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Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 10–24 January 2008.

Epileptic convulsions a 'deadly risk' for coastal Kenyan children
Kenyan children are eight times more likely to suffer from epileptic convulsions than their peers in the developing world, and face more chance of dying from the fits. The Kenya Medical Research Institute have warned that pharmaceutical firms' withdrawal of epilepsy drugs, such as parenteral Phenobarbital, might aggravate such cases throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. More>>*

Education: a 'social vaccine' against HIV in rural Africa?
Research into sexual behaviour of teens and young adults in South Africa links secondary school attendance to reduced risk of HIV infection. The research, by the University of the Witwatersrand and the UK's London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. More>>

School lunches fight malnutrition in western Kenyan kids
School lunches successfully tackled undernutrition among primary school children in Kenya's rural Vihiga district, which experiences food shortages for much of the year. According to research published in the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, almost 20 per cent of children without the lunches showed signs of wasting, stunting and acute malnutrition.. More>> [215kB]

FIFA accredits African sports science centre
With the African Cup of Nations underway in Ghana, injured soccer players can now attend the only African medical centre accredited by FIFA (the International Federation of Football Associations). The Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine in Johannesburg, South Africa, is part of Wits University and one of six FIFA-accredited centres in the world. More>>

National health policies 'a must throughout Africa'
The International Council for Science's regional office for Africa, due to host the 29th ICSU general assembly in Maputo, Mozambique in October, has released a science plan for health and human well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa. Director Sospeter Muhongo says the report calls for evidence-based decision-making with more policy-relevant research. More>> [811kB]

Hand washing slashes dangerous diarrhoea in children
Regina Ejemot, a Nigerian public health lecturer from the University of Calabar, and colleagues have published an analysis of randomised controlled trials showing that basic hand washing can reduce diarrhoea by 31 per cent in communities in low- or middle-income countries. The research includes five studies in the developing world. More>>

Stigma 'rampant' against HIV positive Kenyans
Kenyan companies who screen job applicants or require mandatory medical checkups often fire workers infected with HIV, who also risk eviction from their homes by their own families. A report from the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition says many ill-informed medical personnel refuse to treat HIV positive patients, suggesting that combating discrimination and denial is as important as medical research. More>> [1.04MB]

Technology Innovation plans under scrutiny
South Africa's proposed technology innovation legislation was given a stormy reception at two days of public hearings. Biotechnology start-ups complained about government plans to take a major equity stake in all new companies, sharing intellectual property and royalties with investors as well as demanding mandatory board representation. More>>

Malaria drug problems for pregnant women in Burkina Faso
Research from the University of Ouagadougou says rural women in Burkina Faso risk miscarriage from malaria. Newer drugs are not recommended early in pregnancy, when women are most susceptible to the disease, and drug resistance to older drugs is rising. Fewer than one in ten women were found to have bednets, which were not treated with insecticide. The study is part of a series on malaria in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. More>>

Agroforestry woes in East Africa
A Kenyan government report says a master plan prepared in the early 1990s to guide forestry for the next 25 years was never implemented. Government forests were chopped down more than a decade ago and not replaced, leading to widespread timber shortages. More>>

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Compiled by Christina Scott. Additional reporting by Carol Campbell, Kimani Chege, Zablon Odhiambo, Ochieng' Ogodo, Onche Odeh and Esther Tola.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Christina Scott ([email protected]).