Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 26 February–11 March 2009

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Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 26 February–11 March 2009  

Malaria medicines ‘have longer than expected shelf life’
Expired drugs collected from uncontrolled private vendors in tropical regions of Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia were found still to be stable and effective far beyond their official two-year shelf life. This means that the drugs can be used for longer than previously thought and researchers have called for a re-evaluation of the shelf life imposed by drug regulatory authorities. More>>

Financing free HIV/AIDS care in Cameroon
A national survey of HIV-positive patients in Cameroon reveals that one in five patients reported financial difficulty in purchasing antiretroviral drugs and a lack of finances was found to correlate strongly with lower adherence to treatment. The researchers suggest removing financial barriers to treatment, as previously recommended by WHO. More>>

Rainy season brings viral haemorrhagic fever to West Africa
Satellite and weather data used to compile risk maps of Lassa fever, which affects two to three million people in West Africa — with up to 10,000 deaths annually — indicates that environmental factors such as rainfall encourage seasonal outbreaks of the rat-borne virus. People most at risk live between Cameroon and Guinea. More>>

Untreated depression encourages risky sexual behaviour
Four medical researchers from Moi University and the Academic Model for Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS (AMPATH) in Eldoret, Kenya, have shown that asking patients to fill in a questionnaire is an inexpensive and effective way to identify depression, which is especially common among people in Sub-Saharan Africa infected with HIV/AIDS. The impact of depression in Sub-Saharan Africa is large, where it is associated with risky sexual behaviour among other factors.

Taxpayer-funded science ‘subsidising private business’
Bob Scholes and Phuti Ngoepe of South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research argue that for-profit companies dump the burden of maintaining research infrastructure on taxpayer-funded science councils and universities, warning ”the building of high-level skills and effective large-scale organisations is slow, while the possibility of rapid collapse and loss of skills is real”.
Dispelling myths about the cost of research in South Africa
One of the first Africa-based comparisons of labour and overheads in public and private research shows that the cost of research is lowest in higher education institutions and highest in the business sector, according to author Dave Walwyn from the Graduate School of Technology Management. Walwyn calls for a common pricing policy and annual salary survey to dispel research cost myths.
Impact of lack of eyeglasses ‘vastly underestimated’
Kovin Naidoo of the Africa Vision Research Institute at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal is among the researchers who found that the economic impact of a shortage of eyeglasses — a relatively low-cost medical intervention — costs Africa global economic productivity losses of about US$3.5 billion annually. More>>

More fraud investigations in the Nigerian petroleum industry
The former head of Nigeria’s Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, Oluwole Oluleye, is being investigated regarding allegations of fraud. The agency is one of a range of bodies designed to reform the oil and gas sector but bedevilled by corruption, including the researcher-funding Petroleum Technology Development Fund, currently run by
Alhaji Muttagha Rabe Darma. More>>

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]).