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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Malaria vaccine trials: AMMREN commends WHO over 3 African countries selection

The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) has commended the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the choice of three African countries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, for the first malaria vaccine trials beginning in 2018, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to the WHO, the injectable vaccine RTS,S was developed to protect young children from the most deadly form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum and it will be assessed in the pilot programme as a complementary malaria control tool that could potentially be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention.

Welcoming this development, AMMREN Executive Secretary, Dr. Charity Binka told NaijaAgroNet that they see the introduction of the vaccine in these countries as an opportunity to step up advocacy directed to whipping up public support for the malaria elimination agenda and specifically for the vaccine.

AMMREN, she said, also called for the training and equipping of journalists to promote accurate and effective dissemination of information on the vaccine and other tools to ensure that media content on the vaccine is well packaged and disseminated in a timely and accurate manner, nationally and globally.

In addition, she said building of the capacity of scientists and researchers to communicate effectively with journalists from data generated from malaria research, tools and the vaccine, cannot be over-emphasised.

The network said that by facilitating widespread awareness of the RTS,S vaccine, particularly among families and community members would foster accurate understanding of the potential risks and benefits of the RTS,S malaria vaccine and need for continued use of other malaria control measures.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that AMMREN has over the years, laid a solid foundation for African journalists to partner with scientists and stakeholders in the fight to kick out malaria from the continent.

Thus, the skills of journalists across Africa have also been sharpened to tell the malaria story as well as the RTS,S malaria vaccine stories.

AMMREN further urged all stakeholders to join forces to carry out a sustained media advocacy project on the malaria elimination and to push for public acceptance of the RTS,S vaccine.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Earth Day 2017: GROHE shares tips on water saving in Africa

The German leading brand in sanitary fittings, GROHE, has shared some tips on water saving on the continent of Africa, as part of the 2017 World Earth Day through its commitment to innovative design with a strong focus on sustainability, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Environmental and Climate Literacy,” GROHE said that for sustainability sake, is a corporate value with a tradition and a future.

GROHE, NaijaAgroNet gathered, has developed a wide portfolio of advanced product technologies and launched also a series of awareness campaigns and programs to change mindsets and habits.

Since 2009, NaijaAgroNet also gathered that GROHE has launched the Green Mosque Initiative in many countries, whereby the company partners with local entities to install water-efficient products in the ablution rooms of mosques to help the respective regions achieve sustainable reduction in water consumption.

The Vice President of GROHE Egypt, North and West Africa, Mohammed Ataya, said Muslim worshippers' ritual ablutions consume between 10 and 15 liters of water per day, stressing that every possibility to save water therefore has a great impact on consumption, asserting, “mosques play an important role in people’s day-to-day lives.”

The initiative, NaijaAgroNet reports, has reduced water consumption for the cleansing rituals by roughly 30 per cent which is good for the environment and helps cut costs.

“Water saving taps and showers and water saving flush systems are two of the main ways that everyday citizens can contribute to protecting the environment, and sustainability is one of the core values and a top priority in the creation of every GROHE product for bathrooms and from the design to development stages.” Ataya said.

In addition, Ataya said, quality materials, first-class design and advanced engineering all play an important role in saving water, citing for example, GROHE EcoJoy hand showers with the feature as an integrated flow limiter, an Eco button or spray dimmer which lets user choose when to reduce the water flow.

GROHE, says it agrees strongly with the Earth Day ethos that everyone needs to be empowered with the knowledge and the products to inspire action and protect the environment. Noting that the individual choice to reduce water consumption is only one of the many strategies needed to address the issue of water scarcity but it gives each person a role to play in protecting the planet.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE with additional report from APO
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Over 1.2bn Africans lack access to basic sanitation

Over 1.2 billion Africans are surviving without basic sanitation and 395 million people are without clean water, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This is coming as over 130 million Nigerians have been identified as not having access to adequate sanitation out of the total in Africa.

WaterAid made this disclosure as part of the commemoration of the 2017 World Earth Day which theme centred on “Environmental and Climate Literacy” saying the collaborative monitoring platform set up by WaterAid, showed that 57 million people in Nigeria don't have access to safe water.

Also, WaterAid revealed that the over 130 million people living without access to adequate sanitation accounts for the two third of the population and around 45,000 children under five years old die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that with Africa’s population projected to be 2.2 billion by 2030, only 32 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africans will have access to sanitation by 2030.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WHO launches fourth report on Neglected Tropical Diseases

All is now set for launching of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Fourth Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Geneva, Switzerland, reports NaijaAgroNet.
This effort, industry observers said, show transformational progress against these debilitating diseases, and a commitment by the United Kingdom to more than double its funding for NTDs.

NaijaAgroNet reports that this meeting comes five years after the launch of the London Declaration on NTDs a commitment by the public and private sectors to achieve the WHO goals for control, elimination and eradication of 10 NTDs. Noting that about billions of treatments have been donated by pharmaceutical companies and delivered to impoverished communities in nearly 150 countries, reaching nearly a billion people in 2015.

NTDs, NaijaAgroNet gathered, are some of the oldest and most painful diseases, afflicting the world’s poorest communities, to the extent that one in six people suffer from NTDs worldwide, including more than half a billion children.
NaijaAgroNet reports that NTDs are known to disable, debilitate and perpetuate cycles of poverty, keeping children out of school, parents out of work, and dampening hope of any chance of an economic future.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

AfDB President, Adesina predicts Dangote to become largest rice exporter in 2021

The president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has predicted that the Dangote group may become the largest exporter of rice in the world by 2021, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Speaking at the Mo Ibrahim Forum in Morocco over the weekend, Adesina said Africa must focus on agriculture to drive growth and create jobs on the continent.

“I remember when I was minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. Aliko Dangote was there, and he was our biggest importer at the time, and he and I used to have all the time to dialogue,” Adesina said.

“One day, I was in my office, about 10 O’clock, Aliko walks in, Ngozi was minister of finance. Aliko bangs on my door and said ‘minister I came to see you’, and I said ‘what are we going to disagree on this time? He said no, I have actually looked at the policies, and the policies you put in place for import substitution are very right policies. So, I have changed my business model from being an importer to being a local producer,” he said.

Adesina narrated the role Dangote played in his happiest day as a minister in Nigeria.

“I said what exactly are you going to do. He said I will put in $300 million into producing and processing rice in Nigeria. I said yippee! I went home, I told my wife, my best day as minister,” he said.

“He comes back three months after that, he says I have changed my mind, I said ‘what in the world happened?’ He said no, I have changed my mind from $300 million to a billion dollars.

“If they continue that policy, he would probably be the single largest producer of rice in the world, in about four years. The reason why I was so excited about that is that agriculture is cool, agriculture is a business…agriculture pays.”

Adesina was named Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2013, while Dangote won the same award in 2014.

It would be recalled that a tripartite agreement put together by the Dangote Rice limited to create jobs for 16,000 outgrower rice farmers in Sokoto was recently signed with the Sokoto State government and rice growers in the country after which he launched the rice outgrowers scheme in Sokoto.

Aliko Dangote, the Chairman of Dangote Rice Limited, said he was moved to go into rice cultivation because of the genuine interest of the Federal government to revive agriculture as the mainstay of the economy, and reduce importation of foods that could be produced locally.

He lamented that Nigeria consumes 6.5 Meric tonnes (mtn) of rice which costs the nation over 2 billion dollars annually, pointing out that it is heartening that the government now has policy direction that encourages private sector’s active participation in agriculture.

He disclosed then that “In the next three years we want to produce one million tons of quality rice and make it available and affordable to the people. We hope to do 150, 000 ha and when we are done, Nigeria will not have anything to do with importation of rice.

“Dangote Rice outgrowers scheme is committed to creating significant number of jobs, increasing the incomes of smallholders farmers and ensuring food security in the country by providing high quality seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals as well as technical assistance on best agricultural practice to farmers.

"This Scheme will help to diversify the economy, alleviate poverty and reduce the nation's import bill. The scheme has been designed as a one stop solution for the rice value chain," Dangote declared.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Monday, April 17, 2017

National Food Donors Encouragement Bill: Ghana’s shared responsibility to end hunger

Each year about 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted and at the same time about 800 million people do not have access to sufficient and nutritious food (Global FoodBanking Network, 2014). This figure represents roughly one third of food produced for human consumption. Food can be either lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption (FAO, 2011).

The Cost of Hunger in Ghana report by the National Development Planning Commission in 2016 shows that Ghana loses GH¢ 4.6 billion which is equivalent to 6.4 per cent GDP annually to hunger among children and 24% of all child mortality cases in Ghana are associated with under nutrition.

The difference between losses and waste lies in the supply chain stage where food is no longer usable for human consumption. Loss occurs when food does not reach the final consumer due to improper handling, packing and storage. Such foods are not suitable for human consumption and only have a marginal value to be transformed as low cost fertilizers and fuel.

Waste occurs when the product that reached the final marketplace is not consumed due to improper consumer behavior, bad storage practices as well as to the lack of coordination between different stakeholders in the supply chain. Food and Beverage Association of Ghana estimates shows it members loss over GH¢200,000 every month to food waste.

In many cases, fresh products are rejected by large supermarket chains if they do not meet certain quality standards such as shape, size and appearance, regardless of their suitability for human consumption. In addition, many retail chains discard products before their expiring dates claiming that the products either are unsellable or generate negative image to the retailer. 

Consumer’s attitudes and the consumption culture also play their part as they reject food that is in good condition but with “not-so-good” appearance. Foods that have reached households are also wasted because they turn unsuitable for human consumption. Restaurants and hotels are other stakeholders within the food waste menace, because of the large portions served to customers. Since not all the portion is consumed, the rest will end up in the garbage bin.

The role of the local governments in setting up measures and regulations towards food donation is very critical in ensuring reduction of food waste and hunger in society.

The PNDCL 3058 Food and Drugs Act.1992 does not make explicit provision for food donations which has resulted in little contribution towards reducing hunger in Ghana by some stakeholder’s within the food supply chain.The Ghana School Feeding Programme been an initiative of the comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar 3 which seeks to enhance food security and reduce hunger in line with the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on hunger, poverty and malnutrition had since 2007 been implemented to encourage child enrollment through the provision of  one meal per day. 

Currently the National School Feeding program faces challenges such as expansion and caterers demand for increase of the cost from Gh¢0.80p per child however with a National Food Donors Encouragement Act, private stakeholder businesses in Ghana will donate their excess towards the program.

A lot of initiatives have been launched in Ghana by public, private and civil stakeholders towards improving child under nutrition and hunger in Ghana however little or no attention has been drawn on the role of food recovery and redistribution as a tool towards addressing the problem of hunger and the inefficiencies within our food supply chain.

A study by Food for All Africa programme between 2015-2016 showed that 92% of stakeholders in Ghana’s food supply chain agreed that, with a national regulation  mechanism they would want to donate their excess food to the vulnerable  rather than waiting for it to go waste and dispose off.
Donors often fear that they will be held legally responsible if recipients of donated food become ill, and this fear discourages them from donating. However, with the National Food Donors Encouragement laws that protect food donors from liability.

The National Food Donors Act will protect persons or gleaners making good faith donations of food or grocery products to non‐profit charitable organizations such as orphanages, schools and vulnerable communities are protected. A “gleaner” is someone who harvests donated agricultural crops.
Non‐profit organizations that receive the donated food, and ultimately distribute the donations to those in need are also covered.

Private businesses donating their excess food products or resources towards creating sustainable means of nutrition for the vulnerable in society. Tax incentives must be given to amount donated.
Good faith/CSR donations, made to non‐profit organizations, ultimately going to those in need are protected. 

The donations must be:
1) “Apparently wholesome” food.
(2) “Apparently fit” grocery products.
These items meet the PNDCL 3058 Food and Drugs Act, local labeling and quality standards but may not be readily marketable because of factors like age, appearance, freshness, grade, or size.

Slightly flawed partially complying donations, made in good faith, are also protected if:
(1) The donor informs the non‐profit of the item’s condition;
(2) The non‐profit knows the standards required to make the item conform;
(3) The non‐profit agrees to recondition the item to meet those standards.

These flaws can include broken packaging or missing labels, or items needing washing or trimming before distribution. Acceptance of such items helps use edible food that might otherwise be thrown away due to a technicality.

How are donors protected?
If the donation is made in good faith (honestly and with sincere intentions), the National Food Donors Encouragement Act will exempt those donors from civil or criminal liability which might arise from the donation’s nature, age, packaging or condition. The law will also protect donors of food that is “fit for human consumption,” regardless of compliance with food labeling/ packaging laws and storage/handling by the recipients.

When are donors not protected?
Liability arises if a food donor or recipient organization knows that their actions will harm or are likely to harm the recipient, and consciously acts anyway – i.e., gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

Under the Food Donors Encouragement bill, gross negligence is a much higher standard than ordinary negligence. Gross negligence should mean that a donor (or recipient organization) knew when it acted that its conduct was likely to harm someone else, and consciously acted (or failed to act), regardless of that knowledge.

Under the Bill, Intentional misconduct means a donor (or recipient organization) deliberately acted with knowledge that its actions would be harmful to others.

Why donate?
Donation of surplus food connects those in need with edible food that would otherwise be sent to landfills. 3 out of 5 children out of the 90,000 street children in Accra who are out of school run away from orphanages due to lack of regular means of nutrition. These people are part of the city’s population that does not have sufficient access or resources available to obtain and consume enough nutritious food to support a healthy life.

In Ghana,1 out of 4 children goes to bed hungry (UNICEF ,2015)  at a time when 45% of food goes uneaten and much of that contributes to the over 15 million tons of food that ends up rotting in landfills. Connecting hungry people with available food helps combat both of these critical problems.
Donations also create savings for donors by lowering the costs of food disposal and the opportunity for charitable food donation tax deductions.

Why Food for All Ghana Programme?
Food for All Ghana programme makes the surplus food donation process easy, by picking up and transporting food and grocery item donations to the places and programs that need them. This helps valuable programs stretch their limited budgets during a time of decreasing government and foundation funding, keeps edible food out of landfills, and most importantly, helps hungry people have better access to a nutritious meal. Food for All Africa has since 2015 been operating West Africa’s first community food support centre and have created a  forum for stakeholder’s within Ghana’s food supply chain to  work together towards reducing hunger in Ghana and accelerate Ghana’s effort in attaining the UN SDG 2 and 12.

Considering the outcome of research and report from the 1st Food for All Ghana conference held in 2016, the need for a nationwide protection offered by a National Food Donors Encouragement Act, the valuable incentives for reducing hunger and wasting food, and the ease of expanding the National Food feeding program, Food for All Africa programme on 15th June, 2017 will launch a two year’s multi-stakeholder National campaign for the passage of the Food Donors Encouragement Bill.

*Elijah Amoo Addo, Executive Director contributed this from Accra, Ghana

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Pix: Food for all campaign on food donation bill in Ghana.

Scientists reveal advances for rheumatoid arthritis patients

A group of scientists at the Universities of Manchester and East Anglia have discovered advances for rheumatoid arthritis patients, reports NaijaAgroNet.

As said by them, people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis have experienced significant improvements in their daily lives which is probably down to early and more aggressive treatment of the disease, according to new research from The Universities of Manchester and East Anglia.

James Gwinnutt, first author of this study from The University of Manchester, conducted  the Arthritis Research UK study, led by Dr Suzan Verstappen University of Manchester, into the devastating disease which examined 20 years of data from 1990 to 2010.

The 602 patients in this study, published in Published in Arthritis and Rheumatology, were recruited to the Norfolk Arthritis Register (NOAR:  Chief Investigator Professor Alex MacGregor University of East Anglia) and assessed at regular intervals over the course of 20 years.

The team found that patients who were prescribed disease modifying drug therapies such as sulfasalazine, methotrexate and steroids within 6 months of symptom onset experienced significantly better ability to walk, grip and dress themselves over the course of 20 years compared, to patients who were treated later.

And patients who received these disease modifying drug therapies within the first 6 months had a lower risk of dying, after controlling for the severity of the disease.

Mr Gwinnutt said: “This research shows that patients who received treatment early after symptom onset had similar levels of disability over the subsequent 20 years compared to patients who were judged by clinicians not to require treatment, after accounting for the differences in disease severity between the groups.

“Though there is a broad range in terms of how people are affected by the disease, the number of patients whose lives have improved has increased thanks in part to early treatment.”

He added: “The good news is that early intervention has become more and more common in the NHS over these past 20 years.

“In the early 1990s early intervention would happen in about 30% of cases. Nowadays, that figure is probably more like 60-70%.

“There’s no reason why this improvement could not extend further.”

Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, comments;

“Rheumatoid arthritis is an incredibly painful condition that can be diagnosed at any age and can have an impact on a person’s everyday life. This study confirms how important early diagnosis and the commencement of treatment is. It is also encouraging to hear about the progress that has been made over the last 20 years.

Now the scientific community must continue to build on this so that together we can continue to harness the power of exceptional science and make everyday life better for all people with arthritis.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation and pain.

It is the second most common form of arthritis in the UK and around 1% of the adult population suffer from it.

There have been major advances in available treatments and strategies for the management of RA over the past 20 years.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Friday, April 14, 2017

2 Nigerians pick African woman prizes @New African...

2 Nigerians pick African woman prizes @New African...: ITRealms : Two Nigerian women, Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary to the United Nations and African model and fashion icon, Jo...

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Malala honoured as youngest UN Messenger of Peace

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, has designated children’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai as a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girls’ education, reports NaijaAgroNet.

“You have been to the most difficult places […] visited several refugee camps. Your foundation has schools in Lebanon, in the Beka’a Valley,” said Mr. Guterres at a ceremony in the Trusteeship Council chamber at UN Headquarters, in New York.
“[You are a] symbol of perhaps the most important thing in the world, education for all,” he highlighted.
Ms. Yousafzai, who was shot in 2012 by the Taliban for attending classes, is the youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace and the first one to be designated by Secretary-General Guterres since he assumed office in January this year.
Accepting the accolade, Ms. Yousafzai underscored the importance of education, especially education of girls, for advancing communities and societies.
“[Bringing change] starts with us and it should start now,” she said, adding: “If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now [and] not wait for anyone else.”
UN Messengers of Peace are distinguished individuals, carefully selected from the fields of art, literature, science, entertainment, sports or other fields of public life, who have agreed to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the global Organization.
Backed by the highest honour bestowed by the Secretary-General on a global citizen, these prominent personalities volunteer their time, talent and passion to raise awareness of UN’s efforts to improve the lives of billions of people everywhere.

Nkem Nweke/GEE 
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Boko Haram: UNICEF commends FG on release of over 500 women, children

UNICEF has welcomed the release of nearly six hundred women, children and elderly men from Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

“The action of the Nigerian army today is a major step towards the protection of children affected by the ongoing crisis. It provides hope in a conflict that continues to have an enormous impact on people’s lives.’’

“These children were held under administrative custody on alleged association with Boko Haram militants. They are victims of the conflict and it is crucial that they receive medical care, psychosocial support and other basic services that will help them to regain their dignity.”

“Once that process of recovery has started, we can help them to return to their families and to school or learn new skills that will give them some hope for the future.”

UNICEF continues to work with the relevant authorities to access children who are held for screening in order to safeguard their care and protection.

When military screening is needed, children should only be held as a measure of last resort and for the shortest time possible in accordance with national and international standards. These children are – first and foremost – victims of the conflict and require support to recover from their experiences and reintegrate with their families and communities.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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