Oct 162014
 

LUSAKA, Zambia, October 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Just ahead of World Food Day, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (http://goo.gl/AwrAkl) has established that ‘orange’ vitamin A maize increases vitamin A storage in the body. This maize has been conventionally bred (non-GMO) to have higher levels of beta-carotene, a naturally occurring plant pigment that the body then converts into vitamin A.

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

Photos: http://goo.gl/u9ygCR

Video: http://goo.gl/0KODjM

Lack of sufficient vitamin A blinds up to 500,000 children annually and increases the risk of death from disease (such as diarrhea in children). Vitamin A deficiency is widely prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Foods that are good sources of vitamin A, such as orange fruits, dark leafy vegetables, or meat, are not always available, or may be too expensive in some regions. In many African countries, people eat large amounts of staple foods like cassava or maize. For example, in Zambia, people eat up to a pound of white maize daily. However, this white maize provides no beta-carotene. Switching to orange maize, which is rich in beta-carotene, could potentially provide maize-dependent populations with up to half their daily vitamin A needs.

In this controlled efficacy study, children from the Eastern Province of Zambia were randomly assigned to three feeding groups and received either white maize, orange maize, or a daily vitamin A supplement. After three months, both groups that received either the orange maize or vitamin A supplements showed significant increases in their total body stores of vitamin A, with no changes observed in the group that received white maize.

Lead scientist Sherry Tanumihardjo said “we were surprised to find that most of the children in this study already had substantial stores of vitamin A. We attribute this to the success of fortifying sugar with vitamin A, the provision of vitamin A supplements to young children, and perhaps better diets. Yet, despite having adequate vitamin A stores, we still saw this store increase in children as a result of eating the orange maize. So, I’m confident that orange maize would be especially effective in increasing body stores of vitamin A in populations suffering from vitamin A deficiency.” Unlike the form of vitamin A found in supplements and fortified foods, the body regulates conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A, and consuming high levels of beta-carotene is not harmful to health.

Several orange maize varieties have been released by the governments of Zambia and Nigeria. In Zambia, HarvestPlus (http://www.harvestplus.org) has provided orange maize to more than 10,000 farming households and is now working with the private sector with the goal of reaching 100,000 famers by 2015. According to Eliab Simpungwe, HarvestPlus Country Manager for Zambia, “the orange maize has been embraced by consumers once they have had a chance to taste it. When they also understand the benefits of vitamin A in the diets they are all the more enthusiastic about orange maize.” The orange maize varieties released are also high yielding, disease and virus resistant, and drought tolerant.

The Zambian Government has officially recognized biofortification, which it includes in the National Food and Nutrition Strategic Plan for Zambia 2011-2015. Musonda Mofu, Acting Executive Director of the National Food and Nutrition Commission in Zambia and who was also on the study team, said “there are still many pockets where vitamin A deficiency remains a problem in Zambia. Food-based approaches such as orange maize can provide people—especially women and children—with a good portion of their daily vitamin A needs through nshima or other traditional foods made from maize, that we Zambians eat every day. For us, this is cost-effective and a safe approach to improving nutrition.”

HarvestPlus and its partners have developed and disseminated other conventionally bred crops to provide needed vitamins and minerals in the diet. These are vitamin A cassava (Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria), vitamin A orange sweet potato (throughout Sub-Saharan Africa) and iron beans (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda). Zinc wheat and rice and iron pearl millet have been targeted to South Asia.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of HarvestPlus.

Media Contacts:

Vidushi Sinha, HarvestPlus. Washington DC. v.s.vidushi@cgiar.org Tel: +1 703-505-7438

Eliab Simpungwe, HarvestPlus, Zambia e.simpungwe@cgiar.org Tel: +260974214152

Journal Article Reference:

Biofortified orange maize is as efficacious as a vitamin A supplement in Zambian children even in the presence of high liver reserves of vitamin A: a community-based, randomized placebo-controlled trial (http://goo.gl/Kqj54y),

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; December 2014 ajcn.087379; First published online October 8, 2014. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.08737.

Related Research:

- Vitamin A equivalence of the β-carotene in β-carotene–biofortified maize porridge consumed by women: http://goo.gl/pOI4jY

- Food-Based Approaches for Ensuring Adequate Vitamin A Nutrition: http://goo.gl/celuOr

Photos: Orange vitamin A maize: http://goo.gl/LbswKD

More About Vitamin A Maize

Maize is the third most important cereal food in the world, and is a staple food for more than one billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. It is high in carbohydrates but lacks essential micronutrients such as vitamin A. Maize exhibits tremendous genetic diversity, and there are many types with high levels of beta-carotene, a naturally occurring plant pigment that is converted by the body into vitamin A when the maize is eaten. This genetic diversity has been used to conventionally breed new varieties of maize that are high-yielding and also rich in vitamin A. HarvestPlus has partnered with many institutions to develop and test orange maize, including the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) (http://www.cimmyt.org/en), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (http://www.iita.org), Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) (http://goo.gl/NCgy4y) and Purdue University.

More about HarvestPlus

HarvestPlus (http://www.harvestplus.org) leads a global effort to improve nutrition and public health by developing and deploying staple food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals. These are cassava, maize, and orange sweet potato that provide more vitamin A; beans and pearl millet that provide more iron; and rice and wheat that provide more zinc. We work with public and private sector partners in more than 40 countries. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by its 15 research centers in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. The HarvestPlus program is coordinated by two of these centers – the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) (http://ciat.cgiar.org) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (http://www.ifpri.org).

 Uncategorized
Oct 162014
 

LUSAKA, Zambia, October 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Just ahead of World Food Day, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (http://goo.gl/AwrAkl) has established that ‘orange’ vitamin A maize increases vitamin A storage in the body. This maize has been conventionally bred (non-GMO) to have higher levels of beta-carotene, a naturally occurring plant pigment that the body then converts into vitamin A.

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

Photos: http://goo.gl/u9ygCR

Video: http://goo.gl/0KODjM

Lack of sufficient vitamin A blinds up to 500,000 children annually and increases the risk of death from disease (such as diarrhea in children). Vitamin A deficiency is widely prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Foods that are good sources of vitamin A, such as orange fruits, dark leafy vegetables, or meat, are not always available, or may be too expensive in some regions. In many African countries, people eat large amounts of staple foods like cassava or maize. For example, in Zambia, people eat up to a pound of white maize daily. However, this white maize provides no beta-carotene. Switching to orange maize, which is rich in beta-carotene, could potentially provide maize-dependent populations with up to half their daily vitamin A needs.

In this controlled efficacy study, children from the Eastern Province of Zambia were randomly assigned to three feeding groups and received either white maize, orange maize, or a daily vitamin A supplement. After three months, both groups that received either the orange maize or vitamin A supplements showed significant increases in their total body stores of vitamin A, with no changes observed in the group that received white maize.

Lead scientist Sherry Tanumihardjo said “we were surprised to find that most of the children in this study already had substantial stores of vitamin A. We attribute this to the success of fortifying sugar with vitamin A, the provision of vitamin A supplements to young children, and perhaps better diets. Yet, despite having adequate vitamin A stores, we still saw this store increase in children as a result of eating the orange maize. So, I’m confident that orange maize would be especially effective in increasing body stores of vitamin A in populations suffering from vitamin A deficiency.” Unlike the form of vitamin A found in supplements and fortified foods, the body regulates conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A, and consuming high levels of beta-carotene is not harmful to health.

Several orange maize varieties have been released by the governments of Zambia and Nigeria. In Zambia, HarvestPlus (http://www.harvestplus.org) has provided orange maize to more than 10,000 farming households and is now working with the private sector with the goal of reaching 100,000 famers by 2015. According to Eliab Simpungwe, HarvestPlus Country Manager for Zambia, “the orange maize has been embraced by consumers once they have had a chance to taste it. When they also understand the benefits of vitamin A in the diets they are all the more enthusiastic about orange maize.” The orange maize varieties released are also high yielding, disease and virus resistant, and drought tolerant.

The Zambian Government has officially recognized biofortification, which it includes in the National Food and Nutrition Strategic Plan for Zambia 2011-2015. Musonda Mofu, Acting Executive Director of the National Food and Nutrition Commission in Zambia and who was also on the study team, said “there are still many pockets where vitamin A deficiency remains a problem in Zambia. Food-based approaches such as orange maize can provide people—especially women and children—with a good portion of their daily vitamin A needs through nshima or other traditional foods made from maize, that we Zambians eat every day. For us, this is cost-effective and a safe approach to improving nutrition.”

HarvestPlus and its partners have developed and disseminated other conventionally bred crops to provide needed vitamins and minerals in the diet. These are vitamin A cassava (Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria), vitamin A orange sweet potato (throughout Sub-Saharan Africa) and iron beans (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda). Zinc wheat and rice and iron pearl millet have been targeted to South Asia.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of HarvestPlus.

Media Contacts:

Vidushi Sinha, HarvestPlus. Washington DC. v.s.vidushi@cgiar.org Tel: +1 703-505-7438

Eliab Simpungwe, HarvestPlus, Zambia e.simpungwe@cgiar.org Tel: +260974214152

Journal Article Reference:

Biofortified orange maize is as efficacious as a vitamin A supplement in Zambian children even in the presence of high liver reserves of vitamin A: a community-based, randomized placebo-controlled trial (http://goo.gl/Kqj54y),

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; December 2014 ajcn.087379; First published online October 8, 2014. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.08737.

Related Research:

- Vitamin A equivalence of the β-carotene in β-carotene–biofortified maize porridge consumed by women: http://goo.gl/pOI4jY

- Food-Based Approaches for Ensuring Adequate Vitamin A Nutrition: http://goo.gl/celuOr

Photos: Orange vitamin A maize: http://goo.gl/LbswKD

More About Vitamin A Maize

Maize is the third most important cereal food in the world, and is a staple food for more than one billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. It is high in carbohydrates but lacks essential micronutrients such as vitamin A. Maize exhibits tremendous genetic diversity, and there are many types with high levels of beta-carotene, a naturally occurring plant pigment that is converted by the body into vitamin A when the maize is eaten. This genetic diversity has been used to conventionally breed new varieties of maize that are high-yielding and also rich in vitamin A. HarvestPlus has partnered with many institutions to develop and test orange maize, including the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) (http://www.cimmyt.org/en), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (http://www.iita.org), Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) (http://goo.gl/NCgy4y) and Purdue University.

More about HarvestPlus

HarvestPlus (http://www.harvestplus.org) leads a global effort to improve nutrition and public health by developing and deploying staple food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals. These are cassava, maize, and orange sweet potato that provide more vitamin A; beans and pearl millet that provide more iron; and rice and wheat that provide more zinc. We work with public and private sector partners in more than 40 countries. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by its 15 research centers in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. The HarvestPlus program is coordinated by two of these centers – the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) (http://ciat.cgiar.org) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (http://www.ifpri.org).

 Uncategorized
Oct 152014
 

NAIROBI, Kenya, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UN Women with the African Union (AU), IFAD, FAO and WFP are co-hosting an exciting regional Sharefair for Rural Women’s Technologies on October 15-17 at the UN Compound in Gigiri.

The first of its kind, this showcase stemmed from a need to simultaneously address the successes, the innovations and yet the continued constraints faced by African women farmers, particularly in the Eastern and Southern African region. The Sharefair, will bring almost 100 exhibitors to showcase their agricultural innovations.

The three day exhibition will run over International Day of Rural Women and World Food Day and aims to highlight the opportunities in investing in technologies for rural women. While women are central in all aspects of agriculture and off-farm activities in the communities, their efforts are often hampered by their lack of access to productive resources, technologies, services and markets.

“This Sharefair is testament of the transformative power of agricultural technologies. Importantly, it underlines the huge potential to be realized from bringing women, who are the vanguard of rural economies across Africa, on board,” said Ms Christine Musisi, UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

Running concurrently to the exhibitions will be high-level policy discussions and panels with regional and national government officials and other sector leaders. These will highlight efforts on gender-sensitive agricultural and nutrition policies; identify promising technologies, and address the constraints to scaling up innovations. Simultaneous, hands-on, practical workshops will be held by successful women and other agriculture sector leaders.

Ms Musisi also urges governments, financial institutions and communities in the Eastern and Southern Africa region to prioritize support through policies, funding and programming for female farmers;

“Women are untapped resources of agriculture in East and Southern African. This 2014 Sharefair acknowledges this, but also digs deeply into the mind and hearts of those who can physically, financially and politically take these ready resources to a prosperous future,” she said.

Oct 152014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The media accreditation process for the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014 presented by TOYOTA is now open. The competition will be held in Marrakech and Rabat from 10 to 20 December 2014.

The deadline for applications is Monday, 17 November 2014.

The competition will feature Auckland City FC from New Zealand, Cruz Azul FC from Mexico, Moghreb Athletic de Tétouan from Morocco, Real Madrid CF from Spain and CA San Lorenzo from Argentina. These five clubs will be joined by the respective winners of the AFC Champions League and CAF Champions League.

Media accreditation process

Please note that the media accreditation process for any FIFA competition involves two steps:

1. Register for access to the FIFA Media Channel by logging on to: http://media.fifa.com/registration. You will then receive confirmation that you have been granted access to the FIFA Media Channel.

2. Once you have received your username and password, or if you are already registered, log on to: http://media.fifa.com. Select “FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014” from the “Competitions & Events” section and complete the

online media accreditation form.

FIFA Media Channel

The FIFA Media Channel is a password-protected website that is updated constantly during a competition. It is designed to provide media professionals with information on the latest event activities, including press conferences, team training sessions, details about competition media facilities and stadium media centres (SMCs), and media ticketing. You will also find useful contacts and other media resources on the FIFA Media Channel.

Access to the FIFA Media Channel and an accreditation application do not guarantee that you will be issued with accreditation for a FIFA competition. If we are unable to accommodate you on this occasion, you will be informed by e-mail.

Visa information

Media representatives visiting Morocco are advised that they may require a visa to enter the country and are responsible for making their own arrangements.

TV/radio

For TV and radio accreditation queries, please contact: fcwc-tv@dentsu.co.jp

For more information on the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014, please visit: www.fifa.com/morocco2014

Oct 152014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A United Nations report released today details serious violations of human rights, including summary and extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances, committed against civilians by Congolese security forces in the context of Operation “Likofi” in Kinshasa between 15 November 2013 and 15 February 2014.

The report, based on investigations conducted by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO)* in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), documents the killing of at least nine civilians and the enforced disappearance of at least 32 civilians by agents of the Congolese National Police (PNC) as part of Operation “Likofi”. The total number of victims could be much higher since UNJHRO human rights officers faced various difficulties in their investigations into these human rights violations.

“I am appalled by the gravity of the human rights violations documented in this report and I call on the Congolese authorities to bring to justice without delay the perpetrators of these human rights violations,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in the DRC, Martin Kobler, added that “this shows how urgent it is to accelerate security sector reform and to establish strong accountability mechanisms within the Congolese police force.”

Note to editors:

In accordance with its mandate, UNJHRO staff conducted investigations into violations of human rights committed in Kinshasa by the PNC as part of Operation “Likofi” (meaning “Punch” in Lingala) between 15 November 2013 and 15 February 2014. The objective of Operation “Likofi” was to track down delinquents, commonly called “kulunas”, in the city of Kinshasa. For this report, UNJHRO staff collected more than 70 testimonies from different sources, including within the police itself.

The report documents 41 victims, including four children, of violations of the right to life, including summary and extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances, committed during the Operation “Likofi” in several communes of the capital. The human rights violations documented in the report implicate the PNC and particularly members of the Légion nationale d’intervention (LENI) and of the Groupe mobile d’intervention (GMI). The majority of the killings and enforced disappearances of civilians documented in the report were perpetrated with the same modus operandi by PNC agents, who generally operated at night, wore masks, and traveled in vehicles without license plates in certain neighborhoods of Kinshasa.

The UNJHRO took note of the decision taken by the General Commissioner of the PNC on 15 August 2014 to set up a commission of inquiry aimed at investigating and identifying abuses allegedly committed by PNC agents in the scope of Operation Likofi.

Oct 152014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has today called on governments and international donors to urgently mobilize increased financial, medical, and logistical assistance to Ebo…

Oct 152014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Their Excellencies, the Ambassadors of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of Namibia and the Kingdom of Sweden presented their Letters of Credence to the President at Áras an Uachtaráin today.

H.E. Mr. Kyaw Zwar Minn, Ambassador of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Aye Minn Myat, and by Ms. Moe Thuzar, Counsellor at the Embassy.

H.E. Mr. Steve Vemunavi Katjiuanjo, Ambassador of the Republic of Namibia, was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Christophine Katjiuanjo, and by Mr. Michael Ndivayele, Minister Counsellor at the Embassy.

H.E. Ms. Ulrika Sundberg, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden, travelled from Stockholm for today’s ceremony.

Mr. Michael Ring, T.D.,Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, represented the Government at the ceremony.

The following were also present: Mr. Art O’Leary, Secretary-General to the President; Mr. Niall Burgess, Secretary-General, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Ms. Orla O’Hanrahan, Chief of Protocol, Mr. Joe Brennan and Mr Shane Stephens, Protocol, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Ambassadors were escorted to and from Áras an Uachtaráin by an Escort of Honour consisting of a motorcycle detachment drawn from the 2nd Cavalry Squadron, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, under the command of Lieutenant Richard Piggott.

A Guard of Honour was provided at Áras an Uachtaráin by the 1st Armoured Cavalry Squadron, Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare, under the command of Lieutenant Donncha Lenihan.

Captain Fergal Carroll conducted the Army No. 1 Band.

Oct 152014
 

NEW YORK, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Ebola outbreak is “winning the race” against attempts to contain it, the head of the United Nations mission working to stop the deadly virus warned the Security Council today as he urged the international community to help expand on-the-ground efforts across the affected nations in West Africa.

In his briefing, Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), told the 15-nation Council that he is “deeply worried” that the steps implemented by the international community are “not nearly enough” to halt the advance of the fatal disease.

“Ebola got a head start on us,” he said. “It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race. If Ebola wins, we the peoples of the United Nations lose so very much…,” he said.

“We either stop Ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan,” Mr. Banbury told the Council via video link from the operation’s headquarters in Ghana.

In its most recent situation report on the disease, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), which is leading the wider UN response, reported 8,376 cases and 4,024 deaths from Ebola based on information provided by the Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, whose UN delegations were represented at today’s Security Council briefing.

The agency notes that the upward epidemic trend continues in Sierra Leone and most probably also in Liberia. By contrast, the situation in Guinea appears to be more stable, though, in the context of an Ebola outbreak, a stable pattern of transmission is still of a very grave concern, and could change quickly.

“With every day that passes, the number of sick people increases,” continued Mr. Banbury. “Time is our biggest enemy. We must use every minute of every day to our advantage and that is what UNMEER is doing.”

Mr. Banbury recalled WHO’s recommendation that, within 60 days of 1 October, 70 per cent of all those infected must be in the hospital and 70 per cent of the victims safely buried, if the outbreak were to be successfully arrested. Otherwise, he warned, the Ebola numbers risked rising “dramatically” and overwhelming the overall response.

“This is what we are fighting for now: we are fighting to prevent unavoidable deaths. We are fighting for people who are alive and healthy today, but will become infected…and die if we do not put in place the necessary emergency response,” he declared.

In particular, he called for an increase in the number of diagnostic laboratories, transport support, and funding to help with operation logistics which, he said, would help aid the UN response to a crisis so vast in scope and magnitude.

Moreover, with the number of infected growing exponentially each day, Mr. Banbury cautioned that UNMEER could expect new caseloads of approximately 10,000 people per week by 1 December, meaning that 7,000 beds for treatment were needed. He noted that his Mission expected to have 4,300 beds in treatment centres by that date but lamented that there was no staff to operate many of them under current plans.

“UNMEER is playing the critical role of crisis manager,” he added, “but responding to a complex crisis, especially one that cuts across multiple national boundaries, requires an overall perspective and a comprehensive plan.”

The UNMEER head pointed out that his mission plan would ultimately ensure that no gaps were left unfilled and that resources were allocated appropriately, all the while permitting Governments to own the Ebola responses in their respective countries.

“There’s much bad news about Ebola but the good news is we know how to stop it,” said Mr. Banbury, while emphasizing that failure was “inconceivable” and “unacceptable.”

“We must defeat Ebola and we must do it fast,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, a UN children’s rights official briefed reporters on the broader UN response to the Ebola outbreak.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) spokesperson, Christophe Boulierac, reported that an upcoming conference to be held on 16 and 17 October in Kenema, Sierra Leone, would confront the issues facing Ebola survivors as well as the caring of children infected or affected by the disease.

Alongside the devastating physiological effects of the virus, the outbreak has ignited panic and fear across affected areas with some survivors, victims, and their children, being spurned by their local communities.

Mr. Boulierac noted that one “creative” method to help treat and care for children in a more compassionate manner involved the use of Ebola survivors who could provide those children with the attention they need at no risk to themselves or others. Ebola survivors, as medical professionals have frequently reiterated, are no longer capable of contracting the virus. In addition, he pointed out that the conference would address the stigma and discrimination facing Ebola survivors as such challenges undermined their recovery.

In other news, Karin Landgren, head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), announced the death today of the United Nations Volunteer who worked in the Mission’s medical team and was evacuated to Germany last week to receive treatment for Ebola. This is the second death at UNMIL due to Ebola, after an earlier probable case that resulted in the death of a national staff member on 25 September.

“UNMIL colleagues are saddened by the tragic news as they continue to serve at this very difficult time. Our thoughts now are with the family and friends of the departed,” a UN spokesperson said today in New York.

As for international support against Ebola, the spokesperson noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has announced that it will provide specialized diagnostic equipment to help Sierra Leone in its efforts to combat the outbreak. That support will later be extended to Liberia and Guinea.

It will consist of supplementing the country’s ability to diagnose Ebola quickly, using a technology known as Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). Early diagnosis, if combined with appropriate medical care, increases the victims’ chance of survival and helps curtail the spread of the disease by making it possible to isolate and treat the patients earlier, the spokesperson explained.

Oct 152014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Chad was today accepted as a full member of the EITI.

As ‘compliant’ with the global EITI transparency standard, citizens of Chad have access to extensive information about how their natural resources are governed. Industry, government and civil society in the country are working together to inform the debate about the management of its oil, gas and mineral resources.

The EITI International Board designated the country ‘EITI compliant’ at its meeting in Myanmar and congratulated the Government of the Chad for its sustained commitment and leadership in the implementation of the EITI.

Clare Short, Chair of the EITI said:

“I congratulate Chad for having strengthened the government systems so that the people of Chad can better benefit from the country’s natural resources. Reaching compliance with the EITI requirements means that Chad is on the path towards open and accountable governance of its natural resources, and we look forward to working together to continue to strengthen governance of this crucial sector of Chad’s economy.”

Le Bemadjiel Djerassem, Minister of Hydrocarbon and Energy and Chair of Chad-EITI High National Committee, is glad to receive recognition for Chad’s efforts. He said:

“Thanks to the EITI, some major reforms have been engaged when it comes to follow-up of revenue collection and payments from the extractive industries. Implementing the EITI has allowed us to realise that we do not an adequate system for tracking these revenues. Now with the establishment of the unit for revenue tracking, this is accomplished. We can now verify the figures and publish reliable information about oil revenues. Achieving compliance with the EITI requirements is a first step on the long path towards managing natural resources for the benefit of the citizens.”

Scott Miller, General Manager of Esso Chad, said:

“Esso welcomes this milestone decision by the EITI Board. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the process ownership and full support of the national government. Transparency is essential to support economic growth, increased opportunity, and a better standard of living for all citizens. We look forward to continuing our engagement in future reporting years, and to the challenges of sustainment in an evolving industry and regulatory landscape.”

Adama Coulibaly, World Bank Resident Representative in Chad, said:

“The World Bank congratulates Chad on achieving EITI compliance. This comes as a result of the Government’s steadfast determination to manage public resources in compliance with international standards of transparency. The World Bank, through funding from the EITI Multi Donor Trust Fund has supported this work in partnership with Government and it has paid off.”

Oct 152014
 

NEW YORK, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As the world celebrates the seventh Global Handwashing Day, UNICEF said the fight against Ebola further underscores the practice of handwashing in disease prevention.

“Handwashing with soap is one of the cheapest, most effective ‘vaccines’ against viral diseases, from the seasonal flu, to the common cold,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes. “Our teams on the ground in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are stressing the importance of handwashing as part of a raft of measures that are needed to halt the spread of Ebola. It is not a magic bullet, but it is a means of additional defence which is cheap and readily available.”

UNICEF has been leading in raising awareness about Ebola in the affected countries, working to counter misconceptions about the disease that put even more people at risk. UNICEF has also distributed protective supplies such as gowns, gloves, and bleach – as well as 1.5 million bars of soap in Sierra Leone alone, and millions more in Liberia and Guinea.

“It is clear there is no simple fix, and it is going to take a massive international effort to stem the tide of this disease,” said Wijesekera. “But it is crucial to get the word out on what measures can be taken now in the hardest hit areas, even as additional help continues to arrive from the outside. Handwashing is one of those measures.”

Apart from Ebola, figures released recently by UNICEF and the World Health Organization say in 2013 more than 340,000 children under five – almost 1,000 a day – died from diarrhoeal diseases due to a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene. As the Ebola response takes its toll on the health services in the affected countries, the practice of handwashing is even more important in warding off these common diseases.

The annual Global Handwashing Day celebrations are occasions to emphasise the role of handwashing with soap in the prevention of common but potentially lethal diseases such as diarrhoea, and many countries around the world are holding activities to promote the practice.

In Sri Lanka, more than 38,400 students in 96 schools will take part in handwashing events, along with politicians and members of the public. In Lebanon, the SMS message, ‘Save your heath; wash your hands’ will be sent to hundreds of mobile phone users; while in Mali, there will be a nationwide media campaign with handwashing events and soap distribution in dozens of schools. Major events and celebrations are also scheduled in The Gambia, Nigeria, and Cambodia, among other countries.

Oct 152014
 

NEW YORK, October 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Tripoli on Saturday, 11 October, following a visit to Tunis.

His brief trip was aimed at urging Libyan parties to press forward with their nascent dialogue in order to restore stability to their crisis-ridden country.

From the airport, he immediately went to the Corinthian Hotel in the city, to speak at a meeting that brought together the Deputy President of Libya’s elected House of Representatives, Mohammed Sha’ib, other members of the House, and parliamentarians who had not attended the House sessions, including Fathi Bashagha, who led the so-called Misrata delegation. The Foreign Minister of Italy, Federica Mogherini, was also present at the meeting, as well as special envoys of a number of countries.

The Secretary-General very clearly told the legislators that “if violent confrontations do not cease, if sustainable peace is not restored, prosperity and a better life will be a distant dream”. (See Press Release SG/SM/16249.)

Stressing that there is no alternative to dialogue, the Secretary-General underscored that difficult decisions would have to be made by all parties. He encouraged them to ensure that the recent ceasefire agreed to in Ghadames holds, as no political breakthrough could be achieved if fighting continued.

Mr. Ban also had a message to the international community: “We would like to stress that all countries should support this political process. No military intervention will help to resolve the outstanding problems.”

He committed the United Nations continued support and assistance to the Libyan-led political dialogue.

Early that same evening, the Secretary-General left Tripoli en route to Cairo, Egypt.