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Over 347,000 Eswatini Risk Death Through Starving

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Save the Children an international organization has warned that more than 347,000 Eswatini people risk death by hunger.

The organisation revealed that of these on the verge of starvation  180,000 are children.

“The situation in Eswatini has been rapidly deteriorating and it’s finally reached a tipping point. One-third of the country is going hungry, and hundreds of thousands of children are suffering as a result,” Dumisani Mnisi, the NGO’s executive director in Eswatini was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Many of them have seen their parents lose jobs as a result of COVID-19 mitigation measures. Others have seen their harvests affected by erratic weather in 2020. The combination has led to needs like we have never seen in recent memory,” read the statement.

Being in urgent need of humanitarian support, over 347,000 people are adversely affected by the pandemic, with 60,000 “experiencing emergency levels of hunger, meaning that without immediate action, they could face starvation or even death,” Save the Children voiced.

Eswatini an absolute monarchy has seen over past months a rapid deterioration in food availability due to COVID-19-related job losses, high food prices, as well as erratic rainfall, leading to a poor harvest at the end of last year, it said.

At least 31% of Eswatini’s population are now “suffering from the food crisis, a markedly worse situation than the last hunger assessment in 2019 when 18% of the population was experiencing severe hunger,” the humanitarian group explained.

Save the Children directed an urgent call on donors “to release funds to support the emergency response and stave off a hunger crisis.”

It also called on the international community to take action to handle the issue.

“We are calling on the international community for support as we rally together to face this challenge,” Save the Children urged.

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Health

HPV Vaccine Cuts Cervical Cancer By 90%

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UK  research scientists have announced that the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine is cutting cases of cervical cancer by nearly 90%, according to the first real-world data.

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by viruses, and the hope is vaccination could almost eliminate the disease.

The researchers said the success meant those who were vaccinated may need far fewer cervical smear tests too.

Girls are offered the vaccine between the ages of 11 and 13, depending on where they live in the UK. The vaccine has also been offered to boys since 2019.

The study, published in the Lancet, looked at what happened after the vaccine was introduced for girls in England in 2008.

Those pupils are now adults in their 20s. The study showed a reduction in both pre-cancerous growths and an 87% reduction in cervical cancer.

“The impact has been huge,” said Prof Peter Sasieni, one of the researchers at King’s College London.

The reductions were less dramatic when older teenagers were immunised as part of a catch-up campaign.

This is because fewer older teenagers decided to have the jab and ideally it needs to be given before they became sexually active.

Overall, the study estimates the HPV programme has prevented about 450 cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers.

Prof Sasieni says that is “just the tip of the iceberg” because those vaccinated are still young to be getting cancer, so the numbers will only grow with time.

Screening

At the moment, women are invited for a smear test every three to five years to screen for cervical cancer.

But Prof Sasieni says there “definitely” needs to be a rethink after these results. He told me: “It should be a wake-up call to policy-makers, women will read this and think ‘why should I go for screening?’.

“I would hope we’d come back with a new screening programme, two to three times a lifetime and continue screening women who have not been vaccinated.”

This is not the final say on the HPV vaccination. There are still questions about how long protection lasts and whether there needs to be a mid-life booster.

There are also more than 100 types of human papillomavirus. The UK started using a vaccine that protected against two of them and is about to introduce one that protects against nine viruses, including the main causes of genital warts.

The cancer-causing versions lead to dangerous changes to the DNA of infected cells that transform them into cancer.

This can happen in any infected tissue. The viruses can be spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex, so are also linked to anus, penis and some head and neck cancers.

However, 99% of cervical cancers are caused by human papillomaviruses. It is why more than 100 countries have starting using the vaccine as part of World Health Organization plans to get close to eliminating cervical cancer.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist for the UK Health Security Agency, said the findings were “remarkable” and showed the vaccine “saves lives by dramatically reducing cervical cancer rates among women”.

Michelle Mitchell, the chief executive at Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s a historic moment to see the first study showing that the HPV vaccine has and will continue to protect thousands of women from developing cervical cancer.”

BBC

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Health

By 2040, Africa Aims To Be Producing 60% Of Its Vaccines-Kagame

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Africa imports 99% of its vaccines and the effects of the circumstance are baring a heavy burden on the communities on the continent.

Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, who was attending the G20 Summit in Rome as on behalf of NEPAD, the African Union Development Agency said that Africans represent nearly 18% of the world’s people, but less than 5% of Covid vaccine doses have reached the continent.

He said closing the gap has three components requiring active commitment by the G20, as has already happened, and that there must be consistent supply of vaccines for low-income countries to meet the target of 70% vaccination by mid-2022.

President Kagame said that after a slow start, Covax deliveries have picked up, thanks to increased pledges from different countries, among them the United States, the European Union, and its member states, among others.

However, he noted, Africa must begin building manufacturing capacity for vaccines. “Africa imports 99% of its vaccines. By 2040, we aim to produce 60%,” he told fellow world leaders. 

This week, Rwanda and Senegal concluded agreements with BioNTech to build end-to-end mRNA vaccine production facilities, starting in mid-2022. Technology and know-how will be transferred to build the capacity of local companies, and the doses produced will be distributed in Africa.

“This is an important milestone in which the European Union and the African Union are also playing a key role.,” Kagame said. 

He insisted that there should also be continued strengthening of the World Health Organization and Africa CDC is critical, along with support for the new African Medicines Agency.

“We would also do well to implement the clear and actionable recommendations of the G20 High-Level Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness, co-chaired by Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Lawrence Summers, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,” he said.

 

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Health

Most Rwandans Unaware Of Their Eye Health- Kabgayi Ophthalmologist

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Rwandans aged from 40 years and over could be silently living with eye complications although most may not notice. People in this age bracket need to visit an ophthalmologist to assess them.

Dr. Elisa Emmanuel Hategekimana at Kabgayi hospital in Southern Rwanda says those age 40 years and above need to periodically consult with the nearby ophthalmologist to check for any eye defects.

“At least after every three years anyone with subscribed spectacles needs to consult with an ophthalmologist to assess whether the spectacles are still relevant to their condition. As one grows the spectacles may become irrelevant to their previous eye condition,” says Dr Hategekimana.

According to Dr. Hategikimana eye complications in children are mostly caused by mostly climate change leading to persistent scratching of their eyes. He also observes that long exposure to the television at home may also trigger eye complications in children.

He also explains that most people may not be aware that they have sick eyes especially those aged 40 and over.

“Scratching eyes, inability to see things either far away or near and seeing blurred images are the most common diagnosed eye complications among Rwandans. We need to take care of our eyes and always consult with an ophthalmologist,” Dr Hategikimana says.

Niyondamya Jean Damascene told Taarifa that he has been wearing spectacles for a long period and has always thought they are still helping him. He has not visited the ophthalmologist to reassess his condition and whether the spectacles are still relevant.

According to him, once he was prescribed these spectacles, he thought they were a permanent solution to his eye defect. He didn’t know that he had to check with the doctor periodically.

“I cannot see things far away.I’m myopic or short sighted. After going through a test at the hospital i discovered that the spectacles i have been wearing this long have not been of any help,” Niyondamya says.

After running through a test, Niyondamya was told that he needed to acquire a new pair of spectacles required to correct his altered eye condition. “ Sometimes we think we are well but actually our eyes may be sick,” he says.

For Nyirabahire Eudia aged 30 years, she’s not been feeling well for quite long and whenever she checked in at the health centres, doctors would find no illnesses in her body.

However, when she went to Kabgayi to meet an ophthalmologist, she discovered that she was living with an eye defect that needed to be corrected. Her eyes had developed blurring effect.

She never thought that at her age would have any form of eye complications. Nyirabahire advises her peers to regularly consult with an ophthalmologist to be aware of their chaging eye conditions.

“I wasn’t not aware of my eye condition. I wouldn’t see properly and doctors had failed to diagnose any sickness in my body. Young people should not relax and think everything is ok with their eyes. They need to check up with the ophthalmologist regularly,” she says.

Dr. Tuyisabe Theophile that heads the Opthalmologic department at Kabgayi hospital says in a bid to prevent blindness his team has for the past week been diagnosing and treating various eye complications among  members of different communities.

According to him, this free service has been rendered as part of honouring the World Sight day- an international day of awareness held every october to particculary focus on the global issue of eye health.

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