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Your Africa Health News Bites For May by Dara Oloyede

 

Young Women Bear HIV Burden

Dr. Deborah Birx, the head of PEPFAR, said that about “7,000 young women are infected each week with [HIV] -mostly in Africa” (voanews.com). Although progress has been made, young women and girls are disproportionately more likely to get the virus (voanews.com). “Birx said a lot of the infections among young women and girls can be traced to who they date” (voanews.com). Women and girls are more likely to be infected or exposed to the virus from a partner of a different age cohort (voanews.com).

For more information check out this article at voanews.com: PEPFAR: Young Women Bear HIV Burden

Ebola Survivors Can Transmit Virus Through Sex

U.S. and African health officials have reported that “Ebola survivors can spread the disease through unprotected sex [even after] many months of being declared free of the virus” (voanews.com). The CDC has released a report about a Liberian woman who was discovered to have contracted Ebola through a Ebola survivor (voanews.com). “Ebola is spread through contact with the body fluids of an infected person. People who survive Ebola are generally considered to be noninfectious” (voanews.com). This report shows that survivors should wait and consult a Physcian or nurse before having sex.

For more information check out this article at voanews.com: Report: Ebola Survivors Can Transmit Virus Through Sex

Sudan: Aid Groups Struggle With Massive Measles Outbreak

Aid organizations are facing difficulties containing measles outbreaks in Sudan (voanews.com). “The Ministry of Health is leading UN and international efforts to vaccinate 8 million children under the age of five against the (sometimes) fatal disease which has claimed 27 child lives” (voanews.com). These organizations are working to immunize children and young adults at risk (voanews.com). Health officials say that the outbreak is due to “the problem to a lack of routine immunizations against the disease and [also] the inability to reach several areas of conflict“ (voanews.com).

For more information read this article at voanews.com: In Sudan, Aid Groups Struggle With Massive Measles Outbreak

Africa: Fight Against Malaria Must Be Taken to 'Next Level'

The efforts in successfully eliminate Malaria in Africa needs to be rejuvenated and reevaluated (allafrica.com). The UN health agency urges for nations to “address the gaps in malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment” (allafrica.com). Despite the declines in cases since 2000, the World Health Organization warns that still “more than half a million lives are still lost to what is widely understood to be a preventable disease” (allafrica.com). Among the most impacted are for example “children under  five,” and  households without “insecticide-treated bed nets” (allafrica.com). Dr. Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Program, says elimination requires "high-level political commitment and robust financing, including substantial new investments in disease surveillance, health systems strengthening and research" (allafrica.com).

For more information check out this article at allafrica.com:

Africa: Fight Against Malaria Must Be Taken to 'Next Level', UN Agency Urges Ahead of World Day

Rwanda: President Approves Bill Paying Mothers 100% During Their Maternity Leave

The President of Rwanda Paul Kadame approved a “Maternity protection bill that grants mothers a better package of their remuneration while on a 12-week leave” (allafrica.com).  Once the law is approved by parliament, it will give mothers 100% on their salary while on Maternity leave (allafrica.com). Parents have been pressuring the government to change the previous law that gave mothers 100% of their salary only during the first half of their leave, but then during the second half of their leave made them forfit 80% of their salary unless they chose to go back to work (allafrica.com).

For more Information check out this article at allafrica.com: Rwanda: Kagame Approves Bill Seeking 100 Percent Payment for Mothers On Maternity Leave

Tshwane to promote food gardens

“The latest South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that one in four South Africans reported regularly going hungry” (health-e.org.za). A city in South Africa called Tshwana is working against this by encouraging and supporting communities to grow their own vegetables and fruits (health-e.org.za). “The city has identified the provision of vegetable gardens as a developmental project and tool to address socio-economic and environmental concern,” and also the project is helping to address needs for food security (health-e.org.za).

For more information check out this article at health-e.org.za: Tshwane to promote food gardens

Ivory Coast Bans Potentially Deadly Skin-Whitening Creams

Skin-Whitening creams are used widely in Africa. The Ivory Coast has banned these creams because of concerns that they have damaging health impacts (theguardian.com). The Health Minister of Ivory Coast has said,  “Cosmetic lightening and hygiene creams ... that depigment the skin ... are now forbidden” (theguardian.com). This ban applies to “whitening creams and lotions containing mercury and its derivatives, cortisone, vitamin A or more than two percent hydroquinine, a lightening agent that is used to develop photographs” (theguardian.com). Health officials warn that whitening creams can cause skin cancer, hypertension, and diabetes (theguardian.com). Social constructions of beauty that associate lighter skin with beauty, are why some women and men use these products. Advertisements on billboards and also in the media play a big role in marketing these whitening products to potential buyers. While whitening creams are not unique to Africa alone, they are also popular in other countries in Asia, where Eurocentric ideals of beauty have influenced peoples’ perceptions of beauty.

For more information check out this article at theguardian.com: Ivory Coast Bans Potentially Deadly Skin-Whitening Creams

Liberia Declared Ebola-Free

The World Health Organization has declared Liberia Ebola free (bbc.com). “More than 4,700 deaths from Ebola have been recorded in Liberia, more than in any other affected country” (bbc.com). Since March 27th there have been no more reported deaths due to the Ebola virus in Liberia (bbc.com). Through collective efforts, the government and healthcare workers were able to set up "Ebola Care centres and hand-washing stations to try to halt the disease, which spreads through contact with sick people” (bbc.com).  This is great news for Liberia, but the outbreak has impacted Liberia’s already fragile economy (bbc.com).

For more information check out this article at bbc.com: Liberia declared Ebola-free after weeks of no cases

 

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Dara Oloyede is the African News Correspondent for Engage Africa Foundation. She is currently a Sociology and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder in Colorado. She was born in Nigeria, and is currently involved in the African Students Association at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She currently works at Community Health on her campus as a student coordinator and gives presentations centered on promoting student wellness through education and support. She hopes to pursue further studies in Public Health after graduating from with her Bachelors degree. During her free time she likes to read books, hang out with friends, go to the movies, concerts, as well as events that celebrate different cultures. 

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