In this week’s news, the world’s first malaria vaccine is being developed, China puts pressure on African fisheries, and the Pope visits Egypt.
Malaria Vaccine Trials To Start Soon
Beginning next year, the World Health Organization (WHO) will begin real-world testing of its new malaria vaccine. The vaccine will be tested in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi before being released to populations worldwide.
Malaria affects people in numerous equatorial countries, but the countries of sub-Saharan Africa have been hardest hit by the disease. 429,000 Africans died as a result of the illness in 2015, and many millions more are infected every year.
Despite these staggering numbers, efforts to prevent the disease have been very successful, even without a vaccine. Around the world, communities and professionals have developed better ways to control mosquito populations, to educate local populations on the disease, and provide medicine to treat the illness. The result is that between 2010 and 2015, the number of people globally killed by the disease dropped by 29%, and the total number of cases dropped by 21%.
Even on its own, the vaccine has the potential to make a massive difference and save thousands of lives. If the vaccine is able to work in real-world situations as opposed to the controlled conditions of a laboratory, it will be added to the vaccination schedules of children in areas at high-risk of malaria.
Chinese Overfishing Creates Problems for West Africa
Chinese fishermen are having a severe impact on the people of West Africa. Overfishing has had severe ecological and economic consequences around the world. After exhausting more local supplies of fish, Chinese fishermen have been forced to travel to other parts of the world in order to meet demand. One such place is off the coast of West Africa.
This has had a detrimental effect on the economy of Senegal and other West African countries. A single Chinese fishing vessel can catch as much fish in one week as a Senegalese boat catches in a year. In addition to the expected ecological problems, this also has economic consequences: Chinese fishing costs West Africa a conservative estimate of at least $2 billion annually.
Fish is an important commodity in Senegal: many Senegalese citizens rely on fish for their income and for food. The economic stress has caused some young Senegalese people to leave Senegal in search of greener pastures. It has also inspired the Senegalese government to introduce legislation that would impose a $1 million fine on those caught fishing illegally. However, a lack of appropriate technology such as speedboats or satellites would make this law difficult to enforce. In addition, many West African countries have not taken any action against Chinese fishermen given the continent’s economic relationship with China.
Pope Francis Visits Egypt to Encourage Peace between Faiths
Pope Francis spent two days in Egypt during the week of April 28, where he met with local Christian and Muslim leaders. The Pope came with the goal of strengthening relationships and understanding between the two faiths, and to comfort Egypt’s Christian minority after a terrorist attack that claimed more than 40 of their lives two weeks ago.
The Pope met with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam, and together spoke at the International Conference for Peace. He later met with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and together with him addressed local dignitaries. In both meetings, the Pope stressed Egypt’s responsibility to fight terrorism in the country and to prevent extremism by working to eliminate poverty, the proliferation of arms, and “demagogic forms of populism.” He then met with local Christian leaders and people, and ended his visit by conducting mass in front of 15,000 Egyptian Catholics.
The Pope’s visit may not sound like much, but it may be more important than it appears at first glance, as it may signal changing attitudes in Egypt about the west and religious extremism.
Our news analysis now on the Africa News Matters website