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Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 9–23 October 2008.

African petrochemical company boosts science skills
Petrochemical company Sasol will inject 250 million South African rands each year into nine South African engineering faculties to combat the brain drain. And the South African government has announced that it will direct more money to addressing the shortage of engineers, technicians and scientists. Only 35,000 students graduate in these fields each year. More>>

Malawi revamps its HIV programmes

Nearly 40,000 civil servants infected with HIV will receive food handouts instead of extra cash, according to Mary Shawa, a medical doctor responsible for HIV and nutrition in the Malawian government. Malawi is assessing the effectiveness of its HIV policy, and how best to fund and sustain its HIV programmes. More>>

Antimalarials have 'no impact on male fertility'
Researchers from Delta State and Port Harcourt universities in Nigeria say the short term use of antimalarial drugs such as quinine and chloroquinine does not have a negative effect on male sex hormones and sperm production. The study of 20 men was published in the African Journal of Biotechnology. More>> [75kB]

Medical waste company fired after virus outbreak in hospital
Tonnes of human and medical waste from the private South African hospital that dealt with two of the three deaths from a newly identified and contagious arena virus was dumped by contractors rather than properly incinerated. The Psychem company, which serves 17 hospitals, has been fired and health inspectors are investigating. More>>

ARV doctor wins fight again health department
A seven-year battle ended in South Africa this week when a doctor won his court case against the health department that fired him for prescribing antiretroviral drugs to rape survivors. More>>

'Mechanisation needed' for export-quality palm oil
Microbiologists Michael Orji and Theodore Mbata from Nigeria's Nnamdi Azikiwe University say that although traditional methods and semi-mechanised production of fresh edible palm oil produces a good taste and aroma, such palm oil deteriorated so quickly that it did not meet international quality standards for export after being stored. More>> [100kB]

Botswana farmers build mini dams for unpredictable rains
Small-scale farmers who cannot afford irrigation should pave a quarter of their field to trap water during extreme rainfalls. The method is one promoted at workshops with staff from the crop production section of the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers, which aim to help farmers adapt to climate change. More>>

Malawi looks into home grown starch production
Researchers have studied cocoyam and ten types of cassava grown in Malawi to see if the starch is suitable for processed food, textiles, pharmaceuticals, dry cells and adhesives. Malawian factories import starch based on maize, potato and wheat, with negative effects on foreign currency reserves and employment levels. More>> [672kB]

Novel computer network deters hackers

Abdul Mirza of the Centre for Quantum Technology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal has linked two clinics, a civic centre and a fire station in Durban, South Africa, to the world's first hacker-proof computer network that uses photons to encode information. More>>
Fermented milk substances 'promising for shelf-life'
The lactic acid bacteria found in Ergo, a traditional fermented milk, is a promising source of substances to prevent food spoiling and extend shelf-life, according to Esayas Assefa from the Ethiopia Meat and Dairy Technology Institute and Fekadu Beyene from Ethiopia's Wollega University. Other researchers[84kB] investigated goat milk. More>> [1.1MB]

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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