A new test can diagnose malaria in under two minutes—without taking blood

Magnetism and light have been combined in a test that can diagnose malaria in under two minutes without the need to take blood.

The new test, which has yet to undergo clinical trials, won a prize for entrepreneurs hosted by Britain’s Prince Andrew on Feb. 28.

“What we’re trying to do is to bridge the gap between local communities and effective diagnosis,” Shafik Sekitto, an engineer from Uganda and co-founder of the device, said in an interview.

via A new test can diagnose malaria in under two minutes—without taking blood — Quartz

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Why the number of people with more than one chronic condition is rising in Africa: The Conversation Africa

 

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Scientists estimate that by 2020, non-communicable disease will account for almost 70% of the total disease burden.
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Tolullah Oni, University of Cape Town and Natacha Berkowitz, University of Cape Town

More and more people around the world are getting sick with two or more health conditions at the same time. For example, people are increasingly coping with two chronic non-infectious diseases, like hypertension and diabetes. Or they will have a chronic infectious disease like HIV and a chronic non-infectious disease like asthma.

The co-existing conditions could include diseases, disorders, illnesses or other chronic health problems. The concept of having two or more chronic health conditions at the same time is called multimorbidity.

Traditionally, developed countries have a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases – like hypertension – and due to this, a high rate of multimorbidity.

Now the tables seem to be turning. Due to the rise in the cases of non-communicable diseases in developing countries, there is an increasing emerging pattern of high levels of multimorbidity. This includes cases of hypertension which is now the most common co-morbid chronic non-communicable disease in the world.

The prevalence of non-communicable diseases is increasing at an alarming rate. In 2000, non-communicable diseases accounted for only 56% of the total disease burden. Scientists estimate that by 2020, they will account for almost 70% of the total disease burden in developing countries.

The increase has been driven by urbanisation and changing dietary and behavioural patterns with people eating more processed food and sugar and exercising less.

But alongside this, many developing nations, especially in Africa, have the additional burden of chronic infectious diseases.

Non-communicable diseases and chronic communicable diseases co-occur, and the risk factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, associated with them are often shared. This further increases the likelihood of multimorbidity.

In Africa, the concern is that populations who are already socially and economically vulnerable also face the highest risk of multimorbidity. These include the elderly, people who have a lower socio-economic status and those who are not as educated. An intersectoral approach to address these vulnerable groups is needed. This remains challenging for developing health services in many African countries.

Affecting the patient and the system

The impact of multimorbidity is three-fold: it affects the patient, the health care provider and the health system as a whole.

Multimorbid patients have a decreased quality of life and tend to access health services more frequently. This often results in loss of potential income. And it places an extraordinary financial and psychological burden on the patient. The psychological burden often manifests as depression with mental health conditions frequently being associated with multimorbidity, which are often neglected or poorly managed.

More generally, the high self-management requirements and multiple drug prescriptions associated with multimorbidity can lead to poorer health outcomes for patients.

From the provider perspective, multimorbid patients are complex to treat. This can lead to increased workloads. In addition, they need an in-depth understanding of multiple drug and disease interactions. With each additional comorbidity consultation, time and individual patient cost increase dramatically.

But providers often find themselves in systems which are inadequately prepared to deal with this level of complexity due to their vertical nature. Vertical systems are based on the one disease model of care, which focuses on individual diseases, rather than holistic patient care.

Innovative models of integrated care are required to appropriately manage the multimorbid patient. This is a challenging task as integrated models need to be context specific. A “one size fits all” isn’t enough to address patients’ needs.

Tackling the problem

To tackle the problem, solutions need to focus on what’s causing multimorbidity. This means that policymakers must look beyond the health sector – they must engage with multiple sectors. This is necessary as most risk factors relating to multimorbidity are driven by factors that lie outside the health care system. Risk factors such as obesity, alcohol use and smoking can all be influenced by policies outside the health sector.

In South Africa, a well known example of this has been the reduction of secondary smoking as a result of a range of anti-smoking initiatives. These included using the media to run campaigns warning about the health risks of smoking, to limiting smoking areas in the hospitality industries alongside the establishment of an excise tax on tobacco products.

More recently, to address the rising burden of diabetes and associated risk factors, South Africa has proposed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. A similar tax was successful in reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico.

One of the challenges in creating these policies lies in opposing powerful industry actors whose interests don’t lie with health issues, but with making profits. This requires advocacy from several key public health role players such as academics, civil society, and governmental departments.

Next steps

In Africa, multimorbidity will impose increasing strain on vulnerable people and already stretched health systems.

The ConversationA structured collaborative approach is needed to manage the problem. This should include developing a good understanding of Africa’s unique patterns of multimorbidity, its causes, and focus on prevention.

Tolullah Oni, Associate Professor at the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town and Natacha Berkowitz, Global Health Clinical Research Fellow Imperial College London and Honorary Research Officer, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Stepping Over the Dead on a Migrant Boat – The New York Times

It began with blips on a radar screen, 12 miles off the Libyan coast. As the rescuers approached, they found overloaded wooden vessels and rafts that evoked scenes of the slave trade.

Credit Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Aris Messinis, an Agence France-Presse photographer aboard the rescue boat Astral, said it was like nothing he had ever seen.

The passengers — from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries — were found by the Astral on Tuesday, part of a wave of more than 11,000 rescued in the Mediterranean by aid groups and the Italian Coast Guard this week.

Migrants aboard a large wooden boat, which may have held 1,000 people — roughly five times its capacity — waited frantically for help. Some jumped into the water.

 

via Stepping Over the Dead on a Migrant Boat – The New York Times

‘Borrowed time’ in Zimbabwe

For my leave, I flew off to Zimbabwe.

Yep, that country that we were told had billionaires and millionaires carrying their Zim dollars in bags and baskets.

I even thought we would meet President Robert Gabriel Mugabe at the airport and he would ask us what we were doing in there. Facile thoughts, I know.

Either way, I was prepared to visit the country that flows with the Zambezi River and see for myself the “run down economy” that we all think Zimbabwe is synonymous with.

Touch down at Harare International Airport October 25, some few minutes past 2.30am and for the nearly two hours flight from Nairobi I was not sure what to expect.

I still had in my mind that things would be really bad in the Southern African country and nothing prepared me once I walked into their arrival terminal.

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The place was clean, the airport staff friendly and warm.

They asked that we stand on a white tile as they screened us for Ebola. Shortly after, a woman in a blue uniform, matching socks, black leather shoes and a cap came up to us and handed white slips of paper.

“Please fill in your details over theiya and come beck to these tills.”

We were a group of us and we pulled out our pens and got to it.

Name.

Nationality.

Contact.

Address.

Reason for visit.

Occupation.

Host Address.

Shortly after, I went beck and handed my slip and stood patiently in front of the pretty young lady behind the computer.

I gave her my passport as well for the entry stamp because, as a Kenyan I do not need a visa to visit the landlocked country in the south.

As she scanned though the leaf of paper, I kept wondering to my self what lies beyond the white airport walls, if I would see artifacts that told me welcome to the land of the Shona and the Ndebele, if I would be allowed to get into Harare town before our morning connecting flight to Victoria Falls…

“You are a JOURNALIST?”

The stress and emphasis was intentional.

I looked up, thoughts and sleep weaving in my head…

“Yes, yes I am…a journalist from Kenya.”

“Where is your accreditation? What are you coming to do?”

“I am here for a conference in Victoria Falls.”

“Vic Falls?”

“Yes, Vic Falls,” truncating like she did.

“But you need accreditation, you need to get clearance.”

She stood up from the swivel chair, and called the lady in the blue uniform.

In a singsong to what I would later know was Shona language they exchanged the slip of paper and the passport, shook their heads and looked at me.

“I am sorry but we do not have your name here or of those other Kenyan journalists,” the younger lady pointed at my three other colleagues behind me.

“Oh, okay…is there someone to help us? We are here for the Climate change conference.”

I even pulled put my phone to show them ‘proof’.

“You will need to speak to immigration office but they don’t open until Monday.”

It was Sunday, 3am.

Then an elderly man come into the conversation. He had on a white shirt and a stripped tie.

Speaking to the airport attendants but looking at us…

“You need to clear them so that the plane that brought them can leave…”

Wait, wait, I thought…you mean they can turn us back right here at their doorstep?

Then they broke into more Shona, heavy with concern (perhaps of what would happen to us, or that we were holding back a plane) a few nods here and then the woman in the blue uniform said:

“You will only stay here until 27th. After which you will present yourselves to the Immigration office at Vic Falls. It is close to the hotel you will be staying in. Okay?”

My affirmation synced with the tiny rectangular purple stamp on my passport. Another white slip inside the passport and we were done.

We were here for seven days. We had three.

Hello borrowed time. Hello Zimbabwe.

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