News

15 Million Ethiopians at Risk of Dying from Malaria This Year, UN Says 

As many as 15 million Ethiopians face the  threat of dying from malaria before the end of this year, prompting a call by United Nations relief agencies for urgent funding to avoid a major humanitarian  disaster.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World  Health Organization (WHO) said here Wednesday that, although donors had  responded generously recently, more money is needed immediately to ensure an epidemic did not occur.

UNICEF estimates that only two out of three  malaria victims will receive drugs if current funding spending continues in Ethiopia. Together, the two agencies have also estimated an extra $5.8 million is wanted to help potential malaria sufferers.

Tackling malaria has always been a problem in  Ethiopia, thanks to the numerous "malaria mosquitoes" that carry the disease,  according to the agencies. But this year's long dry season, followed by higher  rain than usual and the after-effects of a drought, have made conditions ideal for mosquito breeding. The problem is most acute in the regions of Amhara, Oromia and that controlled by the Southern Nations Nationality and Peoples  Region.

UN agencies, including WHO, will now distribute anti-malarial drugs and insecticides almost immediately. Health  workers will also be trained on how to prevent and control a significant outbreak of the disease, preventing and controlling any significant outbreak of the disease. 

Ten Ways to Fight AIDS in Africa

By Lamar Alexander (Tennessee Republican and Chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on African Affairs)

Randall Tobias, former CEO of Eli Lilly and  Chairman of ATT International, has appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as President Bushs nominee to fill the new post of AIDS czar.
Mr. Tobias will be charged with implementing the Presidents five-year, $15 billion plan to fight HIV/AIDS in 14 African and Caribbean countries. Congress should fund it later this month.

Here are 10 suggestions for Mr. Tobias to get  a quick start, gathered during a 10-day August visit to Africa in a delegation led by Senate Majority Leader Bill First:

1. Go  to Africa - To understand the disease that has delivered a death sentence to 29 million Africans, to make good spending decisions and to cut red tape, you  should be where the action is. While there, show some respect for the African  way. When in Namibia, play the Namibian national anthem; leave it to the local  mayor to say (as he did to us).

2. Make  needles and blood transfusions safe - Reused needles, contaminated blood and other unsafe health practices will cause at least 175,000 new AIDS infections  this year in sub-Saharan Africa. In one Namibian hospital, health workers were recapping used needles risking themselves in the process.

3.Save the babies - In Botswana, 40 percent of pregnant women are HIV positive, so one in three of those babies will be HIV positive. Administering nevirapine to the  mother in labor and to her child after birth reduces this risk to 1-in- 10. Congress already has appropriated millions to start to create an AIDS-free African generation.

4.Make inexpensive drugs widely available - There is no vaccine or cure for AIDS, but  there are medicines that prolong life. These anti-retroviral drugs are cheaper  than ever; in Namibia the cost was $160 per person per year. In South Africa, the availability of these treatments can decide whether 5 million infected people die in the next five years or in 20 years.

5. Encourage rapid tests and routine tests - Most Africans who are infected don’t know it and are reluctant to find out because of the stigma attached to  AIDS. New rapid tests report results in 20 minutes. Inexpensive treatments provide new incentive to take the tests.

6.Teach the ABCs -” Abstain. Be Faithful. Use Condoms.” Using this approach, Uganda has reduced its infection rate from 20 percent to 8 percent. Ninety per cent of AIDS is transmitted by sexual intercourse, something many Africans (and many Americans) don’t know. The first lady of Uganda, Janet Museveni, encourages “A” and “B” more than “C: “I am not comfortable,” she  says, “with the thought that the extinction of an entire continent could depend  upon a thin piece of rubber.”

7.Form an AIDS Corps - The greatest need is for manpower and training. Hospitals need doctors, clinics need nurses, nonpSrofits need counselors to recruit patients and to hold the hand of the dying. Create a private-sector clearing house for Americans to go to Africa from three months to two years; connect these volunteers with structures in Africa.

8.Dig some water wells - In Mozambique, three of four deaths of children under five are caused by diseases carried by unclean water. Since AIDS destroys immune systems, victims of all ages live longer with clean water. One nonprofit showed us a well dug for $2,800. Two boys, were filling 10-gallon water cans which they carry each day in a wagon to their home six miles away. Forty percent of rural Africans don’t have this much access to clean  water.

9.Focus on logistics - Faith-based organizations are active. A surprising  number of talented U.S. government people are already on the ground. Don’t  overplan; ride the horses already running.

10.Move fast, but don’t spend the $15 billion too fast - The African health-care system cannot absorb too much money too quickly. There are treatment  guidelines to prepare and teach, staff to recruit, patients to find and persuade, health organizations to establish. For example, last year Anglo-Gold  mining company in South Africa made an all-out effort to recruit the first 1,000  of its 25,000 infected employees to take free treatments; it persuaded only  622.

Mr. Tobias has already led a distinguished career. We should all thank him for answering the call of public service to face this enormous challenge.

Botswanas life expectancy has dropped from 72 years of age to 34. In Namibia, teachers miss school to visit sick colleagues and attend their funerals. Two or three generations of South African children will grow up without parents. In August, a local journalist in Windhoek told me:  “Please get it across how much we appreciate President Bushs $15 billion grant. It puts a human face on America.

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Uwe Linnemann  Fürther Berg 7  41515 Grevenbroich Tel.:+49 2181 498808

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