DRC: EBOLA/SABC/24/5/18 SABANews 1

Health workers push a wheeled stretcher holding a newly admitted Ebola patient (Pic. ITV)

MBANDAKA – THREE patients of the deadly EBOLA virus have sneaked out of an isolation ward at a hospital in the MBANDAKA City of the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.

The Head of the DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS Mission in MBANDAKA says the incident comes as medics race to stop the disease from spreading in the busy river port.

SABC News says HENRY GRAY has revealed TWO patients left the hospital on MONDAY, before being located the following day.

It quotes World Health Organization DRC Representative YOKOUIDE ALLARANGAR as saying ONE was found dead, and another was sent back to hospital but died shortly after.

Mr ALLARANGAR has told journalists in the CONGOLESE capital, KINSHASA, the TWO patients had left the hospital with the help of family members before heading to a place of prayer.

SABC News says Health Ministry sources who asked not to be named have revealed TWO police officers had been deployed to help track them down.

It says yet another patient left on SATURDAY, but was found alive the same day and is under observation.

The Health Ministry sources say they are running a hospital, not a prison, and they cannot lock up everything.

Another World Health Organisation Spokesperson TARIK JASAREVIC says health workers have redoubled efforts to trace contacts with the patients.

They have drawn up a list of 628 people who have had contact with known cases who will need to be vaccinated against the scaring disease.

Mr JASAREVIC says it is unfortunate but not unexpected, because it is normal for people to want their loved ones to be at home during what could be the last moments of life.

The cases are a setback to costly efforts to contain the virus, including use of experimental vaccines, showing old customs or scepticism about the threat it poses can hamper efforts to stem its spread.

The report has come as another WHO official warns the fight to stop the DRC NINTH confirmed outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever has reached a critical point.

Emergency Response Chief PETER SALAMA says the next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if the authorities will be able to keep it under control.

Health officials’ main concern is the presence of EBOLA in MBANDAKA, a crowded centre upstream from KINSHASA, a city of 10-MILLION people.

They have received an alert from the KINSHASA main hospital about a patient, who is not yet a suspected EBOLA case, and TWO or THREE other such alerts that have turned out to be false alarms.

The WHO says the DRC EBOLA outbreak was FIRST spotted near the town of BIKORO, about 100 kilometres south of the city, and is believed to have killed at least 27 people so far.

It says health workers are following up on THREE separate transmission chains for cases in WANGATA area of MBANDAKA, ONE linked to a funeral, ONE to a church and another to a rural health facility.

WHO Emergency Response Chief SALAMA says it is really the detective work of epidemiology that will make or break the response to this outbreak.

The disease is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person, who suffers severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea; and authorities FIRST discovered it in the DRC in the 1970s.

The UNITED NATIONS says EBOLA has killed more than 11-THOUSAND-300 people between 2013 and 2016 in the West AFRICAN countries of GUINEA, LIBERIA and SIERRA LEONE./Sabanews/cam



Angolan President Joao Lourenco, SADC Double Troika Chair

LUANDA – The SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY, SADC Double Troika Summit of the Heads of State and Government has commended events in troubled countries of the region.

President JOAO LOURENCO of ANGOLA, who heads the Double Troika, says he believes the steps taken in the DRC and LESOTHO can contribute to political confidence and stability of the TWO countries.

He has addressed delegates to the gathering held this TUESDAY in his capital, LUANDA, commending the move by DRC President JOSEPH KABILA to implement key aspects like scheduling the date for elections to 23 DECEMBER this year.

President LOURENCO says such actions are signs that may contribute to the urgent easing of internal tensions, to strengthen mutual trust between the government, the opposition, and civil society.

He has appealed to the parties involved in the process to show wisdom, patriotism, and maximum restraint in the most critical moments, looking FIRST at national interests.

The new climate, he says, will help tackle differences and ensure convergence that paves way for peace, security, stability, and national reconciliation.

However, President LOURENCO has expressed concern about the situation in Eastern DRC, where rebel groups like the DEMOCRATIC FORCES ALLIANCE continue to kill women and children.

Nevertheless, he says the SADC Double Troika welcomes the efforts made by the local active forces in the situation in LESOTHO for the full political stability of the Kingdom.

President LOURENCO says ANGOLA has a deep sense of duty as part of the military contingent of the regional group tasked to ensure the political and military stability of LESOTHO under the UN and the AU.

The SADC Double Troika Summit of the Heads of State and Government aims to seek peaceful ways to help the DRC and LESOTHO overcome their political and social crises as well as consolidate democratic processes in the Region.

ANGOLA chairs the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation; while ZAMBIA is the incoming Chair; and TANZANIA is the outgoing Chair of the Organ responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC Region.

SOUTH AFRICA Chairs the SADC Bloc, with NAMIBIA as the Deputy Chair and SWAZILAND as the out-going Chair, while representatives of the DRC and LESOTHO have attended the LUANDA Summit as guests./Sabanews/cam



Africa shaking off the Dark-Continent label

LIVINGSTONE – ZAMBIA has called on the SADC countries to ensure cooperation between TWO major forums in the region if the economic bloc is achieve success in its energy programs.

ZAMBIAN Energy Minister MATTHEW NKHUWA says the Southern AFRICAN Power Pool, SAPP, and the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency should work together.

ZNBC News says he has made the call in a speech read on his behalf by SOUTHERN PROVINCE Minister EDIFY HAMUKALE, at the 50TH SAPP Management Committee Meeting in LIVINGSTONE Town.

It quotes Minister NKHUWA as saying energy efficiency and renewable energy are areas that SADC values.

However, he says the region depends heavily on hydro generated power that leaves it exposed to inconsistent supply of electricity due to Climate Change effects.

The Managing Director of the ZAMBIA Electricity Supply Company says his country now has a national Grid Code, which enables it to offer choice of supply for customers and ensure competition among producers.

VICTOR MUNDENDE says most domestic private enterprises continue to take part in the electricity supply industry through power purchase agreements or power supply agreements with his institution.

COPPERBELT Energy Corporation Managing Director OWEN SILAVWE has also attended the 50TH SAPP Management Committee Meeting, and has pledged his firm’s commitment to help increase electricity generation capacity in the country.

The SADC Summit held in AUGUST 1995 in SOUTH AFRICA created SAPP, after member governments, excluding MAURITIUS, signed a deal to form the Power Pool.

Energy ministers also approved the formation of the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and decided it would be hosted by NAMIBIA./Sabanews/cam



Towards cheaper air travel on the Continent

ADDIS ABABA – At least 23 AFRICAN countries have signed an agreement to set up the Single AFRICAN Air Transport Market, SAATM, with the aim to reduce air travel costs.

SOUTH AFRICAN SABC News says the move comes after people of the Continent have, for years, paid sky-high airfares when travelling within AFRICA.

It says the AFRICAN UNION has launched the major aviation trade agreement to change the situation, by allowing the airlines of signatory countries to access each other’s airports freely.

AU Chairperson, President PAUL KAGAME of RWANDA, has revealed the move at the launch of SAATM on the sidelines of the recent AU Summit in ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA.

He says the market is vital for the overall development of the continent, where international air links between many cities are expensive or non-existent.

SABC News also quotes a 2010 World Bank study as saying air travel between AFRICAN countries has for years, been governed by a relatively small number of bilateral agreements.

The report says the situation has been a legacy of the post-colonial era when air carriers from newly independent states connected chiefly with their former colonial powers.

It says many AFRICAN countries restrict their air services markets to protect the shares of national carriers, but the new deal hopes to reduce airfares and increase the number of direct air connections.

The SOUTH AFRICAN Representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation has told the media companies can now freely access all countries in the single market, without relying anymore on bilateral agreements, whether they exist or not.



Nevertheless, SABC News says the group is hosting some of the continent’s busiest airports, including JOHANNESBURG, CAPE TOWN, CAIRO, LAGOS, and NAIROBI.

The new single air travel market comes as a priority of the AU Agenda 2063 for a peaceful and prosperous AFRICA, and the AU Chairperson says work is ongoing to apply TWO other planks of the Blueprint: a free trade zone and a single AFRICAN passport./Sabanews/cam


When disaster strikes, women and children suffer most
HARARE – Governments in the SADC Region have been urged to improve on information sharing to ensure communities are evacuated on time when weather-related disasters strike.
The Southern AFRICAN Research and Documentation Centre, SARDC, says people expect increased moisture to improve cropping, but floods can destroy crops and disturb food security.
It says excessive rainfall may also increase the incidences of malaria and water-borne diseases in the region as well as the possibility of damage to infrastructure due to flooding.
SARDC says ONE of the challenges still affecting SADC member states is the lack of current and reliable data on possible weather scenarios, resulting in many people getting killed or becoming homeless.
It says there is also need to retrofit, or to add new technology or features to, public infrastructure such as schools – as they act as both centres of learning and as sanctuaries in cases of emergencies such as floods.
The Centre says River Basin Organisations, like the ZAMBEZI WATERCOURSE COMMISSION, ZAMCOM, are making efforts to improve the sharing of information on water flow and climate conditions.
ZAMCOM is in the process of strengthening information sharing in the EIGHT Basin States: ANGOLA, BOTSWANA, MALAWI, MOZAMBIQUE, NAMIBIA, TANZANIA, ZAMBIA and ZIMBABWE.
The involved nations share the data through the ZAMBEZI Water Resources Information System Enhancement THREE: Hydro-meteorological Database and Decision Support System, or ZAMWIS-DSS.
The SARDC says the main objective of the ZAMWIS-DSS is to support the promotion and coordination of the management and development of resources of the ZAMBEZI Watercourse in a sustainable and climate-resilient manner.
Authorities expect that once the system is completed, riparian states will be able to respond better to flood hazards in the future; and the region is taking another measure to set up village-based response systems to respond to floods.
The alert system includes the use of traditional knowledge systems in raising awareness through civic education, like, for example, the appearance of large populations of ants will indicate occurrence of floods.
Weather and other experts say floods may present opportunities to the SADC Region if countries start prioritizing water harvesting projects to harness rains and use the water for agricultural purposes in future, especially during drought years./Sabanews/cam


Opposition protests in KINSHASA (Pic. Aljazeera)


KINSHASA – The DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO is expecting to hold elections to replace President JOSEPH KABILA next DECEMBER, although opposition groups want him out of office this year.
Media reports say CONGOLESE citizens would have gone to the polls in 2017, under an agreement paving way for President KABILA to step down, but the process failed due to persistent squabbling.
The reports quote Independent National Electoral Commission Official JEAN-PIERRE KALAMBA as saying voting will take place on 23 DECEMBER 2018 to choose a president, lawmakers, as well as regional and local authority leaders.
UNION FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOCIAL PROGRESS Spokesperson AUGUSTIN KABUYA says his group is against the timetable and demands the exit of President KABILA by the end of 2017.
The media reports say the Electoral Commission has announced provisional results of the presidential election will remain unpublished until 30 DECEMBER, ONE week after the vote.
The ultimate results will then be out by NINE JANUARY 2019, before the new Head of State takes over on the 12TH of the same month to end 16 years of the JOSEPH KABILA Administration.
Media reports say the announcement comes 10 days after the UNITED STATES Ambassador to the UNITED NATIONS, NIKKI HALEY, visited and called for elections next year.
They say AMERICA, BRITAIN, FRANCE, the EUROPEAN UNION and the UNITED NATIONS are among international forces calling on the CONGOLESE Leader to announce election dates.
They further quote Mr HALEY as saying for every day which goes by without holding the polls, a woman is raped, a child has an unwanted pregnancy, children are inducted by armed groups in AFRICA’s SECOND-largest country.
General elections come after the 2016 clashes in which soldiers shot and killed 20 protesters, demanding President KABILA to step down after his mandate expired last DECEMBER, in the streets of the capital, KINSHASA.
DRC has never had a peaceful transfer of power since the fall of the late Dictator MOBUTU SESE SEKO, who ruled and looted the country he had renamed ZAIRE from 1965 to 1997./Sabanews/cam


JOHANNESBURG – The AU Partnership and Coordination Forum on AIDS, TB and Malaria has reviewed the draft Common AFRICA Position on TB for the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting in 2018.
A statement from the continental group says the Draft Common Position on TB was last month reviewed by the Ministry of Health TB Program Managers in HARARE, ZIMBABWE.
It says the document focuses on SIX pillars: leadership, country ownership, governance and accountability; universal and equitable access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and support.
Others are access to affordable and quality assured medicines, commodities and technologies; research and innovation; health financing and strategic information; promoting leadership, country ownership, governance and accountability.
The draft calls for sustained political commitment and for increased leadership, ownership, integration, governance and management of TB programs to promote accountability.
It further calls on governments to intensify TB responses through working with AFRICAN leaders as champions, cross-sector partnerships, increased oversight and accountability, improved monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
The AU says while recognising structural and operational barriers to achieve universal access, the draft calls for Member States to scale up TB programs to reach, find, treat and cure all people with the killer disease.
It also calls for Multi Drug Resistant TB to be declared a global emergency and health security threat, to ensure it can be addressed properly in most affected countries.
The draft calls for access to TB services in congested settings, high risk areas like prisons, mines and areas affected by conflict and humanitarian emergencies, to help guarantee no one is left behind.
The Common AFRICA Position calls for governments to pursue new innovations and ensure access to affordable and quality assured medicines, commodities and technologies for TB.
The draft says governments should strengthen ties with research institutions to enhance innovation and evidence-informed policies and programs as well as increased investments in research and innovation.
AFRICA will also push for increased domestic and international funding to health through innovative financing mechanisms, social health insurance schemes and increased allocations at various levels.
The Common AFRICA Position also calls for improved data to inform policy and programs for TB, while the AU Commission has lined up various consultation conferences ahead of the UN meeting.
TB is spread through the air from person to person, when a patient coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings; and people nearby may breathe in the bacteria and become infected./Sabanews/cam