Nov 132014
 

MUMBAI, India, November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ —

• On the occasion of World Diabetes Day, Merck is conducting Diabetes awareness camps at 15 medical colleges in Maharashtra University.

• Merck joins Maharashtra University and Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) to celebrate the World Diabetes Day (WDD).

• Merck aims to support free Diabetes screening for more than 15,000 community members across Maharashtra state.

• The event will be at J J Marg, Nagpada-Mumbai Central, Off Jijabhoy Road, Mumbai.

Merck (http://www.merckgroup.com), a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical, chemical and life-science sectors, rolls out today its Diabetes awareness and prevention campaign in collaboration with University Of Maharashtra in order to improve diabetes awareness and community health level in India.

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On the occasion of World Diabetes Day, Merck is supporting Diabetes awareness at 15 medical colleges in Maharashtra, aiming to screen and educate more than 15,000 community members across Maharashtra state. Dubbed ‘Get Informed- Get Active- Get Healthier’, the campaign aims to reverse this worrying trend by preventing or delaying the development of diabetes in the Indian population.

Dr. Stefan Oschmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Pharma said: “Merck is pleased to collaborate with Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and Directorate of Medical Education & Research as part of our commitment to building healthcare capacity and providing sustainable access to high-quality health solutions and safe medicine in India”

Rasha Kelej, Vice President, Head of Global Business Responsibility and Market Development of Merck Serono emphasized “We are pleased to engage with DMER and Maharashtra University as we are celebrating the World Diabetes Day focusing on “Healthy Living and Diabetes” in order to improve access to better Diabetes care as part of our commitment to the social and economic development of India. Supporting Diabetes education and Diabetes community outreach programs of the University will contribute significantly to improving awareness, early diagnosis and prevention of the disease across India”.

Merck has provided the necessary support to conduct Diabetes free screening and education to each medical college in Maharashtra University during the week of the WDD to raise awareness about diabetes and empower community members on how to better manage and prevent the disease.

Dr Pravin Shingare, Director of Medical Education and Research, Government of Maharashtra emphasized “The cost of managing diabetes is enormous and places a huge burden on already strained healthcare system. The lack of awareness on disease symptoms makes many diabetes patients to be diagnosed late when they have already developed complications such as blindness, foot ulcers or gangrene, heart diseases among others. There is a strong, new argument that by combining screening to find pre-diabetes and early diabetes, along with management aimed to keep glucose levels as close to normal as possible, we can change the natural history of the disease and improve the lives of our patients. Hence, I urge all Indians to get screened and be active in order to get healthier”.

According to International Diabetes Federation- IDF, Type 2 diabetes is a global public health crisis that threatens the economies of all nations, particularly developing countries. Fueled by rapid urbanization, nutrition transition, and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the epidemic has grown in parallel with the worldwide rise in obesity.

India has the second highest number of people with diabetes in the world. Several factors contribute to accelerated diabetes epidemic in India and Asian countries, including the “normal-weight metabolically obese” phenotype; high prevalence of smoking; high intake of refined carbohydrates (e.g., white rice); and dramatically decreased physical activity levels..

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Ali Sleiman, General Manager of Merck Serono ,India “We hope to maintain a long-standing relationship with Maharashtra University and DMER to improve the standard of healthcare and research capacity in order to tackle diabetes and non –communicable diseases in as a part of Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP).”

The 5 year program was kicked off in India last month and has been implemented successfully in 7 sub- Saharan countries which are Kenya, Uganda, Namibia Angola, Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique and will further expand to other Sub-Saharan and Asian countries in 2014.

As part of the Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP), by end of 2015, more than 3,000 medical students from the Maharashtra University of Health sciences will benefit from European-accredited clinical diabetes and chronic diseases management training, which is seeking to equip them with skills to avert the diabetes epidemic. Merck is planning to target more than 12,000 students by the end of 2018 expanding to more African and Asian countries.

Prof. Arun Jamkar, Vice Chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, MUHS emphasized” It gives us immense pleasure to engage the stakeholders in the field of medicine and diabetes in Maharashtra In joint collaboration with DMER and Merck to implement their Capacity Advancement Program, this Diabetes education and awareness program aim to provide awareness, guidelines and clinical practice for prevention, diagnosis and management of diabetes and its complications for Maharashtra community members and medical undergraduates of the 18 medical colleges in Maharashtra university.”

Padamshree Prof. Shashank Joshi, The president of Association of Physicians of India (API) welcomed the program “We are happy with our partnership with Merck to implement this program to support future diabetes health care in India. Diabetes mellitus is reaching potentially epidemic proportions in India. The level of morbidity and mortality due to diabetes and its potential complications are enormous, and pose significant healthcare burdens on both families and society”.

He added “Indians and Maharashtrians are uniquely predisposed to diabetes. WDD focuses this year on healthy living and diabetes, therefore it’s time for Indians to eat a healthy traditional low caloric breakfast and do adequate physical activity to control diabetes and stay away from modern fast foods as well as sedentary habits”

In addition to medical education and awareness, Merck shall continue to work with partners in India and Asia at large to expand the capacity of professionals in diabetes management through its Capacity Advancement Program (CAP).

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

Media contact:

Leonard Saika

Tel: +254722762037

e-mail: leonard.saika@merckgroup.com

All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Website. Please go to www.merckgroup.com/subscribe to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

Merck (http://www.merckgroup.com) is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors. With its four divisions Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Performance Materials and Merck Millipore, Merck generated total revenues of € 11.1 billion in 2013. Around 39,000 Merck employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of our customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany is holding the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company is known as EMD.

Nov 132014
 

PARIS, France, November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The signatory organisations filed a complaint with a plaintiff triggering criminal proceedings today, for submission to the most senior examining magistrate of the Bamako Commune III Court of First Instance, for crimes against humanity and war crimes on behalf of 80 women and girls, for rape and sexual violence committed during the period that armed groups occupied northern Mali in 2012 and 2013.

Our organisations state that: “The Malian justice department needs to open a judicial investigation as soon as possible to investigate the crimes committed against women and girls during the conflict in the north of the country. This should be a priority for the Malian judicial and political authorities”.

Although many judicial investigations have been opened before the Bamako Commune III Court of First Instance against persons suspected of serious violations of human rights perpetrated in the north of Mali during the armed conflict, our organisations continue to deplore that the charges up to the present have nearly all been related to terrorism or criminal association, thus excluding violations of human rights. Likewise, charges for rape and other sexual violence, which are crimes against humanity and war crimes, have, up to now, been totally omitted from the scope of the investigations.

Since members of all the armed groups committed sexual crimes on a large scale, inquiries to establish the truth about what happened, to identify those responsible and to ensure justice for the victims should henceforth be a priority for the Malian judiciary.

“Since Malian national legislation has incorporated the classifications of crimes against humanity and war crimes set out in the Statute of the International Criminal Court, it is essential for the Malian justice department to adopt these charges”, our organisations declared and added: “These classifications make it possible to identify the real scope of the crimes perpetrated by bringing out their systematic or widespread character.”

It should be recalled that in January 2012, pro-independence and jihadist armed groups launched a major assault in the north of Mali. Since the Malian army was disorganised, poorly equipped, and destabilised by the military coup of 22 March 2012, in less than five months, the armed groups managed to take control of all the regions of northern Mali, in other words nearly two-third of the country, up to 50 km from the city of Mopti-Sévaré. Our organisations have evidence showing that during the offensive and the occupation of the conquered territories, members of all the armed groups, without exception, were guilty of mass sexual crimes, especially targeting women and girls of certain communities.

On 7 January 2013, the armed groups, especially MUJAO, Ançar Dine and Aqmi launched a major offensive and headed for Mopti. This triggered a counterattack on 11 January by the Malian armed forces (FAMA), with support from Serval, the French army operation that intervened at the request of Dioncounda Traoré, President of the transition government.

Nov 132014
 

PARIS, France, November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The signatory organisations filed a complaint with a plaintiff triggering criminal proceedings today, for submission to the most senior examining magistrate of the Bamako Commune III Court of First Instance, for crimes against humanity and war crimes on behalf of 80 women and girls, for rape and sexual violence committed during the period that armed groups occupied northern Mali in 2012 and 2013.

Our organisations state that: “The Malian justice department needs to open a judicial investigation as soon as possible to investigate the crimes committed against women and girls during the conflict in the north of the country. This should be a priority for the Malian judicial and political authorities”.

Although many judicial investigations have been opened before the Bamako Commune III Court of First Instance against persons suspected of serious violations of human rights perpetrated in the north of Mali during the armed conflict, our organisations continue to deplore that the charges up to the present have nearly all been related to terrorism or criminal association, thus excluding violations of human rights. Likewise, charges for rape and other sexual violence, which are crimes against humanity and war crimes, have, up to now, been totally omitted from the scope of the investigations.

Since members of all the armed groups committed sexual crimes on a large scale, inquiries to establish the truth about what happened, to identify those responsible and to ensure justice for the victims should henceforth be a priority for the Malian judiciary.

“Since Malian national legislation has incorporated the classifications of crimes against humanity and war crimes set out in the Statute of the International Criminal Court, it is essential for the Malian justice department to adopt these charges”, our organisations declared and added: “These classifications make it possible to identify the real scope of the crimes perpetrated by bringing out their systematic or widespread character.”

It should be recalled that in January 2012, pro-independence and jihadist armed groups launched a major assault in the north of Mali. Since the Malian army was disorganised, poorly equipped, and destabilised by the military coup of 22 March 2012, in less than five months, the armed groups managed to take control of all the regions of northern Mali, in other words nearly two-third of the country, up to 50 km from the city of Mopti-Sévaré. Our organisations have evidence showing that during the offensive and the occupation of the conquered territories, members of all the armed groups, without exception, were guilty of mass sexual crimes, especially targeting women and girls of certain communities.

On 7 January 2013, the armed groups, especially MUJAO, Ançar Dine and Aqmi launched a major offensive and headed for Mopti. This triggered a counterattack on 11 January by the Malian armed forces (FAMA), with support from Serval, the French army operation that intervened at the request of Dioncounda Traoré, President of the transition government.

Nov 132014
 

WASHINGTON, November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Jen Psaki

Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

November 12, 2014

The United States is deeply concerned by allegations of mass rape by Sudanese military forces in Tabit, North Darfur. While we take note that the Government of Sudan recently allowed access to the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to investigate these allegations, we regret the fact that initial access was denied, and after significant delays, access to potential witnesses and victims was only allowed under close observation of Sudanese security officials. Such behavior calls into question Sudan’s compliance with the Security Council’s call to “remove all obstacles to UNAMID’s full and proper discharge of its mandate including securing freedom of movement in conflict affected areas.”

The United States urges the Government of Sudan to fulfill its obligation to grant immediate, unhindered, and full access to UNAMID and other UN agencies. We encourage UNAMID to continue its investigations and protection of civilians in an environment free from intimidation. We remain focused on seeing an end to violence against civilians in Sudan and stress that victims must be provided medical treatment and psychosocial support. The United States calls on the Sudanese authorities to end the culture of impunity by allowing UNAMID and the National Human Rights Commission to conduct credible, thorough and timely investigations and to hold accountable all those found to be responsible.

Nov 132014
 

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ —

 Orange (http://www.orange.com) announced the three winners of the Orange African Social Venture Prize during the AfricaCom Awards ceremony held in Cape Town last night

 The three winners will receive financial assistance and the first prize winner will also benefit from a patent application

 This year, a special Orange Partner award has been introduced to specifically reward a project using an Orange API

 The 10 finalists will benefit from support by experts through an online acceleration program offered by Orange on the VC4Africa platform

This prize, which has enjoyed considerable success since its launch in 2011, aims to support the development of entrepreneurs and start-ups that offer solutions using information and communication technologies (ICT) to meet the needs of people living in Africa.

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Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1547

More than 450 candidates responded to the call for projects, which ran from May to September 2014, clearly demonstrating the underlying entrepreneurial vitality that exists on the African continent. Proposed projects spanned a variety of fields such as healthcare, agriculture, education, energy, industry and commerce illustrating the high potential of telecommunications for development in Africa.

The panel of judges, consisting of Orange specialists, the media and institutions that promote development, chose three prizewinners and an Orange Partner prizewinner from among 11 nominated projects that were presented on Orange’s pan-African web portal, www.starafrica.com.

The awards ceremony was held yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa, during the AfricaCom Awards, an annual event that recognizes the most significant innovations and achievements of the telecommunications industry in Africa. The winning projects are:

 The first prize was awarded to Modisar, a livestock farm management application (desktop, web and mobile) that makes it easy for a farmer to manage hisher farm. The application is designed to stimulate development of the livestock industry in Botswana and cultivate interest in livestock farming among younger generations by associating modern technologies with the nation’s passion for farming. Modisar aims to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the livestock sector, a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product in Botswana.

 The Station Energy Ivoire project was awarded second prize. This project, which aims to set-up several franchise stores in rural or urban areas of Côte d’Ivoire, is based on an innovative retail concept for energy services. Inspired the models used by both service stations and grocery shops in Africa, Station Energy is a solution that provides wide-spread and affordable access to energy. The shops are equipped with photovoltaic panels to provide a range of shared services (batteries allowing access to lighting, cold spaces, Internet access, sale of low consumption equipment, etc.).

 The third prize was awarded to the Senegalese company Bouquet Pass Santé. This project provides an online platform that enables people living abroad or in Senegal to pay directly for medical consultations for themselves or family members.

 Finally, a “favourite project” was also selected by visitors of the Group’s web portal StarAfrica. Over 20,000 visitors voted for the Ivorian project “Pubcell”. The concept is to offer advertisers the ability to promote their brands to mobile phone users by paying advertising fees for the rental of their private spaces.

 The special Orange Partner API prize was awarded to Mewanko Farm, a project that involves the creation of an online platform to enable the sale of agricultural products on both urban and international markets. The aim is to facilitate the lives of small farmers by using ICT tools to provide them with a direct means of access to markets and enabling them to increase their income.

In addition to financial grants of up to 25,000 euros and a patent in the country of deployment for the 1st prize winner, Orange will offer professional and expert coaching not only for the winners but for the 10 finalists of the Orange African Social Venture Prize 2014. The 10 finalists will join the coaching program hosted by VC4Africa.

“Entrepreneurs in Africa have always shown an ability to harness technology for the development of lasting, socially-responsible innovations that stimulate growth. Through this prize, Orange is proud to be able to contribute to this dynamic, particularly by providing active support to the prize-winners,” said Marc Rennard, Orange’s Senior Executive Vice President for Africa, the Middle East and Asia. “This year’s jury was impressed by the overall quality of the projects submitted. We can clearly see that technology is a relevant tool for driving social development, and this gives us an added stimulus in our commitment to Africa.”

Orange operates in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East and has close to 100 million customers. To contribute to the social and economic development of these countries, the Group has put together the “Orange for Development” programme, which is based on three central themes:

 the development of its networks to maximize the number of people who are able to benefit from digital services;

 innovation to meet the needs of populations through value-added services in essential fields such as healthcare, education, agriculture and banking services; and

 contributing to the local development of ICT markets and innovation ecosystems.

It is to meet this last goal, which is aligned with both its innovation strategy as well as its Corporate Social Responsibility policy, that the Group decided to launch the Orange African Social Venture Prize in 2011.

See the presentation of the competition on www.starafrica.com.

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

Press contacts: +33 1 44 44 93 93

Tom Wright (tom.wright@orange.com) or Caroline Simeoni (caroline.simeoni@orange.com)

about StarAfrica

StarAfrica.com is Orange’s pan-African web portal, which combines content from all sub-Saharan countries in its six channels – news, soccer, more sports, music, education and jobs – with a special focus on young talent. The portal is also the online store that provides expatriate communities with access to innovative communications services that allows them to stay in touch with their contacts.

about Orange

Orange (http://www.orange.com) is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 41 billion euros in 2013 and 159,000 employees worldwide at 30 September 2014, including 99,800 employees in France. Present in 30 countries, the Group has a total customer base of 240 million customers worldwide at 30 September 2014, including 182 million mobile customers and 16 million fixed broadband customers. Orange is also a leading provider of global IT and telecommunication services to multinational companies, under the brand Orange Business Services.

Orange is listed on the NYSE Euronext Paris (symbol ORA) and on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol ORAN).

For more information on the internet and on your mobile: www.orange.com, www.orange-business.com, www.livetv.orange.com or to follow us on Twitter: @orangegrouppr.

Orange and any other Orange product or service names included in this material are trademarks of Orange or Orange Brand Services Limited.

Nov 132014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Philip Hammond sees early signs of impact of UK support to #EndEbola in #SierraLeone, but says battle has just begun

Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, and Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Francois, today met British military, aid workers, diplomats and health workers who are part of the UK effort to fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone. The Foreign Secretary also met President Koroma to underline the UK’s commitment and discuss progress to date and next steps in tackling the crisis.

Mr Hammond visited Port Loko, one of the areas worst hit by Ebola, and where the UK is building one of the additional five 100-bed treatment centres that will help meet the UK’s commitment to provide 700 treatment beds in Sierra Leone. The new facility is due to open in December.

The Foreign Secretary also visited the Ebola Training Academy at the National Stadium where he met Sierra Leonean Ebola workers. With support from British Armed Forces personnel, WHO are training over 800 people each week at the Academy. At the Western Area Command and Control Centre, now located in the British Council, the Foreign Secretary was briefed on the coordination of burial teams, and efforts to ensure that new cases are isolated more quickly.

Mr Francois visited members of 22 Field Hospital, military medics who are staffing the 12-bed facility at the Kerrytown Treatment Centre, which will be used to treat international healthcare workers. He also met Royal Engineers who are designing and supervising construction of all the Ebola treatment units.

The G20 Summit, taking place this weekend in Brisbane, is expected to be the next opportunity for the international community to demonstrate the global commitment to defeating Ebola.

Commenting after his visit Philip Hammond said:

“I have seen for myself how UK support in Sierra Leone is saving lives and making a real difference to the fight against Ebola. But I have also seen the huge challenges that remain to getting this disease under control.

“Following the opening of Kerrytown last week, the facility being built at Port Loko represents the next stage of the UK’s efforts to try and get ahead of the spread of the disease.

“We are beginning to see early signs of impact but despite our and others’ efforts this battle has only just begun. We have a long way to go before we see the real benefits.

“The international community cannot afford to slow the pace. The Prime Minister will be pressing G20 members and other partners in Brisbane to take forward concrete actions to address the immediate crisis as well as support for longer-term economic resilience, and strengthen our resolve to prevent future threats to global health security.”

Minister for Armed Forces, Mark Francois, said:

“I am proud of the vital contribution our Armed Forces are making on the frontline of the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

“Having visited medics from 22 Field Hospital in training in the UK – and having told them I would visit them once they had deployed – I am proud to now see them on operations in Sierra Leone. And I have seen for myself the wider work being done by personnel from all services as the UK leads the global effort to get this outbreak under control and prevent it spreading any further.”

Nov 132014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In the absence of specific treatments for Ebola, international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced today that it will host clinical trials in three Ebola treatment centres in West Africa. The separate trials, which are aimed at quickly finding an effective therapy that can be used against the disease which has so far taken around 5,000 lives in the current outbreak in the region, will be led by three different research partners.

The French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) will lead a trial using antiviral drug favipiravir in Guéckédou, Guinea; the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) will lead a trial of convalescent whole blood and plasma therapy at the Donka Ebola centre in Conakry, Guinea; and The University of Oxford will lead, on behalf of the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC), a Wellcome Trust-funded trial of the antiviral drug brincidofovir at a site yet to be determined. The World Health Organization (WHO) and health authorities of the affected countries are also taking part in this collaborative effort.

“This is an unprecedented international partnership which represents hope for patients to finally get a real treatment against a disease that today kills between 50 and 80% of those infected,” said Dr Annick Antierens, who coordinates the investigational partnerships for MSF. “As one of the principal providers of medical care to Ebola patients in West Africa, MSF is taking part in these accelerated clinical trials to give people affected by the current outbreak a better chance of survival.”

The trials’ protocols are in the final stages of development and are designed with a simple target of 14-day survival and with broad inclusion criteria. The protocols will ensure that disruption to patient care will be minimal, that internationally-accepted medical and research ethical standards are respected, and that sound scientific data will be produced and shared for public good. The main principles and designs have been shared with the respective countries’ ethical authorities, with the goal of starting the first trials during December 2014. Initial results could be available in February 2015.

The two drugs, brincidofovir and favipiravir, were selected from WHO’s shortlist of potential Ebola treatments after careful review of safety and efficacy profiles, product availability, and ease of administration to patients.

Professor Peter Horby, the Chief Investigator of the ISARIC-led trial, said, “Conducting clinical trials of investigational drugs in the midst of a humanitarian crisis is a new experience for all of us, but we are determined not to fail the people of West Africa. It has been a privilege to witness the extraordinary willingness of all the partners in this initiative to step outside their comfort zones in order to fast track these critically important trials.”

“These three trials are part of the first phase of a research aimed at finding the best treatment to cure patients with Ebola,” said Professor Denis Malvy, who will lead the INSERM trial in Guinea. “The three trial boards will therefore be coordinated in a very reactive way, so that any new fact can be discussed rapidly and our research plans can be adapted accordingly. Strengthening the link between our teams is all the more important as there is the possibility that, should our trials give positive results, the next phase could consist of combining interventions.”

Trial of convalescent whole blood and plasma therapy will consist of administering blood or plasma, containing antibodies from survivors, to infected patients. This approach is also endorsed by WHO.

“Convalescent plasma from recovered patients, containing antibodies against pathogens, has been safely used for other infectious diseases,” said ITM’s Johan van Griensven, coordinating investigator of the trial. “We want to find out whether it works for Ebola, whether it is safe and whether it can be scaled-up to reduce the number of deaths in the current outbreak. Close communication with people who recovered from Ebola, and the community at large, will be vital for a successful trial. We hope that recovered patients donating blood and plasma to help sick people could reduce fear of the disease and reduce stigmatisation of those who survived.”

When other experimental or off-label products with promising efficacy and safety data become available, they will be assessed with the view of proposing further trials in other MSF Ebola management centres in the region.

All three trials will prioritise community engagement and informed consent from patients or their representative. Each patient who consents to be part of a trial will have the potential risks of being subjected to a new therapy clearly explained. “We need to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that these therapies will be the miracle cure,” added MSF’s Dr Antierens. “But we need to do all we can to try the products available today to increase the chances of finding an effective treatment against Ebola.”

While clinical trials are underway, MSF is urging the drugs’ developers to scale up production supply now, to ensure there is no gap between the end of the trials and the large-scale introduction of products found to be safe and effective. MSF is also urging drug manufacturers to ensure that end products are affordable and available in the quantities needed to tackle the outbreak at its epicentre in West Africa. Distribution of end products should be driven by needs, irrespective of where people live or the capacity of a country to pay.

Nov 132014
 

KINSHASA, Dem. Rep. of Congo (DRC) November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Logging companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo are plundering forests, using physical intimidation against local communities and failing to meet their obligations to improve local infrastructure, according to villagers’ testimonies gathered by Greenpeace Africa.

Residents in Equateur province complain that companies, including Sicobois and Cotrefor, arrive in their villages, log and export all the wood they want without delivering on all of their promises of social development before they then, in some cases, leave again with little notice.

“The so-called model of socio-economic development that industrial logging companies in the DRC claim they promote in their concession areas is, in reality, a nightmare for surrounding communities,” says Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Forest Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Africa.

The villagers claim that companies often collude with local authorities to stifle any opposition to their operations. Allegations of serious physical intimidation, violent assault and arbitrary arrest are commonplace.

On a recent visit to Mongala district Greenpeace Africa discovered that, for nearly a decade, Cotrefor logged the area around the Boli South grouping of villages of nearly all of its valuable endangered species, such as Afrormosia and African Mahogany. The logs were then exported to Europe and elsewhere at high market prices.

The community said the company left last year without notice and without completing the construction of a school and a road that they were contractually obliged to. Some local residents who opposed the company’s operations were arbitrarily arrested and fined.

In the locality of Bokweli there has been a long history of conflict between the Sicobois company, and its employees, and the local community. Residents say local authorities collaborate with the company and have turned a blind eye to violent physical assaults and infringements of the forest code that they say have damaged their livelihoods.

“Our trees are felled, exported or sometimes abandoned,” says one villager. “The school is in a disastrous state.. We have only the bark of large trees to make coffins for our dead … We do not know where we are headed with industrial logging. “

Irène Wabiwa Betoko of Greenpeace says: “These testimonies illustrate that more attention needs to be paid to the damaging impacts logging is having on local populations in forested areas. The DRC authorities need to hold these companies accountable and to ensure the new national Community Forestry Decree is properly implemented.”

Greenpeace says the logging sector in the DRC is in a state of organised chaos. Forest governance is weak and corruption is rampant. Some reports estimate that nearly 90% of logging is illegal[1]. Demand for valuable tropical timber, from Europe and China in particular has sent illegal logging spiralling out of control.

Longstanding efforts to introduce a new model of community-based forest management were given a boost this summer when a Community Forestry Decree was passed. However, last month, Greenpeace Africa discovered that many local officials are not aware the law exists and that measures are needed to ensure the benefits of better forest management end up reaching community members.

For people to manage their own land and forests, proper implementation and enforcement of the community forestry law is a basic requirement.

Nov 132014
 

ACCRA, Ghana, November 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As of today, the Ebola epidemic has killed close to 5000 persons and contaminated 13250. France has been contributing actively to the fight against the epidemic, with a focus on assisting Guinea, while helping other countries in the region to prepare prevention plans.

Overall, French assistance is amounting to 100 million euros, as was detailed by French Ambassador to Ghana, Frédéric Clavier, during the extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government which took place in Accra on 6th November 2014.

France’s Action in Guinea

In Guinea, the death toll is currently of 1 050 deaths, out of 1750 cases. The most active outbreaks of the epidemic are still the capital, Conakry, and in Guinéeforestière (forested Guinea) where the organizationMédecins Sans Frontières has been present to combat the epidemic from the onset.

France’s plan of action for the fight against Ebola in Guineais structured along five areas: training of medical staff, treatment of infected people, and treatment of contaminated staff, airport safety control, and medical evacuation system.

Three Ebola treatment centers (ETC): the Macenta Ebola Treatment Center in Guinéeforestierewill open by mid-November.It isrun by the Red Cross with the support of Médecins sans Frontières, with the financing and support staff from the French government. Two other treatment centers will be built by the end of the year.

Treatment of healthcare staff: the French military health service will open, by mid-December, a hospital facility to treat Guinean and international health care staff infected by the virus.

Training of healthcare staff: two training centers are being set up in France and in Guinea, by the French Civil Security, for expatriate and local staff. 120 employees of the Civil Security have been deployed to Guinea to assist the Guinean authorities and train the personnel of Guinea’s civil protection.

Diagnosis capacity: the French government is supporting the creation of the future Institut Pasteur medical center in Conakry dedicated to the diagnosis and monitoring of hemorrhagic fevers and will also contribute to the training of Guinean biologists in the collaboration with the Institut Pasteur in Dakar and Paris

In addition, France is providing medical and personal protection equipment to Guinea, as well as special food aid, through the World Food Program and is assisting in strengthening health care in the Guinéeforestière region. France is also participating in thestrengthening of controlsat the airport inConakry.

In West Africa, France is supporting preparation plans and the strengthening of health care systems in the region: in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo.

French mobilization within international organization

France has been supporting international coordination organizations by seconding experts to UN teams (one expert will be based within UNMEER in Accra) and via an exceptional financial contribution to WHO. It is participating in the funding of institutions involved with combating Ebola like the World Bank, European Commission and the African Development Bank.

France has been instrumental in raising European mobilization, which amounts today to more than 1 billion Euros and is participating in the European mechanism to coordinate medical evacuation and hospitalization of international humanitarian staff. That instrument was a French proposal and is crucial for healthcare personnel to continue working in the field.

Nov 122014
 

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, November 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ —

• DHL Global Connectedness Index 2014 notes the region’s overall improved connectivity between 2011 and 2013

• Burundi shows itself to be largest mover up the ranks

According to the recently released DHL Global Connectedness Index (GCI), a detailed analysis of the state of globalization around the world by global logistics leader DHL (http://www.dpdhl.com), the Sub-Saharan Africa region averaged the third largest increase in connectedness from 2011 to 2013 among all global regions. In addition, five of the countries showing the largest increase in their scores – Burundi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mali and Cote d’ Ivoire – are all located in the region. Burundi’s position as the country with the largest increase in its overall global connectedness score (pushing it up from the 140th rank to the 137th) was driven by a substantial broadening of its international interactions.

Download the report: http://goo.gl/06wxuO

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/dhl_logo2.jpg

Photo Charles Brewer: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/charles-brewer-1.jpg (Charles Brewer, Managing Director for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa)

Globalization refers to the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence, or start operating on an international scale. According to Charles Brewer, Managing Director of DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa (http://www.dpdhl.com), “Globalization is one of the key forces shaping the continent’s economic growth, and holds vast untapped potential to sustainably improve living standards for Africans. Citizens of globalized countries enjoy better access to a wider variety of goods and services, lower prices and better-paying jobs. Connectedness and prosperity are inextricably linked, and are a result of globalization. Sub-Saharan Africa’s increase in connectedness as shown in the GCI proves the region is on the correct path when it comes to global trade and connectivity.”

This third edition of the GCI ranks 140 countries on their global connectedness levels based on international flows of trade, capital, information and people. One of the report’s key findings is that global connectedness, measured by cross-border flows of trade, capital, information and people, has recovered most of its losses incurred during the 2008 financial crisis. The report also highlights that emerging economies are reshaping global connectedness and are now involved in the majority of international interactions.

In the GCI, Sub-Saharan Africa’s rising levels of connectedness was driven by the information and people categories. The gain in the information category is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that this is the very category on which it lags the farthest behind other regions.

Brewer elaborates, “From a DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa perspective, certain industries have contributed significantly to our growth. We have seen robust growth in the Energy sector – particularly because of exploration companies mobilizing new campaigns in countries such as Cameroon, Congo and Gabon. The Technology sector continues to provide ongoing opportunities for us to provide innovative solutions, particularly through cross-business unit collaboration as customers look to align their internal requirements to achieve efficiencies and cost containment. Financial Services, although under competitive and regulatory pressure, has continued to grow – mainly driven by the need to provide customers with financial instruments quickly and effectively. From a consumer market perspective, the emerging middle class will, meanwhile, propel demand for fast moving consumer goods, health care products, as well as a need for retail, food, telecommunications and other consumer related necessities.”

The GCI measures globalization in 3D: It looks at the depth of countries’ cross-border interactions, their directionality (outward versus inward flows) as well as their geographic distribution (breadth).

“The report’s findings confirm that intra-African, as well as international trade, are on the mend. We remain ever-optimistic about Africa and the future only looks great. It’s time for Africa to focus, connect and grow,” concludes Brewer.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Deutsche Post DHL.

Note to editors:

The GCI 2014 contains 140 country profiles and custom maps of countries’ trade flows. It also includes ground-breaking visualizations of global flows, developed with experts from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The report and supplemental background information can be downloaded at http://goo.gl/06wxuO

Media Contact:

Megan Collinicos. Head: Advertising & Public Relations, Sub-Saharan Africa

DHL Express

Tel +27 21 409 3613 Mobile +27 76 411 8570

megan.collinicos@dhl.com

DHL – The logistics company for the world

DHL (http://www.dpdhl.com) is the global market leader in the logistics and transportation industry and “The logistics company for the world”. DHL commits its expertise in international express, national and international parcel delivery, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation as well as contract and e-commerce related solutions along the entire supply chain. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and around 315,000 employees worldwide offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their shipping and supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting environmental protection, disaster management and education.

Nov 122014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Special Rapporteur Farida Shaheed will visit Botswana from 14 to 26 November 2014 to assess the country’s efforts to enhance the right of all persons to participate in cultural life and to enjoy and access cultural heritage.

“I am eager to learn how the country understands the realization of cultural rights in relation to its policies, specially in the areas of education and tourism,” said the independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise in the field of cultural rights in all countries.

“I will also assess policies developed to ensure the right of people to enjoy the arts, to freedom of artistic expression and creativity and to manifest their culture”, Ms. Shaheed said.

During her thirteen-day visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with a number of actors in the cultural field, including State authorities, at the national as well as local levels. She will also meet with civil society organizations to discuss good practices and challenges concerning the enjoyment by all of the right to access and enjoy cultural heritage.

Regarding the issue of participation in the identification, classification and stewardship of cultural heritage, the independent expert said she was particularly eager to visit the two Botswana sites that have been inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO, the Tsodilo Hills and the Okavango Delta.

Ms. Shaheed, who is carrying out this country visit at the invitation of the Government, will visit Gaborone, Maun, Ghanzi / Dkar, and Shakawe.

The Special Rapporteur will host a press conference in Gaborone, on Wednesday 26 November 2014 at 14:30 pm, at the UN conference room of the 3rd Floor (UN Building, Government Enclave, Corner Khama Crescent & President’s Drive, Gaborone), to share her preliminary conclusions and observations on the visit.

Nov 122014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ —

• The Planet Earth Institute NGO will host first ever ‘Africa Data Challenge’ as part of the second #ScienceAfrica UnConference on November 18th

• During the ‘Africa Data Challenge’ innovators will pitch ideas for data-driven projects that achieve practical, human impact in Africa

• Judges include African Development Bank, Elsevier and Intel

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) (http://www.planetearthinstitute.org.uk), an international NGO that works for the scientific independence of Africa, will host the first-ever ‘Africa Data Challenge’, as part of their #ScienceAfrica UnConference, held at Impact HUB, Westminster on November 18. The ‘Africa Data Challenge’ is a groundbreaking competition that invites parties to pitch their ideas for projects that harness data for real, human impact in Africa.

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

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1542 (Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute (PEI)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1543 (Africa topology graphic)

While the ‘data revolution’ is a major theme in conversations on technology and business, there’s little discussion on how it can enhance Africa’s scientific development in a practical way. The ‘Africa Data Challenge’ invites innovators from around the world to pitch their ideas for projects that can help translate and transmit the power of data to those on the continent. Projects are unlimited in scope and focus, but must be designed to have a practical, human application in the next 12 months. Contestants will present their project live in front of a panel that includes Beejaye Kokil, Head of the Economic & Social Statistics Division, African Development Bank, David Tempest, Head of Director of Access Relations, Elsevier, Richard Pilling, Director, Director of Professional Services & Analytics (EMEA and APAC), Intel and Mariéme Jamme, entrepreneur and CEO of SpotOne Global. The successful innovators will be rewarded with a cash prize of £7,000 and receive PEI’s support to roll out their project.

The ‘Africa Data Challenge’ forms part of the PEI’s second #ScienceAfrica UnConference, which is hosted by Rt Hon Lord Boateng and run in partnership with UN Economic Commission for Africa, the World Bank and the European Commission.

The UnConference brings together over 120 people passionate about and working in science, development and Africa for an interactive day of workshops and discussions.

Participants come from diverse sectors, including international policy makers, academics, students as well as the general public. The UnConference will also be live streamed on the PEI website and people are encouraged to use the #ScienceAfrica hashtag on Twitter to engage in a robust discussion about science, technology and innovation in Africa.

Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, said:

“Data holds a huge amount of promise for scientific development in Africa, and for many different business sectors too, but we haven’t yet fully explored how it can be used at a local level to improve lives. As an NGO we are always looking for practical ways to support science and technology, and this Africa Data Challenge will help do just that – developing and incubating new ideas with real impact.

I’m looking forward to supporting the winning project over the next year, and to rolling out the competition across Africa. Working with our partners around the world, we are deeply committed to supporting innovations in this way, and strengthening the growing movement for scientific investment and development in Africa”.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Planet Earth Institute (PEI).

Interviews or further information

For further information on the Africa Data Challenge and #ScienceAfrica UnConference or for interview requests with those involved please contact:

James Knight on james@planetearthinstitute.org.uk or +447725209507.

Sarah Hambly on sarah@planetearthinstitute.org.uk or +447879739405

Notes to Eds

• The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) (http://www.planetearthinstitute.org.uk) is an international NGO and charity working for the scientific independence of Africa. While other emerging regions have invested heavily in science and technology, Africa is falling behind in the race for scientific development.

• All of our work is built around the three pathways we believe will help lead Africa to scientific independence: Higher Education, Technological Innovation and Policy and Advocacy. In other words, we want to support and strengthen higher education institutions, help incubate and seed-fund technologies able to drive scientific advancement and campaign for a science-led development agenda for Africa.

• The PEI is headquartered in London, UK with a core executive team, and with regional project offices in Luanda, Angola and Kigali, Rwanda.

Working for the scientific independence of Africa