Tag: Kenya


Ghana, Kenya and Malawi to take part in WHO malaria vaccine pilot programme

The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced today that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will take part in a WHO-coordinated pilot implementation programme that will make the world’s first malaria vaccine available in selected areas, beginning in 2018.

The injectable vaccine, RTS,S, was developed to protect young children from the most deadly form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum. RTS,S will be assessed in the pilot programme as a complementary malaria control tool that could potentially be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention.

“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine”, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” she added.

Africa bears the greatest burden of malaria worldwide. Global efforts in the last 15 years have led to a 62 percent reduction in malaria deaths between 2000 and 2015, yet approximately 429,000 people died of the disease in 2015, the majority of them young children in Africa.

The WHO pilot programme will assess whether the vaccine’s protective effect in children aged 5 – 17 months old during Phase III testing can be replicated in real-life. Specifically, the pilot programme will assess the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS,S, the vaccine’s potential role in reducing childhood deaths, and its safety in the context of routine use.

WHO recommendations and RTS,S

RTS,S was developed by GSK and is the first malaria vaccine to have successfully completed a Phase III clinical trial. The trial was conducted between 2009 and 2014 through a partnership involving GSK, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and a network of African research sites in seven African countries—including Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi.

RTS,S is also the first malaria vaccine to have obtained a positive scientific opinion from a stringent medicines regulatory authority, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which approved RTS,S in July 2015.

In October 2015, two independent WHO advisory groups, comprised of the world’s foremost experts on vaccines and malaria, recommended pilot implementation of RTS,S in three to five settings in sub-Saharan Africa. The recommendation came from the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization and the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC), following a joint review of all available evidence on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. The World Health Organization formally adopted the recommendation in January 2016.

Pilot implementation

The three countries were selected to participate in the pilot based on the following criteria: high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal-treated nets (LLINs); well-functioning malaria and immunisation programmes, a high malaria burden even after scale-up of LLINs, and participation in the Phase III RTS,S malaria vaccine trial. Each of the three countries will decide on the districts and regions to be included in the pilots. High malaria burden areas will be prioritized, as this is where the benefit of the vaccine is predicted to be highest. Information garnered from the pilot will help to inform later decisions about potential wider use of the vaccine.

The malaria vaccine will be administered via intramuscular injection and delivered through the routine national immunization programmes. WHO is working with the three countries to facilitate regulatory authorization of the vaccine for use in the pilots through the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (AVAREF). Regulatory support will also include measures to enable the appropriate safety monitoring of the vaccine and rigorous evaluation for eventual large scale use.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID, are partnering to provide US$49.2 million for the first phase of the pilot programme (2017-2020) which will be complemented by in-kind contributions from WHO and GSK.

Articel via ReliefWeb

How one young man is advancing youth development in rural Ghana

From outside the borders of Africa, the topic of international development tends to revolve around foreign action and what we, as external influencers, are doing to solve long-standing issues overseas. Our media tends to shade Africa with a tone of dependence, reinforcing the notion that without the help of well-intentioned social entrepreneurs from “over-developed” countries, people from any one of the 54 African nations would be lost without us.

Bawjiase, Ghana

Bawjiase, Ghana

If you’ve spent any time in Africa and allowed yourself to look through a different filter, you know that it is full of incredibly bright and motivated individuals who know their communities better than any foreigner and are already out there working on their own community driven initiatives. People like Theresa Kachindaamoto, a Malawian Chief who put an end to over 850 child marriages in her region in an effort to improve women’s rights. Or Faith Wafula, the Kenyan born founder of SEMA, a youth-targeted initiative which aims to end the cycle of gender-based violence in Kenya. People like Theresa and Faith exist in large numbers, and there are plenty of individuals like them whose stories don’t get told in the media.

During my short time as a fellow in Mama Hope’s Global Advocate Fellowship, I met a few of

Image: Mama Hope

Image: Mama Hope

these fierce individuals working to improve their communities. One of the stories I have wanted to share comes from a young Ghanaian man named Bernard Boateng. Bernard, also known as Nana Bee, works for The United Hearts Children Center in Bawjiase, Ghana which aims to end the cycle of poverty by providing children in the local community with access to quality resources.

This is Nana’s story
Bernard Boateng Image: Mama Hope

Bernard Boateng
Image: Mama Hope

My name is Bernard Boateng (Nana Bee) and I grew up in Bawjiase located in the Central Region of Ghana, mostly known for it’s farmlands, industrial minerals, and advanced higher education. Most of the people in this town earn their income through selling products in the local marketplace or farming but neither tend to be very lucrative and many people in my community are forced to make sacrifices in order to get by. Despite the sacrifices, life is actually quite beautiful out here. Our homes are set along a landscape of lush hills covered in maize and palms, our people are some of warmest and most generous you will ever meet, and we are proud of where we’re from.

For my family, money was very hard to come by. I was the oldest of four so it was my responsibility to help my family earn income to support ourselves from a young age. When I was 8, I started selling fried fish in the local market before and after school, often resulting in my arriving late and unable to perform to my best ability, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for my family. If I put in extra work then, my younger sisters would be able to attend school without having to go through the same struggles I did. In my mind, it was worth it.

How did your work with United Hearts begin?

Around the time when I was getting my degree I started building a strong relationship with one of

Image: Mama Hope

Image: Mama Hope

my father’s friends, Paul Elisha Asamoah, the founder of United Hearts. After I finished my tertiary education he asked if I would consider helping him in his work. Soon after, I began teaching the students at his orphanage because they didn’t have the funds to support a private education for all the children as well as a few children from the community. We didn’t have a structure at the time so we made a classroom under the palm trees outside and began teaching. As time passed I began taking on more responsibility; I started maintaining the farms, managing the volunteer program, monitoring the finances, and from that point I sort of ended up in this role. And now, I love what I’m doing. I don’t get paid, I’m doing it because the desire to do it was placed on my heart.

What inspired you to go a step further and work to improve the lives of individuals outside of your family?

When I was about 8 or 9 my father started farming in a plot of land near our house. He would spend days out on the farm working with the crops, working to make sure we would have enough to live off of when it came time to sell. Months later, when it was finally time to sell, he gathered a large amount of the harvest and told me to share them with our neighbors, free of charge. At 9 years old, when you’ve been working since the age of 8 to support your family, the idea of giving something away at no cost seems bizarre, but he insisted. Seeing the reaction of our neighbors, understanding the importance of kind gestures like that one, that’s what stuck for me, that’s what gave me purpose. As I grew older, I began following their lead and taking actions to improve the lives of those around me, and I am very proud to say that my life is now dedicated to helping others reach their highest potential.

What is the main goal of your work?

Image: Mama Hope

Image: Mama Hope

Many children in Bawjiase lack access to important resources which prevent them from reaching their full potential, specifically, quality education. Right now, schools are popping up like crazy, but most of them come with a price tag many families can’t afford. At United Hearts, our goal is to provide this essential resource to everyone who needs it, regardless of their economic status. For the past 9 years we have provided stable and supportive housing, food, and care for over 30 local children and, for the past 3, have provided quality education to hundreds of local children who would otherwise go without. We are dedicated to providing our children with quality resources so they may become leaders in our community and contribute to the prosperity of the next generation.

How do you think the work you do with United Hearts has impacted your community?

What’s interesting is that when you invest in a child’s life, the whole family is affected. The

United Hearts School Image: Mama Hope

United Hearts School
Image: Mama Hope

parents gain strength from seeing their children reach milestones they were never able to and feel empowered to develop alongside them, to continue to improve as their children grow. Though it may seem like we’re helping one individual, the impact stretches far beyond what we see directly. When a student comes home excited about what they’ve learned, showing clear signs of improvement and growth, it allows their parents to believe in their own growth as well; it pushes them to work harder because they want to develop alongside their children.

A lot of it is also yet to be seen. In this work you can’t expect immediate returns for your efforts, you just have to put in the time and trust that good things will come. The children of this generation are aware of the struggles their families face but are also starting to realize that they have the power to create change. If we can continue to provide them with what they need to thrive, then the rest will follow; that’s all I can hope for.

What makes this work powerful for you?

Image: Mama Hope

Image: Mama Hope

Sometimes it seems so strange to people why I do this work because I don’t earn any income. Friends have offered me paid jobs and questioned my decisions to work with United Hearts but for me, the point of life is not to make money. The passion to do this work was placed on my heart, and any hardships I face are worth it in the end. The kids make me happy. Each member of our team has dedicated themselves to our work and I know that, even if times are tough, they will stay to help us accomplish our goals because they are not here to get paid, they are here because they want to make a difference. The results we’ve seen in the community are proof to me that we are successful in our work.

How do you know this is the right path for you?

That’s what my spirit tells me.

What does being a global citizen mean to you?

To me, being a global citizen doesn’t have to mean leaving your country, but rather, allowing yourself to connect with people outside of your community to fight for one common goal. I’ve never left Ghana but I’ve met a number of wonderful people from around the world who have worked alongside us and helped us to achieve our goals. The foreigners that visit us and volunteer at United Hearts are able to meet us, live with us and work with us. They are able to put their preconceptions or stereotypes about Africans and Ghanaians aside and experience our culture for what it really is, instead of what they expect it to be. I believe we are helping to create global citizens in our staff, our volunteers, and in our kids because of these real interactions. We’re building global citizens by allowing them into our world and showing them how, through our eyes, life is quite beautiful.

Should Ghana Be Preparing For A Terrorist Attack?

After Westgate Attack in Kenya should Ghana be fearing a similar attack?

kenya

 

Its been almost two weeks since the tragic events at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Ghana of course lost one of it’s citizens in the form of the prominent poet and author Prof Kofi Awoonor. Since the attack on 21 September more and more information is emerging as to why Al-Shabab carried out the attack and perhaps if other African countries could be on the radar for Islamist terrorist groups.

Last week the British government updated it’s travel advice to its Citizens suggesting that there is a possibility of retaliatory attacks in Ghana from Islamist terrorists due to its participation in the intervention in Mali. Ghana had sent deployed 120 troops to Mali, to restore order to the area after militant groups fought government forces. So crucially where not involved in the conflict but were deployed more for peacekeeping purposes.

However the fact that Ghana intervened in some way however small could give terrorists all the ammunition they need to launch an attack. I would say this is unlikely but Africa is increasingly become the battle ground for which Islamist terrorists are playing out their jihad for political and religious reasons. Of course the attacks in Kenya was a retaliatory attack by Al-Shabab for Kenyan forces launching an offensive against them. However Ghana’s obligations to the African Union and ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) means the likelihood of their intervention to help stabilise other countries in the region who are threatened by terrorism is high. So Ghana could yet be deemed as a legitimate target for terrorists in the future.

Interestingly a leading security analyst from Ghana, Emmanuel Sowatey does not think the nation is adequately prepared for a terrorist attack. in the same ilk as the Westgate attack. He said; ” We are not prepared for that now. When you go to some shopping malls, for instance, you’ll see emergency exits but most of the time, it is  locked. The key is with somebody,” Sowatey thinks  it was time the government relooked at the country’s internal security since a country’s foreign policy had bearing on its internal security.

The Government of Ghana says its decision to maintain or withdraw Ghanaian troops from Mali will not be hinged on any possible consequential terrorist attack on the nation. Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations, Felix Kwakye Ofosu says Ghana is constantly on the alert to thwart any security threat from terrorist groups.

Although there is no specific intelligence that indicates an attack in Ghana is imminent. We should all be aware that there is an underlying threat from terrorism anywhere. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers. So everyone should remain vigilant and keep the national security of in our prayers.

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

There’s a new drink in town…

Awesome Alvaro!

 

So I recently arrived back to the UK from Ghana. We all know due to the hot weather regular drinking of cool beverages is the order of the day. Whilst I was there my drink of choice was Alvaro – I enjoyed nothing more than sitting on my porch catching the breeze and sipping some Alvaro.

For those who don’t know Alvaro, it’s a non – alcoholic natural malt based soft drink. Alvaro is available in three flavours – pear, passion fruit and pineapple. It is packaged in a stylish embossed 330ml green bottle with an emotive and contemporary metallic labelling, giving it a sophisticated and outstanding look.

Alvaro was launched in 2009 by Guinness Ghana Breweries Ltd (GGBL), and also retails across Africa in countries such as Kenya, where it is very popular. It has also proved a success in Ghana and I for one could not get enough of it while I was there. Although I enjoy all three flavours, for me the passion fruit flavour reigns supreme. This was to the contrary to many Ghanaians I met who preferred the pear flavour.

It retails in most shops for GH₵ and at the shoprite supermarket at Accra Mall you are permitted to take the bottles away (as opposed to leaving the bottle with shopkeeper for recycling). I admit I tried and failed to smuggle some bottles back to the UK. Though Alvaro is available in London but it sparsely distributed, so it will be slightly expensive due to import duty. Check with your local Ghanaian mini market. Though I do know for sure that it is availiable at Kotoko Mini Market 126 Craven Park Road, Harlesden, London,NW10 8QD, Tel;020 8965 7599

Lastly I will leave you with the two most important questions; have you tasted Alavro? Which is your favourite flavour?

Leave your comments below!

By Ben JK Anim-Antwi (Kwesi)