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NAIROBI, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Friday urged African countries to collaborate in managing to emerge and re-emerging long-standing healthcare threats in the continent.

Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health noted that regional collaboration should be established to help stop the spread of the diseases in the continent.

"We have to come together to share knowledge and harness Africa's public health resources to inform countries and development partners in their effort to enhance regional disease control systems across Africa," Kagwe said during the launch of Africa CDC regional collaboration center in Nairobi.

Kagwe observed that the current situation underscores the importance of strengthening regional disease surveillance systems and emergency response capabilities across the continent.

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic is an illustration of how the undetected transmission of pathogens across borders can quickly transfer a local disease outbreak into a regional and global health emergency.

The official noted that as African countries recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is growing pressure on governments and regional bodies to safeguard the health of populations.

He added that the challenge of regional disease surveillance and control is now at the forefront of policy around global public health.

Kagwe urged governments to put policies in place to ensure the continental CDC regional collaboration center swiftly detects and effectively addresses disease outbreaks before they become a threat.

He called for the gathering of quality information and data as well as knowledge and information at all levels. - Xinhua

President Muhammadu Buhari. Photo via International Centre for Investigative Reporting

 

THE Nigerian government has approved paternity leave for married male employees.

The country joins Kenya, Mauritius, and a few other countries in Africa that have allowed men engaged by the government to support their wives at home after giving birth.

While other African countries approved between five and ten days for their workers, the Nigerian government gave 14 days for paternity leave.

Head of Civil Service of the Federation Folasade Yemi-Esan announced the decision on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council Meeting.

She said the leave would enable fathers to unite with their babies shortly after they are born, adding that allowing fathers to stay with their wives and newborns would improve bonding and increase support for mothers.

 The approval came after the House of Representatives had in 2018 rejected a bill that sought paternity leave for married men.

The Federal Government had in June 2018 increased maternity leave from three months to four.

Meanwhile, nursing mothers got six months leave through Governor Seyi Makinde in November 2020. The state government also promised to grant paternal leave.

The Lagos State government had in 2014 approved ten days paternity leave.

Similarly, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had in 2015 approved three weeks paternity leave for the state civil servants.

Multiple news platforms report that Kenya, Mauritius, Gabon, Cameroun, Chad, Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Togo have paternity leave for married men.

Kenya approved two weeks, but the employer must recognize the wife. 

Mauritius gives five successive working days leave.

Paternity leave in the remaining countries is covered in family allowance leave or what is considered ‘family events concerning the worker’s home.’ Married men in these countries can take up to ten days of paid leave.

In Ethiopia, married men can take up to unpaid five-day leave.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the amended Labour Relation and Labour Amendment Act in November 2018, enabling married men to proceed on a ten-day unpaid leave. The law, however, came into effect in November 2019.

The World Atlas shows that countries with the longest-paid paternity leave are South Korea (52.6 weeks), Japan (52 weeks), France (28 weeks), Luxembourg (26.4 weeks), Netherlands (26.4), Portugal (21.3), Belgium (19.3), Norway (14 weeks), Iceland (13 weeks), Sweden 10 weeks) 

“A year’s worth of paid paternity leave ensures ample development of the child physically and mentally before their fathers return to work,” the platform says of South Korea. - Marcus Fatunmole, International Centre for Investigative Reporting

The UN's Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan warned last week that the plunder risks derailing an already fragile peace process in the world's newest nation [Ebrahim Hamid/AFP]

 

South Sudan’s government has dismissed a UN report accusing the country’s governing elite of looting tens of millions of dollars from public coffers, saying it is the victim of an “international campaign”.

Last week, the UN’s Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said a “staggering” amount of money and other wealth had been diverted from public coffers and resources – more than $73m since 2018, with almost $39m stolen during a period of less than two months.

It warned that the plunder risks derailing an already fragile peace process in the world’s newest nation, which has struggled to emerge from five years of civil war following independence in 2011.

“This plundering also continues to fuel political competition amongst elites, and is a key driver of the ongoing conflict, violations and serious crimes, jeopardising the prospects for sustainable peace,” it said in a report presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

South Sudan hit back on Monday, with the minister of cabinet affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro, dismissing the report as part of “an international campaign … against [South Sudan’s] government”.

“These are the organisations that are sponsored not to see political stability in South Sudan and they will move from one thing to the other, from human rights to corruption, from corruption to something else,” Lomuro told the AFP news agency.

“This country is sovereign … if the government has mismanaged anything, it’s only the people of South Sudan who can hold this government accountable, not external forces.”

The UN report said that the figure of $73m was only a fraction of the overall amount looted, adding that, in 2012, President Salva Kiir admitted that South Sudan’s governing elites had diverted more than $4bn.

It said its investigations revealed the involvement of politicians, government officials, international corporations, military personnel, and multinational banks in these “crimes”.

The commission accused South Sudan’s elites of deliberately adopting a “highly informal” system of oil revenue collection, without independent oversight and transparency, thus enabling the misappropriation of public funds.

“Similarly flawed, non-transparent processes for contract payments, procurements, and revenue are operated illicitly to divert non-oil revenues,” it said in a press release on Thursday.

In one case, a single payment made unlawfully in May 2018 by the Ministry of Finance to Sudanese businessman Ashram Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal, represented “a staggering 21.6 percent of South Sudan’s total budget for the ‘Use of Goods and Services’ and ‘Capital Expenditure’ for the entire 2018/2019 fiscal year,” it said.

‘Not far from truth’

Rights campaigners backed the report and called on citizens to ask tough questions of the country’s lawmakers.

“The oil money is flowing … but it is not reflected [in] the lives of the people in the country, so the report is not far from the truth,” Bol Deng Bol, executive director of rights group Intrepid South Sudan, told AFP.

“I would urge the people of South Sudan to see how their finances are being spent.”

The impoverished country, which ranks last on Transparency International’s corruption index along with Somalia, is almost entirely dependent on earnings from oil.

Following a 2018 ceasefire and a power-sharing deal between Kiir and his rival-turned-deputy Riek Machar, the peace process has shown few signs of progress.

The report said it had identified several individuals allegedly linked to rights violations and economic crimes whose names would be passed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for possible investigation or prosecution. - Al Jazeera

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