Two years to the day of signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations, African Union (AU) Chairperson Félix Tshisekedi and FIFA President Gianni Infantino (www.FIFA.com) have discussed an action plan that will accelerate several aspects of the agreement aimed at contributing for the benefit of African society, and, in particular, younger generations.
“I was delighted to speak with AU Chairperson who is a passionate football fan, and as FIFA and the AU have been working together for some time now, I am sure that under Félix Tshisekedi’s leadership our organisations will find ways to reinforce our joint efforts in many areas such as our ‘Football for Schools’ education project, the fight against match manipulation and any form of corruption, as well as safety and security at football matches across the continent,” the FIFA President said.
“We are encouraged by FIFA’s willingness to engage with Africa, and to use football as a force for good across the continent, and by working as close partners with the AU to ensure that we are playing our part in the continued development of the sport across the African continent,” the AU Chairperson and President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said.
Speaking by videoconference prior to the FIFA Club World Cup final, the two leaders discussed a range of initiatives from the role that football through education can play in developing life skills for children, be that respecting rules and showing respect to match officials, or by encouraging teamwork and cooperation in order to succeed. It was agreed that both AU and FIFA shared a mutual vision for education through football, and further discussions to identify opportunities are now being planned for a face-to-face meeting between both leaders in Kinshasa in the near future.
The call provided the FIFA President with the opportunity to follow-up on previous discussions with H.E. Félix Tshisekedi’s predecessor, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, and to assure the new AU Chairperson that FIFA and football remain totally committed to maintaining the close cooperation and teamwork that has been built up between both organisations in the past two years.
The FIFA President also outlined the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan, while also stressing the important investment made to support the 54 African member associations through FIFA Forward, which has already delivered close to 300 projects across the continent since Gianni Infantino’s first election in 2016.
The long, complex and difficult Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been overcome due to the leadership and commitment of the Government of the DRC, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), a multitude of partners, donors, and above all, the efforts of the communities affected by the virus.
The virus was declared over on Thursday. The WHO congratulates all those involved in the arduous and often dangerous work required to end the outbreak, but stresses the need for vigilance. Continuing to support survivors and maintaining strong surveillance and response systems in order to contain potential flare-ups is critical in the months to come.
“The outbreak took so much from all of us, especially from the people of DRC, but we came out of it with valuable lessons, and valuable tools. The world is now better-equipped to respond to Ebola. A vaccine has been licensed, and effective treatments identified,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We should celebrate this moment, but we must resist complacency. Viruses do not take breaks. Ultimately, the best defence against any outbreak is investing in a stronger health system as the foundation for universal health coverage.”
The outbreak, declared in North Kivu on 1 August 2018, was the second largest in the world, and was particularly challenging as it took place an active conflict zone. There were 3470 cases, 2287 deaths and 1171 survivors.
Led by the DRC Government and the Ministry of Health and supported by WHO and partners, the more than 22-month-long response involved training thousands of health workers, registering 250 000 contacts, testing 220 000 samples, providing patients with equitable access to advanced therapeutics, vaccinating over 303 000 people with the highly effective rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine, and offering care for all survivors after their recovery.
The response was bolstered by the engagement and leadership of the affected communities. Thanks to their efforts, this outbreak did not spread globally. More than 16 000 local frontline responders worked alongside the more than 1500 people deployed by WHO. Support from donors was essential, as was the work of UN partner agencies, national and international NGOs, research networks, and partners deployed through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. Hard work to build up preparedness capacities in neighbouring countries also limited the risk of the outbreak expanding.
Work will continue to build on the gains made in this response to address other health challenges, including measles and COVID-19.
“During the almost two years we fought the Ebola virus, WHO and partners helped strengthen the capacity of local health authorities to manage outbreaks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“The DRC is now better, smarter and faster at responding to Ebola and this is an enduring legacy which is supporting the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”
As countries around the world face the COVID-19 pandemic, the DRC Ebola response provides valuable lessons. Many of the public health measures that have been successful in stopping Ebola are the same measures that are now essential for stopping COVID-19: finding, isolating, testing, and caring for every case and relentless contact tracing.
In DRC, community workers were provided with training and a smartphone data collection app that enabled them to track contacts and report in real time rather than fill in laborious paper reports. Even when violence locked down cities, the community workers, many of them local women, continued to track and trace contacts using the application, something that was crucial for ending this outbreak.
While this 10th outbreak in DRC has ended, the fight against Ebola continues. On 1 June 2020, seven cases of Ebola were reported in Mbandaka city and neighbouring Bikoro Health Zone in Equateur Province and an 11th outbreak was declared. WHO is supporting the government-led response with more than 50 staff already deployed and more than 5000 vaccinations already administered.
WHO salutes the thousands of heroic responders who fought one of the world’s most dangerous viruses in one of the world’s most unstable regions. Some health workers, including WHO experts, paid the ultimate price and sacrificed their lives to the Ebola response.
The Who also Thanked the donors who provided funding to WHO for the Ebola response under the Strategic Response Plans:
African Development Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, China, Denmark, ECHO, European Commission/DEVCO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Paul Allen Foundation, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Susan T Buffett Foundation, UK DFID, UN CERF, USAID/OFDA, US CDC, Wellcome Trust, World Bank, World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
A new case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed today in the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“While not welcome news, this is an event we anticipated. We kept response teams in Beni and other high risk areas for precisely this reason,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
As part of the active Ebola surveillance system in place to respond to this ongoing outbreak in DRC, thousands of alerts are still being investigated every day. An alert is a person who has symptoms that could be due to Ebola, or any death in a high risk area that could have been as result of Ebola.
As with all confirmed cases, efforts are already underway to find everyone who may have been in contact with the person in order to offer them the vaccine and monitor their health status.
“WHO has worked side by side with health responders from the DRC for over 18 months and our teams are right now supporting the investigation into this latest case,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges, we will continue this joint effort until we can declare the end of this Ebola outbreak together.”
The news of the confirmed case came minutes after the conclusion of a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DRC. The Emergency Committee will reconvene next week in order to re-evaluate their recommendations in light of this new information.
Prior to this, the last person who was confirmed to have Ebola in DRC tested negative twice and was discharged from a treatment centre on 3 March 2020.
As of 10 April 2020, 3456 confirmed and probable cases and 2276 deaths have occurred as a result of the outbreak.
An independent monitoring board has recommends the early termination of Ebola Therapeutics Trial in DRC Because of Favorable Results with Two of Four Candidates.
Pamoja Tulinde Maisha (PALM [together save lives]) study is a randomized,
controlled trial of four investigational agents (ZMapp, remdesivir, mAb114 and
REGN-EB3) for the treatment of patients with Ebola virus disease.
study began on November 20, 2018 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
as part of the emergency response to an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the North
Kivu and Ituri Provinces.
trial which enrolled 681 patients toward an enrollment total of 725 started in
August 9, 2019. Patients were enrolled at four Ebola Treatment Centers (ETCs)
in Beni, Katwa, Butembo and Mangina and the trial was overseen by staff from
the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB); the DRC Ministry of
Health; and three medical humanitarian organizations: the Alliance for
International Medical Action (ALIMA), the International Medical Corps (IMC),
and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The trial is monitored by an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) that meets periodically to review interim safety and efficacy data and to make recommendations to the study team and the sponsors.
As a result of their August 9, 2019 review, the DSMB recommended that the study be stopped and that all future patients be randomized to receive either REGN-EB3 or mAb114 in what is being considered an extension phase of the study.
This recommendation was based on the fact that an early stopping criterion in the protocol had been met by one of the products, REGN-EB3. The preliminary results in 499 study participants indicated that those individuals receiving REGN-EB3 or mAb114 had a greater chance of survival compared to those participants in the other two arms.
principal investigators of the study, its statistician and its co-sponsors
accepted this recommendation, and the ETC staff at the sites were promptly
informed. In addition to limiting future patient randomizations to REGN-EB3 and
mAb114, patients who were randomized to ZMapp or remdesivir in the last 10 days
now have the option, at the discretion of their treating physician, to receive
either REGN-EB3 or mAb114.
According to the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), while the final analysis of the data can occur only after all the data are generated and collected (likely late September/early October 2019), the DSMB and the study leadership felt the preliminary analysis of the existing data was compelling enough to recommend and implement these changes in the trial immediately.
states the complete results will be submitted for publication in the
peer-reviewed medical literature as soon as possible.
study is co-sponsored and funded by the INRB and the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the U.S. National Institutes of
Health; carried out by an international research consortium coordinated by the
World Health Organization (WHO); and supported by four pharmaceutical companies
(MappBio, Gilead, Regeneron, and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics).
The US$300 million in grants and credits will be largely financed through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and its Crisis Response Window, which is designed to help countries respond to severe crises and return to their long-term development paths. The financing package will cover the Ebola-affected health zones in DRC and enable the government, WHO, UNICEF, WFP, IOM and other responders to step up the frontline health response, deliver cash-for-work programs to support the local economy, strengthen resilience in the affected communities, and contain the spread of this deadly virus.
This amount is approximately half of the anticipated financing needs of the Fourth Strategic Response Plan (SRP4), which is expected to be finalized in the coming week by the Government and the international consortium of partners working on the response. The World Bank has been supporting programs to combat DRC’s ongoing battle with Ebola since May 2018, with resources going to the frontline response, health system strengthening, and preparedness to reduce the risk of spread.
The US $300 million in World Bank financing announced today comes in addition to the US$100 million disbursed by the World Bank and the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) in response to the current Ebola Outbreak in DRC since August 2018. Details on the Bank’s total financing for the DRC Ebola response to date are available here.
Ebola has spread across communities already beset by the severe hardships of extreme poverty and insecurity. The World Bank’s engagement in DRC is focused on investing in people, supporting communities, strengthening services and systems, which are all critical steps to stamping out this crisis—and to tackle the underlying sources of poverty and inequity that have helped fuel this deadly outbreak.
On Monday, the Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found Mr Bosco Ntaganda guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 2002-2003.
Trial Chamber VI, composed of Judge Robert Fremr, Presiding Judge, Judge Kuniko Ozaki and Judge Chang-ho Chung, announced its judgment during a public hearing held in Courtroom I at the seat of the Court in The Hague (The Netherlands).
To make its decision, the Chamber reviewed all the evidence submitted during the trial, including documents, eye witnesses and insiders.
Trial Chamber VI found that the Union des Patriotes Congolais [Union of Congolese Patriots] (UPC) and its military wing, the Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo [Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo] (FPLC), were at all times involved in at least one non-international armed conflict with an opposing party, in Ituri, district of the DRC from on or about 6 August 2002 to on or about 31 December 2003.
The conduct of the UPC/FPLC against the civilian population was the intended outcome of a preconceived strategy to target the civilian population, and the crimes committed took place pursuant to a policy of the UPC/FPLC. Mr Ntaganda fulfilled a very important military function in the UPC/FPLC.
In this context, the Chamber found Mr Ntaganda guilty of crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder, rape, sexual slavery, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation) and war crimes (murder and attempted murder, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, rape, sexual slavery, ordering the displacement of the civilian population, conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years into an armed group and using them to participate actively in hostilities, intentionally directing attacks against protected objects, and destroying the adversary’s property).
While the evidence did not sustain all incidents indicated by the Prosecutor, it did demonstrate that in relation to each of the 18 counts at least part of the charges were proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
The Chamber has found that Mr Ntaganda was liable as a direct perpetrator for parts of the charges of three of the crimes, namely murder as a crime against humanity and a war crime and persecution as a crime against humanity, and was an indirect perpetrator for the other parts of these crimes. He was convicted as an indirect perpetrator for the remaining crimes.
In order to determine Mr Ntaganda’s sentence in this case, the Chamber will receive submissions from the parties and participants regarding the possible sentence, and will schedule a separate hearing, to receive evidence and address matters related to sentencing. Pending the decision on sentencing, Mr Ntaganda continues to be detained.
The parties (the Prosecution and Defence) may appeal the decision of conviction within thirty days. Issues related to the procedure for victims’ reparations will be addressed in due course.
The trial of Mr Ntaganda opened on 2 September 2015 and closing statements from 28 to 30 August 2018.
Over the course of 248 hearings, the Chamber heard 80 witnesses and experts called by the Office of the ICC Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, 19 witnesses called by the Defence team lead by Mr Stéphane Bourgon and three witnesses called by the legal representatives of the victims participating in the proceedings, as well as five victims who presented their views and concerns.
A total of 2 129 victims, represented by their legal counsel, Ms Sarah Pellet and Mr Dmytro Suprun from the ICC Office for Public Counsel for the Victims, participated in the trial after having been authorised by the Chamber to do so.
The Trial Chamber issued 347 written decisions and 257 oral decisions during the trial phase. 1791 items were admitted into evidence. After the presentation of evidence, the Chamber received written closing submissions from the parties and the Legal Representatives of Victims; in total more than 1 400 pages. The total number of filings of the parties and participants and the Chamber’s decisions is more than 2300 filings.
Knowledge gained following the 2014–16 West Africa Ebola outbreak identified a number of challenges survivors face, including reduced or blurred vision stemming from inflammation of their eyes. About 20% of survivors from that outbreak had some form of eye problem.
By identifying and treating these problems early, serious consequences, including blindness, can be averted. With the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization recently organized an eye clinic to check on the eye health of survivors of the current Ebola outbreak.
The clinic was held in Beni, DRC, one of the affected areas, from 25 March to 1 April. In addition, an eye clinic in Butembo, another affected area, was equipped so that they can provide this specialized care to survivors there. This is the first time in an Ebola outbreak that follow-up for eye care has happened so soon after survivors have been released from care.
Several survivors also helped with the planning and administration of the clinic. Partners in this project include Emory University, which deployed two ophthalmologists, and University of North Carolina which deployed one ophthalmologist to the project via the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, which is hosted by WHO.
Editor’s note: Cases of poor eye sight and heart diseases, among others, were reported by some Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone. The Specimen Newspaper reported the stories to alert the authority and stakeholders about the health challenges of the survivors in post Ebola period.
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