Thursday, 28 February 2013

MALARIA: watching medicine vendors

William Brieger

:Tue, Feb 26, 2013 6:40 pm
A Rural-Urban Comparison of Client-Provider Interactions in Patent Medicine Shops in South West Nigeria
 University of Ibadan, Nigeria


The increasing prominence of patent medicine vendors (PMVs) in healthcare provision makes information about how they operate of interest. This study assessed consumers' behavior and PMVs' performance in the treatment of childhood illnesses in rural and urban communities in South West Nigeria. Non-participatory observations were carried out in 163 licensed patent medicine stores in Oyo State, Nigeria. Many PMV shops (70.6% rural and 61.9% urban; p = 0.141); stocked non proprietary drugs. Clients often requested for drugs by name (75.4% urban versus 62.2% rural; p = 0.002) and PMVs mostly sold drugs as requested without questions (65.3% urban 57.8% rural; p = 0.07). Inappropriate treatment practices and invasive procedures were observed more often in urban PMVs shops (p < 0.001). PMVs functioned mostly as sales persons supplying clients' drug requests. Strategies to improve PMV treatment practices should include caregiver education to be effective.

MALARIA: delays in febrile illness care seeking

William Brieger

:Tue, Feb 26, 2013 6:41 pm
Why Actions for Early Treatment of Febrile Illnesses in Children are Delayed by Caregivers
 University of Ibadan, Nigeria
The study explored why actions for early treatment of febrile illnesses in children are delayed by caregivers of children less than five years in five Local Government Areas (LGAs) of southwestern Nigeria using four indicators: caregivers' perception of illness, notion of causation and seriousness, belief in efficacy of selected pathway, and the decision making process. Seven types of febrile illnesses (yellow fever, typhoid fever, ordinary fever/malaria, hot body fever, rain fever, cold fever, and headache fever) were identified and yellow fever was perceived as the most severe type (60.8%). Only 24.2% correctly identified an infected mosquito bite as the cause of ordinary fever/malaria. Use of leftover drugs at home (55.6%) was the main action taken and fathers were the main decisionmakers in all cases. Empowerment of women for improved knowledge on causation, severity, and importance of prompt action for a healthy outcome is recommended.

Crop Biotech Update Feb.27


In This Issue

February 27, 2013


• There's Need to Set Time Frame for Hunger, Poverty Eradication; FAO Director General Claims 
• Lebanon to Become 165th Party to CPB 

• 1st Bio-Innovate Regional Scientific Conference in Ethiopia 

• Oregon State University Develops High Yielding, Stripe Rust Resistant Wheat 
• Paraguay Approves New Biotech Soybean Variety 
• Genetic Diversity of Capsicum Peppers Revealed 
• CIMMYT Inaugurates Biosciences Facilities in Mexico 
• Food Science Expert Says GM Crops are Overregulated 

Asia and the Pacific 
• CIMMYT Launches Project to Develop Heat Resilient Maize for South Asia 
• Philippine Rice Research in the Spotlight as the Country's President Visits IRRI 
• India's Agriculture Minister Supports Field Trials of GM Crops 
• CropLife Pakistan Forms Biotech Committee 

• Britain's Egg Producers Call to Lift GM Ban 
• Scientists Develop Healthier Barley 
• Scientists Call for New Regulations for "Growing" Medicines in Plants 

• Impact of the ahas Gene and of Imazapyr Herbicide on Soil Microbial Communities 
• Researchers Confirm Bt Corn's Benefits Aside from Pest Resistance 

Beyond Crop Biotech 
• Fluorescent Tadpoles Expose Chemical Contamination 

• ISAAA International Conference: Adoption of Biotech Crops in the Developing World 
• National Symposium on Abiotic and Biotic Stress Management in Vegetable Crops 

Document Reminders 
• Book: Successful Agricultural Innovation in Emerging Economies 
• Proceedings on Agribiotech Communication in Muslim Countries 

Latest Communication Products

Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2012 
ISAAA Brief 44-2012 is now available! Get your copy now!
Communication Challenges and Convergence in Crop Biotechnology 
The book presents case studies of Asia and Australia on country experiences in fostering greater awareness and understanding of the technology through science communication. All 13 chapters of the book can now be downloaded!

POVERTY: African migrants pay high prices to send money home

JOHANNESBURG, 27 February 2013 (IRIN) - New data from the World Bank has revealed that African migrants pay more to send money home to their families than any other migrant group in the world. 

While South Asians pay an average of US$6 for every $100 they send home, Africans often pay more than twice that - and in South Africa, which has the highest remittance costs on the continent, nearly 21 percent of money set aside for family members back home is spent on getting it there.

With an estimated 120 million Africans depending on remittances from family members abroad for their survival, health and education, the World Bank argues that high transaction costs are cutting into the impact remittances can have on poverty levels. 

To address this, the Bank is partnering with the African Union Commission and member states to establish the African Institute for Remittances, which will work towards lowering the transaction costs of remittances to and within Africa. It will also leverage the potential of remittances to influence economic and social development. 

“The World Bank’s approach supports regulatory and policy reforms that promote transparency and market competition and the creation of an enabling environment that promotes innovative payment and remittance products,” said Marco Nicoli, a finance analyst at the Bank who specializes in remittances.

Costly and difficult

Owen Maromo, a 33-year-old farmworker who lives in De Doorns, a grape-growing region in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, told IRIN that his family in Zimbabwe relies on the money he sends home every month. 

“I’ve got a house there and I need to pay rent. I’m also taking care of my youngest brother - since my mum died four years ago - and my wife’s family.

“Almost every Zimbabwean here is budgeting to send money back home,” he added. “If they could, they would send money home on a weekly basis.”

In a 2012 report by the Cape Town-based NGO People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP), interviews with 350 Zimbabwean migrants revealed some of the reasons sending money home from South Africa is both costly and difficult.

"There are a lot of people whose money just disappears. Almost on a daily basis, you hear those stories" 
A key impediment is the stringent regulatory framework that governs cross-border transfers from South Africa. Exchange control legislation, for example, requires money transfer operators (MTOs) to partner with a bank. According to PASSOP, this has had the effect of stifling competition that would likely reduce transaction costs.  

Legislation intending to counter money laundering and terrorist financing requires that customers provide proof of residence and proof of the source of their funds before they can access financial services. This effectively excludes the many migrants living in informal settlements and those who are paid in cash. 

PASSOP found that even among migrants who do have access to banks and MTOs like Western Union and MoneyGram, many lack the financial literacy to make use of them. 

“Some have just come from rural areas in Zimbabwe, so it takes time for them to know about such things,” said Maromo, adding that lack of documentation was another major obstacle. “If you’re undocumented, you can’t go through the banks.”

Three-quarters of the Zimbabwean migrants interviewed by PASSOP relied instead on “informal” remittance channels, such as giving money or goods to bus drivers, friends or agents to send home. This is often not much cheaper than using banks or MTOs, and it is significantly riskier. Of the respondents who used such methods, 84 percent reported negative experiences, including theft of their money, loss or destruction of their goods and long delays in remittances reaching intended recipients. 

Maromo relayed his own experience sending money home through an agent who charged a 15 percent commission to channel the money through his South African bank account before handing it over to Maromo’s relatives in Zimbabwe. “Some time ago, I nearly lost 2,000 rand ($225) because I deposited it in [the agent’s] account and he was saying he didn’t have it and giving excuses. In the end, we got the money, but it cost us nearly 1,000 rand ($113) in airtime calling Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Some are using bus drivers or those people who are going home, and you have to trust them because you’re desperate, but there can be a lot of problems,” he added. “There are a lot of people whose money just disappears. Almost on a daily basis, you hear those stories.”

Lowering transaction fees

Now, Maromo uses a UK-based online transfer service called, which is popular with many Zimbabweans living overseas. The proof of residence and source of funds requirements are the same as for traditional MTOs, but the site charges 10 percent on transfers from South Africa to Zimbabwe - less than most banks. 

The South African Reserve Bank and the treasury have committed to bringing the cost of remittances down to 5 percent by relaxing regulations for smaller money transfers, negotiating with regulators in the Southern African Development Community on exchange control regulations, and removing the requirement that MTOs partner with banks.

However, at the time of writing, the Reserve Bank has not yet responded to questions from IRIN about how these changes will be implemented and within what timeframe.

Rob Burrell, director of, said achieving the 5 percent target would be tough considering the numerous costs that MTOs have to cover, including fees paid to the companies that collect and pay out the money, the cost of supporting transactions through a call centre, and licensing and reporting requirements. “We would need everyone pulling together,” he said.

Burrell noted that less stringent laws governing MTOs in the UK mean more competition but much weaker anti-money laundering controls. To operate in South Africa, has to comply with the regulation that they partner with a local banking license holder.

“In the UK, it’s easier to obtain your license,"he told IRIN. "There are 4,000 [MTOs operating in the UK] compared to 12 in South Africa, but the downside is that it’s very difficult to police them all.” 

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POVERTY: DRC: Measles epidemic affects thousands

KINSHASA, 27 February 2013 (IRIN) - A measles epidemic has affected tens of thousands of children in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), overwhelming health facilities, says medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

“Most health centres are either not functional, out of medical stocks or inaccessible for the majority of the population. Many children die in their villages because the health facilities cannot provide adequate care,” Anja De Weggheleire, MSF Medical Coordinator in DRC, told IRIN via email.

“The disease is extremely contagious and can spread quickly in countries like DRC, which have large gaps in their healthcare system,” MSF said in a statement.

Measles mostly affects children and can cause complications including pneumonia, malnutrition, severe dehydration, ear infections and eye infections that can lead to blindness. Despite the availability of a vaccine for the disease, measles remains one of the biggest killers of children.

According to MSF, measles can kill between one and 15 percent of unvaccinated children who contract the disease and up to 25 percent of malnourished or vulnerable groups with limited access to healthcare.

Since March 2012, MSF says it has treated more than 18,000 patients and vaccinated 440,000 children in DRC’s Equateur and Orientale provinces.

“This situation is only the latest development in an ongoing epidemic that has affected the entire country since 2010,” said Amaury Grégoire, MSF deputy head of mission.

MSF officials said they counted 35 dead children in one of the villages they visited. ko/rz

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MALARIA: Ghana says US budget cuts will devastate disease efforts

William Brieger

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 9:37 pm
US cuts will 'devastate' funding for TB, HIV, malaria
Across-the-board cuts to US health programmess could have a devastating impact on efforts to develop new drugs for tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS, the world's first malaria vaccine, and other vital global health products in development, according to a new report released yesterday from a coalition of non-profit groups focused on advancing innovation to save lives.

"We know that policymakers are currently facing difficult budget decisions. But any reductions in funds could eliminate essential support for the development of global health tools and slow or halt the progress made against addressing a number of deadly diseases," said Kaitlin Christenson, MPH, director of the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC).

The report from the GHTC, Renewing US leadership: Policies to advance global health research, comes as Washington is bracing for a "budget sequestration" process that, according to some estimates, could cut 5.2 percent from programs across government, including initiatives that have put hundreds of new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other disease-fighting tools into the product pipeline and established the US as the world's leader in developing life-saving global health technology.

The analysis finds the cuts to global health research and development "would barely make a dent in reducing the US federal deficit but would have a crippling impact on people's health and lives around the world."

"There is much to lose by pulling back now," the report states.

Some estimates predict that under sequestration, global health initiatives at the State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) could lose $482 million, money that supports, among other things, the development of new drugs to quell an alarming resurgence in deadly TB and new tools to escalate the fight against HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is supporting a new dengue vaccine candidate, new HIV prevention methods, and potential new treatments for TB, could lose nearly $2 billion.

Taken together, the cuts throughout the government could jeopardise any number of the 200 global health products that have advanced in the research pipeline thanks to US support.

Conversely, the GHTC finds that "continued and consistent US investment in R&D…will provide the momentum needed to push promising new tools over the finish line." These tools include: a new microbicide that could give women the power to protect themselves from contracting HIV with or without their partners' cooperation; new insecticides that could help control insects that spread deadly diseases like dengue fever, Chagas, filariasis, and leishmaniasis; new drugs and vaccines to help fight back against the alarming spread worldwide of drug resistant TB; modern reproductive technology that could greatly lower maternal mortality rates by giving women worldwide the ability to plan for the birth of their next child; and a new oral drug for African sleeping sickness, which is fatal without treatment.

Overseas Development Institute (ODI) newsletter 28 February 2013


Ashley Jackson discusses why aid money shouldn't be diverted to the military, in response to David Cameron’s suggestion of more joint spending.
Collage of faces, Twitter
Record maize production forecast in the South
The latest ODI food price update expects record maize harvests in the Southern hemisphere, with maize and wheat prices falling, and rice harvests set to equal last year’s record. 
Helen Clark, UNDP
Drawing on insights from complexity science, this paper explains why we need a joint game and reflection-based approach.
A tool for full employment in sub-Saharan Africa
This Working Paper details a practical methodology to help achieve full and productive employment for all.

Why tackling water security needs a human face 
Access to water, rather than its availability, is what counts. In Ethiopia, complex trade-offs, coping mechanisms, and social arrangements are at play when pursuing water security, says Josephine Tucker.
From rigorous methods to rigorous processes
Tiina Pasanen discusses directions of travel for impact evaluation after the Randomised Control Trial debate.

MALNUTRITION: Mozambican Farmers Fear Foreign Land Grabs

William Mapote

Reprint |     |  Print |  |En español
Ambrosio Manjate, 55, a smallholder farmer from Palmeira in Southern Mozambique. Farmers’ unions believe that soon land will become very scarce for locals. Credit: Johannes Myburgh/IPS
Ambrosio Manjate, 55, a smallholder farmer from Palmeira in Southern Mozambique. Farmers’ unions believe that soon land will become very scarce for locals. Credit: Johannes Myburgh/IPS
MAPUTO, Feb 22 2013 (IPS) - Mozambican farmers’ unions believe that soon land will become very scarce for locals as the government leases more and more of it to foreign agribusinesses – thus displacing thousands of rural communities and smallholder farmers with no official title deeds to their land.
“As the UNAC (Mozambique’s National Peasants Union) we think that in the very short term land will become scarcest for Mozambicans because the government is attracting foreign investors, arguing that we have huge unused land, João Palate, a spokesperson for UNAC, told IPS.
Official figures from the Investment Promotion Centre estimate that Mozambique has around 19 million hectares (ha) of land with a potential for agriculture, forestry and cattle – though only 5.6 million ha are being utilised.
“But what happens, in fact,” Palate explained, “when investors come their appetite is centered on land already being used by locals.” 
Some 64 percent of Mozambicans currently live in rural areas where agriculture is the main form of income and 45 percent live on less than a dollar a day, according to human rights organisation FIAN International.
Over the last two years, the Mozambican government approved more than 10 new foreign agribusiness development projects. The biggest is ProSavana, where more than 10 million ha was awarded to Brazilian and Japanese investors.
“We have cases like the one in Niassa Province, where around four entire districts were leased to Chikweti Forests, expelling thousand of smallholders who had been there for many generations,” Palate said.
Chikweti Forests, a subsidiary of Swedish-based investment fund Global Solidarity Forest Fund, established tree plantations on 13,000 ha.
According to the country’s constitution, the land is owned by the state and cannot be sold but, “the right of use and profit from the land is conferred on individuals or groups…”
According the Mozambique’s land laws, people can apply for the right of use and to profit from land with the provincial government, if it is less than 1,000 ha. For land larger than 10,000 ha, applications are required to be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. According to the law, land can also be allocated to local communities who have occupied it for more than five years.
Palate underlined that land is a sovereignty issue and food production ought to be dominated by locals empowered with knowledge of better farming practices.
ProSavana, for example, are going to grow soybeans, he said. “Which means their business is focused on export — if so, they are not going to resolve our (food security) problems.”
The ProSavana project will be implemented in the Nacala Development Corridor, an area between Nampula, Zambézia and Niassa Provinces in northern Mozambique. Land marked out for the project is currently occupied by thousand of smallholder farmers.
The government, meanwhile, has repeatedly denied claims that smallholder farmers would lose their land in the deal.
Unfulfilled Promises
Mother of three, Delfina Sidónio, has lost count of the number of times she was promised compensation for the loss of her traditional land, she told IPS.
She lost her five-hectare farm in Ruace community in Zambézia Province to Portuguese agribusinesses Quifel when the company was awarded 10,000 ha of land there by the government. Operating under the project name Hoyo-Hoyo the company plans to grow soy and sunflowers for biofuel production.
“I was expelled from my land, which I inherited from my parents, with promises of new land to work on and 680 dollars in compensation. Since I was expelled, one year ago, all I was paid is about a quarter of the amount they promised to pay, and there is no information about the new land to work on,” Sidónio told IPS.
Sidónio is one of more than 200 smallholders who lost their land in the deal.
“Our life was all in that land. That land gave us food and supplies – our life style,” Ernesto Elias, head of the smallholders’ association forum in Ruace, told IPS.
“At the beginning, the company promised to give us new farming land to build infrastructure, to supply water and to pay compensation according to what we had on the farm,” he recalled, “but after a few months all the promises became lies.”
Fatima José, another smallholder farmer from the area, said she is worried about her immediate future. “The last harvest crops are now finishing in our storehouses and from the next two months we don’t know how we will survive,” she told IPS.
Contacted by IPS, the Quiefel office in Gurue, Zambézia Province, denied the allegations. “We are preparing ourselves to fulfill the remaining promises done during negotiations with the communities until next June,” a company official said. “And from then on, nobody will talk about land grabbing in Ruace, but will talk about sustainable cooperation between community and investors to develop agribusiness.”
Mahomed Valá, the national director of Agrarian Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, told IPS that the government is aware of the Ruace community complaint. But all the government could do at this stage is to call for dialogue between the contenders, he said.
“Basically the conflict is concerning unfulfilled promises. The company promised land for resettlement, seed and inoculation to support the smallholders, some infrastructures, among other facilities, but they did not fulfil all the promises. I met the company and advised them to strengthen their dialogue with the community and fulfill their promises,” Valá said.
A small big problem
“The important thing to be done to avoid land conflicts is to adopt win-win solutions,” Rafael Uaiene, Assistant Professor in International Development at the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics at Michigan State University told IPS.
Mozambique is still a poor country and needs investment to explore its potential, according to Uaiene. “But the country has to protect the land rights of communities and to promote investment in agriculture, as well.”
Win-win means leasing the land to maximise its use, according to the scholar, “And in the case of land that was being used by local communities, they have to be given compensation as the law defines and be integrated into the cycle of the investments,” Uaiene said.
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