Archive | April 2013

Malaria Prevention Necessary To Reduce Treatment Cost

Leocadia Bongben

Students of the Mario Academy Complex have agreed that it is better to prevent malaria to reduce the cost of treatment.

The students spoke during activities to mark the World Malaria Day celebrated under the theme, “Investing in the youth to defeat malaria”, organized by the Fobang Foundation and Radio Health International, RHI.

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“The event was very interesting and I learnt so much on how malaria can be prevented. It is better to prevent malaria so as to reduce the cost of treatment”, Elisabeth Ngasse, said on behalf of Mario Academy students.

It was in line with the theme of the day that the communication wing of the Fobang Foundation, Radio Health International invited these students of the Simbock neighbourhood for a special exchange on prevention and treatment of malaria,

Communication Team Leader of Radio Health International, Patience Embele Fominyen said the initiative was aimed at simplifying health and science by bringing out the essence in everyday life.

On the occasion the students through a lively interaction with the Health Expert of the Foundation, Olivia Acha-Morfaw listened to different ways by which malaria can be prevented.

The students acknowledged that sleeping under long-lasting treated mosquito bed net was one of the best ways to prevent malaria. 

Besides, they agreed that closing their doors by 5:00pm to keep the mosquitoes out of the house and keeping the environment free of standing water are other measures of preventing malaria.

A debate on malaria focused on what killed more, malaria or HIV/AIDS and a drama on the basic things to know about malaria.Image

 

Radio Health International, created in 2011 is a thematic radio whose focus is on health. It supports science and health in schools through participatory broadcast programmes for youths such as quiz, talk shows and debates. The radio is a communication unit of the Fobang Foundation, which is a Non Governmental Organization of volunteers for science and health. 

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Some HIV/AIDS Patients Have Hepatitis B Infection-Prof. Perno

 

 Leocadia Bongben

Federico Carlo Perno, Professor of Virology at the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata, has said counting by the Chantal Biya International Research Centre For HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment, CIRCB, reveals that about 10 per cent of patients with HIV/AIDS have Hepatitis B Infection.

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Prof. Perno spoke to the press while coordinating the first CIRCB Scientific Council Meeting presided at by Jean Stephane Biatcha, President of CIRCB Management Board.

The Scientific Council is a consultative organ that approves programmes, defines axis and evaluates research activities of the centre.

“Though called Hepatitis B infection, this is a sexually transmitted disease. It is a virus transmitted through sex, which goes vertically to children, and horizontally to partners”, Perno says.  

He expressed fears that an increase in this infection in future might create major problems for the liver.

However, he said there is well known Hepatitis B vaccine developed in the past 20 years, a vaccine that works.

In this vein, one of the endeavours of CIRCB, he said could be to demonstrate that this is effective and could be distributed to the population.

Against this backdrop, Perno has identified Hepatitis B as a problem in Africa and Cameroon.

He stressed on the need to deal with it Hepatitis B in future stating that with the increase of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B could certainly increase.

Besides, he also identified the papilloma virus-cancer driven by virus as another problem.

With the problem of Hepatitis B and Cancer driven virus, Perno expresses the hope that CIRCB “becomes a centre of reference for many diseases driven by viruses, which affect the population in Cameroon”.

Focusing on HIV/AIDS presently, there is hope for CIRCB to do a lot in vaccine for HIV/AIDS which is a problem everywhere. “Cameroon being the Centre of epidemics, there is a possibility of studying viruses which elsewhere are impossible to see” says Perno.

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He painted a brighter future for the centre with the possibility that ‘something’ for HIV/AIDS vaccine comes from CIRCB.

Improving the quality of therapy for patients in Cameroon is achievable in collaboration with the hospitals around, he averred.

Perno’s hopes are in line with the research presently carried out by Dr. Godwin Nchinda head of Immunology Laboratory to get a vaccine that can be used for infected persons to improve their immune system.

Vaccine research at CIRCB is at the pre-clinical stage – “this is simply using samples from patients who are treatment naïve- those infected but are not taking any treatment to check their immune system to see whether they have some degree of protection from the virus”, Dr. Nchinda says.

The President of the Management Committee, Jean Stephane Biatcha traced the origin of the centre to 2006 created with the collaboration of the Italian government.

Thanks to the scientific foundation laid by Prof. Luc Montangier, Prof. Peter Ndoumbe, and Prof. Victorio Coulizzi the centre has gradually moved to its present Level.

On 31 May CIRCB was transformed to a public establishment with a particular status under the Ministry of Public Health.

Kicking Malaria Out In 2015 Challenge For Cameroon

 

By Leocadia Bongben

The Permanent Secretary of the National Malaria Control Committee, Dr. Etienne Fondjo has said the major challenge in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs is to kick malaria out.

He spoke to the press during an information meeting ahead of the sixth World Malaria Day to be commemorated on April 25.

“In two years, we would have to say at what level Cameroon is in attaining MDGs; especially the reduction of infant mortality by 2/3, decrease by ¾, maternal mortality, to keep malaria in check among other diseases and reverse the present tendency”, Fondjo said.

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However, he said  the number of people who fall sick from malaria have reduced by 43 per cent in the past five years.

This has been attributed to the numerous actions taken by government and partners to keep malaria at bay such as free treatment for children below five years and the distribution of long lasting treated mosquito bed nets.

 About 80 per cent of Cameroonians got nets while for the 20 per cent who did not get, a campaign is underway to reach them.

Despite these actions, it has been observed that free treatment for children below five years is discriminatory and not effective.

One of the weaknesses of free treatment has been the shortage of drugs in some units linked to the management, Fondjo indicates.

He identified a number of challenges in keeping the vector out of the way.

First, there is the problem of sustainability of action in spraying the environment to kill the mosquito vector.

“It rains in Yaoundé for most part of the year and when there is water, the vector multiplies and this necessitates continuous treatment of the environment”.

He maintained that the anopheles mosquito likes clean water and it is a challenge especially in the rural areas to kill the vector.

To him, many factors come to play in choosing a prevention method; the cost, efficiency, sustainability.

So, the principal method is the long lasting treated mosquito nets, and spraying inside the houses.

Despite the challenges, the number of deaths from malaria has dropped by 916 from in the past two years though the month of August is seen to have the highest deaths due to intense rainfall.

 

 

Bulk Of African Journalists’ Stories Lack Data Application-Okpalaeke

 

Leocadia Bongben

Declan Okpalaeke, Chairman of the African Health Journalists Association, International Centre for Journalists, ICFJ Knight Fellow, has observed that the bulk of stories done by African Journalists depict a lack in data application.

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“Most African journalists when they use data at all, take the data given to them by whatever sources and slam it as it is, what is called cut and paste, they do not understand what the figures are saying, do not interrogate the figures, what the stories are behind the figures and do not interpret what the figures represent”, he said.

 Kini Nsom, Yaoundé Bureau Chief of The Post newspaper, participant workshop on the use of data and statistics in health reports organized by the African Journalists Association in partnership with the ICFJ and the ICFI sums poor use of data in these words, “I am guilty for providing free publicity to event organizer”.

Like Kini Nsom, participants came to the realization that they simply sent data presented in seminars and reports to the public without any understanding and analysis.

In this vein, Okpalaeke underscored the importance of the training to help journalists understand data and statistics so that they can help health policy makers to take the right decisions in policy formulation.

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 “The training seeks to encourage health journalists to know how to use data to provide evidence that would drive the right policies in health, demographics and development in the continent”.

Understanding data is particularly important for health journalists, to write for example about health facilities, how many hospitals in rural areas, if there drugs, experts to deliver the health services, he explained.

Fortunately data is available through the Demographic and Health Survey, DHS, and it is for journalists to find the data, he added.

Desire Anaclet Dzossa, Assistant Coordinator of DHS-MISC of the National Institute of Statistics on the occasion presented the Cameroon DHS which many participants discovered for the first time.

The Cameroon workshop facilitated by Emmanuel Wongibe, Consultant and Media Trainer, is one in a series of workshops to run across African to encourage to Journalists to use the data and the latest digital tools in telling compelling stories on health and development issues.

 

Carbon Diaoxide Is Building Up In Lake Monoun

Leocadia Bongben

 

Carbon-dioxide is building up in Lake Monoun in the West region of Cameroon, scientists monitoring Cameroon lakes, have said.

“ We have been able to establish that the gas is still building up in lake Monoun, which is a very important thing for us because degasing stopped in 2008”, Dr. Greg Tanyi Leke, Scientific Coordinator of the Science and Technology Partnership for Sustainable Development Programme, SATREPS-Institute for Geological and Mineral Research, IRGM Project revealed.

He made the revelation during the second joint committee meeting of the project at the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation, recently. 

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During the monitoring, the gas was discovered and a running solar pumping system has been designed and would be installed in the lake to pump out gas continuously.

Following the Lakes Nyos and Monoun gas explosions in 1986 and 1984 respectively, which left thousands dead and many displaced, degasing the lakes started in 2001 in Nyos and 2003 for Monoun.

Though Monoun was considered safe and on-going degasing in Nyos as well as reinforcement of the dam, much still need to be done in risk management. 

The SATREPS-IRGM project-a joint project of Cameroonian and Japanese researchers focuses on fine tuning the science behind the ‘killer lakes’, rehabilitation, human and infrastructural capacity and overall development of the areas, is therefore a response to risk management. 

The SATREPS IRGM project is titled “Magmatic Fluid Supply into Lakes Nyos and Monoun, and Mitigation of Natural disaster through Capacity Building in Cameroon”.

The project launched in 2011 was named as such was because the gas that is coming into the lake is as a result of magmatic forces and the experts would be working to characterise the magma, Leke said.

“We would also try to establish the nature of the magmatic fluid to understand what is happening with carbon-dioxide along the entire Cameroon volcanic line”, he added.

Under this project equipment has been sent in from Japan and a modern up to date laboratory in the sub-region is being set up in at Nkolbison for water analysis with a generator to relay power supply in five second.

Fast internet has been installed for equipment maintenance-that is for repairs to be effected from abroad online.

The project this year intends to come out with a geological mapping, a total mastery of the ground water in Cameroon and visit other lakes along the volcanic line and determine their status. 

An example is the lake Barombi which last year August over turned and was a concern for the entire population of Kumba and we are going to work with the authorities.

Lake turn over Leke explains is a natural process, which comes as a result of intense rainy season.

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“When there is so much rain, the water becomes cooler and denser and dense water is heavy and starts sinking, because it is heavier that the water below and so it is very difficult in a system where water below is lighter than water above. Because of this there is a turn over, for the heavier water to go below and the lighter water below coming up contains lot of materials”.

 As a result the water becomes dirty and when it comes to the surface it becomes oxidized-rusts.

This water was pumped into houses in kumba, coupled with the poor distribution system established in 1968, with iron pipes. Though the lake became clean water in the houses was still dirty.

Lake Nyos on the other hand would soon be made safe thanks to the new system removing CO2 and the reinforcement of the dam.

On the occasion SATREPS IRGM Project Leader, Prof. Takeshi Ohba from Japan maintained that in the area of human capacity development, five Cameroonians are in Japan for their PHDs supported by SATREPS and one sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education.

Secretary General at the Ministry of Scientific and Innovation presided at the second joint coordination SATREPS IRGM meeting.