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Sunday, February 4th, 2018

 

Escalating violence in Iraq, Libya, oPt, Syria and Yemen killed 83 children in January

Statement by Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

AMMAN, 5 February 2018 – “In this dark month of January, conflicts and violence in the Middle East and North Africa have once again taken a devastating toll on children. They were killed in ongoing conflicts, suicide attacks, or frozen to death as they fled active warzones.

“It is simply unacceptable that children continue being killed and injured every single day.

“In the month of January alone, escalating violence in Iraq, Libya, the State of Palestine, Syria and Yemen has claimed the lives of at least 83 children.

“These children have paid the highest price for wars that they have absolutely no responsibility for. They are children – children! Their lives have been cut short, their families forever broken in grief.

“Intensifying fighting in Syria has reportedly killed 59 children in the past four weeks as the conflict enters its eighth year.

“In Yemen, the United Nations has verified the killing of 16 children in attacks across the country. UNICEF is receiving reports of killed and injured children on a daily basis as fighting escalates across the country.

“In Benghazi, east of Libya, a suicide attack took the lives of three children. Three others died while they were playing near unexploded ordnance – a fourth child remains in critical condition after the blast.

“In the old city of Mosul, a child was killed in a booby-trapped house. A boy was shot dead in a village near Ramallah in the State of Palestine.

“Amid a harsh winter storm in Lebanon, 16 refugees including four children, froze to death as they fled the war in neighbouring Syria. Many more children were hospitalized with frost bite.

“Not hundreds, not thousands but millions more children in the Middle East and North Africa region have their childhood stolen, maimed for life, traumatized, arrested and detained, exploited, prevented from going to school and from getting the most essential health services; denied even the basic right to play.

“We collectively continue failing to stop the war on children!

“We have no justification. We have no reason to accept a new normal.

“Children may have been silenced. But their voices will continue to be heard! Their message is our message:

“The protection of children is paramount under all circumstances, in line with the law of war.

“Breaching that law is a most heinous crime and jeopardizes the future – and not just for children.”

Notes to editors
 
On 30 January, UNICEF appealed for $3.6 billion to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to children in 2018. This is the largest appeal amount ever. Emergency operations to respond to the needs of over 27 million children in the Middle East and North Africa account for over half of the global appeal, with nearly US$1.9 billion to support children in Djibouti, Iraq, Libya, the State of Palestine, Sudan, Syria and Syrian refugees and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
 
About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org  
 
For more information, contact

Juliette Touma, UNICEF Regional Office, Amman + 962-79-867-4628, jtouma@unicef.org

Tamara Kummer, UNICEF Regional Office, Amman +962 797 588 550, tkummer@unicef.org


International charity launches campaign to change lives of Palestinian orphans

International charity launches campaign to change lives of Palestinian orphans

International humanitarian aid organisation, Islamic Relief, today (5 February) launched the Children of Palestine appeal. Through the appeal, donors will have the opportunity to change the lives of 500 orphans living in the West Bank and to support other life-changing Islamic Relief programmes in the Palestinian Territories.

Islamic Relief currently supports 8,000 orphaned children across the West Bank and Gaza.

The situation for these children is already dire and, without this support, they have little hope of a better future.

Like any other child around the world, these children have hopes and aspirations of growing up and fulfilling their dreams. Children such as Amara, a quiet 13-year-old supported by a donor, who lives with her mother and two sisters and wants to be a surgeon when she grows up. Her father passed away in 2012. Amara is a great student and on average scores 97 per cent in her work.

Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief, said:

“Thousands of orphans are suffering in the Palestinian Territories because of conflict and poverty. Many long for a safe place to play and learn while others struggle to access essential medical care and regular meals.

“Many vulnerable children and families are in desperate need. Although, through the generous support of our donors, we already sponsor 8,000 orphans across the West Bank and Gaza, there are many more that need our help and we are asking you to look inside your heart and sponsor a further 500 orphans.

“Please help us to help them.”

By donating to the Children of Palestine appeal, supporters will make a huge difference to the lives of orphans like Ahmed. Supported by a donor, this outgoing young boy lives with his mother and three siblings after his father passed away about seven years ago. Ahmed attends the local primary school, is an excellent student, scoring 90 per cent on average in tests, and his favourite subject is Arabic. When he grows up, Ahmed wants to be an engineer.

One of Islamic Relief’s orphan sponsors is Umm Ali, a mother of three from London who has sponsored 11 children over the years. She says:

“I would encourage as many people as possible to reach out and sponsor an orphan. It is such a blessing to do so. Helping someone in this way during their formative years makes such a difference to you – and them.

“Sponsoring an orphan means that you see great changes in them as they grow up and mature into adulthood. From my experience, you do not know the profound difference you can make to someone’s life in another land until you do so.”

In addition, since 2014, we have been providing life-saving emergency aid and crucial nutritional, educational and psychosocial support to families in the region.

Islamic Relief programmes in the Palestinian Territories range from providing food, education and medical relief to care programmes for traumatised children and a school for deaf children and young people. We also run an Early Detection and Prevention of Hearing and Speech Difficulties programme for children aged four and five, and the Livelihood Creation and Economic Empowerment programme, which gives people the initial financial support they need to start their own small businesses and become self-sufficient.

Donors like Umm Ali are helping to change and save thousands of lives. Lives like Lina’s who is a cheerful five-year-old girl and lives with her mother and two siblings. Her father passed away two years ago. Lina attends her local pre-school, where she is making excellent progress in learning how to read, write and draw. At home, like any other child, she likes to play and watch cartoons.

A donation could transform a child’s life for the better:

· £35 per month (£420 per year) could sponsor an orphan in need in the West Bank

· £50 could feed a child and their family for a whole month

· £80 could provide a child with much-needed schooling

· £135 could deliver vital psychosocial care for a vulnerable child

To sponsor an orphan or support Islamic Relief’s work in the Palestinian Territories, go to www.islamic-relief.org.uk/children-of-palestinehttps://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/children-of-palestine.

ENDS

For more information, please contact Hasina Momtaz, Media Relations Manager, on 020 7593 3232 ext. 258, email Hasina.momtaz@islamic-relief.org.ukHasina.momtaz@islamic-relief.org.uk, or James Tweed, Media Co-coordinator, on 020 7593 3219, email james.tweed@islamic-relief.org.ukjames.tweed@islamic-relief.org.uk.

Notes for Editors

· Islamic Relief is an international aid and development charity that aims to alleviate the suffering of the world’s poorest people in more than 40 countries, mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As well as responding to disasters and emergencies, we promote sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities – regardless of race, religion or gender.

· Islamic Relief is one of the 13 UK charities that form the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) – see www.islamic-relief.org.uk/AboutUs.aspxhttp://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/AboutUs.aspx.

· In our 34-year history, Islamic Relief has helped to save or transform the lives of more than 110m people worldwide.

· Islamic Relief is a signatory of the Red Cross Code of Conduct, an international standard on working with people affected by emergencies in a non-biased manner, and has acquired NGO status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). We have signed a Framework Partnership with the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department, and a partnership agreement with the UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency that reaffirms both organisations’ principles of giving aid without discrimination.

· Islamic Relief defines an orphan as: “A child below 18 years of age, without both parents or father, or whose father has abandoned them for a minimum of four years, of any gender, religion or race.”


UN report reveals grave violations against children in armed conflict

The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba. In the report, which covers the period from December 2016 to December 2017, the Special Representative outlines the activities undertaken in discharging her mandate and the progress achieved in addressing grave violations against children. The Special Representative also explores the challenges in strengthening the protection of children affected by armed conflict, including by addressing the impact of trafficking and the sale of children in situations of armed conflict, the emerging and recurrent challenges related to the denial of humanitarian access to children and progress in ending grave violations against children, in particular through direct engagement with parties to conflict. Lastly, the Special Representative sets out recommendations addressed to the Human Rights Council and Member States to further the protection of children’s rights.

I. Introduction

II. A vision going forward following 20 years of the children and armed conflict mandate

  • Since the inception of the mandate, the Special Representative and the Office of the Special Representative have played a central role in strengthening the protection of the rights of children affected by armed conflict, including through raising awareness and ensuring that the issue is prioritized on the international agenda. The appointment of the new Special Representative, Virginia Gamba, in early May 2017, therefore presented a timely opportunity to look forward and analyse how efforts could be elevated to end and prevent grave violations affecting children in conflict. To that end, the new Special Representative is aiming to enhance her mandated activities, both in terms of raising public awareness to mobilize global action and garnering lessons learned, and developing best practices to aid practitioners and Member States. Geneva-based mechanisms and entities will be a key part of that vision moving forward.

  • In the two decades since the establishment of the mandate, the United Nations has developed innovative methods to engage with both Governments and armed groups for the benefit of children most affected by war. As a result, 29 action plans have been signed with parties to conflict to end violations against children and establish mechanisms to prevent them. Where the context was conducive and political will was strong, steady progress was achieved, which led to the full implementation of action plans and the subsequent delisting of 11 parties to conflict from the annexes to the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict. That represents a significant impact on the protection of the rights of children during armed conflict.

  • The public awareness campaign, entitled “Children, Not Soldiers”, launched jointly with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2014, catalysed further progress to protect children affected by armed conflict. The campaign, which focused on one of the six grave violations, namely ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children, led to tangible results. With greater awareness of the issue, the Special Representative, together with UNICEF, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs, was able to expedite progress, and child protection advisers on the ground played a critical role in operationalizing action plans and further strengthening the overall child protection architecture. Concrete advances included the criminalization of the recruitment and use of children, the issuance of military command orders, the systematic screening of troops, the adoption of age-assessment guidelines, the development of handover protocols and the release and reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces.

  • A range of other initiatives by the Special Representative and her Office have also had an impact, such as supporting the development of national legislation to protect children; accountability initiatives; advocating for the ratification of international instruments; and leveraging peace processes to engage with parties to conflict on children affected by violations, notably in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Nevertheless, the complexity of the current contexts of armed conflict has contributed to an increase in the number of children at risk in situations where human rights violations are occurring. The mandate is therefore at a critical juncture and both the international community and civil society will need to reflect on how to renew their commitment to build on past achievements and work towards the goal of providing the best possible protection for children affected by war. This juncture corresponds with the opportunities provided by the Sustainable Development Goals to endeavour to reach those who are the furthest behind, by working in partnership to ensure that children affected by armed conflict are protected from recruitment and use, provided with education and given the ability to live their lives in a heathy and peaceful manner.

  • To this end, as mandated by the General Assembly, the Special Representative plans to establish the capacity to enhance synergies among different United Nations agencies, regional and subregional organizations, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society to raise further awareness of the six grave violations against children. In coordination with Geneva-based entities, the Special Representative considers it vital to commence exercises on lessons learned to identify best practices through research, analysis, assessment and working partnerships that can shed further light on the past 20 years of the collective work of the Organization on children and armed conflict, and identify difficulties encountered in strengthening the protection of children and ongoing trends and dynamics to inform future action.

  • It is essential to engage additional actors in pursuit of greater protection of children’s rights and enhance engagement with actors where partnerships are already in place. In that regard, the Human Rights Council has reaffirmed that regional arrangements play an important role in promoting and protecting human rights. 1 The Special Representative therefore considers that partnerships with regional and subregional organizations can be developed or further advanced to secure politically or legally binding instruments to strengthen the prevention of violations in situations of armed conflict and facilitate programmatic responses when violations do occur. Among the regional organizations with which the Special Representative envisions enhancing engagement are the African Union, the League of Arab States and the European Union. Similarly, the Special Representative hopes to continue and strengthen the existing collaboration with such organizations as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the pursuit of best practices and with the aim of supporting the development of additional operational procedures that adequately take into account child protection concerns.

  • Engagement will also be pursued with subregional organizations, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States and the Andean Community. Such engagement has historical roots in the work of the Office of the Special Representative; focusing on subregional organizations has the potential to be a multiplier for further progress. For instance, in the early 2000s, ECOWAS progressively integrated child protection into its policies and institutions, including through the adoption of the Accra Declaration and Plan of Action on War-Affected Children, at the Conference on War-Affected Children in West Africa, held in Ghana on 27 and 28 April 2000; established a child protection unit in its secretariat; and endorsed an agenda for action for war-affected children in West Africa at the ECOWAS summit in 2003. The Special Representative plans to contribute to further progress by supporting the re-establishment of such instruments and mechanisms and creating new partnerships to leverage the tools of a broad range of subregional organizations.

  • The additional focus on advocacy and lessons learned will feed into the overarching goal of the mandate, namely strengthening the protection of the rights of children affected by armed conflict. It is envisioned that lessons learned and raising public awareness will aid interactions with parties to conflict when violations against children occur. Best practices can be used to assist parties to conflict who demonstrate a willingness to better protect children by ensuring that the conduct of hostilities complies with international standards. When a party to conflict is open to entering into dialogue, the plethora of best practices that have been developed over the past 20 years can guide technical discussions on protecting children’s rights. However, to draw on the full potential of those best practices, it will be important to compile, capture and make them available to Governments, protection actors and other relevant entities. Awareness-raising, on the other hand, can be used to put pressure on belligerents who do not demonstrate the same willingness to improve their conduct. By using the different avenues of public awareness, political advocacy and direct engagement, parties may display greater receptiveness to improving their conduct and reducing violations against children. Those prevention efforts are at the heart of the Special Representative’s goals of protecting the rights of children.


  • Confusionists should not be in DPP but in ‘ng’ona’ party- President Mutharika

    CHIKWAWA-(MaraviPost)-President Peter Mutharika on Sunday told confusionists in his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to desist and join the main opposition, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which he referred as ng’ona party.

    Mutharika made the remarks during the political rally he organized at Nchalo in Chikwawa district.

    According to him, he know that there are some Judah Iscariot in his party who changes their colours during day and night.

    He however called for peace in his party in order to win the 2019 tripartite elections as well as developing the country.

    “I want peace in DPP and not quarrels or fighting. Fight should be in ng’ona party and those who want should go and join it. I don’t want gossipers in DPP. Everyone has right to join the party and must be welcomed,” he said.

    DPP regional governor for the south Charles Mchacha and Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi described the current infighting in MCP as behavior of the party.

    The two ask Malawians to vote for DPP in 2019 tripartite elections especially if they want development.

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    Paramount Lundu chases a humanitarian organization ‘Goal Malawi’

    CHIKWAWA-(MaraviPost)-Paramount Chief Lundu of Chikwawa on Sunday ordered one of the country’s humanitarian organization that is distributing maize in his area, Goal Malawi to immediately go out of his area before he do something wrong against it.

    According to Lundu, the organization is rude to his chiefs as well as subjects.

    He spoke during the political rally at Nchalo in Chikwawa district organized by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

    “This organization must go, I don’t want its work here. The organization is rude to my subjects even us the chiefs,” ordered Lundu.

    He asked President Peter Mutharika to bring back World Vision Malawi to continue with the job.

    “The maize that the organization is distributing is from government. Therefore, I want you the President to recall World Vision Malawi. Goal Malawi must go,” he said.

    Adding “World Vision has been carrying the same job before but it was good. However, this Goal Malawi,,,shupitii..”

    In his response, President Mutharika said “I have held whatever you have said and I will do something on it.”

    Mutharika then told Malawians that no one will die with hunger under his leadership.

    Recently, Lundu chased Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s Church from carrying its services in his jurisdiction without valid reason.

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    State refuses to restore TV stations signals

    By JOHN NGIRACHU
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    The shutdown of NTV, Citizen and KTN enters day seven on Monday, with the Communications Authority showing no signs of obeying a court order directing it to allow the TV stations back on air.

    Lobbies on Sunday said the defiance of the order and the crack down on opposition leaders “are a recipe for total breakdown of the rule of law and order in Kenya and can only lead to more violations of human rights”.

    The Civil Society Reference Group said the reaction by the government to an event its top leadership had described as a comedy was excessive.

    “It is unfathomable and ironic that three TV stations, whose role was only to cover an activity the government had definitely allowed to proceed, are being punished,” the group said.

    “They are being punished without being accorded a hearing so that the veracity of their alleged offence can be determined lawfully.”

    COURT ORDER
    Mr Suba Churchill, the group’s convener, said the proper channel for the government to deal with the stations whose broadcasts it deemed illegal is to prosecute them.

    “The continued shutdown of three TV stations even after the High Court directed that they be brought back on air three days ago is the most glaring indication that the Executive does not respect the law and institutions established under the Constitution even as it proclaims the contrary,” Mr Churchill said.

    The Communications Authority has refused to be served the orders issued by the High Court.

    Mr Okiya Omtatah, an activist, was turned away on Friday and the order he pasted on a wall near the agency’s gate removed within minutes.

    Court servers were also unable to accomplish this usually simple task on Saturday as they were harassed and chased by sentries at the gate to the authority’s offices on Waiyaki Way, Nairobi.


    Survivor reveals what it takes to beat cancer

    By JOHN NGIRACHU
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    Pheris Wangeci Kariuki puts her wins in the fight against lung cancer to her faith and her conviction that she was going to come out of it.

    Doctors at Medanta Hospital in India established that her cancer was at Stage Four in 2015, ending a two-year period where others in various hospitals in Nairobi interpreted the mass in her lungs seen on X-ray as pneumonia.

    The last one at Nairobi Hospital found through a bronchoscopy that she had cancerous cells but could not establish the extent.

    “I was able to overcome because I took a positive stand. I also have a strong Christian faith,” she said.

    Her daughter Juliet Muthoni, who accompanied her to India, said:

    “At first it came as a shock, then we realized we have to spring into action.”

    “A cancer diagnosis gives you one of two choices,” she said, “Go full on and fight or resign yourself.”

    As they went to India, Ms Muthoni said, they were hopeful that after all the apparent misdiagnosis her mother had in Kenya, the PET scan would establish there was nothing wrong and they would go back home.

    HOPE
    But mixed with that was the feeling that whatever it was, they would handle it and come back strong.

    “It’s not a death sentence. It takes a lot of faith. Have faith in God. As we left, Juliet told me, ‘We are going through this thing and we’ll come back healed. We’re going to print T-shirts saying I survived cancer.’ I had the conviction that I’m going to go through this,” Ms Kariuki said.

    Chemotherapy has terrible side effects – nausea, vomiting, hair loss, the reduction in immunity that makes one susceptible to disease – but the 55-year-old civil servant said the worst she suffered was an infection that had her admitted for three days.

    COUNSELLING
    She said this resolve was partly aided by volunteers — who are themselves cancer survivors and are therefore well informed about the treatment and its effects — who would talk to patients.

    Ms Kariuki describes them as playing a big role in telling patients the things that the doctors do not have the time, or patience, to explain: what to expect as your body reacts to the drugs and what foods to avoid.

    “They would tell us that on this journey, it is 60 per cent your mindset, 20 per cent the medicine and 20 per cent what you eat,” she said.

    CAREGIVER
    It is something she reckons would work in Kenya and give hope and encouragement to patients.

    The requirement in India to have a caregiver admitted along with the patient also helps as there is a second party who can ask the doctors the necessary questions and run errands, rather than hospital staff who are also serving other patients.

    While Ms Kariuki was supposed to go through six cycles of chemotherapy using a combination of two drugs, going to the hospital every three weeks, she progressed so well that after the third round, the doctors were impressed and allowed her to come back home and continue treatment here.


    Opinion divided on possibility of Raila arrest

    By SAMWEL OWINO
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    Opinion is divided on whether arresting National Super Alliance boss Raila Odinga would be the best way of dealing with an insurgent opposition.

    While the government has gone for Mr Odinga’s allies, there is concern that such a decision may lead to unprecedented chaos.

    Some Jubilee leaders say it is just a matter of time before Mr Odinga is arrested “for inciting people against the government of the day”.

    INCITE
    Igembe North MP Maoka Maore said reaction would not matter “since what happened at Uhuru Park is illegal and no country can tolerate it”.

    “It is wrong to excite supporters to an illegality. Losers are behaving like winners and making winners appear to be in office illegally,” Mr Maore said.

    Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said the government was not afraid of arresting the opposition chief.

    “Mr Odinga has not committed any crime. If he had violated the law, he would have been arrested,” Mr Kang’ata said.

    “Mr Odinga did not take oath as the president of the republic. There are many presidents in this country such as university student leaders. People are being arrested because they are misleading him and making inciting utterances.”

    VIOLENCE
    Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny however urged the President to be careful about the kind of legacy he wants to leave.

    “Arresting Mr Odinga will lead to chaos. Let us remember he has six million supporters across Kenya,” Mr Kutuny said.

    “It is unfortunate that the government is muzzling the same media we in Jubilee used to champion our ICC agenda in 2013.”

    Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior said the ongoing arrests showed the government was afraid of Mr Odinga.

    “Anyone thinking of arresting Raila is contemplating disaster. The arrest of the likes of Miguna Miguna, Tom Kajwang, George Aladwa and others shows the government develops cold feet when it comes to Mr Odinga,” Mr Mutula said, adding that the government just wanted to be seen to be doing something.

    TESTING WATERS
    The Makueni senator urged Nasa principals to call an urgent meeting and chart the way forward.

    Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama told the police not to dare arrest Mr Odinga.

    “If the government does not obey court orders, which Kenyan will?” Mr Muthama asked.

    Mr Muthama said he was outside the country when Mr Odinga was sworn in on Tuesday, adding that he was committed to the opposition cause.

    According to Kathiani MP Robert Mbui, it is just a matter of time before the former prime minister is arrested.

    “The government will keep arresting leaders to gauge the reaction of Kenyans. If nothing happens, it will go for people like Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Senator James Orengo and finally Mr Odinga,” Mr Mbui said, adding that Mr Odinga committed no crime.


    Cancer patients hope to beat disease with medical advances

    By ELIZABETH MERAB
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    It is a few minutes to five in the evening and most of the patients who had flocked Texas Cancer Centre in Nairobi for consultation and treatment have left for the day.

    But there is a small crowd of about seven who have been left behind.

    They are waiting for the hospital’s van to transfer them to the in-patient branch of the facility for the night.

    Unlike the rest of the patients, these seven will have to spend a few days at the Hurlingham branch for further treatment, which cannot be administered at the out-patient level.

    CHEMOTHERAPY
    It is among these seven patients that we spot a young, bubbly woman who constantly cracks jokes with other patients.

    But, beside her infectious humour, it is easy to pick out Elizabeth Wamaitha, 24, from the group: She is the youngest patient undergoing chemotherapy on Monday.

    Most of the patients lying on the reclined chairs inside the chemotherapy room are above the age of 40.

    Her frail frame and resilience are what is left of the battle she has fought since being diagnosed with colon cancer in June last year. The disease is now at stage four.

    “Before the diagnosis I always felt constipated,” she says.

    “Doctors at school kept putting me on anti-bloating medication, which never really relieved me.”

    NEW CANCER CASES
    After six months of taking the medication without any improvement, she sought a second opinion in June last year, and the doctor broke the shocking news to her.

    “At first I was heartbroken because I had regularly heard of people dying from cancer,” Elizabeth, who was immediately put on chemotherapy after diagnosis, says.

    “For a while, the cancer cells reduced and I got better, but two months ago my doctor told me the cells were back and I had to be put on a different treatment.”

    Even as cancer treatment improves and survival rates go up, so, too, does the number of people afflicted with the deadly disease.

    The 14 million new cancer cases recorded in 2012 worldwide will grow to 24 million within two decades, outstripping the increase in global population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    In 2015, all forms of cancer combined claimed 8.8 million lives, making it the second leading cause of death after heart disease.

    Cancer is the third highest cause of death in Kenya — after infectious and cardiovascular ailments — and most of those who suffer from it cannot afford treatment.

    But doctors believe that today, compared to decades ago, the outcomes and survival rates for patients like Elizabeth have significantly improved.

    “We know how to help avoid it, and to detect it,” Prof Nicholas Abinya, an oncologist at the Nairobi Hospital, says.

    “We are getting better at treating it, but, overall, we still have a long way to go.”

    An estimated 40,000 new cancer cases and 28,000 cancer deaths occur each year in Kenya, meaning the disease accounts for seven per cent of all annual deaths.

    In 2016, the Economic Survey estimates, 15,762 patients died from cancer.

    DIAGNOSIS
    Documents at Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) show that 80 per cent of reported cases in the country are diagnosed at an advanced stage, leaving few options for remedy.

    This late diagnosis, when combined with lack of — or uneven — distribution of cancer diagnosis and treatment facilities, personnel, and equipment, makes the disease a virtual death sentence.

    A study in 71 countries and covering 18 types of cancers showed that, despite the increase in survival prospects globally, there still are huge disparities between countries and societies, particularly for children, depending on the level of development and differences in health care systems.

    And in the most up-to-date study of cancer survival trends — between 2010 and 2014 — covering countries that are home to two-thirds of the world’s population, researchers found some significant progress in management, but also wide variations.

    SURVIVAL RATE
    While brain tumour survival in children has improved in many countries, the study, published last week in the journal The Lancet, showed that for children diagnosed as recently as 2014, a five-year survival is twice as high in Denmark and Sweden — at around 80 per cent — as it is in Mexico and Brazil — at less than 40 percent.

    This gap was attributed to variations in availability and quality of cancer diagnosis and treatment services, the researchers said.

    “If we want fewer deaths from cancer, there are two ways: first, better prevention, and, second, improving outcomes,” Michel Coleman, co-author of the study, in an interview with AFP last week, said.

    Several factors account for the disease’s growing prevalence.

    One is a long list of lifestyle habits linked to cancer, with cigarette smoking and eating of processed foods being ranked the top.

    The cost in diagnosing, treating and caring for cancer patients is also a challenge that the society and the health sector have to bear.

    Globally, the WHO estimates that the total annual economic cost of cancer exceeds a trillion dollars (approximately Sh100 trillion), and much of this burden falls on developing nations.

    “It seems plausible that the global cost of cancer treatment and care in 2017 must already be substantially higher than $300 billion (Sh30 trillion),” the authors of the Lancet study concluded.

    Another risk is exposure to carcinogenic industrial pollutants, including asbestos, organic pollutants such as dioxins, heavy metals, and small air particles that lodge in the lungs.

    Other risk factors include eating poorly, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, and obesity.

    Cancer-causing infections such as hepatitis and the human papilloma virus (HPV) account for a quarter of cancer cases, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.


    Auditor Ouko shines light on KAA 'shady dealings'

    By DAVID MWERE
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    Auditor-General Edward Ouko has questioned financial dealings at the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), revealing taxpayers could lose billions of shillings in shady transactions.

    Among the issues that the auditor has questioned touch on KAA’s land, award of tenders and lack of seriousness on the part of the management to ensure that projects are finished on time.

    The report was tabled in Parliament in December.

    It will be one of the issues to be deliberated on by the Public Accounts Committee once MPs resume from recess next week.

    JKIATERMINAL
    Also questioned is the Sh65 billion new Greenfields terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that was expected to handle 8.7 million passengers annually once completed.

    However, the project, which had been awarded to M/S ACEG- CATIC JV, was cancelled by the Ministry of Transport in 2016 before construction works had even started.

    Mr Ouko noted in the report tabled in the National Assembly that an expenditure of Sh78 million was incurred on the project on May 23, 2014, and described as contract variation.

    “There was no further information being presented and it was not clear how a contract, which had not commenced, could have a variation,” Mr Ouko said.

    PWC CONTRACT
    He noted that PricewaterhouseCoopers was contracted for Sh29.8 million to provide technical advisory service for borrowing, but the contract would later be terminated in unclear circumstances after incurring Sh19.4 million, which he said amounts to nugatory expenditure.

    According to the Auditor-General, a review of the project revealed that the contractor had been paid Sh4.3 billion while Sh129.9 million had been paid to the consultant as at June 30, 2016, but there was no evidence of work done.

    The audit report also noted that the management has not explained how Sh228 million allocated for construction projects at Tseikuru airstrip was utilised between 2013 to 2016.

    There are also issues on Sh399 million allocated for rehabilitation of a runway, apron and car park at Nanyuki airstrip.

    The contract was awarded to Doch Company on September 3, 2014, and was to be completed within 12 months.

    However, the auditor noted slow progress, missing progress reports, unapproved variation scope and lack of inspection report.