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Your Africa Health News Bite By Dara Oloyede

This week's headlines:

Ebola: A Regional Catastrophe

Cameroon bans the commercialization of whiskey in satchets

Powerful British Tobacco Company Accused of Blackmail to Stop Ugandan Smoking Ban

Polio Drops 85% in Nigeria

Gambia: Minister Pledges to Improve Rural Healthcare Service

 

Ebola: A Regional Catastrophe

In West Africa, over 350 people have died from the Ebola virus since the beginning of the year (allafrica.com). This number continues to rise with no signs of progress. “The disease appeared in West Africa at the end of 2013 for the first time and the virus has now spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone and Liberia” (Allafrica.com). The epidemic is spiraling out of control. In attempt to prevent further transmission of the disease, in Guinea, authorities have banned the “consumption and sale of meat from wild animals”, which have been found to contain the virus (allafrica.com). Stephen Beck, the head of the department of virology at Marburg University in Germany, noted that another source of transmission happens at funerals. He says that funerals, where people have died from Ebola, are often a place where people can contract this virus. The practice of washing and preparing the dead for a funeral, and the embracing of the body by relatives, can result in an infection and transmission through body fluids such as blood (allafrica.com).

For more information check out this article at allafrica.com: http://allafrica.com/stories/201406260438.html

 

Cameroon Bans the Commercialization of Whiskey in Satchets

In Cameroon, President Paul Biya, with the assistance of the technical Sub-Committee of Standards and Quality Agency, “has banned the manufacture , distribution, consumption, and commercialization of all kinds of spirits in sachets throughout the entire republic of Cameroon”(FaceToFaceAfrica.com). The spirits are said to contain up to 45% of alcohol and “the methanol used in the fabrication of the whisky is too high and the effects on the brain are devastating” (Facetofaceafrica.com). The ban of Whiskey Sachets is a huge public health win for Cameroon because the consumption rate of alcohol in Cameroon is shockingly high. “According to a 2011 World Health Organization Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, Cameroon ranked 10th in Africa, with an average Cameroonian consuming 7.6 liters of pure alcohol every year” (FaceToFaceAfrica.com).

 

For more information please check out this article at face2faceafrica.com: http://face2faceafrica.com/article/whisky-en-sachet-cameroun#.U7Gsi_ldVi8

 

 

Powerful British Tobacco Company Accused of Blackmail to Stop Ugandan Smoking Ban

A powerful British Tobacco company, British American Tobacco, also known as BAT, is being accused of using blackmail in order to stop an anti-smoking law drafted by a member of the Ugandan Parliament, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi. “His private member's bill is aimed at curbing smoking in a country where cigarettes kill 13,500 people a year” (theguardian.com). Enó Isong, associate director of the International Communications Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says that "it is very clear that the tobacco industry is shifting its market to Africa – a young market where they can bully their way around"(theguardian.com). BAT buys tobacco from 18,000 Ugandan farmers, and the farmers are against the bill saying that it will harm their businesses. BAT “is using its considerable financial clout to oppose this bill, as well as mounting a heavy lobbying campaign claiming that this new bill would threaten the livelihood of thousands of farmers” (TheGuardian.com).

 

“Baryomunsi's bill will impose large health warnings covering 75% of the face of cigarette packets, bar smoking within 100 meters of public buildings, prohibit advertising, ban point of sale display marketing, raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 and limit interaction between the government and tobacco lobby” (TheGuardian.com).

Baryomunsi believes that this bill will revolutionize the fight against tobacco in Africa.

For more information check out this article at theguardian.com: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jul/12/bat-blackmail-uganda-smoking-law-tobacco

 

Polio Drops 85% in Nigeria

Health workers in Nigeria say they have never been closer to eradicating polio, with only four new cases reported this year.

“In Nigeria the number of new polio cases this year has decreased by 85 percent to four cases reported so far this year, compared to 26 cases reported in the same time frame in 2013”(voanews.com).

As insurgent attacks by the Boko Haram grow more violently in the North, where most of the polio cases are found, it is increasingly more difficult to reach goals of eradication. Vaccination teams are trying new strategies for going into dangerous areas and are doing all they can to keep operating amid the violence. Kazeem Mustapha, vice chairman of Rotary International's Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, is confident that Nigeria can start the clock on declaring the country polio-free by the end of 2014.

For more information, check out this article : http://www.voanews.com/content/despite-insecurity-polio-drops-85-percent-in-nigeria/1955573.html

 

 

Gambia: Minister Pledges to Improve Rural Healthcare Service

The minister for The Health and Social Welfare, Omar Sey, has made a pledge to improve the healthcare service delivery in rural Gambia through the various health facilities (allafrica.com). He and his team did a three-day tour of health intervention areas in the country. The tour gave them the opportunity to “monitor and assess the progress of their health interventions, particularly how they have been doing in the health promotion and education on Ebola since its outbreak, as well as the level of preparedness by the local authorities” (allafrica.com).The minister and his team were sent by the Gambian leader to visit their intervention areas and see how their posted health personnel are working as well as to look at the problems they are facing (allafrica.com). Ebba Secka, the principal public health officer in the region, urged health facilities to work with the Ministry for the development of the sector in the country because the government cannot do it alone.

For more information read this article at allafrica.com: http://allafrica.com/stories/201407142318.html

 

Dara Oloyede is the African News Correspondent for Engage Africa Foundation. She is currently a Sociology and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder in Colorado. She was born in Nigeria, and currently is the Director of Events for African Students Association at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She currently works at Community Health on her campus as a student coordinator and gives presentations centered on promoting student wellness through education and support. She hopes to pursue further studies in Public Health after graduating from with her Bachelors degree. During her free time she likes to read books, hang out with friends, go to the movies, concerts, as well as events that celebrate different cultures. 

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