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Rwanda: Initiative to Raise Awareness on Breast Cancer Using Smartphone - AllAfrica - Top Africa News
The Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa (BCIEA), launched a program dubbed, "One Breast Cancer Smartphone per Village" which aims at distributing smartphones to help raise awareness on breast cancer in Rwandan communities.
The Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa (BCIEA), launched a program dubbed, "One Breast Cancer Smartphone per Village" which aims at distributing smartphones to help raise awareness on breast cancer in Rwandan communities. According to Philippa Kibugu-Decuir, the founder of BCIEA, through this initiative, they will provide a smartphone to a village ambassador who is trained by BCIEA so that they are able to provide information about breast cancer. The smartphones have an application installed that was established with all details about breast cancer, how to self-examine breast cancer, and all the necessary information someone would wish to know about this type of cancer. She said that she has a target of distributing at least 300 smartphones to assist in providing breast cancer information in different communities. The phones are fitted with an educational application that is both in English and Kinyarwanda and the volunteer ambassadors to be given these phones are medical students that are trained to properly disseminate information on breast cancer mainly during communal activities like Umuganda and Umugoroba w'Ababyeyi period. Kibugu-Decuir urged Members of Parliament and other policymakers to legislate policies that support cancer patients and survivors and their families, saying that cancer is an expensive devastating disease yet it affects all aspects of life. She noted that although Rwanda has universal health insurance coverage, the treatment and medications are so expensive that the most vulnerable can't afford it. For example, she said that 10 percent of the cost of radiation Rwf1.8 million is Rwf108,000 which is out of reach for many. "The government of Rwanda has made tremendous progress with Butaro Cancer Centre and Rwanda Cancer Centre (at Rwanda Military Hospital) and several hospitals that patients no longer need to travel abroad for treatment, but a lot still has to be done," she said. Melisa Kabanyana Muvunyi, a student of Rwamagana Leaders' School noted that her role is to spread awareness of breast cancer which is why she and other youth are going to form clubs that will spread the message regarding breast cancer beyond their own school. According to Dr. Polyphile Ntihinyurwa, a gynecologist at University Teaching Hospitals of Kigali and Huye, mostly, the early signs of breast cancer do not get easily noticed due to lack of pain, which is why regular self-examination is advised. Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox Success! Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the process, please follow the instructions in the email we just sent you. Error! There was a problem processing your submission. Please try again later. He explained that one's hands are enough to detect some signs, like masses, irregularities in the breast, or something unusual, and in some cases, one may notice bloody discharges out of the nipple or discoloration of the breast. In advanced cases of breast cancer, wounds can even burst out of the skin of the breast, Ntihinyurwa stated. Many people seek medical care when they feel pain or sick, which is very risky as they may lose their breasts because cancer cells could have grown and spread deeper. Ntihinyurwa noted that knowing whether one is sick or not is the first step that should be taken. A person can live a happier life knowing that they don't have the disease rather than living a life of doubting whether they are sick or not. However, he called upon men to be supportive when they notice that their women have breast cancer. He also stressed that cancer can heal though not all types of cancer, but early detection is the best treatment. Read the original article on New Times.
Malawi: National Bank Donates K2.5 M to Think Pink Malawi for Cancer Screening - AllAfrica - Top Africa News
Listed National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc has donated K2.5 million towards cancer screening and treatment of vulnerable men and women through a cancer awareness and rights organization, Think Pink Malawi.
Listed National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc has donated K2.5 million towards cancer screening and treatment of vulnerable men and women through a cancer awareness and rights organization, Think Pink Malawi. Speaking during the handover of the cheque in Blantyre at the weekend, NBM plc Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager Akossa Hiwa noted that the month of October, which is Cancer awareness month, NBM plc is taking an active role in driving awareness and making treatment or screening accessible to the vulnerable through several initiatives "The Bank is cognizant of the fact that annually, breast cancer is the cause of approximately 42,000 deaths worldwide. According to a 2015 WHO report, 7% of deaths in Malawi is caused by Breast Cancer. However, with early detecting and screening, this form of cancer is curable." "Therefore, awareness is critical to drive screening and early detection and thereafter, access to treatment is also critical. For this reason, we have contributed K2.5 million towards screening or treatment of vulnerable men or women through Think Pink. This money will be paid directly to the medical facility. We hope that it will facilitate patients' access to care," said Hiwa. She said NBM plc will further work with Think Pink Malawi to raise awareness for both customers and members of staff through the sharing of vital information on risk factors, self-screening and how to access care. "Internal initiatives will include a staff ribbon sales drive, where staff are raising funds to pay for treatment courses through the purchase of ribbons. The Bank is further observing Pink Fridays - where those that are willing to, have an element of pink on them each Friday of October, in solidarity of the cause," said Hiwa. Think Pink Malawi Co-Founder Eleanor Nkosi thanked NBM plc for the donation saying it will go a long way in helping creating awareness to the public about breast cancer. "National Bank's involvement in our campaign gives us incredible mileage and will help us spread our message to an audience all across the country. We are grateful to be joined by the bank of the nation on such an important campaign that affects all Malawians." "Think Pink was born in 2014 and this is our 7th year advocating for inclusive healthcare for all cancer patients so to be approached by a giant organization such as National Bank is very encouraging and a reminder that we are moving in the right direction in terms of creating awareness to the public," said Nkosi. Read the original article on Nyasa Times.
Is the Worst of Africa's Covid-19 Outbreak Over? - AllAfrica.com
According to WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the declining rate of Covid-19 infections across the continent is a result of robust and decisive public health measures taken by governments across the region. "The downward trend that w…
South Africa: Covid-19 and HIV - So Far It Seems the Outcome Is Not What Was Feared - AllAfrica - Top Africa News
Analysis - Based on official figures - which may be somewhat under reported - COVID-19 has not been as devastating in South Africa as initially feared.
Based on official figures - which may be somewhat under reported - COVID-19 has not been as devastating in South Africa as initially feared. Back in March and April this year case numbers on the continent were still modest. But predictions and projections were sombre. There seemed to be consensus that African countries had weak public health systems and few testing facilities, and containment and social distancing were going to be problematic in poor communities. More specifically, local and international organisations pointed to the fact that these areas typically have the highest incidence of immuno-compromised individuals. Experts feared that the tens of millions with HIV and tuberculosis would be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. That did not bode well for South Africa, where well over seven million people are believed to have HIV. The immune systems of these individuals are notoriously weak, often unable to fight infections. Fears were that COVID-19 would be devastating to this community. Those dire forecasts have, so far, not been realised. Around half of the COVID-19 cases on the continent were from South Africa. The country's COVID-19 cases were around 653,400 as of mid-September. Some 15,705 people are estimated to have died from COVID-19; a tragic number, but not nearly as many as predicted by some. Early predictions were that symptomatic cases of COVID-19 in South Africa could surpass a million by July with 30,000 deaths by November 2020. These comparatively "low" numbers have come as a surprise. Many possible explanations for this modest-by-comparison outbreak are being floated. Some insights into previous outbreaks of human coronaviruses may be useful in this regard. My laboratory recently reviewed what is known at this stage - and what is still unknown - about co-infections of HIV and coronaviruses. Human coronaviruses There are currently seven known human coronaviruses. Of these, the four most common and still circulating are reported to cause about 10%-30% of all common colds globally. Fortunately, research shows that they cause no more than mild to moderate cold symptoms. In rare cases, these human coronaviruses can cause more serious respiratory disease in children, the elderly, the immuno-compromised such as people with HIV and people with underlying illness. But, as far as we know, deaths as a result of infections from the "common" human coronaviruses are quite rare. Then there are three more pathogenic or life-threatening coronaviruses. The first among these to appear among humans is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which killed around 10% of the just-over 8,000 people who were infected. The next was the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which causes the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that killed an estimated 34% of about 2,494 people known to have been infected. And now there's the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus behind COVID-19. We have learned that there are a number of factors linked to severe disease and death from SARS-CoV-2. These include advanced age; being a male; and the presence of other pre-existing medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and kidney disease. This doesn't mean that the young and women are immune to the disease. They can catch the virus, and pass it on to others. Of particular interest in South Africa is the risk of COVID-19 and HIV co-infections. The HIV and CoV interactions Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lack of published academic work on HIV and coronavirus co-infections. This is, in part, why the spectre of COVID-19 running amok in countries with large numbers of people living with HIV - like South Africa - raised anxiety levels. Particularly because, as early as the late 1980s, coronaviruses had been shown to be agents of opportunistic infections in immunocompromised hosts, and were linked to diarrhoeal disease among AIDS patients. But otherwise, there were few known associations between HIV and coronaviruses. I know of only one reported case of an HIV-positive person infected with SARS during the 2003 outbreak. This person recovered fully from SARS. During the same period, another study reported on a connection between HIV and SARS. In this case, 19 HIV-positive patients shared a hospital ward with 95 patients confirmed positive for SARS. Somehow, none of the HIV-positive patients became infected with the SARS-CoV. Six of the 28 medical personnel who worked in the ward were infected. At the time, researchers began speculating that antiretroviral treatment was offering patients with HIV some protection against the SARS-CoV. But, since SARS-CoV disappeared so quickly from the human population, this was not positively established. The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled the study of HIV-coronavirus co-infections. My laboratory recently published an overview of studies that looked at COVID-19 infections among more than 11,000 HIV-positive individuals. The risk associated with coinfections is still a matter of debate. But the estimated COVID-19 prevalence reported in various studies does not suggest increased rates of hospitalisation or mortality in HIV-positive patient populations. Clinical characteristics and disease outcomes were comparable to those described for the general population with COVID-19. The reasons for these infection and mortality rates are still unclear. But scientists have come up with several interesting hypotheses. One is that antiretroviral treatments have anti-CoV properties and offer some level of protection against COVID-19 infection. Another is that the weakened immune system of people with HIV stops it from "overreacting" to the presence of the coronavirus. In this way it averts the elevated inflammation that is being associated with COVID-19. A related argument has been made that because the helper T-cells have been deactivated in HIV-positive patients, the response of the immune system is tempered, again limiting the risks of excessive inflammation. Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox Success! Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the process, please follow the instructions in the email we just sent you. Error! There was a problem processing your submission. Please try again later. A more intriguing hypothesis suggests that the original HIV infection changes the host cells so they no longer offer a favourable environment for other viruses. This phenomenon is called "viral interference". And it's been argued that some cold-causing viruses have stopped at least one flu pandemic in Europe in its tracks in 2009. Moving forward Concern over HIV-positive patients is understandable. But current data from the COVID-19 pandemic - and past experiences with SARS and MERS - suggest that they do not form an at-risk group. This raises the question of whether HIV serves as an immunological shield against more severe forms of the new disease. What has been quite apparent from the start is that old age and co-morbidities such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes are more telling considerations in both general infections and HIV/SARS-CoV-2 co-infections. Based on what we now know, should a second or even a third wave of COVID-19 be forthcoming, state and health officials should consider a more strategic and targeted approach to containment. Morgan Morris, a freelance writer for the WHO, amongst others, and filmmaker based in Cape Town, contributed to this article. Burtram C. Fielding, Professor and Director: Research Development, University of the Western Cape This article is republished from The Conversation Africa under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
South Africa: SA Joins Globe in Observing World Alzheimer's Day - AllAfrica.com
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has encouraged South Africans to protect, care and support senior citizens with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has encouraged South Africans to protect, care and support senior citizens with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Zulu made the call as the department prepares to commemorate Social Development Month in October, and in commemorating World Alzheimer's Day. World Alzheimer's Day is commemorated annually on 21 September, where world organisations' efforts are focused on raising awareness about Alzheimer's. This year, the day is observed under the theme, 'Let's Talk about Dementia'. Alzheimer's is a chronic neurodegenerative disease, which worsens gradually as senior citizens advance in years. Common symptoms include difficulty in remembering recent events, problems with language, disorientation, mood swings and loss of motivation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines dementia as a chronic illness that arises from an interplay of genetic, environmental and behavioural factors, with severe adverse influences on social and physical activities, and quality of life. It is a condition deemed one of the major causes of disability among older persons. It is estimated that approximately 2.2 million people in South Africa live with some form of dementia. However, little is known about the prevalence of dementia or its impact on older adults living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Africa, including South Africa. Furthermore, there has been little research into the aetiology and risk factors in LMICs. Zulu said there is a critical need for studies to investigate these factors in South Africa. A study in Cape Town found that 79% of a memory clinic's clients were being cared for by family members, some of whom had given up their jobs to do so. Caregiver stress is highlighted as one of the areas of concern in dementia care in LMICs, even in traditional cultures where family care is regarded as the norm. "Many people are not aware of Alzheimer's disease and the symptoms associated with the disease. As such, some older persons suffering from Alzheimer's disease are targeted as witches due to what is perceived to be strange behaviour and lack of understanding of the disease," Zulu said. Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox Success! Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the process, please follow the instructions in the email we just sent you. Error! There was a problem processing your submission. Please try again later. She said the department has a role to create legislative awareness on issues affecting the lives of older persons. "Raising awareness is a fundamental preventative strategy, which involves not only sharing of information but helping to change attitudes and behaviour," Zulu said. Older Persons' Act It is for this reason that the Older Persons Act 13 of, 2006, mandates that services for older persons should cover the full spectrum of care, ranging from those who are healthy, to frail older persons. The Act mandates the provision of the following services: The development of programmes aimed at caring for older persons suffering from Alzheimer's disease, dementia and others who need 24-hour care. Public education on issues of ageing, including dementia. Counselling services for older persons and family members who need these services. The Act also advocates for older persons to remain in the community for as long as possible, including frail older persons, while recognising that some older persons may live in residential care facilities. It further emphasises the prevention of elder abuse, thus improving the quality of lives of older persons. The three pillars of the 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing calls for development of older persons, advancement of their health and well-being into old age, as well as an enabling and supportive environment for them to thrive. Read the original article on SAnews.gov.za.
Nigeria: T.B. Joshua to Messi - Don't Leave Barcelona With Bitterness - AllAfrica - Top Africa News
Founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, Temitope Joshua, aka, TB Joshua, Wednesday advised Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, not to leave the club angrily.
Founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, Temitope Joshua, aka, TB Joshua, Wednesday advised Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, not to leave the club angrily. Recall that the 33-year-old had submitted a transfer request to the club asking the club to allow him activate a clause in his contract that will allow him to leave on a free transfer this summer, with his deal currently set to expire at the end of next season. Reacting, the club maintains the clause expired in June, saying that Messi remains under contract until the end of the 2021 season. Messi since then has been angry with the club. Commenting on the issue, TB Joshua via his official Instagram handle said: "It is not good advice for Messi to leave Barcelona bitter and offended. It is impossible to establish a healthy relationship with a person who left a previous relationship bitter and offended. This is my candid advice to Lionel Messi. History is our boss." See his write-up below: "It is not good advice for @leomessi to leave Barcelona bitter and offended. It is impossible to establish a healthy relationship with a person who left a previous relationship bitter and offended. This is my candid advice to Lionel Messi. History is our boss." «No es un buen consejo para @leomessi dejar el @fcbarcelona amargado y ofendido. Es imposible establecer una relación sana con alguien que dejó una relación anterior amargado y ofendido. Este es mi sincero consejo para Lionel Messi. La historia es nuestro jefe». #messi #tbjoshua #barcelona #scoan #emmanueltv A post shared by T.B. Joshua (@tbjoshua) on Sep 2, 2020 at 7:05am PDT Vanguard Read the original article on Vanguard.
Kenya: Lessons From a Community-Driven Rabies Vaccination Campaign in Kenya - AllAfrica - Top Africa News
Analysis - Every year, approximately 60,000 people die from rabies. Most of these deaths are children - who are often less able to defend themselves from animals - in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Every year, approximately 60,000 people die from rabies. Most of these deaths are children - who are often less able to defend themselves from animals - in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Rabies is usually transferred through saliva from the bite of an infected animal, with dogs being the most common transmitter. The disease infects the central nervous system causing disease in the brain and eventual death. Once clinical symptoms appear, rabies is virtually 100% fatal. In Kenya, rabies is estimated to kill up to 2,000 people every year. To address this, Kenya's Zoonotic Disease Unit launched a strategic plan with the aim of zero human deaths from dog transmitted rabies by 2030. Rabies can be prevented through vaccination campaigns that target domestic dogs or, in the case that someone is bitten, the administration of a human vaccine. Dog vaccination is a more cost-effective measure to prevent rabies, as animal vaccines are much cheaper than human vaccines. In 2015 my colleagues and I launched a campaign in response to an increased incidence of rabies in humans in Laikipia County. Coupled with this was the need to protect the local population of wild dogs - a globally endangered wildlife species - from the disease. Laikipia is a unique landscape composed of privately-owned conservancies and agro-pastoral communities, where humans, wildlife, and domestic animals, including domestic dogs, regularly interact. This shaped our desire to create a partnership between conservancies, communities and government entities that would work together to eradicate rabies. Mass vaccinations of domestic dogs are effective at eliminating rabies but require large amounts of resources, planning, and political will to implement. However, this is a challenge in low-resource settings where rabies might not be a public health priority. Our project, by contrast, was driven by the grassroots and was volunteer-led. It raised awareness and provided vaccines for cats and dogs in an area of about 1500km². Over three years (from 2015 to 2017), we vaccinated 1,040 cats and 13,155 dogs in 17 communities. The project also grew. It went from being a local campaign to a county-wide rabies elimination effort after the county and national governments recognised it as an effective programme. This provided us with some key insights into the successes, failures, and challenges with rolling out a grassroots rabies campaign. It proved that a community-based low-cost campaign could successfully implement a rabies campaign. This is important in pastoralist communities where domestic dogs are less likely to be vaccinated and also where people are less informed about rabies and vaccines. In the following years, we aim to vaccinate at least 70% of dogs in the region, with a particular emphasis on mobile communities. This vaccination coverage rate is sufficient to control canine rabies. Marginalised communities There are a couple of major challenges when it comes to rolling out rabies campaigns in more marginalised areas. Firstly, the communities are mobile, which means their dogs are less likely to be vaccinated and it's hard to reach them. Secondly, the communities are less informed about rabies and how the vaccinations work. For instance, in 2016 and 2017 we experienced a 50% decline in vaccination coverage in three pastoral communities because they believed the vaccines killed their dogs. During the same period, there was a canine distemper virus outbreak across the county which killed many domestic dogs and wild carnivores. These challenges highlight that vaccines alone are not enough. There is a need for local engagement and community involvement, even before vaccination efforts begin. These must be carefully planned so that they effectively raise awareness of rabies control. Three core groups of people were instrumental in this effort: veterinarians, researchers, and university students. We used various avenues to educate the public about rabies. For instance, we engaged 12 primary schools and taught hundreds of children about rabies, its side effects, and how we can work to eradicate it together. We also tried to educate communities using sound trucks. These efforts helped to increase buy-in from local communities. After the community was sensitised about rabies, people would then bring their dogs to the vaccination station on a particular day. Upon arrival, the dog's details are taken down and it's issued with a shot of rabies vaccine. The dog was then marked on the forehead with paint so that follow-up teams know it's been vaccinated, and the owner is issued with a vaccination card signed by a veterinarian. For remote pastoral communities we had an additional mobile team for door-to-door vaccinations. Volunteer based Our project also wanted to test the hypothesis that a grassroots campaign could implement a successful vaccination campaign, similar to well-funded and permanently staffed efforts. Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign team grew from a project of less than 10 people from three organisations (the Mpala Research Centre, International Livestock Research Institute, and Karatina University) to a team of more than 90 people collaborating across 15 organisations. Our operations were out of the Mpala Research Centre. Money saved from volunteer hours contributed and in-kind support from conservancies meant that we used approximately Ksh4 million (about US$40,000) over the three years. This meant we achieved a cost per dog of about Ksh370 (about US$3). This is within the range of other, large-scale and well-funded campaigns. Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox Success! Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the process, please follow the instructions in the email we just sent you. Error! There was a problem processing your submission. Please try again later. Of course, running a completely volunteer-based campaign was not without its drawbacks. Limitations included; Sustained funding (beyond in-kind contributions) was a limiting factor for expanding our vaccination efforts at scale. Larger and more remote areas characterised by lower human population densities were challenging to work in due to poor accessibility and vast areas to cover. Restricted flexibility with scheduling as volunteers may have other commitments. The lack of a centrally funded project leader to guide vaccination inhibited our ability to implement a completely successfully campaign. Nonetheless, this project provided a unique opportunity to highlight successes and failures for other future campaigns. We look forward to learning from the challenges and amplifying the successes to expand it further and eradicate rabies from Laikipia County. Dishon Muloi, Postdoctoral research fellow, International Livestock Research Institute and Dedan Ngatia, PhD Student, University of Wyoming This article is republished from The Conversation Africa under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Africa: Covid-19 - Continent's Low Death Toll Explained - AllAfrica - Top Africa News
Three in four people infected with coronavirus on the continent have recovered
Three in four people infected with coronavirus on the continent have recovered Covid-19 death rates have been low and share of recoveries high in Africa despite earlier warnings from experts that the virus would overrun weak health systems in most countries and kill millions. Fears of a catastrophe in Africa were further fuelled by the fact that the novel coronavirus infected people with weak immune systems are at higher risk of severe sickness and death. This prediction did not augur well for the continent with the highest number of people living with HIV, which compromises the immune system. As experts try to unravel the puzzle of the unexpected low death toll, the fact that Africa is now more prepared for public health crises because of Ebola and HIV pandemics experiences is being overlooked. But about six months after Africa recorded its first case in Egypt, on February 14, the continent has so far escaped the dire predictions. The continent has the second lowest number of coronavirus infected people dying from Covid-19 of six world's regions, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Oceania leads with a confirmed case-death rate of 1.6 per cent, followed by Africa and Asia (two percent each), South America (three per cent each), North America (four per cent) while Europe has the highest rate (six per cent). With 17 per cent of the world population, Africa has about five per cent of confirmed cases and three per cent of deaths. With population considered, the continent also has the second-lowest rate of death of 19 deaths per one million people, which is about 34 times lower than North America's, the region with the highest rate. Even South Africa, which is fifth globally and leads Africa in number and rate of infections and deaths, has maintained a low case-fatality rate of two percent. Among the 10 worst-hit countries globally, the country, Russia that is a position above it and India, the third-worst affected, have the lowest case-death rate of two percent. But many experts are wary of the statistics from African countries observing that low testing rates and poor data reporting and death registration mask the extent of the disease in Africa. Virus free It is true that most African countries are not conducting mass testing without which it is not easy to determine the spread of the disease in communities. Due to inadequate capacity, countries like Kenya have opted for testing symptomatic and high risk groups including essential workers such as health workers and truck drivers. Others like Tanzania have thrown in the towel and declared their countries "virus free". Acting Health Director-General Dr Patrick Amoth, says because of community spread of the virus targeted testing is the most effective option for a developing country like Kenya. When population is factored in, just six African countries feature in the top 100 out of 2015 countries and self -governing territories in testing rate, indicate figures from Johns Hopkins University. They include Mauritius with 161,384 tests per million people, the highest rate in Africa as at August 15, and South Africa. Mauritius is ranked 28th globally in rate of testing while South Africa is at position 80 with 56,418 tests per million people. Kenya lags behind at position 160 with 7,074 tests per million people. African countries do not compare well with top performers such as Luxembourg which has achieved the best testing rate in the world (1,072,615 per million people). But while the number of people tested is low, so is the test positivity rate. A positive rate of less than five per cent is an indicator that the epidemic is under control in a country or region, according to criteria published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in May. The positivity rate helps our understanding of the spread of the virus. Rising positivity rate suggests that the virus is spreading faster than the growth seen in confirmed cases. Kenya case positivity rate is seven per cent which is relatively low while South Africa's is more than double the rate (17 per cent), which is high but not as extreme as parts of Northern and Latin America. Findings of antibodies studies have raised more questions about the real situation in Africa. A recent sero-surveillance of blood donors in Kenya, for instance, seems to give credence to the concerns that the virus is more widespread in many countries than what is reported. The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) study claims that one in 20 Kenyans age 15-64 (1.6 million) has the novel coronavirus antibodies. People who have been infected with the virus produce antibodies. The number was way above the 2,093 Covid-19 cases and 71 deaths that had been confirmed midday into the study. The finding differed with the higher numbers of cases and deaths reported in parts of Europe, Asia and North America when seropositivity rate was similar. For instance, at the end of the epidemic wave in Spain, seropositivity was the same as Kenya but the European country is the 10 worst-hit country with 358,843 cases and 28,617 deaths by August 15. So why is it that there are no increased acute health emergencies and unusual high numbers of deaths being observed in Africa? What explains the huge gap between antibody test findings and the confirmed infection and death numbers? Senior science advisor to the director of Africa Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Dr Nicaise Ndembi, says the Kemri study cannot be compared to the ones done in Europe because the study populations and testing methods were different. "The Spanish study randomly sampled the general population while the Kemri study tested residual blood donor samples," says Dr Ndemi. The studies also used different tests and platforms that do not have the same sensitivity and accuracy. He recommends more standardised antibody studies to help fill out the picture. But a recent South African Medical Research Council weekly excess deaths reports suggests that the country's real death toll is much higher than what has been officially confirmed. The report showed that excess natural deaths rose by more than half from 6 May to 14 July compared to past years. Even though the excess deaths could be a result of both underreported Covid-19 deaths and other diseases as people shy away from seeking health services during the pandemic, experts say there are indications that coronavirus is the biggest factor in the unexplained deaths. Dr Ndembi says that as experts try to unravel the puzzle of the unexpected low death toll, the fact that Africa is now more prepared for public health crises because of Ebola and HIV pandemics experiences is being overlooked. For example, he says, many Africa countries are carrying out coronavirus tests on platforms built during the Ebola and HIV/Aids crises. "Because of the lessons learnt during the Ebola crisis, Africa countries together with Africa CDC and the World Health Organization are carrying out a coordinated response with the heads of state meeting regularly to strategise," he says. Dr Ndembi adds that at the start of the pandemic the entire continent had only 30 laboratories that could test for the virus but due to the corporation, just Nigeria has that number. Government- private sector partnerships have worked even as philanthropists within and without the continent have stepped up to complement government responses. "Half of the 30 laboratories in Nigeria are government-private sector partnerships," he says. One of the isolation centres in Kericho is at the Unilever Central Hospital, a private facility. "The centre has been set aside to cater for healthworkers who contract the virus. It has so far attended to 10 health services providers," said Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe during a visit to the county. Younger people Most of the people who have contracted the virus are young compared to other regions. Younger people are more likely to be asymptotic or suffer mild symptoms that are likely to be undetected. By the end of July, for instance, over 82 per cent of those who had been confirmed to have been infected by the virus in Kenya were aged below 50. Just one in 23 infected people experienced symptoms. Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox Success! Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the process, please follow the instructions in the email we just sent you. Error! There was a problem processing your submission. Please try again later. Patients older than 80 were at least 20 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those in their 50s, and hundreds of times more likely to die than those below the age of 40, found a study of more than 17 million people in England that was published in the in the journal Nature. In May, a World Health Organisation prediction model forecasted a continuation of a slower rate of transmission in Africa compared to other regions and attributed it to social and environmental factors slowing the transmission, and a younger population that has benefitted from the control of communicable diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis to reduce possible vulnerabilities and the lower prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. In Eastern and Southern Africa new HIV infection reduced by nearly 40 percent in 2019 and the regions are closing in on the 90-90-90 testing and treatment targets (90 percent of people living with HIV know their HIV status, of whom 90 per cent are on antiretroviral treatment and of whom 90 per cent are virally supressed), according to UNAIDs. Seven countries have reached those targets (Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe), and three others are very close to doing so (Kenya, Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania). Dr Ndembi says early testing and contact tracing and lockdowns contributed to the slow spread, even if containment measures are not fully respected due to socioeconomic reasons including the reality that poverty levels are also high. Most workers earning below living wages in the informal sector with no safety nets that would enable them survive a lockdown without working. So far, almost three-quarters of people infected with the coronavirus have recovered in Africa. Ndembi warns that Africa is not out of the woods yet and what will happen as countries continue to reopen is unknown. "The picture might change when schools reopen and the 25 countries who have not yet opened their airspace do so," warns Ndembi. Read the original article on Nation.
South Africa: Health Workers Speak From the Covid-19 Frontline - AllAfrica.com
Analysis - The results of a national survey of South African healthcare workers' response to Covid-19 were released on Thursday 7 August by the Human Sciences Research Council.
The results of a national survey of South African healthcare workers' response to Covid-19 were released on Thursday 7 August by the Human Sciences Research Council. According to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, about 24,000 South African healthcare workers were diagnosed with Covid-19 as at 2 August, with 181 recorded deaths. On Thursday 6 August, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), in partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, released the results of a survey that looked at the impact of Covid-19 on healthcare workers. The survey, which was conducted from 11 April to 7 May, reached 7,607 healthcare workers and aimed to ascertain how the virus is affecting South African health professionals - both physically and emotionally. Nearly 50% of participants worked in the public health sector and 32% worked in the private sector. Healthcare workers were invited to participate in the online survey on the biNU data free platform which comprised 45 close-ended questions pertaining to the following issues: Training received to respond to Covid-19; Levels of knowledge, awareness, and attitudes to Covid-19; The use of and access to personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace; Perceptions of risk in the workplace; Concerns in relation to Covid-19; and Health... Read the full story on Daily Maverick.
South Africa: HIV and TB Show Modest Effect On Covid-19 Mortality - AllAfrica.com
Preliminary results from a study of 12 987 COVID-19 patients in South Africa indicate that HIV and TB have a modest effect on COVID-19 mortality, scientists Quarraisha Abdool Karim and Salim Abdool Karim said.
Preliminary results from a study of 12 987 COVID-19 patients in South Africa indicate that HIV and TB have a modest effect on COVID-19 mortality, scientists Quarraisha Abdool Karim and Salim Abdool Karim said. According to the experts, 12% and 2% of COVID-19 deaths are attributable to HIV and TB, respectively, compared to 52% of COVID-19 deaths attributable to diabetes in South Africa. "The small contribution of HIV and TB to COVID-19 mortality is mainly due to these deaths occurring in older people, in whom HIV and active TB are not common. Integrated medical care for these three conditions is important, as COVID-19 patients co-infected with HIV or TB start attending healthcare services in larger numbers," the scientists said. Professor Salim Abdool Karim is the Director at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the country's chief Coronavirus scientist. Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim is an infectious diseases epidemiologist and Associate Scientific Director at CAPRISA. The lead scientists published a paper in Science Magazine on how South Africa's TB and HIV infrastructure helped with a rapid response to COVID-19. However, they believe that the focus on COVID-19 has an "opportunity cost" to the enormous gains made against these conditions. "We can't afford to be complacent," the scientists said. Access to chronic medication According to the pair, access to medical care for non-COVID-19 conditions was limited during the hard lockdown, with health facilities experiencing dwindling numbers of TB and HIV patients collecting their medication on schedule. "In South Africa, 1 090 TB patients and 10 950 HIV patients in one province have not collected their medications on schedule since the start of the national lockdown." Meanwhile, 13.2% of the 19 330 individuals surveyed in the country indicated that their medication for chronic disease was inaccessible during the lockdown. "Furthermore, hospital admissions for HIV and TB declined as a result of hospitals reducing non-urgent admissions in preparation for a surge of COVID-19 cases and owing to closures to reduce exposure to COVID-19 patients," said the professors. This could pose a threat and have substantial repercussions for both treatment and control, including the development of drug resistance for HIV and TB patients. While the biological and epidemiological interaction of COVID-19, HIV and TB is not well understood, the two professors think that patients, whose immune system is compromised by HIV or TB, could be more susceptible to severe COVID-19. South Africa's COVID-19 lockdown regulations have also had a disproportional impact on women, many of whom are self-employed or day labourers without a safety net, research revealed. "This may have a longer-term effect on increasing diseases associated with poverty such as TB and with gender, such as HIV, for which young women bear a disproportionate burden," said the professors. They also warned of the negative impact of the declining economy on HIV and TB programmes. New and ongoing research According to the professors, new and ongoing research on HIV and TB prevention and treatment have been affected by the pandemic. South Africa has about 7.9 million people living with HIV and ranks among the worst-affected countries in the world for TB, with the fourth-highest rate of HIV-TB co-infection at 59%. "At the initiation of the lockdown in South Africa, the National Health Research Ethics Committee suspended all medical research, including clinical trials. "However, COVID-19 research efforts have increased collaboration and created new approaches to speed up therapeutic and vaccine development and testing, which will likely have long-term benefits for medical research beyond COVID-19," said the professors. Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox Success! Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the process, please follow the instructions in the email we just sent you. Error! There was a problem processing your submission. Please try again later. South Africa has made steady progress since 2010 in controlling both diseases. Access to antiretroviral drugs for treatment and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV has resulted in a 33% reduction in AIDS-related deaths between 2010 and 2018, the professors said. In addition, the death rate among TB cases has declined from 224 per 100 000 population in 2010 to 110 per 100 000 population in 2018. "Past investments in infectious disease training and research have generated handsome returns to the COVID-19 response, highlighting the importance of maintaining these investments in the future," the professors said. They said the resources built up over decades for the control of HIV and TB, and now redirected to control COVID-19, include diagnostic platforms, community outreach programmes, medical care access and research infrastructure. However, the professors said the COVID-19 response also provides potential opportunities to enhance HIV and TB control. Read the original article on SAnews.gov.za.