Posts tagged as: african

When Gashora Girls Became Africa’s Debating Giants

By Donah Mbabazi

When it comes to public speech and debating, Gashora girls are a class apart. From wining debating competitions locally, they have taken the continental stage by storm. Last week, the girls won the Africa Debate Championship that was held in Uganda- a triumph that has made them a continental household name in the debating field.

Nikita Isabellah was one of the girls on the team that beat off serious completion from some of the best schools on the African continent.

She says though they worked hard for the competition, the win was a surprise because the competition was tight.

“The competition was very tough, participants were so many from different countries, but it was a good fight. We had intense preparations, mostly watching videos of the world championship,” the 16-year-old says.

Asked about how she felt when declared the winner, she says she first felt speechless because it was a surprise.

“We could barely believe it was happening. I feel happy that I was able to represent my school and my country,” she adds.

For Nikita, a Senior Five student offering Physics, Chemistry and Biology, debating is more than just exchanging ideas; it’s a platform through which she hopes to live her dreams.

“I chose to join debating mainly because of the schools I went to; they gave me access to this platform. In addition to that, the participants were smart, they were more of achievers, quick thinkers and every other thing that I wanted to be so I chose to join,” she says.

About the secret to winning the debating competition, Nikita says believing in their potential was the key. She believes that though one might encounter challenges, they should always believe in themselves and aim for the best.

“There is a lot to learn when it comes to debating, delivering a concept in a way that everyone in the room will understand is a huge step that is important in so many ways today, and this we learn in the debating world.

“Debating teaches us to believe in ourselves, it’s like each time you lose you keep going forward till you make it. Also, people get to think about what others are not,” she adds.

Natasha Teta Semwaga, a Senior Six student majoring in Mathematics, Physics and Geography and a member of the Gashora team, emerged as the best speaker. She believes that quick thinking is one thing that contributed to their victory.

“We had to think fast, we had to do all that we could to see that we were better than them and it was mostly determination that helped us win,” she says.

Though public speaking isn’t something she’s always looked up to, Teta has come to love her newly discovered talent.

“I wouldn’t say public speaking has always been my passion, I hated it at first because I always saw it as something complicated. But when I tried it I discovered that it was something, I actually identified with and I love it,” she says.

She plans on building a strong debating culture because she believes that the youth have a lot to learn from it.

“My achievements are mainly personal developments, I have been learning to improve with all the competitions that I have taken part in. I believe that regardless of whether one wins or not, there is still something to learn,” she says.

Teta sees debating as a platform to defy certain stereotypes in society.

“Through debate, we can prove people wrong, it’s now a fact that girls in sciences can now debate. The other thing is that it shows people that you can speak your mind regardless of your gender,” she says.

Teta’s proudest moments involve her time with teammates. “I wouldn’t say I have one proud moment, but every single time we work together is a proud moment for me,” she says.

For Cynthia Cyuzuzo, a Senior Five student majoring in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, it was her first time to take part in such a big competition and though it was a bit scary, she was unwavering. She says the experience was intense and exciting at the same time.

“It was fun for me and I learnt a lot. I love everything about debating, the arguments, the intense listening and the overall sharing of knowledge. Yes it can be tough but in the end, especially when you’re the winners, it’s all worth it,” she says.

She calls upon fellow students to embrace debating because there is a lot to learn, not forgetting the skills, such as public speaking, that can help one be competitive on the job market.

“Go do it, it might seem hard at first but as long as you want it, you do your best to make it and the experience is amazing,” Cyuzuzo advises aspiring debaters.

Samantha Bell, the coach of the students believed they would make it and indeed they did not disappoint.

“I felt so great and I am so proud of them. I saw a lot of confidence and I knew they would make it because I had seen how well they had performed. It was really great to see them win,” she said.

Bell believes that the team’s success was a combination of different things, one being the experience the girls had in debating, second, as a team they were the right people to work together, and as individuals, they are intelligent and well informed girls.

Bell urges other students in Rwanda to embrace this field arguing that it will give them public speaking ability and help them to analyse situations and be quick problem solvers.

The bigger impact of debate on ,society

Kismat Uwamwiza, the head of the debating team at the University of Kigali, says debating competitions have a great role to play for students, especially girls.

“Apart from sharing information, it boosts one’s confidence in terms of public speaking. It also helps one to learn how to work in a group, for example sharing time and ideas,” she says.

Uwamwiza also believes that debating gives one that winning spirit to the extent that one will do whatever it takes to see that their team wins.

“I do believe that debating takes away that inner fear that we always have, and gives us the confidence to stand and defend ourselves. One can speak up and express themselves,” Uwamwiza says.

She calls upon girls who still have inferiority complex issues to embrace debating because this way, they will overcome.

Dieudonne Ishimwe, the founder of National Young Entrepreneur’s Debate Championship, says Rwandan society, especially the youth, need to have public speaking skills to increase critical thinking, and this is where the necessity for debating comes in.

He says that the advantages that come with the activity are numerous and that embracing it would mean success in so many aspects.

“It encourages diversity of knowledge because of the need to research. It encourages people to think out of the box because in a conflict of ideas, it’s where we can get the best of ideas. People get to be informed and they also learn from each other,” he says.

Ishimwe is also of the view that depending on how fast the world is running, students need to be equipped with skills that ought to help them out there.

“Nowadays, the world is moving faster, regardless of what you do, there is that need to connect with other people and this is done through communication. Whether getting a job or running your business, these skills are needed, hence debate is very important,” he says.

He is appeased by the fact that debating is building strides since more students are taking it upon themselves to form debating clubs and practice weekly. This shows progress if one compares with past years.

How can a debating culture be instilled in the youth?

Schools should find a way of rewarding those who have the passion; this in the end will encourage more students to hop on board. Debating is such a fine way of engaging students in very important aspects that are developmental towards society.

Penina Umutesi – Secretary

Schools should be institutions that not only impart certain knowledge, but also, mind about important skills such as public speaking. Such skills can only be attained through activities such as debating, hence students should be provided with such platforms.

Muhuma Kanizio – Student

Clubs should be created where students can be helped to get debating skills, this in turn will give them the opportunity to participate in decision-making on meaningful issues that can have an impact.

Deborah Nanyonga – Office administrator

Debating has the ability to impart students with a sense of insight and responsibility as they get to research on a range of topics. This is why learning institutions should use this kind of platform to nurture their students with such skills by making it compulsory for all students to participate.

Felix Kayihura – Lawyer

Kagame Says Global Challenges Call for ‘UN Reform’

By Peter Mugabo

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has called for reforms of the United Nations body to fit the current challenges the world is facing.

The Rwandan head of state was delivering a speech at the ongoing 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, USA.

“Our world faces difficult challenges, but no more so, than in the past. Working together in a constructive spirit, we can assure our children, the future they deserve,” Kagame said.

He added that the essence of reform is a mindset of constantly striving to improve performance and delivery, “and holding ourselves responsible.”

According to President Kagame, “To be effective at delivering a decent life for all, the UN must treat all the people it serves with impartiality and respect.”

“The UN must be a good steward of the funds entrusted to it. Abuse and waste are therefore not a mere public relations problem. Institutional reform is not a one-off event, like applying a fresh coat of paint,” President Kagame emphasised.

“The reform spirit that has started to take root in both the UN and the African Union (AU) is encouraging and Rwanda is glad to be associated to both, Kagame said”

One year ago, Kagame was tasked to setup a committee that would draft reforms required to transform AU into a self-reliant continental body by 2018. About one-fifth of African Union member states have begun implementing the reforms.

President Paul Kagame’s Speech at United Nations General Assembly

General Debate of the 72nd Regular Session New York, 20 September 2017

Excellencies, Heads of State and Government

Excellency, President of the General Assembly

Distinguished Delegates

Ladies and Gentlemen

Every year, the United Nations channels billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance. It also sets the global agenda on key policy issues, from development, to women’s rights, while providing a platform for major international agreements.

These are signs of an organisation that is both relevant, and, in many cases, competent. And yet there is a sense, that the United Nations is not meeting our needs and expectations.

In this context, I would like to commend the Secretary General, for the two important initiatives he championed this week, on United Nations reform, and response to sexual exploitation and abuse. These steps go to the heart of the matter: the deficit of trust and accountability, in the international system.

To be truly effective at delivering a “decent life for all”, the United Nations must treat all the people it serves with impartiality and respect, and it must be a good steward of the funds entrusted to it. Abuse and waste are therefore not a mere public relations problem, but an existential threat, which must be tackled head-on. The Secretary General deserves our full support, to make the United Nations not only effective, but transformational.

We have the tools and the mandates to address the global challenges of our day, from climate change, to peace-building, to human equality and development. Where we fall short, is in getting things done. Institutional reform is not a one-off event, like applying a fresh coat of paint.

The essence of reform, is a mindset of constantly striving to improve performance and delivery, and holding ourselves responsible for shortcomings and results. In this sense, the reform spirit, that has started to take root in both the United Nations and the African Union, is encouraging, and Rwanda is happy to be associated with both. This positive momentum also positions the United Nations and the African Union, to work more closely together.

Concrete steps can be taken on both sides, to improve the quality of coordination and consultation. The African Union and the United Nations are already good partners in peacekeeping, and Rwanda is proud to have forces serving under both flags. But we can do much more, and do it better. We also share the common objective, to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063 targets, as well as continue to enhance women’s empowerment.

Closer collaboration will help us bridge the growing digital divide through universal broadband access, which connects our people to networks of knowledge and prosperity. Canada and Rwanda, together with other stakeholders, are working to raise awareness of the tremendous impact we can have, right away, by ratifying and implementing the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

This is among the most important actions that a country can take, to directly tackle climate change, and re-affirm the commitment to the Paris Agreement. Fewer than 15 additional ratifications are needed, in order for the Kigali Amendment to come into force, in 2019. Mr President, distinguished delegates: Our world faces difficult challenges, but no more so, than in the past. Working together, in a constructive spirit, we can assure our children, the future they deserve. I thank you very much, for your kind attention.

Source: KTPress

South Africa: Engineering Study Dispels Myths On Grid Limits to Renewable Energy


A serious engineering study and report has dispelled the myths and propaganda peddled by fired former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and suspended Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko on the limits and costs of accommodating significant levels of variable renewable energy capacity in the South African power grid. By CHRIS YELLAND, investigative editor, EE Publishers.

The study and associated report was prepared for the South African Department of Energy (DoE) and Eskom, and commissioned and funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) under the DoE’s South African-German Energy Programme (SAGEN).

The study was conducted by international engineering consultants Dr.-Ing. Markus Pöller and Marko Obert, of Moeller & Poeller Engineering GmbH (MPE), and was published in South Africa in September 2017.

The study report is entitled “Assessing the impact of increasing shares of variable generation on system operations in South Africa – a flexibility study”.

The report presents the methodology and results of the study, which investigates the increased flexibility requirements of the South African power system resulting from increased levels of renewable generation in the time-frame up to 2030.

The study further analyses whether the existing and planned power plants will be able to cope with these requirements.


South Africa

Fishing Communities Battle the Law and a Depleted Ocean

Stricter quotas are failing as fishers turn to poaching to make a living Read more »

South Africa: A Re Sebetseng – Building a Cleaner and Better Joburg Together

analysisBy Herman Mashaba

If we are to turn Johannesburg as a whole into a city that works, we must start with ourselves. We must take ownership of our city. We will achieve this when we start in our streets, and keep our communities clean by working together.

One of the first things I notice wherever I travel is the cleanliness of a place; it’s one of the first things any traveller notices really.

When I visited Kigali in 2015, I was struck by how this city proudly defied clichéd stereotypes regarding the grime of African cities and boasted a level of cleanliness I had last witnessed in Singapore 30 years earlier.

I’ve engaged in countless conversations about clean cities for years, always intrigued at peoples’ perceptions as to who should take responsibility for waste management; why some communities live seemingly unaware of the dangers of poor waste management; why others clean up fastidiously; and why others believe it’s the local administration’s problem.

As almost all residents would agree, local government administrations have a duty to provide quality services, and as Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, I am acutely aware of how essential efficient waste-management systems are in all of the city’s communities.

I have…

South Africa

Fishing Communities Battle the Law and a Depleted Ocean

Stricter quotas are failing as fishers turn to poaching to make a living Read more »

South Africa: On the Cancer Trail in Rural Kwazulu-Natal

Early screening for cervical cancer can be a lifesaver but are nonprofit organisations enough to fill the gap in KZN’s crumbling system?

Phindile Mthembu is nervous. “I am very worried. I have been experiencing a discharge – and a very bad smell,” she says, picking at a loose thread on her denim skirt.

This is a common symptom of early cervical cancer, according to guidelines published by the African Palliative Care Association. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in South Africa, estimates calculated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer found in 2012.

Mthembu and about 50 other women, some with children, have been queueing for hours outside the Umzimkhulu primary health clinic about 110km from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. By the early afternoon, the floors of the clinic are strewn with apple cores and the leftovers of other snacks mothers had packed for their toddlers.

A team of volunteers, social workers and nurses from the nonprofit organisation, the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa), is making its way to the clinic along the winding road from Pietermaritzburg. Trailing behind them is Cansa’s mobile clinic, from which the team conducts screening for various cancers, including Pap smears to detect early signs of cervical cancer, which is mostly caused by the sexually transmitted infection the human papillomavirus.

Like many other patients in the queue, Mthembu came to the clinic unaware the Cansa nurses would be there. But she believes their presence is an unexpected blessing.

Mthembu says she watched her mother suffer from uterine cancer and is determined not to make the same mistake. “My mother was too scared to check what is wrong with her – in the end, doctors had to remove her womb.”

Inside the clinic, operational manager Nozingisa Makhanya runs her index finger over the pages of a tattered logbook. “In the last two weeks, we have only done five Pap smears. Today, with the Cansa people here, we have already done eight and it’s only early afternoon.”

Makhanya says most women who come to the clinic are happy to have Pap smears done, but staff do not always have the equipment available to conduct the tests. The clinic only recently received stock of vaginal speculums, the metal instrument used to inspect the cervix. As a result of the stock-out, no Pap smears were done in July.

Nurse Carmell Smith examines a patient as part of CANSA’s mobile cervical cancer screening unit that canvasses areas of rural KwaZulu-Natal when funding allows. (Joan van Dyk)

South Africa’s cervical cancer treatment guidelines show the five-year survival rate of cancers diagnosed early ranges between 75 and 95%. Although the government has implemented measures to ensure early detection and prevention, some patients still slip through the cracks at overburdened primary healthcare facilities.

Cancer care for diagnosed patients in the province is on the verge of collapse. As of June, the province has only two public-sector oncologists left, both working at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. A probe by the South African Human Rights Commission, released just after the last specialist left, found waiting lists for treatment stretched between eight and 10 months. Long-awaited appointments are often rescheduled when treatment machines break periodically. The report found that there were no functioning machines at Addington Hospital in Durban between August 2014 and March 2016. This further increased backlogs, with patients being transferred to be treated on one of only three working machines at Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.

For patients at Umzimkhulu, Cansa’s mobile clinic can only do so much, says nurse Carmell Smith. After patients’ results are communicated to them, usually within two weeks, they are again dependent on under-resourced state facilities.

Collateral damage in an ongoing collapse?

Just after lunch, there is still a queue of women waiting for Pap smears. But Smith and her team are packing up to return to Pietermaritzburg. Umzimkhulu’s rural setting forces the team to leave early to avoid driving in the dark.

These women will probably be screened at a public-sector clinic. But for them, even early detection may not save them from becoming collateral damage in the systematic collapse of KwaZulu-Natal’s health systems.

The National Health Laboratory Service probably won’t have the funds to conduct biopsies for cancer. In May, the laboratory was R1.5-million short on its operational budget and owed suppliers upwards of R850-million. The laboratory runs about 300 clinics and conducts tests for the public health sector.

Luckily for Mtembu, her Pap smear will be processed by a private laboratory. Before taking the long road home, she admits that there was no reason to be scared of the test. “I am so happy I did it. It went smoothly, nothing painful. That lady nurse Carmell was very kind, shame.”

This is the latest story in a series of stories on cancer services in KwaZulu-Natal. Catch the next long-read installment online and in the Mail & Guardian this Friday.

Have something to say? Tweet or Facebook us on @Bhekisisa_MG

Major Hurdles Ahead of Election Rerun

Doubts are growing over Kenya’s ability to hold a rerun of its presidential election in just one month as key players remain unable to agree on how to conduct a credible vote.

Legalbrief reports that there have been several significant developments over the past week which indicate that the chasm between all the key role players is widening.

Riots last week broke out in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu city after a rumour spread about alleged efforts to rig the election. Several people were injured as police clashed with youths who blocked roads in the south-western city and threw stones.

In another significant development, opposition MPs boycotted the opening of Parliament to protest against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to address it after a court annulled his election win.

BBC News reports that they say it should not have been convened until after the election rerun slated for 17 October.

Kenyatta, however, said he still had the power to convene Parliament. ‘The set term of a President is embedded until a new one is sworn in as per the constitution,’ he told lawmakers. ‘I want to assure every Kenyan and the world that every arm of government is in place and operational,’ he added. Full BBC News report

Analysts say bickering on all sides and confusion over the process have only increased as the clock ticks down to the fresh vote which was called after the Supreme Court annulled the initial election.

A report on the News24 site notes that the opposition has vowed to boycott the election if its list of demands is not met, including staff changes at the electoral commission (IEBC), which it accuses of rigging the poll.

‘ The challenges are pretty extraordinary,’ said John Githongo, a prominent anti-corruption campaigner in Kenya.

A key hurdle is that the Supreme Court has yet to deliver its full judgment detailing why exactly it decided to annul Kenyatta’s victory. Chief Justice David Maraga mentioned only ‘irregularities and illegalities’, notably in the transmission of election results.

The court has until Friday to deliver the full ruling, which would give the IEBC little time to make any necessary changes. ‘It is very uncertain,’ said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of African politics at the University of Birmingham in England. Full report on the News24 site

An audit of the electronic system used to tally votes in the cancelled poll showed no manipulation of data, the French biometrics firm that supplied the system has confirmed.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused the company, OT-Morpho, of being complicit in alleged rigging of the election.

OT-Morpho said an ‘in-depth audit’ of the system showed the opposition’s claims about hacking were untrue. The Nation reports that COO Frederic Beylier said the audit, undertaken with help from external experts from security software companies, had shown the system ‘in no way suffered manipulation of data, attacks, attempts to penetrate the system or anything of that kind’.

OT-Morpho supplied the 45 000 tablets used to identify voters biometrically and an associated system used to transmit the results of votes counted by electoral officials as well as a photograph of the paper form 34A on which votes were tallied. Full report in The Nation

Kenya’s electoral body must be transformed before the election rerun as its credibility to hold a free and fair vote ‘is seriously questionable’.

That’s the view of political analyst Benji Ndolo who told News24 that the IEBC must be ‘sincerely reformed’ before the election rerun to avoid a serious ‘negative impact on the east African country’s economy’. Ndolo said that there were a lot of issues at stake if the election rerun was again disputed.

‘ Heads must roll. The institution has to be outside of the influence of any outside players. This is why the opposition has moved to have the chairperson moved and held accountable,’ Ndolo is quoted in the report as saying. Full report on the News24 site

Meanwhile, Jubilee MPs and senators are planning to trim the powers of the judiciary following the Supreme Court’s ruling which annulled Kenyatta’s poll win.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen confirmed that they will enact laws which will deny the Supreme Court powers to overturn presidential election verdicts.

‘ We shall pass laws to protect the decision of the voter to stop some institutions from making decisions that annul the decision of a voter,’ he said. A report on the allAfrica site notes that the senator said the purpose of the law will be to protect the right of citizens where their sovereign right is robbed through ‘legal technicalities’. The law will clarify the foundations of our democracy because the decision of the Supreme Court is unacceptable,’ Murkomen added, according to the report.

Kenyatta says his criticism of the Chief Justice should not be viewed as an attack on Maraga’s Kisii community.

The Standard reports that he was addressing a delegation of more than 15 000 members of the Abagusii community at State House. Kenyatta said the Supreme Court decision to nullify his presidential election win was the most painful moment of his life.

He said his attack on Maraga and the three judges was justified because he believed the highest court in the land had erred in its ruling. Odinga claimed that the criticism of Maraga – who was part of the panel that nullified the election result – was an attack on his community. Full report in The Standard

Liberia: Pharmacist Warns Against Abuse of Alcohol

By Ethel A. Tweh

A Liberian pharmacist Archie Kromah has warned Liberians against the abuse and usage of alcohol, saying the overuse of alcohol causes a lot of problems in the human bodies.

Speaking on UNMIL Radio Tuesday, 19 September Mr. Kromah said too much of alcohol causes enlarged heart which interferes with the coordination of speech and affects the memory. According to Mr. Kromah, abuse of alcohol damages the nerves system, increases pressure and leads to so many sicknesses that are not known to people.

He pleads with Liberians not to drink alcohol excessively, saying alcohol abuse causes a lot of health complications and undermines productivity. According to Mr. Kromah, a huge quantity of alcohol in the system especially in men can cause lack of production and liver problem.

Meanwhile, he warns pregnant women not to drink alcohol because it is dangerous to the unborn children and results to giving birth to deformed children. “Most Pregnant women believe that Stout gives them more blood and it is helpful for the child. They are harming that unborn child. There are so many medicines they can take for blood without including alcohol, to save the child’s life,” he conclude.


AfDB, Brazil to Train African Youth in Cassava Processing

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Brazil-Africa Institute (BAI) have launched the Youth Technical Training… Read more »

Africa: Africa Will Become the Food Basket of the World — Dangote


Aliko Dangote is putting billions into the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

In a packed room at the headquarters of global law firm Shearman and Sterling LLC high level business leaders and international diplomats invited by the Corporate Council for Africa to hear Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and Rwandan president Paul Kagame openly converse on Africa’s opportunities and challenges.

Both leaders underscored the ongoing movement to diversify African economies. In the case of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, Dangote stated “we should pray that oil prices remain low. This helps wean us off the dependency on revenues from petroleum. We must take oil to be the icing on the cake. We already have the cake,” he added.

In addition to agriculture Dangote cited Nigeria’s vast mineral resources and gas as well and the need to manufacture more goods locally for domestic consumption. Both he and President Kagame cited continued need for heavy investments in education and connected the need for young people to be well trained for the jobs of tomorrow.

Dangote predicted that “five of the twelve million jobs needed in Africa soon must be created in Nigeria.”

Dangote’s fortune which stems from cement, sugar, and other household commodities has expanded into fertilizer and other processed high-value goods. “Technology of course helps us a lot and our factories are state of the art with the use of robotics but we shouldn’t be overly tech oriented to create wealth,” he told investors.

Mr. Dangote who is often cited as one of the most inspiring business leaders in the world today and a model for young entrepreneurs offered advice to Americans who tend to rely on outdated news and wrong perceptions of Africa, “Don’t be lazy. Go there and find the real story for yourself. Things have changed.”

Dangote noted the Rwanda success story where he has business interests as an example of positive change, good governance and leadership, and where corruption has been cured. He cited a personal experience of offering a $100 US tip for services at the Kigali Airport to staff who refused to take money for work they were paid to do. President Kagame was praised for delivering the environment for growth he promised. “There is nothing African about corruption,” the Rwandan president added.

The session was moderated by Rosa Whitaker, former US Trade Representative and author of the AGOA (African Growth Opportunity Act), whose business consultancy is credited for helping both African governments and US companies develop commerce.

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South Africa: Experts Talk Nuclear Reactors

Over 100 delegates from 18 countries and representing 52 organisations have gathered in the Kruger National Park to hold a conference on high precision analysis techniques which can be used in the fabrication of components for nuclear reactors.

South Africa is currently hosting the 9th International Conference on Mechanical Stress Evaluation by Neutron and Synchrotron Radiation (MECA SENS), the first to be hosted on the African continent.

Opening the two-day conference on Tuesday, South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) Chairman Dr Kelvin Kemm said that in order for South Africa to be able to design, fabricate and export nuclear reactor components, it is necessary to be in control of the entire technology value chain from the fundamental mathematics to the factory fabrication.

“It is gratifying to see so many recognised world experts gathered together here in South Africa to examine, on an atomic level, such important technology as how minuet cracks move through metallic structures,” he said.

The conference, which Necsa is hosting in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will conclude on Thursday after which some of the delegates will visit the Necsa site near Pretoria.

Necsa, which is one of the state owned entities falling within the ambit of the Department of Energy, is mandated to undertake and promote research and development (R & D) in the field of nuclear energy and radiation sciences and technology and subject to the Safeguards Agreement, to make these generally available.

South Africa

Euthanasia Back in Courts As Doctor Fights for Right to Die

The right of terminally ill individuals to end their life when, and how, they choose has been a battle fought before… Read more »

Fake Drugs Hold Back Health Delivery Efforts

By Abdallah Msuya in Zanzibar

THE presence of substandard and counterfeit products and limited access to affordable and quality medicines continue to be a major challenge to universal health coverage in low and middle-income countries, including Tanzania.

This was a shared concern by health experts from the European Union (EU) and the coalition of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of nations and WHO, who have convened in Zanzibar to take stock of the progress made by a joint five-year programme to strengthen pharmaceutical systems and access to quality medicines in 15 ACP countries.

Speaking on the opening day, the delegates highlighted a myriad of health challenges relating to access to quality medicines, while stressing the significance of tackling them in order to achieve the objective of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and ensure functional and strengthened health systems.

EU representative, Mr Gregoire Lacoin, in his remarks noted that access to affordable and quality medicines remains a major challenge in health policy for a number of countries, most notably developing nations.

” … limited availability … high prices and the significant share of false, substandard or counterfeit products and the associated health threat that they represent, is still a reality. Strengthened medicines control structures and regulatory bodies are needed to improve this situation,” charged Mr Lacoin.

He added: “… these challenges must be addressed comprehensively … through long term and sustainable engagement, in order to achieve the objective of UHC and ensure functional and strengthened health systems,” he added.

The EU representative pointed to adequate funding, policies on training and retaining human resources for health and access to quality and affordable products, as areas that should be given priority to improve the situation.

Dr Ghirmay Andemichael, Liaison Officer at WHO suboffice in Zanzibar said that to achieve universal health coverage countries need to ensure there is access to quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

“Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages will require strong national pharmaceutical systems in governance and accountability, innovation, manufacturing and trade, pricing and affordability, quality assurance and responsible use of medicines,” noted Dr Andemichael.

According to WHO, Barriers to accessing quality medicines in African countries are tied to resource constraints in the health sector, insufficient skilled staff, weak implementation of pharmaceutical policies and poorly managed supply chains.

The WHO Liaison officer, Mr Andemichael, said to address the challenges, a stronger partnership and collaboration is required with commitment for human and financial resources from government, private sector and development partners.

He added that the national medicines policy should ensure an uninterrupted supply of essential medicines that are efficacious and of good quality and are physically and financially accessible to all and which are used rationally.

On her part, the guest of honour, Ms Asha Ali Abdullah, the Isles Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health, acknowledged the need to strengthen health systems by increasing budgets and putting into consideration the well-being of health practitioners.

“A good health system requires a robust financing mechanism, a well trained and adequately paid workforce, reliable information on which to base decisions and policies, well maintained facilities and logistics to deliver quality medicines and technologies as well as appropriate governance and service delivery,” said Ms Asha.

She said the EU/ACP/ WHO Renewed Partnership which is coming to an end, has been a key partner in addressing challenges within the pharmaceutical sector in Tanzania and Zanzibar.

“Zanzibar being an Island and 100 per cent depending on importation of medicines and medical supplies, it is very prone to substandard, falsified and counterfeit as well as unregistered medicines and health products circulating in the market,” noted Ms Asha.

The EU/ACP/WHO Renewed Partnership was established in 2012 with 10 million euros seed funding to contribute to achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and UHC.

Under the leadership of Ministries of Health, the 15 ACP countries benefit from WHO’s strategic, technical and monitoring support to increase access to quality essential medicines by strengthening their pharmaceutical systems.

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