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Spinal meningitis threatens 450 million Africans

first_imgMedical experts from eight of African countries say 450 million people in the continent face possible threat of Spinal meningitis which can kill in 24 hours.Meningococcal meningitis is a global burden that affects 1.2 million people every year and causes the death of 135 000 of them, said the doctors from west and central Africa.Twenty-six countries that make up the so-called “African meningitis belt that stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia – an area home to 450 million people – may be heavily affected by epidemic outbreaks,” the doctors said at a press conference.“Meningitis is still a problem, we must react to avoid tragedy,” said Dr Elia Gilbernair, a medic at pharmaceutical giant Sanofi which organised the conference.Dr Gilbernair added that countries don’t make calls for stockpiles of meningitis vaccines until the last moment, when an epidemic is declared.Mali’s Professor Mamadou Keita Marouf called for a mass vaccination programme to help prevent the disease responsible for “practically decimating a generation”.Professor Ye Ouattara Diarra, from Burkina Faso, described meningitis as a public health problem and called for increased monitoring to help detect cases early.The World Health Organization (WHO) warned in December of a risk of fresh meningitis outbreaks this year in Africa, particularly Niger and Nigeria which were both badly hit in 2015.Meningitis is an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and can be life-threatening.Symptoms include high fever, a stiff neck, vomiting and severe headaches.last_img read more

FIFA president Infantino cleared of wrongdoing in ethics probe

first_imgFIFA president Infantino cleared of wrongdoing in ethics probeFIFA’s ethics committee on Friday cleared president Gianni Infantino of ethics violations after investigating him over his use of private jets, personal expenses, hiring methods and a contract dispute.“After conducting both preliminary and formal investigation proceedings, the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has decided to conclude its investigations concerning FIFA President Gianni Infantino. It was found that no violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics had been committed”, a statement said.The statement marked the first time the committee acknowledged the existence of a probe targeting Infantino, who replaced Sepp Blatter in February vowing to crack down on widespread corruption in FIFA.Source: AFPlast_img read more

Germany mulls taking away citizenship from jihadists

first_imgGermany mulls taking away citizenship from jihadistsGermany unveiled Thursday tough new anti-terror measures after two attacks claimed by the Islamic State group, including a controversial proposal to strip jihadist fighters of their German nationality.Deportations of convicted criminal migrants will also be sped up while police resources are to be greatly boosted under the security package drawn up by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.“Germans who participate in fighting abroad for a terror militia and who have another citizenship should lose their German nationality,” de Maiziere said.Around 820 people have left Germany to fight alongside jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, according to estimates by German secret services.With about one in three fighters having since returned to Germany, fears are running high of the threat they may pose on European soil.The security package must still be approved by the country’s right-left coalition as well as in the German parliament, and the issue of taking away German citizenship could be disputed, with Green lawmaker Volker Beck swiftly condemning it as “desperate activism”.De Maiziere himself also acknowledged that it “would be a difficult point” with the government’s junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD).But making his case, he pointed to German legislation which already allows for citizens with dual nationalities and who fight for a foreign army to be stripped of their German citizenship.“So if someone fights for a terror militia that is similar to an armed force, and which calls itself an army, I don’t see why this should not be considered,” he argued.SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel signalled that his party is “ready for discussions on anything that can contribute to reinforcing security”, but added that “we are not available for any populist quick fix”.– ‘Accelerated deportation’ –In the wake of the November 13 Paris attacks, French President Francois Hollande had proposed stripping convicted terrorists of their French nationality. But the suggestion had to be dropped after a fierce debate, as critics warned it would create stateless individuals.Looking beyond the problem of homegrown jihadists, the interior minister also introduced plans to tackle threats posed by foreigners to Germany, including speeding up the deportation process for those convicted.Germany’s toughened stance comes after two attacks in July by migrants in the southern state of Bavaria — an axe rampage on a train in Wuerzburg and a suicide bombing in Ansbach.In Wuerzburg, the 17-year-old attacker was shot dead by police after injuring five people. In Ansbach, 15 people were injured after a failed Syrian asylum seeker detonated an explosive device outside a music festival, killing himself.The link to migrants has put intense pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel over her liberal asylum policies that saw 1.1 million refugees arrive in Germany last year.With two state elections in September — at Merkel’s stronghold Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and in Berlin — and a general election next year, concern is growing among the political mainstream that populist party, the AfD, could make record gains.De Maiziere said the latest anti-terror measures should be adopted before the autumn 2017 elections.On the policing front, the minister said he would seek a “four-digit increase” in police jobs, on top of a staffing increase agreed by the government for 4,600 new posts over the next year.Spending on security would also be raised by 2.0 billion euros ($2.2 billion) by 2020.A special division will be set up within federal police forces that would coordinate security efforts in terror situations, he added.And a new unit would be formed to draw up strategies and design products to combat cyber-crime and terrorism.De Maiziere however rejected a call from conservative Christian Democrat state interior ministers for a burqa ban, saying: “We can’t ban everything that we reject, and I reject the wearing of the burqa.”Source: AFPlast_img read more

World Cancer Day 2017 on a mission to reduce illness and…

first_imgAccording to the World Health organization, late diagnosis of cancer leads to millions of people enduring needless suffering and premature death. The organization has however called for efforts to catch the disease earlier to be stepped up.In a report launched ahead of World Cancer Day on February 4, the WHO said it wanted to improve chances of survival for cancer patients by ensuring health services focus on diagnosing and treating the disease earlier.“Diagnosing cancer in late stages, and the inability to provide treatment, condemns many people to unnecessary suffering and early death,” said Etienne Krug, a WHO expert on chronic disease and cancer.He said early diagnosis of cancer and prompt treatment, especially for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers, would lead to more people surviving the disease and cut treatment costs.“Detecting cancer early … greatly reduces cancer’s financial impact. Not only is the cost of treatment much less in cancer’s early stages, but people can also continue to work and support their families if they can access effective treatment in time ,” the WHO report said.Cancer is responsible for almost one in six deaths globally, according to the report.In 2010, the annual combined cost of healthcare and loss of productivity was estimated at $1.16 trillion US.More than 14 million people develop cancer every year, and this figure is projected to rise to more than 21 million by 2030. Some 8.8 million die of cancer each year.The WHO moreover, acknowledged that the challenges were greater in poorer countries, where diagnostic services such as imaging, laboratory and pathology skills are rarer, urging such countries to prioritize ‘basic, high-impact and low-cost cancer diagnosis and treatment service.’It said it was important to reduce the number of cases where patients have to pay for care out of their own pockets — which stops many from seeking help.last_img read more

UN: More than 1 million South Sudanese children flee ongoing violence

first_imgThe United Nations says more than one million children have fled South Sudan’s escalating civil war.Similar numbers are also displaced within the country. The situation in South Sudan has been described as the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. Children make up 62-percent of those who flee to neighboring countries. The UN also says nearly three-quarters of South Sudan’s children don’t go to school — the highest in the world. And hundreds of thousands are at risk of starvation. South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013. Tens of thousands of people have been killed.Ethnic divisions have deepened and UN officials are worried that parts of the country are at risk of genocide.last_img read more

Video gamers say their industry could create millions of jobs in…

first_imgVirtual Reality more than just fun and games Related Video games could be part of 2024 Olympicscenter_img Africa’s gaming sector is on course for a huge expansion, which could provide millions of new jobs across the continent, according to participants at the second FEJA gaming event that’s just been held in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.Couretsy: FEJAAt $140 billion, the global video games industry is already a cool $100 billion larger than the film industry, and African games companies are hoping to become major players.According to Serge Thiam, digital strategy director at Stay Connect, in 2014, Africa had 23 million video games players, and that reached 500 million in 2018, largely due to the rapid penetration of smartphones.The games market itself has grown from $105 million to $570million in the same four-year period. Combine that with hardware sales and gaming is already a billion-dollar business in Africa.African games developers face a range of issues. Internet connections are slow, unreliable and, at up to $150 a month for broadband, prohibitively expensive.Hardware lags behind what is available in other regions and programming talent is scarce. Further issues hamper game development and monetization on the continent, such as a lack of both an integrated payments system for enabling in-game purchases and advertising exchanges that could serve in-game ads that allow developers to offer games for free. But the sector is growing at over eight percent annually, and overall economic development is easing some of the industry’s ills.In terms of kick-starting the industry on the continent, a lack of awareness around its potential has also been a major setback.“We didn’t ever have a [school] class where someone said ‘make a video game’,” said Wilfried Ouonouan, game designer at Abidjan-based Work’d gaming studio. “We’ve learned game developing thanks to YouTube and the Internet. We started a company thanks to YouTube,” but, he said, the company is struggling to grow as it cannot find enough skilled staff.FEJA, which took place in Abidjan from 23-25 November, is the largest, most representative video game event in Africa, in terms of the number of countries represented and the almost 40 pro gamers flying in from across the continent.The eSports tournaments are crowd-pullers with 13 million francs CFA in prize money ($22,500) for tournaments for FIFA, Street Fighter, Fortnite and Candy Crush, but despite the prize fund, the second FEJA has a purely business aim: job creation for the video games industry.As games become bigger and more complex, they require expanding teams of project managers, marketers, sound designers and testers. “We can easily see one million people hired in the games industry in West Africa by 2025 – or more. Throughout Africa as a whole that could reach five million,” Sidick Bakayoko, founder and CEO of Paradise Game, told FRANCE 24.FEJA’s organizers, Abidjan-based Paradise Game, see the three-day event as both an international showcase for Africa’s gaming industry, and an opportunity to raise awareness at home of the potential of the games sector.“If we want game developers to start joining us, we need to make sure that they see there are examples of African companies that develop games,” said Bakayoko. “We really want to help push [the developers] so they can grow, and that will impact the entire market.last_img read more

US, others express concern about violence in Sudan

first_imgSouth Sudan government denies renewed violence in Malakal region South Sudan government tasks leaders to explain ongoing violence The United States, Britain, Norway and Canada say they are concerned by “credible reports” that Sudan’s security forces have used live ammunition against demonstrators demanding that President Omar Bashir step down.In a joint statement issued late on Monday in Khartoum, the four nations urged all parties to avoid violence or the destruction of property while affirming the right of the Sudanese people to peacefully protest to express their “legitimate grievances.”Amnesty International meanwhile said it had “credible reports” that Sudanese police have killed 37 protesters in clashes during the anti-government demonstrations that erupted last week across much of the country.It said the use of lethal force by security forces against unarmed protesters was “extremely troubling” given that more protests were planned on Tuesday.A coalition of independent professional unions has called for a march on the presidential palace in Khartoum later on Tuesday to submit a petition demanding that President Omar Bashir, who rose to power in a 1989 military coup, step down. Two of Sudan’s largest political parties called on their supporters to take part.Relatedcenter_img Sexual Violence in South Sudan Ongoing Despite Ceasefire Agreementlast_img read more

South Sudan’s Kiir wants a delay in formation of unity government

first_imgFormation of South Sudan unity government suspended as Machar stays aways The president of oil-rich South Sudan said on Wednesday that the formation of a unity government should be delayed by at least a year, despite a May 12 deadline in a September peace agreement that ended the civil war.President Salva Kiir said the government had been unable to disarm, house, train and integrate South Sudan’s various forces since the deal had been signed, and rejected a suggestion by former rebel leader Riek Machar that the new government be formed in six months.Kiir said that postponement came at Machar’s request, but said the rainy season would make it hard to accomplish the integration of their forces within six months.“Instead of six months let us call for one year, because from May up to November, there will be rain still and you cannot move with a car to any location,” Kiir said in his speech. “We can form the government by April or May.”Machar called for a six-month delay during a meeting with the Pope last month.Around 400,000 people died during South Sudan’s five-year civil war, which broke out in 2013 between forces loyal to Machar – then vice president – and KiirThe September agreement followed a string of failed peace deals but has largely held so far, despite both parties missing key deadlines. The cash strapped government has tried to use the breathing space to boost oil production, its only significant source of revenue.Little progress has been made on state boundaries or the integration of government and rebel forces. On Wednesday, Kiir also accused Machar’s group of seeking new recruits, breaking the peace agreement.Kiir suggested he could do the same.“He is now recruiting and this recruitment is prohibited in the agreement and if it is a matter of recruitment, it does not cost me much to also recruit.”Machar’s military spokesman denied the recruiting accusation, saying they only were sending envoys to communities to discuss the peace deal.“Our chief of general staff and his commanders are for peace not war,” Lam Paul Gabriel, the acting spokesman for Machar’s rebels, said by phone from Addis Ababa on Wednesday. “Peace dissemination is what is being misunderstood as recruitment.”Related South Sudan Unity Government asked to include women in appointment of government jobscenter_img South Sudan begin transition to a unity governmentlast_img read more

Addis Ababa motobike ban takes effect

first_imgChinese-sponsored railway inaugurated in Addis Ababa Addis Ababa gets its first antique shop A ban on motorbikes came into force in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday.The city’s authorities imposed the ban in a bid to curb crime after reports emerged that motorbikes were used by thugs to rob residents.Addis Ababa mayor Takele Uma said a huge number of crimes within the city had been carried out on motorbikes.The ban will however not affect businesses including delivery companies that operate in the city.“Exceptions will be made to those conducting licensed businesses with motorcycles as well as those who use motorcycles as postal carriers and motorcycles affiliated to embassies,” the mayor said last month.Motorbikes have become popular in Addis Ababa as a way of evading traffic jams.Other cities around the continent also have similar bans in place, including the capital of neighbouring Kenya, Nairobi.In Nigeria, motorbikes are not allowed in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcout.In his announcement of the ban last month, mayor Takele also said Addis Ababa’s authorities would seek more ways to reduce traffic congestion.Relatedcenter_img Reviving Jazz in Addis Ababalast_img read more

Uganda to borrow nearly $2 bln to fund 2020/21 budget

first_imgConcerns raised over Uganda’s heavy borrowing to bolster budget Uganda Tennis Uganda to start exporting medical marijuana in 2020center_img Uganda’s legal tender (Photo: New Vision) Uganda is planning to borrow 6.9 trillion shillings ($1.89 billion) from external lenders in the 2020/2021 (July-June) fiscal year to partly finance its budget.Uganda shillings./Photo by Universal Images/Getty ImagesA finance ministry budget paper seen by Reuters on Monday showed the funds will be in “form of concessional and non-concessional” credit.The paper did not however indicate how much was borrowed in the previous financial year. It also did not reveal from whom the money would be borrowed.President Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, is widely expected to seek re-election early in 2021.Public spending typically surges in election periods in Uganda, which has some times triggered pressure on consumer prices and the local currency.The paper said economic growth in 2020/2021 would be 6.2%, driven by higher productivity in manufacturing and agriculture and “public and private sector investment as well as regional and domestic trade.”Uganda’s mounting public debt has been fueling concern. The International Monetary Fund has urged authorities to rein in borrowing.Relatedlast_img read more