Calls are being made for stray dogs to be brought under control in Cairo following rampant complaints about dog attacks, exposure to rabies and in some cases even deaths. There were around 400,000 cases of dog bites in 2017. These strays commonly referred to as “Baladi dogs” are usually seen scouring garbage on the streets for food.
There were around 400,000 cases of dog bites in 2017 according to the agriculture ministry. And in the last 4 years, rabies has been the cause of 231 deaths in Egypt’s society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA) estimate that the stray dogs in Cairo may be more than 15 million.
The street dogs are more prominent in poorly lit and rubbish strewn areas, they avoid areas crowded with humans. The dog problem was exacerbated by a larger garbage problem in Egypt as garbage disposal workers haven’t fully returned to work since the uprising.
But animal rights groups have criticized the the governments methods of handling the situation, accusing them of mass dog killings. According to an August report by the governorate’s veterinary directorate, over 17,000 stray dogs were killed in Beni Sueif, in 2017 following disturbance and biting complaints.
The government has gone as far as offering ransoms of up to a 100 Egyptian pounds to people who capture and hand over at least five strays. Animal rights defenders also accuse the government of killing dogs using a banned substance, known as “strychnine”.
The agriculture ministry spokesman Hamed Abdel-Dayem denied that the government imported banned substances. “Is it logical that we allow internationally prohibited substances to enter the country?”
Animal rights groups’ capacity to fight back is limited, for example the SPCA has not had a headquarters since the it was looted during the uprising.
Animal rights advocates have sought to offer solutions, Ahmed al-Shorbagi, opened two dog shelters near the Giza pyramids. The shelter is funded 60 percent by donations while Shorbagi takes care of the rest.
Shorbagi believes that if the government can employ effort to clear the garbage, provide rabies sterilisation and dog sterilisation programmes, they won’t be too far from a lasting solution.
“Instead of the government paying millions of dollars to import poison, it should consider sterilisation,” he said. “We, as associations, proposed to the ministry of agriculture to solve the problem but it refused.”
Abdel-Dayem denied refusing to cooperate with private groups and praised their effort in seeking a solution for this problem.
Ex-health minister arrested for embezzling Ebola funds in DR Congo
Ilunga, who resigned as health minister in July, was detained while hiding in an apartment in Kinshasa
Former DR Congo health minister Oly Ilunga has been arrested over allegations he embezzled public funds to tackle the Ebola epidemic, police said on Saturday.
Ilunga, who resigned as health minister in July after being removed as head of the country’s Ebola response team, was detained while hiding in an apartment in the capital Kinshasa ahead of a bid to flee the country, officers said.
He is in custody due to “misdemeanors of the mismanagement of funds allocated to the Ebola response,” police spokesman Colonel Pierrot-Rombaut Mwanamputu told AFP.
Ilunga will be referred to prosecutors on Monday, he added.
It comes after Ilunga was questioned in August as part of an inquiry into the management of funds to fight the outbreak, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives since August 2018.
Ilunga, 59, had already been banned from leaving the country.
He stepped down after criticising plans by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) to introduce a new, unlicensed vaccine to fight the epidemic.
His lawyer told AFP in September that some payments had been made to local chiefs after the killing of a WHO doctor in April.
More than 200,000 people have been vaccinated during DR Congo’s tenth and most serious Ebola epidemic.
It is the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.
Telemedicine revolution saving lives in Ivory Coast
The fledgling technology has long been championed by health advocates for rural economies.
Every time Catherine Coulibaly’s 19-year-old son had to make a routine appointment with the cardiologist for his heart condition, she gritted her teeth as she silently counted the financial cost.
It wasn’t just the hospital fee — there was the transport, food and accommodation, too, all of it amounting to a hefty burden for an Ivorian family on a modest income.
But thanks to telemedicine – consultations that doctors conduct through the internet or by phone – this cost is now a fading memory.
Her son can book an appointment at a telemedicine facility in a nearby town in northern Ivory Coast.
There, he is attached to monitoring machines which send the data sent to Bouake University Hospital in the centre of the country, where it is scrutinised by a heart doctor.
The fledgling technology has long been championed by health advocates for rural economies.
Ivory Coast has become an African testbed for it, thanks to a project linking the Bouake hospital’s cardiac department with health centres in several northern towns, some of which are a four-hour drive away.
Telemedicine “caused a sigh of relief for the population of Bouake, Boundiali, Korhogo, everyone,” says Auguste Dosso, president of the “Little Heart” association, which helps families with cardiac health issues.
Some 45 percent of the Ivorian population live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank’s latest estimate in 2017. And the minimum monthly wage — not always respected — is only around $100, or 90 euros.
Heart disease surging
The pioneer behind the scheme is cardiologist Florent Diby, who set up an association called Wake Up Africa.
In Ivory Coast, heart disease, diabetes and other “lifestyle” ailments are surging, Diby explained.
“Urbanisation is making people more sedentary, and there’s the rise in tobacco consumption, changes in diet, stress,” Diby said.
Three decades ago, only around one in eight of the Ivorian population had high blood pressure — now the figure is one in four, on a par with parts of Western Europe.
But in Ivory Coast — and across Africa — well-equipped cardiology units are rare.
“Ninety percent of heart attacks can be diagnosed by telemedicine, so for us cardiologists it’s a revolutionary technology,” said Diby.
The beauty of the telemedicine scheme is that neither the doctor nor the patient has to travel far.
The cardiac patient is hooked up to the electrocardiogram (ECG) and other diagnostic machines with the help of a technician in a local health centre, which is connected to a computer in Bouake’s University Hospital.
The cardiologist there can then see the results in real time, provide a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
The five-year-old project has already linked 10 health centres to the seven cardiologists at Bouake, enabling 4,800 patients in other towns to receive consultations by telemedicine each year. The goal is to expand this to 20 sites, doubling the intake.
Expertise France, the French public agency for international technical assistance, subsidises up to 185,000 euros of the network, which pays for equipment such as computers, artificial intelligence software and internet connections.
Diby is now calling for telemedicine to be expanded in other medical fields such as neurology and psychiatry, not just in the Ivory Coast, but across West Africa too.
That opinion is shared by other experts. Sixty per cent of Africans live in rural areas, where shortages of doctors are usually acute.
But numerous hurdles need to be overcome, especially investment in computers and access to the internet, according to a 2013 analysis published by the US National Library of Medicine.
Moroccan journalist arrested over “Illegal abortion”
Rights groups urged Moroccan authorities to release her, as her lawyers have firmly denied the “illegal abortion” charge.
Hajar Raissouni writes for the Arabic-language daily Akhbar Al-Yaoum, which has a history of run-ins with the authorities.
She was arrested as she left a clinic in Rabat where her lawyer Saad Sahli said she had been undergoing treatment for internal bleeding.
But the 28-year-old was examined by a medic and the prosecution said she showed signs of pregnancy and of having undergone a “late voluntary abortion”.
In a statement, it insisted her detention had “nothing to do with her profession as a journalist”.
On Friday, Rights groups urged Moroccan authorities to immediately release her, as her lawyers have firmly denied the “illegal abortion” charge.
Raissouni, who is religiously but not yet legally married, is also accused of having “sexual relations outside marriage” and faces a court hearing on Monday.
Her lawyers are lodging a complaint against police for forcing her to have a medical examination, her uncle Souleymane Raissouni told AFP.
Also arrested were her fiancee, a doctor, a nurse and a secretary.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on Friday joined social media users in calling for her release.
“Instead of intimidating Hajar Raissouni by prosecuting her on unjust charges, the authorities should immediately and unconditionally release her,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s regional director.
Ahmed Benchemsi, regional communications director at HRW, echoed Morayef’s call for all charges to be dropped.
The case had “a whiff of political manipulation since the defendant is a reporter from one of Morocco’s last newspapers,” he said.
Touafik Bouachrine, the owner of Raissouni’s newspaper, was sentenced in November to 12 years in prison on charges of rape and other offences.
He also denies all charges and his lawyers say his trial was politically motivated.
Raissouni’s arrest sparked heated debate online, and some 150 journalists signed a petition against “campaigns of defamation” against her.
Moroccan law punishes abortions with up to five years in prison, except in cases where the life of the mother is in danger.
However, NGOs say up to 800 women have clandestine abortions every day in the North African country.
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