Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 15–28 January 2009

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Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 15–28 January 2009.

Kenya tackles climate change
Alice Kaudia of the Kenyan environment ministry says the country’s first Clean Development Mechanism regulations will be finalised by the end of 2009. This will enable local sugarcane companies that generate bioelectricity with crop remnants to trade carbon credits with industries in the developed world that want to offset their emissions. More>>

Peanut paste ‘reduces wasting’
Ali Djibo of Niger’s Ministry of Health is among the researchers who have found that daily administration of a micronutrient-enriched paste of peanuts, milk, oil and sugar improved vulnerable children’s weight. It also lowered their risk of contracting other diseases in the difficult time of food shortages before harvesting. More>>

Prototype unmanned aircraft tested in South Africa
An experimental remote-piloted aircraft for a range of flight control research projects has been launched by South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the University of Stellenbosch’s engineering systems laboratory, although researchers warn[310kB] that a lack of regulation could hamper the aircraft’s potential to monitor or provide supplies. More>>

Africa’s first space agency
South Africa’s Space Agency Bill has become law, with the country setting up its own space agency later this year, according to manager Val Munsami from the Department of Science and Technology. Projects include satellite launches from Africa and the bid to host Square Kilometre Array of telescopes. More>>

Kenyan researchers warn of overestimating diagnostics
Rapid technological innovation may look good in carefully controlled clinical tests but in the field, new diagnostics do not always improve patients’ health, according to researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institute. They warn that "we may seriously overestimate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness” of clinical case management guidelines as a result. More>>

Voluntary HIV testing ‘should be prioritised’ for prevalence estimates
Bavon Mupenda from the Kinshasa School of Public Health in the Democratic Republic of Congo and colleagues say that countries should prioritise confidential voluntary HIV testing — rather than anonymous, unauthorised testing of routine blood samples — to assess HIV infection rates. More>>

Cameroon and Eritrea upgrade their medical libraries
Eritrea’s only medical school, the Asmara-based Orotta School of Medicine has received a grant to assess its library facilities and needs as part of the Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries programme. Another grant went to the Chantal Biya International Reference Centre[45kB] in Cameroon to distribute HIV research via a network based in Yaoundé. More>>

African countries praised in health survey
Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has been congratulated for improving medicine safety in an assessment of nearly 200 countries. Uganda was praised for its child health days[90kB], which now include deworming and vitamins, while Botswana, Libya, Mauritius and Mozambique were saluted for their explicit commitment to universal health access. More>>*

Condoms in South African classrooms?
Researchers with South Africa’s Mpilonhle rural health project have suggested that the government mandates condom access in schools for pupils over the age of 12. Allowing school governing bodies to set their own rules regarding distribution of condoms is confusing and can prevent condom access, they say. But educators should make clear that the distribution of condoms is not an endorsement of sexual activity, they add. More>>

Health workers track ‘missed’ blind children in Malawi
Steve Kanjoloti, an ophthalmic clinical officer from Chikwawa district, collected data for a pilot study which according to Khumbo Kalua of the Malawi College of Medicine successfully used 44 trained volunteers from 196 villages to track down blind or severely visually impaired children, who are often overlooked because they seldom attend school. More>>

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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]).