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Dead Siaya MCA listed in Uganda trip

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Investigations by the anti-graft agency into a controversial trip by Siaya MCAs to Uganda took a shocking twist after it emerged that a dead member was listed among those who travelled to Jinja, Uganda, in February.

It had been alleged that 41 members of the County Assembly stage-managed the trip.

They are accused of having their passports stamped at the border and then returning home without attending a workshop in Uganda, a matter now under investigation.

But the inclusion of Mr Joanes Andiego Odongo’s in the list of those who are said to have been on the trip has come as a shock.

Odongo was the Central Sakwa MCA at the time of his death and had also served as the Majority Whip at the Assembly.

He died on May 17, 2018 after a long battle with liver and kidney complications.

He was later succeeded by his son Charlton Andiego in the subsequent by-election.

The county assembly has now rushed to defend itself alleging a mix-up in the names.

However, a payment schedule the county assembly provided to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigators shows that the late MCA made the trip and was paid all the allowances.

According to the document dated January 21, 2019 and signed by the assembly clerk, a total of 43 MCAs had been proposed to attend a benchmarking-cum-training at the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO) in Jinja, from February 1 to 15.

During the stay, each one was to pocket Sh136,144 and a further transport allowance of Sh10,000 except the Speaker, who in the document is indicated was to receive Sh184,346.

On Thursday, EACC spokesman Yasin Amaro told the Nation that it was shocking that corruption had moved a notch higher from those listed as ghost workers to dead travellers.

“Apart from our own sources of information, EACC relies on documents that are relevant to the subject of investigations and such documents are sourced from individuals or organisations under investigation, ” he said.

But County Assembly Speaker George Okode, when contacted, claimed that that the list had errors and accused the EACC of engaging in sideshows.

“EACC is engaging in unnecessary drama. Do they have evidence that the dead MCA’s name was used to get money? Do they have evidence that he was captured as having travelled?

“Why are they not focusing their attention on who was actually paid because the issue here is about a trip that never was,” the Speaker argued.

“I have all the recordings, including pictures of the facilitators who took the MCAs through the four-day training and anybody who needs to verify the same can access the evidence,” he added.

“In fact we are happy with the turn the investigation is taking. We are buoyed by the new development ” he added.

Mr Okode told the Nation on phone on Thursday that as a requirement for controls on foreign trips, MCAs were expected to get clearance from the Ministry of Devolution and while doing so, the secretariat that was organising the trip could have generated the erroneous list by mistake.

“When I asked the clerk, who keeps the records he told me that the list had been generated and sent to the ministry for clearance and it was only realised later that it had some errors “ said Mr Okode.

The Speaker further said that the list, which is among several other documents that the EACC has obtained for the probe, originated from the county assembly.

“If he passed on, how did his name appear in the list of those proposed to travel by the assembly? This list was prepared by the assembly and was sent to the Devolution ministry for approval. Between the EACC investigators and the assembly, who was best-placed to know the MCA was dead or alive?” he posed.

Mr Okode said the assembly organised three trips to Uganda. He attended the first one alongside nine other MCAs and the second trip which was to be attended by 30 members flopped due to lack of proper coordination.

“During the second trip, the MCAs went to Uganda but they were forced to come back immediately because the team in Uganda couldn’t receive them due to planning hitches, ” he claimed.

After the second trip failed, Mr Okode said, they planned a third one, which he was part of, and even opened the four-day engagement but came back the following day because he was not paid.

The others who remained behind were also not paid because they used the money they ought to have used in the second trip that failed, he said.

Mr Okode added that four people, among them two members of the assembly’s Public Service Board who had been paid but did not attend the trip, were surcharged.

The EACC has summoned 41 Siaya MCAs to shed light on the controversial trip.

The ward reps are expected to appear before the detectives in Kisumu from Monday next week to be questioned and to record statements.

According a letter from the agency dated July 31 and addressed to the assembly clerk, the MCAs were asked to bring the original travel documents (passports) they used during the trip.

While confirming the matter, Mr Amaro told the Nation that the lawmakers are expected to provide information that will enable the anti-graft agency to establish whether the said trip took place as claimed.

by nation.co.ke

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Catholic doctors oppose cervical cancer vaccination

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The government is set to roll out mass vaccination of girls against cervical cancer in two weeks, even as doctors affiliated to the Catholic Church have contested the move citing a myriad of health complications.

The Ministry of Health will give 10-year-old girls two free doses of the vaccine against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV), six months apart, at about 9,000 public, private and faith-based facilities countrywide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends vaccination of all girls and screening, at least once every year, for older women to reduce cancer risk, and the vaccine is most effective when administered between the ages of nine and 14.

There are about 100 types of HPV, of which at least 14 cause cancer. Two HPV types (16 and 18) cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and cervical lesions.

The ministry met its partners Tuesday morning in preparation for the HPV national roll-out and to touch base on the local cancer landscape.

“The HPV vaccine is an extraordinary vaccine. It is the most effective means of preventing cervical cancer and is very safe. I am also a father of girls and all of them have received the vaccine. By vaccinating our girls against HPV we are preventing the disease for life. They will be able to grow, live up to their full potential and prosper,” said WHO Kenya Rep Dr Rudi Eggers, during the briefing.

MoH targets to reduce cases of cancer of the cervix — the second most common in Kenya after breast cancer, according to recent statistics released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The disease claims about seven women in Kenya every day, about 3,000 per year, according to statistics from the MoH.

There are about 40,000 new cervical cancer cases annually. Globally, it is the fourth most frequent cancer in women.

“It is unfortunate that we lose seven women to cancer every day. This is preventable through vaccination. If you prevent HPV infection then you can prevent cervical cancer,” said the Ministry of Health Head of Immunisation, Dr Collins Tabu, during the stakeholders meeting held Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA), in a 19-page document, questioned the decision to have 10-year-old girls vaccinated against HPV.

The doctors said their objection to the roll-out of the vaccine was backed by “studies” that indicated that the HPV vaccine was harmful to humans. “At 10 years, our children are not sexually active. They are not at risk of contracting HPV or other STDs. This applies also to other individuals who are not sexually active. It also includes those who are sexually active but faithful to their partners,” said the KCDA chairman, Dr Stephen Karanja, in the statement.

“It therefore makes neither logical nor scientific sense to expose children to a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease that they are not at risk of contracting. These children must be protected by everyone including the government from promiscuity and helped to remain chaste.”

Top health experts, however, termed the claims “sensational and unfounded.” Kenyatta National Hospital’s (KNH) top gynaecologist and surgeon Dr Alfred Mokomba said past clinical researches showed that the vaccine was effective and safe for use on children.

He said the vaccine was a preventive measure and was cheaper than cancer treatment, and would bring down the local cancer burden.

“The work of a vaccine is to provide cushion before exposure and that is how they work better-because the body builds up defence against the virus. I have taken my daughters for the vaccination; it is safe. Those opposed have no case at all, they need to come up with better evidence to show the risks,” he said.

“What we know so far is that the vaccine provides 90 per cent defence against cervical cancer. Two researches conducted at the KNH showed that the HPV vaccine was effective in dealing with the HPV types 16 and 18 virus — the common causes of cervical cancer locally,” added Dr Mokomba.

According to the Catholic doctors, the virus, like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), affected those “whose lifestyle involves irresponsible sexual behaviours”.

They, therefore, recommend that the government should ensure parents are empowered to “protect their children from contamination socially, mentally, spiritually, and physically from a world full of pornography.

“STDs are diseases of behaviour. When people of whatever age respect sexual discipline, chastity, abstinence and faithfulness in marriage, they are not at risk of contracting STDs and other diseases of perversity. These behaviours are the universal pillars of prevention of STDs, not vaccines,” said Dr Karanja. However, Mr David Makumi, the vice-chairman of Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya and patron Oncology Nurses (Kenya), said the KCDA’s claims were not backed by facts and that they did not represent every Catholic’s position.

“We have a golden opportunity and if we can fix this then we will have done a great job. We owe it to our children,” said Mr Makumi. Rumours of potential harm from vaccines are not new and continue to spread even as scientists refute the claims. Locally, select groups affiliated to the Catholic Church have in the past opposed polio and tetanus vaccination drives. In all instances, the government has carried on with its plans. However, a number of people fail to take their children for vaccination for fear of the “risks” pointed out by the church — which is an authority — putting others in danger.

Mistrust in vaccines, for instance in America, has led to the worst Measles outbreak in 25 years.

As Kenya targets girls with the HPV vaccine, countries like Australia are also targeting boys to totally wipe-out the circulation of the cancer causing virus from its population.

Since HPV is transmitted sexually, vaccinating boys works in reducing its circulation of the virus linked to five per cent of cancers.

It is also a preventive measure for penile, anal and genital cancers and those of the head and neck.

Multiple studies in Australia indicate that the HPV vaccine has proven sufficient in providing protection. Australia’s Cervical Cancer screening programs ambitious plan includes wiping out cervical cancer by 2035.

Cost and access remains the greatest impediments towards early screening and treatment of cancer in Kenya to date.

Screening cost from about Sh3,000. Treatment too is costly with charges ranging Sh172,000 ($1,720) to Sh759,000 ($7,590) to treat cervical cancer without surgery in Kenya and Sh672,000 ($6,720) to Sh1.2 million ($12,500) if an operation is carried out, says the National Cancer Control Programme

by nation.co.ke

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New Zealand Speaker babysits MP’s child during parliament debate

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The speaker of New Zealand’s parliament has cradled a lawmaker’s baby while he presided over a debate in the House of Representatives.

Trevor Mallard tweeted a photo of himself feeding MP Tāmati Coffey’s baby boy in the speaker’s seat.

Mr Coffey, Labour MP for Waiariki, announced the birth of his son, Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey, in July.

The baby was born via a surrogate mother and is the biological son of Mr Coffey’s partner, Tim Smith.

In a tweet about the baby’s birth, Mr Coffey said he and his partner were “overwhelmed at the miracle of life” and the surrogate mother – a friend of Mr Smith – was “doing awesome”.

On Wednesday, Mr Coffey attended a parliamentary debate with his baby for the first time after returning from paternity leave.

BABYSITTER

During the session, father-of-three Mr Mallard took on the role of babysitter as well as speaker.

A picture of Mr Coffey holding up the baby in parliament was shared by Green Party MP Gareth Hughes on Twitter.

“Lovely to have a baby in the House, and what a beautiful one @tamaticoffey,” Mr Hughes wrote in the tweet.

Speaking to Newshub, Mr Coffey said he felt “really supported by my colleagues from across the House”.

Mr Coffey is the latest MP to bring his baby to parliament, following the example of politicians across the world.

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, who attended a debate with her baby in 2018, and Australian Senator Larissa Waters, who breastfed in parliament in 2017, are among the legislators to make headlines.

And in September last year, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made history by bringing her baby along to her debut speech at the UN in New York.

by nairobinews

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‘Lustful’ Ray C can’t get enough of Uhuru

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It appears Tanzanian singer Rehema Chalamila popularly known as Ray C infatuation with President Uhuru Kenyatta is not going anywhere anytime soon, if a picture she has shared on social media is anything to go by.

In the photo, the sassy songbird is captured wearing a revealing bodysuit with fishnet stocking while posing near a pool.

“Future Mrs Uhuru!jah love!,” the photo is captioned.

Predictably, the post has attracted great interest from the online community.

“Jamani huyu ashindwe kwa jina la Yesu, Juzi ukitembelewa na malaika akakutia ufahamu, Leo,” said reymsemo.

“Hivii ni wewe juzi ulieongea maneno ya kiroho hapaa mpka nikajua Umeokoka!!!?” asked wilkins_ms.

“Not our president… we love our first lady,” commented roselynatema.

“Ray C all reckless. She’s ready to risk it all,” said ayuma.

“Uhuru wetu wa Kenya ama mgani?” asked stacy 254.

“Haki ringtone apoko anatusumbua atahitaji jiko. Si umchukue tu,” suggested angel_johnson.

Ray C publicly declared her “undying love” for President Kenyatta last year while on a music tour in the country.

She claimed that Mr Kenyatta was the ideal husband for her and this has added to her love for Kenya.

by nairobinews

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