Thursday, April 17, 2014

Equatorial Guinea Leads Polio Immunization Campaign Throughout Continental Region

Secretary of State for Public Health meets with healthcare providers in the country’s continental region to plan for next week’s campaign launch

The Secretary of State for Public Health in Equatorial Guinea, Práxedes Rabat Macambo, led an informational meeting from the country’s continental region (also known as Rio Muni or Mbini) to brief healthcare providers on the polio immunization campaign that will be launched next week. The campaign is aimed at vaccinating the nation’s children against polio following two recent outbreaks.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide information to hospital managers, health centers managers and vaccination program leaders about the three phases of the polio preventive campaign the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will lead on April 21.
Next week, the first phase of the preventive campaign, sponsored by the government of Equatorial Guinea, WHO, UNICEF and others, will treat children up to fifteen years old. A second phase will take place next month and a third in June.

Last month, the government created a crisis committee to search for immediate solutions to prevent the spread of polio infection in Equatorial Guinea. The result was the upcoming immunization campaign.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Equatorial Guinea Launches Polio Immunization Campaign

West African Nation works with World Health Organization and Others to Implement Proactive Campaign

The government of Equatorial Guinea has launched a campaign to immunize the nation’s children against polio following some recent outbreaks.

The first case of polio was detected on February 6, 2014 in the district of Niefang, it was an acute flaccid paralysis diagnosed in a two-year old child who was never vaccinated. On March 19, confirmation was received from laboratories in Atlanta (United States) that it is a case of type I poliovirus. Its sequence has shown that it is related to the poliovirus circulating in the central region of Cameroon for the last six months. This is the first case of wild poliovirus reported in Equatorial Guinea since 1999. The vicinity of this country with ours is a threat for Equatoguineans.

The government immediately created a crisis committee to look into solutions to prevent the spread of the disease.

Following the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendation, the government of Equatorial Guinea has launched informational campaigns to educate citizens about the need to take preventive measures against the disease.

On April 21-24, the first phase of the preventive campaign, sponsored by the government of Equatorial Guinea, WHO, UNICEF and others, will treat children ages one to fifteen. A second phase will take place from May 12 to 15 and a third from June 9 to 12, sponsored by the government. Children under five years old will be immunized in these phases. After the three phases are completed, the Ministry expects to have all children vaccinated. This strategy, which was also recommended by the WHO, has already produced good results in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Angola.

The Ministry of Health, led by Diosdado Vicente Nsue Milang, is overseeing the campaign.

Cameroon, the country most affected with three cases of wild poliovirus since the beginning of 2014 and seven since last year, has reported that it will begin the campaign on April 11.

The Ministry also requested the appropriate technical support to implement the campaign, which will be provided by six technical experts from the WHO and a team from the CDC.

The United Nations agencies accredited to Equatorial Guinea praised the government for its prompt reaction to the outbreak and its commitment to prevent further infections. The agencies also provided the organizational support to the campaign.

The crisis committee, which was formed to search for immediate solutions to prevent the spread of polio infection in Equatorial Guinea, included the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare; Ministry of Education and Science; Ministry of Social Affairs and Gender Equality; Ministry of Transportation, Technology, Postal Affairs and Telecommunications; Ministry of Internal Affairs and Local Corporations; Ministry of Defense and National Security; Ministry of Information, Press and Radio; the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF).

Friday, April 11, 2014

National University Of Equatorial Guinea And Drexel University Enjoy Long-Term, Growing Partnership

Dr. Gail Hearn talks about her experience as former Director of the Country’s Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program

The academic partnership between the National University of Equatorial Guinea (UNGE) and Drexel University began in 1999 with a few initiatives such as training UNGE professors and providing UNGE with its initial Internet connection to its current well-integrated collaboration.  

Dr. Gail Hearn, Professor and former Director of the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program (BBPP) at Drexel University, said that Drexel University’s Study Abroad program brings American undergraduates together with UNGE students to work on common research projects.  “Graduate students from my lab, including a Drexel Ph.D. candidate from Equatorial Guinea (Demetrio Bocuma Mene), have carried out in-depth studies focused on Bioko Island’s biodiversity. Monitoring activities done in conjunction with UNGE, like enumerating forest wildlife (since 1996) and nesting sea turtles (since 2000), provide a baseline for future studies that will measure the effects of human activities and climate change on Bioko’s natural ecosystems.”  

Dr. Hearn said the Equatorial Guinea has great biodiversity consisting of unique species despite being geographically small. “West/Central Africa holds more than 20% of earth’s entire biodiversity, partly because several different ecosystems converge near the volcanic chain that begins in Cameroon and stretches from the African continent to Bioko Island and Annobón [Island].  In addition to the many Congo Basin species found in Rio Muni, Bioko Island adds a different assortment of species that are more characteristic of the so-called Guinean forests to the north, and because it is an island, Bioko adds unique species.  The best known of these Bioko Island endemic species is Pennant’s red colobus, a critically endangered (IUCN Red List) monkey found only in the southwestern corner of Bioko Island.”

Dr. Hearn said the people in Equatorial Guinea “were always unusually thoughtful and forgiving of cultural differences. For example, the people of Ureca village [on the southern end of Bioko Island] kept me and my students safe from all kinds of hazards when we were working in the forests near their village, including many things we might not have thought of ourselves: safely cooked meals; protection against ants and snakes; identifying potable water. I always felt entirely safe in the forest because of their protection.”

As UNGE and Drexel University continue to work together, Dr. Hearn believes that UNGE has the opportunity to become a regional leader in researching and protecting one of the most biologically diverse parts of the world.

As Dr. Hearn’s time with BBPP comes to an end, Dr. Katy Gonder, a tenured associate professor who is newly recruited to Drexel University, will take over the director position and continue many of the BBPP programs that have already proven to be successful. She will also bring new vigor to the UNGE/Drexel partnership with international collaborations through the Central African Biodiversity Alliance (“CABAlliance”), an organization that she helped to establish.  

UNGE recently honored Dr. Gail Hearn for her dedication to the conservation and management of biodiversity on the Island of Bioko.

Equatorial Guinea And Hess Corporation Strengthen Growing Partnership

Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea’s President, met with John Barnett Hess, Hess Corporation CEO, to strengthen the long-term and growing partnership between the company and the West African Nation.

During the meeting, President Obiang and Mr. Hess discussed the company’s continued investment in the country’s energy, education and science sectors. Hess representatives praised the socio-economic development the country is experiencing.

Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy, Gregory P. Hill, Hess Corporation President and COO of Exploration and Production, Brian David, International Vice President were also present at the meeting.

“Hess is an exemplary company that has been working and collaborating in the development of Equatorial Guinea for years, and that has professionally trained many Equatoguineans,” said Minister Mbega Obiang Lima at a press conference.  He also alluded to the educational and social contribution the company has made to the country. Hess sponsors projects such as the National Program for Educational Development of Equatorial Guinea (PRODEGE), whose second phase was just approved, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science, which will train students at the primary and secondary level.

Minister Mbega Obiang Lima expressed the desire of Equatorial Guinea and Hess Corporation to collaborate on exploitation of the oil fields of Okume and Ceiba, where both expatriate professionals and Equatoguineans work, and on long-term production and extended investment to other sectors.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Equatorial Guinea Hosts Regional Economic Meeting

Equatorial Guinea hosted a meeting of the Ministers of Finance of the nations of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) CFA franc countries as well as members of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The meeting took place in the Sipopo Conference Center of the capital city of Malabo from April 2 - 3.

Marcelino Owono Edu, the Minister of Finance and Budget of Equatorial Guinea, stated that the Ministers of Finance meeting was designed to analyze the overall economic situation of these countries.

The event occurs twice a year and includes the participation of more than 50 technicians.

The Minister of Finance and Budget worked with other members of the Government to design a program that encourages cooperation among the central banks of the Central Franc Zone and economic growth of member countries.

Equatorial Guinea is taking on an increasingly active role in international affairs, particularly in Africa, and the Sipopo Conference Center has become a frequent venue for regional economic, business, cultural, political, and other events.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The National University of Equatorial Guinea Honors American Researcher for her Contributions to Biodiversity Conservation in the Country

Researcher worked on the island for over 20 years

The National University of Equatorial Guinea (UNGE) recently honored Dr. Gail Hearn, Professor and Director of the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program at Drexel University, with a gold medal for her dedication to the conservation and management of biodiversity on the Island of Bioko.

During the award ceremony earlier this year, Carlos Nze Nsuga, UNGE Rector, praised Dr. Hearn’s work in leading Bioko Island’s biodiversity protection program. Dr. Hearn has worked with UNGE since 1997. “Dr. Hearn has directed the program that has allowed the biodiversity of Equatorial Guinea to be known worldwide. Thanks to her, we have conducted research and have found four new species of frogs and butterflies, amongst others,” said Rector Nze Nsuga.

Dr. Hearn started her journey toward the conservation of biodiversity on the island at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. She founded the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program in partnership with UNGE, aimed at promoting the conservation of Bioko Island’s wildlife through self-sustaining programs in education, research and conservation. 

“We are very proud of all the work the people and the government of Equatorial Guinea have done in recent years, and we have high hopes that within a very few years no more primates in Bioko will be endangered,” said Dr. Hearn.

Dr. Hear said that Bioko Island was a unique and rich environment.  “My best memory of Equatorial Guinea lies in the southern forests of the island of Bioko, which remain as they were a thousand years ago. With its trees, birds, monkeys, turtles, and these are resources that make Equatorial Guinea unique despite being geographically small. I hope that Equatorial Guinea makes an effort to preserve this great biodiversity wealth, even export it to assist in the economy of the developing country.”

The educational and conservation efforts of the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program have expanded considerable since 1986. UNGE and Drexel University's Study Abroad Office lead programs during spring and fall semesters.

During her time on Bioko Island, Dr. Hearn’s research has focused on the population decline of primate species on the island due to bushmeat hunting, the island’s biogeography, wildlife, monkeys, conservation challenges, and marine turtles to name a few.

Mark Asquino, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea joined Dr. Hearn at the award ceremony.

President Obiang attends Fourth EU-Africa Summit

Equatorial Guinea’s President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, attended the fourth EU-African Summit held in Brussels on April 3-4. Obiang joined more than 60 leaders from the European Union and Africa in a two-day summit aimed at strengthening security, commerce and migration control ties.

The summit discussed security issues affecting the African continent. Attendees focused on the crisis in the Central African Republic and the situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan and Somalia, which have serious problems of instability and violence.

President Obiang met with Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, to discuss the promotion of foreign investment in Equatorial Guinea and broader African-European industrial relations. He also held bilateral meetings with business representatives from Belgium, Luxembourg and other European states.

While in Brussels, President Obiang gave a lecture at the Cervantes Institute, the public institution created by Spain in 1991 to promote and teach the Spanish language and the other official languages ​​of Spain and to disseminate Spanish and Latin American culture, where he spoke on the role of the Spanish language in Africa. During his address, the Head of State emphasized Equatorial Guinea’s commitment to the preservation of the Spanish language within the international community. Obiang has ensured that Spanish was adopted as a working language within the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission.

“The summit has demonstrated how wide and deep our relationship is, and how shared values and a shared vision…enable us to face the challenges of the present,” said Herman Van Rompuy, European Council President, in the final news conference. “Our partnership of equals has come of age.”

“African and European leaders have spoken, said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President of the Commission of the African Union. “We have demonstrated that there is much that we can and must do together to confront common challenges and take advantage of opportunities.”

The summit concluded with a three-year plan to frame EU-African relations for 2014-2017, which includes 5 topics, peace and security, democracy, good governance and human rights, human development, sustainable and inclusive development and growth and continental integration, global and emerging issues.

Earlier this week, President Obiang accompanied by the First Lady, Constancia Mangue de Obiang, traveled to Spain to attend the memorial service for the former Spanish President Adolfo Suarez. Obiang was the only Head of State, Besides King Juan Carlos, present at the funeral.