Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the presidential election in Togo

NEW YORK, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General welcomes the peaceful conduct of the presidential election in Togo on 25 April.

As Togo awaits the final results, the Secretary-General encourages all political leaders and segments of society to continue to maintain the peaceful atmosphere that has prevailed throughout the electoral process. He urges all candidates and their supporters to resolve any disputes that might arise through established legal procedures.

Source:: Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the presidential election in Togo

Categories: African Press Organization

World Immunization Week Aims to “Close the Immunization Gap” and Provide, in Africa, “a Gift for Life”

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The World Health Organization’s World Immunization Week (WIW) from 24th to 30th April this year aims to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination to people of all ages and increase rates of immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases around the world. This year WIW focuses on ‘closing the immunization gap.’ African Vaccination Week is being celebrated under the theme “Vaccination, a gift for life”.

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

Despite recent progress within African countries, there is still significant opportunities provided by immunization.

Did you know that:

• Immunization can protect against 30 different infectious diseases, from infancy to old age;

• Vaccines are one of the most successful and cost-effective public health stories;

• Immunization saves the lives of 2 to 3 million people worldwide each year.

In addition, the overall health benefits are significant. Immunised children have higher cognitive abilities and are more likely to attend school and go on to be productive members of their community.

By reducing illness and long-term disability, vaccines also generate savings for health systems and families. Health workers are freed up and parents spend less time looking after sick children(1).

Immunisation programs average about 80% coverage globally. South of the Sahara, the average was 80.6% for the DPT3 vaccine in 2013, with wide disparities across countries.

Africa has made several gains beyond increasing reach of immunisation; some diseases, polio for example, have been eliminated through wide-scale immunisation programmes. Vaccines are available in public vaccination programmes in the vast majority of African countries, thanks to sustained political will, international support and innovative public/private partnerships2.

Ensuring equity and coverage across the continent and within countries requires sustained effort and resources. As African countries grow economically and actively finance vaccines and immunisation programmes(2).children and entire economies benefit. Fully-immunized African children have a better chance of living up to their full potential, both intellectually and physically3. And, by investing in immunization, African countries can make a lasting contribution to the millennium development goals (MDGs). These efforts will also advance the health and development commitments of African leaders and governments and allow children and adults to lead productive, prosperous, and healthy lives(3).

Africa and Human Papillomavirus

• An estimated 266,000 women die every year from cervical cancer. Over 85% of those deaths occur among women in developing countries. Without changes in prevention and control, cervical cancer deaths are forecast to rise to 416,000 by 2035; and virtually all of those deaths will be in developing countries(4).

• Cervical cancer is the most common of all cancers in Africa and thus continues to be a significant threat that demands urgent attention in the African Region. In 2012, over half a million new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed worldwide with 1 in 5 being in sub-Saharan Africa(5).

• The primary cause of cervical pre-cancerous lesions and cancer is persistent or chronic infection with one or more types of the high risk human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually acquired infection and is most often acquired in adolescence and young adults upon sexual debut5.

• The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates HPV infections cause approximately 68 000 cases of cervical cancer each year in Africa. However, these figures most likely represent a conservative estimate due to the health challenges in health information systems and cancer registries in the region(6).

• Cervical cancer is a preventable disease. Immunisation, together with screening and treatment, is the best strategy to rapidly reduce the burden of cervical cancer(7).

Kenya and HPV

• Cervical cancer in Kenya is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women and the most common cancer found in women between 15 and 44 years of age(8).

• The primary cause of cervical pre-cancer lesions and cancer is persistent or chronic infection with one or more types of the high risk human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually acquired infection and is most often acquired in adolescence and young adults upon sexual debut(9).

• Immunisation to protect against HPV, together with screening and treatment, is the best strategy to rapidly reduce the burden of cervical cancer(10).

• Kenya became the first country to protect girls against cervical cancer with GAVI-supported HPV vaccines. The first round of the HPV demonstration project took place at the Central Primary School in Kitui County in Eastern Kenya(11). If the HPV vaccine demonstration programme is successful there, it can be expanded to other regions across Kenya.

• This vaccination programme will help Kenya achieve its goal to prevent unnecessary deaths from cervical cancer in Kenya and support an entire generation of women to live healthy, and productive lives.

• MSD commends the HPV immunization efforts in Kenya and supports its continued partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Health to expand HPV vaccine coverage across the country.

“For more than 100 years, scientists at MSD has been discovering and developing vaccines to help prevent certain diseases in children, adolescents and adults,” said Farouk Shamas Jiwa, Director, Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility in Africa, MSD. “We have an important responsibility to improve access to vaccines and quality healthcare worldwide. We do this by working in partnership with others — governments, donors, patient organizations, healthcare professionals, NGOs, multilateral organizations and others in the private sector — to lend our expertise and knowledge. Our commitment is steadfast as we work to increase access to vaccines now and in the future.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme).

Contacts for Media:

Charlie McCurdy,

Global Communications | Eastern Europe/Middle East/Africa

T: +1 267-305-7545

E: charles.mccurdy@merck.com

Farouk Shamas Jiwa,

Director, Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility in Africa

T: +41 799623934

E: farouk.jiwa@merck.com

About MSD

Today’s MSD (http://www.merck.com) is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.msd.com or [insert country-specific website] and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

References:

1. http://www.gavi.org/about/value/

2. http://sa.au.int/en/sites/default/files/2014_Status_Report_on%20MNCH%20-%20English_1.pdf

3. www.carmma.org/download/file/fid/821

4. http://www.gavi.org/support/nvs/human-papillomavirus-vaccine-support/?utm_source=The+Alliance+at+work&utm_campaign=c7db6ec405-The_Alliance_at_Work_Issue_7&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b075913875-c7db6ec405-407303021

5. http://www.afro.who.int/en/media-centre/pressreleases/item/7550-implementing-cervical-cancer-interventions-key-to-save-african-women.html

6. http://www.afro.who.int/en/media-centre/afro-feature/item/7557-cervical-cancer-common-amongst-african-women.html

7. http://www.gavi.org/support/nvs/human-papillomavirus-vaccine-support/

8. http://www.hpvcentre.net/statistics/reports/UGA.pdf

9. http://www.gavi.org/Library/News/Press-releases/2013/Kenya-first-country-to-protect-girls-against-cervical-cancer-with-GAVI-support/

Source:: World Immunization Week Aims to “Close the Immunization Gap” and Provide, in Africa, “a Gift for Life”

Categories: African Press Organization

Horn of Africa: New effort to reunite families caught up in South Sudan violence

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has launched a new initiative to help thousands of people fleeing the violence in South Sudan. A new web page (http://familylinks.icrc.org/south-sudan) has been set up which enables people to trace family members with whom they have lost contact.

“The web page will allow South Sudanese people living abroad in places like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and France, look for relatives displaced by the violence,” said the ICRC’s Marc Studer, who is heading the project.

Photos of individuals are uploaded to the website. When visitors of the page recognize a photo of a close relative they can click on the picture and send a message. That message is then delivered by the ICRC or the national Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies to the person on the photo. “I hope the web page and its promotion on social media will help refugees and displaced people who are desperately searching for their families,” said Mr Studer.

Following the recent violence, hundreds of thousands of people left South Sudan and crossed into neighbouring Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and Kenya. More than 1,600 photographs of displaced people have been taken in refugee camps in Gambella, Ethiopia, and in Juba, South Sudan. The pictures, of adults and unaccompanied children, were taken by the Ethiopian Red Cross and the South Sudan Red Cross, supported by the ICRC.

The photographs were originally put into so-called ‘snapshot books’ and, in January and February this year, shown in camps and other places in South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. “Thanks to the snapshot books, we are happy to have been able to make around 150 matches so far,” said Dalila Romdhane, the ICRC official in charge of the work in South Sudan. Now the plan is to widen the reach of this initiative, with the launch of the web page.

Since the beginning of the crisis in December 2013, the ICRC and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the region have been very active in restoring family links among the refugees. More than 68,000 phone calls have been facilitated, almost 2,000 messages distributed and 400 tracing requests opened.

Source:: Horn of Africa: New effort to reunite families caught up in South Sudan violence

Categories: African Press Organization

Tunis International Bank Goes Live on ICSFS’ Pioneer Solution “ICS BANKS®”

TUNIS, Tunisia, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Tunis International Bank (TIB) (http://www.tib.com.tn), the first bank established in Tunisia under the non-resident banking regulations and a member of Burgan Banking Group, the regional banking arm of Kuwait Projects Co. (KIPCO), went live on ICS BANKS® from ICS Financial Systems Limited (ICSFS) (http://www.icsfs.com), the global software and services provider for banks and financial institutions.

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

Logo TIB: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/tib.png

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1652 (Mr. Robert Hazboun, Managing Director of ICSFS)

Tunis International Bank (TIB) has implemented the fully comprehensive solution ICS BANKS® in 3 Branches in addition to the Head Office. The bank experienced a smooth implementation started in on 31 July, 2013 and completed on 1 November, 2014.

TIB replaced the legacy system, as the main requirements for the bank were a fully-fledged bank -in- a- box solution that provides a full range of modules and incorporates a flexible group model.

Managing Director of TIB; Mr. Mohamad Fekih stated,

“We are delighted that TIB has successfully gone live with ICS BANKS®. The solution will enable the bank to serve its rapidly-growing customer base in Tunis with a state-of-the-art core banking system. TIB has implemented ICSFS’ solution to offer modern products through the use of the newly applied suite of applications that cover Core Banking, Remittances, Credit Facilities & Risk Groups, Lending, Trade Finance, and Treasury & Investment systems, in addition to giving our customers the possibility of securely interacting with the new system through the internet. ”

Managing Director of ICSFS; Mr. Robert Hazboun commented,

“ICSFS is expanding its footprint across North Africa, where it already exists in Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Our solution is currently licensed to more than 80 banks and financial institutions, demonstrating its reliability and suitability globally. We are delighted that TIB has entered into live production with ICS BANKS® and we look forward to support the bank through all future phases of growth.”

As a proof of ICSFS highlighting its footprints in the African ICT Market, ICSFS has won recently “Best Core Banking Systems Technology Provider” in Africa and globally for its ICS BANKS® solution at the prestigious World Finance Technology Awards that was organized by World Finance magazine. It is also worth mentioning that ICSFS flagship solution, ICS BANKS® was named the winner of “Banking Software of the Year 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013” from the Beacon of ICT (BoICT) Awards that are instituted by Communication Week Media Limited, publishers of Nigeria Communications Week. Furthermore, Global Banking and Finance Review, one of the worlds’ leading global banking and finance online publications has recognised ICSFS as the “Best Banking Technology Software Provider 2014”. And recently, ICSFS has been awarded “Best Core Banking Solutions Provider – Middle East” by International Finance Magazine on November 2014.

Mr. Wael Malkawi; Executive Director for Business Development of ICSFS said,

“We believe that our implementation at TIB is highly significant as it extends our share in the African market. ICSFS’ customer base is expanding in many African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo (RDC), Côte D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tunis, Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Sudan.”

ICS BANKS® provides a complete suite of banking business modules with a rich sweep of functionality and features, addressing business needs and automating accounting processes, as needed, to improve a bank’s business performance. ICS BANKS® has always been a pioneer in utilizing the latest technology to serve financial institutions. In addition to its embedded Service-Oriented-Architecture (SOA), the system is deployed in a multi-tiered setup that runs on a web thin client, J2EE environment.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of ICS Financial Systems Ltd. (ICSFS).

Contact: Rania Mansour

Communications and Marketing Department

Regional Office Tel: +962 6 534 4088, ext. 404

London Office Tel: + 44 208 681 5421

Email: rania.mansour@icsfs.com

Tunis International Bank (TIB): Tunis International Bank (http://www.tib.com.tn) was constituted in 1982 and was the first bank established in Tunisia under the non-resident banking regulations. It is a private commercial bank with main shareholder Burgan Bank, Kuwait, which is the Commercial Banking Arm of the Kuwait Projects Company (Holding) (“KIPCO”). KIPCO employs more than 8000 people worldwide, principally in the Arab world and is one of the leading private groups in the Middle East and North Africa operating in various fields, with particular interests in the Financial & Banking sector and the Media sector. www.tib.com.tn

About ICS Financial Systems Ltd. – (ICSFS): sister company of International Computer Systems (London) Ltd – (ICS-London) is a leading provider of modular, core banking systems. ICSFS’ success can be attributed to our turnkey offering, ICS BANKS® that serves and supports customers across the globe. ICS BANKS® is a fully integrated universal, banking application that deploys a solution and a range of professional services to automate and streamline banking services. www.icsfs.com

Source:: Tunis International Bank Goes Live on ICSFS’ Pioneer Solution “ICS BANKS®”

Categories: African Press Organization

U.S. Deeply Regrets Burundi’s Disregard for the Arusha Agreement

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Marie Harf

Acting Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

April 25, 2015

The United States deeply regrets the decision by Burundi’s ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), to disregard the term-limit provisions of the Arusha Agreement by naming President Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate for a third presidential term. With this decision, Burundi is losing an historic opportunity to strengthen its democracy by establishing a tradition of peaceful democratic transition.

The United States continues to support the Burundian people’s peaceful pursuit of their democratic rights and freedoms. We regret this significant missed opportunity, but the hard work of building democratic practices and institutions must continue. In that spirit, we urge all parties to participate in the legislative and national elections and ensure these electoral processes are inclusive, transparent, credible, free and conducted in an environment without threats, intimidation, or violence.

We specifically call on the Burundian government to respect the rights of all peaceful political parties and their candidates to campaign, hold meetings and rallies, and express their views. We also call on the Burundian government to respect the right of the media to report freely on the electoral process and campaigns. We further urge the government to cooperate fully with the UN Electoral Observer Mission (MENUB) and all international and domestic electoral observers throughout the entire electoral process, as well as on the election days.

The United States calls on all parties in Burundi to abide by the non-violence charter signed March 9 and refrain from any violent acts, including hate speech or other provocations, that could feed the climate of fear and instability. We renew our calls on all candidates, their supporters, and Burundian citizens to reject all forms of violence, and on the national police, the Burundian military, and all security force personnel to provide security in an impartial manner throughout the electoral processes.

We commend the neighboring countries for their efforts to receive the almost 15,000 Burundians who have fled the country over the past month, and encourage their continued close coordination with UNHCR and support to provide asylum to those fleeing political violence and persecution. We urge all regional actors to refrain from any acts that could contribute to the climate of instability in Burundi.

The United States will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely and take targeted measures, including, where appropriate, by denying U.S. visas, to hold accountable those individuals who participate in, plan, or order violence against the civilian population. Violence has no place in democratic elections, and perpetrators of such violence will not be welcome to travel to the United States and risk being held accountable in a court of law for any crimes for which they are responsible.

Source:: U.S. Deeply Regrets Burundi’s Disregard for the Arusha Agreement

Categories: African Press Organization

IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Mali

BAMAKO, Mali, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Christian Josz, held discussions with the Malian authorities in Washington D.C. during March 25-April 7 and on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings. Discussions were also held in Bamako in March and April 11, 23-24, in preparation of the third review of the government’s economic program supported under the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approved in December 2013.

“The mission met with Modibo Keita, Prime Minister; Issaka Sidibe, President of the National Assembly; Mamadou Igor Diarra, Minister of Economy and Finance; Abdine Koumare, President of the Finance Commission of the National Assembly; Konzo Traoré, National Director, Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO); representatives from the National Assembly, civil society, unions, the private sector, and Mali’s development partners.

At the conclusion of the discussions, Mr. Josz issued the following statement:

“In 2014 Mali’s economy returned to strong growth, with an increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 7.2 percent. This contrasted with 2012 when growth was zero due to the security crisis, and 2013 when a poor harvest reduced growth to 1.7 percent. Inflation remains low, at 0.9 percent after -0.6 percent in 2013. For 2015, real growth is projected to continue at 5.0 percent and inflation is expected to remain well below the region’s 3 percent target.

“The last quarter of 2014 was marked by important efforts to strengthen public financial management, including strict adherence to budget and procurement rules. However, the objectives for end-2014 relating to tax revenue, the basic fiscal balance and bank and market financing were not met. Tax revenue was lower than programmed (by 0.7 percent of GDP) in 2014 due to weaknesses in customs administration, and combined with higher spending and a delay in budget support, led to a wider basic fiscal deficit (by 0.6 percentage points of GDP) and higher bank and market financing (by 1.6 percent of GDP) than programmed. Since the beginning of 2015, the government has implemented measures to put in place results-based management in the tax and customs directorates, which have already succeeded to put the tax revenue back on track at the end of the first quarter.

“We reached an agreement with the authorities that will permit proposing the conclusion of the third review of the ECF arrangement to the IMF Board. We welcome the government’s commitment to submit a new supplementary budget to the National Assembly. This supplementary budget will be the basis for the ECF program in 2015. It targets an increase of tax revenue by 1.8 percent of GDP and an overall fiscal deficit (cash basis) of 5.0 percent of GDP, half of which will be financed by donor support and the balance in the regional financial market. This supplementary budget makes room for additional spending to implement the multi-year military programming law elaborated with the assistance of the European Training Mission of the Malian army (EUTM), the Algiers Peace Agreement, a long delayed agreement with the trade unions to raise wages in the civil service, and the payment of arrears owed to government suppliers.

“The mission also welcomes the steps that the government is taking to implement results-based management in the tax and customs administrations, to strictly adhere to budget and procurement rules, to tighten cash management, to strengthen debt management, and to consolidate financial sector stability.

“The IMF Executive Board is tentatively scheduled to discuss the review in June 2015.

“The mission thanks the authorities for the provision of ample information and the frank and fruitful exchanges.”

Source:: IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Mali

Categories: African Press Organization