MONROVIA, Liberia— Liberia's president declared a curfew and ordered security forces to quarantine a slum home to at least 50,000 people late Tuesday as the West African country battled to stop the spread of Ebola in the capital.The measures came as authorities said that three health workers in the country who received an experimental drug for the disease are showing signs of recovery, though medical experts caution it is not certain if the drug is effective.
The measures came as authorities said that three health workers in the country who received an experimental drug for the disease are showing signs of recovery, though medical experts caution it is not certain if the drug is effective.
At least 1,229 people have died of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the current outbreak, and more than 2,240 have been sickened, according to the World Health Organization. The fastest rising number of cases has been reported in Liberia, with at least 466 dead.
Authorities here have struggled to treat and isolate the sick, in part because of widespread fear that treatment centers are places where people go to die. Many sick people have hidden in their homes, relatives have sometimes taken their loved ones away from health centers, and mobs have occasionally attacked health workers.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced late Tuesday that a curfew is going into place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Security forces also will be ensuring no one goes in or out of West Point, a slum in the capital where angry residents attacked an Ebola observation center over the weekend.
"We have been unable to control the spread due to continued denials, cultural burying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government," she said. "As a result and due to the large population concentration the disease has spread widely in Monrovia and environs."
"May God bless us all and save the state," she later added.
Saturday's attack on the observation center in West Point was triggered by fears that people with the disease were being brought there from all over the country, the Information Ministry said Tuesday. Dozens of people waiting to be screened for Ebola fled the center during the chaos. Looters made off with items, including bloody sheets and mattresses that could further spread the virus.
All the patients who fled are now being screened at a hospital in Monrovia, and those who tested positive are being treated, the ministry said. It was unclear how many of the 37 who fled were confirmed with Ebola.
Liberian authorities also are searching for a pastor who ran away from a different Ebola treatment center outside Monrovia. State radio asked the public to look out for the preacher but did not say whether he had tested positive for Ebola.
Three Liberians are currently being treated with the last known doses of ZMapp, a drug that had earlier been given to two infected Americans and a Spaniard. The Americans are also improving, but the Spaniard died.
"The medical professionals have informed the Liberian information ministry their progress is 'remarkable,'" the ministry said in a statement, adding that the patients are showing "very positive signs of recovery."
Experts have said it is unclear if ZMapp, which had never before been tested in humans, is effective. Even if it is, the California-based maker has said more supplies won't be available for months.
In the meantime, experts say the best way to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa is to identify the sick, isolate them from the healthy and monitor everyone with whom they have been in contact.
The WHO said it is seeing some encouraging signs in other parts of West Africa. In Guinea, people from villages that had previously rejected outside help were beginning to seek medical care, according to a WHO statement. The statement said the situation is "less alarming" in Guinea than in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Although the outbreak began in Guinea, Liberia has now recorded the highest number of deaths and Sierra Leone the most cases.
The WHO also said there is "cautious optimism" that the spread of the virus in Nigeria can be stopped. Late Tuesday, health authorities there announced a fifth Ebola death — a doctor who had treated a man who flew to Nigeria from Liberia while infected. So far, all recorded cases have been linked to that man.
"The outbreak is not under control," the WHO cautioned. "As recent experience shows, progress is fragile, with a real risk that the outbreak could experience another flare-up."
To try to stem the spread of Ebola, officials have imposed quarantines and travel restrictions on the sick and those in contact with them, sometimes shutting off entire villages and counties.
Those restrictions are limiting access to food and other necessities, said the WHO. The U.N. World Food Program has said that it is preparing to deliver food to 1 million people over the next three months.
A soldier threatened a woman in the West Point slum in the Liberian capital, Monorovia, where security forces were enforcing a quarantine to contain the spread of Ebola. Resident clashed with the army and the police as they set up road blocks and barbed-wire barricades.
MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberia’s halting efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak spreading across parts of West Africa quickly turned violent on Wednesday when angry young men hurled rocks and stormed barbed-wire barricades, trying to break out of a neighborhood here that had been cordoned off by the government.
Soldiers repelled the surging crowd with live rounds, driving hundreds of young men back into the neighborhood, a slum of tens of thousands in Monrovia known as West Point.
One teenager in the crowd, Shakie Kamara, 15, lay on the ground near the barricade, his right leg apparently wounded by a bullet from the melee. “Help me,” pleaded Mr. Kamara, who was barefoot and wore a green Philadelphia Eagles T-shirt.
Lt. Col. Abraham Kromah, the national police’s head of operations, arrived a few minutes later.
“This is messed up,” he said, looking at the teenager while complaining about the surging crowd. “They injured one of my police officers. That’s not cool. It’s a group of criminals that did this. Look at this child. God in heaven help us.”
A youth wounded in clashes lay by the roadside in West Point. Soldiers fired live rounds when a crown tried to break through a barricade.
The clashes marked a dangerous new chapter in West Africa’s five-month fight against the Ebola epidemic, the deadliest on record. The virus continues to spread, but already the total number of cases reported in the affected nations in the region — Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria — is higher than in all other Ebola outbreaks combined since 1976, when the disease was first identified, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
So far, the epidemic has mostly been concentrated in rural areas, but the disease has also spread to major cities like Conakry, Guinea, and Monrovia, the Liberian capital. Fighting Ebola in an urban area — particularly in a place like West Point, an extremely poor and often violent neighborhood that still bears deep scars from Liberia’s 14-year-long civil war — presents challenges that the government and international aid organizations have only started grappling with.
The risks that Ebola will spread quickly, and the difficulties in containing it, are multiplied in a dense urban environment, especially one where the health system has largely collapsed and residents appear increasingly distrustful of the government’s approach to addressing the crisis, experts say.
Many people in West Point were already seething at the government’s attempt to open an Ebola center at a school in their neighborhood, complaining that suspected Ebola patients from other parts of the city were being brought there as well. Their neighborhood, they feared, was effectively being turned into a dumping ground for the disease.
On Saturday, hundreds of people stormed the school, carrying off supplies and provoking suspected Ebola patients to flee the facility, heightening concerns that the disease would spread through the city.
On Wednesday morning, the residents of West Point awoke to learn that their entire area was under government quarantine. Soldiers and police in riot gear blocked roads in and out of the seaside neighborhood. Coast guard officers stopped residents from setting out aboard canoes from West Point, the neighborhood with the highest number of confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola in the capital.
As residents realized that the entire area had been sealed off from the rest of the capital, frustrations began to mount. In one midmorning attempt to break through the cordon, at an entrance to the neighborhood next to an electrical station, soldiers fired in the air to dispel the protesters. But some of the bullets appear to have hit the crowd as well, intensifying the sense of a neighborhood under siege.
Liberia has already been hit hard by the Ebola epidemic, accounting for an estimated 576 of the 1350 deaths reported in the four West African nations with registered cases. The estimated death toll in Liberia alone already exceeds the deadliest outbreak on record before this one, which was nearly 40 years ago.
“It’s out of control; the numbers keep rising,” Lindis Hurum, a coordinator for Doctors without Borders in Monrovia, said this week. “It’s very difficult and complex in Monrovia. We’ve never had a large outbreak like this in an urban setting.”
Beyond the threat of Ebola, experts warn that there has been a broader collapse of the public health system here, resulting in a range of life-threatening illnesses and conditions that are being left untreated as hospitals close and the facilities that remain open become overwhelmed with suspected Ebola cases.
“The emergency within the emergency is the collapse of the health care system,” said Dr. Joanne Liu, the president of Doctors without Borders, who recently surveyed Liberia and other affected nations. “People don’t have access to basic health care,” she said, including malaria treatment for children, medical care for pregnant women and other common but essential needs.
Dr. Liu said that her team had come across six pregnant women who had been wandering around Monrovia for hours, looking for a facility that could help deliver their babies. “They couldn’t find one,” she said. “By the time we attended to them,” she added, the babies had died.
“All the health care facilities are basically closed in Monrovia,” she added. “I think there may be some marginal activities, but basically there’s nothing really working right now.”
The South African Gold Coin Exchange / Scoin Shop Chairman celebrated Mandela Day in New York this week, with the launch of two historic and limited edition, Mandela medallions which were presented to Ban Ki Moon at the United Nations.
Philanthropist Alan Demby’s two gold coin organisations, the Scoin Shop and the South African Gold Coin Exchange, the country’s only gold coin retail chain, are now the largest philanthropic and commercial contributors to the Mandela Foundation and Nobel Institute through the worldwide sales of Nobel Laureate Programme medallions bearing the images of the world’s celebrated peacemakers.
Demby, who also presented civil rights activist Jesse Jackson with a Mandela medallion, attended and participated in the Footsteps of Mandela Concert an original musical production celebrating world peace, freedom and human dignity, where the South African Consul General to New York and the South African Ambassador to the United Nations attended. Demby is currently planning a worldwide tour of Sandton’s Peacemakers Museum which pays tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize Winning Laureates including Mandela, De Klerk, Mother Theresa and Aung San Suu Kyi, among many others.
In 2014, the Scoin Shop is on track to opening it’s 40th store in South Africa, is set to employ more than 500 people and has increased its annual turnover 30 per cent in the past year. Customers from 80 countries around the world now account for more than 10 per cent of the company’s revenues.
The Double Medallion launch is priced for a wide range of collectors to include:
“The Mandela Day 1⁄4 oz medallion” comprises of a 1⁄4 oz gold and features the renowned new profile of Mandela on the obverse. The reverse features the world’s continents, signifying the far reaching influence of Mandela and International Mandela day itself, with over 1000 events planned around the world, for this year’s commemoration.
While the number pales in comparison with the United States' foreign aid, which is about $46 billion for fiscal 2015, China says its aid has no political strings attached, unlike many Western countries.
More than half of China's foreign aid of over $14 billion between 2010 and 2012 was directed to Africa, the government said on Thursday, underscoring Beijing's interest in the resource-rich continent to fuel its economy.
Some Chinese projects have attracted attention for China's support of governments with poor human rights records and lack of transparency, such as Zimbabwe, Sudan and Angola.
It provided no breakdown of aid recipients or any yearly figures. In 2011, China put its total foreign aid over the past six decades at 256.29 billion yuan ($41.32 billion).
While the number pales in comparison with the United States' foreign aid, which is about $46 billion for fiscal 2015, China says its aid has no political strings attached, unlike many Western countries.
"China adheres to the principles of not imposing any political conditions, not interfering in the internal affairs of recipient countries and fully respecting the right to independently choose their own paths and models of development," the government said in a policy paper.
Aid was given in the form of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, the policy paper said, and nine countries, including Equatorial Guinea, Mali and Zambia had been forgiven a total of 1.24 billion yuan in mature interest-free loans.
Some in Africa say many Chinese projects benefit local people little, with materials and even labour imported directly from China. Dam schemes have proven divisive too.
China's close links with oil-rich African states, including Sudan and Angola, have fuelled criticism as well that Beijing only cultivates relations to secure access to energy and raw materials to power its surging economy.
The Foreign Ministry said China's relationship with African nations goes well beyond its quest for resources and encompasses agricultural, health and infrastructure-related projects.
"China's cooperation with Africa is far from being limited to the sphere of natural resources," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters. Foreign aid "is an important manifestation of China's international responsibility".
The paper made no direct reference to such criticism, but said China was dedicated to helping economies boost their ability to export by providing infrastructure like roads and railways and by pursuing a policy of aid for trade.
In one project, it said, Chinese experts trained 500 Liberians to weave bamboo and rattan into products they could sell.
"This programme has not only created jobs, brought the locals more income and lifted them out of poverty, but also boosted the bamboo and rattan industry in the country," the paper said.
The Government of South Africa declared August women’s month and the 9 of August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day. 60 years after the adoption of the Women’s Charter of 1954. 20 years after the adoption of the Women’s Charter for Effective Equality of 1994. 20 years after the advent of democracy and freedom in South Africa
19 years after the country signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Advances made since 1994
Great strides have been made since 1994 to improve the status of women.
Prior to 1994, the South African Parliament had a mere 2,7% representation of women, and following the first democratic elections, women representation in the National Assembly stood at 27,7%. In 1999 that figure increased to 30% and then to 32.7% in 2004. After the 2009 national elections women representation reached 42%. Post the May 2014 elections women ministers comprise 43% of the Cabinet, women deputy ministers make up 46% of the total number of deputy ministers and there is a 41% representation of women in the National Assembly.
Furthermore, government policies and programmes have improved the living conditions of women. In 1997 the Office on the Status of Women (OSW) was established in the Presidency to steer the national gender programme and championed the development of the National Policy Framework for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality that was approved by Cabinet in 2000. Subsequently, similar structures were established in the Premier’s offices. In May 2009 the President pronounced on the establishment a Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD). In May 2014 the President evolved the structure to a dedicated Ministry for Women in the Presidency as a way of elevating women’s issues and interests to lead, coordinate and oversee the transformation agenda on women’s socio-economic empowerment, rights and equality through mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation.
Since the advent of democracy and freedom South Africa has seen a number of women taking up leadership positions in areas previously dominated by men. One of the success stories of our democracy is that of the representation of women in political and decision-making positions. Involving women in governance processes constitutes one of South Africa’s globally acclaimed success stories.
The election of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in July 2012 as the first women in Africa to chair the African Union Commission; the appointment of Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Deputy President of the country, as the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; and the positioning of other South African women such as Ms Geraldine Frazer-Moleketi, Special Gender Envoy to the African Development Bank; Ms Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences; and Judge Navi Pillay as the High Commissioner for Human Rights and formerly as a judge in the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an indication of the impact that women in decision-making have in winning the trust and confidence of citizens in South Africa, on the continent and internationally.
Currently, women are heading portfolios such as the Commissioner of Police; the Public Protector; CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; the Independent Electoral Commission; Governor of the Reserve Bank, the South African Law Reform Commission, and the first female Deputy Auditor-General, among others.
Prior to 1994, South Africa had only one woman Judge, whilst today women judges make up almost 28% of the Judiciary. Women are making inroads into business leadership and heading up global giants in the country such as the head of the ABSA bank. Women own conglomerates in the country with some business women being millionaires. Women also can be found as chairpersons of corporate boards in the country, while others are entering and leading in previously male dominated territories, for example, the head of the Palaeontology Department in the University of Cape Town is a woman, and the South African Airways (SAA) now has women pilots, some flying international bound flights. Women are in the defence force, navy and air force in South Africa. In fact women make up almost 40% of the Senior Management Service in the public service and overall women comprise more than 50% of employees in the Public Service.
Women have even entered previously male dominated areas in the corporate world, and currently constitute 3.6% of CEO positions, 5.5% of chairperson positions, 17.1% of directorships and 21.4% of executive management positions.
Origin of Women’s Month and Day
The historic march in 1956 was a turning point in the role of women in the struggle for freedom and society at large. Since that eventful day, women from all walks of life became equal partners in the struggle for a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.
The march was coordinated by the Federation of South African Women (Fedsaw) led by four women: Lillian Ngoyi,Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams De Bruyn. These leaders delivered petitions to the then Prime Minister JG Strijdom’s office in the Union Buildings. Women throughout the country had put their names to these petitions indicating their anger and frustration at having their freedom of movement restricted by the hated official passes.
Women’s month is a tribute not only to the thousands of women who marched on that day in 1956, but also a tribute to the pioneers of the women’s movement in this country, dating back to 1913, when women like Charlotte Maxeke led the way in establishing the ANC Women’s League and encouraging women to engage in the struggle for freedom. Pioneers include Cissy, Jaynab and Amina Gool who were amongst the leaders of the National Liberation League and the Non-European United Front of the 1930s. The names of Ray Alexander Simons, Elizabeth Mafekeng and Elizabeth Abrahams will always be associated with the struggles of women.
In the 1940s Amina Pahad and Gadijah Christopher, who were amongst the first volunteers to occupy the site of the 1946 Passive Resistance Campaign on Umbilo Road in Durban cannot go unnoticed. Women’s month also service to recall and recognise the work of Dora Tamana, Winifred Siqwana, Ida Mntwana, Bertha Gxowa, Florence Matomela and other stalwarts of the 1950s, who led militant women’s formation for the rights of workers and the rights of women.
There were also the women who formed the Black Sashand who were the first to protest against the disenfranchisement of the Coloured voters during the 1950s. The Coloured voters played an important role in the united front of anti-apartheid forces that developed in the last three decades of apartheid.
Government has made significant progress in empowering women in the political, public and educational spheres, but the marginalisation of poor women severely compromises progress.