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  • Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 19 November–2 December 2009


Below is a roundup of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 19 November–2 December 2009

Cancer-resistant rodents baffling scientists
Rare East African rodents resistant to diseases such as cancer are being used to provide insights into human diseases. The naked mole rats, which can live up to 30 years, are pain-resistant because they lack a vital neurotransmitter responsible for feeling pain. Other features intriguing scientists include the creatures' ability to survive without oxygen for more than half an hour, which could have important implications for research into strokes. More>>

Insights into African mosquito's proteins
Scientists from Mali and the United States have observed proteins that help the mosquito Anopheles funestus — a primary malaria vector in tropical Africa — adapt to their environments. The team suggests in the PLoS ONE study that knowledge of these rapidly-evolving proteins could aid disease control. More>> 

Botswana to reintroduce DDT
Botswana has announced plans to reintroduce DDT insecticide as part of its malaria eradication programme, using the WHO's recommended usage. Since the organisation revised its policy to allow the usage of the chemical, which was previously thought to pose environmental risks, African countries have started using it again for indoor spraying. More>>

Africa steps up its fight against tsetse fly
The African Union Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency have signed an agreement reinforcing the use of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) to tackle tsetse flies, which transmit the parasites that cause trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in humans and livestock. The technique uses radiation to sterilise males, gradually reducing the population once they are released into the wild. More>>

Nigerian fuel cell project wins global innovation award
'Cows to Kilowatts', a Nigerian project that converts organic waste into biogas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce cooking gas and fertiliser has won the Intel Environmental Award. The project, which received a US$50,000 cash prize, was started after creator Joseph Adelgan realised that people in his hometown were being exposed to bacteria such as Salmonella from the waste. More>>

Kenyan university to receive used lab equipment
Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, is set to benefit from Seeding Labs, a scheme across United States universities that donates used laboratory equipment in good condition to the developing world. The organisation has announced that Kenyatta's 3,500 students will receive a US$750,000 shipment this month — the largest in Seeding Labs' six-year history — of equipment, including test tubes, beakers, thermometers and microscopes to aid both basic and advanced research. More>>

Malaria needs better campaigning
Researchers writing in PLoS Medicine say that malaria campaigning needs to involve the kind of social and political activism associated with HIV/AIDS. The paper calls for a 'third wave' of campaigning to raise awareness when artemisinin combination therapies (ACT) are in short supply across Africa and "ensure that the ACT supply chain is made less vulnerable". More>> [72KB]

Report reveals strength of Tanzanian health research system
A report assessing Tanzania's health research system reveals a wide range of institutions at governmental, academic and civil society level — and the accompanying human and financial resources — that are advancing health care research. But it says that several challenges remain, including boosting health research governance and finances, and improving information access.   More>> [559KB]

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