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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 1–13 August


Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 1–13 August 2008.

Earlier measles vaccination recommended for children
Vaccinating children against measles before the age of nine months may help curtail outbreaks of measles in low income countries. A clinical trial in Guinea–Bissau, reported in the British Medical Journal, suggests that many babies receive low levels of antibodies from their mothers and would benefit from vaccination as early as four and a half months. More>>

Sexual violence escalates mental health problems
All the combatants in Liberia's two civil wars suffer from high rates of depression, post-traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But many fighters — male or female — who also experienced sexual violence suffer even worse mental health problems. More>>

Nigerian researchers create metal antibiotics
Nigerian researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of metal-based antibiotics against the bacteria that can cause pneumonia, food poisoning and other infections. Writing in the African Journal of Pure and Applied Chemistry, they demonstrate how more potent compounds with better physical properties and improved antimicrobial activities can be prepared, but warn against potential toxicity. More>> [128kB]

Ghana offers Liberian agriculture students further training
Liberia's Ministry of Agriculture is calling for applicants for two-year masters degrees in plant breeding and seed technology at Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. The degrees are available in sorghum, millet, cassava and groundnuts with 15 August the deadline for applications. More>>

Ghana scientists rule out water bugs as skin ulcer culprits
Researchers from the University of Ghana and the Water Resources Research Institute in Accra have ruled out aquatic biting bugs as the source of the little-known flesh-eating bacteria that causes Buruli's skin ulcers and consequent negative socioeconomic effects. More>>

Wild fruit helps farmers cope with climate change
Zimbabwean researchers have investigated the effect of harvesting methods on the qualities of the wild ber fruit (Ziziphus maritiana), used in many parts of southern Africa, including Zambia, to prevent famine during drought. The scientists from Africa University in Mutare and the Agronomy Research Institute in Harare, working with the World Agroforestry Centre in Malawi define how qualities like colour and speed of drying correspond to how ripe the fruit is. More>> [266kB]

NEPAD positive about undersea broadband cable
Genezi Mgidlana of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) says their 40,000 kilometre long underwater fibre optic cable, known as UhuruNet, will connect every coastal and island country on the continent to high-speed Internet by 2010. The submarine cable will link with Brazil, Europe, India and the Middle East. More>>

Nigerian bednet use rising
The use of insecticide-treated bednets among Nigerian children under five years old has risen substantially, according to a study by the National Malaria Control Programme. However, the study, published in Malaria Journal, indicates that the target of 60 per cent overall coverage set for 2005 isstill not being reached. More>> [213kB]

African children faithfully follow antiretroviral drug schedules
Child HIV patients from low income countries adhere to antiretroviral therapies better than those in high income countries, researchers report. The analysis of past studies shows that most studies from low- and middle-income countries reported adherence rates of over 75 per cent. Influencing factors included family structure, socioeconomic status, disclosure, and medication regimen. More>>

Sudan researchers improve cow breeding
Veterinarians from Sudan's University of Khartoum say crossbreeding indigenous Fellata and Kenana cattle with Friesian cows in southern Darfur can produce breeds which can recover faster from birth, thus providing more milk for consumers and more calves to increase the size of farmers' herds. More>> [129kB]

Traditional beverages made better in Benin
Joseph Hounhouigan and colleagues at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin have been improving the popular sour drink gowé, brewed from sorghum. Their research, part of the Capability Building for Research in Traditional Fermented Food Processing in West Africa programme, showed that controlled, faster fermentation could create a small-scale industry.More>> [237kB]

Compiled by Christina Scott. Additional reporting by Esther Tola.

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