Development and Social Issues in Africa

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Zambia: UNDP Flagship Report Says a Diversified Economy will Spur Inclusive Development and Poverty Reduction

By Brenda Zulu
Zambia's latest Human Development Report urges the country to diversify its economy through prioritisation of its manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The report reveals that these sectors have created productive employment at a much faster pace than mining, and indicates that increasing productivity in these sectors is likely to lead to a path of inclusive development and poverty reduction.

The 2016 Zambia National Human Development Report (ZNHDR), launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country office today, argues that for industrialisation to drive growth, policies for targeting strategic industries need to be explored locally. The Report was produced by UNDP in conjunction with the Zambian government.

Its theme, “Industrialisation and Human Development: Poverty Reduction through Wealth and Employment Creation” is informed by the recognition that industrialisation offers unique opportunities for development, and that Zambia’s overall human development may well be shaped by the path of industrialization that the country pursues.

The purpose of National Human Development Reports is to stimulate the industrialisation debate in Zambia, foster change and catalyse action for national development. Zambia has produced six National Human Development Reports, the last was in 2011. The current Report is the seventh in the series and presents quantitative and qualitative data on the state of Zambia’s industrial sector and proposes ways to make industrialisation more supportive of human development in the country.

Among several recommendations, the  report states that the core of Zambia’s economic industrialisation  strategy should be a set of interlinked and integrated policies, ranging from human and educational development through to microeconomic and infrastructural support; all designed to promote the growth of the  industrial base and in turn reduce the dependence on copper production and revenue.

Other recommendations are that future industrial policy should focus on accelerated investments in research and development and human capital accumulation, with particular emphasis on science and technology skills. In this manner, labour can contribute to the development of Zambia's value-added sectors, as well as provide the basis for exploring profitable opportunities in new markets. Also, the expansion of secondary industry in Zambia requires strong, transparent, and efficient institutions within a supportive regulatory environment.

“We have experienced over the last year the challenges of dependence on a single major revenue base - copper; on a single major energy source - large-scale hydro; on a single major agricultural product - maize - and on top of that, lack of value addition in our productive sectors. Historically, Zambia’s economic growth has been led by copper mining. Other sectors such as agriculture and value-added manufacturing have received less attention, either from public or private investment.  And the supporting infrastructure and logistical network, and the educational and training base, to enable those industries to develop at a lower cost have also been missing,” says Janet Rogan, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Zambia.

Ms. Rogan said it is by creating productive employment that individuals improve the quality of their lives, and those of their families and communities. “Investment in value-added sectors through industrialization is a strategy the government can pursue and can lead in order to attract investment which in turn creates productive employment,” she said. 
Launching the Report today, Zambia’s Vice President, Inonge Wina said the government is firmly committed to the diversification of Zambia's economy through increased participation of other sectors in growth generation.

“The government has continued to address challenges faced by micro, small and medium enterprises such as access to finance, markets and technology, and the development of entrepreneurial skills. These interventions are expected to spur enterprise growth and contribute to job creation,” the Vice President said in a keynote speech delivered on her behalf by the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Margaret Mwanakatwe. 

Zambia is classified as a Medium Human Development nation and is ranked 139th out of 188 countries globally.  Several factors have placed Zambia in the bottom quartile of the world’s human development rankings. These include stunted per capita incomes which have kept poverty levels high, low fiscal expenditure in health of about 5 per cent of GDP, education and social protection, and poor access to rural health and education amenities.

The Zambian economy has grown at an average of 7 percent over the past decade, one of the fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, the benefits of growth have been unevenly distributed; poverty and inequality levels are high in Zambia and, most importantly, of the economy's over-reliance on a single commodity to a single market.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

“Zambia has the potential to become a disability champion in the African region” – UN expert

By Brenda Zulu
“There are good opportunities to achieve the realisation of rights of persons with disabilities in Zambia,” today said United Nations Special Rapporteur Catalina Devandas, while urging the Government to fully implement a number of well-formulated and well-intended policies and strategies.

“Zambia has the potential to become a disability champion in the African region, provided that the Government makes it a priority to implement the policy and legal framework on disability,” Ms. Devandas said at the end of her first official visit* to the country to assess the level of enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities. 

In  a press release, the UN expert highlighted numerous initiatives by the Zambian authorities to improve the protection framework for persons with disabilities, including the strengthening of the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the production of a National Disability Survey, and the significant efforts undertaken to make its social protection framework inclusive of persons with disabilities.

In that regard, she encouraged the Government to continue advancing in the areas of accessibility, education, health, and employment, through the adoption of the necessary measures required to ensure the implementation and enforcement of the Persons with Disabilities Act and other relevant policies.
On the other hand, the Special Rapporteur also identified urgent challenges to be addressed, such as the stark disparities between rural and urban areas in relation to accessibility and availability of services. In addition, Ms. Devandas highlighted the situation of persons with albinism, who live in constant fear of being attacked and killed for their body parts, and urged the authorities to protect women and girls with disabilities, who are at heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence.

The human rights expert also drew attention that the situation of persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities is of particular concern: “Deprivation of liberty on the basis of disability remains an accepted practice in Zambia,” she said pointing at the widespread assumption that persons with psychosocial or intellectual impairments have no legal capacity due to the lack of ‘mental capacities’.

During her stay, the Special Rapporteur visited the Chainama Hills Hospital in Lusaka and the psychiatric unit of the General Hospital in Ndola. “I was particularly appalled by the conditions of the psychiatric unit in Ndola, where persons with psychosocial disabilities are deprived of their liberty without their informed consent, are subjected to seclusion and forced treatment, including forced sterilization of women with disabilities,” she explained.

While she welcomed the efforts undertaken to draft a new Mental Health Bill, she urged the Government “to close the mental health settlements where persons with psychosocial disabilities are confined in remote areas of the country, and to invest instead in adequate and comprehensive community-based supports services.”

Other major challenges encountered by the independent expert are in the area of access to justice. “Complaints of abuse and discrimination by women and girls are mostly overlooked, and the majority of court buildings are inaccessible,” Ms. Devandas said. “Deaf persons are denied access to justice on equal basis with others, as sign language interpretation is not provided in courts.”

The UN Special Rapporteur visited the cities of Lusaka and Ndola, where she met with a variety of senior Government officials, and held discussions with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, other civil society actors, the UN system, and international cooperation actors.

The UN Special Rapporteur will present a report to the Human Rights Council in 2017 on the main findings of her visit.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement: 

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Change in Mineral Royalty Tax is not a risk to Zambia’s sovereign sustainability

By Brenda Zulu
The Zambia Chamber of Mines dispel assertions in the Post newspapers of Monday, April 25,2016 by Moodys, lead Sovereign analyst for Zambia, Zuzana Brixiova that the proposed changes to the Mineral Royalty Tax(MRT) in the Mines and Minerals Development amendment Bill, before the Zambian Parliament, are a risk to sovereign sustainability.
According to a Press Release made available to the Africa Interactive Media (AIM), the announcement of changes to the mining fiscal regime in the 2015 national budget, the Chamber of Mines and its membership have been engaging government and other relevant stakeholders through a constructive dialogue process.
It must be noted that the disastrous consequences of the MRT regime as it stood, would have resulted in virtual death of the mining sector, something which would certainly have not boded well for the country. The industry together with government was looking for a longterm solution that would take the industry through the next 20 to 30 years. Increased production is fundamental to increasing government revenue.
It must be realized that having high nominal tax rate does not necessarily result in positive revenue. A realistic revaluation of tax rates that sustains the taxed sector is more progressive than an unsustainably high rate one that ultimately only serves to destroy the target sector.
What is an ideal mineral tax regime? It is one that delivers the maximum benefit for a country’s citizens from its mineral resources. Maximum benefit to the citizenry might not necessarily be the same as maximum benefit to the Government, in terms of tax receipts.
For example, a healthy mining industry has significant multiplier effects within the wider economy that far outweigh its contribution to the national coffers.
Studies by the International Mining and Minerals Council (ICMM) have shown that for every $1 generated by mining, at least an additional $3 are generated elsewhere in the host economy. In addition, for every one direct mining employee, employment is generated for further 3-5 employees elsewhere in the economy.
The broad aims of Government minerals taxation policy must therefore be to generate immediate and lasting revenue in a manner which:
• Has no adverse impact on the health of the Industry.
• Encourages (or, at least does not discourage) the investment needed for future development, which is the pipeline of future tax receipts.
Royalties are a blunt instrument; they are not sensitive to the distinctive circumstances of each mine. As MRT is based on production, it has no regard for costs – which will always vary between different mines. So, two mines with completely different cost structures and profit levels might end up paying the same royalty tax.
In fact, a mine can be making a loss and still have to pay the royalty – that is precisely what is happening across the Industry at the moment. Some loss making mines might even have to borrow money in order to make the payments.
A country report (No. 15/153, June 2015) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests Zambia’s MRT rates are too high.
“A comparison of prevailing royalty rates in 2014 shows that, at 6%, Zambia’s royalty rate was among the highest fixed rate among copper-producing countries.
A World Bank report (Making Mining Work for Zambia, June 2015), also suggests the country’s MRT levels are too high. “Zambia’s mineral royalty rates have in recent years tended to exceed the global norm, even before the rate jumped temporarily to 20 percent on open-pit mines in 2015. Most major mineral producers charge less than six Percent.”
According to the table below based on trends in Taxation by KPMG Global Mining Institute
Comparison with other national mining taxation regimes
Australia 2.5%-5 % 30%
Brazil 2 per % 25%
China 0.5%-4 % 25%
Ghana 5% 25%
Indonesia 4% 25%
South Africa 0.5%-7% 28%
DRC 2% 30%
Zambia 30% 6%-9%
We in the mining industry have been restructuring our operations, lowering our costs and contemplating investments which improve our efficiency and try to keep people in work. But what are the right measures when we’re dealing at the level of an entire country.
This basic truth is tremendously encouraging for us in Zambia, for it tells us that despite the serious situation we currently find ourselves in, there is a way out. This explains why we, as an industry, are calling for a national strategic consensus among all stakeholders to promote the growth not just of the mining industry, but of the economy in general.
The long-term objective is a diversified high-growth economy in which the mining industry is no longer the sole contributor, but simply one of many industries selling products and services, creating jobs, and generating wealth for Zambia’s people and tax revenue for Government services.
Recent public pronouncements by His Excellency, President Edgar Lungu on the absolute necessity for a growing, diversified economy are encouraging, and show the government is alive to the need for such a transformation. As an industry, we stand ready to work with government, and all other stakeholders, to help make this a reality.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

NGOCC condemns stripping of a girl on youth day

The Non Governmental Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) condemns in the strongest terms the violence and the stripping naked of an opposition girl by cadres of the Patriotic Front (PF) at the Freedom Statue on Saturday, 12th March 2016 during the commemoration of the International Youth Day. 

In Press release issued by Patricia Mubanga NGOCC  board publicity said the act by the ruling party cadres to undress the girl in public is not only criminal but barbaric and evil only reminiscent in lawless societies. It is despicable, that youths from the ruling party can conduct themselves in such a barbaric manner.

As an organization we have been made aware of a video clip that is even circulating on social media depicting this very sad incidence with identifiable ‘criminals’. We therefore call upon the Zambia police to immediately arrest the culprits who undressed the young girl in public. The conduct of the PF cadres to undress a woman in public is the highest level of indignity ever shown to women in the country, considering that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu on 8 March 2016 during International Women’s Day spoke strongly against the negative portrayal of women in the print media. This act by itself is not any different. Nothing justifies such barbaric conduct against a fellow human being, because every human being has the right to respect and to belong any political grouping.

Zambia is a democratic country where all citizens are free to belong to any political grouping without any intimidation. The behavior of the cadres to undress an opposition member just because she is dressed in her party regalia is unconstitutional and we expect the leadership of the party to act against these cadres.

NGOCC therefore demands an apology from the PF over this very sad incident. As we go to the elections on 11th August, there is need for civility from both the opposition and the ruling party.

As an organization we will not allow any of the political parties to abuse women and insult them in the manner the PF cadres behaved on Saturday 12th March 2016.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016


By Brenda Zulu
GOVERNMENT says it is engaging mining companies to consider different options so that the two parties could come up with consistent and predictable policies for the mining sector.
And mining houses in Zambia have hailed the Zambian Government for its continued commitment to finding lasting solutions facing the sector.
In a Press Release, Gemfields Plc, 75% owners of Kagem Mine, and Vedanta Resources Plc, owners of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) have said that they appreciated the openness with which Government was approaching the various efforts that have been tabled so far in order for the parties to arrive at a mutually beneficial set of policies.
Minister Yaluma making his presentation at the Country Case Study on Zambia session at the 2016 Mining Conference in Cape Town on 10th February.
Vedanta Resources Plc Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tom Albanese, said during a ‘Country Case Study’ on Zambia at the on-going Mining Conference in Cape Town today that his company was proud of what the negotiating team had achieved with the Zambian Government in getting round the challenges facing the sector.
He said KCM respected the “owners of the resources in Zambia” because they realised the pivotal role that the company played in the lives of Zambians.
Germfields Plc Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ian Harebottle said his company had all the confidence in the Zambian Government which had continued making the country “an excellent investment destination.”
The two were part of a panel discussion which also comprised Zambia’s Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Mr. Christopher Yaluma, Deputy Finance Minister Mr. Christopher Mvunga and ZCCM-IH Holdings Chief Executive Officer Dr. Pius Kasolo. 
The session was also attended by Deputy Minister for Mines and Minerals Development Mr. Richard Musukwa, Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba, several multi-national mining investors, and business executives from various sectors.
And Mr. Albanese disclosed that KCM has made tremendous progress in repositioning itself in the last two years and could comfortably say that it was now able to withstand the current low copper prices.
“We are hopeful that there will be positive trends soon and the copper business will start coming round this year although this will not be in the range of 6 to US$8, 000 per tonne.”
He said Vedanta Resources understood the current problems, such as the energy shortage, that the Zambian Government was grappling with and would like to be part of the solutions.
On the developing consistent policies to guide the mining sector, Mr. Mvunga said Government was alive to the fact that mining was a long term investment for which owners needed to be able to plan ahead without difficulties.
“We are in constant dialogue with the mines to arrive at a consistent and predictable tax regime. We realise that there is need for a certain form of certainty as these are long term investments,” he said.
Mr. Mvunga said Government, just like many other players in the sector, realised that mining had moments of “troughs and crests”. He said Government was glad that there was still a show of optimism from the mining houses themselves.
He reminded mining companies to look at the ‘Remission rule’ governing the operations of mines in Zambia so that they could put it to use in troubled times as the current scenario.
Dr. Kasolo pointed out that trends in the mining business were of cyclical nature and that these occurrences were beyond the control of any government. 
And responding to a question from the audience, Mr. Yaluma assured the mining sector that Government was not considering reintroduction of the Windfall Tax until such a time when conditions dictated so.
Mr. Yaluma said Zambia had been through a period of depressed metal prices and that Government was confident that the country would emerge out of the current one victoriously.
He said Government, the industry and all other stakeholders had their roles to play in order to reverse the downturn.
The Minister told the audience that in order to ensure growth and sustainability of the mining industry during all financial scenarios, a clear and articulate policy that sought to create a competitive, thriving and sustainable mining industry had been adopted.
Mr. Yaluma noted that Government had also adopted the revised Mines and Minerals Development Act of 2015 which was enacted to bring the law in line with international best practices.

The new law addresses among other things; the unnecessary bureaucracy in the issuance of mining rights; inadequate tenure of mineral processing licences; Mineral royalty rates, and promoting good governance, transparency, adherence to the rule of law and regular dialogue with stakeholders.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Let’s empower women to fight cervical cancer – Kasese-Bota

By Brenda Zulu

Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Her Excellency Dr Mwaba Kasese-Bota has called for concerted efforts to empower women with knowledge and skills to protect themselves against cervical cancer.
In a Press Release,Ambassador Kasese-Bota said this in a statement read on her behalf by Zambia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ms. Christine Kalamwina, during an event organized by Missions of Zambia and US to the UN, and ‘Every Woman Every Child’ to mark World Cancer Day at UN HQ in New York.
Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare Permanent Secretary Dr Davy M. Chikamata delivering Zambia’s national statement at the 54th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development at UN HQ in New York on 5 February 2016. With him is Zambia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ms. Christine Kalamwina, his Ministry’s Director of Planning Mr. Simmy Chapula and First Secretary (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Affairs) Mrs Hellen Chifwaila. PHOTO | CHIBAULA D. SILWAMBA | ZAMBIA UN MISSION
Ambassador Dr Kasese-Bota said efforts must be made to increase screening opportunities, early recognition of signs of cervical cancer and ensuring that healthcare was sought without delay for the affected women.
She called for increase in the vaccination of young girls to prevent infection with the human papilloma virus, which is the main cause of cervical cancer.
“The growing cancer burden across the globe calls for the international community to remain committed to the World Cancer Declaration, which outlines the steps needed to reverse the global cancer crisis by 2020,” Ambassador Kasese-Bota said. “There is need for the global community to allocate adequate human, financial and other resources towards the management of cervical cancer, especially in the developing world.”

She said there was urgent need for national governments to consider allocating adequate financial resources to ensure that early detection, treatment and regular follow-up of cervical cancer was made available to all women.
“Recently inherited statistics show that Zambia has the second highest rates of Cervical Cancer in the world and is the second most common cancer among women. According to the estimates by the World Health Organisation an estimated number of 1300 women die of cervical cancer out of the 1900 diagnosed each year, despite the fact that Cervical Cancer can be treated, if diagnosed early,” Kasese-Bota said. 
She said the Zambian Government has been very responsive to fight cervical cancer, as evidenced through the implementation of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme in collaboration with development partners like the US Government.
“These Free Cervical Cancer Screening Clinics are located in all the 10 provinces of Zambia,” said Ambassador Kasese-Bota. “The Zambian Government has also partnered with the US Government and the George W. Bush Institute to launch the Pink Red/Red Ribbon Campaign which builds on existing healthcare programme to integrate Cervical Cancer prevention.”

Approximately 86 per cent of all cervical cancer cases occur in developing countries. For Sub-Saharan Africa, Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer among women, where at least 35 cases are diagnosed for every 100, 000 women.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

SF-2000 goes for clinical trials after 15 years

By Brenda Zulu

Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu says enhanced research and scientific investigations are key in addressing various challenges affecting the people. And Dr Kaingu says his ministry will closely work with the Ministry of Health to conduct HIV clinical trials for herbal remedies. Dr Kaingu was speaking at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport where he witnessed the arrival of processed Twenty three Thousand Sondashi formula – HIV and AIDS herbal Capsules that under went trial in South Africa. And Dr. Ludwig Sondashi the inventor of Sondashi fomula said he is happy that clinical trials will now be done fifteen years since he invented the herbal remedy. Lusaka Times 

Dr Ludwig Sondashi a Lawyer, Politician, Businessman and Herbalist based in Zambia has been covered in the news for the past 15 years over his claims that he has the treatment and cure for the Human Immune-Deficiency Virus (HIV).

Many HIV positive patients have approached him for the Sondashi Formular 2000 (SF2000) and some have testified that they have tested negative after taking the medicine for sometime. 

When I visited Dr Sondashi’s office, I was shown a list with about 7 latest names of people who had been reported to have been negative after taking the medicine for more than six months. 

Dr Sondashi explained that before one starts taking the SF-2000 medicine, they are advise to go for a viral load test in order for them to assess one’s progress whilst taking the SF-2000.  The viral load test is done to determine the number of viruses one has in the body.  After taking the formula for three months or more, one is advised to go for another viral load test.  This will enable one to estimate how much more of the formula one requires. 

Even if one does not have money to go for a viral load test one can still start taking the SF-2000.  A bottle lasts for seven days or slightly over seven days.  In a month or more, as an adult, you require four bottles of the Sondashi formula. One week treatment costs about $40 for the powder and $60 in capsules. 

Dr Sondashi said the price for the medicine had been cheap because in 2000 the formular used to cost $50 US dollars.  “The price has remained the same for the past 13 years,” he said.

What is SF-2000?
This remedy is in powder form and is for the treatment and cure of HIV/AIDS. The powder is a mixture of more than 2 plants coded SF-2000. 

When I tasted the powder, it is tastes bitter. I asked him if he had any plans to add some flavour for easy medicine intake, he said he was scared that some people would take more than recommended since a patient is supposed to take more only three teaspoons a day. He said the powder form was easy to keep and store.

Dr Sondashi explained that the medicine has been tested scientifically in the laboratories in Zambia, South Africa and United States of America and has been found to be non-toxic to normal MT4 cells and efficacious by killing the HIV virus and does not interfere with other medicines that one may be taking. 

It has also been tested in animals and has been found safe.  The Government of Zambia is now preparing to carry out further trials of safety and efficacy in human beings. 

Complementary to these findings, in 2006 the National Aids Council (NAC) conducted an open observational and explanatory clinical study and 10 people were put on SF-2000.  The product showed that six out of ten increased in CD4 cell count correspondent to Viral Load reduction and also their physical and clinical status improved drastically.  No side effects have been noticed in pregnant women or children.  Up to date the improvement in patients suffering from HIV/AIDS has been remarkable.  

The SF-2000 medicine should be taken until a person is tested negative and the period varies from individual to individual. It may take about 6 months or one year, or even longer than this, depending on one’s status of illness.  Remember that SF-2000 has been found scientifically to kill the HIV virus.

It has been discovered that 3 days after taking this medicine one will certainly feel some changes in their body. For instance, symptoms such as sleeplessness, tiredness, lack of appetite, body pains, coughing, rashes etc will start disappearing. Generally, the symptoms tend to disappear after the treatment of at least one to two months; furthermore, the cure requires a much prolonged treatment for people who are very ill and for those who have been on ARVs.  The remedy is also now in capsule form. SF-2000 can also be taken in combination with ARVS.

What to observe?
Patients are advised to go for an HIV test, CD4 count and viral load tests before taking the remedy. This will assist in the monitoring of the progress being made by the patient. HIV, CD4 count and viral load tests are recommended at regular intervals of three months until the patient is tested negative.

And also effective protection is recommended from the day of treatment, even when both partners are under medication. Increased alcohol consumption is not recommended while you are on Sondashi Formula. 
Dr Sondashi founded this medicine in the year 1999, and in 2000, he discovered that the medicine could cure and treat HIV/AIDS diseases. 

“It is GOD who helped me find this medicine. It all started when I was looking for an HIV cure for my first  born son who had suffered from it. After going to western doctors and failing to see my son get healed, I started going the traditional doctors. My son passed away before I found the sondashi formula,” explained Dr Sondashi. 

He added that he paid different traditional doctors money to be shown the cure for opportunistic HIV infections  which after he mixed together the different herbs could cure the HIV.

“If this medicine can cure some HIV opportunistic infections, supposing you combine this together don’t you think this can cure AIDS?” asked Dr Sondashi. 

The following is an analysis of both invitro (laboratory) and vivo (human and animals) tests which have been subjected to the Sondashi Formula.

In the year 2003, Dr Sondashi handed over the herbal medicine to late Dr Patrick Chikusu of the National AIDS Council (NAC), who was Chairman of the National Technical Committee, on traditional and alternative remedies, for testing. 

On 13th September, 2004, after carrying out the laboratory testing, Dr. Chikusu informed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, that SF-2000 medicine and two other medicines from other herbalists were assessed for safety and were found to have no toxicity to normal MT4 cells and were found to be non-toxic.

The medicines were tested against HIV Sub Type B and found to be efficacious, by killing HIV Sub Type B at specific dilution which is non toxic to normal MT4 cells, and that the interesting finding was of great national importance; especially Sondashi Formulation from herbs of Zambia.

On the 14th October 2004, Dr. S.K. Miti, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health sent Dr Sondashi a letter, enclosing the above stated Report.  It was from this preliminary finding that the late President Levy Mwanawasa obtained funding and directed the NAC to give permission to Dr. Chikusu, as Principal Investigator, to carry out further clinical observations on this herbal medicine among others. 

The letter to the Minister of Health read in part as follows:

“With regard to your requests that consideration be given to the National AIDS Council carrying out research on the Sondashi formulation, as far as I am concerned I do not care which organisation carries out the necessary research. What we want to know is whether this formulation constitutes a cure. I regret that from a layman’s point of view, I see nothing  which has been demonstrated that there have been any appreciable tests carried out on the Sondashi formulation. As I have consistently informed you, I know of at least 5 people who have been cured of this disease after taking the Sondashi formulation in the sense that they have been tested positive before starting and then negative afterwards. The tests have been repeated on at least 3 different occasions of three months intervals. The negative results have remained constant,” said Mr Mwanawasa.

Dr Sondashi was then given ten patients, whom he administered the Sondashi Formula over a period of six months.  

These open observational and exploratory clinical studies lasted from 17th November 2005 to 26th April 2006. The Sondashi formula was best found to be the best among the three herbal medicines submitted for trials. Dr. Chikusu, on 4th April 2007, wrote a letter to Dr Sondashi, informing him of how his product performed in a herbal formulation clinical study.  

The objective of the study was to evaluate Safety and efficacy as well as physical and Clinical status of HIV positive clients. The product was evaluated for any spicing with commonly used antiretrovirals.

Sondashi’s formula was found to be safe as there was no toxicity, which could be attributed the product. On Spicing, there was no commonly used anti retroviral noted in the product. On efficacy the product showed that six out of ten patients increased in CD4 cell count correspondent to viral load reduction.

Clinical, physical status showed an increase in body weight, appetite and there were no opportunistic infections such as meningitis, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and Diarrhoea.

He went on to say that “from this, it is important that further studies be made for a larger group and longer period and that he hoped that Dr Sondashi would enter into discussion with Government to further this work.”

Since these findings of Dr Chikusu were disputed in Zambia, he decided to take his medicine to South Africa for a second opinion. There a Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the sponsorship of NEPAD welcomed his medicine and carried out laboratory trials both in South Africa and the United States of America (USA). 

From 2007-2010 the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio), a NEPAD Programme, funded a network of laboratories in Zambia and South Africa to scientifically investigate Dr Sondashi’s claims. 

Following a regional consultative Conference of SANBio held in Lusaka in March 2007, SF2000 was selected as the first remedy to be investigated under the NEPAD Drug Discovery Bio prospecting Platform. Through this platform NEPAD with support from the Governments of South Africa and Finland provided US$650 000 for skills training and the purchase and equipment to thoroughly test Dr Sondashi’s traditional plants.

NEPAD established a legal environment for cross-border collaboration among eight research organizations in Zambia and South Africa to work on SF-2000.  The research was aimed at investigating the safety and efficacy of the traditional preparation.  In clinical evaluation of the more effective focus was on isolating and identifying active compounds in the herbs, testing SF-2000 on different types of HIVs, determining acceptable dosage, and manufacturing SF-2000 into capsules as well as quality assurance.  

Extracts of the plants provided by Dr. Sondashi have been tested for their action against different types of human immune-deficiency viruses.  Results show that SF-2000 was effective under laboratory conditions on one particular type of HIV known as HIV Strain C by reducing the viral load.

The findings in both countries confirmed the findings by Dr. Chikusu made in Zambia, precisely their findings were as follows:

That SF-2000 was effective against both HIV sub-type B and sub-type C. That it was more pronounced against sub-type C, the good news being that sub-type C strain is the most relevant type found in Africa.

The safety studies conducted on the mice showed that there was no toxicity which could be attributed to the product.

That SF-2000 attacks and kills the HIV virus irreversibly and does so without harming the CD4 cell etc.

It is from these findings that a combined delegation of NEPAD, CSIR and MRC of South Africa arranged to meet the Zambian team of Scientists in Lusaka to inform them of this good news and to map out the way forward, since under NEPAD which was spear-heading these investigations. Zambia was required to play a role as the owner of the biodiversity and founder of the herbal medicine.

At that meeting which took place at Anina’s Executive Lodge in Lusaka, the South African and Zambian scientists recommended that Zambia played a part in hosting the safety clinical trials and the funding of those clinical trials.

Zambia released about K800 000 ($ 146 000) towards these clinical trials and have chosen to take place at Ndola Central Hospital by Tropical Disease Research Centre (TDRC). It is these trials which are being awaited, once concluded positively, they will open the way for declaring the SF2000 safe for human consumption. Since the medicine has already been found to be efficacious in the laboratory (invitro) tests.

Dr Sondashi said this was an important milestone to clear as it will inspire further, the governments of Zambia and South Africa, the international pharmaceutical companies and well wishers like businessmen in Zambia to offer themselves to fund the final efficacy clinical trials in vivo, in human beings, as well as studies in detecting the active ingredient in the SF2000 to boost commercialisation.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Dangote Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commit to reducing under nutrition in Nigeria in a joint $100M partnership

By Brenda Zulu

The Dangote Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a combined commitment of $100 million over the next five years (2016-2020) towards ending undernutrition in Nigeria. This commitment is expected to improve the lives of at least five million families by 2020 and was announced by Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates during a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria. 

In a press released, it was noted that despite rapid economic growth, Nigeria is home to the highest number of stunted children in Africa and the second highest globally. Almost one in five Nigerian children is acutely malnourished and more than one in three children suffer from stunting. With its vital role in child health, growth and cognitive development, better nutrition will be essential to unleashing the potential of Nigeria's next generation. 

"Nutrition is one of the highest impact investments we can make in Nigeria's future growth and prosperity. We know that well-nourished children are more likely to grow up to be healthy, fend off preventable diseases, achieve more in school and even earn higher income as adults," said Bill Gates. "This partnership builds on our foundation's strong commitment to Nigeria - one of several countries where we are working closely with the government, the private sector and civil society to improve health and development outcomes." 

In a joint statement, the two foundations said they will begin a joint planning process to determine the details of the partnership. Programs will include community-based approaches and proven interventions linked to behaviour change, fortification of staple foods with essential micronutrients, the community management of acute malnutrition and investments in the local production of nutritious foods. A key objective will be improving the livelihoods of households by supporting nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs that can increase family income, improve diets and empower women and youth. 

The two foundations also welcomed the increased political attention to undernutrition in Nigeria and noted that leadership will be critical to future progress. 

"In the spirit of our new partnership, we encourage even more deliberate and significant commitments from the Government of Nigeria at all levels to step up investments in nutrition. It is time to make strategic investments in interventions to eliminate malnutrition in Nigeria. This will be achieved through a massive scale-up of interventions, matched with effective coordination of efforts and innovative sustainable solutions. We have to ensure that children who are already malnourished receive help and are prevented from dying while we improve the conditions that led to them being malnourished in the first place'," said Alhaji Aliko Dangote. 

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