Σάββατο, 28 Μαρτίου 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Africa


Africa: The World Before This Coronavirus and After Cannot Be the Same

As COVID-19 Pandemic Rages, Women and Girls Are Even More At Risk

East Africa: EA Health Ministers Draw Covid – 19 Mitigation Plan 

Africa: Aid Organizations Scramble to Plan for COVID-19 Shutdowns

Nigeria: ‘Lagos’ COVID-19 Cases May Rise to 39,000′

Cameroon: Nation Should Protect Prison Population From COVID-19 

Ghana: Summary of the Restrictions Imposed on Selected Areas by Govt for Two Weeks

Coronavirus: 150 Tunisians self-isolate in factory to make masks

Morocco allocates cash for 100 000 coronavirus test kits

Nigeria struggles towards shutdown as virus fears grow

Central African Republic steps up measures after virus case

Coronavirus in Cameroon: Can the virus be a catalyst for peace?

WHO warns of ‘dramatic evolution’ of virus in Africa

Congo-Kinshasa: Lawyers Oppose Contacting Victims Before Setting Ntaganda Reparations Award 

Kenya: Dozens Injured As Police Brutality Marks Start of Curfew 

Uganda police shoot 2 for violating movement ban

Senegal: 10-minute coronavirus test may be on its way – for $1

Virus fears prompt Zimbabwe to let citizens pay in US dollars

Africa: MSF Calls For No Patents or Profiteering on COVID-19 Drugs, Tests, Vaccines

COVID-10 in Africa

Mozambique: Number of COVID-19 Cases Rises to Seven

Namibia: Lodge Locked Down After French Tourist Tests Positive For COVID-19

South Africa: COVID-19 – Testing to Be Ramped Up and New Tests in Pipeline

South Africa: The First Two Coronavirus Deaths – This Is What We Know

Seychelles: China, Abu Dhabi Donate Tonnes of Medical Supplies to Seychelles to Fight COVID-19


Δευτέρα, 23 Μαρτίου 2020

Patriarchate of Alexandria & all Africa & Orthodox Christian Mission Center about Coronavirus Pandemic


In the Orthodox Vineyard of Africa

Uganda Orthodox Church (photo from here)

"We would like to express to all of you our concern over the Corona-19 epidemic and our sympathy for the injured. -
Due to the situation, all the Archbishops, the priests of the Patriarchate of Alexandria should comply with the orders and decisions of the state in which they are.
"Our Holy Church should not be the cause of the spread of the Corona epidemic but an example of social solidarity and love."
17. March 2020
The Great City of Alexandria."

OCMC and Coronavirus Response

by Fr. Martin Ritsi (Posted 3/20/2020)
Orthodox Christian Mission Center
"As the universality of the pandemic is brought before our eyes, it confirms another reality that is much greater, and that is the love of our Lord."

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
As our world faces unprecedented challenges, I am writing to offer our prayers, compassion, and encouragement, along with informing you of how the pandemic is being dealt with at OCMC and with our missionaries around the world.
In this time of trouble, we offer our prayers for all who are suffering in the wake of the pandemic: whether physically, emotionally, financially, or other ways, for their health, recovery, protection, and encouragement. We offer our thanks to the many who continue their services and outreach to humanity - from health care workers to religious and civil leaders, community servants, people continuing to offer services in public spaces where they are vulnerable, and, of course, our missionaries, who continue to serve in very difficult conditions.
The rapid spread and tracking of this virus reveals many things. We see how closely-knit the world is today. Borders between nations, race, social classes, and religions are bypassed. Information is shared at lightning speed. We are presented with hourly updates on impacts happening locally and in the most faraway places.
As the universality of the pandemic is brought before our eyes, it confirms another reality that is much greater, and that is the love of our Lord, which goes even further in uniting and crossing all imaginable divides. Within our countries, cultures, cities, and daily lives, it is sometimes difficult to imagine our connection to people and places outside these boundaries. Yet, the love and the concern of the Lord is not limited to these boundaries. We are all a part of His Creation. We are His children, and in His eyes we are all equally loved.
I mentioned those who are sacrificially offering themselves in these difficult times and potentially placing themselves in harm’s way. In reflecting on these examples, we can be encouraged. I was left in awe as I reflected on two examples from our OCMC missionaries. At the same time the Peace Corps called for the evacuation of all its volunteers worldwide, some of our missionaries, who had been in the United States raising support for another term, were jumping over hurdles to return to the people they serve. One reached a remote border crossing, only hours before it was to be closed, and had to talk his way past the guards, showing a newspaper clipping that proved he was still permitted to enter. He is now in quarantine for two weeks but living in solidarity with the people he serves. Another missionary, a mother with her two children, will be boarding an airplane tomorrow, not certain if the flight will be canceled, or if they will get stranded along the way. Though all were offered the option of evacuation, none of OCMC’s missionaries have left their countries of service due to the crisis.
Our missionaries are providing examples of social responsibility as they support government and Church guidelines to help slow the spread of the pandemic. OCMC, too, is joining in this effort to do what we can. Beginning tonight, March 20th, our offices will operate remotely. All services provided by staff will continue, but we have postponed April retreats scheduled at OCMC and the May Mission Teams. We still hope things will subside by June, but in case they don’t, our Executive Board has already initiated policies to allow funds that have been raised by team members to be used by them for later teams, or to be applied to future teams in the same locations.
These are just some of the ways that OCMC is participating in what must be a worldwide effort to continue responsibly with hope, doing what we can do individually and together, to address the spread of the coronavirus, and to have compassion on those who are most vulnerable. We encourage all to join in this response. We also humbly ask that in this time of uncertainty you remember, pray for, and support our missionaries who continue to serve around the world as part of our efforts to spread the love of Christ, who is the Healer of our souls and bodies.
In closing, we offer this prayer for you and for all. Please pray with us:
O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in Your goodness look down on Your people. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. You know our weakness. You hear our cry in repentance and contrition of heart.
O Lord who loves humanity, deliver us from the growing threats of the coronavirus. Send Your angels to watch over us and protect us. We ask that you slow the spread of the virus and help us do what we can to slow its spread.
Grant health, recovery, protection, and encouragement to those suffering from its effects: whether physically, emotionally, financially, or in any other way.
Guide the hands of the physicians, healthcare workers, and all those who continue to serve Your people in the face of this threat.
And preserve us all, O Lord, that we may continue to serve You in peace and glorify Your most honorable and majestic Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore. Amen.
May the Lord bless, protect, and guide you in these days.
In His love,
Fr. Martin Ritsi
Executive Director, OCMC

Σάββατο, 21 Μαρτίου 2020

Saint Siluan of Mount Athos - Three wonderful publications in Swahili, Kikuyu and Masai...

The book by Saint Sophrony on his Spiritual Father and Elder, Saint Siluan of Mount Athos

romfea.gr (in Greek)
Translation A. N.

For many decades, we have been making a humble attempt to put our sacred Services into circulation in the local African dialects.
And I believe that we have succeeded, with the help of the professors and the seminary students of our Patriarchal School "Archibishop of Cyprus Makarios III".
We have already published the Sacramental texts of our Church for the Holy Week of Easter, the Offices for the 40 days of Great Lent, the Pentecost, Orthodoxy Sunday, Theophany, the Akathist hymn, the supplications to the Holy Mother, the Easter Sunday Vespers of Love, the Liturgies of Saint John Chrysostom and of Saint Basil the Great, the Service of the Pre-sanctified Gifts, etc., in more than 30 dialects - not only of
Kenya, but also Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia... even Catechisms in various dialects.
It can easily be named "Book of Blessings", since several of the aforementioned Services are included in a separate volume.
These publications of the specific volume were the fruits of the benefit that the seminary students had acquired, when they were so deeply impressed during the evening readings, that they themselves asked if they could translate them into Swahili, Kikuyu and Masai and for my benefit also, a debt and respect for the person of the Elder and my Spiritual Father - and now Saint - Sophrony.
The images on the front and the back cover were kindly prepared by the sisters of the Essex Monastery and the exact words of Saint Siluan were written in local dialects, entirely unexpectedly.
This year we began to read the texts of Great Lent in English, which is the common language of all the seminary students, followed by discussions.

Το βιβλίο του Αγίου Σωφρονίου για τον Άγιο Σιλουανό τον Αθωνίτη σε τρεις αφρικανικές γλώσσες

Για πολλές τώρα δεκαετίες κάνουμε μια ταπεινή προσπάθεια να κυκλοφορήσουμε στις τοπικές αφρικανικές διαλέκτους τις ιερές μας ακολουθίες.
Και πιστεύω ότι κάτι κάναμε με τη βοήθεια των καθηγητών και ιεροσπουδαστών της Πατριαρχικής μας Σχολής «Αρχιεπίσκοπος Κύπρου Μακάριος ο Γ΄».
Ήδη εκδώσαμε την Αγία Εβδομάδα τα μυστήρια της Εκκλησίας μας, τις ακολουθίες της Μεγάλης Τεσσαρακοστής, Πεντηκοστής, Ορθοδοξίας, Επιφανείων, Ακαθίστου Ύμνου, Παρακλήσεις στην Παναγία, Εσπερινό της Αγάπης, Λειτουργίες Ιωάννου Χρυσοστόμου, Μεγάλου Βασιλείου, Προηγιασμένων Δώρων κ.τ.λ. σε περισσότερες από τριάντα διαλέκτους όχι μόνο της Κένυας, αλλά Ζιμπάμπουε, Νιγηρίας, Ουγκάντας, Ζάμπιας … Ακόμα και Κατηχήσεις σε διάφορες διαλέκτους.
Μπορεί άνετα να ονομασθεί Ευχολόγιον, αφού σε ξεχωριστό τόμο περιλαμβάνονται αρκετές από τις προαναφερθείσες ακολουθίες.
Οι εκδόσεις αυτές του συγκεκριμένου τόμου ήταν καρπός της ωφέλειας που προσκόμισαν οι ιεροσπουδαστές, όταν στη βραδινή ανάγνωση εντυπωσιάστηκαν τόσο που ζήτησαν να το μεταφράσουν στα Σουαχίλι, Κικούγιου και Μασάι και για δική μου οφειλή, χρέος και σέβας προς το πρόσωπό του Γέροντα και Πνευματικού μου Πατέρα, τώρα Αγίου, Σωφρονίου.
Οι εικόνες του εξώφυλλου και οπισθόφυλλου φιλοξενήθηκαν από τις αδελφές της Μονής στο Έσσεξ και γράφτηκαν στις τοπικές διαλέκτους τα αυτούσια λόγια του Αγίου Σιλουανού σε ανύποπτο χρόνο.
Αρχίσαμε και φέτος με την έναρξη της Μ. Τεσσαρακόστης να διαβάζουμε στ’ Αγγλικά που είναι η κοινή γλώσσα όλων των ιεροσπουδαστών και στη συνέχεια γίνεται συζήτηση.

St Silouan of Mount Athos (from here)
Saint Silouan was born Simeon Ivanovich Antonov in 1866 to pious Orthodox parents in the Tambov region of Russia.  His youth was much like other village young people of his day and much like the lives of many youth today. While he was attracted at times to the spiritual life and seeking God, he was more attracted by the pleasures of village life.   He worked as a carpenter on the estate of a nearby noble and spent his free time drinking vodka with his friends, playing his concertina and socializing with the village girls.  It was said that he could drink three bottles of vodka without feeling any effects.  Young, strong and handsome he was popular with these girls and one evening fell into the sin of fornication.  On one occasion a young man who had too much to drink and wanting to show off for the girls, threatened Simeon and tried to take his concertina.  In Simeon’s own words:
 At first I thought of giving in to the fellow but then I was ashamed of how the girls would laugh at me, so I hit him a great blow to the chest.  His body shot away and he fell backwards with a heavy thud in the middle of the road.  Froth and blood trickled from his mouth.  All the onlookers were horrified.  So was I.  “I’ve killed him,” I thought, and stood rooted to thespot… It was over half an hour before he could rise to his feet.
One day, shortly before he began his required military service, he dozed off to a light sleep and dreamt that a snake crawled down his throat.  He woke up to hear a voice saying: “Just as you found it loathsome to swallow a snake in your dream, so I find your ways ugly to look upon”.  Simeon later reported he saw no one but was convinced that it was the beautiful voice of the Mother of God coming to rescue him from the evil pit his life had become.  This vision/dream would alter the rest of his life, he began to be ashamed of how he was living his life.  As an example of the change in him, one evening, while serving his military service, he and a few of his friends went to a tavern where there was much loud music, dancing and carousing.  Simeon sat quietly and hardly spoke which led his companions to inquire why he was so quiet.  Simeon said:
I’m thinking that here we sit in a tavern, eating, drinking vodka, listening to music and enjoying ourselves, while at this very hour on Mount Athos they are in
church for vespers and will be at prayer all night.  And I’m wondering which of us will put up the best defense before God’s Judgment Seat – them or us?
At the age of twenty-seven in 1892 he left his native Russia and came to Mount Athos, where he became a monk at the Monastery of St. Panteleimon and was given the name Silouan, the Russian version of the Biblical name Silvanus. He was given the obedience (work duty) at the monastery mill, sleeping little, fasting severely and praying continually.  He struggled against sinful memories from his past life and practiced the Jesus Prayer.  Though barely literate, he received the grace of unceasing prayer and saw Christ in a vision. After long years of spiritual trial, he acquired great humility and inner stillness. He prayed and wept for the whole world as for himself, and he put the highest value on love for enemies.

He was never ordained to the diaconate or priesthood but continued his ministry as a monk in which he devoted himself to praying for all people. A monk is a man who prays for the whole world….. I tell you that when we have no more men of prayer the world will come to an end and great disaster will befall – as, indeed, is happening already.
Having repented and received God’s mercy for his past life, Father Silouan felt great compassion for all people.  He wrote:  “But when a man sees in himself the light of deliverance from sin there awakens in his soul a mighty compassion for all who ‘fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) and prayer for the ‘whole Adam’ fills his being.” 
After a period of time, Father Silouan was appointed one of the stewards of St. Panteleimon’s monastery, helping in the administration of a monastery with over 1,000 monks and overseeing 200 laymen who worked in the monastery’s many workshops.  After assigning the work tasks for the day, Father Silouan would return to his room to pray and weep for the men who had left their families in their villages to seek employment in far off Mount Athos.  He wrote:
He who has the Holy Spirit in him, however slight a degree, sorrows day and night for all mankind.  His heart is filled with pity for all God’s creatures, more especially for those who do not know God, or who resist Him, and therefore are bound for the fire of torment.  For them, more than for himself, he prays day and night, that all may repent and know the Lord. 
Father Silouan died in the monastery after an illness on September 24, 1938. He was glorified by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1987 and his relics are enshrined in the St. Panteleimon’s Monastery on Mount Athos.  His writings were edited by his disciple and pupil, Archimandrite Sophrony who later established a monastery in England and became known as a staretz himself. 

Please, see also

Elder Sophrony Sakharov († July 11, 1993)

Stand with the Maasai (or: How people can live next to lions without killing them)

The Kikuyu tribe proclaimed the Metropolitan of Nairobi as their “Elder”
Hope for the Kikuyu (Kenya) / "The caves along the Tana River became the refuge for freedom fighters..." 
Orthodox Christian dialogue with Banyore culture
The Orthodox Church in Kenya & the Orthodox Patriarchal Ecclesiastical School of Makarios III
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa) 

Δευτέρα, 16 Μαρτίου 2020

Africa in 2019: regime change, a Peace Prize, cutting ties with the franc

 Maintaining progress is very hard, but always possible

Ethiopia - Planting Avocado Trees. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed wants 4 billion trees planted.  Photo: Flickr

Mathew Otieno  

At the beginning of each year since 2017 I have written an article looking back on how Africa, this dear old continent, fared in the year just-ended, and to outline its prospects in the year ahead. I find it more difficult to do this year than ever before. Last year was one of the most nuanced I have ever seen.
However, I will begin by summarising what I believe to be the most important stories of 2019, at the same time providing updates on some of the big stories of 2018, which you can read about here.
A year ago I speculated on the direction of South Africa after the fall of Jacob Zuma. Well, the South African parliament went on to elect Cyril Ramaphosa, who had taken over as interim president, to a definitive five-year presidential term. He was sworn in in May. It is still too early to evaluate his administration, but he has not been spared trouble since his ascendancy.
In Kenya, the “Handshake,” a 2018 pact between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga which calmed nerves following the contested presidential election of 2017, and whose official name is the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), delivered its long-awaited baby. It came in the form of a 156-page report, launched at a raucous convention in November.
The document has divided opinion. It is seen through the lens of the upcoming 2022 general elections more than as a means to its stated goal. Which stated goal is to unite the country around a core of shared values and forestall the possibility of chaotic future elections by addressing historical injustices and economic equality.
It has been sent to a second-round of public participation, ostensibly as a means to further legitimise it, but it won’t lose its tag as a cog in succession politics ahead of the next elections. This means its usefulness will be short-lived and it likely will not contribute a thing to the achievement of its stated goals.
In Sudan, Omar al Bashir got kicked out of the presidency almost exactly three months after my article, in which I speculated that he would be overthrown. But then the military, which had changed sides and helped topple him, tried to take his place with a two-year transitional government, ignoring calls by protesters for a civilian government.
In response, the people of Sudan went back onto the streets and did not desist until the military gave in. In August, an agreement for a hybrid transitional government – made up of the military and civilian representatives – was reached. In September a new cabinet was sworn in. The new government set itself an ambitious target of getting a handle on two major issues – peace and the economy – in 200 days. Now it has less than 100.
Further north, Algeria handed Bouteflika his exit card in April, just before Bashir. After ruling Algeria for over 20 years and surviving the 2011 Arab Spring, he resigned in response to unrelenting popular protests. The problems which contributed to the protests are far from being solved, but getting rid of Bouteflika was a good beginning. The country gained another victory by beating Senegal to win the Africa Cup of Nations three months later.
In Zimbabwe, former president Robert Mugabe passed on in September. He died in disgrace, having been forced out of power by a coup barely two years earlier. But the disgrace was, thankfully, tempered by his legacy as an African independence hero. For this, he got a well-deserved state funeral.
Mugabe’s reputation is also tempered by the failure of those who took over from him to bring Zimbabwe back from the ruin to which he led it. Things seem to have taken a turn for the worse. The economy is headed for collapse, and political freedoms are in retreat. To encourage the people of Zimbabwe, I can only refer them to Martin Luther King’s “arc of the moral universe” quote – a favourite of Obama.
Speaking of moral matters, population controllers did not relent in their efforts to bring Africa into the fold of the culture of death. Luckily, resistance was not lacking. For instance, when they locked out pro-life participants from the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, held to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1994 United Nations “International Conference on Population and Development,” a parallel conference championing family values was convened. It also helped that the United States led a coalition of countries to oppose the summit, further denying it legitimacy.
If only these birth control crusaders could leave us alone. We had enough problems to contend with in 2019. In March, Ethiopia witnessed its deadliest plane crash ever, in which all 157 passengers and crew passed on. This accident touched close home, not just because Ethiopia neighbours Kenya, where I live, but also because the flight was headed for Nairobi, so that a large number of the casualties were Kenyan.
Then there were Idai and Kenneth, two hurricanes which hit south-eastern Africa around the same time, claiming hundreds of lives and leaving millions of people vulnerable. Hurricanes rarely visit us, and many African countries are not prepared for them. The year ended with another freak weather event when extra heavy rains brought with them devastating floods, especially to eastern and central Africa.
Good news, of course, was not lacking. In October, Eliud Kipchoge, Kenyan marathoner extraordinaire, ran a marathon in under two hours, 20 seconds under two hours, to be precise, so that it would be patently foolish to doubt that he did it. In the same month Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, won the Nobel Peace Prize.
I didn’t see that one coming, even though I sang his praises in my January 2019 review article. Earlier, in July, Abiy had led his country to plant a record 350 million tree seedlings in a single day, as part of a campaign to plant 4 billion trees in the year to combat deforestation and desertification.
For me, the end-of-year surprise for 2019 came from the CFA (Financial Community of Africa) bloc, which pledged to replace the CFA franc with a new one currency called the “Eco”. The CFA Franc, which is currently used by eight African countries, was instituted by France for its African colonies in 1945. It (alongside the structures that support it) has been seen as an instrument of neo-colonial domination, and calls for its removal have grown in recent times.
This is not the right time to launch into a polemic against France’s colonial legacy in Africa. It is enough to say that the allusion of the Italian deputy prime minister, in January, to France’s constant and detrimental meddling in Africa, which set off a diplomatic row between his country and France, had the flavour of truth.
The announcement of the impending overhaul of the CFA franc, together with the fact that practically all African countries have now ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), are, to me, the most consequential structural developments for the continent’s future. With enough goodwill on the part of those tasked with implementing them, the boundless potential of this continent will be much sooner unleashed.
I summarised 2019 as one of hope. I do not know how to characterise the year we have just started. In many ways, the stories we tell this year will be more particular to the struggles of each country and each people. But they will also be more African, because we ride from the same past and face the same future.
Before I close, I wish to leave you with this beautiful selection of photos, compiled by the BBC, depicting some of the stories of Africa from 2019.

Mathew Otieno writes from Nairobi, Kenya.

Σάββατο, 14 Μαρτίου 2020

Why has coronavirus largely spared Africa?

The continent was much better prepared than many thought

January 2019 at Beni in DRC Congo, the frontline of the fight against Ebola. 


When it became clear that the novel coronavirus coming out of China was destined to be a pandemic, international concern quickly zeroed in on how countries with weak health systems, most of which are in Africa, would be affected. It was feared that they would be quickly overwhelmed by the virus and left reeling.
The continent’s exposure to China, occasioned by its deep commercial ties with the country, was the main source of concern, as shown by a brilliant modelling study analysing this risk, which came out on The Lancet. The World Health Organization and other international health agencies scrambled to provide technical assistance, and helped procure test kits and laboratory trainings for various African countries.
I do not discount the concern, and I appreciate the effort that was put into making sure African countries had a fighting chance. In fact, the apprehension was not limited to international quarters. Locally, many were worried that our governments were taking this too lightly. Even I took pot-shots at the Kenyan government for its apparent laxity.
The only problem is that the virus has largely spared Africa so far. It is true that several countries, from Egypt to South Africa, have recorded cases, and more are cropping up each day. Egypt seems to be having the roughest time of it, with a Nile cruise ship at the centre of a recent spike in cases. But much of the rest of the continent still has no cases.
This curiously low incidence rate has left many puzzled. Of the more than 100,000 cases worldwide, only a handful are in Africa, and more than half of those are in Egypt. Initially, it was feared that the disease might have already landed on the continent, unflagged by faulty detection mechanisms, and was festering, ready to burst forth when it was beyond control.
It is possible that this is the case, but the fear still hasn’t panned out. Instead, it is starting to emerge that in the midst of all the hand-wringing over how Africa would fare, some crucial information was overlooked. I have been able to identify two particularly important ones. In tandem, they may have placed a crucial role in shielding Africa from this outbreak.
The first is that Africa is not as exposed to China as many initially thought. China’s ties with Africa, though deep and significant for the continent, do not measure up to its relations with North America and Europe. It may be the biggest trading partner of many African countries but, in absolute terms, this is dwarfed by its trade with the rest of the world.
The case may be made that more Chinese travel to Europe and North America each year than have ever come to Africa. Chinese travellers made a total of 130 million foreign trips in 2017. Of these, only about 0.8 million (0.62%) were to Africa, and the total number of Chinese on the continent is estimated at about 2 million. In short, the rest of the world is way more exposed than Africa to China.
That study in The Lancet that I referred to earlier actually compared these different exposure levels, but it is deep inside the discussion section. For a real-life illustration, one need only look at the infection pattern of the virus. For most of its brief history, it has behaved as if Africa didn’t exist. And when it finally showed up, it came from everywhere except China. In fact, most cases so far have been of European origin, with a few cases originating elsewhere.
The second overlooked factor is that African countries might have the widest field experience in tackling outbreaks of viral diseases. From Ebola to Lasso fever to Zika, African countries have dealt with multiple outbreaks in recent memory. Thanks to this, they have developed extensive experience and capacity. Even the main drug being trialled for the new virus, remdesivir, has already been put  through its paces in African Ebola hotspots.
This experience has come in handy. For instance, the first coronavirus case in Sub-Saharan Africa was recorded in Nigeria, a country that eradicated Ebola in just three months during the 2013-2016 West African outbreak, and was already handling an outbreak of Lasso fever, a deadlier viral disease, when Covid-19 broke. The patient, an Italian, was put in quarantine, and all traceable contacts were isolated. One of them is now Nigeria’s second confirmed case.
While reporters note [tweet and article] that they could still enter the US without being screened, African countries (including the small, relatively un-exposed ones) have become fortresses against the virus. All entry points, for all they are worth, are heavily monitored, with masked officials taking temperatures and flagging suspicious cases.
From the outset, many countries already had the infrastructure in place for this exercise. I can personally attest to it; while re-entering Kenya from Uganda back in December 2019, I was screened for Ebola. Since the primary screening method for both viruses, taking temperatures at entry points, is the same, all that was needed was to beef up the operation, rather than starting from scratch.
This level of unwitting preparedness, combined with our lower exposure to China, is possibly the main reason Africa’s coronavirus incidence rates have remained low for so long. Thanks to it, our governments have had more time than the rest of the world to build specific capacity to tackle the new virus. I may yet be proven wrong, but it seems our fragile health systems were better prepared than those of most advanced countries.
Just to underscore this, on March 3, the last Ebola patient left the treatment centre in Beni, the scene of the latest outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It took over a year to stamp out the outbreak, and the victory was celebrated with song and dance. But the world didn’t notice, because everyone was freaking out about the new virus.
On March 10, the DRC recorded its first Covid-19 case. The world had better watch how the country handles this new challenge. There might be a thing or two to be learnt.

Note: It should be obvious, but this is an article about a fast-moving story, so things may have changed by the time you read it.

Also, I am not an expert in disease management. My treatment of this issue is entirely from a layman’s perspective.

Mathew Otieno writes from Nairobi, Kenya.

See also
Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Africa

The Hymn "Ti Ypermaho" ("To the Champion Leader") in Greek and Kiswahili

Αέναη επΑνάσταση ["Constant Revolution" - the word Revolution (επανάσταση) in Greek is associated with Resurrection (ανάσταση)]

The Hymn "Ti Ypermaho" ("To the Champion Leader") with the students of Kasikizi in Tanzania. The orthodox pries chants in the original Greek, and they're chanting the next verse in Kiswahili (one by one).

 The history of this hymn - A war for the freedom
From here
To thee, the Champion Leader, O Theotokos,
we thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and thanksgiving
as ones rescued from suffering ;
but as thou art one with invincible might, 
Deliver us from all possible dangers ,
so that we may cry to thee:
Rejoice, Unwedded Bride... 

On the first four Fridays of Great Lent during the service of the Small Compline the Akathist Hymn (Akathistos Ymnos) is observed.
The fifth Friday is the day that the Akathistos Ymnos, of which this verse is the beginning, is chanted in its entirety in all Orthodox churches around the world, during the last of the Heretismous services - the Salutations to the Virgin Mary services. 
The Akathist Hymn is a profound, devotional poem, which sings the praises of the Holy Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is one of the most beloved services in the Orthodox Church. It was composed in the imperial city of Constantinople, "the city of the Virgin," by St. Romanos the Melodist, who reposed in the year 556. The Akathist Hymn has proven so popular in the liturgical life of the Church that many other hymns have been written following its format. These include Akathists to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Cross, and to many Saints.
The Akathist hymn consists of praises directed to the Mother of God, beginning with the salutation of the Archangel Gabriel: "Rejoice." As the hymn is chanted all of the events related to our Lord's Incarnation pass before us for our contemplation. The Archangel Gabriel marvels at the Divine self-emptying and the renewal of creation which will occur when Christ comes to dwell in the Virgin's womb. The unborn John the Baptist prophetically rejoices. The shepherds recognize Christ as a blameless Lamb, and rejoice that in the Virgin "the things of earth join chorus with the heavens." The pagan Magi following the light of the star, praise Her for revealing the light of the world.
The word "akathistos" means "not sitting," i.e., standing; normally all participants stand while it is being prayed. The hymn is comprised of 24 stanzas, arranged in an acrostic following the Greek alphabet. The stanzas alternate between long and short. Each short stanza is written in prose and ends with the singing of "Alleluia." Each longer stanza ends with the refrain: "Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded." (here)

Burundi, 1st Salutations 2020 (photo from here)

In the 7th Century, the people of Constantinople were saved from the attacking Avars by the divine intervention of the Virgin Mary after they took over the Church of Panagia ton Vlahernon. On the 8th of August wanting to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for her assistance, the people gathered in Aghia Sofia and standing up throughout the psalm, sang the Akathisto Ymno to thank her and to salute her with this most beautiful of hymns. One of Orthodoxy's most beautiful this hymn has been attributed to Romanos o Melodos, Romanos the Melodian, who wrote many Orthodox chants over that period. 
It is divided into four parts for the services of the Salutations to the Virgin Mary, Οι Χαιρετισμοί, which take place on the first four Fridays of Lent. During each of these four Fridays one part of the hymn is chanted whilst on the fifth Friday the entire Akathistos Ymnos is chanted. 

«"Mama wa Yatima" means "Mother of Orphans" in Swahili. (My thanks to the Romanian Patriarchal advocate Andrei Vladareanu for the image of this icon he commissioned for the Kenyan Orthodox Church.)» Fr. Cassian Sibley 29 Δεκεμβρίου 2018. More here.

See also

Salutations to the Most Holy Theotokos (Mother of God)
The First Salutations To The Theotokos

Πέμπτη, 12 Μαρτίου 2020

Child mortality rates drop but 15,000 children under 5 still die each day

Global Agriculture 

Children in sub-Saharan Africa face a higher risk of death (Photo: CC0)

Although the global number of child deaths remains high, the world has made tremendous progress in reducing child mortality over the past few decades. The total number of under-five deaths dropped to 5.3 million in 2018, down from 12.5 million in 1990. This is the main message of a report published today by UN organisations led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the “Levels and trends in child mortality: Report 2019”, more women and their children are surviving today than ever before. Since 2000, child deaths have reduced by nearly half and maternal deaths by over one-third, mostly due to improved access to affordable, quality health services. However, in 2018 alone, 15,000 children died per day before reaching their fifth birthday. “It is especially unacceptable that these children and young adolescents died largely of preventable or treatable causes like infectious diseases and injuries when we have the means to prevent these deaths,” the authors write in the introduction to the report. The global under-five mortality rate fell to 39 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018, down from 76 in 2000 – a 49% decline.
“Despite advances in fighting childhood illnesses, infectious diseases remain a leading cause of death for children under the age of 5, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia,” says the report. Pneumonia remains the leading cause of death globally among children under the age of 5, accounting for 15% of deaths. Diarrhoea (8%) and malaria (5%), together with pneumonia, accounted for almost a third of global under-five deaths in 2018. “Malnourished children, particularly those with severe acute malnutrition, have a higher risk of death from these common childhood illnesses. Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45 per cent of deaths in children under 5 years of age,” warns the report. The estimates also show vast inequalities worldwide, with women and children in sub-Saharan Africa facing a higher risk of death than in all other regions. Level of maternal deaths are nearly 50 times higher for women in sub-Saharan Africa compared to high-income countries. In 2018, 1 in 13 children in sub-Saharan Africa died before their fifth birthday – this is 15 times higher than the risk a child faces in Europe, where just 1 in 196 children aged less than 5 die.
In 2015, the 193 UN Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The third SDG calls for an end to preventable deaths of newborns and children under age 5, with all countries aiming to reduce under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2030. The global target for ending preventable maternal mortality is to reduce the mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030. The world will fall short of this target by more than 1 million lives if the current pace of progress continues. “A skilled pair of hands to help mothers and newborns around the time of birth, along with clean water, adequate nutrition, basic medicines and vaccines, can make the difference between life and death. We must do all it takes to invest in universal health coverage to save these precious lives,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. (ab)

Child and Infant Mortality
This entry was first published in 2013 and updated in November 2019.

Child mortality today is the lowest it has ever been. In less than three decades child mortality has more than halved — from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017. This is a huge accomplishment that should not be overlooked.
Of course, the death of every child is an enormous tragedy, and in many countries far too many children die because of causes we know how to prevent and treat. As the map here shows, today the highest child mortality rates are in Sub-Saharan Africa, where we still have countries with child mortality rates greater than 10% — this means that one out of 10 children born never reach their 5th birthday.

56 million people in the world died in 2017. How old were they when their lives ended?
The answer can be seen in the bar chart. It shows all deaths in the world by age in five-year age groups, starting with the youngest on the left towards the oldest age group (95+ years) on the right.
What stands out is the death toll for the very youngest age-group. 5.4 million children died before they had their fifth birthday. On any average day, that’s 15,000 young children.
The suffering and dying of children remains immense, yet these daily tragedies continue without receiving the attention this injustice deserves. A comparison of the tragedy of child deaths with those tragedies that do receive public attention puts it in perspective. A large jumbo jet can carry up to 620 passengers.

The number of child deaths is that of 24 jumbo jet crashes, with only children on board, every single day.
Single events – such as plane crashes – always make the headlines. Daily tragedies – even the worst ones like the deaths of thousands of children – never make the headlines.

Every case of a family losing a child is a tragedy, regardless of how common or uncommon the cause. Spectacular events that grab global attention in the media are not more important than everyday human suffering. But unfortunately this is not how our minds and our media work. What we focus our attention on are either the spectacular tragedies (natural disasters, terrorist attacks, crime) or new problems (fake news, risks from automation). The first category keeps the breaking news cycle running, the second category keeps the op-ed writers employed. But in many aspects the biggest threats to our lives are the same threats that all the generations that came before us have faced. And this seems unfortunately to be true for what kills children around the world; it’s neither new nor spectacular.
A newspaper that would cover the most important facts about the last 24 hours would cover the 15,000 child deaths on its cover page every day. 

You can see all the article here.
Photo from here