August 3, 2015

GHANA: SECAM Launches Year of Reconciliation for Peaceful Coexistence in Africa

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ACCRA, JULY 31, 2015 (CISA) – The Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on July 29 launched the Year of Reconciliation in Africa with a solemn Eucharist Celebration in Accra.

The convocation of the theme, A reconciled Africa for Peaceful Coexistence, was in response to the invitation that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made in the year 2011 to the African Episcopates in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

“This is to promote a Year of Reconciliation of continental reach, to ask God for special forgiveness for all the evils and offences that human beings have inflicted on one another in Africa, so that persons and groups that have been wounded are reconciled in the Church and in the whole of society,” reported the Vatican Information Service.

In the document, the Pope wrote that it would be “an Extraordinary Jubilee Year during which the Church in Africa and in the neighbouring Islands would give thanks with the universal Church and pray to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gifts of reconciliation, justice and peace.”

Archbishop Charles Palmer Buckle of Accra  sent a letter, on behalf of the President of SECAM, Angolan Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi, to all the African Episcopal Conferences inviting them to organize during this Year “programs and initiatives of reconciliation in collaboration with the respective Commissions of Justice and Peace in their countries.”

He also urged the Continent’s Bishops to make a “special collection” in their dioceses on a Sundayof their choice, for the Second Day of SECAM, which was instituted two years ago during the 16th Assembly of that organization, to finance projects of evangelization, promotion of justice and peace and Catholic media.”

The Year will close on July 29, 2016, during the 17th Plenary Assembly of the organization, in Angola. (63)views

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SOUTH AFRICA: Archbishop TuTu Back in Hospital

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CAPETOWN, JULY 31, 2015 (CISA) – South Africa’s Archbishop emeritus, Desmond  Tutu has been re-admitted to a hospital in Capetown just a week after being, Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said.

“He was discharged from hospital on July 21 and re-admitted on July 29, after expressing renewed discomfort. His doctors considered it prudent for him to return to hospital for observation,” a statement by his foundation said.

According to the Nation newspaper, Tutu was first hospitalised for the infection on July 14.
The 83 year old Nobel peace laureate also continues battling prostate cancer which he has lived with for 15 years, but his foundation reiterated that the current infection was unrelated.

“The hospitalization is unrelated to his cancer treatment. His oncologist confirms that his PSA (Prostate specific antigen) level is pleasingly low,” “Tutu’s daughter, Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu said.

The foundation added the veteran rights campaigner would undergo bed rest while his doctors determine further treatment and remain in hospital.

Under apartheid, Tutu campaigned against white minority rule during the years that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace prize for his work. (36)views

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KENYA: Bishops Urge Kenyans to Keep Away from Polio Vaccine, Until Confirmed Safe

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NAIROBI, JULY 31 2015 (CISA) – The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Kenya (KCCB)has urged Kenyans not to participate in an upcoming Polio Vaccine campaign till tests are done to confirm the safety of vaccine.

In a press statement dated July 28 titled, The Truth will set us free: The safety of Kenyans must be assured; the bishops questioned the safety of the vaccines, saying the manufacturer failed to provide requested information and the government disregarded the bishops’ request for tests.

According to the statement the bishops had in a consultative meeting with the Director of Medical Services resolved that they take a joint sampling but this has not been done.

The bishops expressed concern at the casual manner in which, “legitimate concerns raised on behalf of Kenyans are being handled.”

“We have waited for joint sampling of the polio vaccines since April 2015 with no success.
We have similarly waited for the manufacturer’s declaratory information with no success yet millions of these doses are already in Kenya,” the bishops said.

The bishops quoted the recent case in which 30 children in Busia County were paralyzed after receiving injections of what is highly suspected to have had a problem.

“There was also another case where anti-malarial drugs, believed to be quinine meant for advanced treatment of malaria and already in use were confirmed to only contain paracetamol when the expected response was not forthcoming.”

“We are not in conflict with the Ministry of Health, but we have an apostolic and moral duty to ensure Kenyans are getting safe vaccines,” said Bishop Philip Anyolo, Chairman of the KCCB.

Unless safety is addressed, such cases will continue to happen, the bishops said.
The Ministry of Health has however defended the vaccination campaign saying it had consulted all stake holders, the Catholic Church included.

“Any attempts at mobilizing the public against taking their children for vaccination is a serious violation of the right of children to health and survival” said Dr. Nicholas Muraguri, Director of Medical Services in a press statement dated July 28.

Early this year, government and Catholic bishops came into conflict over a mass tetanus vaccination that targeted young girls and women.
However, both institutions reached an agreement for testing before, during and after vaccination campaigns.

“We are not fighting anybody, but we are saying let us determine our destiny. The moment things [vaccines] are formulated from outside and there are problems, it is our people who suffer. That’s why we are voicing this issue,” said Cardinal John Njue, the bishop of Nairobi.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis within hours of infection.

The disease mainly affects children under the age of five.

The Polio Vaccination Campaign, by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, is scheduled to start tomorrow August 1, targeting children under age 5 in 32 counties. (70)views

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SWITZERLAND: Ebola Vaccine Shows 100% Success, WHO says

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GENEVA JULY 31, 2015 (CISA) – The world will soon be able to protect humans against Ebola the World Health Organization (WHO) has said as data from a trial in Guinea showed a vaccine was “100 percent effective.”

“We believe that the world is on the verge of an efficacious Ebola vaccine,” said WHO vaccine expert Marie Paule Kieny in a statement, reported Reuters.

According to WHO initial results from the trial, which tested Merck and NewLink Genetics’ VSV-ZEBOV vaccine, on some 4,000 people who had been in close contact with a confirmed Ebola case showed 100 percent protection after 10 days.

Global health specialists described the success of the Guinea trial as “remarkable” and “game changing.”

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the results, published online in the medical journal The Lancet, were an “extremely promising development” since it could now be used to help end the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, which has killed more than 11,200 people in West Africa since it began in December 2013.

“This is going to be a game changer. It will change the management of the current Ebola outbreak and future outbreaks,” she said.

Another major trial in Liberia, which had aimed to sign up more than 28,000 subjects, had to stop enrolling after only reaching its mid-stage target of 1,500 participants, and plans for testing in Sierra Leone were also scaled back. (71)views

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VATICAN: Pope registers for World Youth Day using iPad

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VATICAN CITY JULY 28, 2015 (CISA) – On July 26, Pope Francis invited the youth of the world to pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2016 and become the first registered pilgrim for the event after signing up using an iPad.

“Today we open registration for the thirty-first World Youth Day, to be held next year in Poland,” he said. “I invite the youth of the world to live this pilgrimage that will be going to Krakow.”

“… I enrolled in the day as a pilgrim through this electronic device,” Pope Francis said from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square after praying the Angelus, reported CNA.

The Pope further said the next World Youth Day will be “a jubilee of youth” who are called to reflect on its biblical theme, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” and that they (youth) will be “participating in this moment of grace for their communities.”

St. John Paul II instituted the international gathering in 1985 to bring together young people to pray and worship and to celebrate their Catholic faith. The events are held every 2-3 years and have drawn crowds of up to 5 million people.

Pope Francis attended the 2013 World Youth Day with millions of people in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. World Youth Day 2016 will be held in Krakow, Poland from July 26-31 with about 2.5 million people from all over the world including Africa expected to attend. (125)views

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