Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 12–25 March 2009.
South Africa invests in homegrown nanotech
South Africa intends to place an order for a High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscope before the end of March. The microscope, which will be able to 'see' individual atoms, should ensure international competitiveness in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology. The government — in collaboration with companies such as industrial synthetic diamond maker Element 6 — plans to invest around US$8.5 million over the next three years so that nanotechnology research is conducted at home. More>>
Dams could increase malaria spread
Efforts to combat electricity shortages by building large dams for hydropower generation might inadvertently trigger the spread of malaria. A new study assessed Ethiopian children under ten living within three kilometres of the Gilgel-Gibe hydroelectric dam and found that children living closer to the dam were more likely to have Plasmodium falciparum than children living further away. More>>
Sugar sweetens malaria's effects
A recently published study in Mali has found that spoonfuls of sugar could save the lives of children with severe malaria by quickly combating hypoglycaemia — which is more likely to kill the patient than malaria itself. More>>
South Africa takes steps towards reducing carbon emissions
A report released last month was critical of major South African firms' irresponsible attitude to global warming and highlighted the country's "enormous untapped potential" for renewable energies such as solar and wind power. South Africa intends to drop greenhouse gas emissions by 30–40 per cent below current levels by 2050 to become a low-carbon economy. More>>
Free healthcare? No thanks
Although the Ugandan government now offers free health services, more than 60 per cent of families prefer to take young children suffering from fever-related illnesses — many of which are caused by malaria — to private clinics and commercial pharmaceutical stores, according to a survey by Elizeus Rutebemberwa and George Pariyo from Makerere University and others. More>>[271kB]
WHO child growth figures 'most accurate'
Health workers should use the WHO's recent child growth standards — rather than those of the US National Center for Health Statistics — if they want to pinpoint more accurately young children most at risk of dying of malnutrition, according to a study of more than 60,000 children in a Médecins Sans Frontières feeding programme in Maradi, Niger. More>>
Charles Nyirahuku, head of the Rwandan Methane Gas Project, says the country will harvest the "dangerous" methane gas from Lake Kivu and use it to produce electricity, despite previous failed attempts. At the other end of the continent, South African nuclear physicists are continuing to develop the fourth-generation, high-temperature, gas-cooled, pebble bed modular reactor — a highly advanced nuclear reactor characterised by its safety — despite the fact that they will run out of money next March without further investment in the project. More>>
Food for thought
A Gambian trial into the use of micronutrient supplementation to treat anaemia in non-pregnant women — a method rarely looked at — has proved successful. The 293 women studied had higher haemoglobin levels after treatment with the supplement. The researchers said that supplementation should be considered as a strategy for tackling anaemia. More>>
Multivitamins improve HIV-positive breastfeeding in Tanzania
Said Aboud from the Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is among the researchers who reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that giving breastfeeding mothers multivitamins could safely improve vitamin E concentrations in breast milk. More>>
Sumbandila satellite launch delayed
The launch of South Africa's Sumbandila satellite has been postponed from 25 March to early May due to rescheduling in Russia, where the satellite will be launched. The satellite will collect data to be used in monitoring and managing disasters such as floods, oil spills and fires in the region. More>>
Compiled by Christina Scott.
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