Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Burundi fights Pneumonia with vaccine

By Esther Nakkazi
Development News- 20th September 2011

Dr. Sabine Ntakarutimana, the Minister of Health Burundi has introduced another life saving vaccine to the routine national vaccination programme.

Burundi becomes the tenth country in Africa to introduce new pneumococcal vaccines through immunisation, which could save about 16,000 deaths in Burundi annually.

The pneumococcal vaccine used in the fight against pneumonia was introduced last week, 20th September, the latest under the national Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), which covers 320,000 children between 0 to 11 months. 

The EPI programme also includes other vaccines; BCG for tuberculosis, polio and measles vaccines as well as a combined pentavalent against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza.

“Immunisation is a better investment for the country, for the health of our children, the well-being of our families and the economic growth of our country. It is a right for children and the responsibility of parents,” said Ntakarutimana at the province of Kayanza where the vaccine was launched. 

In Burundi, acute respiratory infections, which include pneumonia caused by pneumococcus, constitute the second major cause of under-five child mortality, about 16,000 deaths per year, according to epidemiological statistics from the Ministry of Health.

“Pneumonia is still killing too many of our children, but with this new vaccine we aim to reverse this tragedy and set our children on course for a healthy future,” said Dr. Ntakarutimana.

“The introduction of pneumococcal vaccines into Burundi is a solid long-term investment for the country’s social and economic potential,” said GAVI Alliance CEO, Dr Seth Berkley.

Pneumococcal disease, the leading cause of pneumonia is globally the biggest infections killer of children. It takes the lives of 800,000 children each year, largely in the developing world even if the disease is preventable.

According to UNICEF, 89 percent of all deaths linked to pneumococcal infection are due to pneumonia while 6 percent are due to meningitis and other serious complications are 5 per cent. Around 90 per cent of deaths occur in developing countries, particularly in Africa, two major risk factors HIV/AIDS and drepanocytaemia or sickle cell anaemia accelerate it.
Pneumococcal vaccines, once fully rolled out globally, are expected to save seven million lives by 2030.

“Of all the health interventions available, immunization is one the most efficient and cost effective, savings millions of children in the world,” said Mr. Souleymane Diabate, UNICEF Representative to Burundi.

Although, certain pneumococcal vaccines have been in existence since 2000, they have not reached the countries where they are needed most until recently.

However, in 2007 the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) launched an innovative vaccine financing effort called the pneumococcal advance market commitment to help change this and bring pneumococcal vaccines to developing countries.

With US$ 1.5 billion from Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Russian Federation, Norway, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a commitment of US$ 1.3 billion from GAVI, the AMC allowed the acceleration of production capacity by the two manufacturers who currently produce the vaccines.

Developing countries contribute a small but increasing, co-pay to purchase the vaccine and ensure that the model is sustainable.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and five leading donor countries manage the program. The Foundation also in 2010 announced a $10 billion commitment over the next ten years to increase access to childhood vaccines in the world poorest countries. The effort was labeled the ‘Decade of Vaccines.’

In recent months, the Central African Republic, Gambia, Cameroon, Benin and Rwanda have also introduced the new pneumococcal vaccine.

By 2015, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Alliance plans to have supported the introduction of these vaccines in more than 40 developing countries.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Public Votes Kenya Shuga Actors


Nairobi, 6 September 2011:  

Kenyan actors Christopher Otieno and Wairugi Mutero have won the public casting for the new series of Shuga: Love, Sex, Money, earning themselves a coveted role in the upcoming TV production.  The news was revealed today by MTV Base, The Staying Alive Foundation, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and The Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation (HFG). 
Christopher and Wairugi won their roles after an online poll voted for by the public. Wairugi will be playing the role of ‘Njoki’ (a party girl who loves to live in the moment) while Christopher will be cast as ‘Slim’, a small-time gangster.  They join new cast members Nick Ndeda (Angelo), Nancy Wanjiku (Baby), Brenda Wairimu (Dala), Edward Nyanaro(Rayban), Avril (Miss B’have) and Ikubese Emmanuel - a.k.a. 9con - (Femi).  Filming for the new series kicks off this week in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, Lupita Nyong’o, who played the pivotal character of Ayira in Shuga, returns on the other side of the camera as co-director alongside South African veteran Teboho Mahlatsi.  Nyong’o, an award-winning documentary maker and actress, who is studying acting at the Yale School of Drama, will also be making a brief cameo appearance in the series.
Commented Lupita Nyong’o, “Shuga was such a groundbreaking series and I am so thrilled to be working on the project again! This time I’ll really have my hands full as I will be both in front of and behind the camera but I can’t wait to be involved in the sequel to this incredible story.”
Also returning for the second series of Shuga are Sharon Olago (Violet), David Omwange (Skola), Nick Mutuma (Leo),Antony Mwangi (Kennedy) and Valerie Kimani (Sindi).
The first series of Shuga was filmed in Kenya in August-September 2009.  Starring a young cast of upcoming Kenyan actors and actresses, Shuga told a bitter-sweet tale of love, loss, sex, heartbreak and relationships, set in the clubs, bars, campuses and hangouts of contemporary Nairobi. With a raw and uncut view on the lives of sexually active young Kenyans, Shuga spot lit the risks associated with unprotected sex and the party-hard lifestyles of urban Kenyan youth, told through the interlinked characters and storylines.

“We are very excited to reveal the talented cast that will feature in Shuga: Love, Sex, Money,” said Lydia Murimi, HFG Kenya Country Director.   “As partners in Shuga, one of our aims is to ensure that we gave all the hopeful, determined, young Kenyans an opportunity to demonstrate their talent and compete for the roles.  Through this, we are expanding G-PANGE as a lifestyle choice for all.”

Commented Georgia Arnold, Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, “Thousands of young people have become involved in the casting of Shuga either through the auditions or via the voting process.  We have been astounded by the quality and quantity of the actors we have seen and I look forward to seeing how our new cast members, characters and storylines will interact with our established cast.”
For more information about Shuga: Love, Sex, Money log onto or       To share your thoughts on Shuga: Love, Sex, Money, add #Shuga or #ShugaStar to your tweets.

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