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African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

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Health & HIV/AIDS

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Kenya: Push to meet 2013 male circumcision targets

2012-11-08, Issue 605

With just over one year left to achieve its target of having some 1.1 million men circumcised as part of HIV-prevention efforts, Kenyan male circumcision programmes are ramping up efforts to bring more men into clinics, compensating them for their time and encouraging them to bring friends in for the procedure.

Zimbabwe: HIV positive Zimbabwean women sue over forced sterilisations

2012-11-08, Issue 605

In Zimbabwe, HIV positive mothers and soon-to-be mothers used to be sterilised. The procedure was seen as the only way of preventing the transmission of HIV to their unborn or newborn babies. Now the tide has turned. Medical advances mean HIV mothers have a much better chance of having healthy babies. And some women are now seeking compensation from the government.

Somalia: Thousands at risk of polio in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo

2012-11-12, Issue 605

An estimated 135,000 children are at risk of polio in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Three years ago, Al-Shabab insurgents banned polio vaccination in Kismayo and other parts of central Somalia.

Africa: Major malaria vaccine less effective than hoped

2012-11-12, Issue 605

Researchers unveiling critical trial results of a potentially major anti-malaria vaccine are expressing disappointment that the drug’s efficacy levels have proved lower than they had anticipated. Following on decades of research, the third phase of testing on a vaccine known as RTS,S found that the drug reduced malaria rates among infants (age six to 12 weeks) by about a third, far lower than expected. The study, funded largely by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is part of the largest malaria trial ever conducted, taking place in seven African countries.

Africa: Leaders should prioritise immunisation

2012-11-12, Issue 605

African leaders were criticised for failing to prioritise immunisation with life-saving vaccines for children under five years of age to prevent deadly infectious diseases. Delegates and speakers at the International African Vaccinology Conference in Cape Town said there was little political will among African leaders who were out of touch with the needs of their communities. They also agreed that more pressure must be put on African countries to develop and produce their own vaccines to drive prices down and meet demands.

Global: 176 countries adopt pact to curb illegal tobacco trade

2012-11-13, Issue 605

A total of 176 countries Monday 12 November adopted what World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan called a 'game-changing' global agreement to combat the illegal tobacco trade. PANA reports that the pact was ratified at a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, on WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The agreement came into force in 2005. 'The treaty envisages an international tracking system which aims to halt the smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products - a trade which accounts for 11 per cent of the total tobacco market and costs governments an estimated US$40 billion in lost tax revenue,' the WHO said in a statement.

Sudan: Millions to get yellow fever vaccine in outbreak-hit Darfur

2012-11-13, Issue 605

More than 3.5 million people in Sudan's conflict-plagued Darfur region will be vaccinated against yellow fever which is suspected of killing nearly 100 people in the past seven weeks, officials said. '(The) vaccination plan has been finalised and will cover vaccination of approximately 3.6 million,' said a joint report from the UN's World Health Organisation and Sudan's health ministry. A WHO official earlier told AFP the inoculations could possibly begin by early December, after reconfirmation of the diagnosis from a laboratory in Senegal.

Uganda: Nodding syndrome symptoms controlled, hunt for cure continues

2012-10-31, Issue 604

Their conditions improving, nearly all of the children admitted to health centres for nodding syndrome have now been released, according to Uganda’s Ministry of Health; less severely affected patients have also started treatment. Even as health officials bring the symptoms under control, the cause of the syndrome remains unknown, which means all of Uganda's diagnosed patients will have to remain on treatment for long periods. And gaps in the health system - highlighted by a recent two-day strike at an affected health facility - have raised questions about the government's ability to provide consistent care.

Africa: Lethal Salmonella strain targets HIV positive Africans

2012-11-01, Issue 604

Fears are growing over an emerging form of intestinal disease in Africa, to which HIV positive people are particularly vulnerable. Medical experts have expressed concerns that health infrastructures across the continent lack the capacity to detect or cope with the dangerous bacterium. The scientists say that invasive non-Typhoidal Salmonella (iNTS) thrives in the blood systems of people in Sub-Saharan Africa whose body immunity is weakened by HIV/AIDS.

South Africa: Women who seek goods and services from sexual partners more likely to become HIV positive within two years

2012-11-01, Issue 604

Young South African women who engage in sex or have relationships partially motivated by economic gain are more likely to become infected with HIV, Rachel Jewkes and colleagues report in the Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research. These data add to previous findings from this cohort showing that women who had a violent partner or who were relatively powerless in a relationship were more likely subsequently to acquire HIV.

South Africa: Strike paralyses E Cape health services

2012-11-05, Issue 604

A large number of clinics and hospitals in the Eastern Cape are experiencing critical medicine shortages and stock outs while surgery and other procedures have virtually grind to a halt due to a wildcat strike by staff at the Mthatha Health Complex (MHC). The strike is affecting over 100 rural clinics and a number of hospitals, with some using their own vehicles to drive to Mthatha in the hope of getting drugs from the medicines depot. Regional hospitals have also reported that referrals for anything from x-rays to surgery has virtually stopped.

Global: CSO's call on World Bank to advance universal health coverage

2012-11-05, Issue 604

As part of the growing global movement for universal health coverage (UHC), civil society groups met with World Bank president Jim Yong Kim at the World Bank annual meetings in Tokyo earlier this month asking that he support developing countries to achieve universal health coverage. Health was a theme of this year’s meetings. They presented Dr. Kim with an open letter signed by 110 organizations from 40 countries, including the Ghana Universal Healthcare Campaign, World Vision, and Oxfam asking him to ensure the World Bank assists all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, to access quality health services.

Uganda: Trachoma outbreak reported

2012-11-06, Issue 604

A severe outbreak of Trachoma has been reported in Karamoja with at least 50,000 people in dire need of urgent eye surgery to prevent blindness. The disclosure was made by the State Minister of Primary Health Care Sarah Opendi in Moroto town. The Minister attributed the outbreak on the lack of toilet facilities.

South Africa: Easy patents cost patients

2012-11-06, Issue 604

South Africa grants almost every patent application it receives, making its patent regime one of the world’s most lenient. While pharmaceutical companies cash in, patients face staggering healthcare costs, and medicines like cancer treatments, third-line antiretrovirals (ARVs) and treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) are often priced out of reach. According to activists from Médecins Sans Frontières’s (MSF) Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines and the South Africa AIDS lobby group the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), easy patents mean companies can extend their exclusive right to manufacture and sell certain drugs, a process known as evergreening.

Madagascar: Domestic violence rises as incomes fall

2012-11-06, Issue 604

Incomes have slipped to their lowest level in a decade since Madagascar’s 2009 coup d’etat, and, in parallel, domestic violence has sharply risen. The rising poverty has exacerbated women’s vulnerability in this deeply traditional society. Locals report more domestic conflict over family resources, as well as increased alcohol and drug abuse. Impoverished women also have fewer options to escape violence and are less able to advocate for the safety of themselves and their children.

Tanzania: Health sector strangled

2012-10-30, Issue 603

Amid the doctors’ strike in Tanzania policy analysts met in Dar es Salaam recently, and they said that the on-going crises at the major hospitals are due to poor budgetary allocation, and to mismanagement of funds by some leaders in various Government circles. The analysts say the low budget allocated to the health sector is against the Abuja Declaration on Health Equity. They warned that the health sector is deteriorating fast, and it needed financial intervention.

Global: New test to improve HIV diagnosis in poor countries

2012-10-30, Issue 603

Scientists have come up with a test for the virus that causes AIDS that is ten times more sensitive and a fraction of the cost of existing methods, offering the promise of better diagnosis and treatment in the developing world. The test uses nanotechnology to give a result that can be seen with the naked eye by turning a sample red or blue, according to research from scientists at Imperial College in London published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Global: WHO launches the Global Tuberculosis Report 2012

2012-10-18, Issue 602

An estimated 20 million people are alive today as a direct result of tuberculosis (TB) care and control, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report 2012. 'In the space of 17 years, 51 million people have been successfully treated and cared for according to WHO recommendations. Without that treatment, 20 million people would have died,' says Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department. 'This milestone reflects the commitment of governments to transform the fight against TB.'

DRC: Continuing efforts to contain Ebola

2012-10-18, Issue 602

An Ebola outbreak that has killed several people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) appears to be slowing down, but health workers say there is a need for continued vigilance in order to contain the virus. 'Their last confirmed case was admitted in the MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières]/Ministry of Health Ebola ward on October 10, after two weeks with no confirmed cases,' Olimpia de la Rosa, MSF medical emergency coordinator, told IRIN in an email. 'The decrease in the number of admissions in our facility makes us think that we are on the way to contain the outbreak, but containment efforts must continue until no cases are confirmed for at least 21 days.'

Global: New TB vaccine on the horizon

2012-10-23, Issue 602

A research team at Oxford University in the UK is very close to determining the efficacy of their new tuberculosis (TB) vaccine. If current clinical trials are successful, it will be the first new TB vaccine in almost a century. The urgent need for a new vaccine is emphasised by research showing that extensively drug-resistant (XDR) forms of the disease are rapidly spreading. Today, most babies in the world are immunized with the old Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, first used in 1921. The leader of the Oxford research team, Helen McShane, says it saves children's lives, but beyond infancy its effects are limited.

Uganda: Killer disease reaches Uganda capital, five dead

2012-10-23, Issue 602

An outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus in Uganda has spread to the capital Kampala after an infected woman travelled to the city and the death toll from the disease, a cousin of Ebola, climbed to five, a health official said on Monday. The latest outbreak of another haemorrhagic fever, first confirmed on Friday in Kabale district, 430 km (270 miles) southwest of Kampala, has rattled a country that only two weeks ago declared itself free of Ebola after it claimed at least 16 lives.

Global: Antibodies offer AIDS vaccine clue

2012-10-23, Issue 602

A response to the HI-Virus in two HIV positive women, which enabled them to make potent antibodies that would kill most of the HIV types from around the world, has provided South African reseachers with potential clues for the development of an AIDS vaccine. The study published on Sunday in the journal, Nature Medicine, describes how a unique change in the outer covering of the virus found in two HIV infected South African women enabled them to make potent antibodies which are able to kill up to 88% of HIV types from around the world. The discovery, described as 'groundbreaking' provides an important new approach that could be useful in making an AIDS vaccine, according to the researchers.

Global: Mental health - global effort sought

2012-10-10, Issue 601

Experts around the globe are calling for a joint effort to tackle the world's leading cause of suffering and disability - mental health disorders. Nearly 450 million people have mental health disorders and more than three-quarters live in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), eight in every 10 of those living in developing nations receive no treatment at all.

South Africa: Only 1 in 3 childhood cancers diagnosed, treated

2012-10-11, Issue 601

It is estimated that in South Africa around 2,500 children develop cancer every year, but less than a third (700 children) are actually diagnosed and treated. 'We suspect some cases are treated, but just not reported [to the Paediatric Cancer Registry], but many go untreated because they are just never diagnosed,' says Professor Christina Stefan, head of Paediatric Oncology at Tygerberg Hospital.

Egypt: Striking doctors threaten to submit resignations en masse

2012-10-15, Issue 601

Egyptian doctors, who have been waging a partial strike since 1 October, are now ratcheting up pressure on Egypt's health ministry by threatening to submit their resignations en masse. According to the strike's general committee, at least 15,000 doctors' resignations will be tendered within coming days if their demands go unmet.

South Sudan: Acute malnutrition blights children in Lakes State

2012-10-15, Issue 601

In Lakes State more than 10 children are admitted to hospital every month with acute malnutrition. John Kennedy, a nurse working in the children’s ward in Rumbek State Hospital, explained that most children admitted were severely malnourished. He said that July, August and September are the worst months for food shortages in the state.

Africa: Report highlights poor involvement of Francophone Africa in Aids fight

2012-10-16, Issue 601

Francophone Africa is not as involved in the fight against AIDS as the rest of the continent, according to a report presented in Kinshasa, on the sidelines of the 14th Summit of the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF) holding in the Congolese capital. The report notes that 43 per cent of people with AIDS have access to treatment in francophone countries, against 59 per cent in the English-speaking countries. Nearly 50,000 children are born each year with HIV in francophone Africa, the report said, noting that 60 percent of them are in DR Congo alone.

Uganda: Family planning pledges need on-the-ground action

2012-10-03, Issue 600

Family planning advocates in Uganda have scored some major financial and policy wins this year, but experts remain concerned that inadequate political commitment and poor health services will continue to impede women’s and girls’ access to contraceptives. At a global family planning summit in July, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni announced that his government would increase its annual expenditure on family planning supplies from US$3.3million to $5million for the next five years. He also pledged to mobilize an additional $5 million from the country's donors.

Uganda: Concern over allegations of misuse of Global Fund money

2012-10-03, Issue 600

Recent allegations of the misuse of a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria could jeopardize Uganda’s malaria funding and hurt efforts to fight the disease, which is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity. Evidence of the mismanagement of a US$51 million malaria grant to Uganda from the Global Fund resulted in the July arrest of three Ministry of Health employees and prompted a police investigation into the matter. In September, the organization called for the refund of any ineligible expenses under the grant and the strengthening of safeguards to prevent future misappropriation of funds.

Zimbabwe: Outdated sewer system bad for health

2012-10-04, Issue 600

Residents of Zimbabwe’s cities say that outdated, overflowing sewer systems dirty the streets, contaminate the water supply and threaten their health. City council officials say the government is aware of the problem but can’t afford to overhaul the infrastructure, reports Global Press Institute.

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