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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Enhancing African and African-led capacity for disease surveillance meeting opens in Arusha

10 December 2015

 

Enhancing African and African-led capacity for disease surveillance

 stakeholder conference 14- 15 December, Arusha, Tanzania

 

An unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus has shocked the world; MERS is spreading; and Africa continues to suffer from chronic neglected tropical diseases

 

·      How can we work together to enhance African-led capacity for disease surveillance and ensure earlier, faster, smoother and smarter management of epidemics?

 

·      Bring frontline One Health voices to the policy table?

 

·      Ensure sustainable, community-led African solutions to African challenges

 

Frontline experts will be gathering to showcase best practice for managing disease outbreaks and exploring ways of enhancing African and African-led capacity building, during a ground-breaking Enhancing African and African-led Capacity for disease surveillance stakeholder conference in Arusha, Tanzania, 14 – 15 December 2015.

 

The Conference is being organised by disease surveillance networks in Africa SACIDS and EAIDSNet, facilitated by CORDS Network.

 

It follows the lifecycle of an outbreak (before, during and after) bringing together One Health experts, regional disease surveillance networks, government representatives, community leaders and funders to look at how we detect disease outbreaks earlier and respond faster.

 

The Conference will provide a platform for networks to showcase success; share best practice globally with disease surveillance networks from around the world and engage in dialogue with African regional stakeholders and international donors to explore future collaborations and partnerships.

 

During the Conference, we will be looking at:-

 

Earlier detection – Using digital technology driven community-based disease surveillance and cross-border data sharing practices

 

Faster reporting – Innovative systems for affordable bio-safety driven technical solutions for epidemic recognition and genomic driven diagnostics for resource compromised laboratories and field situations

 

Smoother co-ordination – One Health approaches with cross sector and cross border information sharing in real time

 

Smarter legacy - Learning lessons from the frontline to build more resilient communities.

 

Sharing knowledge and experience - Developments for a West African surveillance network (WANIDS) being implemented by WAHO and facilitated by CORDS Network

 

"Our Goal is to create a healthier, safer and more secure World United Against Infectious Diseases by connecting national, regional and international agencies and stakeholders to detect epidemics earlier and respond faster.

 

This workshop will bring together frontline experts, governments and international funders to explore ways of developing African-led solutions to African challenges and work to develop sustainable community led interventions", says Prof Nigel Lightfoot CBE, Executive Director of CORDS.

 

Dr Willy Were from EAIDSNet says

"Notably, 75% of emerging and re-emerging diseases are of animal origin (zoonotic); and 80% of all health conditions are related to environmental conditions. Managing these conditions therefore needs contributions from health, animal, agriculture, and all sectors related to managing people, animals and the environment - this is the One Health Approach.

 

The Ebola virus disease epidemic in West Africa has shown the importance of this approach. Every sector was involved"

 

Professor Mark Rweyemamu, Executive Director, SACIDS says

"Our method applies the One Health concept, which is a holistic approach to infectious diseases in people, animals and the environment. This approach engages

environmental, sociological and governance disciplines, in addition to those

involved in human  and veterinary medicine.

 

We do so because increasingly the disease causing agents (viruses, bacteria and parasites) are either spreading across the humans and animal species, are surviving in the environments shared by people and animals, or are developing resistance to antibiotics and other drugs. We also do so because these pathogens (disease causing agents) can be spread readily to new areas because of either globalisation or climate change. So our crusade is one of striving to outsmart the pathogen.

 

In Africa, we have additional and unique issues: we have diseases, which have been

eliminated from other parts of the world, or which occur only in Africa. Therefore our

concern is far more than dealing with the threat posed by emerging diseases. 

 

We have the highest burden of infectious diseases of people and animals and yet we

have the least capacity to prevent the occurrence, spread and control of such

diseases. So, this unique African problem, requires uniquely designed scientific,

operational and financial resources.

 

This crusade needs to be spearheaded by Africa scientists and African policy makers. It needs to be focused at the community level so that it can be nationally, regionally and continentally effective. This is what we in SACIDS refer to as: working towards ensuring COMMUNITY LEVEL ONE HEALTH SECURITY".

 

ENDS

 

We have the following experts available for interview at our pre-conference press briefing on 13 December and during the Conference.

 

SACIDS - Prof Mark Rweyemamu, Dr Esron D. Karimuribo

 

EAIDSNet – Dr Julius Lutwama and Dr Andrew Kittua

 

CORDS  - Emma Orefuwa. Programme Manager

               - Dr Bakary Sylla Project Director, West African Network development

 

Tanzania's Government Representatives:  -

Dr Janeth Mghamba – Assistant Director, Epidemiology and Program Director TFELTP at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare

Dr Emmanuel Swai – National Epidemiologist at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development

 

Delegate - Jean-Jacques Muyembe, Director-General of the Democratic Republic of the Congo National Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor of Microbiology at Kinshasa University Medical School. Member of the WHO Advisory Group on the Ebola Virus Disease Response.

For interview bids or media inquiries please contact: -

 

Catherine Magambo, Communications Consultant for SACIDS

Email: catherinemagambo@gmail.com

Phone: (+) 255 767 339 393

 

Helen Ashley, Communications Consultant for CORDS

Email Helen.ashley@cordsnetwork.org

Phone (+) 444 7976 804314 Skype Helen.ashley7

 


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Expert warns of improper oil, gas planning

Experts in mineral sector have observed that mineral-rich countries required good corporate governance structures to be able to properly convert their natural resource wealth into sustainable economic development.

 
The Media Capacity Development Officer of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), George Lugalambi said recently that natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals, hold great potentials for development, which, when properly managed would help transform economies. 
 
"Transforming oil, gas and mineral wealth into sustainable development requires a complete chain of economic decisions and strong foundation of good governance," he said at the sixth regional media training on oil, gas and mining in Ghanaian capital, Accra.
 
He said economic decisions on the exploitation of natural resources could make a base for policy making in the future, apparently calling for thorough consideration prior to their implementation.
 
"You must understand the decision you take and how it relates to others in the long term. For instance, if you discover two oil wells, some decisions must go into you choosing one to exploit over the other," he said.
 
Lugalambi, who took participants through the domestic foundations for resource governance said, "good decision making by government rests on a foundation of rules, institutions, a critical informed mass and an authorizing environment."
 
He said the government should not only lay foundation for resource governance but also keep an authorizing environment that will ensure strict adherence to the rules and regulations governing the use of natural resources. 
 
The Executive Director of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu, said good governance of oil, gas and mining resources and the revenues they generate requires effective oversight. 
 
 "An effective oversight, however, hinges on an informed, responsive and dynamic media to provide necessary and accurate information to the public about critical governance issues," he said. 
The 10-day course on the extractive sector was organized by the NRGI in partnership with Penplusbytes in Accra for 24 journalists from Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania.
 
The capacity building training programme, which was under the 'Strengthening Media Oversight of the Extractive Sectors,' was aimed at promoting effective and consistent media coverage on oil, gas and mining activities.
 
It was targeted at early to mid-career reporters and would help offer them a wide range of benefits, including providing them with holistic and comprehensive support through specialized knowledge and skills modules, professional mentoring, experimential learning, access to sources and vital information. 
 
"Here lies an opportunity for journalists to develop more insight and skills on the sector in Africa in ways that are self-sustaining," Ahiabenu said.
 
It also provided access to data and encouraged interaction with peers, experts, policy makers, and oversight actors.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Use ICT to promote governance - IT Expert advises

Mr. Kwami Ahiabenu, Executive Director of Penplusbytes has admonished Ghanaians especially the youth to take advantage of the sprawling opportunities of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to deepen good governance and parliamentary democracy in Ghana.

Penplusbytes is a non-governmental organisation that seeks to promote citizen participation in democracy through the use of ICT

He said exchange of communication was no longer a barrier and therefore people could use ICT to constantly communicate with their Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministers and other government appointees, and make their concerns known while demanding accountability from them.

Mr. Ahiabenu who was speaking at a citizen's forum, dubbed "dialogue with parliament" in Cape Coast on Thursday said the youth must positively utilize social media for the development of their communities.

The forum which was organized by Penplusbytes with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) formed an integral part of the implementation strategy of the "Connecting Citizens to Parliament project" by the Assurances Committee of Parliament.

It was among other things aimed at creating a structured engagement mechanism between citizens and parliament to enhance the former's ability to hold duty bearers accountable through increased interaction between them.

It was also to foster direct collaboration between the Assurances Committee and major stakeholders on its prime business of exercising oversight responsibility of ensuring that promises and assurances made in Parliament were carried out to the latter.

He observed that for democracy to be strong and more sustainable, there was the need for constant interactions between citizens and elected members of parliament and that the advancement in ICT should be a better option to ensure that.

Penplusbytes in connection with the Government Assurances Committee of Parliament has launched an online digital platform via its website www.assurances.gov.gh to reach out to the various constituencies through social media platforms.

The initiative, he said would help the Committee to undertake its full mandate of monitoring all assurances and promises made by the executive arm of government.

Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, Chairman of the Committee, said citizen engagement was vital to the survival of the current democratic dispensation and therefore it was imperative for the Government to engage those who elected them.

He said for the Committee to fully exercise its oversight reasonability over the Executive, it was embarking on verification visits across the country to ensure that what the Government promised and assured Ghanaians in the 2014 budget had been fulfilled or in the process of being fulfilled.

He indicated that four ministers, namely Education, Health, Energy and Road and High Ways Ministers have appeared before the Committee since the beginning of the year but the Committee was yet to present its first report to the floor of Parliament for deliberations.

Joe Badu Ansah, Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim and ranking member of the Committee said the Assurances Committee would continue to work in the interest of the country to expose non-performing ministers and other government appointees.

Members of the Committee also inspected the state of work done at the Kotokuraba market and the Cape Coast stadium, being the two major developmental projects that the Government promised the people of Cape Coast in the 2014 budget.

The forum brought together stakeholders such as Members of Parliament, government officials, ordinary citizens, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the media who deliberated on how all institutions and individuals could work collectively to work effectively to enhance democracy in Ghana.

Among the issues deliberated on by the stakeholders were the current energy challenges, the education system in the country, corruption and accountability.

Participants were enlightened on the work of the Government Assurances Committee of Parliament, the duties and responsibilities of the Members of Parliaments as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District, Chief Executives.


GNA



Friday, October 23, 2015

Citizens of Trobu-Amasaman engage with Parliament

Penplusbytes' citizens' forum roadshow geared towards connecting grassroots to parliament landed in Fise, a suburb of Trobu-Amasaman Constituency in the Greater Accra Region at the weekend.
Some citizens in the constituency had the opportunity to engage and interact with their Member of Parliament for Trobu-Amasaman, Moses Anim who is also a member of the Committee on Government Assurances of Parliament.
The citizens' forum dubbed "Dialogue with Parliament" forms a key component of the "Connecting Citizens to Parliament" project being implemented by Penplusbytes with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
The project provides both online (www.assurances.gov.gh, SMS, Whatsapp, mobile App)  and face-to-face platforms for citizens to engage with Parliament and enable the Committee on Government Assurance enhance its oversight role, in ensuring that assurances and promises made by Government are achieved leading to an improvement in public service delivery.
This forum attracted chiefs, opinion Leaders, District Assembly and Unit committee members, union leaders, representatives from various political parties and citizens to discuss government promises on energy, roads and infrastructure among others.
Mr Anim took citizens through the work of parliament, duties of an MP and made emphasis on the role and work of the Committee on Government Assurance which he stated was a standing Committee of Parliament, created by the standing Orders to exercise oversight responsibility over the Executive.
According to him, "Order 174 (2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament indicates that, it shall be the duty of the Committee on Government Assurances to pursue all assurances, promises and undertaking given by Ministers from time to time. It shall also be the function of the Committee to report to the House on the extent to which such assurances have been fulfilled. Therefore, the Committee on Government Assurances seeks accountability for the Ghanaian people through their elected representatives."
The MP assured the Citizens of the Committee's resolve, to play their role effectively, devoid of political inclinations to ensure government delivers on its promises for the benefit of all tax-payers and the development of the country.
On his part, the President of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu II, stated that, the forum was aimed at creating a structured engagement mechanism between citizens and parliament to enhance their ability to hold duty bearers accountable through increased interaction between them and Parliament.
"This forum is the fourth of its kind undertaken by Penplusbytes this year, and it provides opportunities for a diversity of voices to be heard on issues that matter to people, and fosters a sense of mutuality, belonging and a sense of empowerment, all of which strengthens our burgeoning democracy."
Citizens who participated in the forum called for more interactions such as this to enable them meet their MPs face-to-face, since, it will enable them express their opinions on legislations and government policies which affect them, share in decision-making, thereby assuming more ownership of solutions and more responsibility for their implementation.
The CGA together with Penplusbytes will hold the next citizen forum at the University of Cape Coast after undertaking verification of some projects promised by the government which includes the Cape Coast Stadium and the construction of a new market at Kotokroba.







________________
Kwami Ahiabenu,II
Tel : +233 (0) 302 922620/1, +233 (0) 302 798995
Email:  kwami@penplusbytes.org Location:  New Media Hub No.1 Ostwe Close, Ako Adjei, Osu, Accra-Ghana
follow us on twitter @penplusbytes




Use new digital technology to transform fundraising


Digitalizing fundraising in Africa is perhaps the solution to the numerous problems surrounding donor aid on the continent, Mr Saqib Nazir, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FundRasingAfrica has said.

He was speaking at a two-day strategic workshop organized by Penplusbytes in collaboration with FundRaisingAfrica in Accra on Tuesday.

The workshop which was under the theme "Strategic briefing on fundraising using New Digital Technologies," was to equip participants with new media technologies in their fundraising activities in order to survive the recent decline in donor aid.

It was attended by representatives from NGOs, Faith-based Organizations, Clubs, Community-based Associations, Journalists and Donor agencies.

Participants were taken through fundraising strategies and how to improve upon them. They were also exposed to the use of social media and other tools in fundraising campaigns, and then assisted participants to set up their own online fundraising tools.

Mr. Nazir stressed the need to bridge the gap between the transfer of money through the internet and giving of physical cash. "If one wants to do global business, one would be looking at the ability to accept master card, for instance," he observed.

This, according to him, had a huge impact on the democratization of the process of fundraising as it affords the opportunity for everyone to be part of the process. "It also gives room to transparency and accountability to all across the globe to monitor donations," he noted.

Earlier in a welcoming address, Mr Kwami Ahiabenu, the Executive Director of Penplusbytes, observed that the use of new digital technology in fundraising had reached its full capacity where it could help an organization to achieve its goals.

Mr Ibrahim Tanko, an independent Consultant, observed that for an organization to raise substantial funds, it must resort to the use of new digital applications including twitter, whatsup and facebook, and cited how new media was used to raise 22m U.S dollars within one week for Haiti during the crisis in that country in 2010.

Mr Tanko who was guest speaker at the programme indicated that donor funding was dwindling, and that Star Ghana which gave the biggest funding to civil society in Ghana, got a lot of distress calls when it wound up its activities in the country six months ago.

According to him, a lot of donor agencies had also given notice of a possible shut down soon, and cited DANIDA as an example.
He noted that donor countries were shifting focus from making donations in the common interest to their own specific national interests, hence the beneficiary's interest must conform to that of the donor.

He further stated that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which was another means of raising funds was now being seen as a mere branding tool for the donor organizations, and as such "it is difficult for civil society organizations to fit into CSR."

Mr Tanko, therefore, affirmed that technological innovation held a lot of potential for the future of fundraising, and that it was very useful when one prepared adequately to take advantage of it.

"We are in a tool-driven society, but we must tailor tools to reflect the needs of society", he said, adding that there was the need to depart from the traditional means of fundraising which had its own setbacks.

Mr Tanko indicated that to run an efficient fundraising campaign there was the need for an organization to create legitimacy by ensuring that it stayed credible in the eyes of recipients. "It would be credible if it is seen to be responding to their everyday needs and not what the donor wants", he stated.

He said effective fundraising also meant individualizing the process by touching the heart of the donor with messages that were appealing, adding that one must also be innovative and look at a creative way of using the tools at ones disposal.

GNA 

Parliament says it will continue to hold executive accountable


Mr Moses Anim, Member of Parliament (MP) for Trobu-Amasaman, in the Greater Accra Region, has given the assurance that Parliament would continue to hold the Executive accountable.

The MP said parliament would continue to work and play its role effectively, devoid of political inclinations to ensure that Government delivers on its promises for the benefit of all taxpayers and for the development of the country.

Mr Anim gave the assurance at Fise, a suburb of Trobu-Amasaman in the Greater Accra Region, while interacting with the constituents during the Penplusbytes citizens' forum held with the aim at connecting citizens to Parliament.

The citizens' forum dubbed: "Dialogue with Parliament," forms a key component of the "Connecting Citizens to Parliament" project being implemented by Penplusbytes with support from OSIWA.

The forum attracted chiefs, opinion leaders, district assembly and unit committee members, union leaders, representatives from various political parties and citizens to discuss government promises on energy, roads and infrastructure among others.

The participants had the opportunity to engage and interact with their MP, who is also member of the Committee on Government Assurances (CGA) of Parliament and expressed their concerns and opinions on governance.

Mr Anim educated the citizens on the work of parliament, duties of an MP and emphasised on the role and work of the CGA, which he described as a "standing Committee of Parliament, created by the standing Orders in 1998 to exercise oversight responsibility over the Executive".

"Order 174 (2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament indicates that, it shall be the duty of the Committee on Government Assurances to pursue all assurances, promises and undertaking given by Ministers from time to time.

"It shall also be the function of the Committee to report to the House on the extent to which such assurances have been fulfilled. Therefore, the Committee on Government Assurances seeks accountability for the Ghanaian people through their elected representatives," he explained.

Mr Kwami Ahiabenu, President of Penplusbytes, explained that the forum has been designed to create a structured engagement mechanism between citizens and parliament to enhance their ability to hold duty bearers accountable through increased interaction between them and Parliament."

"This forum is the fourth of its kind undertaken by Penplusbytes this year, and it provides opportunities for a diversity of voices to be heard on issues that matter to people, and fosters a sense of mutuality, belonging and a sense of empowerment, all of which strengthens our burgeoning democracy."

Participants at the forum called for more of such interactions to enable them meet their MPs more regularly, while serving as a platform that would offer them the opportunity to express their opinions on legislations and government policies which affect them.

They said such a forum would also enable them to share in decision-making, thereby assuming more ownership of solutions and more responsibility for their implementation.

The CGA together with Penplusbytes would hold the next citizen forum at the University of Cape Coast after undertaking verification of some projects promised by the Government, which includes the Cape Coast Stadium and the construction of a new market at Kotokroba.

Source: GNA