Dakar, Dec 15, 2017 (AFP) - Flights to and from Dakar's brand-new airport were cancelled on Friday after air traffic controllers went on strike just eight days after it opened. Controllers announced they would strike for 24 hours from 0001 GMT Friday, Blaise Diagne International Airport's operators, LAS, said in a statement. The company "deplores the consequences of this movement, which strongly impacts the image of Senegal, as well as the service provided to passengers and airlines", it said.
The air traffic controllers' association, Asecna, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. President Macky Sall had inaugurated the airport on December 7 in the presence of fellow heads of state from Gabon, Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia. He was due to return to the country on Friday evening after a trip abroad.
The Senegalese press say air traffic controllers are aggrieved over working conditions, especially the problem of getting to the airport which is much farther from the capital than the previous one. The airport is located in Diass, 47 kilometres (29 miles) southeast of Dakar. Its predecessor, Leopold Sedar Senghor international airport, now a military airport, is in Dakar's suburbs.
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2017 17:56:52 +0100 By Malick ROKHY BA
Diass, Sénégal, Dec 7, 2017 (AFP) - Senegal's president opened a flagship new airport on Thursday seen as the central plank of government plans to boost the economy and create a west African regional hub. President Macky Sall toured the brand-new Blaise Diagne International Airport in the town of Diass, 47 kilometres (29 miles) from the capital of Dakar, while the first international flight arrived from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in the afternoon. "Senegal is taking flight," Sall declared to an audience of dignitaries on the tarmac including the presidents of Gabon, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, while supporters gathered in their thousands to celebrate the opening, banging
drums and chanting slogans outside.
Work began in 2007 on the 645 million-euro ($767 million) airport under former president Abdoulaye Wade, but unforeseen problems and a change of construction company have repeatedly delayed the project and doubled anticipated costs. Blaise Diagne -- named after the Senegalese MP who was the first African elected to France's parliament -- is at the heart of Sall's "Emerging Senegal" plan, which includes the construction of a new city, Diamniadio, close to the site in Diass. The airport will be a key test of Senegal's economic fortunes as the president seeks re-election in 2019, and forms part of a suite of plans to relieve the congested capital with a recently constructed conference centre, housing and planned stadium.
As the country invests more heavily in tourism, Senegal is also betting on the facility's strategic position close to several beach resorts that are already heavily frequented by European holidaymakers. The airport services at the site will contribute to the development of the special economic zone nearby, Sall said. "We need quality infrastructure which facilitates connectivity, creates jobs and contributes to economic transformation," the president explained. With a capacity of three million passengers, Blaise Diagne will still rank far below the busiest African airports and a long way off challenging Nigeria in the west African region, though plans for up to 10 million travellers are in the pipeline, according to officials.
- Uncertainty for new airline - Passenger numbers have increased in recent years at Dakar's current airport in the middle of the city, leading to long waits at security and contributing to chronic traffic jams. The Leopold Sedar Senghor airport will become a military airfield from Friday.
The new airport boasts six footbridges direct to flight cabins, and will be able to service a range of aircraft including Airbus's massive A380s. Work was completed on the 4,500-hectare site -- with 2,000 hectares unused in case of required expansion -- by Turkish consortium Summa-Limak after a disagreement with Saudi Arabia's Bin Laden construction derailed the final stage of preparations. Summa-Limak will operate the airport for the next 25 years, furthering ever-closer economic ties between Ankara and Dakar.
A train linking the airport with the city is not expected to open until 2021, leaving taxi drivers in pocket but ordinary travellers nervous of arriving on time for flights in a city with unpredictable traffic. Backed by loans from France's development agency the African Development Bank (ADB), the West African Development Bank (BOAD) and Islamic lender the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), officials are celebrating the airport's completion -- but the future of Senegal's new airline is less certain. Air Senegal still does not have all the licences required to begin commercial flights and has a fleet of just two ATR 72-600s, but Aviation Minister Maimouna Ndoye Seck said international ambitions for the airport meant a well-performing national airline was "a necessity".
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2017 04:41:20 +0100 By Philippe SIUBERSKI
Saint Louis, Senegal, Nov 16, 2017 (AFP) - The echo of Koranic verse from a religious school in Senegal's Saint-Louis is familiar, but just metres down the beach classes have fallen silent in another building abandoned to the ravages of climate change. Listed in 2000 as a UNESCO world heritage site, Saint Louis has fallen into disrepair, and without urgent intervention more than 300 years of colonial history could be lost. Beautifully coloured buildings with colonial facades line the streets of the city, once known as "Africa's Venice", but on closer inspection many are crumbling. Others that look on to the beach succumb to Atlantic waves.
And at the cathedral, large sections of plaster peel from the walls and float to the earth. "It's dramatic and it could become extremely serious," said French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on a visit Tuesday to what was once the Senegalese capital, and where the first French chartered company set up shop in 1659. On a thin, sandy strip separating the Senegal River from the ocean, the effects of rising sea levels driven by climate change are clear. Abdoulaye Mben Khali School was forced to relocate eight year groups to another establishment, Cheikh Ndar, itself just 50 metres away on the seafront and also under threat from the waves, explained Saint Louis governor Mariama Traore. Meanwhile more than 150 families have lost their homes in recent years, several during the height of the storms of Senegal's rainy season in September. They are now living in tents near the city's tiny airport.
- Fightback - Senegalese President Macky Sall left the capital, Dakar, on Tuesday to attend a UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, where developing nations will repeat longstanding calls for the world's biggest economies to respect agreements on lowering greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. This week, Syria became the 196th country to formally adopt the hard-fought Paris Agreement, signed in 2016, leaving the United States as the only nation in the UN climate convention to reject it. The Paris Agreement commits countries to limiting average global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over Industrial Revolution levels, and 1.5 C if possible, to avert calamitous climate change-induced storms, drought and sea-level rises.
Away from the corridors of international diplomacy, the World Bank is conducting a study on the city and its battle against climate change at the behest of the Senegalese authorities. "I hope the conclusion will come through quickly because we must draw up an action plan," France's Le Drian noted as he toured the city's winding alleys. Meanwhile work is due to begin imminently on a 3.6-kilometre (2.2-mile) long dyke to protect the city's most heavily populated neighbourhoods. Other symbols of France's colonial past in Senegal, which ended with independence in 1960, have created serious debate.
When a bronze statue of Louis Faidherbe, governor of Senegal between 1854-1861 and then 1863-1865, fell from its pedestal in the town square during September's storms, some said good riddance. But the Senegalese authorities ultimately decided the statue counted as heritage nonetheless and was therefore to be protected, against the cries of pandering to the preservation of colonialism. The square where Faidherbe was resurrected was supposed to be renovated to the tune of 24.5 million euros ($29 million) by France's development agency, but despite approval in 2011 work has yet to begin.
The investigation revealed that the possible source of infection was 2 cows purchased from a city market less than 3 months prior to the event. A high prevalence of ticks was observed within the implicated herd, of which samples were collected for testing results pending. Another 15 suspected cases were identified in the community, all of whom tested negative and were excluded. Previous seroprevalence studies have highlighted that CCHF is focally endemic throughout Senegal and neighboring countries. Sporadic human infections may be expected in people with regular contact with livestock in endemic areas, but these are preventable through use of repellents, protective clothing, and gloves to prevent tick bites, and avoiding contact with blood and body fluids of livestock. ===================== [CCHF is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asian countries south of the 50th parallel north -- the geographical limit of the principal tick vector. The hosts of the CCHF virus include a wide range of wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats. Animals become infected by the bite of infected ticks and the virus remains in their bloodstream for about one week after infection, allowing the tick-animal-tick cycle to continue when another tick bites. Although a number of tick genera are capable of becoming infected with CCHF virus, ticks of the genus _Hyalomma_ are the principal vector.
The CCHF virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter. The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians. Human-to-human transmission is possible.
In May 2017, Senegal reported 2 cases of CCHF were reported that had been imported from Mauritania with history of exposure to ticks on household livestock. To prevent outbreaks of CCHF, public awareness campaigns aimed at the populations most at risk -- livestock farmers, butchers, and health personnel -- must be conducted, and the epidemiologic alert systems must be strengthened. In addition, conditions that enhance maintenance of the virus in nature and its transmission to humans must be better understood so adequate control measures can be developed. - ProMed Mod.UBA]
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2017 04:59:55 +0200 By Jennifer O'Mahony and Emilie Iob
Dakar, July 11, 2017 (AFP) - As West Africa declares war on the market for expired and counterfeit medicines, start-ups are putting quality control in the hands of patients to stop them risking their lives trying to get well. Not only can such drugs fail to treat the diseases they are bought to combat, experts say, but they may encourage resistance to antibiotics and even cause death as diseases continue to course unchecked through the body.
At an April meeting in Liberia, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced a region-wide investigation into the trafficking of expired and counterfeit drugs, and a public awareness campaign. Traffickers in bad medicine prey on some of the world's poorest and most in need, who also face high costs for health care and often lack insurance, said Adama Kane, who founded the health start-up JokkoSante in Senegal to tackle the problem.
Perversely, piles of perfectly good medication go unused in Senegal, Kane noted -- a problem that JokkoSante tackles by organising the collection of unused drugs from people who are awarded points in exchange to obtain other medicines later. Handing in asthma medication at an exchange point in a health centre in Passy, central Senegal, JokkoSante user Marie Gueye is one of those to benefit. "My family and I no longer have problems getting medication. All we have to do is come here and collect the points," she told AFP.
- Rewards - For Senegal's rural households, up to 73 percent of health-related expenses go on medication, according to JokkoSante research. Half the overall population has no health insurance coverage. "Our app is used by hospitals, pharmacies and health centres," Kane said, adding it was still at the pilot stage with 1,500 users so far. People create an account and operate the points system all via their mobile phone.
For those too poor to buy drugs at all, JokkoSante has teamed up with large company sponsors, including phone operator Sonatel, who cover the cost of providing patients with free medicine. Again, the system operates through a mobile app. At Diamniadio children's hospital, near Senegal's capital, Dakar, Yacina Ba described the fear of coming to the end of the 50,000 CFA Francs ($85, 75 euros) she scraped together to buy treatment and medication for her sick six-month-old baby, finally begging a doctor for help. "She had rashes all over her arms," Ba told AFP, explaining how the free treatment sponsorship scheme made all the difference.
- 'Most vulnerable people' - A health worker at the hospital, who asked not to be identified, conceded that a lack of specialists meant medics often over-prescribe medication to those able to pay. This can lead to stockpiles of unused, expired drugs which may then fall into the wrong hands. "Fake drugs are usually bought by the most vulnerable sections of society," said JokkoSante's Kane, who now oversees a small network of pharmacies using his platform, while the government considers a nationwide rollout. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated in 2015 that 122,000 children under five died due to taking poor-quality antimalarials in Sub-Saharan Africa, which, along with antibiotics as the two most in-demand, are the medicines most likely to be out-of-date or cheap copies.
- China, India drive trafficking - Counterfeited drugs from China and India are awash in west African markets, according to the Paris-based International Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM). And they are often indistinguishable from the genuine item, it warned. A joint IRACM and World Customs Organization (WCO) seizure of medical supplies at 16 African ports late last year yielded no fewer than 113 million items of fake medication, 5,000 medical devices and even veterinary products. Everything from fake cancer drugs to fake sutures for operations can be found in such hauls. IRACM is working with MPs on drafting legislation to crack down on trafficking in west Africa, but two innovative companies have already taken the matter in hand.
- Battling fakes - Sproxil, an anti-counterfeiting start-up established in 2009, works by attaching a scratch panel to drug packets. Consumers can check their product is the real deal by sending an SMS verification code to the company, which confirms the authenticity. In the last six years, the firm has had 50 million text messages from customers across Africa and India. Ireti Oluwagbemi, its Nigeria-based spokeswoman, said fraudsters "target brands based on their market share", making household names the biggest targets. There is plenty of money to be made. The global counterfeit drug market is currently worth around $85 billion, according to IRACM, and the proceeds drive organised crime.
Sproxil's clients include pharma giants such as GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, firms which lose millions each year from pirated products carefully stamped with their branding. "The consequences of ingesting these chemicals can range from discomfort to persistence of the disease it's supposed to be treating, to death," Oluwagbemi told AFP. mPedigree, a Ghanaian start-up with a similar scratch card guarantee, has also been adopted as an industry-wide standard by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, and records data on maps where fakes are appearing.