Health Minister: 1.4 Mln COVID-19 Vaccine Doses to Be Destroyed

Caretaker Minister of Health Assen Medjidiev said in an interview for Bulgarian National Television on Saturday that some 1.4 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be destroyed. Medjidiev proceeded to compare the current version of COVID-19 to ordinary flu.

The Minister pointed as a success the government having the European Commission negotiate on its behalf buying fewer doses from Pfizer. ‘This removes the state’s obligation to receive vaccines, which it will have to destroy. We saved the state BGN 188 million from vaccines, which otherwise would have been paid for now in June and destroyed,’ he said. This money will now be used to build a children’s hospital, as well as a hotel and rehabilitation centre with the hospital.

The renegotiated contract between Pfizer and the European Commission gives Bulgaria the option to order new doses when needed and to pay for them when they get delivered.

According to Medjidiev, if the fee to visit a GP is increased, this should be borne by the state rather than the patient.

The Minister reported that the first helicopter ambulances will arrive in Bulgaria earlier than planned. The procedure for leasing the helicopters has been completed and was won by an Italian company. The first two helicopters on lease are expected to arrive in late June or early July. The first helicopter purchased is expected to be delivered here in December, and next year Bulgaria will receive two more.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Biya receives new Ambassadors at Unity Palace, years after COVID-19 restrictions

The new Ambassadors to Cameroon are set to deepen the relationship between their country and Cameroon.

Received at the Unity Palace on June 2, 2023, were five new accredited Ambassadors to Cameroon. Their Highnesses, Armando Kote Echuanca, designated Ambassador of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Kim Jonghan of the Republic of Korea, Eric Jacquemin of the Kingdom of Belgium, Mohammed Karim Ben Becher of Tunisia, and Volkan Isikci of the Republic of Turkey.

These Ambassadors presented their letters of credentials to the President of the Republic of Cameroon, Paul Biya.

The new heads of diplomatic missions were received separately by President Paul Biya for the presentation of the letters of credence and a brief exchange.

The Head of state was assisted by the Minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency of The Republic, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the Minister of External Relations Lejeune Mbella Mbella, the Minister, Director of the Civil Cabinet at the Presidency, Samuel Mvondo Ayolo and the Commander of the presidential guard Beko’o Abondo Charles.

This tradition at the Unity Palace was renewed after being interrupted by restrictions related to COVID-19.

Source: Cameroon News Agency

Bafoussam: Population sensitized on environmental protection, health risks

The population of the city of Bafoussam was sensitized to the harmful effects of the use of plastic packaging. They were also encouraged to keep their environments off, of plastic waste, as means of environmental protection.

This was during an awareness walk against the use of plastic packaging and collection which took place in the city of Bafoussam on Thursday, June 1, 2023, prior to the commemoration of the 51st edition of the World Environment Day on June 5, 2023.

This year’s Environment Day is commemorated under the theme “Solution to Plastic Pollution”.

Throughout the walk, in addition to the collection of plastic packaging and tree planting, essential messages on the consequences of the use of plastic materials on human health and the environment were passed across.

The public walk was led by the secretary general at the office of the West Regional Governor, Adrey EPENTE TAZEU.

The secretary-general said that “this sensitization is to help the population to have the habit not only to stop the use of these plastics but if they are used they should be properly disposed of. They should avoid disastrous consequences, especially in their health which is caused by plastic usage, non-biodegradable packaging, and plastic pollution”.

Still linked to the celebration of the 51st edition of World Environment Day, some 500 plants were planted in Bamelo in the district of Babadjou.

The apotheosis of this whole week of activities was scheduled to take place on Monday, June 5, 2023.

Source: Cameroon News Agency

ActionAid Ghana constructs classroom blocks for two basic schools

ActionAid Ghana, has constructed new classroom blocks for two basic schools in the Nanumba South District of the Northern Region to ensure access to quality basic education for children in the area.

The projects are fully furnished three-unit classroom block with a head teacher’s office, and store, a library, play equipment, sanitary facilities for pupils and teachers and a mechanised borehole with a polytank to ensure access to potable water to serve the lower primary block for the Nassamba D/A Primary School.

The specification for the other project is a two-unit classroom block with a sleeping lobby, which has mats, a dining room furnished with tables and chairs, play equipment, and sanitary facilities for teachers and pupils. It has a mechanised borehole to ensure access to potable water to serve the kindergarten block for the Montanaya R/C Kindergarten.

While the new lower primary block for Nassamba D/A Primary School is to augment the existing infrastructure of the school to admit more pupils and improve teaching and learning, the new kindergarten block for the Montanaya R/C Kindergarten has come as a great relief for the area as the school did not have a kindergarten block, leaving a total of 158 kindergarten pupils of the school to study under trees and in an uncompleted building.

The two facilities were provided by ActionAid Ghana with the one at Nassamba D/A Primary School being funded by a group of Italian donors, while the one at Montanaya R/C Kindergarten was funded by the ActionAid Ghana Country Programme.

Mr John Nkaw, Country Director of ActionAid Ghana, who spoke at separate events in the two communities to inaugurate the facilities, said the provision of the facilities marked the beginning of a remarkable journey towards making a real impact in the lives of the people of the area.

Mr Nkaw said ‘This ceremony is yet another demonstration of ActionAid’s commitment to the delivery of quality child-friendly public basic education. Since 1990, we have rolled out interventions to ensure that every child in Ghana is educated regardless of their socio-economic background or gender.’

He added that ‘The provision of model kindergarten facilities in some communities by ActionAid across the country is part of our bigger advocacy for improving learning outcomes and promoting safe and effective teaching and learning at the public basic education level. The facilities we provide, present a model to inform how kindergarten and other educational facilities should be conceived and implemented.’

He called on the government to increase budgetary allocation to the basic education sector to shore up the number and quality of infrastructure available for basic formal education across the country.

He appealed to the Nanumba South District Directorate of Education and members of the Nassamba and Montanaya communities to ensure that the facility was properly maintained and managed by trained teachers to serve them for a long time.

Mr Zakaria Issifu, Nanumba South District Chief Executive, commended ActionAid Ghana for its interventions in the district and said the facilities would complement the efforts of the District Assembly to reduce infrastructural deficits in the educational sector in the area.

Mr Issifu said the gesture, coupled with other interventions by the District Assembly, would help to enhance education in the area to ensure improved outcomes.

Mr Mohammed Abdel Manan, Head Teacher of Nassamba D/A Primary School said the facility would help to increase enrollment and improve teaching and learning.

Mr Abdul Razak Zakaria, Head Teacher of Montanaya R/C Kindergarten said the kindergarten pupils would now study in a conducive environment, which was good for their development.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Anglophone conflict, fight against Boko Haram ranked amongst most neglected crises in the world

The conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions and the fight against Boko Haram insurgencies in the Far Noth region were ranked in the 8th position amongst the most neglected displacement crises in the world in 2022.

This is contained in a report published by the Norwegian Refugee Council on June 1, 2023.

According to the report, three criteria were taken into consideration to measure the level of neglect. First was the lack of international political will characterized by the number of UN resolutions, peacekeeping missions, diplomatic will, or international discussions on these crises.

For this aspect, the NRC notes that “the political will of the international community to contribute to political solutions remained weak” and concluded that in the absence of an international initiative to find political solutions to the crisis the level of needs cannot show signs of improvement.

The second is the lack of media attention. The NRC notes that the level of media attention was about 0.5% in 2021, and remained very low in 2022.

The percentage was calculated by the number of media coverage against the number of people displaced by each crisis, using the latest figures from UNHCR and the NRC’s IDMC (Internal Travel Monitoring Centre)

The last is the lack of humanitarian funding. It highlighted that for the 2022 financial year, funding for the crisis remained limited, with international donors covering only 55% of the humanitarian response.

This was in a context where at the beginning of 2022, “3.9 million people in Cameroon needed help, a figure that rose to 4.7 million at the end of the year “the report revealed.

According to Human Rights Watch, as of August 2022, the 6 years conflict has recorded 598,000 displaced persons and at least 2 million people need humanitarian aid in these regions.

The UN estimates that Cameroon needs about 244 billion FCFA this year to help persons in all humanitarian crises including the Boko Haram insurgencies in the Far North, the influx of Central African refugees in the East, and the Anglophone conflict.

Source: Cameroon News Agency

Ghana breaks transmission of Lymphatic Filariasis in 109 districts

Ghana has broken transmission of Lymphatic Filariasis infections commonly known as elephantiasis in 109 districts across the country, leaving only seven districts under the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) exercise.

This means that lymphatic Filariasis or elephantiasis is no longer a health threat in those districts or the level of prevalence has reduced to a minimal level.

The Mass Drug Administration is the distribution of drugs to vaccinate people in endemic communities for the prevention of the disease also known as (Preventive Chemotherapy) and is a routine exercise conducted by the Ghana Health Service under the Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme (NTDP) being implemented with partners such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Lymphatic Filariasis is one of a group of 20 infectious and parasitic diseases which affect over one billion people worldwide, most of whom live in extreme poverty and are concentrated in remote rural areas, urban slums, and conflict zones.

The other NTDs Ghana is working to eliminate are Onchocerciases, Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminthes, Trachoma, Buruli Ulcer, Dracunculiasis, Leprosy, Rabies, Human African Trypanosomiases, Leishmaniases and Yaws.

Others are Cysticercosis, Echinococcosis, Dengue, Chaga’s disease, Foodborne Trematode Infections, Mycetoma, Scabies and snakebite Envenoming.

According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ghana is endemic for all five Preventive Chemotherapy (PC NTDs) and it employs the MDA approach to control, Lymphatic filariasis was endemic in 116 districts in 12 regions whiles onchocerciases are endemic in 137 districts in 15 regions, Trachoma was endemic in 44 districts in four regions.

Lymphatic Filariasis is an infectious disease caused by Wuchereria bancrofti, a parasitic worm transmitted by the mosquito vector female anopheles, once infected it destroys lymphatics which are responsible for the maintenance of fluid balance and play a part in the immune system.

The clinical manifestations of this disease include fever, Chills, Pain, redness of parts of the body, skin damage, swelling of affected limbs and Lymphadenopathy.

Dr Kofi Asemanyi-Mensah, Manager of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme in an interview at the National launching of this year’s Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis integrated MDA and Trainer of Trainers in Koforidua, indicated that the mass drug administration exercise had been very successful considering the break in transmission in 109 districts.

Throwing more light on the Mass Drug Administration, Dr Asemanyi-Mensah explained that the drugs acted as vaccination to prevent transmission adding that, ‘the drug adherence rate has been very high, and the routine drug administration exercise has been very successful evident in the fact that transmission has been broken in the majority of the endemic districts.’

The Mass Drug Administration provides a single dose medication to all eligible individuals once or twice a year and has been implemented over three to seven years by the GHS and its partners to reduce the burden of neglected tropical Diseases such as Lymphatic Filariases and Onchocerciases.

He noted that the disease could affect every part of the body including the scrotum and breast, but the commonly affected area is the leg, and due to its mode of transmission, everybody in the endemic areas could be affected.

Infection is usually acquired in childhood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system, ‘however, the painful and disfiguring visible manifestations of the disease lymphoedema or elephantiasis and scrotal swelling occur later in life and patients are not only physically disabled but suffer mental, social and financial losses’

Dr Asemanyi-Mensah indicated that apart from the drug administration to prevent transmission, the programme also does morbidity management and disability control of lymphoedema (treatment of affected limbs) and in some cases surgery to treat infection of the scrotum as well as education on best practices to prevent the infection.

‘Since it’s transmitted by the anopheles mosquito which also causes malaria, another infectious disease, it is important for people to keep their surroundings clean to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and also sleep under the Insecticides treated nets to prevent mosquito bites.’ He advised.

As part of the process of eliminating Lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciases by the year 2030, the NTD programme is implementing this year’s mass drug administration in 76 oncho-endemic districts targeted at reaching about 5.4 million people and the remaining seven lymphatic filariasis endemic districts targeting 400,000 people.

In 2022, the GHS’s Neglected Tropical Disease Programme with support from all stakeholders achieved 83.8% treatment coverage for lymphatic filariasis while treatment coverage for onchocerciases was 84.2% and 83.4% in the first and second rounds of treatment respectively.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Church of Christ Vertical Centre donates sanitary pads to school girls

As part of their annual project, ‘Help a Sister Out Sanitary Pad Donation Drive,’ maidens of the Church of Christ Vertical Centre Tema have donated sanitary pads to young girls at Christian Vertical School.

The donation which also coincided with the 2023 World Menstrual Day celebration was to help the young ladies deal with their menstrual cycle.

Dr Josephine E. Owusu Appiah, a Physician Assistant at Tulaku Health Centre, addressed the young girls on personal cleanliness and diseases like Chlamydia and Candidiasis that are likely to affect them if they do not maintain hygiene throughout their period.

She also interacted with the students and answered their questions about menstruation.

‘Taking painkillers during your menstruation is advisable and is of no harm to the individual; it rather helps reduce cramps and related pains during the flow, however, too much of everything is bad,’ she said.

Madam Lois Foli, the leader of the Maidens donation organisation, told the Ghana News Agency Tema Regional Office that it is a yearly effort to ensure good menstrual practices among young girls.

She said they will contact other government schools to ensure that schoolgirls are given sanitary pads for their academics to function smoothly.

Mrs Foli encouraged the government to reduce sanitary pad tariffs so that schoolgirls can use them during their menstruation to safeguard their safety and attend class throughout their menstrual cycle.

Some recipients of the donation expressed their happiness to GNA. Miss Agnes Afia Asantewaa Annor, the prefect of the girls’ school, noted that they have received an education and would spread it to other young ladies so that everyone can benefit from the education and sensitization.

The Compound Prefect, Miss Paulina Nana Yaa Tetteh, also implores other Non-Governmental Organizations to assist girls with sanitary pads so they would not skip class while they are menstruating.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Anthrax outbreak: one dead, 11 infected at Binduri

One person has been confirmed dead while 11 others are infected with Anthrax, after an outbreak of the disease in the Binduri District of the Upper East Region.

In a statement, signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency by Dr Emmanuel Kofi Dzotsi, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, the victims consumed the carcass of dead cattle infected with anthrax.

‘On June 1, 2023, the Regional Health Directorate received notification for two anthrax cases with one death in Binduri District following the consumption of dead cattle.

‘In all, four cattle have died in the affected community. So far, 11 suspected cases have been identified and contact tracing efforts are underway in the community.’

The statement, therefore, warned all districts especially those bordering Binduri to be on high alert, prioritise and intensify surveillance activities for anthrax at all health facilities and communities.

The statement urged the districts to manage suspected cases with Ciprofloxacin and Doxycycline and employ risk communication to sensitise communities.

‘Community members should be engaged to desist eating dead cattle of unknown cause and appropriate linkages should be established with Veterinary Service in each district for a holistic control of the disease,’ it said.

Source: Ghana News Agency