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Prime Minister Says Rwanda Has Big Plans For Expecting Mothers

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Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente, has said dealing with nutrition should begin with antenatal care with concerted efforts.

He said it is necessary to design and implement programs to ensure food security, adequate access to clean water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

Dr. Ngirente made the remarks in his note address at the Global Event on “Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition at Bangkok, Thailand on 28th November this year.

The three-day conference was organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in partnership with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

According to the 2018 report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, the number of hungry people in the world increased to 821 million in the year 2017.

In Africa, Dr. Ngirente said, “the same report indicates that the prevalence of undernourishment affects more than 256 million people, equivalent to 21% of the population,” adding that “These findings are not different from the 2017 FAO report that shows that about 27.4% of Africans were considered severely food insecure, which is considerably higher compared to other regions of the world.”

Currently, stunting and malnutrition rates at 35% among children as Dr. Ngirente highlighted.

Dr. Ngirente shared some initiatives that Rwanda has put in place as he spoke of Rwanda’s experience in its commitment towards ending hunger and under-nutrition by 2025, and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

Among them, the Crop Intensification Program has helped Rwanda attain a growing trend in food crop production at 8% annual average in 2017, accounting for 20% share of total agriculture sector contribution to GDP.

Dr. Ngirente also said that more than one million hectares of land has been consolidated and agriculture inputs subsidized to increase affordability and uptake while “today, over 900,000 hectares of progressive terraces and more than 100,000 hectares of radical terraces were developed.”

Strategies

Strategies Rwanda has adopted to tackle malnutrition, as Prime Minister Ngirente said include a joint venture between the Government of Rwanda and Africa Improved Foods Ltd (AIF), in producing baby nutritional foods babies between six and 24 months as well as pregnant and lactating mothers from poor households.

“These Fortified Blended Foods are currently supplied over 14,000 women and more than 100,000 children in vulnerable categories,” he said.

Over 58,000 voluntary community health workers were deployed in all villages to closely follow-up malnutrition cases and conduct awareness campaigns on improved maternal, infant and young child feeding practices.

Since 2006, Rwanda established and supported One Cow per Poor Family Program known as Gira Inka Munyarwanda which has seen more than 300,000 cows distributed to poor families with the target being to ensure every poor household owns a cow to produce milk for home consumption, generate family revenues for extra milk sold and produce manure that supports food production for the family.

Besides, Rwanda’s Government introduced One Cup of Milk Program in which so far, over 70,000 school children in poor areas are enrolled.

“Milk supply in school has not only improved the nutritional status but also increased school attendance,” Ngirente said.

“To completely eliminate hunger and food insecurity, in Africa Agenda 2063, our continent committed to make nutrition a priority. This will be achieved by consolidating the modernization of our agriculture and agro-business through scaled-up value addition and productivity.” Prime Minister Ngirente said.

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Health

You Can Still Get Covid After Being Vaccinated

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When a Covid cluster includes people, who are vaccinated against the virus, we inevitably hear rumblings of complaint from people who wonder what the point is of vaccination.

But when you read past the headlines, you usually see the answer: in most cases, those who were vaccinated and contracted Covid-19 didn’t die, didn’t develop severe symptoms and didn’t need to be hospitalised.

For the unvaccinated in their later years, the chance of dying from Covid is high. For unvaccinated people in their 80s, around 32% who contract Covid will die from it.

For people in their 70s, it’s around 14%. (For unvaccinated people in their 60s, it drops to around 3%. And for under-50s, it’s less than 1%.)

The good news is both Pfizer and AstraZeneca are very effective at preventing severe disease and death from Covid-19, even from the more virulent Delta strain.

So how effective are our vaccines?

Preliminary data from the United Kingdom shows after your first dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca, you’re 33% less likely than an unvaccinated person to contract the Delta variant.

Two weeks after your second dose, this rises to 60% for AstraZeneca and 88% for Pfizer. This data is for any form of Covid-19, from mild to severe.

But when you look at how much the vaccines reduce your risk of developing severe illness that requires hospitalisation, the coverage is high for both.

Pfizer and Astrazeneca vaccines are 96% and 92% effective (respectively) in preventing Delta variant hospitalisations.

Why do some people still get Covid after being vaccinated?

Vaccines aren’t magic barriers. They don’t kill the virus or pathogen they target.

Rather, vaccines stimulate a person’s immune system to create antibodies.

These antibodies are specific against the virus or pathogen for the vaccine and allows the body to fight infection before it takes hold and causes severe disease.

However, some people won’t have a strong enough immune response to the vaccine and may still be susceptible to developing Covid-19 if exposed to the virus.

How a person responds to a vaccine is impacted by a number of host factors, including our age, gender, medications, diet, exercise, health and stress levels.

It’s not easy to tell who hasn’t developed a strong enough immune response to the vaccine. Measuring a person’s immune response to a vaccine is not simple and requires detailed laboratory tests.

And while side effects from the vaccine indicate you’re having a response, the absence of symptoms doesn’t mean you’re having a weak response.

It also takes time for the immune system to respond to vaccines and produce antibodies.

For most two-shot vaccines, antibody levels rise and then dip after the first dose. These antibodies are then boosted after the second.

But you’re not optimally covered until your antibody levels rise after the second dose.

What does Covid look like after being vaccinated?

The PCR tests we use to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, are very sensitive and can detect a positive case even if you have low levels of the virus in your system.

This means a person can test positive for SARS-CoV-2 but still not have symptoms of Covid-19.

Of those vaccinated people who have reported symptoms, the vast majority report mild ones, with a shorter duration.

There is always a chance a vaccinated person could pass the virus onto a non-vaccinated person without having symptoms themselves.

But vaccinated people who develop Covid-19 will likely have a lower viral load than unvaccinated people, meaning they’re less likely to spread the virus.

One study estimated those who were vaccinated with either Pfizer or AstraZeneca were 50% less likely to pass it on to an unvaccinated household contact than someone who wasn’t vaccinated.

This transmission will likely reduce again if both household members are vaccinated.

But if you’re not vaccinated and contract Covid-19, you’re much more likely to spread the virus.

What about future variants?

So far, the preliminary data (some of which is ongoing and/or yet to be peer reviewed) shows our current vaccines are effective at protecting against circulating variants.

But as the virus mutates, there is increasing chance of viral escape. This means there is a greater chance the virus will develop mutations that make it fitter against, or more easily able to evade, vaccinations.

Scientist are closely monitoring to ensure our current and/or future vaccines are effective against the circulating strains.

To help the fight against Covid-19 the best thing we can do is minimise the spread of the virus.

This means get vaccinated when you can, ensure you maintain social distancing when required and get tested if you have any symptoms.

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Health

Pope Recovering After Surgery

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Pope Francis is expected to spend about seven days at Gemelli hospital after a successful bowel surgery on Sunday.

According to a statement released by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, in the latest medical bulletin released regarding the surgery, Pope Francis is doing well and is alert.

Matteo Bruni said in his statement that Pope Francis is doing well overall, alert and breathing on his own. He said a hemicolectomy on the left side took place during the surgery, which lasted around three hours.

He added that the Pope will remain at Gemelli hospital for seven days, barring any complications.

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Health

Israelis Ignoring Condoms, HIV Cases Jump

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Many Israelis are having sex without using a condom and end up contracting a virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.

Israel’s AIDS Task Force issued statements urging Israelis to follow safe sex practices in recent weeks, after they noticed a jump in positive HIV tests recently, compared to previous months.

The task force stressed that many of those who tested positive stated that they had sex without a condom with a partner who claimed that he was on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a medicine used to prevent contracting HIV from sex or injection drug use.

While official data on the reports is not yet available, a number of doctors have described similar cases.

PrEP is a drug that only protects the person who takes it. The task force recommends that people not rely solely on partners’ claims concerning sexual safety, especially concerning casual partners or relationships not based on mutual or certain trust.

Some of those who were checked said that they take PrEP at specific events or before sex and not on a daily basis.

The task force stressed that taking PrEP on demand is effective only if taken accurately. If taking PrEP on demand, the task force recommends taking two PrEP pills at once, at least two hours before having sex.

Protection should last up to 24 hours, as long as you take another pill 24 hours after taking the first two pills and then a third pill 24 hours after the second.

“Do not be tempted to take off your condom if you are asked to. It is your full right to choose how to have sex, with whom, when and, at the same time, to succeed in protecting yourself and your health. If your partner continues to ask and pressure you, it may be better to just say goodbye as friends,” wrote the task force on Facebook.

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