(CNN)In countries ravaged by conflict, providing international medical expertise on the ground can be almost impossible.
By Susie East, for CNN
(CNN)In countries ravaged by conflict, providing international medical expertise on the ground can be almost impossible.
By Susie East, for CNN
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By Staff Writer (IT News
Google has awarded a $717,728 (roughly R10 Million) grant to the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) to develop technology that can assist people in Sub-Saharan Africa who are living with disabilities.
SAFOD is working with with the University of Washington and The African Network for Evidence-to-Action on Disability (AfriNEAD) to establish AT-Info-Map, a system that will map the location and availability of assistive technology (AT) in Sub-Saharan Africa—providing critical and timely information to empower governments, suppliers, and advocates to increase access to AT.
The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities was launched in March last year, in the form of an open call to global nonprofits who are building transformative technologies for people around the world with disabilities. Ideas were received from over 1 000 organisations spanning 88 countries, and 30 winners were announced last week.
Google is helping these 30 organisations to scale by investing in their vision, by rallying its people and by mobilising its resources in support of their missions.
The organisations Google is supporting all have big ideas for how technology can help create new solutions, and each of their ideas has the potential to scale. Each organisation has also committed to open sourcing their technology—which helps encourage and speed up innovation in a sector that has historically been siloed.
In awarding these grants Google looked for big ideas, with technology at the core and the potential to scale supported by nimble and flexible teams that are strong enough to implement the work proposed.
And, Google realises there’s always room to improve its products as well. The company has a team committed to monitoring the accessibility of Google tools; and provides engineering teams with training to incorporate accessibility principles into products and services. That doesn’t just mean improving existing Google tools, it means developing new ones as well. For example, Liftware is a stabilising utensil designed to help people with hand tremors eat more easily, and self-driving cars could one day transform mobility for everyone.
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ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company, announced jointly with its global partners, Vodafone Foundation, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies and the United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the launch of the Mobilising HIV Identification and Treatment (MHIT) programme in Lesotho.
By Staff Writer (IT News Africa)
The MHIT programme is a multi-million dollar three-year commitment led by the Vodafone Foundation through the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation, with financial contributions from the private and public sectors, including funding and community mobilisation expertise from ViiV Healthcare, as well as support from Elton John AIDS Foundation to Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation—Lesotho, ELMA Philanthropies and USAID.
The goal of the MHIT programme is to double the number of children in Lesotho in care and on treatment within three years, thereby ensuring that their health and futures are not compromised or cut short through lack of access to HIV services. It also aims to improve uptake of services that address mother-to-child transmission of HIV to prevent more children from being born with the virus.
The use of mobile technology has proven a successful tool to address some of the challenges around access to healthcare services, such as access to transport, in rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa.(1) In Lesotho, the Vodafone Foundation is building on this success by deploying mobile clinics to rural areas to reach children – including adolescents – and mothers in hard to reach communities, providing primary care services (including antenatal checks and immunisation) and searching for individuals living with HIV to provide them with better access to treatment, using mobile money-based transport vouchers so they can reach clinics or hospitals. For many children and mothers, this could be the first time that primary healthcare services have been accessible to them. In addition, the use of mobile technology enables the management, coordination of services and communications to support the implementation of the programme.
Dr Dominique Limet, CEO ViiV Healthcare, commented: “Through our Positive Action programmes, we have a successful track record in mobilising communities and supporting capacity building at grassroots level to address the challenges of the HIV epidemic. By working with the right partners, we can deliver practical solutions to make a true difference to the lives of children in Lesotho and help future generations live longer and more fulfilling lives.”
Rishaad Tayob, Managing Director, Vodacom Lesotho said: “Vodacom Lesotho Foundation and Vodafone Foundation are bringing money, marketing, management and mobile technology to challenge paediatric HIV. Partnership is critical and by working with private funders and the Government of Lesotho and USAID, we aim to double the number of children on treatment and in care. We are already saving lives. We are privileged to also have the full support of His Majesty the King.”
Lesotho has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS with 23% of the two million population living with HIV.(2, 3) Antiretroviral treatments (ARTs), which suppress the HIV virus and stop its progression, are available, however, only a third of the estimated 19,000 children in Lesotho living with the virus are receiving ARTs.(3, 4, 5) Lesotho is made up mostly of highlands where many of the villages can be reached only on horseback, by foot or light aircraft. This means that resources are scarce and difficult to access by mothers and their children.
Healthcare in Africa differs widely, depending on the country and also the region—those living in urban areas are more likely to receive better health care services than those in rural or remote regions. Many communities lack clean water and proper sanitation facilities, particularly in rural areas. This means that illnesses caused by poor hygiene, such as cholera and diarrhoea, are common in some countries.
By Staff Writer: IT News Africa
Heavy demands on health care systems
Diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS as well as diseases found mostly in African countries such as elephantiasis, leprosy, polio, helminthiasis and trachoma are rife. Furthermore, there are not enough health workers, hospitals and clinics in Africa. Some African countries lack basic equipment and have inadequate supplies of medicines. Half of Africans do not have access to essential drugs and disruption to daily life and damage to facilities caused by conflict, mean health clinics have an even greater struggle to offer services to local populations. Diseases then take an even greater toll. Demands on health care systems are also increasing as non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are on the rise.
At a 2001 African Union (AU) meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, African countries agreed to allocate 15% of their budgets to healthcare. To date, only six countries have met this commitment. Health experts now believe that even if the target is reached, 15% of a small budget is not sufficient to make major inroads into poor health. Four of the six countries allocating 15% of their budget still spend only 14USD per capita on health.
Technology—a key driver to overcome healthcare challenges
Vuyani Jarana at Vodacom Business says that mobile technology can address some of the biggest health challenges in Africa. “We have developed a range of healthcare solutions using mobile technology specifically to bridge the gap,” he says. To achieve this and leapfrog the global health care systems, it is critical for technology and innovative solutions to be implemented across the continent.
For example, there are mobile applications to:
– Capture patient information making service records more accurate and easily accessible
– Remind patients when they are due back at a clinic for an immunisation visit
– Remind the clinic management to submit an update on stock levels, expiry dates, wastage and stock received.
Jarana believes that technology will be a key driver in helping the continent to overcome some of its biggest healthcare challenges.
Innovative funding mechanisms can provide much needed revenue
Funding remains a monumental problem. Under these difficult circumstances, it is imperative to create new and innovative sources of funding like innovative financing for development, to address the socio-economic development needs of the population, of which health is clearly an urgent priority. According to McKinsey & Company, “innovative” refers to finance mechanisms that might mobilise, govern, or distribute funds beyond traditional donor-country official development assistance (ODA). New revenue streams will have to be identified to implement or scale up already-existing programmes to address the current health challenges.
The Group contribution
Innovative financing for development has the capability of generating significant amounts of revenue that could either replace or complement existing traditional methods of funding. For instance, innovative funding mechanisms implemented with the assistance of a revenue-assurance expert like Global Voice Group has generated an estimated USD 1.5 billion over the last 10 years, through micro-levies on international telecommunications services. These revenue-generating opportunities empower African countries to take charge of their own socio-economic development, using their own resources and through the smart integration of ICTs.
Innovative Financing—a game changer for sustainable development
Several developing or emerging countries are already capitalising on innovative financing for development. For instance, in Haiti, education is being funded through micro-charges on international telephone calls. By June 2015, more than US$16 million had been generated, allowing the government to provide free quality education to 1.4 million Haitian children.
It is no exaggeration, then, to say that innovative financing for development is a real game changer for sustainable development. The leveraging of international incoming calls as an innovative funding mechanism has become an important part of the economies of many African countries. However, to make this funding mechanism effective international incoming telecoms traffic must be accurately measured and a revenue-assurance solution put in place to prevent fraud. GVG’s cutting edge telecommunications governance solutions have assisted many African countries to optimise the revenue generated by international incoming telephone traffic so as to ensure that both the local operators and the government receive their fair share of the revenue.
These revenues can be used to finance social projects like health and education and meet the respective countries’ specific development goals. This paves the way to more sustainable models of society on the African continent.
A Grant Agreement was signed today in Cairo between the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, whereby the Kuwait Fund provide a Grant in the amount of US$ 20 Million to help finance projects aimed at relieving socio-economic impacts in the education sector within Egyptian host communities of Syrian refugees.
The Grant Agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt by Her Excellency Dr. Sahar Ahmed Mohamed Abdel Moniem Nasar, Minister of International Cooperation on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and signed on behalf of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development by Mr. Abdulwahab Al-Bader, Director-General of the Fund.
The Projects aim to address the education needs of Syrian refugees in host communities in the Arab Republic of Egypt, by raising the level of educational services provided to them, by supporting projects in the educational buildings sector, to ensure the continuity of providing the required education services in the areas where there is a concentration of refugees.
The Projects consist of the construction and equipping of about 30 schools with multiple educational stages in the Provinces of Cairo, Geza, Alexandria, Demyat, Deghaliyah and Sharquiah. The Projects are expected to start at the beginning of Year 2016, and to be finished before mid-Year 2017.
The total cost of the Projects is estimated at about US$ 20 million and the Kuwait Fund Grant will cover 100% of the cost.
It is worth mentioning that the number of development finance extended by the Kuwait Fund are 40 loans to the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt or to public entities in the Arab Republic of Egypt with a total amount of about KD 721 million (equivalent to about US$ 2.4 billion). The Fund has also provided Egypt with ten technical assistance and other grants with a total amount of about KD 2.983 million (equivalent to about US$ 9.8 million) allocated for financing technical and economic feasibility studies for certain projects and financing other activities. Kuwait Fund also administered two grants provided by the Government of the State of Kuwait to the Arab Republic of Egypt, amounting in total to about KD 4.8 million (equivalent to about US$16.8 million) for the purpose of reconstruction of some schools that were affected by the earthquake in 1992, and the reconstruction of some villages that were damaged by floods in 1995.
Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development in Kuwait City is AllAfrica.com’s premium partner.
The press released was published on AllAfrica.com.
Some 30 Islamists have launched a hunger strike at Mauritania’s main jail saying they are being punished after a New Year’s Eve escape by a high-profile prisoner facing death over an Al-Qaeda assassination plot.
The prisoners said in a statement that they had started the protest Monday at the main prison in Nouakchott, the capital, and would continue until all their demands had been met.
These included “visits by family members and for a doctor to be present on the premises round the clock for faster access to prescribed medicines,” the statement said.
The prisoners alleged they were facing “punitive measures after the escape of an Islamist prisoner we had no connection with.”
Cheikh Ould Saleck, 31, on death row since 2011 over an Al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the president, was last seen by fellow inmates at Nouakchott’s central prison at midday on December 31.
His absence from evening prayers alerted his fellow inmates who went to fetch him and found his cell locked.
A guard smashed open the door and found a flag of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African franchise, according to a prison source.
Ould Saleck and a fellow AQIM jihadi were arrested on the outskirts of the Mauritanian capital in 2011 when the army foiled their plot to kill President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz using two car bombs.
A Mauritanian gendarme was killed and eight wounded in a firefight following the failed attack, while four suspected AQIM members died.
Ould Saleck’s wife and sister, who used to visit him in jail, were arrested on January 4.
A nurse would boil the syringes, fill each with five doses and then jab five boys in a row with a single needle.
“I didn’t want that hot needle touching me, so I thought I’d be smart,” Mr. Ellabbad, 52, said. “I let the other guys go first.”
Six million Egyptians were infected with hepatitis C by unsterile needles during the country’s decades-long fight against schistosomiasis. The virus spread insidiously; today, at least 10 percent of Egyptians, nearly nine million people, are chronically infected, the highest rate in the world.
But a grand experiment unfolding across the country may change all that.
Mr. Ellabbad, for one, was finally cured of hepatitis this spring. The air-conditioning repairman took a three-month regimen that included sofosbuvir, first of the new generation of miracle drugs. The pills would have cost more than $84,000 in the United States.
He got them free from the Egyptian government, which paid about $900.
“Before, I felt like I was dying,” he said. “Now I feel like I’ve never felt before. Like I’m 35 again.”
Hepatitis C is a global crisis: About 150 million people are chronically infected, four times as many as have H.I.V., and about 500,000 die each year of its complications, particularly cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The virus is a resilient foe. Usually transmitted by contact with blood, hepatitis C may not cause symptoms for years. Some patients clear the infection on their own, but in most, it becomes chronic, slowly damaging the liver over time.
Nowhere is the virus more entrenched than in Egypt. There are an estimated 150,000 new infections each year, caused by reuse of disposable syringes, accidental needle sticks, tainted medical equipment, and even the sharing of nail clippers and toothbrushes among family members.
Each infected Egyptian passes the virus to three others on average, said Dr. Manal Hamdy El-Sayed, who directs the national hepatitis-awareness campaign. Egypt’s National Liver Institute runs 50 treatment centers and consumes a third of the national health budget.
Fear of the virus is pervasive.
Sherif Mechawy, a barber in an upper-class neighborhood of Cairo, pumps sanitizer on his hands and holds up a clear plastic package containing a comb and a disposable razor for each client.
“They have to see me open it with their naked eyes,” said Mr. Mechawy, 39. About a quarter of his customers prefer to bring their own clippers and scissors.
For full shaves, he wears latex gloves. The hepatitis virus can survive two days or more on a surface, and Mr. Mechawy knows even the groove where the razor fits in the holder is dangerous.
Even harder hit than Cairo are the villages of the Nile Delta, where half of all men older than 50 are infected.
Mohamed Khafagy, a tour guide from a rice-farming village, said every family he knew had lost someone to hepatitis C.Liver disease killed his father, two uncles and a cousin.
Mr. Khafagy, 39, is infected, too, and has developed Stage 3 fibrosis, which in a wealthier country would prompt rapid treatment.
He knows that drugs to cure his infection are trickling into the country from the West. But the nearest government clinic, in Kafr el-Sheikh, has a three-month wait for appointments.
“Will I last that long?” he wondered aloud.
For a poor country, Egypt has a relatively effective health care system, including legions of liver specialists. Committed to repairing the damage done by the schistosomiasis campaign, the health ministry in 2007 developed an ambitious national hepatitis treatment plan using two old drugs: interferon and ribavirin.
The drugs are loaded with side effects and difficult to tolerate. Last year, Gilead Sciences, based in California, offered an alternative.
The company makes sofosbuvir, which since 2013 has been sold in the United States as Sovaldi for about $1,000 per one-a-day pill. A course of the drug, taken with ribavirin and often interferon, usually cures hepatitis C infection in 12 weeks.
Sofosbuvir is an enormous blockbuster; in its first year on the market, the drug earned Gilead more than $10 billion.
But for the past year, Gilead has sold the drug to the Egyptian government for about $10 a pill. The government distributes it to pharmacies across the country, where it is dispensed free to patients.
Gilead also allows 11 Indian and two Egyptian companies to make sofosbuvir under license and to sell it at any price they like, in return for a 7 percent royalty.
Gilead was under some pressure to make the drug more widely available. Egypt’s patent office rejected the company’s application, making it inevitable that generic versions would eventually be sold there, said Dr. Wahid Doss, the chairman of the National Committee for Control of Viral Hepatitis.
In return for selling sofosbuvir cheaply, Gilead asked that Egypt impose strict restrictions on every bottle to prevent the drug from being sold on the black market and undermining its business elsewhere.
All pills must be dispensed by government pharmacies, for example, and all patients must turn in an old bottle to get a fresh one. Those receiving new bottles must immediately unscrew the cap, break the seal and take the first pill in front of the pharmacist — making it nearly impossible to resell the bottle.
Those restrictions infuriated international activists pushing for greater access to medicines, who saw them as violations of patients’ rights.
Heba Wanis, a pharmacist who until recently worked at the Egyptian Initiative on Personal Rights, said she found the requirement to take a dose in front of the pharmacist “humiliating” and felt it “raised a lot of ethical issues.”
Dr. Jennifer Cohn, medical director of the drug access campaign at Doctors Without Borders, described the requirements as “a third party introduced into the doctor-patient relationship.” Giving a drug company control over who receives its products sets “an incredibly dangerous precedent,” she said.
But so far, no outrage is visible here in Egypt.
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The biggest tech trend in Africa, and the one that is making the biggest impact on the everyday lives of people is the rise of smartphones and feature phones.
Africa has seen the fastest uptake of mobile devices in the world and mobile subscribers are set to hit half a billion in the next five years, according to the GSMA.
This statistic supports the fact that mobile technology is and will continue to be the most powerful communications platform in Africa. Driven by cheaper mobile devices and continued innovation in the mobile space, mobile technology has the power to and will transform the delivery of healthcare service into Africa.
The obstacles we face in africa, however, are the infrastructural challenges that are hindering the adoption of consumer facing apps and limiting integration with local health systems. There is however a way to circumvent these.
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For over two decades, the quest to develop a working malaria vaccine has proven largely fruitless. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 3.2 billion people worldwide are at risk of being diagnosed with malaria. Every year, nearly 198 million cases are identified. WHO says a significant number of the almost 200 million cases are from Africa. However in recent times not only is there a potential malaria vaccine in the pipeline, a new device which is capable of diagnosing Malaria in minutes has emerged.
John Lewandowski, co-founder and CEO of Disease Diagnostics Group, has invented a new way of diagnosing the deadly disease using two magnets and a laser pointer. He believes that this will eradicate malaria by strengthening the offensive against it, while curbing issues regarding delay in detection.
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I think the world has become fascinated by drones. I know I have. I got one for Christmas and it’s really fun to play with. The one I got is really hard to fly, but in many ways that makes it more fun.
What a lot of people don’t realize is how many ways drones are going to be part of our future life. No, I’m not talking about the military drones. In fact, using the term drones is so tied to the military that it’s almost not right to use the term. However, many people have become more familiar with drones thanks to Go pro cameras that are attached and bring us some really amazing footage even from amateurs.