Category Archives: Health

Donors pledge $352 million to help Uganda’s South Sudanese refugees

Reuters

By Elias Biryabarema | KAMPALA

KAMPALA About $352 million has been pledged to help Uganda cope with an influx of refugees fleeing conflict in South Sudan, donors said on Friday.

Uganda needs some $2 billion for its surging refugee population. The money would fund operations for the next 12 months .

About 1.3 million refugees have fled to Uganda, of whom an estimated 950,000 have come from South Sudan, displaced by the country’s escalating civil war.

Most of the South Sudanese are crammed into about five camps in Uganda’s northwest. One of them, Bidi Bidi is among the world’s largest refugee settlements, hosting about 270,000 people.

“I don’t think anyone ever anticipated that we would be dealing with one million refugees out of South Sudan alone,” David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, told Reuters.

Food for the refugees will run out in July without more help, Beasley said.

Fighting erupted in Africa’s youngest nation in December 2013 between forces allied to President Salva Kiir and his then- deputy, Riek Machar. A peace pact in 2015 briefly halted the conflict, but it exploded into war again last July.

“The international community needs to step up and needs to give to the Ugandan people and to the refugees hosted by the Ugandan people the kind of support that is absolutely needed because the circumstances in which these sacrifices are being made are extremely, extremely challenging,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa, Larry King)

 

Kenya – cholera outbreak affects dozens at health conference

BBC

 

People walk past a kiosk where a poster giving information on how to prevent Cholera is displayed in the Kibera area of Nairobi on May 20, 2015Image copyright AFP
Image caption It is not clear what triggered the latest cholera outbreak (file picture of Kibera slum in 2015)

Nearly 50 people have contracted cholera while attending a health conference in Kenya’s capital.

The infected delegates were among hundreds who had gathered for the four day forum organised by the Ministry of Health at a Nairobi hotel on Tuesday.

They have been isolated in a city hospital, but health officials say the number of people infected may rise.

It is unclear how they caught the disease, which has led to five deaths in the past month.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera.

Most of those infected will have no or mild symptoms but, in severe cases, the disease can kill within hours if left untreated.

 

In Yemen, a large cholera outbreak is fast approaching 300,000 cases, according to UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien. He described it as a “man-made catastrophe” caused by both sides of the country’s ongoing civil war.

In a press release on 24 May, Kenya’s Ministry of Health said there had been 146 cases across the country since the outbreak began.

Some of those infected had attended a wedding at an upmarket estate in Nairobi.

As a result, authorities put in place emergency measures to try and curb its spread.

An outbreak two years ago killed 65 people across Kenya.

Central African Republic – disabled still at very high risk

Human Rights Watch

Central African Republic: People with Disabilities at High Risk

South Sudan no longer considered to be suffering famine

BBC

 

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced since fighting erupted in the country more than three years ago.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report says that 1.7 million people are still facing emergency levels of hunger, one step below famine.

The IPC adds that the number at risk of starvation has increased to six million, up from 5.5 million last month.

“I do urge caution, as this does not mean we have turned the corner on averting famine,” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told a meeting in Geneva.

“Across South Sudan, more people are on the brink of famine today than were in February.”

The United Nations says the world is facing its biggest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War Two, with a total of nearly 20 million people facing starvation in north-east Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, as well as South Sudan.

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Help still needed: James Copnall, BBC News

Bags of sorghum have been airdropped into some of the most remote parts of the country, medical aid provided in temporary clinics far from recognised hospitals, pressure has been exerted on the government to allow this vital help to reach those in need.

It has worked.

Today, the UN and South Sudanese officials have announced that conditions in the two affected counties no longer meet the technical definition of a famine.

One risk now is that funding for humanitarian aid slows down, if donors believe that the worst is now over.

That’s one reason the UN is so keen to stress that people are still in desperate need of help.

Six million people throughout the country still struggle to find food every day – the highest ever total in South Sudan.

All this largely man-made suffering will continue as long as the civil war rumbles on.

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When is a famine declared?

The Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system classes a famine as:

  • At least 20% of the population has access to fewer than 2,100 kilocalories of food a day
  • Acute malnutrition in more than 30% of children
  • Two deaths per 10,000 people, or four child deaths per 10,000 children every day

 

Nigeria – half of food aid received has been “diverted”or been stolen

BBC

Up to half the food aid meant for people who have fled Nigeria’s Islamist insurgency has reportedly not been delivered, the government says.

It described it as a “diversion of relief materials”, which correspondents say is a euphemism for theft.

A statement from the acting president’s office added that security was being beefed up to protect the deliveries.

As a result of Boko Haram violence some 8.5 million Nigerians in the north-east need life-saving aid, officials say.

Poor rains have exacerbated a problem caused by fighting with Boko Haram Islamist militants, which has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

People in north-east Nigeria are also facing a possible famine, the UN said in March.

In the latest suspected Boko Haram attack on Sunday, 12 people were killed by five suicide bombers in a village near Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

Man sweeps in front of food aidImage copyright AFP

Image caption There have been frequent reports that food aid has gone missing  

The statement from acting President Yemi Osinbajo said aid going missing had “dogged food delivery” and then cited reports saying that more than 50 lorries out of every 100 sent to the north-east never reach their destination.

It does not say what has happened to the diverted food, but in May two Nigerian officials were jailed for selling food aid.

Last week, Nigeria apologised to Saudi Arabia after 200 tonnes of dates the kingdom sent as a Ramadan gift were found on sale in local markets.

Mr Osinbajo said that the latest consignment of aid which is making its way to the north-east is being protected by more than a thousand soldiers.

West Africa – 44 migrants die of thirst crossing Sahara

BBCEurope migrant crisis

Car in desertImage copyright AFP
Image caption Many migrants make the treacherous journey in the hope of a better life in Europe

Survivors say 44 people have died of thirst after their truck broke down in the Sahara Desert in northern Niger, the Red Cross has told the BBC.

The six survivors, all women, walked to a remote village and are being looked after in Dirkou, Niger, Red Cross official Lawal Taher said.

They say several children among the dead.

The Ghanaians and Nigerians were trying to get to Libya, reports Nigerien news site Sahelien.

So far no-one has visited the site to identify the bodies, Mr Taher added

The route from Niger to Libya is one of the main ways migrants reach North Africa before crossing the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe.

Map

Crossing the Sahara is one of the most perilous parts of the journey as migrants are crammed into pickup trucks often with only enough room for a few litres of water, reports Reuters news agency.

Authorities told Reuters that is it almost impossible to know how many have died in the vast and unpoliced Sahara.

Last June, the bodies of 34 migrants, including 20 children, were found in the Sahara Desert near Niger’s border with Algeria.

It appeared they had died of thirst after being abandoned by their smuggler, a government minister said at the time.

Dr Congo – Ebola outbreak; Nigeria preparations for outbreak

BBC

Health workers wearing protective gear at the Nongo Ebola treatment centre in Conakry, Guinea, on August 21, 2015Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The world’s deadliest Ebola outbreak hit West Africa in 2014-2015

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At least one person has died after contracting the virus in the country’s north-east, the WHO says.

The Congolese health ministry had notified the WHO of a “lab-confirmed case” of Ebola, it added on Twitter.

More than 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The last outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was in 2014 and killed more than 40 people.

Of the nine people suspected to have contracted the deadly virus, three died, with one case of Ebola confirmed through tests at the national laboratory in the capital Kinshasa, WHO Congo representative Allarangar Yokouide said in a statement.

People began to get sick on or after 22 April in Bas-Uele province in the country’s far north, he added.

The region affected lies 1,300km (800 miles) north-east of Kinshasa, close to the border with the Central African Republic.

“It is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. But we always take this very seriously,” WHO Congo spokesman Eric Kabambi told Reuters news agency.

The WHO described the outbreak as “a public health crisis of international importance”.

It said the first teams of experts, including epidemiologists, biologists and hygiene specialists had been dispatched and were due to arrive in the affected region by Friday or Saturday.


No need to panic: Tulip Mazumdar, BBC Global Health correspondent

While this outbreak will be extremely worrying for communities in this remote part of northern DR Congo, it is important to remember that the country has stamped out more Ebola outbreaks than any other place on earth. It is well practiced in fighting the deadly virus.

Ebola was first identified in DR Congo (then Zaire) in 1976. Since then, there have been at least nine outbreaks in the country. The last was in 2014, when – at the same time – parts of West Africa were fighting a separate outbreak, the worst in history.

DR Congo was able to bring an end to its epidemic within four months. In West Africa, which had never experienced an Ebola outbreak before, it took two years.

Authorities in the DR Congo will need to act quickly to contain the virus, and ensure it doesn’t spread to more populated areas.

This time, for the first time, health officials have another weapon they can use. The world has an experimental vaccine

 

Premium Times

‎Nigerian govt announces steps to prevent Ebola

Ebola patient being attended to during the last outbreak

Ebola patient being attended to during the last outbreak

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has called on health care providers and the general public to be vigilant and intensify awareness on the symptoms of haemorrhagic fevers.

The minister’s statement on Saturday follows the announcement by WHO‎ of a confirmed case of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Health on Saturday, the federal government in response to the WHO announcement directed health officials at the ports to step up inspection activities and to report any sick person or suspects. Such sick persons are to be referred to the chief epidemiologist in the state where there are present and relevant tests conducted.

The minister noted that health care providers and the general public must immediately report any sign of illness to public health officials.

He urged Nigerians not to panic saying the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is on ground and equipped to secure the health of citizens.

“The agency has for a while now, been strengthening states capacities to detect, manage and respond to hemorrhagic fevers including Lassa fever and symptoms to look out for include; fever, fatigue, weakness dizziness and muscle aches.

“Patients with more severe cases show bleeding under the skin, internal organs or even from bodily orifices like mouth, ears, and the ears,” he added.

The health minister, therefore, directed that all Nigerian health workers should maintain a high index of suspicion by screening all fevers for Ebola. He also charged state health ministries to strengthen their supervision services and escalate any incident appropriately.

He called on states to begin social mobilisation and media awareness efforts via TV, radio, print and social media.

The minister also encouraged members of the public to observe a high level of personal hygiene including regular hand washing and to also report all cases of fever to the nearest health facility.

Nigeria was declared free of Ebola virus by the WHO in October 2014 and the country praised for its handling of the disease which caused about 4,500 deaths across‎ West Africa.