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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 29 January–11 February 2009


Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 29 January–11 February 2009.

Nigeria: 'Alarming' numbers of substandard malaria drugs
Obinna Onwujekwe from the University of Nigeria's Enugu-based College of Medicine led a study of six towns in Anambra state which found that 37 per cent of antimalarial drugs sold in the private sector lacked active ingredients. The researchers called for stiffer penalties for vendors stocking substandard and fake drugs. More>>[269kB]

Sachet drinking water under the microscope in Nigeria
A fifth of affordable drinking water sachets — popular among the poor in Nigeria after successive governments neglected to maintain water pipes — do not reach quality standards, according to a study led by microbiologist Ayokunle Dada from the University of Ado-Ekiti. Pure sachets should be a priority to achieve the Millenium Development Goal for universal water access by 2015, he says. More>>[1.46 MB]

Researchers boost tigernut nutrition
Fermentation adds nutritional value to flour from yellow tigernuts — an underutilised crop also known as earth almonds and used to make oil, soap, starch — say food science researchers from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. The protein-rich nuts can be consumed raw, roasted, dried, baked or made into a drink. More>>[106kB]

Namibian researcher finds solution to coastal ecosystem disaster*
Anja Van der Plas from Namibia's National Marine Information and Research Centre in Swakopmund is among the researchers who argue in Nature that specific bacterioplankton blooms can reverse the large-scale damage caused when humans trigger oxygen depletion in coastal African waters — causing a poisonous excess of hydrogen sulphide, which damages fisheries. More>>

Interactions between diabetes and malaria drugs explored
Animal tests suggest that combining chloroquine — an antimalarial drug which collects in the liver — with insulin may injure the liver, especially for diabetics in malaria-endemic regions whose diet is rich in fat and calcium. More>>[70kB]

North African pistachio trees show promising antibacterial activity
Biotoxicology researchers Bachir Raho Ghalem and Benali Mohamed from Djillali Liabès University in Algeria have identified antibacterial activity in oils distilled from the traditional stomach medicine known as mastic gum (resin from the stem of the Atlas pistachio trees) which appears to protect against common pathogens like Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus aureus. More>>[74.5kB]

Caregiver support networks 'a factor in child mortality'
Momodou Jasseh, Richard Adegbola and others from the Medical Research Council laboratories in Banjul, The Gambia, have found ten "non-traditional" influences on child mortality. They include the amount of social support for the primary caregiver, their degree of financial autonomy and their source of money for healthcare expenses. More>>[165kB]

Something fishy about Lake Victoria
Ugandan and Tanzanian scientists conducting the first analysis of waste poured into Lake Victoria from processing Nile perch fish into chilled fish fillets say the conversion of waste into usable products is ''imperative'' to improve both the economy and the environment. More>>[235kB]

Decoding the power of southern African lavender trees
A joint effort by Nigerian and South African chemistry researchers has resulted in the first analysis of the chemical in the leaves of the Southern African lavender tree — used as a traditional medicine. The authors say this forms part of the search for new drugs. More>>[979kB]

Bad news for brain drain
New data on training nurses, midwives and doctors from 12 countries — including the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia — indicates that ''the health workforce shortage in Africa is even more critical than previously estimated''.

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Compiled by Christina Scott.

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