Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Alarming figures on a lack of clean water in health centres have been highlighted in a joint report published on Tuesday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). “Access to water in health centres and even in delivery rooms has fallen between the gaps in the millennium development goals,” said Bruce Gordon, coordinator of water, sanitation, hygiene and health for the WHO. “It’s an embarrassment for the health sector that this issue is so ignored. It’s a fixable crisis. It’s a crisis because it’s hidden.”
Nurse Vinima Baya carries a tub that is used to bring clean water
to the community health centre for women in labour, in the village
of Diatoula, 15km from Bamako, Mali.
Photograph: Tara Todras-Whitehill/WaterAid
In low- and middle-income countries, 38% of health centres have no access to water, according to the report. It says that adequate sanitation is lacking in 19% of health centres, and 35% do not even provide water and soap for staff and patients to wash their hands and maintain basic hygiene.
Dirty water and the lack of safe toilets are among the top five killers of women worldwide. Without these basic facilities, health centres cannot adequately prevent and control infections, placing mothers and children at risk during delivery. Where latrines are not provided, mothers in labour may have to go outside to relieve themselves, and tend to leave health facilities within hours of giving birth, leaving little time for them to receive advice and support.
Drawing on data from 54 countries, the report covers more than 66,000 centres. But the data is likely to overstate actual access significantly, since most surveys merely note the presence of water within 500 metres of the health centre rather than indicating whether supplies are piped, safe to drink or year-round.
The report is a first step towards a baseline study as NGOs and health organisations encourage governments, donors and stakeholders to make water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) in health contexts both a higher political priority and measurable as part of the new sustainable development goals. Better data is crucial for Wash access to be included in indicators on heath, education and gender goals.
The findings show that Mali is currently the poorest performer, with just 20% of health facilities providing clean water. There is inequity within many countries – for example in Kenya, where 58% of hospitals had access to water but only 35% of primary health clinics. In Ethiopia, there is access to drinking water in 99% of the capital’s health facilities but only 23% in the Gambela region.
Vietnam is one country that now monitors Wash in health centres. It has encouraged progress by holding a clean toilet contest and offering incentives to improve services.
Globally, one in 50 babies die before they are a month old. According to a report released by WaterAid on Tuesday, one in five newborn deaths could be prevented with safe water, sanitation and clean hands. In 2013, more than 2.7 million newborns did not survive a month, and 99% of these neonatal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s chief executive, said: “The links between dirty hands, dirty water and infant mortality have been known about for over 150 years so this is not a solution waiting for an answer, but an injustice waiting for action.
“The ability to keep a hospital or clinic clean is such a fundamental basic requirement of healthcare that you have to question whether a facility without clean running water or basic sanitation can adequately serve its patients.”
Diatoula in Mali, 15km south-east of Bamako, is a community of 1,000 people. Vinima Baya, 29, the only nurse, runs the centre with the support of a pharmacist, Soungalo Diarra, 30, who had three months’ training in the typical medicines likely to be required at the centre. She did three years’ specialist nursing training after completing her baccalaureate.
Baya, who is originally from Bamako, has two children herself. She came at the request of the community, but can only afford to stay on by growing onions to sell in her spare time. Her husband lives near his work in a nearby town.
It costs 3,500 CFA ($5.60) for an uncomplicated delivery at the centre, plus any necessary drugs. This fee covers salaries and the basic equipment at the centre – there is no state or other external funding.
As there is no water within the facility, patients need to bring in 25-30 litres of water or five buckets’ worth to try to maintain a clean environment during the birth. There is a hand pump on the other side of the village near the school (donated by Japan), but the nearest water point to the centre is a deep well, which can run low at certain points of the year.
Reviewing her register, Baya notes that there have been 33 births at the centre so far this year; three of the babies were born dead and two died within their first month.
Sixteen-year-old Fatoumata Djarra’s son, Allaman Sidiqi Djarra, her first child, died 15 days after he was born.
Fatoumata Djarra, 16, who lost her son 15 days after he was born,
outside her house in the village of Diatoula, 15km from Bamako,
Mali. Photograph: Tara Todras-Whitehill/WaterAid
“When I was pregnant, I came for consultation and advice. I gave birth here in the community health centre. It was at night. I came with my family members,” she said. “They went to collect water at the well in the village. I didn’t have any special circumstances in my delivery.”
When Fatoumata noticed her baby was not well she gave him traditional medicine. “I just noticed some black spots on his legs and his body. He wasn’t feeling good, he didn’t eat anything, he didn’t drink anything. It took only one day before he died.”
Though Fatoumata did not return to the health centre for confirmation, the symptoms suggest sepsis infection.


Funding challenge

Ahead of the development finance meeting in Addis in July, ways of raising the necessary capital for water, sanitation and hygiene are under urgent consideration. A live debate is whether Wash would benefit from a global fund mechanism like HIV and aids, vaccines or education, or whether it would be better served by more cross-cutting funding. Currently, it is often down to households and communities to find their own solutions. The WHO-Unicef report found that only 25% of countries have funded plans to address the issue.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015


Authorities in Ethiopia have denied medical attention to Ethiopian journalist Temesghen Desalegn, who has been imprisoned since October, according to sources close to the journalist.

Temesghen Desalegn, owner of the now-defunct newsmagazine Feteh (Justice), is serving a three-year term in Ziway Prison, outside Addis Ababa, on charges of defamation, incitement, and false publication in connection with a series of opinion pieces he wrote in Feteh in 2012, according to news reports and a translation of the charge sheet that CPJ reviewed.
Sources close to Temesghen, including two who visit him in prison, told CPJ that Temesghen suffers from stomach and back pain for which he used to receive weekly medical support before he was jailed. The sources said that Temesghen has been denied medical access since he was imprisoned and that his back pain has worsened to the point that walking is difficult for him.
The African Charter on Human and People's Rights, to which Ethiopia is a signatory, states that authorities are obligated to ensure that its citizens receive medical attention when necessary. 
CPJ's calls to the Ethiopian justice ministry in Addis Ababa, and CPJ's calls and emails to the Ethiopian embassy in Washington, were not answered.
Earlier this year, prison authorities denied Temesghen prison visits from friends and family for more than a month, according to a public letter by Temesghen's mother, Fanaye Irdachew. Authorities did not provide an explanation, but local journalists told CPJ they suspected Temesghen had been denied prison visits after an article he wrote from prison was published in several Ethiopia news websites. The articles detailed the mistreatment of prisoners at Ziway Prison.
Temesghen often criticized the authorities in his articles. In 2012, he wrote two articles that discussed the peaceful struggles of Ethiopian youth movements for political change, according to the charge sheet that CPJ reviewed. He also wrote two columns that criticized alleged government efforts to violently suppress student protesters and ethnic minorities reviewed.
"Temesghen Desalegn has not committed any crime. He is being punished for his criticism of the Ethiopian government," said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. "We call on authorities to stop harassing Temesghen and allow him immediate access to medical care."
Ethiopian authorities were holding at least 17 journalists in jail-more than twice the number as the year before-when CPJ conducted its annual prison census on December. Dozens of journalists fled Ethiopia in 2014 fearing arrest, CPJ research shows. Local journalists said they suspect authorities had cracked down on the press in order to silence critical voices ahead of May 2015 legislative elections. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Professor Mwizenge Tembo
As an example of a ‘live’ radio soccer commentary, wind back the hands of time and picture yourself at Dag Hammerskjoeld stadium   when Zambia played Uganda in a regional qualifying match in the 70s. Below is an actual part of the ‘live’ commentary by Dennis Liwewe. Thanks to Professor Mwizenge Tembo of Bridgewater College in Virginia for posting it on You Tube.
“Here comes Mwape (Kenny). Mwape again to his captain Musenge Ackim) Musenga back again to Mwape. Mwape picks up the ball again and he takes a long, long shot past the center circle position in a 1-0 situation and then intercepted far away from here…..again it was a foul to Zambia. Ten meters inside, taken very quickly to Jani Simulambo…..a long, long beautiful shot over to Bernard Chanda. Chanda you have got the the ball, shoot! You are missing it again……I never believe! 1-0 Uganda in the lead. Mwape has the ball. He takes a long, long shot past the center circle. He is looking for Mugala (Burton) Mugala has got the ball….all the way to Chola (Alex)…….it’s a Goal!.. ……. 1-1 to Chola. Chola makes it 1-1 in 27 minutes.”  At full time, Zambia had beaten Uganda by 4-2.
Dennis Liwewe, was a personality who moved Zambia and its neighbouring countries, Africa and the  world at large with his lively commentaries and critique. His respected voice during ‘live’ soccer commentaries. He was the voice of Zambia’s football that earned him an award of Distinguished Service by First Republican President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda in 1977. Without doubt, Dennis had a way of keeping a soccer match ‘live and alive’ on radio. Determination, self-discipline, constant practice and the eagerness to want to do a good job was the only way of getting best results in any soccer match. Appearing on the British Broadcasting Corporation”s Fast Track programme presented by Farayi Mungazi, Dennis put across his thoughts on what makes a good, exciting ‘live’ soccer commentary. Below are some excerpts I picked from the full interview
Farayi Mungazi :Why is football such a great game to you?
Liwewe: Football is a great game to me personally because I showed the world that I never played the game in my life, I never knew the game at school because I wanted to get Grade A in English Language so while my colleagues were on the pitch playing I was reading. I was very brilliant - I can assure you. But I decided to take on a new challenge in broadcasting and that was it. I used to record football commentaries from the BBC and then go to the bush to study it and took my own style of broadcasting - the African style of excitement particularly on the radio. I did try television commentary but people said it was a disaster. That is not my style. Mine was radio commentary. The problem I had was that most of the people including the then president of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, when they were going to matches at the stadium carried their radio sets to watch matches when I was doing commentary. So one was I aware that all these people were listening and watching at the same time so one couldn't afford to do mistakes. So preparations had to be very very thorough. So it made me do the job perfectly well.
David Owen : What preparation did you go through before games. What tricks did you have for remembering player names and positions?
Liwewe: Those days it was difficult because the opposing teams were only seen on match days and you had the team sheets one hour before the game. There were no names at the back of the jerseys too so it was tough. But with determination, self-discipline and the eagerness to want to do a good job helped me. I practiced in the shower early in the morning. The constant practice on imaginary matches helped a lot.
Liwewe’s son Ponga, also a well known sports commentator on Supersport says much as radio commentaries are different compared to those carried out on television, preparations are almost the same except on radio “you have to be more imaginative” in order for the listener to appreciate what you are talking about.
 On a quick ten minutes telephone conversation with him from South Africa last week, Ponga said, “I have worked in commentary on both radio and television and the two styles are totally different. On radio you have to be much more descriptive as you have to create a picture in the mind of the listener since they are not able to see the pictures. You have to inform them where on the pitch the ball is, give them an indication where the receiving player is and the movement of other players. When the ball is crossed into the box, listeners need to know from where it is coming from, whether it is near the by-line or further down field, which means the quality and significance of the cross differs. It’s not enough to just say the ball is being played into the box.”
He added that for television commentary, everyone sees what is happening and the role of a commentator is more to be more analytical, and hence the creation of the role of a co-commentator who talks tactics, potential scenarios and gives a more in-depth perspective. Ponga said on TV the commentator does not need to mention each and every player who is on the ball, and at times even a pause helps as the viewers can see what is happening.
Concluded Ponga, “The key to success in both radio and television commentary is preparation. You have slit seconds to give details and little time to refer to notes so you have to know your subject. You also have to know the players, not only by name but by the way they run, walk, their physical profiles so that even when you can’t see clearly, you can tell who it is.
I once emceed an event which was the Africa Cup of Nations trophy tour in South Africa and was able to recite the history of the tournament from 1959 to 2010, looking at the key moments of each of the 26 tournament’s that had taken place up to that point in time. It would not have been possible to store this information in a short period of time, but because I had constantly read and been to many tournaments it was not too difficult to refresh my memory and to read where I was lacking in information.”
With the given explanations above, it is clear that becoming a professional “live” soccer commentator requires a lot of work and a lot of practice if one has to be noticed. My advice is “be yourself and develop a different style from all other commentators. Always remember that there can only be one Dennis Liwewe!

Ben Kangwa is a broadcast journalist and media consultant based in Lusaka.