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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 3–16 December 2009


ICTs for parliament
A new scheme aiming to provide knowhow on using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to understand and develop science and technology-related policies has been adopted by parliamentarians in the Gambia and Togo. Members of the scheme, developed by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, are currently involved in a range of activities including establishing committees, and promoting science and technology innovation. More>> [160kB]

Researchers find key to developing drought-tolerant crops
Researchers have unravelled how abscisic acid — a plant hormone that prevents plants from sprouting until the conditions are right — helps plants tolerate environmental stresses. Writing in Nature, the team from the Vari Andel Research Institute in the United States say that their long-awaited discovery could lead to the development of drought- and heat-tolerant crops. More>>

Call for developing world diagnostics
A new grant programme is seeking ideas for developing world diagnostic technologies. The Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative says that US$30 million of funding is available to create a new class of easy to use, low cost and appropriate point-of-care diagnostics for resource-poor settings. More>>

Kenyan malaria survey finds patchy implementation
A new survey conducted in hospitals across Kenya to determine if the country's malaria burden decreased from 1999–2008 has found that efforts to boost intervention coverage "may not have been implemented uniformly countrywide". Admissions of children significantly declined in ten of the 17 hospitals surveyed but increased or stayed the same in the remaining hospitals. More>> [760kB]

Kenya goes digital
Kenya is the second African country after South Africa to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting and has set aside around US$2 million to facilitate the migration. The country will use both types of broadcasting until 2012 when analogue broadcasting will be switched off —three years ahead of the global deadline. More>>

Drug for parasitic disease remains elusive
A prolonged, higher-dose course of the drug nitazoxanide is ineffective in treating cryptosporidiosis — a parasitic disease — in HIV-positive children, researchers have found. Nitazoxanide is the only drug to have shown "demonstrable efficacy in controlled trials" and the team had predicted that a more intense course of treatment would prove more effective. Cryptosporidiosis is often fatal in immunocompromised individuals. More>>

Central Africa Republic and Sudan agree on science cooperation
Central Africa Republic and Sudan have agreed to collaborate on science, technology, higher education and information. Ministers from both countries met last week at the 6th session of the Joint Ministerial Meeting. More>>

South Africa appoints new heads to its astronomy project
South Africa has appointed five new research chairs to head up its main astronomy project, the Square Kilometre Array. The researchers, who will be established at various universities across the country, will be part of the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation. More>>

African eyecare workers need managing
If Africa is to achieve its VISION 2020 goals to eradicate avoidable blindness and eye impairment on the continent by 2020, its hospitals must employ managers to support eyecare providers and increase their productivity, says a study in PLoS Medicine. It says that the continent has the "highest regional burden of blindness and visual impairment in the world". More>>

Angola to set up science and technology museum
Angola plans to construct a science and technology museum as well as three technology parks, according to the country's minister of science and technology. The plans are part of a larger scheme to place science at the centre of the country's development, and other future plans include awards for science and innovation as well as the establishment of a research fund. More>>

Compiled by Kimani Chege.

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