Daily Archives: January 11, 2018

What’s the Spectre Your VoIP will Meltdown?

Telephony systems, SBCs and VoIP hardware that rely on Intel, AMD and ARM processors harbor some serious security vulnerabilities GAITHERSBURG, Md., Jan. 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Patton Electronics—US manufacturer of UC, cloud, and IoT enabling solutions for carrier, enterprise and industrial networks—declares Patton operating systems are NOT vulnerable to the Spectre and Meltdown security […]

Health of people key to economic health

The recently launched World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) report on progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) suggests South Africa is on its way towards achieving universal health coverage, with its National Health Insurance scheme. The country received a score of 67 out of a possible 100. Countries in Scandinavia, the UK, and surprisingly the US received scores of greater than 80. To understand what these scores mean, one has to review the inputs used to generate the scores.

The authors used the following nine variables to compute UHC scores for each country: sanitation (at least basic); hypertension control; tobacco control; insecticide treated nets (which we don't provide, defaulting to indoor-residual spraying); family planning; antenatal care (four-plus visits); immunisation coverage; HIV treatment and TB treatment. Readers may be surprised that

Tnone of these variables reflect on either financing available and affordability or availability of health workers � which are often raised as obstacles to the implementation of UHC.

While acknowledging that finding ways to score countries and that the attempt by the World Bank and WHO is a brave first attempt, the variables used and the quality of the data will be highly contested by many countries. As Japan's experience illustrates, investing in human capital through the provision of education and health services is a good buy � better than investing in infrastructure.

Two recent papers in the Lancet by that country's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso shows its success as an industrialised country with almost no unemployment after World War II was linked to a decision to invest in human capital. Aso noted that countries should embark on UHC early in their development trajectory, and that it contributed to social stability and economic growth.

Interestingly, the Chinese Communist Party resolved at its 19th national party congress to lift 43 million people out of poverty by 2020. One of the interventions is to provide professional training to ensure that at least one person in every household is employed as they recognise that after training, people are more likely to find employment.

At the UHC Forum in Tokyo on December 14-15, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim surprised many when he confessed that for many years the bank got it wrong when it promoted heavy investment by countries in infrastructure through loans and grants. He noted that what countries should invest in is its people, human capital. He acknowledged that Japan, followed by the Asian Tigers (South Korea and Taiwan) all invested heavily in education and health to develop the potential of their citizens and that the World Bank now promotes UHC, because it promotes development and is a contributor to economic growth. In fact, Senegal President Macky Sall, who spoke at the meeting, noted that UHC was also a pre-requisite for peace and security.

Why are these leaders focusing on what might be termed social services and what is the justification for this? One is moral � or based on a human rights argument � that it is immoral in the 21st century that 100 million people are driven into poverty because of outof-pocket health care payments. As WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus aptly reminds, this translates to three people every second being impoverished.

In South Africa, estimates are that the poorest receive less than 15% of health benefits but need more than 30% of services, while the richest 20% use almost 40% of services against a need of 10%. Simply put, the rich benefit far more from health services provided than the poor who need these services more. This level of inequity cannot contribute to the development of our country.

The other reason for this focus appears to be a realisation that development that leaves people, especially the most vulnerable, is not sustainable and does not provide the conditions for peace and stability.

It is interesting that even countries that have already reached UHC support the imperative for all countries to make need for health services as the only criteria for access to services, rather than an individual's ability to pay for services. These countries, however, also face the problem of affordability. Their challenge, like countries still on the path to universal coverage, is to ensure that they can afford to provide these services. This has led countries to go back to the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration. What this means was clearly illustrated by Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at the UHC forum, with low birth rates and a rapidly ageing population the country is looking beyond 2030 (the date by which countries should achieve the sustainable development goals). Singapore is already changing its focus from health care to health, from quality to value and from hospital to community. These changes clearly reflect a return to the basics. Next year, we will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration, so a return to its principles may well be opportune.

The sentiments noted at the forum echo those embodied in the preamble to the Alma Alta declaration.

What was right in 1978 is still right today.

Let us not wait another 40 years to discover what we know today. Let's implement the national health insurance system, South Africa's version of universal health coverage.

SA is on track to achieve its aim of universal health coverage

*Yogan Pillay is the deputy director-general in the National Department of Health and attended the 2030 UHC Forum in Tokyo last month. He writes in his personal capacity.

Source: South African Government News Agency

The Number of Refugees and Migrants Coming to Europe is Now Dropping. Here’s Why

Two years after sparking an unprecedented humanitarian and political crisis, the largest influx of refugees and migrants into Europe since World War II has finally slowed down, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Last week, the IOM reported that the number of people who arrived in Europe by sea in 2017 was less than half as many as the previous year. Less than 172,000 people � mostly fleeing conflict in the Middle East and poverty in Africa � crossed the Mediterranean into Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain in 2017, compared to more than 363,000 in 2016.

We can tell you with confidence that the numbers from North Africa to Italy this year are under 120,000, IOM spokesperson Joel Millman said, according to Reuters. That's the lowest in the last four years for arrivals in Italy.

Greece also experienced its lowest intake in four years, according to Millman.

Although the count hasn't been finalized yet, migrant deaths in the Mediterranean also dropped significantly � from 5,143 to 3,118 � and by a third globally, from 7,932 to 5,376.

We think of those as extremely positive developments, Millman said.

Fighting among smuggling groups was partially responsible for the reduction, according to Millman, but so were more patrols and rescues off the coast of Libya.

The patrols were directly strengthened by Italy, which has received the bulk of arrivals since the EU brokered a deal with Turkey in 2016 to cut off the main East Mediterranean route to Greece. By training the Libyan coast guard, repairing its boats and recruiting powerful militias to stop traffickers, Italy saw a huge drop in the number of migrants entering its shores in the second half of 2017.

Italy's Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni recently gushed that 2017 represented a historic transition from immigration managed by criminals to controlled, legal and safe migration, according to PRI.

Ultimately, that is the goal � to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies � according to one of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 10, which aims to reduce inequality.

However, the major policies that have successfully stemmed the flow of migrants into Europe so far have been nothing short of controversial.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in November that the Italian-led policy of helping the Libyan coast guard intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean is inhuman.

The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions in detention, he said, as he called for the decriminalization of irregular migration to protect the human rights of migrants.

Human rights advocates have also criticized the EU-Turkey deal, in which migrants who entered the Greek islands irregularly are returned to Turkey. In exchange, Turkey received 6 billion euros to help with its massive refugee community, most of whom have fled Syria.

As the Syrian war winds down, the influx to Turkey (and Greece) has slowed, but human rights advocates say that asylum seekers are not safe in Turkey, which refuses to grant full refugee status to non-Europeans. Unfortunately, the conditions of Greek detention camps are also squalid and unbearable for those whose cases are being reviewed on the islands,

Again, the end goal is orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people. The fact is, migration plays an important role in eradicating global poverty, reducing inequality and, for some, surviving conflict.

A slow-down in the European migrant crisis is undoubtedly a relief, especially for host countries. But numbers do not paint the whole picture. Migration is still deadly for too many, and for many who survive, it's no better than the unbearable conditions they fled.

Source: UN Dispatch


ADDIS ABABA, The Director-General of the Algerian National Police and the current chairman of the African Police Co-operation Mechanism (Afripol), Major-General Abdelghani Hamel, has called for greater co-operation between the African and international...

Ministry of Foreign Affairs announcement on today’s announcement from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the Hellenic Parliament’s approval of legislation on sharia

The Hellenic Parliament took a historic step, passing the legislation on Sharia that strengthens egalitarianism and equality before the law for all Greek women and men.It is legislation that strengthens the system of legal guarantees and individual rig...