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The East African : April 7th 2014
The EastAfrican 34 OUTLOOK APRIL 5-11,2014 S CI E N C E Basin are of particular concern, given the basin’s geopolitical and socioeconomic importance. Reduced flows in the Blue Nile are estimated by the end of this century due to a combination of higher temperatures and reduced rainfall in catchment areas, as well as upstream water development for irrigation, as rain becomes more unreliable. A 2009 assessment of the impact of coastal flooding due to sea level rise in Kenya found that by 2030, coastal flooding is likely to directly affect between 170,700 to 266,300 inhabitants, while economic assets at risk are between $0.68 billion and 1.06 billion. In Dar es Salaam, 30,300 to A Malawian farmer works on his land during a severe drought. A new report says that agriculture in Eastern Africa is likely to suffer due to changing temperatures. Picture: AFP Agriculture, health to suffer effects of climate change Models suggest that the≥e is likely to be a dec≥ease in ≥ainfall owing to a wa≥me≥ ocean By CHRISTINE MUNGAI The EastAfrican A new climate report sounds the warning over the impeding ecological, economic, health and social threats that climate change brings to the region, urging governments to develop urgent adaptation measures. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that there has been an increase in seasonal mean temperatures in many areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda over the past 50 years, and regional climate models suggest that there is likely to be a decrease in rainfall over most parts of the region, owing to a warming Indian Ocean. A warmer ocean results in more rain falling over the ocean itself, as opposed to the wind blowing rainheavy clouds inland. Drier seasons The impact of the warming tem- peratures and drier seasons is likely to be felt hardest in two sectors — agriculture and health. Maize yields could drop by up to 20 per cent, while bean harvests are expected to be hit harder, dropping by 68 per cent in the next three decades if the current trends continue. In highland Arabica coffee-pro- ducing areas of Eastern Africa, warming trends may result in the coffee berry borer becoming a serious threat in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Temperature increases in high- land banana-producing areas of eastern Africa similarly enhance the risk of altitudinal range expansion of the highly destructive burrowing banana nematode, the report says. In Eastern Africa, potential climate change impacts on the Nile “Highland areas, especially in East Africa, will experience increased malaria epidemics” IPPC report Resea≥che≥s get $6.8b to combat ‘neglected diseases’ By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent THE GLOBAL Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund has announced three grants worth $6.8 million to speed up the development of drugs for some of the world’s most neglected diseases — schistosomiasis, Chagas disease and parasitic roundworms. Tropical disease infections, although not al- ways fatal, can lead to stunted growth in children, impaired cognition and memory, malnutrition, organ damage, blindness, disfigurement and permanent disability. One billion of the world’s poorest people are afflicted with neglected diseases — also known as “the burden of the bottom billion” — and another three billion are at the risk of being infected. “The physical damage from these diseases is enormous, but that’s just the beginning. Victims are stigmatised by their communities, and because of repeated bouts of serious illness, they can’t provide for their families. The result is a never ending cycle of poverty that can and must be stopped,” said BT Slingsby, the CEO of GHIT Researchers are trying to fight tropical infections. Fund. A phase II proof-of-concept study of the efficacy and safety of the combination therapy for Chagas will take place over the next two years. Researchers will use data from this trial to help shape a phase III multi-country study in South America. The schistosomiasis study will take place in Africa. For parasitic roundworms, the grantees plan a 12-month, head-to-head comparison of the two leading chemical types, to identify a single can- didate for potential drug development within two years. The study is at pre-clinical stage but will likely take place in Liverpool. According to Dr Slingsby, the current drugs for Chagas — benznidazole and nifurtimox — are poorly tolerated by adults, hard to use and frequently fail to cure chronic infections, which can cause cardiovascular disorders, which often lead to disability and death. Experts have long believed a drug combina- tion would work better, but the safety and efficacy of the combination have not yet been proven. The GHIT’s grant will enable Drugs for Ne- glected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) and Eisai pharmaceutical company to develop a combination therapy consisting of benznidazole and an experimental triazole compound known as E1224. In the next two years, under the leadership of Isabela Ribeiro of DNDi, the collaborators will conduct a Phase II proof-of-concept study of the efficacy and safety of the combination. They will use data from this trial to help shape a Phase III multi-country study. The group will also work toward the registra- tion of E1224. Beekeepers at a training session. Picture: File Lobbies warn against underfunding of research As a ceasefire in Washington’s budget wars restores funding for a range of programmes targeting global health threats like HIV/Aids and tuberculosis (TB), the simultaneous underfunding of the world’s biggest sponsor of global health research and development puts future progress at risk, warns a new report from a coalition of nonprofit groups focused on advancing innovation to save lives. The Global Health Technologies Coalition annual policy report was released last week. 110,000 inhabitants will be facing the risk of extreme water levels by 2030, with the economic cost ranging from $35.6 million to $404 million. Moderate warming Climate change is also begin- ning to affect freshwater ecosystems, the scientists say, as evident in elevated water temperatures reported in surface waters of Lakes Kivu, Tanganyika, Victoria and Malawi. Moderate warming may be contributing to reduced lake water inflows and therefore nutrients, which then means that fish have fewer plankton to feed on. In health, the incidence and geo- graphic range of malaria is likely to move to highland areas, as these places become warmer thus more conducive to the malarial parasite. “Consensus is growing that highland areas, especially in East Africa, will experience increased malaria epidemics [particularly in] areas above 2,000 metres, where temperatures [are] currently too low to support malaria transmission,” the report says. Diarrhoeal diseases as well as Rift Valley Fever are associated with high rainfall, therefore climate variability could further increase the incidence and spread of these diseases. BRIEFS Uganda MPs moot Bill to establish HIV trust fund Ugandan MPs are pushing a law to establish a special HIV/Aids trust fund to prevent ARV stockouts in the event of donor aid cuts. Their efforts come at a time when donors are withdrawing funding to Uganda after President Museveni signed the anti-homosexuality law. The budget for the Uganda Aids Commission is mainly funded through foreign aid. The Health and HIV/Aids Prevention and Control Bill proposed that fund should be established under the Ministry of Health. Alarm sounded over spread of deadly Ebola Doctors without Borders have warned that the deadly Ebola outbreak in Guinea is dangerously spreading. Neighbouring Liberia has confirmed several cases of the disease. The medical charity said Guinea is confronting an Ebola epidemic that is unprecedented in terms of its geographical spread. The number of deaths linked with the outbreak in the country’s southeast since January had risen to 78 out of 122 suspected cases, Guinea’s Health ministry said. Beekeepers, vets trained on disease and pest control African beekeepers and veterinarians were last week trained in Nairobi on bee pests and diseases, and their prevention and control. The one-week training, was aimed at increasing awareness across the continent as part of a $18 million programme funded by the European Union. The training focused on bee biology, pests and diseases, monitoring and surveillance for threats to bee health, and rapid detection and reporting of bee diseases for better safeguarding of bee health.
March 31st 2014
April 14th 2014