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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 27 August–9 September 2009


Malaria nets for houses successful in the Gambia
Research conducted in the Gambia has shown that screening houses against mosquitoes helps reduce childhood malaria infection, death rates and anaemia. The report, published in The Lancet, found that screening windows and doors with netting, and closing eaves or installing net ceilings could reduce entry of malaria vectors into houses in an area of seasonal malaria transmission. More>>

New consortium to address neglected tropical diseases
A consortium to bridge the gap between biological sciences, health and development in Africa has been created with centres in Cameroon, South Africa and Uganda. The Poverty Related Diseases College aims to help young African and European scientists with research on poverty-related and neglected diseases relevant to Africa's development. More>>

Trachoma drug 'reduces child mortality'
A WHO-backed oral drug administered to children to prevent the eye infection trachoma in Ethiopia has been found to cut death rates as well as treat the blindness-causing disease. Scientists reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that children treated with the drug azithromycin were half as likely to die. More>>

Kenyan slum children exposed to high levels of lead
Children in Kenya's largest informal settlement have been found to have high levels of exposure to lead. A report published in the East African Journal of Public Health found that children in some areas of the Kibera slums are exposed to extremely high levels of lead — much higher than the WHO-allowable range. Seven per cent of the children tested had a level of lead in their blood considered dangerous. More>>

Poor performance among South African universities
A South African report has warned of falling standards in the country's universities. The National Benchmark Tests Project, carried out by university vice-chancellors, noted a range of problems including dropout levels of up to 50 per cent. The report says "the need for curriculum responsiveness and remediation in [science and engineering] is urgent". More>>

Tanzanian iodine project bears fruit
Tanzania's iodine administration programme among rural communities in Tanzania has been a success, researchers report. Levels of iodine deficiency — which can cause brain damage — have decreased since the programme was launched in the early 1990s but the country now needs to focus on reaching areas of low coverage and reducing iodine intake in areas where it is excessive, the researchers say. More>>

E-water project unveiled in Kenya's arid region
A partnership between Kenya's leading cell phone company Safaricom, Kenya's Ministry of Water and Irrigation and an international water management nongovernmental organisation, Grundfos, has launched a unique water project in the arid Kitui area of Kenya. The project will see villagers access 'smart keys' to draw water from subsidised water sources. The smart keys can be topped up using Safaricom's mobile banking outfit, M-PESA. More>> [757kB]

Rwanda urged to  handle methane harvesting carefully
Rwanda should act now to harvest methane from Lake Kivu or drop the project altogether, Swiss researchers say. Scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology say that dissolved methane could provide energy to the country but it is essential to act now and harvest the gas before methane levels become dangerously high. Large bubbles of carbon dioxide and methane could erupt from the lake, suffocating those who live on its shores. More>>

Uganda seeks modern salt harvesting technologies
The Uganda Council of Science and Technology is seeking novel ways to improve salt harvesting and processing in its saline lakes. The project is financed under the World Bank's Millennium Science Initiative project and will include the establishment of mining, processing and marketing of edible and industrial salt from Lake Katwe. More>>

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