Impulse Dynamics Announces First Implant for CCM-D™ Clinical Trial

World’s First Device Combining CCM Therapy With an ICD in a Single Rechargeable Implant That Treats Both Heart Failure Symptoms and Sudden Cardiac Death

MARLTON, N.J., May 18, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Impulse Dynamics plc, a global medical device company dedicated to improving the lives of people with heart failure, announced the completion of the first implantation for the INTEGRA-D clinical trial, designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of two proven cardiac therapies combined — CCM® and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) — in a single device (CCM-D). The Optimizer® IntegraTM CCM-D System delivers CCM therapy to improve quality of life and reduce heart failure symptoms, and ICD therapy to treat life-threatening arrhythmias that may cause sudden cardiac death. The investigational technology is rechargeable with long battery life, potentially reducing the need for replacement procedures.

The journey of a heart failure patient often involves debilitating symptoms and declining quality of life.

CCM therapy delivered by the Optimizer System improves quality of life and helps patients feel better. Patients indicated for CCM therapy may also be at a higher risk for arrythmias and sudden cardiac arrest and are therefore often offered an ICD to treat their heart for life-threatening arrythmias, should they occur. The INTEGRA-D trial is the first to evaluate the Optimizer Integra CCM-D System that combines both therapies into a single device, designed to last for many years.

“The first-in-the-world implant of this novel technology has potential to advance treatments for patients living with heart failure,” said Niraj Varma, M.D., Ph.D., electrophysiologist at Cleveland Clinic and National Primary Investigator of the INTEGRA-D clinical trial. “The trial aims to study whether this device can protect heart failure patients from the risk of sudden cardiac death while also treating heart failure symptoms.”

“We hope combining cardiac contractility modulation therapy and ICD therapy with prolonged battery life will reduce the number of leads and the number of procedures a patient may have to endure,” said Bruce Wilkoff, M.D., Director of Cardiac Pacing and Tachyarrhythmia Devices at Cleveland Clinic and Principal Investigator of the INTEGRA-D trial. “The first implant went well, and we look forward to further studying this device.”

The INTEGRA-D trial is a multicenter study of 300 subjects from 75 centers that will evaluate the combination of CCM and ICD therapy in a single device via the Optimizer Integra CCM-D System. The study will assess the performance of the CCM-D device in effectively treating episodes of ventricular tachycardia and/or ventricular fibrillation while also providing CCM treatment for heart failure. Patients enrolled in the study will receive the Optimizer Integra CCM-D System, and will be followed for at least two years.

“This clinical study is important in proving the potential benefit of combining CCM therapy, which improves quality of life in patients with heart failure, with gold-standard ICD technology that delivers lifesaving therapy for sudden cardiac death,” said Nir Uriel, M.D., Director of Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at New York-Presbyterian and National Co-Principal Investigator for the INTEGRA-D trial. Dr. Uriel is also a professor of cardiology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine in the Greenberg Division of Cardiology at Weill Cornell Medicine.

“Today’s announcement is another example of our commitment to a continuous pace of innovation to build a comprehensive platform in interventional heart failure and help improve the lives of many patients that suffer from this debilitating disease,” said Simos Kedikoglou, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Impulse Dynamics. “We are proud to partner with physicians at leading centers around the world to conduct important research on this first-of-its-kind rechargeable combination device designed to address a major unmet need of a large patient group.”

About the Optimizer Integra CCM-D System and CCM Therapy

The Optimizer Integra CCM-D System is an investigational device that combines CCM therapy and ICD therapy into one device. “Investigational” means that the study device is currently being tested. It is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Impulse Dynamics currently offers the Optimizer system that is FDA-approved and CE-marked. The Optimizer system delivers CCM therapy — the company’s proprietary technology — to the heart. CCM therapy has been designed by Impulse Dynamics to significantly improve the heart’s contraction, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to be pushed out through the body. CCM therapy is indicated to improve the 6-minute hall walk, quality of life, and functional status of NYHA Class III heart failure patients who remain symptomatic despite guideline-directed medical therapy, are not indicated for CRT, and have a left ventricular ejection fraction ranging from 25 to 45 percent.

CCM is the brand name for cardiac contractility modulation — a therapy that delivers non-excitatory electrical pulses from the implantable Optimizer device to improve heart contraction. CCM therapy sends unique electrical pulses to the heart cells during the absolute refractory period. In doing so, CCM helps the heart contract more forcibly. Impulse Dynamics has completed numerous clinical studies, including several randomized controlled trials, and CCM therapy has been published in more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles.

About Impulse Dynamics

Impulse Dynamics is dedicated to advancing the treatment of heart failure for patients and the healthcare providers who care for them. The company pioneered its proprietary CCM therapy, which uses the Optimizer technology platform to improve quality of life in heart failure patients. CCM therapy is delivered through the Optimizer system, which includes an IPG implanted in a minimally invasive procedure and approved for commercial use in the United States and 44 countries worldwide. More than 9,000 patients have received the therapy as part of clinical trials and real-world use, where it is proven to be safe and effective for heart failure patients with debilitating symptoms who otherwise have few effective options available to them. To learn more, visit www.ImpulseDynamics.com, or follow the company on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

Forward-looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as ‘‘may,’’ ‘‘will,’’ ‘‘should,’’ ‘‘expect,’’ ‘‘plan,’’ ‘‘anticipate,’’ ‘‘could,’’ ‘‘intend,’’ ‘‘target,’’ ‘‘project,’’ ‘‘contemplate,’’ ‘‘believe,’’ ‘‘estimate,’’ ‘‘predict,’’ ‘‘potential’’ or ‘‘continue’’ or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning potential benefits of CCM therapy, and CCM therapy combined with an ICD delivered via a single device (CCM-D), and the absence of risks associated therewith; the ability for CCM therapy and our products to fill a significant unmet medical need for patients with heart failure; and the short-term and long-term benefits of the Optimizer Integra CCM-D System and CCM therapy in patients with heart failure, as well as to the physicians treating those patients. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Other important factors that could cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those contemplated in this press release include, without limitation: the company’s future research and development costs, capital requirements and the company’s needs for additional financing; commercial success and market acceptance of CCM therapy; the company’s ability to achieve and maintain adequate levels of coverage or reimbursement for Optimizer systems or any future products the company may seek to commercialize; competitive companies and technologies in the industry; the company’s ability to expand its indications and develop and commercialize additional products and enhancements to its current products; the company’s business model and strategic plans for its products, technologies and business, including its implementation thereof; the company’s ability to expand, manage and maintain its direct sales and marketing organization; the company’s ability to commercialize or obtain regulatory approvals for CCM therapy and its products, or the effect of delays in commercializing or obtaining regulatory approvals; FDA or other U.S. or foreign regulatory actions affecting us or the healthcare industry generally, including healthcare reform measures in the United States and international markets; the timing or likelihood of regulatory filings and approvals; and the company’s ability to establish and maintain intellectual property protection for CCM therapy and products or avoid claims of infringement. The company does not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements and expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the company’s views as of any date subsequent to the date of this press release.

Rohan More, Global Vice President of Marketing
Impulse Dynamics
856-642-9933
rmore@impulsedynamics.com

Harriss Currie, Chief Financial Officer
Impulse Dynamics
856-642-9933
hcurrie@impulsedynamics.com

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 8841961

Chairman of Avia Solutions Group Gediminas Ziemelis: 10 big challenges for passenger aviation sustainability for the next 3 years

DUBLIN, Ireland, May 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ensuring sustainable operations has become a primary driver for aviation businesses in recent years. Nonetheless, this dynamic industry faces a multitude of challenges that can impede companies’ efforts to enhance profitability. While several factors contribute to the aviation industry’s struggles, certain key issues merit highlighting as primary culprits.

High market $ interest rates for heavily leveraged and drowning-in-debt airlines will be even higher

In recent years, the aviation industry has experienced a significant drop in demand for air travel, resulting in many airlines facing financial losses. To stay afloat during this time, airlines have taken on additional debt. However, this increased debt has resulted in higher risk for lenders, leading to higher market interest rates for the airlines.

In addition to the impact of the pandemic on the industry, other factors such as rising fuel costs and increased competition have also contributed to the financial struggles of many airlines. These factors have made it increasingly challenging for heavily leveraged airlines to generate profits and pay off their debt, leading to concerns about the sustainability of their business models.

The combination of these factors has led to a situation where heavily indebted airlines are now facing even higher market interest rates, which can exacerbate their financial difficulties.

Much higher insurance costs — worsening war risks could push insurance premiums higher

The aviation industry is grappling with rising insurance costs due to worsening geopolitical risks. This is highly influenced by the fact that, as stated by leading insurance companies, around 500 aircraft leased to Russian operators remain trapped in Russia. Insurers are facing potential liability issues due to the uncertain situation created by the Russian government’s refusal to release the aircraft.

As a result, insurers are struggling to assess the level of risk involved, leading to a wide range of potential losses estimated to be up to $30 billion, according to industry sources. This uncertainty is likely to drive up insurance premiums for airlines, impacting the industry as a whole.

Passengers will remember compensations for flight delays, and it will impact airlines’ unplanned costs

The EU regulation 261/2004 provides compensation for passengers who experience delays, cancellations, overbooking, or denied boarding. Depending on the specific circumstances and subject to certain conditions, affected passengers may be eligible for a compensation claim ranging from €250 to €600 per person. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of flight delays in the EU that fell under compensation was 1.5% of all flights, with an average compensation amount of €375 per delayed flight.

In 2019, EU airlines carried a total of 1.12 billion passengers, with 1.7 million flights experiencing delays and resulting in a total compensation pay-out of €6.3 billion. Only 10% of affected passengers currently file complaints directly with the airlines or via specialised service companies, such as Skycop or Airhelp.

However, this number is expected to increase significantly, as after COVID-19 the industry faces capacity shortages and other challenges. As a result, the number of claimable flights that experience delays could increase from 1.5% to 5%, potentially leading to a total compensation pay-out of €20 billion.

LEAP engines challenges will impact more aircraft on the ground and shortage of capacity;

According to our internal research, presently, the aviation industry operates a fleet of 1397 A320neo aircraft with LEAP-1A engines, totalling 3080 engines with an average of 2.2 engines per aircraft, and 1043 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with LEAP-1B engines, totalling 2338 engines with an average of 2.2 engines per aircraft. To maintain these engines, there are 21 locations globally for LEAP-1A overhaul and maintenance and 22 locations for LEAP-1B engines.

However, the grounding of 16,000 aircraft (equivalent to 60% of the total fleet) in 2020-2021 has led to a staggering 60% postponement of LEAP engine maintenance. Consequently, there is now a significant maintenance gap across 43 locations, resulting in wait times of 9-10 months for engine maintenance, which could potentially disrupt airline operations.

OEM production and supply chain disrupted during 2023-2025 will cause a shortage of aircraft capacity;

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the aerospace industry. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Boeing and Airbus have experienced significant disruptions in their production and supply chains. In response to the global economic slowdown and reduced demand for air travel, OEMs have cut their production levels by around half compared to pre-COVID levels. However, this has led to a shortage of aircraft capacity, which is hindering the industry’s recovery efforts.

The production cuts have affected over 5,000 suppliers in the supply chain, all of whom have had to reduce their volumes during the pandemic. Consequently, the recovery of the aerospace industry is projected to take 2.5-4 years to return to pre-COVID production levels. This prolonged period of disruption is likely to have significant consequences for the industry and its stakeholders.

In 2020-2021, the cancellation of pilot cadet programs and planned retirements caused a pilot shortage in 2023-2024 and a rapid increase in costs for airlines;

The aviation industry faces a constant demand for new pilots, as approximately 3% of pilots retire annually. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major setback in the industry, with all cadet programs being either postponed or cancelled.

Hence, there is now a significant pilot shortage issue, leading to rapid cost increases. It is estimated that industry will experience a shortage of 300,000 pilots within a decade. This shortage is expected to create significant challenges, particularly in India, which is anticipated to have the largest pilot shortage.

Challenges to book MRO slots after COVID-19, because scheduled maintenance events were postponed

Another issue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant accumulation of MRO services for aircraft worldwide. As a result of the unprecedented reduction in air travel and the grounding of many aircraft, scheduled maintenance was delayed or deferred.

Nonetheless, as air travel demand begins to recover and airlines return to full operations, the challenge of booking MRO slots to perform necessary maintenance on these aircraft has emerged. Many airlines are finding that MRO facilities are already operating at full capacity, resulting in long wait times and potential disruptions to airline operations. This accumulation of maintenance is expected to persist for some time, creating obstacles to the aviation industry’s recovery efforts.

Challenge to find engines maintenance slots for V2500, and RR engines due to deferred maintenance

Airlines that operate aircraft with V2500 and RR engines are also encountering difficulties in scheduling maintenance for their engines due to high demand and limited availability. This has created a challenging situation, particularly for airlines with large fleets of such aircraft.

The lack of available maintenance slots has forced airlines to ground some of their aircraft, leading to operational disruptions and revenue losses. In addition to the financial impact, the situation also poses safety concerns as delayed maintenance can compromise the safety and reliability of the engines, potentially leading to more significant problems in the future.

ESG requirements for greener aviation didn’t disappear in the medium term

The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) 41st Assembly, held in Montreal in October 2022, marked a significant milestone for the aviation industry’s commitment to sustainability. The assembly committed to a Long Term Aspirational Goal (LTAG) to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, which has brought Environment, Society, and Governance (ESG) issues to the forefront of the sustainable aviation conversation.

The LTAG’s ambitious target is challenging, but it has the potential to encourage airlines to accelerate the development and adoption of greener jet fuels and other technical improvements to decarbonise flying. This will require a significant shift in industry-wide mindset, investment in research and development, and collaboration between airlines, manufacturers, and governments to achieve the long-term goal.

After COVID-19, debts for spare parts, MRO services, and aircraft leasing will impact that some aircraft will still be grounded, which will cause capacity demand

The challenging situation in the industry has pushed airlines to take on additional debt to finance various aspects of their operations, such as spare parts, MRO services, and aircraft leasing. However, the increase in outstanding debt for the industry could have significant implications, with some airlines potentially struggling to pay off their debts, which could result in a reduction in capacity as airlines are forced to ground some of their aircraft or cut routes to minimise costs.

Insider data shows that the industry’s outstanding debt has jumped over 20% since 2020, reaching more than $300 billion. To raise capital, global air carriers have sold $63 billion in bonds and loans so far this year.

Media contact:
Silvija Jakiene
Chief Communications Officer
Avia Solutions Group
silvija.jakiene@aviasg.com
+370 671 22697

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 1000810732

Information Regulator conducts PAIA compliance assessments on political parties

The Information Regulator (Regulator) will embark on a robust assessment of political parties’ compliance with the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2, 2000 (PAIA). The assessment will be of all political parties represented in Parliament.

This is part of the Regulator’s programme of action presented through its Annual Performance Plan 2023/2024 to the Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee. These assessments will be conducted from 19 May to 7 June 2023. The first assessment will be conducted on the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) on 19 May 2023.

The Constitutional Court’s judgement in the My Vote Counts NPC v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Another [2018] ZACC 17 case, brought about the amendment of PAIA on 1 April 2021. This PAIA amendment created an obligation on all political parties and independent candidates to record, preserve, and make available information on their private funding. It also includes political parties in the definition of a “private body” This makes South Africa one of the few, if not the only country, which includes political parties in the access to information regime.

Any person can request access to information held by a political party if they require this information to exercise any of their rights, particularly their right to vote. If access to information is denied or such information is not disclosed, a complaint may be lodged with the Regulator.

Explaining the decision for the Regulator to conduct these PAIA assessments, Chairperson of the organisation, Adv. Pansy Tlakula said, “we decided to include political parties in our assessments to strengthen transparency within political parties and considering that the 2024 National and Provincial elections are upon us”.

The areas of compliance which will be assessed include, but are not limited to, the designation or delegation of Deputy Information Officer/s (DIOs), the registration of the Information Officer (IO) and DIOs with the Regulator, the development and availability of PAIA manuals, and creation and keeping of information relating to donations made to political parties as prescribed in section 52A (1)(a) of PAIA and the PAIA Regulation 6(1).

The Regulator will also conduct onsite inspections at the offices of the political parties.

During this financial year, the Regulator will assess other public and private bodies such as universities, national and provincial government departments, and JSE-listed companies.

In the last quarter of the previous financial year, the Regulator conducted PAIA assessments on short-term insurance companies, banks, municipalities, and regulatory bodies.

Compliance with PAIA has, since its inception, been extremely low, and there has always been a reluctance from bodies to give information, which undermines the constitutional right of access to information. The aim of conducting the assessments is to ensure that institutions comply with PAIA meaningfully.

Source: Government of South Africa

Minister Naledi Pandor hosts Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, 1 Jun

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, will host the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations on 01 June 2023 in Cape Town.

The mid-term meeting provides an opportunity for BRICS Foreign Ministers to reflect on regional and global developments. Minister Pandor, as the Chair of the BRICS Ministerial Meeting, will continue with the policy of inclusive engagement by inviting 15 Foreign Ministers from Africa and the global south to a “Friends of BRICS” meeting to be held on 02 June 2023. The ministerial meetings will be preceded by the meeting of Sherpas and Sous- Sherpas from 29-30 May 2023.

Members of the media interested in covering the meeting are requested to send the following information to Patience Mtshali, mtshalip@dirco.gov.za(link sends e-mail) and Kgopotso Rapakuana, RapakuanaK@dirco.gov.za(link sends e-mail)

Full Names and Surname

ID/Passport Number (for passport holders, please provide date of issue, country of issue and date of expiry)

Name of Media House

Designation

The deadline for the submission of the above information is 26 May 2023. Late applications will not be accepted.

NB: Due to space limitations, media houses are advised to assign not more than two journalists to the event.

Source: Government of South Africa

Broadening access to justice

The recent revision of Legal Aid South Africa’s Means Test is expected to widen access to legal assistance for many.

Recently, the independent statutory body, established by the Legal Aid South Africa Act 29, 2014 as amended, announced the upward revision of the test in order to cater to more people who are in need of legal assistance.

“We use the Means Test to determine if the applicant applying for legal aid qualifies for assistance in terms of their income and assets.

“The Means Test ensures that legal aid is not given to people who can pay their legal costs”, says Legal Aid South Africa’s National Civil Legal Manager, Hanoneshea Hendricks.

Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid SA) which is accountable to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, is tasked with providing legal aid to those who cannot afford their own legal representation. This includes the poor and vulnerable groups like women and children.

“In terms of the Means Test we will take the gross income of the applicant, add any additional allowances received and deduct the tax and the allowable rebate.

“After the calculations, the applicant must have a minus balance to qualify for legal aid. Where the applicant has a positive balance, certain discretions can be applied in terms of our internal policy. The Legal Aid SA Regulations sets out what the rebates are. These rebate amounts are reviewed annually by the Board of Legal Aid South Africa,” Hendricks explained.

The Board of Legal Aid SA reviews the Means Test annually to determine whether changes should be effected.

“It [the Board] considers the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to determine by what percentage the rebates should be amended. The change in the Means Test that was implemented from 1 April 2023 was a result of such a review,” Hendricks told SAnews.

The test is reviewed annually with a view to changes being effective from the start of Legal Aid SA’s new financial year which falls on 1 April. The CPI is monitored throughout the year, with the Legal Aid SA Board making a final decision on whether to amend the Means Test or not by February, which is during the final quarter of the financial year.

Legal Aid SA has a mandate from the South African Constitution to help the poor get tax-funded legal assistance.

The body provides citizens with assistance in criminal and civil cases.

Thresholds

The revision of the Means Test has resulted in new thresholds having been put in place from 1 April 2023.

In applications for legal aid in criminal or civil cases, applicants must earn less than R8 200 per month. In applications for legal aid in civil cases where the applicant is a member of a household, applicants must earn less than R9 000 per month.

If an applicant owns movable assets, they must not be worth more than R151 700 and if an applicant owns immovable assets, they must not be worth more than R711 700.

Meanwhile, in criminal cases, children continue to automatically qualify for legal aid and do not have to take the Means Test. If it is a civil case matter, the family of the child will need to take and pass the Means Test.

Hendricks points out that while the revision has been made, it is too early to measure the impact of the change.

“The Means Test applies when someone wants to apply for legal representation in court. The amended Means Test became effective in April 2023 and therefore it is still early to measure the impact of the change,” she says.

However, Legal Aid SA looks forward to championing the rights of even more persons to access justice through the provision of independent, accessible as well as quality legal aid services in criminal and civil legal matters, at no cost.

Assistance

In the 2021/22 financial year, Legal Aid SA helped a total 487,552 people with legal representation and legal advice which according to the entity’s 2021-2022 integrated annual report, is a 31% increase compared to the previous financial year.

“This figure comprises a total of 314,998 (89%) new criminal and 40,143 (11%) new civil matters, and the provision of legal advice to 132,411 people.

“This is 17% more criminal matters, 44% more civil matters and 75% more advice matters than the 2020-2021 financial year,” noted the annual report.

In addition, Legal Aid SA assisted 11,686 children in 2021-2022; 6,935 children in conflict with the law and 4,751 children involved in civil matters.

Hendricks said it is a “privilege and heart-warming to work towards protecting the rights of vulnerable groups and becoming their voice to ensure that they receive justice.”

She does also point out that it can “become challenging when we do not have capacity at some offices or areas. “Legal Aid SA’s footprint extends to 64 local offices and 64 Legal Aid SA satellite offices, which are supported by six provincial offices and the national office.

Other than providing assistance in criminal and civil cases, Legal Aid SA’s mandate has also been extended. Legal Aid SA now also provides legal representation and mediation services in land related disputes, for those who are not able to afford the cost of their own legal representation.

This follows a 2019 recommendation by an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform to transfer the Land Rights Management Facility (LRMF) from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to Legal Aid SA. Legal Aid SA took over the management of the LRMF in January 2022.

To date, the Land Rights Management Unit is represented across the country’s nine provinces with a total of 142 employees.

Asked about the most common concerns raised by who seek help from Legal Aid SA, Hendricks said the body’s regulations make provision for assistance in a variety of matters.

“Clients seek assistance in civil, criminal and land related matters. Concerns differ from area to area, community to community and what is prevalent at any given time. For example, during the peak of the pandemic, there was a spike in divorce matters as COVID-19 put a strain on families.”

Legal Aid SA targets high traffic areas, including service delivery points such as the courts and prisons. It also participates in outreach programmes where it goes into communities to awareness of its services.

The public can make use of Legal Aid SA’s Advice Line on 0800 110 110 between 7 am and 5 pm to receive legal advice. The public may also send a Please Call Me to: 079 835 7179.

Assistance on the Advice Line is free and no means test is applied. –SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency

Call for calm amid diphtheria cases

Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, has called for vigilance and for the public not to panic as the country records two positive cases of diphtheria disease.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), has alerted the department of two laboratory-confirmed cases of diphtheria disease that were detected in April 2023.

According to the department, the first case was detected in an adult in KwaZulu-Natal, while the second infection was found in a child in the Western Cape.

Diphtheria is an uncommon, but vaccine-preventable serious infection caused by a toxin-producing bacterium called Corynebacterium diphtheria.

“The toxin may lead to difficulty in breathing, heart rhythm problems, and even death,” the department explained.

The bacteria, according to the department, spreads from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.

The symptoms of diphtheria include sore throat, with the formation of a membrane on the tonsil and throat, and swollen glands in the front of the neck.

Close contacts of known cases are at increased risk of infection.

“Routine diphtheria vaccination is part of the childhood vaccine programme and parents are encouraged to get their children vaccinated,” the statement read.

The vaccine should be given to all children as part of the routine vaccines in the first year of life, while booster doses at six and 12 years should also be given.

“Catch-up vaccination is possible if doses have been missed.”

However, the department said diphtheria antitoxin is in short supply globally and the World Health Organisation is working to secure additional supplies of antitoxin.

“Treatment in the absence of anti-toxin is appropriate antibiotics and supportive care.”

These cases, the department said, are a reminder that a drop in vaccine coverage may lead to more infections.

“All parents are urged to ensure that their children are up to date for routine vaccines. Children who are not up to date for vaccines should be taken to the nearest clinic for vaccination.”

Meanwhile, clinicians including primary health care nurses throughout the country have been urged to have a high index of suspicion for diphtheria, to notify suspected cases and to send specimens to the laboratory for testing.

In addition, laboratories are encouraged to screen all throat swabs for diphtheria and send all confirmed cases to the NICD’s Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis. – SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency

Better Performance Registered in Major Macroeconomic Indicators: Planning, Dev’t Ministry

Ethiopia has registered better performance in the major macroeconomic indicators during the past nine months, according to Ministry of Planning and Development.

The performance registered in the major macroeconomic indicators during the stated period indicates that the 7.5 percent growth set for this Ethiopian fiscal year will be achieved, the ministry added.

The performance of this fiscal year is being evaluated in the presence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Planning and Development Minister Fitsum Assefa presented the performance report of the past nine months.

In her report, the minister pointed out that the performance in the months is better in many aspects.

Better result is recorded in major macroeconomic performances by withstanding the instability of the global market and shocks, she pointed out.

For instance, the minister said, Ethiopia obtained 2.6 billion US dollars from export during the past nine months.

This achievement is 71 percent of the plan and the agriculture sector takes the lion’s share of the export.

Fitsum stated that 897 million USD was obtained from coffee export in the period.

The country has also secured 3.65 billion USD from remittances by individuals, that is excluding non-governmental organizations, she added.

According to the minister, a remarkable job has also been done in replacing imported products; and wheat as well as malt have been fully substituted.

In particular, the substitution of malt has helped the country to save over 244 million USD.

Moreover, the minister said that 8 million quintals of rice was harvested in nine months, which hugely helped Ethiopia to reduce rice import by half.

Maximum efforts are also being intensified to substitute imports, including textiles, with other products, it was learned.

Speaking about job creation, the minister said 2.4 million jobs were created during the stated period.

Fitsum further stated that the federal government’s income has shown improvement as a total of 324 billion Birr was earned.

However, the minister acknowledged that contraband, price instability in the international market, and inflation in the country are the major bottlenecks for the macro economy.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Ethiopia Vows to Further Sustain Addis Hub of Int’l Diplomacy As it Celebrates 60th AU Anniversary: MoF

Ethiopia vows to further sustain Addis Ababa as a hub of international diplomacy as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of the African Union (AU), according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 60th Anniversary celebrations of OAU-AU will start from May 25, 2023, under the theme “Our Africa, Our Future.”

All AU Member States are expected, among other things, to showcase major successes, milestones, challenges, and the way forward under Agenda 2063, it was indicated.

In his biweekly media briefing, Spokesperson of the ministry, Meles Alem said that preparations are being underway for the celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the AU.

As Ethiopia is the founder of the OAU, now the AU, the 60th celebration of AU anniversary will open a big chapter for Ethiopia, he added.

“As Ethiopia celebrates the 60th anniversary of the AU, it vows to further strengthen its commitment to make Addis Ababa as a center of international diplomacy,” Meles underscored.

Elaborating Addis Ababa as the third largest diplomatic hub in the world, after New York and Geneva, he stressed that more needs to be done to make Addis Ababa a comfortable seat to international organizations.

Moreover, he elaborated that Ethiopia is moving from soft diplomacy to expanding diplomacy to cooperate with Latin American and Asian countries on expansion of bilateral ties.

The Vice President of Colombia, Francia Elena Márquez Mina, who arrived in Addis Ababa yesterday held discussion with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Demeke Mekonnen on ways of bolstering the relationship between the two countries.

A High-Level Ethiopian Delegation led by State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mesganu Arga visited Pakistan to revitalize bilateral ties last week, according to spokesperson.

Commenting on the recent development in Sudan, Meles highlighted that Ethiopia has continued supporting Sudanese nationals fleeing the fighting.

Ethiopia believes the peace process should be Sudanese-owned to resolve the current problem, he added.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Netherlands to Restart Investment, Dev’t Projects Disrupted Due to Conflict

The Netherlands, which is one of the biggest investors in Ethiopia, will restart investment and development projects halted due to the war in the northern part of the country, Ambassador Henk Jan Bakker said.

The ambassador told ENA that Ethiopia is in much better situation at the moment and sincerely hopes that it will continue on the path of economic and democratic reform as well.

The European Union has decided two weeks ago at the council of ministers level to re-engage with Ethiopia.

“We already have very large development cooperation program with Ethiopia. In fact, Ethiopia is the largest recipient in the world of our development cooperation funds and we will restart that part of the project we had stopped because of the war, “Ambassador Bakker revealed.

According to him, the most important thing for the Netherlands to do is on agriculture, water, health, and restart the projects in those areas in the north.

However, he also pointed out that the one very exciting and big project at the moment is the Africa Improved Foods that announced to invest in Ethiopia at the investment forum held here recently in Addis Ababa.

New investment will of course come in the coming years and we also have regular projects in development cooperation, the ambassador stated.

“We are one of the biggest investors in Ethiopia. There are many Dutch companies, about 90 in Ethiopia, creating tens of thousands of jobs. Most of them are in horticulture, agriculture, flowers; but we have also big investments in food and beverages. Heineken and Bavaria NV (which bought stakes in Habesha Breweries) are especially big beer investors.”

Many companies that have invested here are actually exporting to Europe. So almost all of the flowers that are produced by Dutch companies are being exported to the Netherlands and finding the way into the rest of Europe and even further away, he elaborated.

That brings a lot of much needed forex to Ethiopia, and the Netherlands is actually the second largest export destination for Ethiopia worldwide. “We are very important partner for Ethiopia.”

Moreover, the Netherlands is Ethiopia’s second-largest export market as many Dutch flower growers are in Ethiopia.

The world’s largest rose farm, employing 13,000 workers, is found some 200 km from Addis Ababa, it was learned.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency