are increasingly unable to remain functional as they face shortages in medicines and other health supplies. Most of the medical warehouses in the east of the country have been destroyed or are partially functioning, including the main warehouse in Benghazi, which was destroyed at a time when it was at its peak accumulation of stocks.

Providing impartial health care

WHO is committed to providing health care to all people irrespective of their religion, political affiliation or nationality. This is our moral obligation. “We are calling on all parties to guarantee unrestricted, long term delivery of humanitarian aid and unconditional movement of health workers,” affirmed Dr Hussain.

For 2016, WHO and health partners require US$ 50 million to respond to the needs of 1.2 million people in Libya. This funding will be used to strengthen the health system in 4 key areas.

Improving access to basic life-saving primary and emergency secondary health care services through the provision of essential medicine, medical materials and technical support.
Reducing communicable disease transmission and outbreak through detection and mitigation measures.
Strengthening the existing health structure to avoid the collapse of the health system through capacity-building measures, referral system strengthening, infrastructure rehabilitation and the strengthening of data collection and information-sharing mechanism.
Providing temporary assistance via mobile and medical outreach services.

Since November 2015, WHO has been able to reach almost 250 000 people through the provision of medicines, mobile clinics, health teams, provision of fuel and safe water. However, many more people need urgent aid, and much more needs to be done by WHO and partners to reach them. “We need to be able to reach all affected people to identify health needs, assess nutritional status, and ensure health services are available. If access for the provision of aid is not made immediately available, millions of people are at risk of facing a humanitarian and health disaster,“ added Dr Hussain.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Ethiopia.

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Source:: Libya conflict lingers leaving nearly 2 million in need of health care

Categories: AFRICA