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U.S. Launches Workshops In Africa As Part Of New Alliance For Food Security And Nutrition

“In May, President Obama announced the implementation of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition that emerged out of the G8 summit at Camp David,” Zach Silberman, a policy associate with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, writes in the USGLC’s blog, adding, “As part of the alliance, the United States launched workshops in Africa last week that are geared towards implementing the initiative’s goal of boosting public-private partnerships through cooperation between the G8 nations, African countries, and the private sector.” Silberman writes, “According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, kick-off workshops to support implementation of actions outlined in the alliance’s Cooperation Frameworks took place in Ethiopia on August 21, Ghana on August 29, and Tanzania on September 6-7” (9/10).

Civil Registration Of African Children Necessary For Human Rights, Access To Health, Education, Other Services, Conference Hears

“Birth certificates and other forms of civil registration of children in Africa are critical for their enjoyment of human rights and access to health, education and other services, an official of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told a conference on the issue, in Durban, South Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports. UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Elke Wisch said at the two-day Second Conference of African Ministers Responsible for Civil Registration, “Birth registration protects children from child labor, recruitment into armed forces and militias, human trafficking, early marriage as well as other forms of exploitation. … Birth registration is essential for children to access health care and education, as well as for orphans to inherit from their parents,” according to the news service (9/6). In a statement, UNICEF said only 38 percent of children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa have a birth certificate, SAPA/Independent Online notes. South African President Jacob Zuma said at the conference opening, “By not registering and planning for your people you are putting your country into difficulty,” the news service reports (9/6).

Pesticide-Related Illnesses To Cost Up To $90B Between 2005-2020 In Sub-Saharan Africa, UNEP Report Says

“The potential cost of pesticide-related illnesses in sub-Saharan African between 2005 and 2020 could reach $90 billion, according to a U.N. report [.pdf] released on Wednesday highlighting the growing health and environmental hazards from chemicals,” the Associated Press/Guardian reports. The news service adds, “It said the estimated cost of pesticide poisoning exceeds the total amount of international aid for basic health services for the region, excluding HIV/AIDS” (9/6). “Produced by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Chemicals Outlook report argues that a shift in the production, use and disposal of chemical products from developed to developing countries has made it essential to establish better management policies to avoid diseases and pollution caused by weak regulations,” the U.N. News Centre writes (9/5).

Rwanda To Host Regional Conference On Social Health Protection In East Africa

Rwanda next week will host the Conference on Social Health Protection in the East African Community, which “will consider various approaches to providing universal health coverage in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi,” VOA News reports. The news service highlights a new study on universal coverage, published in the WHO Bulletin, “that reviewed health systems in 12 African and Asian countries” and, based on “impact indicators” that include “the way financial resources are collected to fund insurance plans, the amount of coverage provided to recipients, whether that coverage is provided to all segments of society and whether there’s been an improvement in the quality of life,” found “social and community health insurance plans ‘hold untapped potential’ for achieving universal coverage.” According to VOA, study author Ernst Spaan of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands said “that the study’s findings ‘back the World Health Organization’s view that pre-paid financing mechanisms, such as health insurance, are a key route to universal coverage’” (DeCapua, 9/4).

S. African, S. Korean Research Team Developing Smartphone HIV Testing Device, Application

Researchers from South Africa and South Korea are developing a smartphone-based device and application able to “photograph and analyze blood samples in areas far from laboratories to diagnose HIV and even measure the health of [patients'] immune systems,” Agence France-Presse reports. The device, called Smartscope, is a small microscope that clips over a phone’s camera and holds a standard chip with a blood sample, the news service notes, adding the camera then photographs the sample and the application analyzes the photo to produce a CD4 cell count. “The team hopes that trials in clinics may start next year,” according to AFP (8/31).

Blog Examines Study Looking At Role Of Stigma In HIV PMTCT

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines a recent study that found only slightly more than 44 percent of women in the Nyanza province of Kenya deliver their infants in a health care facility, with many women citing fear of stigma and discrimination as a reason for not attending clinics for prenatal care. Janet Turan of the University of Alabama led the study, published in the August edition of PLoS Medicine, as well as a literature review showing the impact of stigma and discrimination on efforts to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, according to the blog. The researchers “conclude that efforts to address HIV-related stigma in and out of health settings are needed, if efforts targeting maternal mortality and parent to child HIV transmission are to succeed,” the blog writes (Barton, 8/29).

Blog Examines 3 Maternal Health Programs In Sub-Saharan Africa

“In developing countries where access to health care during pregnancy can be scarce or grossly underused due to lack of education, financial costs, and proximity to health centers, women die unnecessarily from pregnancy and birth complications,” Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. However, “[i]nternational agencies and developing country governments are working in partnership to reduce maternal death rates in order to meet the goal of reducing by 75 percent the number of women who die during pregnancy, childbirth, and immediately afterwards, in the most vulnerable countries,” she writes, and highlights three projects in sub-Saharan Africa that are working to save maternal lives (8/29).

Blog Discusses How Simple Innovations Are Helping Tackle Africa's Health, Development Problems

In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Eloise Quintanilla, an associate communications officer with the foundation, discusses an article published in the Guardian over the weekend that examines 15 simple innovations being used to tackle Africa’s health and development problems. She details three of the innovations included in the Guardian piece and writes that the article “serves as an excellent reminder that innovation doesn’t have to be technologically complex in order to be transformative” (8/28).

Study Links Maternal Obesity To Newborn Death In Sub-Saharan Africa

“For the first time researchers have discovered a link between overweight and obese mothers in sub-Saharan Africa and infant mortality,” Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gate’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, adding, “In a study published in The Lancet this month, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine show a definitive correlation between maternal obesity and the prevalence of neonatal deaths (infants who die in the first 28 days of life) especially before two days of age.” She continues, “Now that there is growing maternal obesity in sub-Saharan Africa — albeit slow — this poses a stark contrast to the traditional indicators of neonatal deaths such as underweight mothers and lack of access to health services and trained health workers for pregnancy and delivery in developing countries” (8/24).

Drought, Food Security Fears Boost Small-Scale Irrigation Use In South Asia, Africa, Study Finds

“Farmers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly taking up small-scale irrigation schemes as drought threatens the security of food supplies, a report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said,” Reuters reports. “Small-scale irrigation technology, such as motorized pumps and hosing to access groundwater, could cost a sub-Saharan African smallholder $250 or more but could improve crop yields by between 75 and 275 percent, the report said,” Reuters adds. “If there is more investment in small-scale irrigation, it means food supply in those countries is more secure. It won’t replace the need for staple cereal crops, but it gives farmers more insurance against a food crisis,” said Colin Chartres, IWMI director general, according to the news service. “We are going to have to come up with ways of making water go much further if we are going to grow 70 percent more food by 2050 on about 10 percent less water than we use today,” he added, Reuters notes (Chestney, 8/24).