Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 26 March–8 April 2009

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Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 26 March–8 April 2009

Almost all Swaziland soil ‘damaged’
A study assessing the global impacts of land degradation — the decline in soil, water and vegetation quality — has found that almost all of Swaziland’s land has been degraded. More than half of the soil is damaged in Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sierra Leone and Zambia. More>>

Acacia trees improve savannah soil in Democratic Republic of Congo
A 17-year study of the ‘black wattle’ — an Australian acacia tree — by earth scientists in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has found ”significant increases” in the organic carbon content and soil fertility on the DRC’s sandy Batéké Plateau, although farmers still need to practice ”slash and burn” agriculture to liberate nutrients for crops. More>>

Several African countries criticised over childhood vaccination
Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger have been criticised for consistently long delays and minimal efforts in ensuring that all children are vaccinated against tuberculosis, measles, diptheria, tetanus and pertussis — with delays ranging from two to more than four months. But both Egypt and Rwanda provided timely and wide-ranging vaccination programmes. More>>*

Eritrea saves money with massive bednets rollout
Eritrea’s unique model of largescale delivery of insecticide-soaked bednets through the public health system could be cost-effective throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Asmara-based National Malaria Control Programme, particularly when bednet distribution is highly interlinked with existing health facilities and community health workers. But effectively maintaining such a system will require strong donor funding and support, and suitable health infrastructure, says the programme. More>>[409kB] 

Urban children ‘exposed to heavy metals’ in Kenya
Toe and fingernail clippings of primary school children in urban Kenya show higher levels of contamination with lead and cadmium metals compared to their rural peers, according to members of Kenyatta University’s chemistry department who used spectrophotometry to determine the heavy metal concentrations. The technique could be repeated for future analyses of exposure to heavy metals. More>>

Pesticides in Ghana’s fish and water
High levels of ”harmful” pesticides have been found in tilapia fish and freshwater lakes by a team of researchers from Ghana’s University of Cape Coast led by David Kofi Essumang. Chemu lagoon in the greater Accra metropolitan region was the worst polluted, and Etsii lagoon in Abadzi the least. More>>

Senegal fights the scabies itch
A lotion of benzyl benzoate proved so effective at killing the skin mites that cause scabies — a significant public health problem — that dermatologists Fatimata Ly and Antoine Mahé of the Dakar-based Social Hygiene Institute and colleagues stopped their study, which compared the skin application with the oral treatment ivermectin. Scabies is a leading cause of bacterial super-infections.

Condom use ‘low among Nigerian soldiers’
A survey of Nigerian military personnel in Kwara State found that soldiers’ knowledge of how HIV/AIDS negatively impacts on their combat readiness did not translate into condom use, abstinence, or other ways of reducing high-risk sexual behaviour, according to Nurudeen Hussain and Tanimola Akande from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. More>>

South Africa develops second version of ‘clean-energy’ electric car
South Africans can expect to see homegrown ‘Joule’ electric vehicles road-tested from 2010 onwards, but manufacturers intend to export most of the cars once mass production starts in Cape Town in 2012. The second prototype of the car — which uses two batteries recharged overnight at standard plug outlets — is expected soon. More>>

Link between education and HIV/AIDS tracked in African countries
Schooling now appears to substantially reduce the risk of contracting HIV among teenagers and young adults, according to research conducted in Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi and Senegal. Formal education has no effect on HIV infections in older adults, probably because many have already been infected with the virus. 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]).

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