Singer Craig David says stigma toward TB must end, more funds must be committed

Lucy Chesire, a nutritionist from Eldoret Kenya is  HIV positive and she had to have three surgeries and spend seven months in hospital due to TB.

Craig David, Lucy Cherise and Lee Reichman, a leading academic on TB. Rosebell's photo

Only 4.1 percent of people living with HIV worldwide have been screened for Tuberculosis. TB is one of the most neglected diseases despite being in existence for the last 100 years.

Nearly 25 percent of people with HIV eventually die from TB because they are not tested. Also in Uganda most people learn of their HIV status when their TB has gone to late stages.

According to the WHO 2009 Global TB control report of the about one million Ugandans with HIV, only 16,110 had been screened for TB.

Singer Craig David is the UN ambassador for TB, today at the UN Week Digital

Craig David talking to bloggers

Media Lounge he called for increased funding for TB and promotion of educational programs to deal with stigma surrounding TB.

Cherise is a TB advocacy Consultant with Action

Cherise said most people with HIV end up developing drug resistant TB due to low awareness in communities about treatment. She said it takes about USD 25,000 to cure drug resistant TB which many patients can’t afford and they end up dying.

She said many TB patients in Africa must walk many miles a day to get TB injections and also endure over 40 pills a day. Many have lost their jobs because of the lengthy treatment.

With Craig at the UN Week Digital Media Lounge.

Basic education for all in Africa yet to be realised

According to a new report by Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a coalition of organizations in 100 countries in the world calling for increase in provision of education for children, achieving basic education for many African countries remains far from reality. The report titled; Back to School? The worst places in the world to be a school child in 2010, looked at population without access to universal basic education, political will, quality and equal opportunities for education.

Of the sixty developing countries with education gaps, Uganda was in the 46th position, Rwanda 25, Kenya 11, Tanzania and Burundi both at 37.

In the East African community, Kenya and Rwanda are doing fairly better than Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania and the reason has been put as existence of political will to achieve basic education for all.

In Burundi 38 percent of children as of 2008 had not complete primary education while 93 percent had no secondary education.

For Uganda, 43 of children had not acquired primary education while for 78 percent secondary education remains an elusive dream.

Tanzania had better indicators for primary school having only 13 percent not completing primary education but its commitment to education is questioned with 92 of its children having not made it to post primary education.

The report shows that while there has been progress in primary education, only one country in Africa has more than 50 percent of its children in secondary school.

Uganda had the lowest public expenditure on education in the region.

Rwanda and Kenya were shown to have made tremendous progress. Rwanda commits about 20 percent of its annual budget to education.

The report looked at political will in terms of how much of the total government expenditure between 2007-8 was spent on education and also supplementary but essential interventions like free school meals for children.

Talking to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala World Bank Director about education funding.

In Uganda, in June, the country was shocked to learn that about Ushs.16 billion  allocated to the education ministry had been untouched for a year due to lack of systems in districts and bureaucracy.

Even though the budget allocation for education has increased over the last four years sh633.43b in 2005/2006 financial year to sh1.1trillion this year, there is still lack of support for children especially the girl child which has led to high school dropout rate.

Government in Uganda passed the Education Act in 2008 which makes primary education compulsory but enforcement remains a challenge.

The report puts Somalia as the worst place in the world to be school child further highlighting the impact of conflict on education.

In most of Northern Uganda where the communities are emerging out of conflict, children do not stay at school for long due to hunger and many girls are pulled out of school to carry out farming to support families at worst they are married off.

The report was released at a meeting on the sidelines of the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

“We should work to fast track education initiatives so that in places with conflicts education is available to the young at the frontiers in the same way as medicine is available. We have to make sure that the two million teachers that are missing are actually educated and trained for the task that lies ahead.”

Although development aid has more than doubled since 2000 when the MDG goals were endorsed, aid levels especially to support basic education in sub Saharan Africa are still far below the estimated needs.

Much as the activist this week will mount pressure on developed countries to honour their aid pledges, the report calls recommends that developing countries must also commit 20 percent of their annual budget to education in order to achieve basic education for all.

And for Africa where the campaign found to have most troubling education in indicators, the education for all target will be one hard to beat.

The report also notes progress in countries like Tanzania, Mozambique and Rwanda.

The Motherland Tour – A journey of African Women premiers in New York tomorrow

Yvonne Chaka Chaka, South African singer and activist has a new film out about her work as UN Millennium Development Goals Africa envoy. The Motherland Tour- A journey of African Women features lives of four African women. The first screening was in London last week. The film has also been featured on French Television.

I had a chance to meet up with Yvonne and her advisor Louis da Gama ahead of the event. Check it out.

Violence against women persists inspite of law in Northern Uganda

On Saturday July 31, 2010, a 30 year-old woman was brutally murdered by a brother in-law in Ogan village, Pajule, Pader district northern Uganda. Susan Adong–who had three children, was seven months pregnant.

According to the police report, Adong was murdered because the family held her responsible for her husband’s death. Adong’s husband died in a prison after he was remanded over several cases of physical abuse against Adong.

After her husband’s death, Adong was chased away from her marital home and sought refuge at her parents’ home. On the fateful day Adong had gone to collect a few of her belongings, she was brutally axed several times to death.

Adong is just one of hundreds of women in Uganda who lose their lives in domestic violence.

Domestic violence has been steadily increasing over the last five years that finally the Ugandan parliament has enacted a law this year. The new law brings tough penalties for offenders, and grants power to low level authorities to tackle domestic violence while re-emphasizing women’s rights to resources. Read more here.