Wipe Out Polio, Now — By Ban Ki-moon

15 May

Accra, May 15, 2012

Wild viruses and wildfires have two things in common. If neglected, they can spread out of control. If handled properly, they can be stamped out for good.

Today, the flame of polio is near extinction — but sparks in three countries threaten to ignite a global blaze. Now is the moment to act.

During the next two weeks, on two continents, two events offer the chance for a breakthrough. First, the leaders of the world’s largest economies — the G8 — congregate at the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David in rural Maryland. A week later, the world’s ministers of health convene in Geneva.

Together, they can push to deliver on an epic promise: to liberate humankind from one of the world’s most deadly and debilitating diseases.

The world’s war on polio, declared nearly a quarter of a century ago, was as ambitious an undertaking as the successful campaign to eradicate another great public health menace, smallpox. Slowly but surely, over the years, we have advanced on that goal.

Polio today survives in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. That’s the good news. The bad: we are in danger of falling victim to our own success.

Here’s why: the world is now populated by a generation which has either never been exposed to polio or has been inadequately vaccinated. When the virus strikes under those conditions, the impact can be devastating.

We saw that in the Republic of the Congo in 2010 and elsewhere in Africa when an outbreak killed half of all who were infected.

A prompt emergency response by the international community halted that budding epidemic. But the incident gives an idea of the potential consequences of failing to eradicate polio while we have the chance.

This year fewer than one hundred people were left paralyzed by this easily preventable disease, almost all in the three countries I have mentioned. Left unchecked, however, UN epidemiologists warn that a renewed outbreak could cripple as many as one million people within the decade, many of them children — the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.

This threat keeps me up at night because I know how easy it is to address. My wife and I have personally immunized toddlers in Asia and Africa, joining tens of millions of government workers, Rotarian’s, volunteers, political and religious leaders (not to mention parents) who have worked for decades to ensure that every child is protected.

Most recently, we visited India, which just two years ago was home to half of all the world’s children with polio. Now, thanks to a concerted drive, we were able to celebrate India’s first polio-free year in history.

Similar efforts are under way in the three remaining polio-endemic countries. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani of Pakistan and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan each personally oversee their national response.

Nigeria has committed funds from its own treasury, and polio eradication in all three countries depends heavily on government resources.

But that in itself is not enough. With a determined push, the international community can wipe out polio once and for all. To do so, however, it must organize — and commit the required financial resources.

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES

15 May

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

15 May 2012

This year’s International Day of Families highlights the need for work-family balance. The aim is to help workers everywhere to provide for their families financially and emotionally, while also contributing to the socioeconomic development of their societies.

Current trends underscore the growing importance of work-family policies. These include greater participation by women in the labour market, and growing urbanization and mobility in search for jobs. As families become smaller and generations live apart, extended kin are less available to offer care, and employed parents face rising challenges.

Millions of people around the world lack decent working conditions and the social support to care for their families. Affordable quality childcare is rarely available in developing countries, where many parents are forced to leave their preschool children home alone. Many young children are also left in the care of older siblings who, in turn, are pulled from school.

A number of countries offer generous leave provisions for mothers and fathers. Many more, however, extend few comprehensive benefits in line with international standards. Paternity leave provisions are still rare in the majority of developing countries.

Flexible working arrangements, including staggered working hours, compressed work schedules or telecommuting, are becoming more widely available – but there is much room for improvement everywhere. I am committed to this in our own organization, where we are currently looking at our own arrangements, and seeing what we can do better.

We need to respond to the ever-changing complexities of work and family life. I welcome the establishment of family-friendly workplaces through parental leave provisions, flexible working arrangements and better childcare.

Such policies and programmes are critical to enhancing the work-family balance. These actions can also lead to better working conditions, greater employee health and productivity, and a more concerted focus on gender equality.

Work-family balance policies demonstrate both a government’s commitment to the well-being of families and the private sector’s commitment to social responsibility On this International Day of Families, let us renew our pledge to promote work-family balance for the benefit of families and society at large.

PRESS RELEASE: UNAIDS launches “Believe it. Do it.” action campaign For HIV infections among children by 2015

9 May

 GENEVA, 8 May 2012

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) today launched a new campaign, “Believe it. Do it., aimed at bringing attention and action to the global goal of ending new HIV infections among children by 2015 and ensuring mothers living with HIV remain healthy.

Each year, about 390 000 children become newly infected with HIV and as many as 42 000 women living with HIV die from complications relating to HIV and pregnancy. In 2011, world leaders at the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS committed to ending new HIV infections among children by 2015 and saving mothers’ lives. A bold new global plan was adopted and action is underway.

“We have an amazing opportunity to change the world,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “We have the commitment of world leaders but the clock is ticking and we cannot get from 390 000 to zero without you.”

UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassadors Naomi Watts and Annie Lennox are among the personalities adding their voices and commitment to “Believe it. Do it.” In addition, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Whoopi Goldberg joined Blair Underwood, Denis O’Hare, Alexandra Wentworth, George Stephanopoulos and Sujean Rim to create a public service announcement for the campaign with the message “I believe children everywhere can be born free from HIV—Believe it. Do it.”

Under the premise that ‘every day is Mother’s Day!’ UNAIDS also teamed up with artist Sujean Rim to create a series of e-cards celebrating families. Through public service announcements, an interactive web site and social media outreach, the campaign asks the public to take three simple actions:

Get the facts about ending new HIV infections among children

Send a message about the issue and the actions people can all take

Support a mother through one of the great organizations working with families

The campaign will be featured ahead of Mother’s Day on 11 May on the American morning television show Good Morning America and the 30-second public service announcement will appear on CNN International, CNN Domestic (U.S. market) as well as other media outlets.

For more information visit http://www.unaids.org/believeitdoit/

Contact UNAIDS Geneva | Sophie Barton-Knott | tel. +41 22 791 1697 | bartonknotts@unaids.org

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, is an innovative United Nations partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Learn more at unaids.org.

High Incidents of Death amongst HIV positive teachers affect quality of Education

27 Apr

Accra, Ghana, April 24, 2012

 High incidents of death amongst HIV positive teachers could further worsen the teacher-pupil ratio and thereby weaken the educational system in sub-Saharan Africa. Like all members of the population, teachers are susceptible to HIV. In countries with high HIV infection rates, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa, this susceptibility is increasingly noticeable. Failure to address this situation would result in poor quality of education and also impede efforts to achieve the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This has necessitated the meeting in Accra (April 24-26) of representatives of existing national associations of teachers infected and affected by HIV in WCA, HIV focal points of the Ministries of Education, teachers’ unions and key national and international stakeholders from about 12 countries. They are addressing challenges with the aim of strengthening teachers’ role in contributing to prevention efforts in the region and to ensure that teachers living with HIV can be supported through effective policies and programmes, protecting them from HIV-related stigma and discrimination as well as ensuring access to prevention and care.

According to UNESCO, the meeting is the result of the strong partnership established between Ministries of Education, UNESCO, ILO, the World Bank, UNAIDS, WHO, Education International, and Partnership for Child Development.

It is also critical to note the importance of sexuality education in HIV prevention among young people. It may not only provide value for money but, in some cases, major cost savings regarding the cost and cost-effectiveness of school-based sexuality education. Participants will exchange ideas and identify common key elements to improve coordination, advocacy and networking and strengthen links between Ministries of Education, Teacher Unions and Networks of positive teachers, a statement from the Ministry of Education indicated.

Expected output of the three-day workshop outcomes include a plan of action highlighting areas of work between teachers’ unions, MoE and HIV positive teachers’ associations, an agreement around the development of a policy framework on HIV and AIDS in the education sector to reflect R200 and protecting the rights of teachers infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and the creation of a sub-regional network of associations of teachers living with HIV and AIDS.

Cynthia Prah UN Information, Accra

Carl Ampah UNESCO Ghana

Zoomlion CEO adjudged Best Entrepreneur for 2011

24 Apr

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TIME FOR ACTION- Apostle Amoako-Attah, Freedom Chapel Int’l

24 Apr

Apostle Amoako-Attah, Freedom Chapel International Overseer, has taken a swipe on the recent violence that characterized the biometric registration exercise in some parts of the country and has called on the government to live up to its words by creating employment for the unemployed youth.

According to him if those youth involved in the recent violence were employed it would have been difficult for them to be swayed by some politicians to cause trouble during elections.

He dared politicians to exercise decorum and stop inducing the youth to misbehave at political platforms but rather set good examples (foundation) for the youth to build upon it, a legacy that is worth emulating.

He said this in an interview on recent developments which might lead to this year’s General Elections, with the National Times in his Church Office in Accra.

“Politicians should stop promoting ethnocentrism with disregard to invading Ghana’s fledgling democracy’, he noted, adding that it was also necessary for them to exhibit self discipline in their activities at the right time and place.

Apostle Amoako-Atta noted with regret the breakdown of respect in society that has engulf the youth in recent times, stressing that the consiquence of the absence of Religious and Moral Studies in Ghana’s Education Curricula, as well as bad precedence set by ‘our’ politicians and leaders in the country is the cause of the problem.

He seized the opportunity to encourage Christians, especially more women to participate in politics in order to instill discipline and show good examples for the youth to emulate rather than leaving it to some politicians alone.

The man of God further noted that the “Ghanaian Culture” of respect that ‘our’ forefathers bequeath to us is no more.

In his reaction to the recent comments by the Asin North M.P which has been the cause of sensation in the air waves, he urged the security agencies to be neutral in tampering justice and avoid playing politics with wrong doings in order for a lasting peace in Ghana to prevail.

“In practicing our culture, we should note that C-means control, where we all no matter the circumstances’ should try to control ourselves. ‘U’ signifies understanding, where one must understand one other. Whiles ‘L’ stands for learning from our mistakes and moving on in life. ’U’  stands for trusting one another as well as trusting that with a common goal Ghana can develop. ‘U’ means unity, whiles ‘R’ also shows respect  of which the youth must hold fast. ‘E’ means endurance”, he stated.

ROAD SAFETY MANAGEMENT SERVICES LIMITED INAUGURATES BOARD OF DIRECTORS

24 Apr

The Road Safety Management Services Ltd (RSMSL), a subsidiary of the Jospong Group of Companies with the mandate of managing road safety in the country – has inaugurated a new board of directors to steer the affairs of the company.

In a short ceremony witnessed by management and staff of Jospong Group of Companies, RSMSL Management, five distinguished personalities were sworn in as members of the new Board of Directors for Road Safety Management Services Ltd.

The Board of Directors includes Mr. Joel E. Nettey as Chairman, Mr. Alex Kwadjo Boateng as a member of the Board and Mr. Inusah Musah, also as a member of the Board.  The rest are the General Manager of RSMSL, Air Commodore Dery as member of the Board and Madam Gifty Ofori as secretary of the Board.

Prof. Stephen Adei, the Chairman of the Advisory Board for Jospong Group of Companies, thanked the appointed members for accepting their respective roles and entreated them to bring their expertise and experience to help RSMSL undertake a national cause of reducing road carnage to the barest minimum. He told them that their responsibility as members of the Board was not to be involved in the day-to-day activities of the company but to formulate policies, oversee the right recruitment of personnel and set achievable targets for the company. He finally implored members to be dedicated in their duties and make it a priority to always read Board papers.

The Chief Executive Officer of Jospong Group of Companies, Dr.  Joseph Siaw Agyapong was very appreciative of the members for accepting to be part of RSMSL, and accepting to do a national service of preventing the loss of lives and properties through road accidents. He was very optimistic that members would work assiduously to ensure that the Road Safety Management initiative works.

Air Commodore Dery on his part welcomed the setting up of the Board of Directors to oversee the operations of the Company.  He said that the Board and Management will share responsibilities in the policy making and policy implementation for the firm. He emphasized that Management of RSMSL would have to work hard in order to account to the Board.

Members of the Board of Directors were sworn in to office by Rev. Asante Ayerh of the Church of Pentecost, Teshie District. In his acceptance remarks, Mr. Joel E. Nettey, Chairman of the Board, thanked the CEO of Jospong Group for the appointment of members. He stressed that members will not take the challenge of overseeing the operations of RSMSL lightly and they will implement policies that would affect the company positively. He also promised that the Board will not interfere with the day-to-day running of the company, which is the sole responsibility of management.