Civil society organizations (CSOs) from the West African sub-region have called on the sub-regional bloc ECOWAS to appoint an envoy on Ebola. The ECOWAS based CSOs have stressed the severity of the deadly Ebola virus in the sub-region and are now urging ECOWAS to appoint a trained professional medical doctor as its envoy to join the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments to fight Ebola epidemic.Ebola has claimed the lives of over 1,552 people in West Africa and has infected nearly 3,000 people in five countries with Senegal being the latest African country to report the Ebola virus. In a statement signed over 95 CSOs from West Africa including the Open Society Initiative in West Africa (OSIWA), the group called on ECOWAS member states to appoint a leading, influential, strong and knowledgeable West African physician or health professional as ECOWAS Special Envoy on Ebola.According to the CSOs, the ECOWAS Special Envoy on Ebola will complement the efforts of WHO’s envoy Dr David Nabarro, help draw attention to the public health and humanitarian challenges posed by Ebola and become a regional voice and leader for a regional response plan led by African and international contributors. The Envoy could also be the voice calling for effective management and coordination of cross-border transportation and logistics. The challenge we face is extraordinary and ECOWAS needs to create a specialized platform to address this.“The current epidemic, which has been characterized by WHO as the deadliest Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered in Zaire (now Democratic Republic Congo) 1974, has claimed the lives of at least 1,552 people in West Africa including many health personnel. We applaud and support the brave work of the health personnel who continue to put their lives at risk in the care of victims of Ebola despite very difficult working environment. We stand in solidarity with our brothers, sisters, families, and communities who are battling for their lives and struggling to care for loved ones,” the CSOs said.They observed that West African economies are feeling the impact of the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola.“Travel and trade restrictions are limiting the deployment of medical personnel, equipment and commodities adding to the deadly risk that the EVD already poses to the communities and the economies of the affected countries and the region. This epidemic has exposed the challenges of our public health systems and our governance institutions,” the CSOs statement said.In a recent release, the WHO predicts in its roadmap that 20,000 people may ultimately be infected in this outbreak. The CSOs are therefore aware of the challenges that would beget the sub-region if the situation is not put under control. “The challenge ahead is steep and a lot of work has to be done urgently to stem this dangerous situation and avoid an even greater catastrophe.”The CSOs observed that cross-border coordination and collaboration necessary to stem the spread of Ebola has been haphazard and chaotic.“While closure of borders may provide short term relief, it is not proving an effective way of controlling the virus and is also an impediment to cross-border technical support and humanitarian assistance, giving rise to new food security challenges. The challenge of the current epidemic calls for urgent, unified and concerted efforts by ECOWAS and the international community,” the CSOs added.Since regional collaboration and coordination have been the main impediments in the management of this epidemic, they said we particularly appreciate and welcome the decision of ECOWAS to put in place a regional monitoring mechanism composed of two entities: the ministerial coordination group chaired by the Ghanaian health minister and a technical monitoring workgroup with members such as WHO Afro and the West African Health Organization (WAHO).The CSOs called for continuation of the work of the monitoring mechanism even in the post-Ebola period given the negative impact the epidemic is having on health systems, on economies, and on social ties and community relations.“We urge all ECOWAS member States to push for this resolution and to develop a concrete plan to ensure operational effectiveness and coordination. We call on the international community to provide needed assistance in ensuring that the response to Ebola in the region is effective, humane and sustainable.”The CSOs have meanwhile acknowledged that the efforts of ECOWAS and the international community can only yield results if residents of the region do their part. They also urged the populations and all civil society organizations to show more solidarity by providing support to populations that are affected by EVD and remain cautious by observing the preventive and protective measures identified by the WHO.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Dear EditorWhile growing plantain and making plantain chips would replace imported plantain chips and save a little foreign currency it would not replace the foreign currency lost through the “downsizing” of Guyana’s sugar industry.While the APNU+AFC Government of President David Granger focuses on saving foreign exchange, it is not focused on gaining foreign currency.This Government has not really thought about Guyana’s oil potential.It has been nearly three years now since oil was discovered offshore Guyana, and we have only had one major investment forum to attract investors to Guyana.Clearly, what the Government can do is to market Guyana’s oil potential a bit better, by travelling abroad to sensitise most of the major oil producing countries to our oil potential — which it has not done.It is good that we have oil, but if we are not going to market and sell the oil, but wait for foreigners to do it for us, then Guyana would remain underdeveloped.It is not just about oil. It is about using the oil discovery to market our other industries, like rice, sugar, bauxite, gold, fisheries, timber, etc. It is about marketing Guyana’s potential.Yours faithfullySean Ori
Kelly Hyles, the 17-year-old Guyanese girl who was accepted into 21 colleges across the United States of America, including eight Ivy League universities, on Thursday met with President David Granger at his Georgetown office.A Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) statement said that President Granger congratulated the young scholar, referring to her as a product of Guyanese society and a citizen of whom the nation is proud.“Everything I do, everything the Cabinet and the Government does is so that our young people can have a bright future… This country can only be developed [with] intelligent and educated persons like you. We are happy and encouraged by your achievements,” President Granger said.The teenager was accompanied by her mother, Anetta Earl; her aunt, Shaundelle Inniss-Munroe; her uncle, Kenneth Earl and social activist Mark Benschop, while the President was accompanied by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.Hyles and her mother arrived in Guyana on Sunday evening to be part of the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations on May 26, the same day she would be celebrating her 18th birthday.Hyles was accepted into some of the most distinguished tertiary institutions in the US, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell, Brown, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, and has decided on Harvard, where she will be pursuing studies in either bio-chemistry or neuroscience.Hyles migrated to the USA to live with her mother in 2009 at the age of 11.President David Granger in conversation with Kelly Hyles
Kitty Market restoration progressesBy Ramona LuthiDespite the visible progress made in the restoration of the Kitty Market Guyana Times was informed on Monday, by the foreman of the construction workers that the overall slow pace of restoration was due to the lack of materials provided.City Hall says the Kitty Market is scheduled for completion on November 1According to the foreman, who preferred not to be identified, the original deadline set for the completion of the Kitty Market rehabilitation, in time for Guyana’s Jubilee celebrations in May, would have been possible if the materials were being provided consistently.“To my estimation, this work could’a finish for the 50th anniversary, if we had gotten the materials on time,” the emphasised to this publication.He highlighted that due to continuously “running out” of materials, he is unable to uphold the announcement by City Hall that the Kitty Market is scheduled for completion on November 1.“That is a thing I can’t answer. I could give a deadline if the materials coming how it expected to come. But I can’t do that,” he stated.The Kitty Market rehabilitation began in February of this year and the initial deadline was announced for Guyana’s Jubilee Anniversary in May; however, construction was halted, causing many persons to speculate that the Mayor and City Council had become cash-strapped and was unable to pay contractors for the restoration.This speculation was later confirmed by the Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase Green.Restoration recommenced in July and during a statutory meeting last Monday, Town Clerk of Georgetown Royston King declared that the new completion deadline is November 1, 2016.
… as Ministry begins search for replacementChief Education Officer (CEO) Olato Sam, with immediate effect, will no longer be holding his position and reports are circulating that he may have been booted.Olato SamA source indicated that Sam’s contract had ended and the Education Ministry had chosen not to renew it and so he was sent on his “annual” leave.“We heard that they would not renew his contract and that his removal was overdue,” the source said.The Education Ministry released a statement confirming that he will no longer be functioning “effective immediately” as the CEO since his contracted has ended.“Mr Sam has served the sector with distinction and zeal for the past eight years, five of which he served as CEO. The Ministry wishes to thank Mr Sam for his contributions to the education sector in Guyana and extends best wishes to him for all future endeavours,” the statement read, adding that the position for CEO is expected to be advertised shortly with the hope of finding a suitably qualified candidate by the end of September 2016.Sam was noticeably absent from the Ministry’s press conference earlier this week, during the announcement of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) results. The CEO would usually present the results but this year, he did not. Instead Acting Chief Education Officer (Nursery), Ingrid Trotman made the presentation.When contacted on Friday, Sam refused on comment on the matter, only stating that he was sent on leave by the Ministry.“I have nothing to say about this… you need to talk to the Minister. I’m officially on leave from the Ministry,” he said.He stated that the allegation of his contract termination should be addressed to the Education Minister. However, when this publication attempted to contact Minister Rupert Roopnaraine on the matter, he was unavailable.Nevertheless, his Public Relations Officer Suelle Williams indicated that Sam was sent on his annual vacation leave.Sam was appointed the CEO of the Ministry in 2011 after serving five years as the Technical Advisor to the Education Minister. He also has a Masters’ Degree in International Education, and has lectured at the University of Guyana’s School of Education and Humanities, the Departments of Foundations and Education Management and Curriculum and Instruction.He has a Bachelor’s Degree in ‘Sociology, Anthropology and Education’ from the Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.
Baby with cracked skullChief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Michael Khan on Thursday revealed that the report on the baby who cracked his skull on the hospital floor in August has been completed and has been sent to the Nursing Director for advice.Khan said the report was sent to the Director to ascertain if the nurse, who was attending to the mother of the child at the time of the accident, should be held accountable. He explained that the hospital is also awaiting a statement from the mother before any decision is made.“The director will have to find out if any disciplinary actions should be taken,” he said.The mother of the baby Nyesha Hamilton is contemplating taking legal action against the medical facility which she blames for the tragedy. Hamilton went into labour on August 21, 2016.According to the woman, she arrived at the hospital at approximately 22:00h and was examined by two doctors who informed her that she “was 4cm and then 5cm.”Shortly after, Hamilton said that she started to bleed and upon informing the nurses, was told that the two doctors who examined her previously said she had not “reached 10cm yet,” and she would have to wait another four hours before it was time to have the baby.However, she went into labour and there was no wheelchair to carry her into the labour room.“Two steps away from the door to the labour room, I feel like I couldn’t walk anymore so I stoop down, and I feel the baby fall on the ground and knock he head on the right hand side,” the mother said.After seeing the baby on the floor, Hamilton recalled that the nurses refused to pick the child up and instead told her to.Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud had stated that the medical officials should have been better equipped by the third stage of the delivery (which would have been the expulsion of the child from the birth canal).
The spokesman of the government of Sierra Leone, Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay, said his government is awaiting the scientific report from the committee responsible for the fight against the Ebola pandemic in that country, before a determination is made on the success of the three-day lockdown.In a telephone interview with a Liberian journalist yesterday, Mr. Bayraytay disclosed that the lockdown, which started last Friday, was welcomed by the majority and that some are even suggesting that it continues.Mr. Bayraytay was, however, quick to point out that any decision by government to carry out a monthly three-day lockdown as suggested by many residents in the country, will depend on the outcome of the scientific report from field workers used during the lockdown.About 30,000 fieldworkers were trained and deployed throughout the country of over six million people.Mr. Bayraytay disclosed that the amount of US$1.6 Million was used during the lockdown, with the amount of US$700,000.00 from the coffers of the Government of Sierra Leone, while the rest came from friends of the country and NGOs.During the lockdown, Mr. Bayraytay said over150 people willingly reported to the nearest holding or isolation centre to be tested.The curfew in Sierra Leone came into force on Friday morning, with most of the country’s six million inhabitants confined to their homes.Around 30,000 medical volunteers travelled to affected neighborhoods to find patients and distribute soap.Deputy Chief Medical Officer Sarian Kamara said authorities had managed to discover 22 new cases of the virus during the curfew.”Had they not been discovered, they would have greatly increased transmission,” he said.He also said between 60 and 70 Ebola victims were buried during the three days of the lockdown, and that the authorities had managed to discover 22 new cases of the virus during the curfew.The three-day curfew is the most aggressive measure yet taken against the virus by a West African country.Sierra Leone has been one of the countries worst affected by the outbreak, with more than 550 victims among the 2,600 deaths so far recorded.Like Sierra Leone, Liberia is currently battling with the Ebola pandemic, and its citizens and residents are presently observing a 90-day state of emergency declared in August by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
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The management of the Putu Iron Ore Mining Company (PIOM) has reassured the government and people of Liberia that it remains committed to the implementation of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) it signed with government.The PIOM management stated that although in the last few months its activities were reduced it did not close down its operations, as had been rumored, according to a press release issued yesterday.The scale down in operations, according to the company’s CEO Christian Masurenko, was attributed to the Ebola outbreak. He pledged that PIOM will continue to meet its obligations to government and the communities within its concession area.Mr. Masurenko said he was giving the assurance because the scale-down in the company’s operations in the last few months has been “misinterpreted as closure.”The PIOM CEO stressed that unforeseen circumstances have negatively impacted the company’s operations resulting in delays in the implementation of its ventures.The press release made specific reference to the Ebola outbreak which it said continues to hamper normal working activities in the country, and also the steep decline in the world market price for iron ore which is impacting iron ore investments not only in Liberia but worldwide.With the level of progress attained in combating the EVD, coupled with the Liberian government’s efforts to stimulate the economy in particular, the mining sector, PIOM anticipates resuming operations in the shortest possible time, said the press statement.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
One of the popular spirituals sung by the Old BWI Glee Club in the 1950s through the 1970s was entitled, “When You Get to Heaven, Brother, What Will You Do?We think this question is most appropriate and timely for Ambassador George Weah who is poised to be declared the winner in Montserrado County.Weah, who handsomely beat Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the first round of the 2005 presidential elections, though not enough to prevent a run-off, was still a formidable candidate to beat nine years later in senatorial elections. Also, Weah, though he was number two on the Winston Tubman Presidential ticket in 2011, CDC still carried Montserrado. Robert Sirleaf, above all people, should have known that, for he hails from a political family. His mother is the President. None of the other Montserrado candidates in the recent senatorial election ever had immediate family members running for the Senate. The whole nation listened to the counting on some of the radio stations Saturday night and most people went to bed confident that Weah had captured the Montserrado seat. Many ordinary Liberians recall that there were moments in the counting when Weah had 300 and Sirleaf had only 20 or less. Weah even beat him badly in a place Sirleaf thought his stronghold—PHP; but there, too, Weah overwhelmingly won.The big question on everyone’s mind is, why did Robert Sirleaf attempt such a race—was it to further embarrass his mom? For how does a sitting President’s son lose an election so badly? Counselor Pearl Brown Bull said as much from London on LIB 24 Radio Saturday evening.People recall the most recent embarrassment Robert caused his mom when he sued her at the Supreme Court over her Executive Order #65, then ducked when it was time to go and defend his lawsuit. So what was the point in exposing his beloved mother to judicial and public ridicule?The main question in this Editorial, however, is what will Ambassador Weah do when he takes his seat in the Liberian Senate? First sub-question: Will he continue to downplay Education, as he and his immense number of fanatical partisans have done since 2005? Remember his campaign slogan that year? Your partisans were joyfully singing while running from central Monrovia to the S.K.D. Stadium, “You know book, your country dirty.” The themes on your partisans’ lips last week and the week before were not different. Most of the CDC partisans in those demonstrations were even abusive, calling Robert Sirleaf many different uncomplimentary names and abusing even the President herself. We have to remind Mr. Weah in this editorial that he did not offer the people of Montserrado a platform announcing what he would do if he won the election and became their Senator. Also, Mr. Weah was invited along with other candidates in the Montserrado race to a debate, but he, like all the others, failed to show up. What were these candidates thinking? They wanted our votes, yet could not bring themselves to be questioned by us as to what their real intentions were for running for the Senate?If they could not face us during the campaign, then what can we expect from any one of them who gets elected? She or he would most definitely come to think that we are owed nothing—absolutely nothing.Rep. Edwin Snowe, a zealous Weah supporter, has already announced him the chair of the Montserrado Legislative Caucus. But what does Weah bring to the table besides his immense football popularity?Montserrado has many challenges. Take the challenges in all of Weah’s strongholds: Clara Town, West Point, New Kru Town, Logan Town, PHP, Peace Island, Douala, Paynesville Red Light, etc.—all of them are slums, without running water, power, proper sanitation and adequate health facilities and housing. Many of the residents in these slums are jobless and therefore self-supporting peddlers. Has Weah promised them anything? What is his vision for their future and the future of their children? Surely it cannot be a disregard for education. Every one of these areas needs well-equipped and staffed public elementary and high schools.We pray that beyond the tumult of the massive demonstrations, Mr. Weah and his supporters will think soberly on these challenges in Montserrado and indeed the whole country, and start strategizing on how, with commitment and decisiveness to address them.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)