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United States

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kasebaFirst Lady Christine Kaseba-Sata has arrived in New York, United States of America to attend the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) being held at the United Nations headquarters.

Mrs Kaseba-Sata who arrived aboard an Emirates airliner at about 14:10hrs local time was received at JFK International Airport by Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Mwaba Kasese-Bota and several officials from the Zambian embassy.

Upon arrival, Dr Kaseba was immediately taken to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel where Zambia’s Ambassador to the United States of America (USA), Palan Mulonda and his delegation were at hand to receive her.

Dr Kaseba is in New York at the invitation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in her capacity as the WHO’s Good Will Ambassador of Gender Based Violence.

The First Lady is today expected to give a good will message to member states of the United Nations on Gender Based Violence and talk about the medical implications of such violence against women and girls.

ZANIS

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berryWomen who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week had fewer heart attacks. These berries contain high levels of compounds that have cardiovascular benefits.

Eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women reduce their risk of a heart attack by as much as one-third, researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

These fruits contain high levels of naturally occurring compounds called dietary flavonoids, also found in grapes and wine, blackberries, eggplant and other fruits and vegetables. A sub-class of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, may help dilate arteries and counter the buildup of plaque, according to the study.

“Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week,” said Eric Rimm, senior author of the article and associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts.”

Blueberries and strawberries were part of this analysis because they are the most-eaten berries in the United States. Other foods might produce the same results, researchers said.

Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, conducted a prospective study among 93,600 women ages 25 to 42 who were registered with the Nurses’ Health Study II. The women completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for nearly two decades.

During the study, 405 heart attacks occurred. Women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32 percent reduction in their risk of heart attack compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less — even in women who otherwise ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables…

Read More: sciencedaily.com

 

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged President Rupiah Banda, opposition leaders and all Zambians to hold free, fair, transparent and violence-free elections this year.

And President Banda defended Chinese investment in Zambia though he said investors from the Asian economic giant must respect the locals and labour laws.

Speaking during her joint media briefing with President Banda at State House in Lusaka on Friday night, Clinton said political leaders were answerable and accountable to their people and not the other way round.

She said candidates might express passionate differences in campaigns but they must accept the people’s votes and join together for the sake of the country.
She said Zambians had sent a powerful message to Africa and the world when they adopted multiparty democracy in 1991.

“As Zambia approaches another national election, once again you have a chance to set a model for the rest of the world. As the President has just said in our meeting, we discussed the importance of conducting the upcoming national elections peacefully, transparently, fairly and freely in a manner that reflects the will of the Zambian people,” said Clinton.

“The President has invited international and local observers to monitor the elections. And during the campaign he has spoken out repeatedly against election-related violence. That is an important message for all Zambian citizens including the one million young people voting for the first time.”

She said there were many positive signs that Zambians would continue with their adherence to democratic tenets in this year’s elections.

She congratulated Zambia for registering more than 82 per cent of eligible voters in the recent registration.

“Too often the news is dominated by what is wrong with Africa not about what is right. Zambia has shown that it is on the right path to tackle its challenges,” Clinton said.

Clinton, who was in Lusaka for two days to close the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum and due to visit Tanzania and Ethiopia, said Zambia had joined the US and the international community in many principle stances in support of human dignity, freedom of speech and religion and the fight against nuclear proliferation.

She said the US valued Zambia’s role as a regional leader since independence.

“Thanks for supporting calls to stop state-sponsored violence including in Zimbabwe. Thank you for supporting a peaceful transition in Madagascar,” Clinton said.

Clinton raised a red card against China’s non adherence to good governance and transparency in its dealings with Africa.

“We are concerned that China’s foreign assistance and investment practices in Africa have not always been consistent with generally accepted international norms of transparency and good governance and that it has not always utilised the talents of African people in pursuing its citizens’ interests,” Clinton said.

“We want to work more closely with China and other countries to make sure that when we engage with Africa we are doing it in a sustainable manner that will benefit the nations and people of Africa. Therefore, we have begun a dialogue with China about its activities in Africa.”

Clinton also said she was not satisfied with the progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ahead of the 2015 deadline.

“We have made progress but not enough. At the 2010 UN General Assembly we reviewed the progress that has been made but I am certainly not satisfied. I don’t think anybody should be satisfied,” Clinton said.

“We have made progress in certain statistical areas but have not crossed the threshold on education or healthcare the way we need to, but as we approach 2015 I think a lot of lessons that we tried to analyse in 2010 will need to be applied. The US administration remains very committed.”

And Clinton denied media reports that she was eyeing the World Bank top job.
“I have had no discussions with anyone. I have evidenced no interest to anyone, I do not have any interests and I am not pursuing that position,” Clinton said.

“It is a very important institution and obviously we want to see the World Bank well led. We work closely with the World Bank but I am absolutely dedicated to my service as Secretary of State.”

She said she and her State Department team had a lot of work ahead to implement their government’s vision to improve and grow the US’ relationships around the world including in Africa.

And President Banda said Zambia was receptive to all investors including the Chinese.

However, he said foreign investors must respect Zambians and should know that citizens were sensitive and must be treated well.

He urged Clinton to woo American investors to come and set up their business in Zambia and partner with the locals.

President Banda told Clinton that Zambia would hold free, fair and transparent elections where voters’ wishes would be respected.

“This is a very special year for Zambia. When you say 2011 every Zambian knows what you are about to talk about, being our election year.

I want to assure your Excellency that we are very proud with the track record that since 1964, when we had our independence, to date we have had good and fair and free and transparent elections,” President Banda said.

“Of course, the country has grown, the population has moved from three million plus in 1964 to 13 million now. It is good for the country that we should have opposition parties.

I just wish to assure you that these elections will be held within the next few months and that they will be transparent and that we will work with all our collaborating partners including the United States to ensure that that these elections are free, fair and transparent and held in a peaceful atmosphere.”

President Banda described the bloody by-elections in Mufumbwe Constituency where three people died, others injured, while one lost his eye as “a bit of violence”.

“We do need peaceful elections. We are going to continue working with you and all other countries to ensure peace on our continent,” said President Banda./Post

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The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has condemned political violence ahead of this year’s general elections.

Mrs Clinton has since advised that Zambia continues to set a good model in holding transparent, free and fair elections.

She has however reiterated the political leaders’ duty to public accountability to the electorate.

Mrs Clinton was speaking at state house this evening after a meeting with President Rupiah Banda.

And President Banda assured Mrs Clinton of peaceful general elections set for later this year.

Mr Banda also reaffirmed his strong condemnation of political violence.

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The meeting in Zambia has drawn one of the largest U.S. delegations to Africa in years.

LUSAKA, Zambia—U.S. officials and business leaders have gathered here for a bout of soul-searching on how to lift trade and investment in Africa, underlining a broad recognition that American companies are trailing those from China and India in tapping the continent’s economic opportunities.

The meeting in Zambia has drawn one of the largest U.S. delegations to Africa in years. It includes U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrives in the capital Lusaka on Friday. She is the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Zambia in 30 years.

Mr. Kirk said he was “sobered by the reality that we are just at the beginning” of a broader economic ties with Africa.

The focus of the meeting is the African Growth and Opportunities Act, or Agoa, an 11-year-old piece of U.S. legislation that provides preferential access to the American market for more than 1,800 African products. It covers 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with a handful of others disqualified because of coups and corruption.

Many participants say the U.S. needs a new approach to a continent that is projected to grow faster than any other global region over the next five years. They say trade assistance, along with humanitarian aid, together aren’t enough to tap a market with a billion potential consumers.

“America has more medical doctors and Ph.D.s here than businessmen,” says Greg Marchand, who runs a telecommunications and consulting company in Zambia called Gizmos Solutions Ltd. “And we wonder why we aren’t doing a lot of business.”

The U.S. remains the top donor to Africa, disbursing $7.6 billion in 2009, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

China isn’t a member of the OECD, and doesn’t provide detailed breakdowns of aid and investment to Africa. But in 2009, China became Africa’s largest trade partner. In the first 11 months of last year, China’s trade with Africa amounted to $114.81 billion, according to the Chinese government’s White Paper on the topic. U.S. trade with Africa for the period reached $103 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

China has tied much of its trade and investment to Africa with preferential loan deals, often aimed at securing supplies of oil, gas and minerals. Top-ranking Chinese officials regularly visit African countries to cement these agreements.

“The goal of China is mercantilist; they do what they need to do to get access to natural resources,” says Paul Ryberg, the Washington-based president for the African Coalition for Trade, which represents African companies in the U.S. The centerpiece of U.S. economic engagement, Agoa, says Mr. Ryberg “is economic development, creation of jobs and the creation of a middle class to buy our products.”

But while Agoa boosted African exports to the U.S.—10 times from its inception to 2008—it has failed to broaden significantly the trade relationship. Energy exports account for about 90% of sub-Saharan African trade to the U.S., according to a study published last month by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

That type of trade relationship is seen as too narrow to seize new opportunities linked to Africa’s accelerating economic growth and new consumers.

The International Monetary Fund predicts sub-Saharan Africa—a collection of 47 countries—will grow 5.5% this year and 6% in 2012. Over the next five years, the IMF predicts that average growth of sub-Saharan countries will be higher than other regions. The African Development Bank Group estimates a new consumer class on the continent of 300 million people.

Yet the continent remains burdened by political corruption and poor infrastructure—problems that ratchet up the price of goods, particularly in many landlocked countries. Most African countries rank at the bottom of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey.

Companies from China, India and Brazil generally have been less daunted by such challenges. Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s largest phone company, now operates in 16 African countries, part of a dramatic expansion of Indian investment in Africa. This month, Bharti Airtel said it signed a deal with China’s Huawei Technologies Co. to help manage and modernize its network in Africa.

U.S. officials say American companies, not the government, must pursue African business opportunities. In most African countries U.S. investment lags far behind American aid. In Zambia, for example, the U.S. foreign direct investment was $79 million in 2008, up 3.9% from the year before, according to USTR. Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development estimated it spent $390 million in Zambia last year, up from $300 million in 2009.

Outside Lusaka, China has invested more than $1 billion in an investment zone near the Chambishi copper belt. The zone includes 14 Chinese companies, mostly mining and equipment makers.

China’s investment in Zambia hasn’t been without its troubles. In March, 600 workers went on strike demanding a 50% pay increase, the latest in a long list of labor disputes. Meanwhile, Zambia’s opposition politicians have accused China of taking away jobs from Zambians and subjecting their country to a new form of colonization.

At the same time, the southern African economy is showing signs of moving beyond its dependence on minerals. Lusaka’s commercial real-estate market is crammed with new tenants, even as new buildings and shopping malls go up.

The 36-year old Mr. Marchand, an entrepreneur from Chicago, says he arrived in 2005 with four laptops, a printer and $100,000 to start his telecom and consulting company. The U.S. government assistance, he says, was minimal. “They issued me a passport.”

At least now the U.S. government is paying attention, says Mr. Marchand, who is also the president of a new American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia. On Saturday, U.S. Secretary Clinton and U.S. Trade Representative Kirk are scheduled to attend the chamber’s opening ceremony.
—Jackie Bischof in Johannesburg contributed to this article.

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Zambia has a dire shortage of health workers, fewer than 646 doctors, about 28% of its target of 2300, according to a study done by the ministry of health and the University of Zambia, and less than a third the doctor—patient ratio recommended by WHO.  It  has about 6096 nurses, far below the target of 16 732.

Just past the entrance to the sprawling University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka, a yellow sign serves as a stark reminder of the massive health-worker shortage facing this southern African nation. “Kindly take note that members of the staff at UTH work under very strenuous and demanding conditions due to the increase in the disease burden and critical shortages of manpower”, reads the sign, put up after a series of confrontations between angry patients and over-stretched nurses and doctors. “It may take a bit of time…Assaulting any member of staff is a criminal offence.”

Impatient clients are just one challenge at UTH. The hospital, Zambia’s largest public-health facility and the site of the country’s only medical school, has less than half of the nurses, and only 62% of the doctors, needed to serve an urban population of more than 1 million.

In the hospital’s maternity ward, nurses tell horror stories of racing from mother to mother, delivering babies, as other pregnant women go unnoticed. “One nurse, for example, will have to look over 40 people on the ward”, says Lackson Kasonka, head of the maternity ward. “It is taking an enormous toll on the remaining members of staff.”

UTH is one of the starkest examples of life amid a critical shortage of doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and other health professionals that is hampering the Zambian health system’s ability to cope with a still-raging HIV/AIDS pandemic and diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

The crisis stems from various factors, including an exodus of trained professionals to other countries in Africa and overseas, an equally complicated internal brain drain, an outdated medical-training infrastructure, faulty government management, and the effects of HIV/AIDS. The result is a health workforce that is growing far too slowly, and in some categories, such as doctors, declining.

 

But after years of neglect, the human-resources crisis has been gaining new attention, and Zambia has become a testing ground for several initiatives aimed at retaining health staff, expanding the health-care workforce, and improving the wellbeing of nurses and doctors.

Overall, the government only has half of the health workforce that it needs, and the situation is direr in rural areas, where many young doctors and nurses are reluctant to live. Some district health centres have no medical staff at all.

A country of almost 13 million people, Zambia had fewer than 646 doctors, about 28% of its target of 2300, according to a study done by the ministry of health and the University of Zambia, and less than a third the doctor—patient ratio recommended by WHO.

The country had only 6096 nurses, far below the target of 16 732.

 

The shortage poses a particular challenge to the national health strategic plan as short-staffed government and church-run health clinics struggle to increase the number of people on antiretroviral therapy.

How it got to this point is not a mystery. One major problem is that the country’s medical-training infrastructure simply is not producing enough health professionals. Despite its population growth since gaining independence in 1964, Zambia still only has one medical school and a handful of nursing and technical schools.

Each year the medical school graduates about 50 to 60 doctors, who are then committed to an 18-month internship in one of the country’s few large public-health facilities. After that, however, all bets are off.

 

Around half of the doctors leave for more training or better-paid jobs within Africa, or farther afield, in Australia, the UK, or the USA. Getting them back is difficult in a country where the average doctor might make well below £15 000 per year, according to recent studies.

Those who stay often supplement their incomes by taking second jobs with private clinics or in totally unrelated fields—reducing the time they spend with their primary patients. “Some of my classmates are in South Africa, and say they will never come back”, notes Mulla, who graduated from Zambia’s medical school back in the early 1980s.

The problem is perhaps even more vexing with nurses. Despite some efforts to persuade countries such as Canada and the UK to stop recruiting them, Zambian nurses can easily get jobs abroad. Many Zambian nurses live in shanty compounds and make about £200 per month, according to a 2007 survey of Zambian health workers by David Lusale of the Chainama College of Health Sciences in Lusaka.

By contrast, after a few months of work at a London nursing home, a nurse can buy a car. Between 1998 and 2003, 461 Zambian nurses were recruited into the UK, according to the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Zambia, where more than 70% of the population remains in poverty, cannot equal the pay offered by other countries any time soon. But it is not just a matter of pay, it is also about job satisfaction. One midwife, who asked not to be named, explained that working conditions at facilities like the ageing and often run-down UTH are a drain on morale. Protective clothing is in short supply, and nurses are forced to use the traditional Zambian chitenge cloth that pregnant women bring with them to catch fluids. “Getting splashes of blood all over—can you enjoy working that way? No”, the midwife said.

 

But although the international exodus gets the headlines, Zambia also faces an internal brain drain of sorts—a complicated phenomenon in itself. Since the international community started pouring billions of dollars into the HIV/AIDS fight in Africa earlier this decade, new and lucrative job opportunities have emerged for doctors and nurses with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and foreign aid agencies. The new jobs keep them in the country doing important work, but can also be a drain on the public-health system. Many health workers “would rather work for NGOs and other organisations that are offering better pay”, Kasonka notes.

Additionally, in a cruel twist, the HIV/AIDS pandemic that many nurses are helping to fight is also, experts say, claiming many of their lives. Urban women have among the highest HIV rates, and death is the reason for about 38% of exits from the Zambian health workforce, according to a 2003-04 study.

Compounding problems of pay, working conditions, and HIV/AIDS, is an onerous government health bureaucracy that sometimes deploys doctors where they are not needed and places reams of red tape in front of doctors who return from abroad wanting to practise in their homeland, amid their family and friends.

The government has finally recognised the extent of the human resources crisis—a substantial step, observers say—and has put in place a strategic plan to address it. But a lack of government funding, management problems, and limited budgetary expertise, especially when it comes to issues like wage caps and the spending conditions attached to international debt relief; continue to plague the plan’s implementation.