Displaying 21-40 of 108 key documents
Source: BMC International Health and Human Rights | October 2009
Too few effective antimalarials and poor use of bednets are two main reasons offered for why malaria still kills millions every year. This systematic review suggests that social and cultural factors in tackling malaria are often ignored. For example, many people in the developing world still use traditional medicine to treat malaria, which is often blamed on spiritual problems or curses, and can be a barrier to effective treatment.
Source: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine | May 2009
According to the author of this review, only 7.4 per cent of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) — which includes homeopathy and acupuncture — is evidence-based. The author evaluates research evidence from clinical trials and systematic reviews to reach this conclusion. By contrast, he says, more than half of all interventions in general internal medicine, and more than 65 per cent in psychiatry are based on sound evidence, including results from randomised controlled trials.
Source: The Lancet | April 2010
This article from The Lancet provides useful background information on Chagas disease including its transmission, epidemiology, pathogenisis, diagnosis and treatment. The disease affects eight million people in Latin America and poses a growing health problem in non-endemic areas due to increased trade and travel.
Source: The Lancet
This report gives an overview of progress in developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine, including new adjuvant strategies, novel vectors for antigen delivery and presentation, and alternative ways of eliciting antibody responses. The authors call for continued commitment to basic research to identify an effective and affordable HIV vaccine.
Source: Elsevier | May 2010
This special issue of the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability presents a collection of interdisciplinary scientific articles and commentary on biodiversity. It includes new research in key areas such as food security and climate change.
It also reviews major initiatives that will be released or discussed during 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity. These include the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a new remote sensing project called the Group on Earth Observations — Biodiversity Observation Network, and key issues such as access and benefit sharing.
Source: UNU - Merit | 2009
This paper considers the potential role of 'innovation brokers' — intermediary organisations that help build links in innovation systems and facilitate multi-stakeholder interaction — in developing countries' agriculture. The authors suggest that to encourage organisations to take on this role, policies that encourage institutional learning and experimentation must be put in place. A first step must be mapping the strengths and weaknesses of the existing innovation system.
Source: Nanomedicine | February 2010
This Nanomedicine paper reviews a range of strategies based on nanotechnology that are currently being used or tested to improve HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. The authors review nanomedical advances in antiretroviral therapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, vaccines and microbicides.
They conclude that nanotechnology promises great improvements in all of these areas but they warn that the field still faces many challenges including the toxicity of nanomaterials, their stability in physiological settings and the question of how to mass-produce them.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) | January 2010
This article, written by scientists in Niger and the United States, assesses the suitability of solar-powered irrigation for improving food security in rural regions of West Africa. The authors describe an irrigation system that combines drip irrigation with a photovoltaic solar-powered water pump, and test its efficacy and impact through household surveys and field data. They find that solar-powered drip irrigation is cost-effective and significantly boosts household incomes and nutritional intake.
Source: Renewable Energy | December 2009
This article assesses the practicality and affordability of solar systems for small businesses in remote rural areas. The authors did this by monitoring the use of six 'productive use containers' — shipping containers converted into solar-powered business centres — and surveying local entrepreneurs in a rural part of South Africa. The authors find that the containers offer significant benefits to local communities, including improved communications and higher incomes.
Source: Consilience | February 2008
This article assesses the benefits and drawbacks of using solar home lighting to supply energy to rural villages in India. The author suggests that these systems can meet all a village's lighting needs and have other benefits including better education, lower costs and reduced reliance on kerosene. But the systems are also susceptible to damage, with component parts often needing replacing or repair. The author highlights the need for financial support to disseminate solar home lighting — be it through microfinance or government subsidies.
Source: International Institute of Economic Development (IIED) | November 2009
This special issue of the journal Participatory Learning and Action highlights community-based approaches to climate change adaptation. It showcases methods to make scientific data accessible to communities, integrate scientific and indigenous knowledge, and plan adaptation measures. It highlights the challenges ahead, including ensuring effective participation and building the capacity of local organisations and governments.
Source: The Lancet | January 2008
This collection of articles, published by The Lancet, describes the burden of maternal and child undernutrition in the developing world and highlights proven effective interventions to reduce stunting and micronutrient deficiencies.
Undernutrition is entirely preventable yet causes more than 3.5 million child deaths. It produces stunting, wasting and intrauterine growth restriction among other problems and is particularly prevalent in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and western Pacific.
The window of opportunity for tackling undernutrition is short: from pregnancy to two years of age. After the age of two, the damage on health and brain development caused by undernutrition is irreversible.
But, as the collection shows, there are plenty of interventions that have been proved to improve child nutrition. The most effective include breastfeeding counselling, vitamin A supplementation and zinc fortification.
Source: Organogenesis | July 2008
This review article explores the evidence that inappropriate levels of certain nutrients before or just after birth can predispose some individuals to obesity and examines how this could be applied to a clinical setting.
The brain regulates appetite and food preferences and is highly sensitive to its nutritional environment in early life.
Newborn rats whose mothers were fed a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet during pregnancy and lactation were more likely to choose high-fat food after weaning. These food preferences may be set during lactation. Tests on another group of rats revealed that newborns exposed to junk food such as doughnuts and crisps in the womb and during lactation were more likely to want that type of food. Newborns whose mothers switched from a junk-food to a healthier diet during lactation did not have this preference.
The authors suggest that hormones such as leptin — long thought to be a crucial factor in appetite regulation — are key in regulating the development of appetite in later life.
Source: Food Nutrition Bulletin | December 2006
This paper explains how interdisciplinary collaboration in health, nutrition, and agriculture has helped the Millennium Villages Project in 12 African villages meet the Millennium Development Goals.
Global science is increasingly under pressure to become more interdisciplinary. Econutrition is a good example of a cross-sector concept that joins environmental and human health, focusing on crosscutting areas such as agriculture and ecology.
Soil erosion and decreasing biodiversity causes environmental damage that lowers food production. A lack of food results in malnutrition and illness that, in turn, lead to poorer labour productivity and poorer agricultural management.
The Millennium Villages Project emphasises community engagement and leadership, and the case study from the Nyanza Province near Lake Victoria in Kenya illustrates that this can work well in improving nutrition.
One-fifth of adults in the area have HIV and many have malaria and TB. People in the region go hungry for up to seven months a year and are malnourished. The villagers constructed a health clinic and organised teams of community healthcare workers trained in nutrition.
Farmers receive fertilisers and plants if they donate ten per cent of their harvest towards a school lunch programme that concentrates on providing missing nutrients. For example, by adding local crops such as sweet potatoes common vitamin A deficiencies are eliminated. The key to success, say the authors, is to ensure that farmers are supported, especially in producing a variety of crops.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | August 2006
This review examines the global 'nutrition transition', the ongoing shift in dietary patterns that results from socioeconomic and demographic change.
The author finds that while dietary changes are fairly well documented, other aspects such as how global media or activity-levels influence these changes are poorly recognised. For example, how the drop in manual labour that results as a society becomes more prosperous might affect activity levels.
The author takes an evolutionary view of the nutrition transition, acknowledging that populations have repeatedly striven to make food more plentiful and better tasting (which has often translated to more processed or higher calorie contents) and to expend as little physical energy in the process.
He argues that rapidly-developing countries must consider how to ensure that their richer, well-fed populations do not succumb to degenerative or chronic diseases. There is a strong economic incentive: sick populations drain the economy.
Source: Clinical Infectious Diseases | October 2009
This article unpicks the links between nutrition and HIV/AIDS, and looks how to break the cycle between the two. Every year millions of dollars are pumped into tackling HIV/AIDS including antiretrovirals and research for vaccines and drugs. But poor nutrition remains a major barrier to preventing sickness and death from the virus.
The effects of poor nutrition on HIV status are clear: malnourishment weakens the immune system. But it also has indirect non-biological effects. For example, a lack of food can trigger dangerous coping strategies such as selling sex for food or selling assets, both of which lead to economic instability and a higher risk of HIV infection.
People with HIV are less able to absorb nutrients. And crucially, undernutrition also affects the ability of HIV-infected people to process antiretrovirals such as nevirapine.
The authors call for better targeting of food aid to HIV-infected people.
Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal (FASEBJ) | October 2005
This paper reviews the emerging fields of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics to explain how new analytical tools can investigate the link between diet and genes. Nutrigenetics studies single gene interactions, whereas nutrigenomics studies how genes interact with each other or with proteins and nutrients.
In the post-genomic era, nutrition is more than just eating well and getting a balance of vitamins and minerals — our genes significantly influence our nutritional needs and the way we process nutrients. The authors argue that understanding these fields is vital to improving nutrition worldwide.
An introduction to the basics of genomics explains how it has been used by pharmaceutical companies to create the field of pharmacogenetics, which has the potential to produce personalised therapies based on an individual's genes.
Some dietary links with illness — food allergies, for example — are straightforward. Others, such as in heart disease or obesity are more complex. The authors offer a fairly comprehensive overview of known links in both cases.
The health implications of studying the link between genes and diet are great, say the authors. For example, cancer or heart disease management relies on dietary modifications but patients often respond differently. A greater understanding of nutrigenetics could lead to better-tailored treatment.
Source: African Journal of Food Agriculture Nutrition and Development
This review article, published in the African Journal of Food Agriculture Nutrition and Development, considers how policy interventions can protect vulnerable African nations from the increasing nutrition insecurity caused by the global economic crisis.
The author, Suresh Babu from the International Food Policy Research Institute, argues that the global recession has reduced foreign investment in, and demand for exports from, developing countries.
This has resulted in unstable commodity prices, lower earnings and reduced access to food, forcing people to adopt cheaper and less balanced diets that lead to higher levels of malnutrition.
Babu reviews past crises, including Indonesia in the aftermath of El Niño in 1997, to build a framework of potential policy interventions.
In the short-term, this includes subsidising fertilisers, distributing nutrition supplements and providing income support. In the medium to long-term, social safety net programmes, investment in research, and institution building are needed, says Babu.
Source: IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Conference | October 2005
This article describes how a network of sensors, linked by software and the Internet, can provide an automatic satellite-based surveillance system for disasters such as volcanoes, wildfires and flooding.
The system, or 'Sensorweb', uses data from low resolution, high frequency sensors to trigger imagery from high resolution instruments. The low-resolution data is collected regularly (twice a day or more) from instruments such as NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).
Anomalies, such as hotspots in the case of fires and volcanoes or surface water for floods, are automatically detected. The SensorWeb then sends a request to a higher resolution satellite such as Hyperion, which is very sensitive in the infrared spectrum, to request data over the area of interest. These data can then provide disaster managers with early warnings of adverse events.
Source: The Earth Observer | January 2009
This article, written by Chris Funk of the US GS, outlines how the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) uses satellite data and statistical forecasts to provide early warnings of potential droughts in sub-Saharan Africa.
Funk outlines the role of satellite data in FEWS NET at all stages of the crop-growing season — from scenario building before the season to calculating the water balance during it and assessing yields at the end. Focusing on food security outlooks for East Africa in late 2008, Funk describes how data from NASA's Aqua and QuikSCAT satellites can be used to track moisture and wind conditions over the Indian Ocean and Africa, and how these help anticipate hydrologic conditions in the future to predict shortfalls.
Funk emphasises the need to combine such data with socio-economic analyses of, for example, crop prices, grain stores, political conditions and agricultural inputs. This will help maximise the accuracy and effectiveness of early warnings of drought and food shortages.