NEW DRUG FOR MALARIA                              7.11.2014

by Charles Muasya

A new drug to treat malaria in children under five years  will soon be
hospitals following  clinical trials just released.

Artesunate -Mefloquine Fixed-Dose Combination (ASMQ FDC) proves safe
and efficacious to treat children with malaria in Africa.

Clinical trials results carried by Drugs for Neglected Diseases
initiative (DNDi) provide evidence for introducing the Artemisinun
Devivative -based combination therapy (ACT) into Africa’s current
malaria treatment arsenal to help tackle the number one parasitic

The trials  were launched in 2008 to test the efficacy and
tolerability  of ASMQ fixed -dose combination (FDC) in children under
five years with uncomplicated falciparum malaria show that  the drug
is as safe and efficacious as Artemether-Lumefantrine (AL) FDC-
Africa’s most widely adopted treatment.

The phase IV, open-label, randomized, controlled, non-inferiority
clinical trial included 945 children under five years who were
followed for 63 days with ASMQ administered once a day during the
three days. The study was conducted in Burkina Faso, Kenya and

ASMQ FDC is one of several recommended ACTs that aim to delay the
emergence resistance to the individual drug components of the
combination treatment.

According to DNDi , ASMQ FDC treatment regimen is easier to administer
as the two drugs are combined into one tablet that only requires
once-a-day administration over three days compared to twice-a-day over
three days for AL.

” The ASMQ fixed-dose-combination has proven its importance among
tools recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) and can now be
available to African children suffering from uncomplicated falciparum
malaria”, says DNDi Executive Director  Dr. Benard Pecoul  in the
trial findings released through the African Press Organization (APO).

He hopes the Governments in the affected African Countries  will adopt
the additional treatment option to ensure their population have
access to several ACTs.

ASMQ FDC was originally developed by DNDi  and the Brazilian
government owned  pharmaceutical company Farmanquinhos- Fiocrus in
2008 , technology transfer achieved in 2010  to facilitate its
implementation worldwide and pre-qualified by WHO in 2012.

The drug is currently registered in Brazil, India, Myanmar, Malaysia,
Vietnam, Tanzania and Niger and is pending registration in 17
countries in Africa and Asia.

Since 2000, remarkable progress has been made in the fight against
malaria with 42 percent recorded reduction in deaths globally.

WHO estimates that in 2012, there were 207 million cases of malaria
and that 627,000 deaths are attributed to the disease mostly in Africa
that recorded 90 percent of the deaths.

Children continue to be the most affected accounting to 77 percent for
all deaths with an estimated 462,000 deaths in African children under
the age of five years in 2012 with most deaths caused by plasmodium

Dr. Pecoul says ASMQ FDC drug is a simple prescription  which is easy
to use based on once-a-day administration.

” Dosage selection of the tablets allows for a simple and adapted
regimen for children and adults”, he says.

DNDi has delivered  six new treatments, two fixed-dose antimalarials
(ASAQ and ASMQ) ,nifurtimox- eflornithine combination therapy (NECT)
for late-stage sleeping sickness, sodium stibogluconate and
paramomycin (SSG and PM) for combination therapy for visceral
leishmaniasis in Africa.


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Switching Poles: An opinion review of a science documentary

By Diana Wangari,

diana wangari

The documentary film Switching the Poles by the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, with the support of Belgian Development Cooperation, is a public-broadcast quality production with subtitles that is ideal for both professional medical practitioners and intelligent lay people.

It also showcases the far-flung good works of the ITM, one of the world’s greatest training and research institutes with a bias for assistance to developing-nation healthcare systems in tropical medicine.

As the credits roll at the end, after 45 riveting minutes, they include even the names of non-professional/researcher participating members of the public, including a recovering patient of Buruli ulcer in Benin, about whom more presently.

The documentary, filmed in Benin, India, Burkina Faso, Peru and Cambodia, has world-class production values and presents complex medical issues and procedures in a lucid, jargon-free and instantly eminently communicative manner. The cinematography and voice-over narrative as well as the multi-lingual interviews with clear subtitles that linger long enough to read at least twice are outstanding. Continue reading

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Veges for to light up homes

By Charles Muasya

Intensive use of biomass fuel in the industrial sector in Kenya is set to reduce following a new technology to transform renewable energies using vegetable, sugarcane and coffee dust waste.

In the technology spearheaded by the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) in partnership with the European Union- Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, manufacturers are being encouraged to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

” The partners have conceived the Regional Technical Assistance Programme (RTAP) in order to transform how renewable energy and energy efficiency markets operate and development of additional solutions to achieve the diversification of energy resources in the East African region”, said energy resolutions engineer George Nyakondo who is in charge of Ruiru Briquettes station.

He said lean energy solutions biomass project will not only cut down the manufacturers power bill but will also create jobs to the locals creating 12 man working days per day.

The technology involves making non carbon briquettes from mainly coffee husks and sugarcane waste producing one tonne of biomass briquettes from the waste in a day.

” The technology can save 25 percent on fuels bills with one of lean energy’s boiler solutions compared to an equivalent fuel oil solution with the added benefit of being a carbon-neutral solution”, he told science journalists attending this year’s African Science journalist conference taking place in a Nairobi hotel.

He said eight manufacturing companies in Kenya are now using lean energy solutions biomass concept of providing affordable credit lines.

Nyakondo said RTAP programme aims at providing support for the financing of selected investments in renewable energy projects of small hydro, wind, biomass,cogeneration and solar as well as in the energy efficiency projects in agribusiness and hospitality sectors.

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African Conference of Science Journalists 2014 – Reflections from the secretary

African Conference of Science Journalists 2014 –  Reflections from the secretary

By Aghan Daniel

NAIROBI, 3 SEPTEMBER 2014 – At the end of 2005, I returned to Kenya from Tanzania after nearly a year of an environmental journalists’ exchange program.  What I learnt from Tanzania was that a well run journalists network could work. I was attached to the Journalists of Environment Association of Tanzania (JET) who somehow made it happen in the world of environmental journalists.

WP_20140904_001In the meantime, many communication officers in Kenya, were feeling very frustrated that they could not bring themselves to network effectively with science journalists. Not only were there few science journalists but the few who were there had a lot of shortcomings in terms of effective reporting. Something had to be done and after few email exchanges, we decided to meet as communication officers and a few journalists active in the media.

The meetings culminated into formation of the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA). The major objective of MESHA was by then to provide a platform where journalists and communication officers could meet and talk professional matters. To kill professional loneliness. We wanted to go out and tell scientific institutions that to him/her that little is given, little is expected. They had to invest in science journalists if they wanted to turn around the standard of reporting science in the country.

And how time flies, it is now nearly ten years since this giant network was born. Of all the achievements that we have had, bringing science journalists from all over Africa, now two times in two years really stand out. The journey to hosting these conferences has not been smooth either. Tired of holding annual general meetings, the membership decided in 2010 that moving forward, they would invite scientific organisations to talk to them during their annual gathering on what research they do that touch lives.

Today, we are proud to have hit the more than 100 mark in membership, up from 12 in 2006. We also need to remember that in 2007, we partnered with Panos South Africa to bring together 40 journalists from Eastern and Southern Africa in Lusaka, Zambia to discuss issues of climate change and reporting water issues. It is in 2007 that we changed the way science journalists’ conferences are done. We took the approach of making the conferences busy, by ensuring that each journalist published a substantive story. We organised and took journalists to a radio station and worked overnight on stories that were sent to radio stations in the morning. Basically our conferences are not talk shops, they are busy and rewarding.

As we hold the 2014 second Conference of Science Journalists from Oct 13 to 15, we want to reflect on where we want to go as a network that is growing each day. Just how busy will the participants to this Conference be? Each day we will be sending clips to TV stations and sit well past midnight doing a daily bulletin. Besides, we expect every participant to send at least ten tweets per session. Given that we have 8 sessions per day, we expect a total of 800 tweets per day from the Conference and over 50 posts on facebook and 10 blogs per day.

To our members and partners, I must confess that mobilising resources for this year’s conference has been the biggest challenge for our secretariat. First, we have been greatly been destabilized by the change of venue from Mombasa to Nairobi.  We not only lost time but also lost a great host in the Kenya Coast Development Program. They had big plans and support for the conference, but once again, science journalism has been shaken by terrorism. We are everyday grateful to the partners who have always trusted us and believed in us. All their logos will be on our website shortly.

For 2015 and beyond, we look forward to greater partnerships to allow us train our members on skill based areas such as writing effective commentaries; resource mobilisation for science journalism; photography and advocacy journalism.

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High-quality Maternal and Newborn Health Care Starts with Health Workers

When my team comes to work each day at the IntraHealth International office in Nairobi, we focus on strengthening Kenya’s health workforce. This may include human resource management, improving and linking pre-service and in-service training for health workers, reducing bureaucratic obstacles to efficient and equitable hiring processes, or helping the Ministry of Health use HR data to make decisions and advocate for the budget it needs to hire and train more health workers.

On any given day, I may work with Government of Kenya officials, donors, public health specialists, technologists, social entrepreneurs, or health workers. Except for family gatherings and visits to health clinics, I don’t get to interact with many mothers or babies.

But when I read my organization’s new 2013 annual report, I was reminded of three things.

First, our work in Kenya fits into a larger picture of global change and impact. I am proud of Kenya’s contribution to the 178,000 health workers worldwide that IntraHealth reached last year.

Second, our work isn’t ultimately about innovating to improve education and training or improving workforce planning. It’s about bringing high-quality health care to the 356 million people—including millions of mothers and babies—who visited those health workers IntraHealth reached last year.

Finally, I’m reminded that behind these big numbers are individuals.

Individuals are behind the training program we developed at Tenwek Hospital in 2013, as featured in the report. Our FunzoKenya project partnered with the high-achieving hospital to serve as a training center for health workers throughout the district, many of whom work in underserved rural communities. This model provides hands-on training and experience with clients that can be hard to acquire or to simulate.

As I look through photographs of those health workers, students, mothers, and newborns, I am reminded that every mother and newborn deserves a high level of care. We know that universalizing access to basic, essential newborn care could reduce newborn deaths by 71%. We also know that scaling up the education, training, and production of midwives—and bringing facility-based care closer to home for mothers—has been key to reducing maternal and newborn deaths in several countries. It can for Kenya too!

For every 100,000 live births in Kenya, there are 400 maternal deaths and 270 neonatal deaths. That’s down from 490 and 330 in 1990. But it shows that an unacceptable number of women and newborns are still dying every year. We are making progress, but many mothers in Kenya—particularly in rural areas—continue to deliver at home, and Kenya is far from reaching the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters.

We’re partnering with the Government of Kenya, local partners and experts, entrepreneurs, faith-based organizations, and training institutions to prioritize the health workforce and health systems needed to achieve Kenya’s 2030 Vision and its focus and commitment toward improved maternal and newborn health.

Together, we’ll make sure all of Kenya’s mothers and newborns get the quality of care they deserve, when and where they need it.

Students gather around David Cheruiyot (second from right), a clinical instructor at Tenwek School of Nursing, as he trains nurses from other hospitals around the country on techniques for dealing with maternal and newborn complications. Photo: Trevor Snapp for IntraHealth International

Students gather around David Cheruiyot (second from right), a clinical instructor at Tenwek School of Nursing, as he trains nurses from other hospitals around the country on techniques for dealing with maternal and newborn complications. Photo: Trevor Snapp for IntraHealth International

Learn more in IntraHealth’s 2013 Annual Report.
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MESHA members discuss #African Scientific Revival Day on Facebook

The following is a collection of reactions from a discussion posted on facebook by George Achia,  discussing the  Africa Scientific Revival Daysti photo.

George Achia: June 30th is the African Scientific Revival Day. This day was declared by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU), to celebrate the role of science and technology in Africa’s development. During these celebrations, Kenya’s stakeholders will on Monday take stock of the country’s achievements in science and technology while also assessing the status and needs for the future….

Has Kenya done well in its ST&I sector, and has the country demonstrated her ability in utilization of ST&I as the engine for social and economic development? What are some of the practical examples you can point? What are the challenges and way forward? Over to you…

Responses and discussions

Geoffrey Kamadi Venue?

George Achia KARI HQ,

Geoffrey Kamadi: Saa ngapi bwana? Why are you economical with the info

Maina Waruru :Hope to make it,

Maurice Bolo: Thanks George…actually the venue is KARI – NARL (next to ABC place

George Achia: Maurice Bolo kindly answer Geoffrey Kamadi. on time…I know he wants to attend and do some amazing work.

George Achia: I need your opinions on those issues I have raised. …let them come,

Maurice Bolo: Thanks George Achia…Geoffrey Kamadi, the event will start from 8:30 to 5 p.m. We have lined up interesting activities including presentations from practitioners, panel discussions and science competitions for high school students in “communicating science through art” and we shall be awarding the best students in poetry, essay and art….

George Achia:  Otieno Owino, I know that now whets your appetite..”communicatingscience through art”…U got to be there.

Otieno Owino-Mikwa: That’s quite something George it’s time we thought outside the box. Science ought to be much fun just like art.

Geoffrey Kamadi: Sawasawa! Thanks George Achia! Do you mind in boxing the schedule of events on that material day Maurice Bolo? Thanks so much.

Maurice Bolo: Geoffrey, Yes I will. Am out of office at the moment but will share with you the programme later in the day…Please remind me around 3 p.m.

Geoffrey Kamadi: Cool!

Duncan Mboyah: I am watching from a distance….

George Achia: Duncan Mboyah join the conversation. I asked some questions here whichI needed views on, but no one has given me one…Has Kenya done well in its ST&I sector, and has the country demonstrated her ability in utilization of ST&I as the engine for social and economic development? What are some of the practical examples you can point? What are the challenges and way forward? What’s your thought on this?

Duncan Mboyah: I am not very sure whether Kenya has done well or not. What I am sure about is that Kenya has put in place good policy paper on the way forward. The ability is there when one looks at the personnel but it is also zero on funding as govt and experts interests are poles apart. A lot more need to be done and promises – policy papers must be accompanied with funding instead of doing the talking year in year out.

Geoffrey Kamadi: Ok George Achia…the country is not doing well when it comes to ST&I research initiative. Currently, the government’s allocation to research is a dismal 0.5 percent of GDP, which is way below the recommended 2 percent allocation, in accordance with the Science, Technology and Innovation Act of 2013! June 27 at 12:34pm · Like

George Achia: But what are some of the success stories in application and utilization of STI in the country that you can point out Duncan Mboyah and Geoffrey Kamadi? I guess they are a quite a number.

Shaukat Abdulrazak :Kenya needs to implement the 2% of GDP to support STI sector has indicated in STI act. We are on the path but must leapfrog to catch up. Need to set up more centers of excellence in innovation.

Kimani Chege: Kenya is a country in parallels. For the government, STI is still abstract, something slightly better than jua kali. That’s why funding remains slow. The other parallel is private institutions and to some extent Universities. There is a lot going on especially on the engineering and life sciences. It was only yesterday that JKUAT VC acknowledged the role played by private sector in funding research. We have Kevin Desai who have been there for long and now Manu Chandaria. We also have university-industry linkages in IT and engineering (Strathmore). Things ought to be moving. But again what is it that we as science communicators are doing. Are we telling the policy makers what the community needs. Are our reporting helping the researchers and end users? Are our reporting inconsequential that those in decision making cannot take it serious. My last question is on funding. Kenya is one of the countries in Africa that receives huge funding from international organizations. What significant has this money done before we ask for more.

Kiprotich Koros: Methinks the sector that has had some success in rolling out real Kenyan products to the masses has been the jua kali sector despite no or little funding from the government and in most cases little formal education on that industry. Of the few real Kenyan products in our households, quite a number (in fact most) of them will be from the informal sector. The projects from the academia that have been funded heavily by the government in the most part seem to have only managed to replicate the products that are already produced by the informal sector (excluding areas like agricultural and medical research – biological sciences mainly). If we are to learn some lessons from the jua kali sector then it would be that; we make progress when we do things practically. Of course there is a lot of space for advanced research for the academia and I guess government funding should go to this areas if there is a chance they will solve practical problems. At the moment we have enough STI from all over the world. We just need more of ‘doing.’ So as Kimani Chege has asked: “What significant has this money done before we ask for more?

Maurice Bolo:  The role of the private sector seems clear, our recent work shows that the private sector accounts for up to 78% of all patents registered in Kenya sin e 1990; the universities and public research institutes have accounted for a mere 5% in the same period and interestingly individuals have registered 9% of all the patents since 1990. On Monday June 30th during the scientific revival day, I will be making a case for greater citizen engagement in STI policy….be side to join us on twitter @Scinnovent go follow the discussions…..

Maurice Bolo: George Achia et al, We marked the African Scientific Revival Day, (June30th) with the focus on the achievements/impacts of biotechnology on food and nutrition security in Kenya. Highlights included a very lively panel discussion on the question of whether biotechnology has worked for Kenya, what has it done and where is the evidence?

Senior scientists, youth, practitioners and farmers deliberated on this topic and had veryinteresting revelations…

Mesha Kenya: Maurice, can you kindly send me the report of this day? Could you alsodiscuss with the MESHA coordinator on how your organisation can participate actively in the Africa Conference of Science Journalists organised by MESHA and due in Sep 15 to 19 in Mombasa?

Maurice Bolo: “Thanks very much Mesha Kenya, We are working on the comprehensive report which will take a week or so, but we are happy to share with you the highlights (which will take shorter to put together). I am also quite happy to engage with the Mesha Coordinator on your upcoming conference in Mombasa…please send/inbox me a contact”

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Amiran launches low cost irrigation kit to spur up new age farming

Amiran launches low cost irrigation kit to spur up new age farming.

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