GEMEVA, September 25, 2018 (News Wires) - A South Sudanese doctor who runs an overcrowded hospital with a dimly-lit surgical theatre and no regular supply of general anaesthetics on Tuesday won the UN refugee agency's prestigious Nansen award.
Evan Atar Adaha's Maban hospital in the South Sudanese town of Bunj serves more than 144,000 refugees from Blue Nile state in neighbouring Sudan, UNHCR said.
The hospital's X-ray machine is broken, but Atar and his team perform nearly 60 surgeries per week in a room with just one light, with staff using "ketamine injections and spinal epidurals" instead of general anaesthesia, the agency said.
UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Atar's "profound humanity and selflessness" had saved thousands of lives.
Atar had previously run a hospital in Blue Nile but was forced to relocate when a conflict erupted there in 2011 between the Khartoum government and rebel fighters.
Khartoum unilaterally announced a ceasefire in the area in March.
The Nansen prize, awarded annually, is named for Norwegian polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who served as the first high commissioner for refugees during the failed League of Nations.
Last year's winner was Nigerian Zannah Mustapha, who helped negotiate the release of some of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists from their school in Chibok in 2014.
UNHCR said actor and goodwill ambassador Cate Blanchett will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony in Geneva next week.
PARIS, July 11, 2018 (News Wires) — The veteran French actress Catherine Deneuve was awarded one of the world’s most lucrative arts prizes.
The star of such classics as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Belle de Jour, who made her name in the 1960s playing aloof, alluring beauties, is one of three French people honoured by this year’s Praemium Imperiale, which is backed by Japan’s royal family.
Deneuve, 74, sparked a worldwide feminist backlash earlier this year by defending men’s right to “hit on” women in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
She later tried to row back on an open letter attacking the #MeToo movement she co-signed in the French daily Le Monde, insisting that there was not “anything good about harassment”.
Every year five international artists are honoured with the Praemium Imperiale prize worth ¥15 million (RM540 million).
The French Pritzker-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, 74, was also honoured this year along with the 90-year-old Franco-Belgian surrealist artist Pierre Alechinsky, one of whose paintings now hangs in French President Emmanuel Macron’s office.
Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, 85, famed for her fog sculptures which have misted up galleries across the world, and Italian conductor Ricardo Muti, 77, will also receive prizes from Prince Masahito, the younger brother of Emperor Akihito, at a ceremony in Tokyo on October 23.
A parallel prize for young artists went to Britain’s Shakespeare Schools Foundation, which organises the world’s largest youth drama festival.
Nearly 150 artists have been awarded the prize down the years including the late Swedish director Ingmar Bergman and US composer Leonard Bernstein.
KAMPALA, Uganda, June 24, 2018 (AP) — Languishing with fever and frustrated by delays in diagnosing his illness, Brian Gitta came up with a bright idea: a malaria test that would not need blood samples or specialized laboratory technicians.
That inspiration has won the 25-year-old Ugandan computer scientist a prestigious engineering prize for a non-invasive malaria test kit that he hopes will be widely used across Africa.
For developing the reusable test kit known as Matibabu, Gitta this month was awarded the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. The award by the Royal Academy of Engineering in Britain comes with A£25,000 ($32,940).
Malaria is the biggest killer in Africa, and the sub-Saharan region accounts for about 80 per cent of the world’s malaria cases and deaths. Cases rose to 216 million in 2016, up from 211 million cases in 2015, according to the latest World Malaria Report, released late last year. Malaria deaths fell by 1,000, to 445,000.
The mosquito-borne disease is a challenge to prevent, with increasing resistance reported to both drugs and insecticides.
The new malaria test kit works by shining a red beam of light onto a finger to detect changes in the shape, colour and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria. The results are sent within a minute to a computer or mobile phone linked to the device.
A Portugal-based firm has been contracted to produce the components for Matibabu, the Swahili word for “treatment.”
“It’s a perfect example of how engineering can unlock development – in this case by improving health care,” Rebecca Enonchong, Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation judge, said in a statement. “Matibabu is simply a game changer.”
Gitta and five colleagues, all trained in computer science or engineering, developed an affordable, bloodless test that does not need a specialist to operate. The test will be suitable for use in Africa’s rural areas, where most cases of malaria occur, because it will not depend on sending blood samples to a distant laboratory.
Others are also working to fill the need for quicker, easier malaria tests. There are over 200 rapid diagnostic test products for malaria on the market, according to the WHO.
The fifth-generation prototype of Matibabu, with an accuracy rate of 80 per cent, is still a work in process. Gitta and his group aim to refine the device until it achieves an accuracy rate exceeding 90 per cent.
Matibabu has yet to be formally subjected to all the necessary clinical trials under Ugandan safety and ethics regulations.
“It excites me as a clinician,” said Medard Bitekyerezo, a Ugandan physician who chairs the National Drug Authority. “I think the National Drug Authority will approve it.”
The government should invest in the project so that its developers don’t struggle financially, he added. The unit cost of the latest prototype is about $100.
Despite the optimism, Gitta has found a hurdle he didn’t anticipate: Some patients are skeptical of unfamiliar technology.
“The doctors will tell you that some people will not leave the hospital until their children have been pricked, and until they have been given anti-malaria drugs and painkillers, even if the kid is not sick,” he said.
“We think we are developing for hospitals first, so that people can first get attached to the brand, and gain the trust of patients over time.”
Cannes (France), May 20, 2018 (News Wires) - "Shoplifters", a heartwrenching family tale by Japanese veteran director Hirokazu Kore-eda, won the Palme d'Or top prize at the Cannes film festival on Saturday, at a ceremony marked by an emotional speech from a Harvey Weinstein accuser.
Spike Lee accepted the runner-up Grand Prix for "BlacKkKlansman", a searing broadside against racism with the stranger-than-fiction true story of an African-American police officer who manages to infiltrate the highest levels of the Ku Klux Klan.
Jury president Cate Blanchett said the film, which explicitly links the 1970s tale and white nationalism in the Trump era, "blew us out of the cinema".
But the most stunning moment of the night came when Italian star Asia Argento, who has said she was raped by Weinstein at Cannes in 1997, took the microphone and vowed to fight for justice for other victims.
"This festival was his hunting ground," said Argento, who says she was 21 when Weinstein attacked her in his hotel room.
"Even tonight sitting among you there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women. We know who you are and we are not going to allow you to get away with it any longer," she said to cheers from the audience.
Minutes before the actress took the stage police in Paris said they had opened a criminal probe against one of France's best-known directors, "The Fifth Element" maker Luc Besson, for allegedly raping an actress.
Paris, May 6, 2018 (AFP) - From an African-American detective infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan to Kurdish female fighters battling jihadists, here are the movies that will battle it out for the top Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes film festival this week:
- Everybody Knows -
Iranian master Asghar Farhadi kicks off the festival with a psychological thriller about a family reunion going awry, featuring Spanish stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. While Farhadi, 45, won an Oscar and the Golden Bear at Berlin for his 2011 breakthrough film, "A Separation", he is yet to take home the coveted Cannes prize.
- BlacKkKlansman -
US director and activist Spike Lee's drama is based on the real-life story of an African-American police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1978. John David Washington plays him with Adam Driver as his Jewish police partner. The film will open in the US on the first anniversary of a white supremacist march in Charlottesville where an anti-racism activist was killed.
- Under the Silver Lake -
Four years after giving Cannes audiences nightmares with his thriller "It Follows", David Robert Mitchell returns with another spine-chiller, this time about the mysterious murder of a billionaire.
- Dogman -
Italian director Matteo "Gomorra" Garrone's new work is not for the faint-hearted. Dubbed an "urban Western", the film is inspired by the gruesome murder by dog groomer and cocaine addict Pietro De Negri in the late 1980s.
- Three Faces -
Little is known about this portrait of three women by the Iranian dissident Jafar Panahi, who is banned from travel by Tehran. The festival and US director Oliver Stone have pleaded with the authorities to let the director, who has faced years of harassment and arrest, to fly to Cannes to show his film.
- Leto -
Russia's Kirill Serebrennikov is another director who may not be able to present his work at Cannes. Under house arrest over highly disputed allegations of embezzlement, his film focuses on Soviet rock star Viktor Tsoi and the birth of Russian underground music in the 1980s.
- At War -
As France grapples with rail strikes and student protests, French director Stephane Brize's gritty drama about factory workers battling to keep their jobs may hit a timely nerve.
- Cold War -
Amazon Studios is pinning its hopes on this tender black-and-white period romance set among the members of a touring folk group in the Eastern Bloc in the 1950s from Oscar-winning Polish-British director Pawel Pawlikowski.
- The Image Book -
Cinema's oldest and most enigmatic rebel, French-Swiss legend Jean-Luc Godard, has let little slip about his new film other than this enigmatic synopsis: "Nothing but silence, nothing but a revolutionary song, a story in five chapters like the five fingers of a hand."
- Girls of the Sun -
Kurdish women fighters battling the Islamic State are at the centre of French actor-director Eva Husson's new film. Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani plays Bahar, the leader of the Yazidi Sun Brigade, who hunts down the extremists who had earlier captured her.
- The Wild Pear Tree -
Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who won the Palme d'Or four years ago for "Winter Sleep", is back with another Anatolian talkie, this time about a young provincial writer raging at his father.
ABU DHABI, April, 25, 2018 - Palestinian author Ibrahim Nasrallah has landed the Arab world's top fiction prize for his novel "The Second War of the Dog", a dystopian tale of inhumanity.
Nasrallah's work won the International Prize for Arab Fiction, affiliated with the Man Booker Prize, at a ceremony hosted by the United Arab Emirates.
Set in a violence-wracked nameless country, "The Second War of the Dog" explores the moral and material avarice of humankind through the life of its main character, Rashid, who morphs from a diehard regime opponent into a corrupt extremist.
"This novel aims to shake the reader, to shatter his understanding of the world, to shatter his complacency. Because no one can survive if the world around him is collapsing," Nasrallah told AFP after the ceremony.
"We are subject to a sort of oppression by arrogance by the great powers of this world," he said.
"Killing our children, driving us into poverty, plundering the wealth of the Arab world, this is also oppression. Oppression is not just the doing of this or that little [extremist] group."
Born to Palestinian parents in Jordan in 1954, Nasrallah is a former journalist who turned to full-time writing in 2006.
The International Prize for Arab Fiction includes $50,000 and funding to translate the work into English.