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You are here:Home>>Stevie C. Chiakwelu>>Displaying items by tag: United States
Displaying items by tag: United States

At the 19th International Aids Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced U.S.$80 million for treatment for HIV-positive pregnant women.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington Convention Center
Washington, DC
July 23, 2012

And I want to thank the leaders of the many countries who have joined us. I want to acknowledge my colleagues from the Administration and the Congress who have contributed so much to the fight against AIDS. But mostly, I want to salute all of the people who are here today who do the hard work that has given us the chance to stand here in 2012 and actually imagine a time when we will no longer be afflicted by this terrible epidemic and the great cost and suffering it has imposed for far too long.  On behalf of all Americans, we thank you.


But I want to take a step back and think how far we have come since the last time this conference was held in the United States. It was in 1990 in San Francisco. Dr. Eric Goosby, who is now our Global AIDS Ambassador, ran a triage center there for all the HIV-positive people who became sick during the conference. They set up IV drug drips to rehydrate patients. They gave antibiotics to people with AIDS-related pneumonia. Many had to be hospitalized and a few died.


Even at a time when the world’s response to the epidemic was sorely lacking, there were places and people of caring where people with AIDS found support. But tragically, there was so little that could be done medically. And thankfully, that has changed. Caring brought action, and action has made an impact.


The ability to prevent and treat the disease has advanced beyond what many might have reasonably hoped 22 years ago. Yes, AIDS is still incurable, but it no longer has to be a death sentence. That is a tribute to the work of countless people around the world – many of whom are here at this conference, others who are no longer with us but whose contributions live on. And for decades, the United States has played a key role. Starting in the 1990s under the Clinton Administration, we began slowly to make HIV treatment drugs more affordable, we began to face the epidemic in our own country. And then in 2003, President Bush launched PEPFAR with strong bipartisan support from Congress and this country began treating millions of people.


Today under President Obama, we are building on this legacy. PEPFAR is shifting out of emergency mode and starting to build sustainable health systems that will help us finally win this fight and deliver an AIDS-free generation. It’s hard to overstate how sweeping or how crucial this change is. When President Obama took office, we knew that if we were going to win the fight against AIDS we could not keep treating it as an emergency. We had to fundamentally change the way we and our global partners did business.


So we’ve engaged diplomatically with ministers of finance and health, but also with presidents and prime ministers to listen and learn about their priorities and needs in order to chart the best way forward together. Now I will admit that has required difficult conversations about issues that some leaders don’t want to face, like government corruption in the procurement and delivery of drugs or dealing with injecting drug users, but it has been an essential part of helping more countries manage more of their own response to the epidemic.


We’ve also focused on supporting high-impact interventions, making tough decisions driven by science about what we will and will not fund. And we are delivering more results for the American taxpayer’s dollar by taking simple steps – switching to generic drugs, which saved more than $380 million in 2010 alone.


And crucially, we have vastly improved our coordination with the Global Fund. Where we used to work independently of each other, we now sit down together to decide, for example, which of us will fund AIDS treatment somewhere and which of us will fund the delivery of that treatment. That is a new way of working together for both of us, but I think it holds great results for all of us.  Now all of these strategic shifts have required a lot of heavy lifting. But it only matters in the end if it means we are saving more lives – and we are.


Since 2009, we have more than doubled the number of people who get treatment that keeps them alive.  We are also reaching far more people with prevention, testing, and counseling.


And I want publicly to thank, first and foremost, Dr. Eric Goosby, who has been on the front lines of all this work since the 1980s in San Francisco.  He is somewhere in this vast hall, cringing with embarrassment, but more than anyone else, he had a vision for what PEPFAR needed to become and the tenacity to keep working to make it happen. And I want to thank his extraordinary partners here in this Administration, Dr. Tom Frieden at the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Raj Shah at USAID.


Now, with the progress we are making together, we can look ahead to a historic goal: creating an AIDS-free generation. This is part of President Obama’s call to make fighting global HIV/AIDS at home and abroad a priority for this administration. In July 2010, he launched the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which has reinvigorated the domestic response to the epidemic – especially important here in Washington D.C., which needs more attention, more resources, and smarter strategies to deal with the epidemic in our nation’s capital.


And last November, at the National Institutes of Health, with my friend Dr. Tony Fauci there, I spoke in depth about the goal of an AIDS-free generation and laid out some of the ways we are advancing it through PEPFAR, USAID, and the CDC. And on World AIDS Day, President Obama announced an ambitious commitment for the United States to reach 6 million people globally with lifesaving treatment.


Now since that time I’ve heard a few voices from people raising questions about America’s commitment to an AIDS-free generation, wondering whether we are really serious about achieving it. Well, I am here today to make it absolutely clear: The United States is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation. We will not back off, we will not back down, we will fight for the resources necessary to achieve this historic milestone.


I know that many of you share my passion about achieving this goal. In fact, one could say I am preaching to the choir. But right now, I think we need a little preaching to the choir. And we need the choir and the congregation to keep singing, lifting up their voices, and spreading the message to everyone who is still standing outside.


So while I want to reaffirm my government’s commitment, I’m also here to boost yours. This is a fight we can win. We have already come so far – too far to stop now.


I want to describe some of the progress we’ve made toward that goal and some of the work that lies ahead.


Let me begin by defining what we mean by an AIDS-free generation. It is a time when, first of all, virtually no child anywhere will be born with the virus. (Applause.) Secondly, as children and teenagers become adults, they will be at significantly lower risk of ever becoming infected than they would be today no matter where they are living. And third, if someone does acquire HIV, they will have access to treatment that helps prevent them from developing AIDS and passing the virus on to others.


So yes, HIV may be with us into the future until we finally achieve a cure, a vaccine, but the disease that HIV causes need not be with us.


As of last fall, every agency in the United States Government involved in this effort is working together to get us on that path to an AIDS-free generation. We’re focusing on what we call combination prevention. Our strategy includes condoms, counseling and testing, and places special emphasis on three other interventions: treatment as prevention, voluntary medical male circumcision, and stopping the transmission of HIV from mothers to children.


Since November, we have elevated combination prevention in all our HIV/AIDS work –including right here in Washington, which still has the highest HIV rate of any large city in our country. And globally, we have supported our partner countries shifting their investments toward the specific mix of prevention tools that will have the greatest impact for their people. For example, Haiti is scaling up its efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission, including full treatment for mothers with HIV, which will in turn, of course, prevent new infections. And for the first time, the Haitian Ministry of Health is committing its own funding to provide antiretroviral treatment.


We’re also making notable progress on the three pillars of our combination-prevention strategy. On treatment as prevention, the United States has added funding for nearly 600,000 more people since September, which means we are reaching nearly 4.5 million people now and closing in on our national goal of 6 million by the end of next year. That is our contribution to the global effort to reach universal coverage.


On male circumcision, we’ve supported more than 400,000 procedures since last December alone. And I’m pleased to announce that PEPFAR will provide an additional $40 million to support South Africa’s plans to provide voluntary medical circumcisions for almost half a million boys and men in the coming year. You know and we want the world to know that this procedure reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission by more than 60 percent and for the rest of the man’s life, so the impact can be phenomenal.


In Kenya and Tanzania, mothers asked for circumcision campaigns during school vacations so their teenage sons could participate. In Zimbabwe, some male lawmakers wanted to show their constituents how safe and virtually painless the procedure is, so they went to a mobile clinic and got circumcised. That’s the kind of leadership we welcome. And we are also seeing the development of new tools that would allow people to perform the procedure with less training and equipment than they need today without compromising safety. And when such a device is approved by the World Health Organization, PEPFAR is ready to support it right away.


And on mother-to-child transmission, we are committed to eliminating it by 2015, getting the number to zero. Over the years  – we’ve invested more than $1 billion for this effort. In the first half of this fiscal year, we reached more than 370,000 women globally, and we are on track to hit PEPFAR’s target of reaching an additional 1.5 million women by next year. We are also setting out to overcome one of the biggest hurdles in getting to zero. When women are identified as HIV-positive and eligible for treatment, they are often referred to another clinic, one that may be too far away for them to reach. As a result too many women never start treatment.


Today, I am announcing that the United States will invest an additional $80 million to fill this gap. These funds – (applause) – will support innovative approaches to ensure that HIV-positive pregnant women get the treatment they need to protect themselves, their babies, and their partners. So let there be no mistake, the United States is accelerating its work on all three of these fronts in the effort to create an AIDS-free generation and look at how all these elements come together to make a historic impact.


In Zambia, we’re supporting the government as they step up their efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Between 2009 and 2011, the number of new infections went down by more than half. And we are just getting started. Together, we’re going to keep up our momentum on mother-to-child transmission. In addition, we will help many more Zambians get on treatment and support a massive scale-up of male circumcision as well, two steps that, according to our models, will drive down the number of new sexually transmitted infections there by more than 25 percent over the next 5 years. So as the number of new infections in Zambia goes down, it will be possible to treat more people than are becoming infected each year. So we will, for the first time, get ahead of the pandemic there. And eventually, an AIDS-free generation of Zambians will be in sight.


Think of the lives we will touch in Zambia alone – all the mothers and fathers and children who will never have their lives ripped apart by this disease. And now, multiply that across the many other countries we are working with. In fact, if you’re not getting excited about this, please raise your hand and I will send somebody to check your pulse.


But I know that creating an AIDS-free generation takes more than the right tools, as important as they are. Ultimately, it’s about people – the people who have the most to contribute to this goal and the most to gain from it. That means embracing the essential role that communities play – especially people living with HIV – and the critical work of faith-based organizations. We need to make sure we’re looking out for orphans and vulnerable children who are too often still overlooked in this epidemic.


And it will be no surprise to you to hear me say I want to highlight the particular role that women play.  In Sub-Saharan Africa today, women account for 60 percent of those living with HIV. Women want to protect themselves from HIV and they want access to adequate health care. And we need to answer their call. PEPFAR is part of our comprehensive effort to meet the health needs of women and girls, working across United States Government and with our partners on HIV, maternal and child health, and reproductive health, including voluntary family planning and our newly launched Child Survival Call to Action.


Every woman should be able to decide when and whether to have children. This is true whether she is HIV-positive or not.  And I agree with the strong message that came out of the London Summit on Family Planning earlier this month. There should be no controversy about this. None at all.


And across all of our health and development work, the United States is emphasizing gender equality because women need and deserve a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.  And we are working to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, which puts women at higher risk for contracting the virus. And because women need more ways to protect themselves from HIV infection, last year we invested more than $90 million in research on microbicides. All these efforts will help close the health gap between women and men and lead to healthier families, communities, and nations as well.


If we’re going to create an AIDS-free generation, we also must address the needs of the people who are at the highest risk of contracting HIV. One recent study of female sex workers and those trafficked into prostitution in low and middle income-countries found that, on average, 12 percent of them were HIV-positive, far above the rates for women at large. And people who use injecting drugs account for about one third of all the people who acquire HIV outside of Sub-Saharan Africa. And in low-and middle income countries, studies suggest that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with male partners could be up to 19 times higher than among the general population.


Now over the years, I have seen and experienced how difficult it can be to talk about a disease that is transmitted the way that AIDS is. But if we’re going to beat AIDS, we can’t afford to avoid sensitive conversations, and we can’t fail to reach the people who are at the highest risk.


Unfortunately, today very few countries monitor the quality of services delivered to these high-risk key populations. Fewer still rigorously assess whether the services provided actually prevent transmission or do anything to ensure that HIV-positive people in these groups get the care and treatment they need. Even worse, some take actions that, rather than discouraging risky behavior, actually drives more people into the shadows, where the epidemic is that much harder to fight.


And the consequences are devastating for the people themselves and for the fight against HIV because when key groups are marginalized, the virus spreads rapidly within those groups and then also into the lower-risk general population. We are seeing this happen right now in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Humans might discriminate, but viruses do not.


And there is an old saying that goes: “Why rob banks? Because that’s where the money is.” If we want to save more lives, we need to go where the virus is and get there as quickly as possible.


And that means science should guide our efforts. So today I am announcing three new efforts by the United States Government to reach key populations. We will invest $15 million in implementation research to identify the specific interventions that are most effective for each key population. We are also launching a $20 million challenge fund that will support country-led plans to expand services for key populations. And finally, through the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund, we will invest $2 million to bolster the efforts of civil society groups to reach key populations.


Now Americans are rightly proud of the leading role that our country plays in the fight against HIV/AIDS. And the world has learned a great deal through PEPFAR about what works and why. And we’ve also learned a great deal about the needs that are not being met and how everyone can and must work together to meet those needs.


For our part, PEPFAR will remain at the center of America’s commitment to an AIDS-free generation. I have asked Ambassador Dr. Goosby to take the lead on developing and sharing our blueprint of the goals and objectives for the next phase of our effort and to release this blueprint by World AIDS Day this year. We want the next Congress, the next Secretary of State, and all of our partners here at home and around the world to have a clear picture of everything we’ve learned and a roadmap that shows what we will contribute to achieving an AIDS-free generation.


Reaching this goal is a shared responsibility. It begins with what we can all do to help break the chain of mother-to-child transmission. And this takes leadership at every level – from investing in health care workers to removing the registration fees that discourage women from seeking care. And we need community and family leaders from grandmothers to religious leaders to encourage women to get tested and to demand treatment if they need it.


We also all have a shared responsibility to support multilateral institutions like the Global Fund. In recent months, as the United States has stepped up our commitment, so have Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, the Gates Foundation, and others. I encourage other donors, especially in emerging economies, to increase their contributions to this essential organization.


And then finally, we all have a shared responsibility to get serious about promoting country ownership – the end state where a nation’s efforts are led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, its communities, its civil society, its private sector.


I spoke earlier about how the United States is supporting country ownership, but we also look to our partner countries and donors to do their part. They can follow the example of the last few years in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, India, and other countries who are able to provide more and better care for their own people because they are committing more of their own resources to HIV/AIDS.  And partner countries also need to take steps like fighting corruption and making sure their systems for approving drugs are as efficient as possible.


I began today by recalling the last time this conference was held here in the United States, and I want to close by recalling another symbol of our cause, the AIDS Memorial Quilt. For a quarter-century, this quilt has been a source of solace and comfort for people around the world, a visible way to honor and remember, to mourn husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, partners and friends.


Some of you have seen the parts of the quilt that are on view in Washington this week. I well remember the moment in 1996 when Bill and I went to the National Mall to see the quilt for ourselves. I had sent word ahead that I wanted to know where the names of friends I had lost were placed so that I could be sure to find them. When we saw how enormous the quilt was covering acres of ground, stretching from the Capitol building to the Washington Monument, it was devastating. And in the months and years that followed, the quilt kept growing. In fact, back in 1996 was the last time it could be displayed all at once. It just got too big. Too many people kept dying.


We are all here today because we want to bring about that moment when we stop adding names, when we can come to a gathering like this one and not talk about the fight against AIDS, but instead commemorate the birth of a generation that is free of AIDS.


Now, that moment is still in the distance, but we know what road we need to take. We are closer to that destination than we’ve ever been, and as we continue on this journey together, we should be encouraged and inspired by the knowledge of how far we’ve already come. So today and throughout this week let us restore our own faith and renew our own purpose so we may together reach that goal of an AIDS-free generation and truly honor all of those who have been lost.


Thank you all very much.


Hillary Clinton is the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 19th International Aids Conference

Source: US State Department



U.S. Drug War Expands to Africa, a Newer Hub for Cartels

In a significant expansion of the war on drugs, the United States has begun training an elite unit of counternarcotics police in Ghana and planning similar units in Nigeria and Kenya as part of an effort to combat the Latin American cartels that are increasingly using Africa to smuggle cocaine into Europe.


The growing American involvement in Africa follows an earlier escalation of antidrug efforts in Central America, according to documents, Congressional testimony and interviews with a range of officials at the State Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Pentagon.


In both regions, American officials are responding to fears that crackdowns in more direct staging points for smuggling — like Mexico and Spain — have prompted traffickers to move into smaller and weakly governed states, further corrupting and destabilizing them.


The aggressive response by the United States is also a sign of how greater attention and resources have turned to efforts to fight drugs as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down.

“We see Africa as the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics issues,” said Jeffrey P. Breeden, the chief of the D.E.A.’s Europe, Asia and Africa section. “It’s a place that we need to get ahead of — we’re already behind the curve in some ways, and we need to catch up.”


The initiatives come amid a surge in successful interdictions in Honduras since May — but also as American officials have been forced to defend their new tactics after a commando-style team of D.E.A. agents participated in at least three lethal interdiction operations alongside a squad of Honduran police officers. In one of those operations, in May, the Honduran police killed four people near the village of Ahuas, and in two others in the past month American agents have shot and killed smuggling suspects.


To date, officials say, the D.E.A. commando team has not been deployed to work with the newly created elite police squads in Africa, where the effort to counter the drug traffickers is said to be about three years behind the one in Central America.


The officials said that if Western security forces did come to play a more direct operational role in Africa, for historical reasons they might be European and not American.In May, William R. Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, a leading architect of the strategy now on display in Honduras, traveled to Ghana and Liberia to put the finishing touches on a West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative, which will try to replicate across 15 nations the steps taken in battling trafficking groups operating in Central America and Mexico.


Mr. Brownfield said the vision for both regions was to improve the ability of nations to deal with drug trafficking, by building up their own institutions and getting them to cooperate with one another, sharing intelligence and running regional law enforcement training centers.


But because drug traffickers have already moved into Africa, he said, there is also a need for the immediate elite police units that have been trained and vetted.

“We have to be doing operational stuff right now because things are actually happening right now,” Mr. Brownfield said.


Some specialists have expressed skepticism about the approach. Bruce Bagley, a professor at the University of Miami who focuses on Latin America and counternarcotics, said that what had happened in West Africa over the past few years was the latest example of the “Whac-A-Mole” problem, in which making trafficking more difficult in one place simply shifts it to another.


“As they put on the pressure, they are going to detour routes, but they are not going to stop the flow, because the institutions are incredibly weak — I don’t care how much vetting they do,” Professor Bagley said. “And there is always blowback to this. You start killing people in foreign countries — whether criminals or not — and there is going to be fallout.”


American government officials acknowledge the challenges, but they are not as pessimistic about the chances of at least pushing the trafficking organizations out of particular countries. And even if the intervention leads to an increase in violence as organizations that had operated with impunity are challenged, the alternative, they said, is worse.


“There is no such thing as a country that is simply a transit country, for the very simple reason that the drug trafficking organization first pays its network in product, not in cash, and is constantly looking to build a greater market,” Mr. Brownfield said. “Regardless of the name of the country, eventually the transit country becomes a major consumer nation, and at that point they have a more serious problem.”


The United Nations says that cocaine smuggling and consumption in West Africa have soared in recent years, contributing to instability in places like Guinea-Bissau. Several years ago, a South American drug gang tried to bribe the son of the Liberian president to allow it to use the country for smuggling. Instead, he cooperated with the D.E.A., and the case resulted in convictions in the United States.


Even more ominous, according to American officials, was a case in which a militant group called Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb offered three of its operatives to help ship tons of cocaine through North Africa into Europe — all to raise money to finance terrorist attacks. The case ended this past March with conviction and sentencing in federal court in New York.


American counternarcotics assistance for West Africa has totaled about $50 million for each of the past two years — up from just $7.5 million in 2009, according to the State Department. The D.E.A. also is opening its first country office in Senegal, officials said, and the Pentagon has worked with Cape Verde to establish a regional center to detect drug-smuggling ships.


While the agency has not sponsored units in West Africa before, it has long worked with similar teams — which are given training, equipment and pay while being subjected to rigorous drug and polygraph testing — in countries around the world whose security forces are plagued by corruption, including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama.


It is routine for D.E.A. agents who are assigned to mentor the specially trained and screened units to accompany them on raids, but it has been unusual for Americans to kill suspects. Several former agents said the recent cases in Honduras suggested that the D.E.A. had been at the vanguard of the operations there rather than merely serving as advisers in the background.


By contrast, the effort in West Africa is still at the beginning stages, officials say. But the problems there are the same — and growing. Officials described one instance in which a methamphetamine lab was discovered in Africa, with documents suggesting that it had been set up by a Mexican trafficking organization. William F. Wechsler, the Pentagon’s top counternarcotics officer, said that observing drug traffickers’ advances into West Africa, and the response from American and local authorities, was like watching a rerun of the drug war in this hemisphere in years past.


“West Africa is now facing a situation analogous to the Caribbean in the 1980s, where small, developing, vulnerable countries along major drug-trafficking routes toward rich consumers are vastly under-resourced to deal with the wave of dirty money coming their way,” he said.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

First Published July 22, 2012 1:01 pm






Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi

The United States, yesterday, named three alleged leaders of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram as “foreign terrorists”, the first time it has blacklisted members of the Islamist group which claimed responsibility for many bomb attacks in the northern part of the country.


This is just as the alleged mastermind of the bomb attack on the United Nations building in Abuja which claimed 25 lives, Habib Bama, has been arrested after a gun duel with security personnel. The State Department identified the three Boko Haram leaders who have been branded terrorists as Abubakar Shekau, who it called the “most visible” leader of the group; Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi, who it said were tied both to Boko Haram and to al Qaeda’s north African wing.


“Under Shekau’s leadership, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in northern Nigeria, its primary area of operation. In the last 18 months, Boko Haram or associated militants have killed more than 1,000 people,” the State Department said in an announcement, noting that “these designations demonstrate the United States’ resolve in diminishing the capacity of Boko Haram to execute violent attacks,”


The action by the State and Treasury departments, first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, follows growing pressure on the Obama Administration to take stronger action against Boko Haram, which has stepped up attacks on Christian places of worship this year.


U.S. officials say the decision to list individual Boko Haram members, rather than apply the more sweeping “Foreign Terrorist Organization” label to the group as a whole as some U.S. lawmakers have demanded, reflected a desire not to elevate the group’s profile. The action freezes any assets the three men have in the United States, and bar U.S. persons from any transactions with them.


This is the first such action the U.S. government has taken against Boko Haram, but falls short of demands from some U.S. lawmakers and the Justice Department to designate the entire group as a “foreign terrorist organization.” The State Department has been under pressure to act against Boko Haram for months. In January, Lisa Monaco, the Justice Department’s top national security official, sent a letter to the State Department arguing that the Nigerian group met the criteria for a “foreign terrorist” listing because it either engages in terrorism that threatens the United States or has a capability or intent to do so.


More recently, a group of Republican senators led by Scott Brown of Massachusetts introduced legislation requiring the State Department to determine whether Boko Haram should be designated as a terrorist group. Republican Representative Patrick Meehan, who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee in the House, also introduced an amendment that would force the administration to add Boko Haram to the terrorism list or explain why it was not doing so.


Boko Haram henchman Habib Bama shot, arrested

Meanwhile, Habib Bama ex-army officer allegedly responsible for bombings of UN offices in Abuja, Abacha barracks and other places has been arrested. He was said to have been brought down in a shoot out with the JTF who shot and wounded him. Habib was declared wanted early this year by the SSS, after the arrest and confessions of Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa


4 killed as midnight killings haunt residents


There was still palpable tension in Kaduna State, yesterday, despite claims by the government that the area was now calm as it was gathered that four people were killed at Kujama in a renewed clash between some Muslims and Christians. The Chairman of Kujama was, however, said to have explained on the Kaduna State Media Corporation, KSMC, that the fight took place in the market and not in the night.


At Mararaba Rido, Vanguard gathered that   rival groups  moved from house to house in search of who to kill or maim as well as torching such houses. This came as some medical officers at the 44 Military Hospital said that the mortuary was full with dead bodies even as four other victims being treated in the hospital died between Wednesday night and yesterday morning. There were no fewer than 30 people with serious injuries in the hospital, even as more patients were  brought in for admission same Wednesday night.


Reliable sources said the hoodlums took advantage of the absence of both military and police officers on the streets in the night to embark on reprisal killings. It was said that the withdrawal of soldiers from the streets followed allegations that a  military officer killed an adherent of a religion other than his own, thus inflaming passion on the side of the religious group which lost its member to the bullets from the soldier.


A resident of Barnawa who craved anonymity said, “there is curfew but without either the military or police on the streets criminals will not be deterred from carrying out their nefarious activities. The government cannot just declare a 24-hour curfew and leave the streets empty. It must deploy security agents on the streets to monitor compliance. We expect Governor Patrick Yakowa to do more by matching actions with words,” the source said.


Calm however seemed to have been restored in Kaduna town and environs, yesterday, at the time of this report. Meanwhile, most streets in Kaduna were deserted throughout yesterday, with schools, filling stations, shops and offices remaining shut, as government re-affirmed its determination to enforce the curfew.


Governor Yakowa had in a statement by his Media Assistant, Mr Reuben Buhari affirmed that the 24 -hour curfew was still in force and warned residents to ensure compliance. The statement read: “The Governor of Kaduna State, Sir Patrick Yakowa, once again commiserates with all. While sharing in their grief, it is however important to inform the whole state that the 24- hour curfew earlier imposed on the state is still in force and security agencies have been asked to ensure its full compliance.


“As distasteful as the imposition of the 24- hour curfew is, the good citizens of Kaduna State should understand that the measure became necessary for the good of the state and the benefit of its citizens. People are expected to cooperate fully with security agencies saddled with the task of restoring full peace and order in our state. The Governor further calls on people to absolutely disregard all mischievous text messages and rumours being circulated on impending crisis or attacks. All these rumours are meant to further throw the state into chaos. He also calls on all the inhabitants of Kaduna State to show love to one another, regardless of religious or ethnic differences.”


However, in the suburbs, residents sat outside, while youth converted open spaces into football fields, even as the  wailing sounds of sirens from vehicles of security agents who patrolled the streets rent the air once in a while. The ban on movements was said to be taking its toll on residents, most of whom did not store food and other basic items at home before the bombings and reprisal attacks between Sunday and yesterday.


Source: Vanguard








Closing Session Remarks made by William J. Burns, Deputy Secretary at U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington, DC June 5, 2012


Thank you, Mr. Permanent Secretary, for sharing your reflections on the BNC.

I would also like to recognize the hard work of the USIP staff, especially Ambassador George Moose and David Smock, and of my State Department colleagues, and of all our very talented Nigerian colleagues, in making this historic meeting of the Binational Commission such a success.


The robust engagement of local and federal government from both our countries over the past two days demonstrates the importance and depth of our partnership. I see enormous promise for Nigeria and for our relationship in the years to come.


But I have been at this for a long time, and so have many of you. We know that relationships like these do not grow themselves. They don’t maintain themselves, either. They demand commitment, patience and sustained effort. Managing big and important relationships like ours is a little like riding a bike; if you don’t keep pedaling forward, you’re likely to fall over.


Over the past two days, we’ve clearly been pedaling forward. Our delegations took the opportunity to review progress made in each of the working groups since the establishment of the Binational Commission in 2010 and to address a range of shared concerns. In particular:


The Governance, Transparency and Integrity Working Group looked toward the 2015 national elections – which mark another milestone in building on the most credible elections in Nigeria’s history last April. Together we identified electoral reforms and opportunities to improve the electoral process. We discussed the importance of interagency coordination and strategies to build capacity and public confidence in Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts.


The Energy and Investment Working Group sought to expand on Nigeria’s progress to date in reforming its power sector. We held constructive conversations on how Nigeria can attract international private investment, including ways to boost output and address energy deficits. We are committed to continuing to support Nigeria’s efforts to create a more effective regulatory environment. And given Nigeria’s important place in the global oil market, we discussed ways to ensure that the natural riches of Nigeria improve the lives of all of its people for many years to come.


The Agriculture and Food Security Working Group discussed Nigeria’s important role in regional food security, and examined areas for growth in Nigeria’s private agriculture sector. We will continue our support for reforms aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s role in regional food security, and we are looking to bolster agricultural lending in Nigeria. As I said, we want to help Nigeria become not just food secure but a breadbasket for the surrounding region.


The Regional Security Working Group discussed strategies to help educate the Nigerian public about the government’s efforts to secure its citizens and prevent the spread of violent extremism. We also had frank discussions about reports of extra-legal activity among Nigerian security forces and the importance of protecting human rights. We will continue to work with our Nigerian partners to improve the capacity of its military and police units, as a part of the government’s overall effort to respond to the needs of communities vulnerable to violent extremism.


We discussed all these issues and many more. But we also committed ourselves to keep turning talk into action. And I am proud to announce, together with the Permanent Secretary, that the United States and Nigeria have agreed to a joint communiqué outlining the next steps for each of these working groups. This communiqué affirms our shared understanding that accountable governance, economic growth, agricultural investment, and security sector professionalization are all important elements in an effective strategy to address the myriad of challenges facing Nigeria. We also committed to hold the working group on the Niger Delta this year, which time and space did not allow during this robust, two-day session.


As we opened this dialogue, I shared my belief that the stakes of our effort extend far beyond the progress of any one of its working groups. Nigeria’s challenges are Africa’s challenges. By the same token, its success will position it to continue to take a vital leadership role as the most populous African nation in a region full of “emerging-emerging powers.”


Six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa – Nigeria among them. In five years, the IMF predicts it will be seven of the top ten. The need to deliver on the hopes and aspirations of our people has never been greater. Neither has the depth of our dialogue or the momentum behind it.


Nigeria’s future, full of promise and risk, has no shortage of unknowns. But let me close with one certainty: that future will be brighter if we approach it together. Thank you for a successful dialogue and for your friendship with the United States.

Press Release: US State Department:  Nigeria, One Year After Elections. Remarks by Johnnie Carson Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
As Prepared
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Washington, DC
April 9, 2012



A year ago today, Nigerians began casting ballots in the first of what would be four days of voting for legislators, governors, and a president. Tensions were high. Voting that had been scheduled one week earlier was abruptly canceled just hours before polls were to open. We did not know for certain whether months of careful election preparations would result in a process Nigerians considered fair and credible or a rerun of the deeply flawed 2007 presidential elections. Skeptics were everywhere; and many said good elections could not be held.


Nigerians had a different idea. They waited in line for hours. They stuck around after the polls closed to ensure that every ballot was counted They monitored polling places and compilation centers by the thousands, and they sent text messages reporting any irregularities they observed.


The result was clear. Nigeria had conducted its most successful and credible elections since its return to multiparty democracy in 1999. Despite obvious imperfections, these elections have given the country a solid foundation for strengthening its democratic institutions in the years ahead.


As a witness to that historic occasion, I can vouch for the enthusiasm that Nigerians demonstrated towards these elections and their democratic rights. Civil society groups across the country were actively engaged in the process, and on election day, diverse groups, including the Federation of Muslim Women, the Nigerian Bar Association, and the Transition Monitoring Group, joined together in a massive election monitoring effort called Project Swift Count.


There was also a strong commitment on the part of the government to improve the electoral process. Months before the election, a new and highly regarded Independent National Electoral Commission chairman was named, and the Nigerian Government provided adequate funding to pay for the election process. The new INEC Chair – Professor Attahiru Jega – made a good faith effort to register as many voters as possible and to organize the elections in the shortest time frame.


The April 2011 elections were clearly another step forward in Nigeria’s continuing democratization process, but more remains to be done to improve Nigeria’s electoral procedures and more importantly to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions and governance.


We all need to see a strong, vibrant, and growing Nigeria -- because what happens in Nigeria affects us all – the United States, Africa, and the global community. We cannot run away from the facts. Nigeria is probably the most strategically important country in sub-Saharan Africa. At about 160 million people, Nigeria is home to over twenty percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population. It is the largest oil producing state in Africa, it is the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, and the tenth largest global producer. It is home to the sixth largest Muslim population in the world, and it’s by far the largest country in the world with approximately equal numbers of Christians and Muslims. In the United Nations, Nigeria is the fifth largest peacekeeping contributing country in the world. And as the most influential and militarily powerful member of the Economic Community of West African States, Nigeria has played a key role in helping to resolve every major political and security dispute in West Africa from the Liberian and Sierra Leonian crises in the 1990s to the recent political problems in Guinea, Niger, and the Cote d’Ivoire, and I might add to that, Mali. Nigeria is a dominant economic and financial force across West Africa, and if Lagos State were an independent country its population would make it the eighteenth largest country in Africa and its economy would be well within the top twenty on the continent.


Nigeria is important and a lot depends on the Nigeria’s success. That’s why Secretary Clinton inaugurated the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission in 2010, providing the two countries with a high-level vehicle to work together on the most criticial issues we face. We have supported Nigeria’s political and economic reforms and we have tried to be a useful partner as it addresses its social, economic, and security challenges. We have provided technical assistance to support reform in the power sector. We have taken a large energy trade mission to the country, and encouraged the swift passage of a strong petroleum industry bill that brings more transparency to the sector. We have recognized the importance of Nigeria’s agriculture sector and supported Nigeria’s comprehensive agriculture development plans. And in the health sector, we have committed over $500 million a year to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, demonstrating how critical we consider Nigeria in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS. President Obama and Secretary Clinton both recognize the importance of this relationship and both have met with and engaged with President Jonathan on a number of occasions over the past three years. Later this week, Nigeria’s vice president will be in Washington and he is expected to meet Vice President Biden in the White House and with senior officials in the State Department.


Nigeria’s success is important to us; but we recognize that that success cannot be achieved unless Nigeria overcomes the challenges that have frustrated its progress. Decades of poor governance have seriously degraded the country’s health, education, and transportation infrastructure. Despite hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue, Nigeria has virtually no functioning rail system and only half of its population has access to electricity. The 80 million Nigerians who have electricity share intermittent access to the amount of power equivalent to what we have in the Washington, DC metro area. Living standards for most Nigerians are the same today as they were in 1970, and nearly 100 million Nigerians live on less than one dollar a day.


Nigerians are hungry for progress and an improvement in their lives, but northern Nigerians feel this need most acutely. Life in Nigeria for many is tough, but across the North, life is grim. A UN study shows that poverty in the 12 most northern states is nearly twice that of the rest of the country. The health indicators reflect this. Children in the far north are almost four times as likely to be malnourished. Child mortality is over 200 deaths per 1000 live births, leading to lower life expectancy. Educational standards are just as bad. Literacy in the far north is 35 percent as opposed to 77 percent in the rest of the country. Seventy-seven percent of women in the far north have no formal education, compared to only 17 percent in the rest of the country. In northern Nigeria, primary school attendance is only 41 percent, while youth unemployment is extremely high. All of this contributes to joblessness and a deepening cycle of poverty.


The statistics are disturbing, but they are not the whole story. Poverty in northern Nigeria is increasing. Despite a decade in which the Nigerian economy expanded at a spectacular seven percent per year, the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics estimates that extreme poverty is 10 percent higher than in 2004. It’s even worse in the North. Income inequality is growing rapidly. These trends are worrying for economic, political, and security reasons.


While ninety-one percent of Nigerians across the country considered the April 2011 elections to be fair and transparent, most people in the far north backed opposition candidates that did not win. The post-election violence that occurred in several northern cities reflected strong dissatisfaction with elites who protestors thought controlled the election process. Public opinion polls and news reports suggest that there is a strong sentiment throughout the country, but especially in the North, that government is not on the side of the people; and that their poverty is a result of government neglect, corruption, and abuse. This is the type of popular narrative that is ripe for an insurgent group to hijack for its own purposes.


Which brings me to Boko Haram.


As you all know, over the last year Boko Haram has created widespread insecurity across northern Nigeria, increased tensions between various ethnic communities, interrupted development activities, frightened off investors, and generated concerns among Nigeria’s northern neighbors. They have been responsible for near daily attacks in Borno and Yobe states And they were behind the January 20 attack in Kano that killed nearly 200 people and three major attacks in Abuja, including the bombing of the UN headquarters last August. Boko Haram’s attacks on churches and mosques are particularly disturbing because they are intended to inflame religious tensions and upset the nation’s social cohesion.


Although Boko Haram is reviled throughout Nigeria, and offers no practical solutions to northern problems, a growing minority of certain northern ethnic groups regard them favorably. Boko Haram capitalizes on popular frustrations with leaders, poor government service delivery, and the dismal living conditions of many northerners. Boko Haram seeks to humiliate and undermine the government and to exploit religious differences in order to create chaos and to make Nigeria ungovernable.


Boko Haram has grown stronger and increasingly more sophisticated over the past three years, and eliminating the Boko Haram problem will require a broad-based strategy that employs the establishment of a comprehensive plan rather than the imposition of more martial law. While more sophisticated and targeted security efforts are necessary to contain Boko Haram’s acts of violence and to capture and prosecute its leaders, the government must also win over the population by addressing the social and economic problems that have created the environment in which Boko Haram can thrive. The government must improve its tactics, avoid excessive violence and human rights abuses, make better use of its police and intelligence services, de-emphasize the role of the military, and use its courts to prosecute those who are found to be responsible for Boko Haram’s kidnappings, killings, and terrorist attacks.


Nigerian officials should focus on the political environment that makes Boko Haram so dangerous. By demonstrating the benefits a pluralistic society has to offer, the government will deny Boko Haram and other extremists the ability to exploit ethnic and religious differences. The government should redouble their efforts to resolve ongoing disputes in Jos and other high violence flashpoints. By becoming more responsive to the people, the government can put distance between itself and the accusations that it is blind to the needs of everyday Nigerians.


Numerous northern civil society organizations have come out against Boko Haram – at great personal risk – that could multiply serious government efforts to address longstanding northern grievances. I want to stress that religion is not driving extremist violence in either Jos or Northern Nigeria. While some seek to inflame Muslim-Christian tensions, Nigeria’s ethnic and religious diversity is a source of strength, not weakness, and there are many examples of communities working across religious lines to protect one another.


Containing and eliminating Boko Haram today will be much more difficult than it was four years ago, when it was under the leadership of it now deceased leader, Muhammed Yusof, who was killed in police custody. Today, Boko Haram is not a monolithic, homogenous organization controlled by a single charismatic figure. Boko Haram is several organizations, a larger organization focused primarily on discrediting the Nigerian Government, and a smaller more dangerous group, increasingly sophisticated and increasing lethal. This group has developed links with AQIM and has a broader, anti-Western jihadist agenda. This group is probably responsible for the kidnapping of westerners and for the attacks on the UN building in Abuja. Complicating the picture further is the tendency of some officials to blame Boko Haram for bank robberies and local vendettas that are carried out by common criminals and political thugs.


There are some who say that Boko Haram is comprised mostly of non-Nigerian foreigners, and that the group is being funded by a handful of resentful politicians nursing their wounds from the last election. This would be unfortunate if true, but I have not seen any evidence to support either of these theories.


To fix the Boko Haram problem, the government will have to develop a new social compact with its northern citizens. It will have to develop an economic recovery strategy that complements its security strategy. It will have to draw on the support of northern governors traditional Hausa and Fulani leaders and local officials and organizations. The Nigerian Government should consider creating a Ministry of Northern Affairs or a Northern development commission similar to what it did in response to the crises in the Niger Delta.


Northern populations are currently trapped between violent extremists on one hand and heavy-handed government responses on the other. They need to know that their president is going to extraordinary lengths to fix their problems.


Achieving this will not be easy. Although the problems are not the same, it has taken the central government in Abuja nearly ten years to bring the problems in the Niger Delta under some semblance of control. Resolving the problems in northern Nigeria will require the government to act more swiftly and to make a strategic course correction. It will need to adopt a comprehensive strategy and remain disciplined and committed in its implementation, especially at the state and local level where accountability is low and corruption high.


Despite the challenges that Nigeria faces with Boko Haram and other issues, Nigeria is simply too important to be defined by its problems. Nigeria must be defined by its promise and its enormous potential, as well as the resourcefulness of its people. Although some political observers have accused the government of getting off to a shaky start after the elections, that is not a judgment shared by all – especially when you look at key players in the President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet. By all accounts, President Jonathan has put together one of the strongest and most competent economic teams ever assembled in Nigeria. Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former vice president of the World Bank, has pushed a strong reformist agenda, pushing for an end to costly government subsidies, deregulation of the electrical supply and distribution, the sale of the country’s oil refineries and the rapid improvement of the country’s infrastructure. She has been supported in her efforts by Central Bank President Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Agricultural Minster Alhaji Bukar Tijani, Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Agang, and the Minister of Power Professor Bart Nnaji -- all of whom have put a high premium on promoting sustained economic development, job creation, greater agricultural productivity, and more foreign investment. Given time and political support from the top, this team has the ability to shape and lead Nigeria’s long term economic transformation.


The Nigerian Government has also taken a positive step in trying to address its long standing problem of corruption. Through two strategic appointments, the government has signaled that is once again going to try to get a handle on high-level corruption. For four years, we scaled back our technical assistance programs to Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) because we did not believe the previous leadership was committed to reform. In November, President Jonathan appointed a new chairman to run the country’s EFCC – the country’s main anti-corruption agency. The appointment of Ibrahim Lamode to lead the EFCC gives us confidence that the high-level corruption that has hobbled the delivery of government services will be seriously addressed. President Jonathan’s appointment of Nuhu Ribadu to oversee a commission to monitor and audit the government’s vast oil and gas revenues is also a very promising sign. Before he was fired several years ago, Ribado earned a well-deserved reputation as Nigeria’s most zealous prosecutor of high level corrupt officials. His return, like that of Ngozi and other economic reformers, should be taken as an indication of the promise and potential of getting it right. We hope these high performers will encourage others, like the Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, to accelerate key reforms, including the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill.

There is also a bright side to be found in a number of statehouses across Nigeria, where governors are responsible for delivering most public services. A handful of governors embraced the challenges of their jobs and have made a real difference. The governors in Lagos, Edo, and Kano have demonstrated what strong, honest, and responsible leadership at the state level can accomplish.

We continue to use the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission as our primary vehicle for exchanging ideas and promoting engagement with Nigeria.

We want to elevate and expand our dialogue and are ready to work with Nigerian authorities at the national and state level and to expand our programs in states with high performing executives, particularly in northern Nigeria where the need is greatest. We are committed to helping Nigeria develop a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy and to improving collaboration among Nigeria’s intelligence services. We want to support the Nigerian Government’s efforts, especially in the areas of agriculture, electrical power generation and transmission, and anti-corruption We sent a high-level energy trade mission to Abuja and Lagos in February to attract U.S. private investment in the energy field, and we would like to do something similar to highlight the opportunities that exist in agriculture and infrastructure – where we think we have something real to offer. The agricultural investment forum sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa and the Nigerian Embassy starting tomorrow similarly aims to direct U.S. resources towards Nigerian development.


I am bullish on Nigeria. I have been ever since I served there as a young Foreign Service officer. There is no doubt that Nigeria’s challenges are serious, but we should not underestimate the skill and ability of the Nigerian people and leaders to address them. I believe the forces that are holding Nigeria together are stronger today than the forces that are pulling Nigeria apart. Nigeria remains the giant in Africa, and I remain optimist about its long term future. By working with Nigeria, we can contribute to the country’s economic growth and political unity – two objectives that are important to the United States, Africa, and the global community. A strong, vibrant, politically stable, and economically prosperous Nigeria is in everyone’s interest. I hope you agree. Thank you.




Saturday, 31 March 2012 22:05

Survey: Nigerians Most Educated in the U.S.


Analysis of U.S. Census data and other surveys show Nigerian immigrants and their descendants score highest when it comes to earning degrees.


Nigerian Americans have long been known for their community’s intense cultural emphasis on education, and now an analysis of Census data coupled with several local surveys shows that Nigerians don't just value education, but surpass all other U.S. ethnic groups when it comes to obtaining degrees.


"Being Black, you are already at a disadvantage," Oluyinka Olutoye, an associate professor of pediatric surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, told the Houston Chronicle. "You really need to excel far above if you want to be considered for anything in this country."


According to 2006 census data, 37 percent of Nigerians in the U.S. had bachelor's degrees, 17 percent held master's degrees and 4 percent had doctorates. In contrast, the same census data showed only 19 percent of white Americans had bachelor’s degrees, 8 percent held master’s degrees and only 1 percent held doctorates, the paper reports.


The census data was bolstered by an independent analysis of 13 annual Houston-area surveys conducted by Rice University and commissioned by the Chronicle.


"These are higher levels of educational attainment than were found in any other...community," Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University who conducts the annual Houston Area Survey, told the paper.


However, despite the strides in education made by many African immigrants, including Nigerian-Americans, discrimination still colors their prospects for employment. A study of 2010 employment data by the Economic Policy Institute showed that, across nationalities and ethnic groups, Black immigrants carried the highest unemployment rate of all foreign-born workers.


In addition to cultural expectations about obtaining higher education, the paper reports that many African immigrants are more likely to pursue higher education as a means of maintaining their immigrant status in the U.S.


"In a way, it's a Catch-22 — because of immigration laws you are forced to remain in school, but then the funny thing is you end up getting your doctorate at the age of 29," Amadu Jacky Kaba, an associate professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, told the paper. "If you stay in school, immigration will leave you alone."


Source: BET


Friday, 13 August 2010 20:39

Prostate Cancer


Urgent Need to Curb Prostate Cancer Epidemic among Black Men

Even though tremendous progress has been made over the years in the healthcare sector, across the globe, many countries today continue to lag behind when it comes to early detection and treatment of life threatening diseases such as cancer. A good case in point is the rising number of Prostate Cancer cases and the resulting deaths among Black Men in West Africa, Caribbean, United States and United Kingdom.

Micrograph of prostatic adenocarcinoma, conven...

Image via Wikipedia

What is even more alarming is that African American men have a 60% greater chance of developing cancer of the prostate gland as compared to their white counterparts. More than 14 million Nigerian men die of prostate cancer in the age group of 45-50 and above. This high Morbidity & Mortality rate is definitely a cause for great concern, considering the fact that, if detected early, Prostate Cancer can be successfully cured. Often times, the cancer is detected at a much later stage, making it impossible for curative care and treatment to be effective.

This is why, it is imperative for men of African descent to be aware of the risks they face and the importance of getting themselves screened regularly for cancer of the prostate, by the time they reach the age of 45.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 million, new cancer cases may be diagnosed each year in Africa by 2020 and many of these may be Prostate cancer cases.


Cases, Prevalence, & Mortality of Prostate Cancer

Western Africa


(1 Year)

(5 Years)







Burkina Faso





Cape Verde





Cote d'Ivoire





The Gambia




















































Sierra Leone










Region Total








Some of the main reasons why such cases have been steadily growing in Africa

Excessive poverty

Insufficient resources

Lack of basic infrastructure & amenities

Lack of information, and proper prostate cancer awareness

Lack of effective screening & treatment programs

Social, and cultural isolation

Over the years, several scientists and doctors have devoted themselves to researching the causes for such high risk of prostate cancer among African American men. Doctors have been studying the family & medical history of several African American families to check the prevalence of prostate cancer from generation to generation. The research and tests have revealed many facts, based on which various theories have been developed such as -

Crucial differences can be seen in the prostate of African American men

A higher level of androgen receptor proteins is present in the prostates of men with African descent

A genetic mutation has been identified that raises the chances of cancer of the prostate.  It is hoped that united efforts to spread awareness, arrange effective screening and provide cure, across countries will help to save many African Americans from the danger of Prostate Cancer. For more information see

CDC Features - Prostate Cancer (http://www.cdc.gov/features/prostatecancer/)

G. Stanley Okoye, M.D., Ph.D. , Chief Medical Correspondent, Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) and St. Jude Medical Missions ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).



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