WHO opens regional Ebola response centre

Accra, 18 July 2014 - Two weeks following the Accra emergency ministerial meeting of African Health Ministers on Ebola, WHO has activated a Sub-regional Outbreak Coordination Centre in Conakry, Guinea. This is a first step towards the implementation of the inter-country strategic plan developed at the conference to curb the disease. The Centre will act as a coordinating platform to consolidate and harmonize the technical support to West African countries by all major partners and to assist in resource mobilization. Read more…

Nelson Mandela International Day 2014: The year without Madiba

Accra, 17 July 2014 –  For the fifth consecutive year on the 18th of July – the day Nelson Mandela was born –the United Nations supports a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of our time to help others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. This year, the world commemorates the Day for the first time without this world icon, who promoted the use of time for the good of humanity when he said “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right”.

Mandela raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall in June 1990

Mandela raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall in June 1990

It has been seven months since Madiba, one of the greatest leaders in modern history, bowed out of this world stage of despair, opportunities, challenges, hope and possibilities. But it feels like just yesterday when the world, through the eyes of the media, besieged the residence of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, to hear and see the breaking story of his passing.

As the world keeps celebrating his life, it is only appropriate, and justifiably so, that we reflect on his perspective of time to also use our time wisely for the good of humanity. Mandela devoted 67 years of his life to the service of humanity – as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.  He founded the “rainbow nation” out of the ruins of a deeply segregated apartheid society that many considered to be on the verge of civil war at the time. Through the spirit of reconciliation, guided by peace rather than vengeance, with visions of an inclusive future rather than retrospective resentment, Nelson Mandela touched not only the hearts of his country men and women, but people from all corners of the earth.

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Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partners launch new report and call for renewed commitment from health & development community

New York, 10 July 2014 -  A new report highlighting the impact of malaria interventions on maternal, newborn and child health was launched today alongside the annual High-Level Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York.

A press release issued by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership states that intermittent preventive malaria treatment during pregnancy and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) can reduce the risk of death to malaria within the first 28 days of life by 18%.

Read the full press release here.

Latest Millennium Development Report is out

Accra, 7 July, 2014 - With less than 600 days to the target date of the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations says concentrated efforts by national governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector are working to lift people out of extreme poverty and improve their futures.

However, there are still significant continental and regional disparities between and within countries. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon launched the 2014 MDG report on Monday at the opening of the high-level segment of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) in New York, noting that “the MDGs have helped unite, inspire and transform” the world.

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World Health Organization to establish a Sub-Regional Control Center in Guinea on Ebola

Accra, 4 July, 2014 - Health Ministers at the just ended 2-day meeting on the Ebola Virus Disease have called for an immediate action to curb the disease which they agreed poses a serious threat to all countries in the region and beyond.

In a press release issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the meeting developed an inter-country strategy requiring the establishment by the WHO of a Sub-Regional Control Center in Guinea to act as a coordinating platform to consolidate and harmonize the technical support to West African countries by all major partners; and assist in resource mobilization. The delegates also underscored the importance of WHO leading an international effort to promote research on Ebola virus disease and other hemorrhagic fevers.

Highlights of the strategy include:

  • Convening national inter-sectoral meetings involving key government ministries, national technical committees and other stakeholders to map out a plan for immediate implementation of the strategy.
  • Mobilising community, religious, political leaders to improve awareness, and the understanding of the disease
  • Strengthening surveillance, case finding reporting and contact tracing
  • Deploying additional national human resources with the relevant qualifications to key hot spots.
  • Identifying and committing additional domestic financial resources
  • Organise cross-border consultations to facilitate exchange of information
  • Working and sharing experiences with countries that have previously managed Ebola outbreaks in the spirit of south-south cooperation
Ghana's Minister of Health, Ms. Hanny-Sherry Ayittey (middle) and colleagues from the continent in a group picture

Ghana’s Minister of Health, Ms. Hanny-Sherry Ayittey (middle) and colleagues from the continent in a group picture

The current Ebola outbreak is reportedly the highest recorded in terms of cases, deaths and geographic spread across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This necessitated the Ministerial meeting in Accra to discuss ways to contain the disease and bring it to an end.

UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa 2014 report launched in Accra

Accra, 3 July 2014 – The Director of External Resource Mobilisation Division of the Ministry of Finance in Ghana, Mr. Michael Ayesu has descried UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa 2014 report as useful and timely, especially so when it is released at a time when the country is reviewing its Ghana Shared Growth Development Agenda (GSHDA). He commended UNCTAD for the report which he believes will inform some of the decisions in the GSHDA II. According to Mr. Ayesu, the crux of the report, which is a need for economic policy reorientation by African countries for transformative growth mirrors what is currently being discussed by the government of Ghana in its effort to find a medium-term solution to economic challenges facing the country.

Mr. Michael Ayesu launching the EDA 2014 report

Mr. Michael Ayesu launching the EDA 2014 report; On his left is Mr. Bagooro

Mr. Ayesu was speaking at the launch of the EDA 2014 report in Accra. He noted however, that Ghana, like many other African countries need to do more in areas like energy and road infrastructure in order to “increase the productivity of the little resources that we have”. “We have to do it in an efficient manner so that we can extend the quality of the investments we make” he added.

The report, subtitled “Catalysing Investment for Transformative Growth in Africa”was presented by Mr. Sylvester Bagooro of Third World Network (TWN), Africa. The report shows that from 1990 to 1999 the incremental capital–output ratio – which measures the degree of inefficiency in the use of capital – was about 7.4 in Africa, while from 2000 to 2011 it fell to 4.1 This means that producing an additional unit of output in Africa required $4.1 in 2000–2011 compared to $7.4 of capital in 1990–1999 – a reduction of almost half.

Cross section of participants

Cross section of participants

Factors that have contributed to productivity increases in Africa over the past decade, according to the report, include improvements in infrastructure, relatively better access to technology and policy reforms that reduced the transaction costs linked to production, trade and investment.

Despite this achievement, the nature and pattern of this growth, the report notes, has not resulted in more jobs and poverty reduction because consumption has been the dominant driver. The report argues that a consumption-based growth strategy must go hand-in-hand with an increase in investment in strategic and priority sectors of the economy – such as infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing.

Gyekye Tanoh of TWN Africa contributing to discussions at the launch of EDA 2014

Gyekye Tanoh of TWN Africa contributing to discussions at the launch of EDA 2014

The report warns that Africa cannot achieve sustained economic growth and transformation without diversifying the sources of its economic growth both on the demand and supply sides of its economies.

Contributing to discussions during the launch, Mr. Gyekye Tanoh of TWN Africa reminded the participants that the report is a serious critique of the dominant economic policies of African countries and calls for a shift in economic policy orientation in order to enable African countries make the necessary economic gains for transformative growth.

Special Ministerial meeting on Ebola virus in West Africa opens in Accra

Accra, 2 July, 2014 - Liberia’s Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Bernice T. Dahn has said that addressing the Ebola virus disease from a cultural perspective can go a long way in curbing the spread of the disease.  “In many cases family members of people affected with the disease do not seek medical care.  Instead, they restrain the patients in their homes or they seek non-medical treatment. Culture is the number one barrier to the fight against the disease” Dr. Dahn noted.

Deputy Minister Dahn of Liberia

Deputy Minister Dahn of Liberia

Dr. Dahn made this known in an interview during the on-going special ministerial meeting on Ebola virus disease in West Africa which opened in Accra today.  Eleven Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Health from Africa, partners and donors will for two days brainstorm to come up with a strategic plan of action on how to curb the disease.

Delegates at the meeting

Delegates at the meeting

In an opening statement, Dr. Louis Sambo of WHO said the continuous spread of the disease, to a large extent, is as a result of cultural practices and beliefs. Furthermore, constant cross border movement of people affected with the disease also facilitated its spread in the three affected countries, namely, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  According to Dr. Sambo, the current outbreak has the potential to spread to other parts of the continent if urgent measures are not put in place to curb the spread of the disease.  He therefore called for political commitment and financial support to ensure the urgently needed medical intervention by health workers.

Ghana's Minister of Health, Ms. Hanny-Sherry Ayittey (middle) and colleagues from the continent in a group picture

Ghana’s Minister of Health, Ms. Hanny-Sherry Ayittey (middle) and colleagues from the continent in a group picture

Ebola virus disease was first reported in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The recent outbreak is the highest in the number of cases, deaths and geographical spread.  Ghana is hosting the two-day meeting which seeks to share experiences, discuss issues and concerns and come up with a common strategy for accelerated response to the spread of the disease.

ILO hosts Media Training on Maternity Protection

Accra, 26 June 2014 - The International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with the Ghana Institute of Journalism with the support of UNIC Accra, has launched its Maternity Protection project in Accra. The launch was followed immediately with media training on maternity protection to equip journalists with tools to report on the issue.

At the launch of the materinity protection project

At the launch of the maternity protection project

As an integral part of the “Decent work for all” policy agenda of the ILO in partnership with the Government of Ghana, the maternity protection project aims to provide economic security of the pregnant woman and to preserve the health of the mother and the unborn child.

An important feature of the ILO agenda is maternity leave. “Women want to go on their maternity leave as and when they are practically due to give birth. They want to spend all the time they possibly can of their leave at home.” Catherine Adu-Boadi of the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection in Ghana, said on behalf or her minister Hon. Nana Oye Lithur.

Research suggests strong correlation between the welfare of children and maternity leave when looking at factors such as cognitive ability, growth and survival rate. ILO calls for the right to maternity leave for all women of all sectors, formal and informal sectors alike, as stated in the Maternity Protection Convention of 1986.

UNIC Accra NIO, Cynthia Prah presented the principles and guidelines for journalists when reporting on maternity protection, and highlighted the importance of maintaining good ethics when interviewing women subjects especially on issues relating to maternity protection. She asked journalists to scale up their duties in contributing to the welfare and protection of pregnant women, and mentioned examples of what is good and bad journalistic ethics.

The launch was also attended by Akua Ofor-Asamadu of ILO, Christiana Gbedemah of  UNICEF, Roland Modey of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Dave Agbenu of the Ghana Journalists Association and Charles Asante Bempong of the Ghana Employers Association.

WHO calls emergency sub-regional Ministerial meeting on Ebola virus

Accra, 26 June 2014 - In an effort to interrupt further spread of the Ebola virus in the shortest possible time, the World Health Organization is convening a special meeting of Ministers of Health of eleven (11) countries and partners involved in the Ebola outbreak response in Accra, Ghana from 2-3 July 2014 to discuss the best way of tackling the crisis collectively as well as develop a comprehensive inter country operational response plan.

According to the WHO, the emergence of Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa threatens regional and global public health security.  WHO has so far provided technical assistance through the deployment of over 150 multidisciplinary team of experts involved in a range of outbreak response activities such as surveillance, communication and social mobilization, infection control, logistics, data management.

Despite this, there has been significant increase in the number of daily reported cases and deaths of Ebola as well as newly affected districts over the last three weeks.  As of 23 June 2014, the total cumulative number of cases reported was 635 out of which 399 died. This makes the on-going Ebola outbreak, the largest in terms of the number of cases and deaths as well as geographical spread.

For more information please read the WHO press release.

 

Decisions taken at this meeting will be critical in addressing the current and future outbreaks.

UN Staff interact with students of Osagyefo Leadership International School to mark DAC

Accra, 27 June 2014 - Students of the Osagyefo Leadership International School observed the Day of the African Child with a colourful cultural performance interspersed with interactions by some UN staff and representatives of UNIC-partnering NGOs, namely Abibiman Foundation and Just Care Foundation.

Students performing to the admiration of their colleagues

Students performing to the admiration of their colleagues

Staff of UNICEF and UNESCO shared some thoughts on the significance of education, hygiene and nutrition with enthusiastic and excited students. The students were all dressed in African attire and displayed rich cultural performances.

In an interaction with some of the students, they all expressed their excitement at the celebration of the day in their school and said it was educative. Find out more about what they said.