(CNN)In countries ravaged by conflict, providing international medical expertise on the ground can be almost impossible.
By Susie East, for CNN
(CNN)In countries ravaged by conflict, providing international medical expertise on the ground can be almost impossible.
By Susie East, for CNN
Winter is slowly but surely making its way to South Africa and with it comes flu season. With winter fast approaching, Discovery has revealed a partnership with Uber & Dis-Chem to bring the flu vaccine to consumers in the country.
By Darryl Linington (IT Africa News)
On Friday, 22 April 2016 between 10:00am and 15:00pm, Discovery Vitality members who live in selected areas in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town or Port Elizabeth can have a qualified Discovery-accredited Dis-Chem nurse arrive at their location within minutes, ready to administer the flu vaccine for up to five patients per visit.
The vaccine is free of charge according to Discovery; however you will need to pay R100 for the drive to you when you order through the Uber app.
How it Works
– On Friday 22 April at 10:00am, open your Uber app (or download Uber at uber.com/app)
– Slide across to the UberHEALTH view with the cross icon
– Set your pickup location and request a ride as you normally would
Vitality members earn 1 000 Vitality points for having a flu vaccination. If you’re new to Uber, sign up and enter the promo code UBERHEALTHSA to enjoy your first trip free up to R150, before 22 April 2016.
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By Staff Writer (IT News
Google has awarded a $717,728 (roughly R10 Million) grant to the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) to develop technology that can assist people in Sub-Saharan Africa who are living with disabilities.
SAFOD is working with with the University of Washington and The African Network for Evidence-to-Action on Disability (AfriNEAD) to establish AT-Info-Map, a system that will map the location and availability of assistive technology (AT) in Sub-Saharan Africa—providing critical and timely information to empower governments, suppliers, and advocates to increase access to AT.
The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities was launched in March last year, in the form of an open call to global nonprofits who are building transformative technologies for people around the world with disabilities. Ideas were received from over 1 000 organisations spanning 88 countries, and 30 winners were announced last week.
Google is helping these 30 organisations to scale by investing in their vision, by rallying its people and by mobilising its resources in support of their missions.
The organisations Google is supporting all have big ideas for how technology can help create new solutions, and each of their ideas has the potential to scale. Each organisation has also committed to open sourcing their technology—which helps encourage and speed up innovation in a sector that has historically been siloed.
In awarding these grants Google looked for big ideas, with technology at the core and the potential to scale supported by nimble and flexible teams that are strong enough to implement the work proposed.
And, Google realises there’s always room to improve its products as well. The company has a team committed to monitoring the accessibility of Google tools; and provides engineering teams with training to incorporate accessibility principles into products and services. That doesn’t just mean improving existing Google tools, it means developing new ones as well. For example, Liftware is a stabilising utensil designed to help people with hand tremors eat more easily, and self-driving cars could one day transform mobility for everyone.
Find more information.
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ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company, announced jointly with its global partners, Vodafone Foundation, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies and the United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the launch of the Mobilising HIV Identification and Treatment (MHIT) programme in Lesotho.
By Staff Writer (IT News Africa)
The MHIT programme is a multi-million dollar three-year commitment led by the Vodafone Foundation through the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation, with financial contributions from the private and public sectors, including funding and community mobilisation expertise from ViiV Healthcare, as well as support from Elton John AIDS Foundation to Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation—Lesotho, ELMA Philanthropies and USAID.
The goal of the MHIT programme is to double the number of children in Lesotho in care and on treatment within three years, thereby ensuring that their health and futures are not compromised or cut short through lack of access to HIV services. It also aims to improve uptake of services that address mother-to-child transmission of HIV to prevent more children from being born with the virus.
The use of mobile technology has proven a successful tool to address some of the challenges around access to healthcare services, such as access to transport, in rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa.(1) In Lesotho, the Vodafone Foundation is building on this success by deploying mobile clinics to rural areas to reach children – including adolescents – and mothers in hard to reach communities, providing primary care services (including antenatal checks and immunisation) and searching for individuals living with HIV to provide them with better access to treatment, using mobile money-based transport vouchers so they can reach clinics or hospitals. For many children and mothers, this could be the first time that primary healthcare services have been accessible to them. In addition, the use of mobile technology enables the management, coordination of services and communications to support the implementation of the programme.
Dr Dominique Limet, CEO ViiV Healthcare, commented: “Through our Positive Action programmes, we have a successful track record in mobilising communities and supporting capacity building at grassroots level to address the challenges of the HIV epidemic. By working with the right partners, we can deliver practical solutions to make a true difference to the lives of children in Lesotho and help future generations live longer and more fulfilling lives.”
Rishaad Tayob, Managing Director, Vodacom Lesotho said: “Vodacom Lesotho Foundation and Vodafone Foundation are bringing money, marketing, management and mobile technology to challenge paediatric HIV. Partnership is critical and by working with private funders and the Government of Lesotho and USAID, we aim to double the number of children on treatment and in care. We are already saving lives. We are privileged to also have the full support of His Majesty the King.”
Lesotho has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS with 23% of the two million population living with HIV.(2, 3) Antiretroviral treatments (ARTs), which suppress the HIV virus and stop its progression, are available, however, only a third of the estimated 19,000 children in Lesotho living with the virus are receiving ARTs.(3, 4, 5) Lesotho is made up mostly of highlands where many of the villages can be reached only on horseback, by foot or light aircraft. This means that resources are scarce and difficult to access by mothers and their children.
(CNN)A new type of dengue vaccine called TV003 seems to protect people against at least one type of the virus, according to a small study. If further research can bear out its effectiveness, the new vaccine could eventually represent a big advance in controlling the most common mosquito-transmitted virus worldwide.
Although another dengue vaccine recently became available in Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines and El Salvador, it may not be appropriate to use in countries such as the United States.
By Carina Storrs, Special to CNN
That licensed vaccine, called Dengvaxia, has been found to reduce the rates of severe dengue cases in adults and older children in Asia and Latin America, but many of them had probably already had a dengue infection in their lives. In contrast, Dengvaxia could increase the risk of dengue disease among young children who have not been exposed to dengue virus before — a group that is similar to the U.S. population. (In countries where the vaccine is available, it is only given to children age 9 and older.)
So researchers at several institutions in the United States set out to develop a new vaccine that would give people — including those who have not been infected — strong protection against all four types of dengue virus.
“Control of dengue has certainly been a public health priority for many years. But getting there has not been easy,” Stephen S. Whitehead, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health who designed the new vaccine, said at a news teleconference on Tuesday. Whitehead is one of the authors of the study that tested TV003, which was published on Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine.
The researchers decided to take a different tack in testing the vaccine. Normally the efficacy of a new vaccine is tested in large studies in areas affected by the disease, but those kinds of studies can take up to 10 years and cost millions of dollars. Although that research will still need to be done, “we really wanted to have an early clue that the (vaccine) would work,” Whitehead said.
Instead, the researchers used a “human challenge model.” They gave TV003 to 24 adult volunteers in Maryland and Vermont, while another 24 adults got a placebo as a control. After one injection of TV003, 92% of participants in the vaccine group developed antibodies to all four types of dengue virus. The only side effect associated with the vaccine was a rash around the injection site, which typically went away in five to 10 days.
But the biggest question is whether the new vaccine can prevent dengue infections. In the “human challenge” part of the study, the participants were artificially infected — using a needle, instead of a mosquito — six months after receiving TV003 with a highly weakened version of dengue virus Type 2.Previous studies have suggested that Dengvaxia does not protect as well against Type 2 as Types 1, 3 and 4.
None of the vaccinated adults got infected, whereas 80% of the individuals in the control group developed a rash and all of them had detectable dengue virus in their blood.
This type of experiment could be “totally unethical,” but in this case, the researchers got consent from healthy adults and used a form of the virus designed to be very weak, said Dr. Sarah George, an associate professor of infectious diseases at St. Louis University. George was not involved in the current study.
As the researchers discussed in the teleconference, this type of approach has been used to develop vaccines for a number of diseases, including malaria, flu and cholera.
The researchers are now testing whether the TV003 vaccine can protect people from the three other types of dengue virus. They are currently challenging study participants with Type 3 and hope to have results by late spring or summer.
“Who knows what will happen (in future studies) — dengue is full of surprises,” George said. However, she added that it is unlikely that TV003 would increase the severity of disease among people who have not previously been infected with dengue, as Dengvaxia seems to do.
The difference comes down to how the two vaccines are designed. Dengvaxia contains hybrid viruses that are made up mostly of yellow fever virus and have just two molecules from dengue virus. On the other hand, the new vaccine contains the entire virus for all four types, except they all contain mutations that make them much less potent in people.
Because the immune system will “see” more dengue virus molecules with the new vaccine, it could develop a stronger protective response to the four virus types, said George, who has received funding from Takeda Pharmaceuticals to study the immune responses to a dengue vaccine the company is developing.
The Urology Hospital in Pretoria has successfully conducted Africa’s first robotic assisted removal of a cancerous bladder (cystectomy) and prostate (cysto-prostatectomy).
Dr Hugo van der Merwe, who performed the surgery, also used the robotic system to reconstruct a new bladder (neobladder) from the patient’s bowel, after removing the cancerous bladder and prostate in what is normally a high morbid surgery.
By Staff Writer: IT News Africa
“Success using the robotic system has been excellent,” said van der Merwe. “The patient had aggressive bladder cancer and needed standard post-operative chemotherapy. The recovery is remarkable.”
The 36-year-old patient now has perfect bladder control, is fully potent and enjoys normal bodily functions without the burden of a colostomy bag.
Van der Merwe added: “Standard surgical procedures are associated with very high morbidity (complication) rates. Even in the best medical centres in the world there is a 30% chance of secondary surgery within the first 30 days after operating as well as significant problem such as blood loss, pneumonia and embolism. The robotic system aids in significantly less morbidity and recovery time is much faster. We have not as yet had to take any patients back to theatre due to complications.”
By Dana Sanchez
Published: January 29, 2016, 3:26 pm
Drones are delivering contraceptives to hard-to-reach Ghanaian villages in a program jointly funded by the U.N. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and it’s so successful that other countries want it too, HuffingtonPost reported.
Deliveries to rural Ghana that once took two days now take 30 minutes by drone, and each flight costs only $15, according to Kanyanta Sunkutu, a South African public health specialist with the U.N. Population Fund.
Sunkutu said he expected the pilot program in Ghana to encounter resistance, and worried people would associate the drones with war. So the U.N., in its program materials, referred to the drones only as “unmanned aerial vehicles” — not drones.
“We don’t want that link between war and what we are doing,” Sunkutu told The Huffington Post in an interview. “But the resistance we thought we would get has not been there.”
Less than than 20 percent of women in sub-Saharan Africa use modern contraceptives. In rural Africa, a flood can shut down roads for days and cut off medical supplies, making access to birth control a massive problem.
An estimated 225 million women in developing countries around the world want to delay or stop childbearing, but don’t have reliable birth control, according to the World Health Organization. This prevents women and girls from finishing school or getting jobs. About 47,000 women die of complications from unsafe abortions each year.
“We are particularly committed to exploring how our family planning efforts can meet the needs of young women and girls,” Bill and Melinda Gates said, according to their foundation website.
The idea to use drones for delivering birth control came from a program in the Amazon, Sunkutu said.
The drone operator packs a five-foot-wide drone with contraceptives and medical supplies from an urban warehouse and sends it over to places hard to reach by car. There, a local health worker meets the drone and picks up the supplies.
Project Last Mile has been flying birth control, condoms and other medical supplies to rural areas of Ghana for several months.
Now it’s expanding to six other African countries. The goal is to revolutionize women’s health and family planning in Africa. Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Ethiopia and Mozambique have expressed an interest.
Using drones to improve reproductive health isn’t exactly a new idea — it’s just new in Africa, according to Huffington Post. In June, a Dutch organization called Women on Waves used a drone to fly abortion pills to Poland, trying to raise awareness of Poland’s restrictive abortion laws.
Project Last Mile says it is the first to develop a long-term, sustainable program for delivering contraceptives by drone.
Sunkutu hopes that eventually drones will revolutionize other areas of rural African life., starting with family planning.
“They can deliver ballots after elections, or exams for school,” he said. It becomes a logistics management solution for hard-to-reach areas. We’re going to use family planning as an entry and make it sustainable.”
The article was published in AFKInsider.
Staying Power: Referenda in the Republic of Congo and Rwanda have paved the way for presidents Sassou Nguesso and Kagame to extend their tenures. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), President Kabila appears intent on remaining in power beyond the end of his second term in November 2016. Kabila’s political machinations have been met with violent protest and international opprobrium. By contrast in Benin, incumbent president Boni Yayi has resolved to step down when he completes his second term in February 2016.
Africa Debt Rising: Sovereign bond issuance rose dramatically as commodity markets peaked in 2014, before tailing off as the price of oil and export minerals collapsed. With budget deficits approaching unsustainable levels in many countries and the supply of cheap debt in decline, some African governments face tough choices – cut spending or dramatically improve domestic revenue collection. This new reality will be inescapable for Zambia and Ghana in an election year. In 2015, their currencies were devalued substantially and visits from the IMF further raised concerns about the sustainability of debt levels. 2016 may see the IMF revert to a more familiar role of supervising austerity measures, albeit in a less conspicuous fashion than during the structural adjustment era; whilst Ghana accepted IMF support, Zambia has so far rejected a financial bailout package.
Economic Opportunity: African economies that rely heavily on oil and other commodity exports – including Nigeria, Angola and Zambia – continue to suffer due to low or declining prices. But this setback also provides an opportunity to focus on diversifying their economies. In Nigeria, there is much talk of revitalising agriculture. In East Africa, efforts are being made to reduce economic inefficiencies and improve productivity: progress in regional telecom reform, for example, demonstrates much from which the rest of the continent can learn.
Insecurity in Nigeria: Many Nigerians voted for Muhammadu Buhari because of his campaign commitments to tackle corruption and defeat Boko Haram. The arrest of former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki for allegedly overseeing illicit and financially fraudulent transactions worth billions of naira is highly symbolic. Despite an announcement that the government has “technically won the war” against the Boko Haram insurgency, military action has not yet been convincing and the threat remains. The renegotiation of the Niger Delta amnesty and recent agitation by Biafran separatists illustrate the security challenges facing Buhari’s government.
Urban Transport: In September 2015 Addis Ababa opened the first part of a new 17km light rail system funded in part by Chinese investment. A similar venture that forms part of the urban plan in Lagos has been beset by delays. However, Governor Ambode of Lagos State has promised that the first line will be operational by December 2016. Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system failed to open as planned in October 2015 but is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2016. New urban transport networks will need to be affordable for the everyday commuter if they are to successfully reduce congestion and improve the productivity of cities.
Flying Donkeys: The world’s first civilian cargo drone station is set to open in Rwanda in 2016. “Flying donkeys” will be capable of carrying small packages across distances of up to 80km and could help to overcome some infrastructure challenges. Regulation concerning the use of unmanned vehicles is in the process of being drafted by Rwanda’s civil aviation authority and a successful pilot should see a nationwide network of cargo drone routes established.
Sorting out the Union: The post-election crisis in Zanzibar has highlighted the shortcomings of Tanzania’s current political configuration and reignited calls for power to be shared more equitably among the constituent parts of the Union. Tanzania remains the only African nation to possess a dual-government structure, a lopsided arrangement that falls short of being a fully-fledged federation. Zanzibar retains its own executive, legislature, and judicial system; while a parliament in Dodoma and a president in Dar es Salaam take decisions for both the mainland and the Union as a whole. Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, may consider constitutional reform as a solution to the impasse in Zanzibar; however, he will face resistance from his own party, which has repeatedly rejected changes to the status quo.
The Prominence of Social Media: African youth harnessed the potential of modern communication tools to mobilise protests in Burkina Faso and South Africa, successfully preventing a military coup and halting significant rises in university tuition fees. Twitter hashtags are becoming important tools for mobilisation and are likely to become more prominent as the cost of communication decreases. Governments are already responding to this perceived threat. Tanzania rushed through four pieces of legislation relating to access to information, media, statistics and cybercrime in 2015, while Nigeria may adopt a social media bill in 2016.
The Battle for the ANC: In South Africa, rumours have been circulating about plots to oust President Zuma mid-term. Zuma famously usurped Mbeki as ANC president at the national conference in Polokwane in December 2007, positioning him to become head of state, following the April 2009 elections. Zuma’s decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister was an assertion of his authority that backfired. With the ruling party likely to lose control of important metropolitan authorities at municipal elections in 2016, the campaign to succeed Zuma will dominate South African politics right up until the next ANC national conference in December 2017.
A Changing Climate: In 2015, flooding in Freetown and Accra devastated urban areas whilst El Niño brought drought to rural Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Unpredictable weather will be a continuing feature in years to come, despite the agreement reached at COP21 in Paris. Long term commitments can work alongside short-term solutions: improved urban management and support for the growing of drought resistant crops like finger millet. But weather can also offer opportunity for the continent. Renewable energy, in particular solar, wind and geothermal, has been cited as a key avenue for tackling the power deficit on the continent by African Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina.
Nick Branson and Jamie Hitchen are researchers at ARI.
Sometimes knowing the facts leads to surprising solutions.
HIV transmission from mother to child is a major, and preventable, factor in the ongoing prevalence of AIDS in Africa. While transmission rates are below 5% with effective prenatal treatment, the World Health Organization says they can range up to 45% without treatment—unfortunately, a common situation in the developing world.
Postnatal testing, then, is often vital in spotting infections in newborns, and treating them. But even as testing has become more accessible in Africa, it has remained slow, with devastating results—untreated infant HIV is usually fatal within a year. The problem isn’t just the time needed for the actual tests, but also the unpredictable ways that samples traveled from clinics to labs.
To tackle the problem, Mozambique brought in logistics expert Jérémie Gallien, a professor at the London Business School. Before looking at health systems, Gallien had consulted on retail logistics, including for the fast-fashion chain Zara and a dominant online seller he prefers not to name. And he’s found common ground between selling sweaters and saving lives.
Gallien says the basic conundrum of medical planning is the same as that in retail—striking the right balance between instant gratification and system-wide agility. When a retailer puts all its stock in stores instead of distribution centers, or a medical authority puts all of its drugs in clinics instead of a central facility, they can sell or treat patients at those locations much more quickly. But if they bet wrong on demand, moving materials where they’re needed becomes much more challenging.
Balancing those concerns comes down to understanding a specific problem, and in Mozambique, Gallien, with co-authors Sarang Deo and Jónas Oddur Jónasson, found a surprising answer. To speed the return of test results, they recommended that testing facilities, instead of dispersed, be highly centralized. While slightly slowing average sample transportation times, the added efficiency in test processing would more than make up for it.
That conclusion was based on tons of data, gathered through partnerships with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the National Institute of Health in Mozambique. “We got access to a data set of more than a year of shipments from clinics to the labs, then back, time stamped,” says Gallien. That was more than 30,000 records, also including information on patient outcomes and engagement.
Those records let Gallien get a precise but broad-scale view of transit times, which averaged 10 days.
“Increasing the transportation time to 13 days, you end up needing two lab locations,” he says. That would have led to a more complex problem of which samples go to which lab—which Gallien compares to the retail relationship between customers and warehouses.
The data also revealed a more complex human component of the problem—the relationship between turnaround time and caretaker followup. When test results took more than 30 days, babies’ mothers were much less likely to come back to get their results—or treatment.
“There’s all kinds of stigma and psychological impact having to do whether you transmitted the virus to your infant,” says Gallien. “It’s [a] very challenging, difficult psychological context in the first place,” and the discouragement of slow test results can trigger disengagement. Though far less dire, it’s not hard to see the parallels in retail—speedy fulfillment makes it easier for customers to make decisions, and stick with them.
Authorities in Mozambique are still processing Gallien’s recommendations, but he says Uganda has already begun to implement a similar set of solutions. The move to data-based planning, he says, opens up big possibilities for improving global healthcare.
“Particularly in these environments where there’s limited resources, limited time—this could really improve outcomes.”
The article was published on Fortune.
Cenhealth has partnered with ER24 to use technology to speed up emergency response. This partnership will aim to close the gap between patient information and emergency services, saving crucial minutes by providing paramedics with rapid access to life-saving information.
CenHealth is a user-controlled platform which allows users to keep a digital version of their health records. Members open an online account and can store information ranging from their weight and height, to allergies, upload X-rays, vaccination records and keep a health diary of all their doctor’s appointments.
by Staff Writer
CenHealth users now can access ER24’s pre-hospital emergency care, including Emergency Stabilisation, medical emergency care transportation by road and air to the nearest hospital and Trauma assistance. This service works in conjunction with CenHealth’s emergency profile, through which users enter important details such as allergies, medications they are taking, their age, doctors’ details, medical aid information as well as next of kin – all of which help paramedics respond more speedily and accurately in the event of an emergency.
Puseletso Mompei, CenHealth’s New Business Director, says that Cenhealth is passionate about offering users value added services, in conjunction with their digital health record. “Our vision is to centralise the health experience for users. While having the ability to create, store and manage your health history from any device is empowering, we believe that this should integrate with real-life situations and allow user’s access health related services.”
This partnership, according to the company, is the first of its kind in Africa – where most patient’s records are in paper format, making critical information unavailable in an emergency. By using a secure, cloud based platform such as Cenhealth, users can enjoy services such as ER24 in real time.
The service is available for a fee of R30/month and is bundled with other new services including camera feature to allow users to upload images to their digital record as well as additional storage. Users can also pay a discounted annual fee. “Access is a priority for us, so keeping the price friendly was important.” says Mompei.
With the usual spike in road accidents, drownings, food poisoning and other injuries that occur more over the festive season, the launch of this service couldn’t come at a better time. ER24 has branches with ambulances and other emergency resources placed in all the major metropolitan areas, cities and towns across the nation.