By Leocadia Bongben
As the Conference of Parties, COP 18, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC opens in Doha-Qatar today; African Civil Society Organizations, CSOs position is that developed countries should honour historical responsibilities and climate debt to Africa.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCC came into force in 1994 and the Conference of Parties, COP, to the UNFCC has been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
The COP (supreme body of the convention and associations of countries that are party to the convention) serves as Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, CMP, whose annual meeting incidentally coincides.
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and legally binds developed countries to emission reduction target.
It is against this backdrop that the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, PACJA Chair, Augustine Njamnshi unveiled the African CSOs position to be presented in Doha from November 26-7 December to journalists ahead of the conference in Yaoundé over the week-end.
The CSOs push that developed countries should acknowledge that they have used their own fair share of earth atmospheric space and must take measures to reduce domestic emissions.
That they should finance and transfer technology to enable Africa to follow a less polluted path without compromising development.
They equally demand that compensation for the adverse effects of the historical and current per-capita emission that burden Africans with the rising climate-related adaptation costs and damages.
Njamnshi maintained that adaptation debt comes in different phases; the cost developed countries must pay to African countries for avoiding harm and paying for actual harm already caused from floods and other disasters.
Lost opportunities should be paid for and technology transfer should be at no cost.
But, the developed countries are putting intellectual property rights ahead of technology transfer.
The CSOs from this position want to see a safe Africa with a low carbon concentration in the atmosphere and that global warming returns to below 1 degree Celsius above per-industrial levels.
Africa opposes the global goal of less than 2 degrees for the fact that this would be commensurate to incineration and limiting modern development.
Recognizing the risk posed by climate change to food security and the livelihood of our farmers and rural poor communities, Africa wants to see atmospheric concentration stabilize within a given time to safeguard food production.
In this vein, Africa demands that the west protect and compensate the poor by upholding the polluters must pay principle while providing achievable solutions.
They wish that the outcome of Doha respect Africa’s interests.
These among many others is born out of the argument that Africa bear the burden of climate change though responsible for only 4 percent of the carbon emissions while the developed world is responsible for about 70 percent of carbon emissions.
However, CSOs point that the scientific community has led Africa to focus on the symptoms rather than the causes.
The rich countries propose goals that instead risk suffering for Africa while offering insufficient reduction and inadequate funding.
Though not much has been achieved from the past conferences, Njamnshi maintains that as long as Africa knows what is right and continues harping on it impact would be made someday.
To him, “the whole world is on the same ship, like the titanic, when it sinks those on the lower deck would feel the effect before the rich people on the upper deck, but the ships sinks”.
Coming back from the US Njamnshi has been sensitizing parliament and other stakeholders to push their governments to take the issue of climate change seriously.
There is hope that with Barack Obama’s second mandate things may change.
The fear is that instead of implementing the Koyto protocol, the only legal binding instrument between the developed countries (that have caused the problem) and the developing countries (who never caused the problem), developed countries are avoiding the protocol.
US signed, never ratified and unsigned the protocol thus pushing some countries to leave the protocol as it would be favourable for them and their economy. This is not fair for African countries, PACJA Chair argued.
African countries are calling for a change in the production and consumption system that treats the earth as a laboratory. As system is need where there is respect for mother earth, he said.
Ignorance has been identified as a major risk factor and reason for the continuous diabetes prevalence in Cameroon.
Like 80 percent of Cameroonians, due to Ignorance about screening and eating habits, Madame Bernadette Fezeu, a teacher at CETIC Ngoa Ekelle who has been diabetic since 1995 has developed complications.
Fezeu’s hearing and sight nerves have been attacked by diabetes. When sugar is much in the blood it blocks the nerves.
She has been wearing the hearing aid since 2002 which is about FCFA 1,000,000. The hearing aid uses a battery which is changed every week at FCFA 2000. She equally has eye problems and is using eye glasses.
These are some of the complications resulting from the late diagnosis of diabetes, besides, amputation and heart attack.
Fezeu had symptoms, like loss of appetite, an intense thirst and frequent urination after drinking water, without knowing.
“At that time I was drinking beer, so when I took water and the thirst could not go away, I had to quench it with beer, and as soon as I drank, I went to the toilet”, she said.
“I met a woman who told me these were symptoms of diabetes, and that I should go to the hospital. When I was screened, I had 3.5 grams of glycaemia (sugar level) in my blood. This was high and the doctors were surprised that I trekked to the hospital”.
After the test, she refused to accept and had to conduct other tests in three laboratories before accepting her situation.
Placed on insulin after three months, the sugar level became balanced and she was placed on a diet.
“I had to reduce the quantity of food, eat little root crops, macabo, cassava and I had to eat more vegetables, fruits”.
“I live with the diabetes, people around me now understand, and in school the numbers of hours I teach have been reduced”, says Fezeu.
She now tells people around her not to take anything in excess, and to avoid weight. She sensitizes students and staff and helped a colleague to get early diagnosis.
Fezeu is among the many Cameroonians who go to hospital when they already have complications.
At the age of 40, everybody should test for diabetes, Prof. Jean Claude Mbanya, President of International Diabetes Federation advises.
In Cameroon 6.7 percent of the population is diabetic and this number is projected to double in 15 years.
Public Health Minister, Mama Fouda on World Diabetes Day celebrated every November 14, said the price of insulin has been reduced from FCFA 14,000 to FCFA 3000.
There are eight specialized centers for children with diabetes where 266 children are followed.
However, these efforts may not suffice.
Activities of sensitization and free screening to mark the celebration of the Diabetes Day are concentrated only in big cities, like Yaounde.
To Dr. Emmanuel Njambe T. Opute, Chief of service sub- department of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases, there should be similar ceremonies everywhere in the country.
Ignorance at different levels is a major problem of diabetes, he says.
“Somebody changing his/her eating habits, eating fatty food thinking it is sign of good life is bad. Abandoning vegetables and fruits for modern kind of dishes is risky”.
He stresses on the need to education people in line with the theme of the Diabetes Day, “protecting our future through diabetes education and prevention”.
The Ministry of public health has a plan to work with partners to increase sensitization in all areas of the country.
But, the fight against non-communicable diseases generally is more recent, meetings have been held and many things still need to be put in place, says Opute.
“The medical personnel also need to be trained to screen for diabetes. Training is going on though, but there is need for a country document on treatment in a health unit, and who does what”.
This document is needed to train the personnel who do not yet know how to conduct diabetes test and to know at what period patients should be referred to the central hospital.
Health centers that screen for diabetes are far from some villages, some are not equipped, and when they are, what is the state of the equipment, are they functioning, Opute quizzed.
Though Cameroon has advanced compared to other countries in treatment of diabetes, a lot still needs to be done, Opute concluded.
Cough may soon have a better treatment by the time Polatoux comes out of the laboratory.
‘Polatoux’ is a cough syrup that has been presented by the Institute of Medical Research and Study of Medicinal Plants; known by its French acronym, IMPM, as one of the drugs that cures cough for all ages of people.
In the villages, it was observed that when a person had cough, he was told to harvest the Eucalyptus leaves, boil and drink.
It is from this practice that the IMPM laboratory started its research to come up with an ameliorated drug that would be available to a larger population.
IMPM screened the Eucalyptus leaves for toxicity and activity- to ensure that they are not toxic and presence of the active agent.
Afterwards, the leaves were boiled in the laboratory and the vapour collected. The vapour consisting of water and oils were again separated to get the oils, the active agent that cures cough.
Sugar and water was mixed in pots to form the syrup and the active agent added on to it, say Joseph Kinga, IMPM Laboratory Technician.
Unlike the drugs in the market that are said to calm the cough and not kill the bacteria, Polatoux actually kills bacteria, and it is only through contact with an infected person that one can get re-infected again.
This cough syrup that is presently in a semi- finished form has been sent to the IMPM Botanical Laboratory at Nkomo for further testing on animals and humans beings.
This is to ensure that the syrup respects all the norms before it is made available for consumption.