Why We are Hopeful About Improving Health in Africa, by Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates

This week, more than 138,000 vaccinators will fan out across five African countries in the Lake Chad area in a push to eliminate polio in Africa and rid the world of this terrible disease forever.

They will take boats across fast-flowing rivers, ride jeeps along sandy ravines, walk crowded street in towns and cities and navigate cramped quarters of refugee camps to ensure that every child is immunized. Traveling for hours a day, these dedicated women and men will visit children in homes, schools, train stations, and transit points across Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic.

This also marks World Immunization Week, a coordinated effort to make sure that people everywhere understand the importance of getting immunized to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.

And by coincidence, it was almost seven years ago that the two of us first met in a hotel conference room in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. We were there as part of a diverse group—public officials, religious leaders, business people, polio survivors, and journalists—to discuss how we could work together to stop polio in Nigeria.

At the time, Nigeria had done an amazing job tackling polio—reducing reported cases by 95 percent in just one year. But it was still circulating in six Nigerian states. While 95 percent might seem like success, as long as a single child remains infected, children across Africa and around the world are at risk.

Thanks to the effort of so many, Nigeria’s Borno State is now the only place in Africa today where polio is still circulating. It will take ingenuity to end polio there, and it will take persistence to continue reaching children in the surrounding area with vaccines to protect them from the disease until it is eradicated. But we’re confident it can be done. And when that happens, Africa will celebrate one of the biggest victories ever in public health.

Since our first meeting in 2010, the two of us have worked together on a range of other projects to help improve health in Nigeria and across Africa.

We supported the establishment of emergency operations centers in Nigeria and other countries to keep polio from spreading. This turned out to be a blessing during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. When the disease first appeared in Nigeria—an international travel hub that is home to more than 180 million people—the staff of an emergency operations center set up in Lagos jumped into action and stopped the disease in its tracks. It’s almost unimaginable to think what would have happened without them.

In the state of Kano, we are working with the government to ensure that children can get essential childhood immunizations against tetanus, pneumonia, liver cancer and measles. And when parents bring their children into a clinic for vaccinations, health workers can address other health issues, too, like nutrition, care for pregnant mothers and newborns and malaria prevention and treatment. We have since widened the program to several other states.

Vaccines are also one of the best tools to save lives in an epidemic, such as the meningitis C outbreak happening now in Nigeria and other West African countries.

And because of the devastating impact malnutrition has on Nigeria’s children – leading to 300,000 deaths annually and causing stunted growth and development in millions more – we have expanded our partnership to include nutrition programs across 12 states.

Earlier this year, we also helped launch the End Malaria Council, a group of influential public and private sector leaders committed to ensuring that malaria eradication remains a top global priority.

Underlying all these efforts is our belief that strengthening health systems is the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty and disease—and kick-starting a virtuous cycle of health, productivity, and prosperity.

In our work together, we have learned a few important lessons.

First, improving the health of communities depends on a successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction. And it is essential to building trust so parents have the confidence that vaccines are safe and will protect their children from life-threatening diseases.

Second, we must keep innovating to speed up progress. This month, for example, vaccinators will test a new vaccine carrier that keeps the temperature of vaccines stable for up to five days, even in blistering heat. This breakthrough will enable vaccinators to finally reach children in extremely remote areas with life-saving vaccines.

Last, accurate and reliable data is central to any effort to improve health. Data can tell a health officer which communities are running low on vaccine supplies, where there are gaps in vaccination coverage, and which new mothers need reminders to take their babies to the health clinic to be immunized.

An Africa without polio is within reach. So is the vision of getting life-saving vaccines to every child. Success will generate more enthusiasm and support from across different sectors – government, business, civil society, the media – to tackle other killer diseases and the underlying conditions that affect people’s health, including fixing broken health systems.

We know that strengthening health systems takes time and diligence. We are optimistic that Africa can achieve the future it aspires to. That future depends on people working together—across national borders and across socioeconomic strata—to build the better world we all want.

By Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates

Distributed by APO on behalf of Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates.

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Source:: Why We are Hopeful About Improving Health in Africa, by Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates

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Why We are Hopeful About Improving Health in Africa, by Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates

This week, more than 138,000 vaccinators will fan out across five African countries in the Lake Chad area in a push to eliminate polio in Africa and rid the world of this terrible disease forever.

They will take boats across fast-flowing rivers, ride jeeps along sandy ravines, walk crowded street in towns and cities and navigate cramped quarters of refugee camps to ensure that every child is immunized. Traveling for hours a day, these dedicated women and men will visit children in homes, schools, train stations, and transit points across Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic.

This also marks World Immunization Week, a coordinated effort to make sure that people everywhere understand the importance of getting immunized to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.

And by coincidence, it was almost seven years ago that the two of us first met in a hotel conference room in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. We were there as part of a diverse group—public officials, religious leaders, business people, polio survivors, and journalists—to discuss how we could work together to stop polio in Nigeria.

At the time, Nigeria had done an amazing job tackling polio—reducing reported cases by 95 percent in just one year. But it was still circulating in six Nigerian states. While 95 percent might seem like success, as long as a single child remains infected, children across Africa and around the world are at risk.

Thanks to the effort of so many, Nigeria’s Borno State is now the only place in Africa today where polio is still circulating. It will take ingenuity to end polio there, and it will take persistence to continue reaching children in the surrounding area with vaccines to protect them from the disease until it is eradicated. But we’re confident it can be done. And when that happens, Africa will celebrate one of the biggest victories ever in public health.

Since our first meeting in 2010, the two of us have worked together on a range of other projects to help improve health in Nigeria and across Africa.

We supported the establishment of emergency operations centers in Nigeria and other countries to keep polio from spreading. This turned out to be a blessing during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. When the disease first appeared in Nigeria—an international travel hub that is home to more than 180 million people—the staff of an emergency operations center set up in Lagos jumped into action and stopped the disease in its tracks. It’s almost unimaginable to think what would have happened without them.

In the state of Kano, we are working with the government to ensure that children can get essential childhood immunizations against tetanus, pneumonia, liver cancer and measles. And when parents bring their children into a clinic for vaccinations, health workers can address other health issues, too, like nutrition, care for pregnant mothers and newborns and malaria prevention and treatment. We have since widened the program to several other states.

Vaccines are also one of the best tools to save lives in an epidemic, such as the meningitis C outbreak happening now in Nigeria and other West African countries.

And because of the devastating impact malnutrition has on Nigeria’s children – leading to 300,000 deaths annually and causing stunted growth and development in millions more – we have expanded our partnership to include nutrition programs across 12 states.

Earlier this year, we also helped launch the End Malaria Council, a group of influential public and private sector leaders committed to ensuring that malaria eradication remains a top global priority.

Underlying all these efforts is our belief that strengthening health systems is the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty and disease—and kick-starting a virtuous cycle of health, productivity, and prosperity.

In our work together, we have learned a few important lessons.

First, improving the health of communities depends on a successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction. And it is essential to building trust so parents have the confidence that vaccines are safe and will protect their children from life-threatening diseases.

Second, we must keep innovating to speed up progress. This month, for example, vaccinators will test a new vaccine carrier that keeps the temperature of vaccines stable for up to five days, even in blistering heat. This breakthrough will enable vaccinators to finally reach children in extremely remote areas with life-saving vaccines.

Last, accurate and reliable data is central to any effort to improve health. Data can tell a health officer which communities are running low on vaccine supplies, where there are gaps in vaccination coverage, and which new mothers need reminders to take their babies to the health clinic to be immunized.

An Africa without polio is within reach. So is the vision of getting life-saving vaccines to every child. Success will generate more enthusiasm and support from across different sectors – government, business, civil society, the media – to tackle other killer diseases and the underlying conditions that affect people’s health, including fixing broken health systems.

We know that strengthening health systems takes time and diligence. We are optimistic that Africa can achieve the future it aspires to. That future depends on people working together—across national borders and across socioeconomic strata—to build the better world we all want.

By Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates

Distributed by APO on behalf of Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates.

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Source:: Why We are Hopeful About Improving Health in Africa, by Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates

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Accountability for rights abuses in South Sudan ‘more important than ever,’ says senior UN official

A lack of accountability for crimes perpetrated during the ongoing conflict in South Sudan remains one of the country’s “biggest challenges,” the Human Rights Director for the United Nations Mission (UNMISS) said today as he wrapped up a visit to the north-western Wau region.

Violence earlier in April led to the death of 19 Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers and at least 28 civilians, according to State officials. The killing of civilians in Wau town followed the ambush and killing of the SPLA soldiers by suspected SPLA-In Opposition fighters.

According to a news release, the Human Rights Division of UNMISS has interviewed 43 individuals, including eight women and two children, from 11 April, to collect information about alleged human rights violations perpetrated by government forces and aligned armed groups in Wau town on 10 April.

“I can confirm that, as of Sunday, nobody is being detained in connection with this attack against civilians,” said Eugene Nindorera. “I talked to victims and witnesses and was shaken to hear their testimonies of how they had to flee their houses after being attacked. It’s more important than ever before that people are held accountable for the crimes they have committed.”

He further confirmed after meeting the Governor of Wau state that the Governor had established a committee to produce a comprehensive report to determine the motive for the attacks and identify the perpetrators in order to hold them accountable.

“I welcome this move,” Mr. Nindorera said, “and I encourage Governor Andrea Mayar Acho to exert his authority to ensure that people are held responsible for the crimes they have committed.”

Meanwhile, UNMISS has confirmed that by Thursday (20 April) the protection of civilians site adjacent to the UNMISS base in Wau had registered some 17,000 new arrivals, mainly women and children, while around 5,000 people had sought sanctuary inside the compound of the Wau Catholic Church. The influx of newly displaced people has led to over-crowding and pressure on humanitarian services.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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Source:: Accountability for rights abuses in South Sudan ‘more important than ever,’ says senior UN official

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Digital Economy to Create over 3m Jobs, as Nigeria, Others Discuss Road Map in Geneva

  • It has emerged that financial services within Nigeria’s digital economy could add US$88 billion and create over 3 million new jobs over the next 10 years.
  • This comes as Ministers from developing countries namely Nigeria, Mexico, Kenya, Argentina, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica and Pakistan under the auspices of Friends of E-Commerce for Development (FED) resolved to put forward a policy agenda to bridge the digital divide as well as provide development solutions in the long term, during their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland today.
  • The job figures are in line with estimates of a study carried out by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). Further studies indicate that potential gains of the digital economy will be manifest in digital accounts, payments, mobile money, health and educational services and other sectors of the economy.
  • Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (http://FMITI.gov.ng) Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah who led the Nigerian delegation to Geneva, explained that the Ministry is already developing the “Smart Nigeria Digital Economy Project” and that the objective is to solve efficiency problems and create leap-frog opportunities in the economy, improve competitiveness and foster technology development and innovation more generally.
  • “The Smart Nigeria Digital Economy Project is Nigeria’s response to an area of intense economic and technological activity by Nigerian youths, where there is a growing pool of talent”, he stated.
  • “It is a sector of the economy where the private sector already has ownership. The role of government would therefore be to ensure a sound pro-competitive regulatory environment and hardware infrastructure to foster rapid growth of this area,” Enelamah added.
  • The Minister also shared the fact that there are currently 150 million active mobile users in a country of 170m, of which over 60% are connected to the internet. There are some 17m Facebook users and new technology start ups and young people writing apps that solve problems and spur growth.
  • Lagos, the largest commercial city in Africa accommodates some of Africa’s well-known consumer tech businesses such as iRokotv, Hotels[dot]ng, Jobberman, Andela, Balogunmarket, and Truppr[dot]com.
  • Meanwhile, FED gathered for its first Ministerial Meeting in Geneva on the sidelines of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) E-Commerce week.
  • In a communiqué at the end of their meeting, the group said that the road map put together by member countries would form the foundation for sustainable economic development as well as pave the way for conversations at UNCTAD and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in advance of the Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in Argentina later this year.
  • The communiqué noted that the “FEDs came together to build an inclusive and open space for discussion of e-commerce viewed from the development perspective. FEDs view e-commerce as an instrument that brings the digital, development and trade agenda together and as a tool for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.”
  • The FED is a diverse, non-negotiating, group of WTO Members and UN Member States at different levels of development, with an understanding of the impact of E-Commerce and its ability to create sustainable economic opportunities for all.
  • In light of Nigeria’s strong engagement in the fast developing area of digital economy of which e-commerce is a part, on 24th April, Nigeria’s Chief Negotiator Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe was invited by the office of the UNCTAD Secretary-General to deliver the Keynote Address at the UNCTAD E-Commerce week session on E-commerce in Africa. In his address titled: “Trumping Timidity: The Importance of Audacity in the Digital Economy”, Ambassador Osakwe urged African countries to integrate digital economy strategies and action plans into domestic structural reforms for diversification, modernization and growth. “Africa needed to be offensive in this area, acting innovatively, purposefully and expeditiously” because the gains and development yields were considerable as evidenced by the Nigerian example.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, Nigeria.

Signed
Constance C. Ikokwu
Strategy and Communications Adviser to HM
Constance.Ikokwu@FMITI.gov.ng

Source:: Digital Economy to Create over 3m Jobs, as Nigeria, Others Discuss Road Map in Geneva

Categories: AFRICA | Tags: