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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 26 September–8 October

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Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 26 September–8 October 2008.

Early African urbanisation aided HIV evolution
The colonial Congo city of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) provided the right environment for the viral grandfather of HIV to jump from chimpanzees to humans, according to research published in Nature. DNA analysis from early biopsies suggests the virus jumped from apes to humans sometime between 1884 and 1924. More>>

GM sorghum granted South African trials
South Africa's Agricultural Research Council, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the University of Pretoria are among seven African organisations conducting greenhouse trials on sorghum genetically modified to be easier to digest. The Africa Biofortified Sorghum Project adds essential amino acids, vitamins A and E, iron and zinc to sorghum. More>>

Ugandan minister denies embezzlement of GAVI funds
Uganda's former health minister Jim Muhwezi denies charges that he, along with former junior ministers Alex Kamugisha and Mike Mukula and civil servant Alice Kaboyo, embezzled US$1 million from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) meant for the treatment and immunisation of malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS. Other health ministry employees have refunded money they had received.

New partnership to modernise Nigerian lab skills
Folorunso Ighodalo Ijagbone, director general of the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (NISLT) has announced a partnership with South Africa's Merck Chemicals to train its scientists in up-to-date laboratory skills. The project will start with lab safety, and forms part of efforts to standardise Nigerian labs. More>>

Faulty HIV tests sourced to Chinese company
Wondfo Biotech, a Chinese company linked to the South China University of Technology, supplied 10,000 defective HIV rapid testing kits to South Africa. With more than half a million kits withdrawn, the AIDS Law Project has criticised South Africa's Department of Health for not requesting patients retake their HIV tests. More>>

Animal lab enlisted to screen for contaminant in Chinese imports
The University of Stellenbosch's animal sciences department is testing 400 samples from 30 African companies for melamine, the toxic contaminant that is at the centre of an international scandal over Chinese imports. Regulatory agencies the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and South Africa's Bureau of Standards lack the ability to conduct such tests. More>>

Africa's first electric car
The Joule, Africa's first electric car, has been unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in France. South African company Optimal Energy developed the battery-powered rechargeable car with the help of the National Research Foundation's Innovation Fund. The first cars should roll off the assembly line in 2010 at a cost of 200,000 South African rand (US$22,582). More>>

Mystery Zambian illness kills three
A tourism manager from Zambia, as well as the paramedic and nurse who treated her, have died of an unknown illness, with symptoms including severe flu, diarrhoea and a rash. Blood tests did not indicate any particular disease, including viral haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola. More>>

Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe
The Harare town council's inability to disinfect water and maintain electricity to pump sewage has been blamed for the cholera outbreak spreading across Zimbabwe and among refugees fleeing into neighbouring countries. Pharmacies and hospitals are reporting that they have no medicines left to treat cholera, or other diseases. More>>

Sudanese survivors
Children separated from their parents for 13 years after fleeing the Sudanese civil war proved remarkably adept at creating replacement families among their peers in refugee camps and finding strategies to cope, despite not knowing if their parents were dead or alive, a study shows. More>>

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]).

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