Daily Archives: February 5, 2020

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Dedicates Additional Funding to the Novel Coronavirus Response

The foundation will provide up to $100 million to improve detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations in Africa and South Asia; and accelerate the development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics.

SEATTLE, Feb. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced that it will immediately commit up to $100 million for the global response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The funding will help strengthen detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations; and develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. The new funding is inclusive of $10 million the foundation committed to the outbreak in late January.

“Multilateral organizations, national governments, the private sector and philanthropies must work together to slow the pace of the outbreak, help countries protect their most vulnerable citizens and accelerate the development of the tools to bring this epidemic under control,” said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. “Our hope is that these resources will help catalyze a rapid and effective international response. This response should be guided by science, not fear, and it should build on the steps that the World Health Organization has taken to date.”

The Gates Foundation is contributing more resources – in close coordination with other donors – to assist the World Health Organization (WHO), Chinese frontline responders and others at the global and national levels. WHO declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, citing the risks the virus poses globally and the need for a worldwide coordinated effort to enhance preparedness, especially in fragile settings. The Government of China has also declared a national public health emergency and mobilized a nationwide effort to contain the virus and treat those who are infected.

Accelerating 2019-nCoV Detection, Isolation and Treatment
The foundation will immediately commit up to $20 million to accelerate the detection, isolation and treatment of people diagnosed with the virus with the goal of interrupting transmission and containing the disease. This funding will be directed to multilateral organizations such as WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Support will also be directed to national public health authorities in China and other countries that have reported confirmed cases. Current national-level partners include the National Health Commission of China and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The release of fast and flexible funding is intended to help multilateral organizations and national public health authorities rapidly scale up their virus detection capabilities and implement disease modeling analytics so that they can target resources where they can have the greatest impact in arresting disease spread. This funding is intended to help public health authorities cover the initial cost of labor and supplies while international agencies and national governments appropriate the resources necessary to fund ongoing operations.

Enhancing Protections for At-Risk Populations in Africa and South Asia
Recent epidemics, such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009, have had a disproportionate impact on populations living in extreme poverty, and sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia together account for 85 percent of the estimated 629 million people worldwide who live on less than $1.90 per day. Many people living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia also have limited access to quality primary health care, which is another factor that increases their health risks.

The foundation will provide up to $20 million to help public health authorities in these regions strengthen their emergency operations centers, implement effective disease surveillance efforts and improve their capacity to safely isolate and treat confirmed cases.

Among African Union member states, these efforts will be supported by the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) in collaboration with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and WHO-AFRO. AFENET is a non-profit service alliance of field epidemiology and laboratory training programs that currently operates in more than 30 African countries.

Developing Vaccines, Treatments and Diagnostics for a Sustained Response
The foundation will commit up to $60 million to accelerate the discovery, development and testing of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for 2019-nCoV. If 2019-nCoV transmission continues for several months or more, safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics will be needed to help sustain long-term approaches to disease control and to prevent severe disease and deaths.

The foundation will use its R&D funding to help global partners, such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, identify and prioritize research needs, address gaps in the R&D landscape, incentivize product development by biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and ensure that resulting products are safe, effective and made widely available. This effort will include support already underway for Chinese public- and private-sector research partners focused on the discovery, development and testing of candidate vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

Contact: media@gatesfoundation.org

Lesotho’s Political Drama One Down, One to Go?

MASERU – After a month on the run, Lesotho’s First Lady Maesaiah Thabane is in police custody, and on Wednesday was served with charges over the killing of her predecessor, former First Lady Lipolelo Thabane.

The late Mrs. Thabane was shot dead in the capital, Maseru, two days before Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s inauguration in 2017. At the time, the couple were in the middle of a bitter divorce and the prime minister was living with Maesaiah.

But political players in the tiny kingdom say this arrest is unlikely to fix the many problems that have long swirled around Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who announced last month that he would step down over the controversy but didn’t say when.

His rule has been marred with a number of killings of high-ranking officials in recent years. Critics say this is an inevitable consequence of Thabane’s failure to keep the nation’s security forces out of politics.

The saga has illuminated a wider concern in this tiny mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa for years, critics say, the ruling party has been divided into warring factions and rule of law has been ignored.

‘He should have gone by yesterday’

Mathibeli Mokhothu, leader of the opposition Democratic Congress, offered a suggestion to the prime minister.

“He should have gone by yesterday, I think, he told VOA. He should be leaving as soon as possible. That will somehow culminate into some sort of stability.

But the secretary-general of Thabane’s All Basotho Convention, Lebohang Hlaele, disagrees.

“He did not mention time, he told VOA. There’s no timeframe for that exercise. He’s intending to stand down and he actually said he’ll be waiting for his party and the coalition partners to prepare smoothly to get a smooth exit. So the party and the coalition partners are actually in the process of preparing for his exit.

Thabane V. Mahao

Motlamelle Anthony Kapa, an associate professor in political science at the National University of Lesotho, said the real conflict in Lesotho is not between Thabane and his wives but between Thabane and his rival, Professor Nqosa Mahao, who is vice-chancellor of the university.

Mahao’s brother, a top general, was killed in 2015, but no one has been brought to book. Mahao has pushed for the killers to be prosecuted.

There was a faction that was pro-deputy leader Professor Mahao, Kapa told VOA There was a faction, also, which didn’t want him, which we saw later, that it was supported by the prime minister, who is also the leader of the All Basotho Convention, Thomas Thabane. So you could say it is Mahao versus Thabane. Probably because Thabane fears that Mahao would push for his wife to be prosecuted for having been involved in the killing of allegedly involved in the killing of his other wife.

Hlaele said he knows the matter weighs heavily on Thabane’s conscience, though he says he hasn’t spoken to the prime minister lately. But he disputes local headlines that say there is a crisis in Lesotho.

There’s no political crisis in our country, he said. Everything’s normal. There’s nothing. I mean, you’re in the country. Well, what do you see? Nothing. Everybody’s going to work. Everybody’s doing whatever you are actually interviewing me now. What is the problem? Do you experience any crisis? Nothing.

Source: Voice of America

Former South Africa President Faces Arrest for Trial No-Show

JOHANNESBURG – A South African court has issued an arrest warrant for former president Jacob Zuma, after his repeated failure to appear for his long-stalled corruption trial. The action raises the stakes on a trial that has dragged on for years, with Zuma due back in court or else in police custody on May 6.

As the trial opened Feb. 4, 2020, in the judicial capital of Pietermaritzburg, Zuma’s lawyer gave the judge a sick note.

The lawyer also said the health of the former leader was a matter of “national security.” Zuma resigned under pressure in 2018, in a cloud of corruption allegations.

But Judge Dhaya Pillay expressed skepticism over the authenticity of the note, which was missing a doctor’s signature.

“It is standard practice, in this court and in every court holding a criminal trial, that if an accused is not in attendance, if an accused has failed to produce a medical certificate, and in this instance, counsel for Mr. Zuma was notified in advance in the middle of January that this document, that some evidence is required to justify his absence from court, and without that evidence, this court cannot do anything else but issue a warrant of arrest,” the judge said.

Criminal law expert James Grant says it is doubtful Zuma will end up in handcuffs. The judge’s ruling only stipulates that he will be arrested if he doesn’t appear on the next trial date, May 6.

“What happens is that when an accused person is supposed to present themselves, they’ve failed to present themselves, as a matter of course, the presiding officer who could be a magistrate or a judge in South Africa issued an arrest warrant,” Grant said. “But if there’s any semblance or prospect of an explanation as to why the person wasn’t present, that arrest warrant will be suspended. And so it has in truth, no real effect, as of today or as of yesterday.”

Zuma faces one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud for allegedly receiving bribe money in the 1990s from a French arms company through his former financial adviser.

“If he is convicted under any of the fraud charges for an amount exceeding 500,000 rand, from my recollection, it’s either a 15- or a 25-year sentence,” Grant said.

A sentence of that length would probably mean life in prison for Zuma, who turns 78 years old in April.

Source: Voice of America

Flow Monitoring Dashboard – Ethiopia (December 2019)

In December 2019, a total of 10,410 movements were observed across Ethiopia’s five flow monitoring points (FMPs). This represents a 4% increase in comparison with November 2019 when 9,989 movements were observed. A total of 7,245 movements were observed leaving Ethiopia, of which 4,043 were going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). 3,165 individuals were entering Ethiopia, of which 2,332 were observed coming from Sudan.

For incoming movements, bus/truck was the most often cited means of transportation with 70.7% responses, while 13.9% traveled on foot, 13.4% travelled by taxis or cars, 1.3% traveled by boat, and less than 1% used other means of transport. Similarly, most outgoing movements relied on buses or trucks (73.7%), while 10.3% used taxis or cars and 9% took place by train. 4.4% of the movements took place on foot, 1.1% utiized motorbikes and the remaining 1.6% used other means of transport.

The majority of the observed population was male (67%), while 33% was females. 8% of those moving were children, out of which three quarters were boys

Source: International Organization for Migration