Monday, December 23rd, 2019
More than 280,000 people have contracted measles and at least 5,700 have died from the disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this year—the largest outbreak the country has experienced in decades. The World Health Organization (WHO) says this is the largest measles epidemic in the world today. According to a survey by Epicentre—MSF’s research arm—these figures represent a fraction of the real number.
Measles has now spread to all 26 provinces of the country and more resources must be urgently committed to target areas where the outbreak is still raging.
Several factors contribute to the rapid spread of this epidemic. In some regions of the country, there is an extremely low immunization coverage. This is due not only to a shortage of the measles vaccine in DRC, but, when vaccines are available, access is limited—the national vaccination program cannot keep up with the needs and many people don’t have access to health facilities. On top of this, the measles vaccine must be kept cold or it becomes less effective, and the “cold chain” is difficult to maintain in rural areas of the country that can only be accessed by motorbike or boat.
In northeast DRC, in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, the Ebola outbreak response has also caused a decline in measles immunization coverage. “When medical staff and equipment are already limited, epidemiological surveillance and medical care for patients may deteriorate for other diseases such as measles,” said Dr Nicolas Peyraud, an MSF vaccination referent who was recently in DRC, where he helped to set up measles vaccination campaigns in collaboration with UNICEF and the Congolese Ministry of Health. “Similarly, preventive activities, such as routine vaccinations, are drastically reduced. Measles immunization coverage has declined significantly in Ebola transmission areas since the beginning of the epidemic in mid-2018.
No signs of abating
The epidemic shows no signs of abating: 9,605 new cases were reported in the last week of November—the highest number since the start of the year. The fatality rate this year is twice as high as in previous years, and 73 percent of deaths are in children under the age of five.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Right now, in DRC, a person with measles infects two to three other people on average. There is no specific treatment once someone contracts measles, but a well-executed vaccination campaign is extremely effective in preventing the spread of the disease. In areas with low immunization coverage, vaccination can reduce infant mortality by 50 percent.
“When an epidemic is declared, medical care and vaccination must be combined to stop the spread of the disease,” said Alex Wade, head of mission for MSF in the DRC. “Since mid-November, the Congolese health authorities started measles supplementary immunization activities throughout the country. [And] MSF continues providing free quality medical care to patients. But for now, the epidemic is still several steps ahead of the medical-humanitarian response.”
Localized surveillance systems
Measles cases remain underreported across the country. MSF has set up surveillance strategies to identify new areas affected by the epidemic, in order to start interventions as soon as possible. At the beginning of December, MSF sent a small team to Viadana—a town in the province of Bas-Uélé in the north of the country—following a rapid increase in the number of recorded measles cases. But the situation they found was far worse than what the recorded numbers represented. In a single school of about 300 children, more than 100 students had measles. MSF immediately provided medical care for the children and organized a vaccination campaign in the area.
In the four provinces of ex-Katanga, in the south-east of DRC, MSF created localized surveillance systems and set up a decentralized laboratory to quickly analyze suspected cases of measles and rubella. The system was set up in October, but prior to that, the samples had to be sent all the way to Kinshasa—the capital of DRC—for analysis, which took several months.
MSF is also works in the province of Kongo Central, supporting the Congolese health authorities. On December 13, MSF opened a treatment center for complicated measles cases in the general hospital in Matadi, the capital of the province and the country’s main port. A week earlier, another team opened a similar facility a few hours drive west, in the coastal town of Muanda. These treatment centers reached capacity within a few days after opening, and we had to relocate to larger structures.
In these treatment centers, MSF teams treat other pathologies, such as malaria and malnutrition, which greatly increase the risk of mortality in measles patients if left untreated. We also support the treatment of simple measles cases in areas surrounding these health zones by distributing treatment kits, strengthening surveillance and detection of new cases, and providing free transport for patients who need to be transferred to healthcare facilities for further treatment.
“Too many children have died”
Between January 2018 and October 2019, MSF teams treated 46,870 measles patients and vaccinated 1,461,550 children against the disease across 54 health zones in various provinces around the country, including Ituri, Haut and Bas-Uélé, Tshopo, Kasai, Mai-Ndombe, Kwilu, and Sud Ubangi.
In collaboration with the Congolese Ministry of Health, MSF also helped to strengthen measles vaccination activities in areas where the Ebola outbreak continues to spread. “In July, we introduced the first measles vaccination in an Ebola context,” said Dr. Peyraud. “Everything went smoothly and children in several health zones including Bunia and Ituri were vaccinated.”
Unfortunately, many regions still have low vaccination coverage.
“Supplementary immunization activities have been launched by the Congolese Ministry of Health, but there are still many health zones where the outbreak continues,” says Wade. “It is essential that humanitarian organizations and other responders pool all possible efforts to help the Congolese Ministry of Public Health to overcome this measles outbreak. Too many children have died from this easily preventable disease.”
MSF has worked in the DRC since 1981. Our teams respond to the needs of communities during health and humanitarian emergencies, including epidemics, pandemics, displacement of people, and natural disasters, with the primary objective of reducing morbidity and mortality.
Publié le 23.12.2019 à 22h53 par AFP
Treize rhinocéros ont été victimes de braconnage ces deux derniers mois au Botswana, a annoncé le ministère du Tourisme, un chiffre qui traduit une hausse de cette pratique visant cette espèce menacée, malgré les efforts du gouvernement pour y mettre fin.
Le Botswana abrite près de 400 rhinocéros, selon l’organisme chargé de leur protection, Rhino Conservation Botswana. La plupart d’entre eux vivent dans les riches plaines du delta de l’Okavango, dans le nord.
« D’octobre 2019 à ce jour, 13 rhinocéros supplémentaires ont été victimes de braconnage », ce qui porte à 31 le nombre de ces animaux ainsi chassés depuis octobre 2018, a déclaré le ministère dans un communiqué diffusé ce week-end.
Vingt-trois étaient des rhinocéros blancs et huit des rhinocéros noirs, qui sont considérés comme en danger critique par l’Union internationale pour la conservation de la nature (UICN).
Neuf rhinocéros avaient été tués d’avril à octobre cette année, avait annoncé le gouvernement en octobre.
« La triste situation de la population (des rhinocéros) du pays s’est poursuivie, avec des rhinocéros supplémentaires tués d’octobre 2019 à ce jour », a déclaré le ministère.
Les milliers de rhinocéros qui peuplaient autrefois l’Afrique et l’Asie ont été décimés par le braconnage et la perte de leur habitat. Très peu vivent encore en dehors des parcs nationaux et des réserves.
Le gouvernement du Botswana a intensifié ses efforts contre le braconnage, avec des interventions qui ont permis la saisie de quelques cornes et d’armes de chasse, a déclaré le ministère.
La demande de cornes de rhinocéros émane surtout de la Chine et du Vietnam, où la médecine traditionnelle leur attribue toutes sortes de vertus, dont celle de guérir le cancer ou l’impuissance. Elles sont pourtant composées de kératine comme les ongles humains.
Au marché noir, le kilogramme de cornes de rhinocéros se monnaie jusqu’à 60.300 dollars (55.000 euros).
L’Afrique du Sud, un pays frontalier du Botswana, a perdu plus de 7.100 rhinocéros au cours des dix dernières années, dont 769 en 2018.
Il reste moins de 25.000 rhinocéros en liberté en Afrique en raison de la hausse du braconnage et seulement 5.000 d’entre eux sont des rhinocéros noirs.
The State says it plans to build a Sh30 billion network of roads known as Mau Mau Road within two years.
Speaking at a contractors site visit along the proposed road snaking through 69 markets in Nyeri, Murang’a, Nyandarua and Kiambu, Transport Secretary James Macharia said four contractors have been engaged.
Starting at Gataka in Limuru sub-county, the road snakes through Kiambu’s Kamahindu and Kibichoi to Murang’a’s Kinyona in Kigumo and Ichichi in Kangema before reaching Nyeri County where it will touch the Nyeri-Nyahururu road at Ihuru area.
The Nairobi-Nyeri road is the second most congested after the Nakuru-Nairobi highway that experiences traffic gridlocks due to crucial linkages to other parts of the country including Isiolo, Samburu, Embu, Meru, Murang’a and Nanyuki town.
The new road also creates an economic impetus for Murang’a and Nyeri that lack tarmacked road links to agriculture-rich Nyandarua County.
The road will also reduce the distance covered from Gatundu North to Gatanga that is hindered by sharp ridges.
For Kigumo in Murang’a, a new road cutting though Gatare Forest to Gatura and Njambini will be tarmacked, ending the 100 kilometre journey to the two towns through the 100-kilometre dilapidated Thika-Mang’u-Fly Over road.
The ambitious project totaling 150 kilometres has been subdivided into four parts with Nyeri and Murang’a sections being handled by two contractors while Kiambu section measuring 117.9 kilometres has been split into two sections.
Mr Macharia said this was aimed at faster construction of the crucial road that opens the area to key markets expected to attract new investments in farming, real estate and tourism.
Former political detainee Charles Rubia died Monday a dejected man, spending his last days in the corridors of justice seeking compensation for his illegal detention and torture by the Moi government.
“He left us on Monday in the morning from what we suspect were age-related issues, but we shall wait for the doctor’s report to authenticate our suspicions,” his son Maurice Rubia told the Nation.
Mr Rubia, who died at the age of 96, was the first African Mayor of Nairobi and a long-serving minister. After he joined the calls for a return to multiparty democracy in the early 1990s, he was arrested and detained, becoming one of the few Kenyans to be detained twice during the Moi era.
“He paid a great price for his stand and was detained at the height of the struggle but he never wavered. I am proud to have known and worked with him,” ODM leader Raila Odinga eulogised him.
State House also announced that President Uhuru Kenyatta had sent a message of condolences to his family, friends and relatives, describing the veteran politician as “an icon of Kenya’s vibrant multiparty democracy.”
Senator Irungu Kang’ata, who was Mr Rubia’s lawyer, said the people of Murang’a had lost a great leader. “When he was the mayor of Nairobi, he mobilised the people of Murang’a to come and invest in Nairobi, until some sections of the city became synonymous with investors from Murang’a,” Mr Kang’ata said.
Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria said Mr Rubia’s agitation for multiparty democracy led to devolution since he initiated efforts to ensure that Kenyans had a say in governance.
“To me he is not only the father of democracy, but also the father of devolution. Due to his efforts, Kenyans were able to vote a new Constitution which ushered in devolution,” the governor said.
Despite his role in the fight for a return to multiparty politics, Mr Rubia spent his last days fighting for justice as a case he filed in court in 2012 seeking compensation dragged on.
Despite his advanced age and poor health, he was forced to appear in court last month to testify.
“Our plea to both the Judiciary and the Attorney-General to have the case hastened did not bear fruit. This is despite the fact that he filed his case earlier than most of those who have since received compensation, including Kenneth Matiba,” Kang’ata complained.
In July, Mr Rubia made a claim for Sh40 billion compensation for illegal detention and torture, the largest in the country’s history.
The submissions for compensation were made seven years after Mr Rubia went to court in a case that has dragged on for years.
In the submissions, he gave a harrowing account of his torture, reactions of resentment, anger, and bitterness, loss of political and business opportunities and his search for some way to maintain moral character and be “human” again after detention.
He says the detention, broke down his wife, who never got to recover and eventually died.
He adds that his well-educated children were denied jobs while he was removed from the directorship of various parastatals, and companies warned not to do business with him.
Mr Rubia was much richer than most, if not all, of the Moi era political detainees, having run a multibillion-shilling business empire that crumbled like a pack of cards after his detention.
Mr Rubia’s woes began in February 1987, when he was arrested and accused of financing the Mwakenya Movement and working in cahoots with church leaders to import guns for overthrowing the government. He was detained at Nyayo House in Nairobi for about five days and released without any charges being preferred against him.
In the 1988 elections, the State machinery worked hard to ensure that he did not win, with the returning officer announcing two different sets of results.
On March 3, 1990, Mr Rubia and former Cabinet Minister Stanley Matiba called a press conference at Chester House Nairobi and urged the government to embrace multiparty politics and consequently called for a peaceful rally in Kamukunji on July 7.
But they were arrested on July 4 and detained for nine months.
Mr Rubia was released from detention two weeks after doctors from the Nairobi Hospital informed the prison authorities that he required urgent medical attention.
“Thereafter, he underwent vigorous and prolonged treatment in London and further treatment in Kenya and London. Despite this, the petitioner was left with severe disabilities in his speech, among others … To date, the petitioner continues to receive treatment and will continue to do so for the rest of his life,” court documents state.
Mr Rubia was Starehe MP from 1969 to 1988, and served as an assistant minister from 1969 to 1978, and as a Cabinet minister from 1979 to 1988.
Boeing on Monday replaced its embattled chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg, saying a change was necessary as it attempts to restore its reputation amid the protracted 737 MAX crisis.
Boeing named board Chairman David Calhoun as chief executive and president, saying the company needed to “restore confidence” and “repair relationships with regulators, customers and all other stakeholders.”
The company pledged to “operate with a renewed commitment to full transparency, including effective and proactive communication with the FAA, other global regulators and its customers.”
The aerospace giant’s financial picture remains clouded following the global grounding of the MAX in March after two deadly crashes.
The move comes a week after Boeing took the monumental step of temporarily shutting down MAX production because of the crisis, which has pushed the aircraft’s return to the skies into 2020.
Muilenburg will exit the company immediately but Calhoun, a former General Electric aviation executive, will not take the CEO post until January 13, 2020, while he exits existing commitments, Boeing said in a news release.
During that period, Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith will serve as interim CEO.
Muilenburg’s response to the crisis has been increasingly criticized as the MAX grounding has dragged on far longer than initially expected as more disturbing details have dribbled out about the certification of the MAX.
He has also been seen as tone deaf and awkward towards families of the 346 people killed in the crashes.
After enduring two withering congressional hearings in the fall, Muilenburg’s leadership came under further scrutiny this month when the Federal Aviation Administration called the company out for overly-optimistic timeframe for restoring the MAX that the agency said created the perception that Boeing was trying “to force FAA into taking quicker action.”
Boeing shares jumped 3.4 percent to $339.13 in early trading on the news.
The company took another hit to its reputation on Sunday when its Starliner spacecraft landed six days early after a failed mission to rendezvous with the International Space Station.
Christmas and Easter are the two main Christian festivals. They are bases on the belief that God became human, and that Jesus rose from the dead. While the original Christian tenet proclaimed was the resurrection, the celebration of Christmas overtook Easter in popularity and extravaganza.
As a season, Christmas has significance beyond the crucible of Christianity, in which it evolved. For business people, some not believers, it is a season to maximise sales. For many workers, it is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Christmas has transcended religion to become a secular cultural festival.
To St Paul, a leading champion of early Christianity, the principal ground of faith was the resurrection. Virtually all his sermons in the Acts of the Apostles culminate in this tenet. One of his longest and impassioned arguments (1 Cor 15), is a proclamation that God raised Jesus from the dead.
At least once, Paul refers to Jesus as born of a woman (Gal 4: 4). In two of his writings, he includes hymns (Phil 2: 6-11 and Col 1:12-20), whose main tenor is that Jesus Christ pre-existed in the form of God before his birth on earth and is the visible image of the invisible God.
Paul concentrates on the resurrection, inspired by his Damascus experience when the risen Lord appeared to him (Acts 9: 1-9).
As a liturgical period for many churches with roots in Western Christianity including Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics, the Christmas season begins on the evening December 24 with vespers and ends on the Sunday after the Epiphany, celebrated on January 6. These branches of Western Christianity also follow the Gregorian calendar, established in the 16th century.
For churches associated with Eastern Christianity, among them the Orthodox and Coptic which follow the Julian calendar, Christmas falls on January 6.
Fixing Christ’s birth on December 25 was a long, complicated, controversial and sometimes hilarious process. But one thing on which scholars agree is that nobody knows the exact date.
According to modern researchers, Mark was the first gospel, written between 65 and 70AD, about 30 years after Christ’s death. And it contains no account of his birth. Most scholars agree that Matthew and Luke, which mention his birth, were written between 70 and 80AD. Though Luke explicitly states that he checked his sources carefully, his account of Christ’s birth must have been based on oral tradition.
One source on the origins of Christmas theorises that, after Christianity was tolerated by the Roman authorities with the issuance of the Edict of Milan by Emperor Constantine in 313AD, an arrangement was made to replace the celebration of the birthday of the Unconquerable Sun (dies natalis Solis Invicti) on December 25 with festivities marking Christ’s birth.
It is ironic that many Europeans, who until recently, defined themselves as the custodians of Western Christian culture, now identify themselves as Druids and pagans. One of their mai activities is to gather on December 22 to mark the feast of Juul or Yule, the winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere.
In an atavistic return to the practices of their pre-Christian ancestors, they chant and dance as they burn logs anticipating the return of the sun. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK, has become famous worldwide as a meeting place for Juul devotees. Last year, over 30,000 Druids participated in the pagan ceremony.
Through the ages, Christians have understood Christmas as a season of reconciliation between God and humanity on the vertical axis and the spread of goodwill among humankind on the horizontal line. One feature of our disposition for reconciliation is the willingness to share gifts with others during Noel.
Kenya comprises many of ethnic groups in dire need of national cohesion., so applying the Christmas themes of justice, reconciliation and goodwill is very relevant. For our survival and prosperity, we would do well to heed the angelic message, “peace on earth to people of goodwill” (Lk. 2:14).
Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2020!
Fr Njoroge is the Catholic Chaplain at JKUAT where he is Professor of Development Studies and Ethics, [email protected]
A Moi University student, whose body was last week found hanging from the ceiling of a lecture hall, has been laid to rest even as his family hold police and the university management to task over sluggish investigations.
Japheth Mungai, 22, was laid to rest at his parents’ home in Mohotetu village in Laikipia County on Monday in a sombre ceremony.
The body of the second year Bachelor of microbiology student was found last week by his colleagues hanging from the ceiling of a lecture hall at the university’s main campus in Kesses, Uasin Gishu County with his hands tied.
During the burial ceremony, local leaders led family members in pointing accusing fingers at the university management for keeping them in the dark since the incident occurred.
“We are very bitter with the manner in which the university’s management handled the case. We are surprised that the university has remained silent since the incident occurred till date when we are burying our son,” cried Ms Monica Mungai, the bereaved mother.
The family also accused police of not doing enough to ensure that the culprits are brought to book.
“Today I am burying my son while his killers are eating, sleeping and walking scot-free out there. It is now one week since the incident occurred and nothing has been done neither have the police communicated to us on the progress [of investigations],” said Mr Charles Mungai, the slain student’s father.
Marmanet MCA Simon Kanyutu also faulted the university and police for not giving proper information to the family and asked DCI Boss George Kinoti to take up the matter.
“We are very bitter that the university has not even sent a representative to the burial despite the student having met his death within the university’s premises.
“We want the university management to come clean and tell us what they are hiding from us, we have entrusted our children to them yet we haven’t heard from them up to date,” said Mr Kanyutu.
Kesses Sub-County Police Commander Harun Muriasi had earlier said that police were still investigating the matter, which they believed to have been suicide.
However, a postmortem report ruled out claims that the student could have committed suicide.
According to the postmortem report signed by Dr Benson Macharia, a pathologist at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, who led the post-mortem, there were no physical injuries on the neck to indicate the victim hanged himself.