Aug 262014
 

KINSHASA, Dem. Rep. of Congo (DRC) August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has launched a response to the confirmed Ebola viral hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The medical organization, present in DRC for more than thirty years, is sending doctors, nurses, logistics experts and hygiene specialists to the epicenter of this outbreak.

“We received confirmation on Sunday that four of the samples our team took last week have tested positive for Ebola virus,” says Jeroen Beijnberger, MSF Medical Coordinator in DRC. “We are responding fast to try to isolate the suspect and confirmed patients and to start the work of contact tracing.”

Working with the Congolese Ministry of Health, MSF is setting up an Ebola management centre in Lokolia, the area most affected by the outbreak in the Boende health zone. “Our key objective for now is to do all we can to stop the outbreak spreading and to protect other people from catching the virus,” says Beijnberger.

No link with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been established, although that cannot be categorically discounted. “For now, we consider this outbreak as an unfortunate coincidence,” says Beijnberger. “We are trying to confirm the origin of the outbreak, but at this time nothing points to a direct link with the epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.”

In the first phase of response to a new hemorrhagic fever outbreak, protection of patients and health workers is the top priority. Good coordination is also required to ensure that all levels of leadership – from the highest government levels to the local community leaders and village chiefs – pass accurate and constructive information to the population, that burial teams are organised with proper infection control measures, and that contact tracing and epidemiological monitoring are done swiftly and efficiently to avoid the spread of the outbreak.

“Usually we would be able to mobilise specialist hemorrhagic fever teams, but we are currently responding to a massive epidemic in West Africa,” says Beijnberger. “This is limiting our capacity to respond to the epidemic in Equateur Province. We need other organisations to step up and joint the efforts to support the Ministry of Health: we will not be able to do this one alone.”

Aug 262014
 

PARIS, France, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A vaccine against cholera is being used on a large scale for the first time in Ethiopia by teams from the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The mass immunisation campaign will protect South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, as well as the host community, against the risk of cholera spreading across the border from neighbouring South Sudan, where an epidemic had been declared in June.

Cholera is endemic in the Gambella region, while overcrowding and poor sanitation in the area’s refugee camps could provide a perfect breeding ground for the Vibrio cholerae bacillus. More than 185,000 South Sudanese refugees have been registered in the Gambella region by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The cholera vaccine is given in two doses. MSF teams administered the first dose between 24 July and 2 August to refugees in Lietchuor, Kule and Tierkidi camps, and to newly arrived refugees in Pagak, Pamdong and Matar transit centres. Given the movement of people and trade between the camps and surrounding villages, protecting the host population against the disease is also crucial.

The cholera vaccine is relatively easy to administer, but the mass campaign presents some major logistical challenges. “The vaccine against cholera is taken orally, is easy to administer, and is more than 60% effective,” says Madi Foura Sassou, MSF’s emergency coordinator in Gambella. “However, the campaign requires a great deal of organisation, in terms of logistics and staff.”

The vaccine, which must be stored between 2° and 8°C, needs to be transported in refrigerated trucks from the capital, Addis Ababa, to the vaccination sites, and then kept in portable coolers. More than 300 MSF staff have been deployed in the refugee camps and surrounding villages, with medical teams administering the vaccine and community health workers raising awareness about the campaign amongst refugees and locals.

MSF teams are vaccinating children of one year and over and adults excluding pregnant women. Fixed vaccination sites are being staffed by teams of five, while mobile teams of two are travelling door-to-door to provide vaccinations within people’s houses and tents.

In the first round of the campaign, 151,723 people – or 85% of the target population in the refugee camps – were vaccinated against cholera. This is a good coverage rate despite the overestimated population. Each one received a vaccination card enabling them to receive the second dose of the vaccine. The second round of the campaign began on 15 August and will last for two weeks. All those vaccinated also receive a bar of soap, as one of a number of measures – which include vaccinations, good hygiene, and water and sanitation provision – to limit the risk of cholera breaking out.

The mass vaccination campaign is being supported by the Ethiopian authorities, and conducted under the supervision of a committee which includes health authorities and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), with technical support provided by UN agencies including the World Health Organization, UNHCR and UNICEF.

Heavy rains, which occur frequently at this time of year, have threatened to disrupt the campaign at times, but the teams have been well prepared for all eventualities, while both refugees and the host community understand the importance of the vaccinations to protect against a possible epidemic.

Aug 262014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The series of tragedies last weekend in the Mediterranean marks one of the deadliest periods of 2014, with an estimated 230 migrants lost and presumed dead.

Witnesses described to IOM seeing the corpses of 18 African men in one craft that had to be abandoned Sunday 120 nautical miles from the Italian coastline, the same day after another 6 passengers drowned after a fishing boat capsized with some 370 migrants on board.

Earlier, on Saturday, about 200 migrants went missing during a shipwreck 32 nautical miles off the Libyan coasts.

“One more time, these tragic events show that something must be done to solve the problem of irregular immigration across the Mediterranean,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.

“The obligation to save lives surpasses everything else. But rescue at sea is not the ultimate solution. Alternatives are needed: providing safe and legal entry into Europe; resettlement opportunities; family reunification; and voluntary return for economic migrants who do not need protection,” he added.

With this weekend’s deaths, IOM believes that as many as 1,500 migrants may have died trying to reach Italy from North Africa so far in 2014. That is compared to an estimated 700 during the whole of 2013.

The Italian Navy ship “Sirio” on Sunday rescued 73 migrants from a rubber dinghy and recovered the bodies of eighteen victims on the craft. Another eight migrants from that vessel reportedly remain missing.

“Migrants rescued from the dinghy—mainly sub-Saharan Africans—told IOM that they were forced onto the vessel. Some had been beaten by the smugglers,” said IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo.

Fourteen hours after their departure, their dinghy started to take on water and its engine suffered a fuel leak. “Those who were in good shape left the boat to swim. Those who were severely injured stayed on board and died,” says Di Giacomo.

An Italian Navy helicopter patrolling the area threw down lifesaving jackets and life rafts, part of a weekend-long rescue effort in which Italian authorities saved about 4,000 migrants and asylum seekers.

The 102,000 migrants arriving in Italy by sea so far this year nearly triples 2013’s seaborne inflow, when the number of migrants reaching Italy from North Africa was 42,925. By contrast, some 60,000 came in 2011 during and after the Arab Spring.

“Some say the Mare Nostrum rescue policy is a pull factor that encourages more migrants to cross the sea because they know that there will be someone to receive them. But the reality is that there are more significant factors, including violence and increased hardship in both origin and transit countries. People are fleeing war, persecution and totalitarian regimes. Recent arrivals in Italy have included 14 Yazidis from Iraq and 180 Gazans,” says IOM Rome official Simona Moscarelli.

Eritrea and Syria are the two largest countries of origin for irregular migrants arriving in Italy by sea. In the first seven months of 2014, over 25,200 Eritreans and 16,240 Syrians arrived by boat, according to the Italian authorities. Other nationalities included Malians, Nigerians, Gambians and Somalis.

The current unrest and instability in Libya is also stimulating the deadly passage. Organized smuggling gangs are taking advantage of the growing number of migrants seeking flight. Victims say smugglers are becoming increasingly reckless, putting migrants aboard unsafe vessels without sufficient fuel and without life jackets.

“If the basic human rights of these people are to be protected, the international community must act together to crack down on these brutal smuggling networks and provide alternatives for these desperate people,” said Ambassador Swing.

Aug 262014
 

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — For the first time ever, African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation are delighted to have Anzisha Prize finalists from Togo and Ivory Coast (http://www.anzishaprize.org), revealing strong growth in entrepreneurship activity amongst youth in West Africa. Five young women are among the 12 finalists in the running for the $75,000 prize money that will be awarded on 23 September 2014, and will fly to Johannesburg from DRC, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/anzisha.jpg

Photos (file name contain name of each country): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hoaswlejkdcy4zi/AABJBh2_HBFrL56von3XGGK3a

The Anzisha prize scours the continent seeking to find entrepreneurial youth between the ages of 15 and 22, who have identified opportunities to better their communities and done so inclusively. This year’s finalists have started ventures in a diverse range of economic sectors including energy, health care, tourism and hospitality.

Sam Kodo (Togo), 22, began designing robots at the age of eight and now runs an IT hardware company that assembles low cost computers that he sells to students. He has six employees and plans to expand the rest of Togo and neighbouring countries. Gabriel Kombassere (Ivory Coast), 17, runs a farming association geared to eradicated poverty in his community. Annually, he produces maize and cassava feeding the association’s 30 members and their families.

“2014 has been an exciting one for the Anzisha Prize search team. We brokered partnerships with key local organisations enabling them to play a primary role in evangelising the Anzisha Prize in their country. This has led to not only a stronger pool of applications but also more female applicants than ever before.” said Chi Achebe, Program Manager, Anzisha Prize.

“We are excited to see such a talented cohort of innovative and entrepreneurial young people join the Anzisha prize community,” said Deepali Khanna, Director of Youth Learning at The MasterCard Foundation. “This Pan-African prize has had tremendous success over the past four years and is inspiring other young entrepreneurs across Africa to develop their own businesses or social innovation ventures.”

Now in its fourth year, the Anzisha Prize received 339 applications this year from 32 countries for Africa’s premier youth entrepreneurship award.

The 2014 finalists are:

 Benedicte Mundele, 20, DRC. Founder of Surprise Tropical, an organic local produce canteen to promote a healthy lifestyle in her community.

 Gabriel Kombassere, 17, Ivory Coast. Founder of Rible Neda, a farming association that produces 20 bags of maize and 1 cargo of cassava per year feeding its members and their families.

 Noah Walakira, 21, Uganda. Founder of Namirembe Sweater Makers, a community based organization that provides school uniform sweaters to over 40 schools across the country.

 Nteff Alain, 22, Cameroon. Founder of the gifted Mom project, an e-content platform for pregnant women to combat the high mother and infancy deaths.

 Winifred Selby, 19, Ghana. Founder of the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, a bamboo bike making technology to manufacture affordable multi-purpose bikes suitable for the Ghanaian terrain.

 Tom Osborn, 18, Kenya. Founder of Greenchar, a clean energy project that produces smokeless charcoal briquettes and distributes clean cook stoves throughout Kenya.

 Martha Chumo, 19, Kenya. Founder of Nairobi Developer School, an institution that provides the youth with computer programming knowledge and skills to build sustainable solutions using technology.

 Chineye Okoro Onu, 19, Ghana. Founder of the Mosaicpiration Project, an initiative that uses recycled material to create art and impact entrepreneurial skills to young people through training and mentorship.

 Chukwuwezam Obanor, 22, Nigeria. Founder of Prepclass, an online platform that provides study content (past tests, answers etc.) for local Nigerian schools in preparation for national exams.

 Thato Kgatlhanye, 21, South Africa. Founder of Repurpose Schoolbags, an initiative that designs school bags made from up-cycled plastic shopping bags that integrate solar technology, charging up during the day and transforming into light for learners to study after dark.

 Jeffrey Mulaudzi, 22, South Africa. Founder of Mulaudzi Bicycle Tours, a lifestyle tour in Alexandra township that engages members of the community by telling their stories and enveloping them into the business, creating a socio-economic transformation.

 Sam Kodo, 22, Togo. Founder of LC-COM (Low cost-Computer) / Infinite Loop, a company that produces low cost personal computers for students.

The Anzisha Prize is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation. Our 12 finalists will be flown to Johannesburg, South Africa for the 2014 Anzisha Week taking place from 18 – 25 September where a panel of judges from across the entrepreneurial sphere will convene to select the grand prize winners. They will receive training from African Leadership Academy’s renowned Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty and engage with industry leaders, mentors as well as engage with change agents from across the continent.

The Anzisha Prize team is running a social media campaign where members of the public can rally behind the young entrepreneurs and offer words of support and encouragement on their Anzisha journey. For more information on the Anzisha Prize and the campaign, go to:

➢ Website: http://www.anzishaprize.org

➢ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anzishaprize

➢ Twitter: @anzishaprize

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the Internet Corporation for the Anzisha Prize.

Media contact:

Lydia Byarugaba – lbyarugaba@africanleadershipacademy.org or +27 84 375 1222

Should you write an article using this press release, Anzisha Prize would like to link to the article on its website. Please email any articles to lbyarugaba@africanleadershipacademy.org

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the Anzisha Prize

The Anzisha Prize is managed out of African Leadership Academy’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which was established through a multi-year partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among youth across the continent.

About African Leadership Academy

African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. For more information, visit http://africanleadershipacademy.org.

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $9 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please visit http://www.mastercardfdn.org.

Aug 262014
 

JUBA, South Sudan, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Media Advisory

What: Journalists are invited to a press briefing with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Mr. Toby Lanzer. Mr. Lanzer will brief on the humanitarian …