Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 11–25 September 2008.
South Africa passes controversial drug regulation bill
South Africa's parliament has officially passed new drug regulation legislation despite widespread criticism — including from its own treasury — for its lack of accountability (see Change in South Africa medicines approval 'unscientific'). The legislation replaces the existing Medicines Control Council with the South African Health Products Authority, which will be run by a ministry-appointed staffer and removes all other forms of independent regulation. More>>
World Bank, IMF cuts blamed for African research decline
African countries should have fought demands by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to slash budgets for basic research, Sospeter Muhongo of the International Council for Science, told Uganda's Science Week conference. At the same event, scientists urged Uganda's government to speed up its plans for a National Policy on Science and Technology.
Malaria rates drop in Africa
Insecticide-treated bednets have seen malaria rates drop by half in Eritrea, Rwanda, and São Tomé and Príncipe, with "significant improvements" in Madagascar, Tanzania and Zambia, according to a WHO report. But some experts argue that the drop reflects better statistical estimates and that the WHO report relies too much on unreliable government data. More>>
Nigeria gets new crop research centre
The India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is to re-establish a centre in Nigeria. ICRISAT signed a memorandum of understanding with the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria to further scientific collaboration and facilitate exchange of germplasm, breeding material, scientific information and techniques. The centre will also form a base for ICRISAT to initiate a regional research and training programme on priority crops — mainly sorghum and millet — and natural resource management in West and Central Africa.
Miniplanes to the rescue
South Africa's Seeker unmanned aerial vehicle has put abalone poachers in jail while its high-definition optics and thermal imagers help detect the hottest part of runaway wildfires. The country's National Health Laboratory Service uses similar miniplanes, called eJuba (pigeon), to transport blood samples 40 kilometres from rural clinics to laboratories.
WHO bans South Africa-made generics
A WHO inspection found more than 40 faults in a South African factory producing drugs for Sandoz, the generic drugs subsidiary belonging to the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis. Sandoz failed to fix earlier complaints about cleaning and disinfection. WHO inspectors recommended buying drugs elsewhere until improvements have been seen.
Preventable eye infection a 'public health' threat in Sudan
Severe outbreaks of the bacterial eye disease trachoma in Sudan is "cause for international alarm", say researchers. At least one trachoma case was found in almost all of 392 homes surveyed in a study. One in three families had the severe blinding form of the infection. More>>
Health minister out in South African reshuffle
Barbara Hogan has replaced the controversial AIDS denialist Manto Tshabalala-Msimang as South Africa's health minister, with medical doctor Molefi Sefularo as new deputy health minister. The future of science minister Mosibudi Mangena, the first to offer his resignation after the president quit, is unclear. More >>
South African firm generates first carbon credits
Petrochemical company Sasol has stockpiled carbon credits from its first project under the UN Clean Development Mechanism. If the South African firm's eight carbon credit projects come on line by 2012, the company expects to earn billions in carbon trading under the Kyoto Protocol as its plants switch from coal to gas. More>>
Getting under mistletoe's skin
Farmers dread the parasitic plant mistletoe but it is also used as a tea in the treatment and management of many diseases such as diabetes by traditional medical practitioners. Nigerian biochemists Ademiluyi Adedayo Oluwaseun and Oboh Ganiyu found differences in mistletoe depending on whether it infested cocoa or cashew trees. More>> [81.1kB]
Compiled by Christina Scott.
If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Christina Scott ([email protected]).