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A group of Nigerian scientists have come up with a new simple method for diagnosing malaria. This marks the first time urine, not blood, is used to test for malaria. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.
It's a typical scene for a pediatric clinic in Lagos. Children crying in pain after health workers pierced their thumbs with medical needles to extract blood samples for malaria tests. But a new malaria test could soon put an end to the pain and tears of these children.
With a urine test kit, one can diagnose malaria by merely putting a strip in a small container of urine. A line shows on the strip if one has the malaria parasite.
Unlike the old method which requires health personnel to carry out malaria tests, people can now test themselves for the disease at home. "This is a major milestone," said Eddy Agbo, founder of Fyodor, the biotechnology firm that developed the urine test kit.
"It is a one step [process]. You just dip [a thread] in the sample, leave it there for 25 minutes and read the result. It is very similar to a pregnancy test that uses urine," added.
Self-diagnosis versus medical diagnosis
The innovation gained international and local recognition after winning the inaugural 2015 Health Innovation Challenge awards in Nigeria. It was also nominated for the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) award in collaboration with the Government of Botswana.
Each year, millions die of malaria in sub-Sahara Africa because of the inability to quickly diagnose and commence treatment. Many in Nigeria are reluctant to go to hospital and be tested for malaria.
"When you have malaria you just go on self-medication because most times you may not have what it takes to go for a lab test before treating yourself for malaria," Vivian Adebola told DW.
"When you go to health centers, you have to wait from morning until afternoon because they have so many people on the queue for that test. So the alternative is to go for self-medication," she added.
Adebola assumes that most fevers are caused by malaria. Medical practitioners hope that now that urine test can be done at home, it will encourage people to test and confirm it is malaria before taking drugs for the ailment.
Targeting African and Asian markets
But the Nigerian Healthcare Providers Association (NHPA) said self-medication has a potential to lead to the abuse of malaria drugs. "Without a positive test for malaria, you don't treat for malaria," said Dr. Umar Oluwole Sanda, president of NHPA.
"This is what happened to Chloroquine. Chroroquine was over abused, it became resistant we could not use it again. But with the introduction of this new product using urine to test for malaria parasite, it will go a long way to help many practitioners," Sanda added.
In collaboration with Nigeria's ministry of health, the new method has been introduced into the local market and there are plans to sell it across Africa and Asia. Both continents account for many of the 425 million malaria cases worldwide and the more than 400,000 deaths resulting from the ailment annually.
Revelations from a CIA operative indicate that the American spy agency was behind the arrest of Nelson Mandela in 1962. Mandela was perceived to be a risk to the US due to alleged ties with the Soviet Union. A report from the weekend in Britain's "The Sunday Times" newspaper carried excerpts of an interview with Donald Rickard, a former CIA operative in South Africa, taken from a documentary film by John Irvin.
Rickard, who had worked as a US diplomat in South Africa, said Mandela was "totally under the control of the Soviet Union" in the early 1960s.
"He could have incited a war in South Africa, the United States would have to get involved, grudgingly, and things could have gone to hell," Rickard said. "We were teetering on the brink here and it had to be stopped, which meant Mandela had to be stopped. And I put a stop to it."
Mandela's release marked the end of apartheid
Mandela was a co-founder of the Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation"), an armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC campaigned, sometimes violently, against South Africa's apartheid regime in the early 1960s. Mandela was known for giving authorities seeking his arrest the slip, but in 1962 - apparently acting on a tip from Rickard and the CIA - he was found near Durban and arrested.
He was imprisoned until 1990, and his release marked the end of apartheid. Mandela went on to serve as South Africa's first black president from 1994-1999.
Despite being elected president, Mandela and other members of the ANC officially remained on terror watch lists in the US. Mandela's name was finally removed in 2008.
"Mandela's Gun" scheduled to debut in Cannes this week
Irvin's film, "Mandela's Gun," addresses the months prior to Mandela's arrest and the armed resistance of the ANC under Mandela at the time. The film is scheduled to debut at the Cannes Film Festival this week.
The CIA has not commented on Rickard's statements, and Rickard died just a few weeks after giving the interview in March.
A spokesperson for the ANC told the AFP news agency that the claims were a "serious indictment," and that "[they] always knew there was always a collaboration between some Western countries and the apartheid regime."
Zizi Kodwa also maintained that the CIA has continued to work together with people in South Africa seeking regime change. The government is currently led by the ANC.
The Governor of Adamawa State in Nigeria, Muhammad Bindow is on a two day visit to Garoua,capital of the Northen Region of Cameroon.The Nigerian Politician was received by The Governor of the Northern Region, The Governor of Adamawa State in Nigeria, Muhammad Bindow
The Democratic Republic of Congo's government has issued an arrest warrant for Moise Katumbi, an opposition leader planning a possible election challenge to President Joseph Kabila.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende told VOA French to Africa on Thursday that the arrest warrant was issued after Katumbi was indicted on a charge of hiring mercenaries.
Katumbi's lawyer, Jean-Joseph Mukendi Wa Mulumba, said Thursday that he cannot respond to the indictment until he is formally notified.
Four foreigners, including a former U.S. soldier, were arrested at a Katumbi rally in the city of Lubumbashi two weeks ago.
Katumbi — who has declared he will run in the next presidential election — has denied government accusations that he was planning a coup attempt.
He told Congolese prosecutors last week that he did not know an adviser sent to him by an American security company was a former member of the U.S. military.
The current whereabouts of Katumbi are unknown. Earlier this week, he was in a Lubumbashi hospital.
Not date for new elections
Congo's constitution limits presidents to two five-year terms, and Kabila's second term ends in December, but officials have not set a date for new elections. Opposition parties have accused the president of trying to hang on to power by delaying the polls.
The parties cried foul last week when Congo's Constitutional Court said the president can stay in office beyond his mandate if the election is postponed.
In a phone call with Kabila in March, U.S. President Barack Obama called on the DRC to hold timely and credible elections that respect the country's constitution.
Kabila is one of several African presidents who have attempted to skirt term limits in the past couple of years. Attempts by presidents in Burkina Faso and Burundi set off unrest, while Rwandan voters approved extensions for President Paul Kagame.
MTN Cameroon has blocked access to 120,000 numbers of its subscribers because they have failed to comply with the identification exercise in time.For the time being, MTN is undertaking an outreach campaign to systematically step up the identification of its subscribers through registration with street agents, media campaigns or sales points.
Mobile phone operators in Cameroon received an injunction from the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART) to disconnect all numbers with false identifications.The population of Cameroon is 22 million. Out of this number,15 million have subscribed with MTN and 77 percent of active mobile subscribers are currently identified, according to ART.
The identification exercise that was launched back in December 2015 has facilitated the revelation of a little over 5,000 numbers, 2.31 percent, that were unclaimed, 800(10%) with doubtful identification, 250 (12%) assets without any identification.
Going by the regulating agency, mobile subscribers must always provide their full name, address, type of ID, ID number with the activation date of their phone numbers as part of the national identification process due to end in June.
Over the years, Cameroon has witnessed a surge in crime wave partly as a result of unidentified or impersonating mobile subscribers operating incognito. If the country must succeed in the fight against terrorism and cyber criminality, each citizen must be properly identified. This is why MTN Cameroon is doing its best to ensure that all subscribers to her network get full identification or be disabled.
Marafa Hamidou Yaya, former secretary general at the presidency, was sentenced Wednesday, May 18th 2016 to 20 years imprisonment by the Supreme Court in Yaounde. He had previously been sentenced to 25 years in prison in the first instance of the case in 2012 for alleged corruption.
The former minister was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for intellectual complicity and embezzlement. The latter is accused of embezzling 25 million euros in the albatross affair in 2001.
Marafa Hamidou Yaya was an outspoken opponent of Biya’s constitutional changes, and many suspect he faced the government’s wrath as a result.
The state counters that the investigations are meant to discourage other leaders from stealing money, but corruption largely remains unchallenged, and policymakers do not intend to root out the pervasive corruption that is systemic within Cameroonian politics.
Due to tainted rule, $152 million had been looted from the treasury, which is money that could have been used to enhance the Central African country’s lagging economy. Cameroon has suffered under lower oil and commodity prices, including a war against terrorist group Boko Haram, an organization that destabilized borders and disrupted commerce in local communities.
Cameroon was once a rising emerging market in Africa, but the world economy and fight against Boko Haram has nearly crippled the economy, and leaders made the situation worse through ineffective management and corrupt practices. Criminal transactions and deals occur brazenly in public, and Cameroon is one of the most corrupt nations in the world.
The country has vast potential and could follow strategies that would ensure success, such as diversifying the economy away from commodities and into other sectors that yield additional revenue. Biya, however, does not seem serious about meaningful changes that could have a positive impact on society.
Furthermore, the president is part of the problem, and his extended rule shows that little change will follow in a country that needs a vast overhaul in terms of governance. While he cannot take the full blame for Cameroon’s plight, he has overseen a system that does not work for the average Cameroonian, while elites are free to raid the treasury with impunity.
Biya has ruled since 1982, amassing a personal fortune in the process. He is also considered one of the world’s worst dictators, notes International Business Times. The government made examples of the recent 14 detained men, but only as scapegoats, with little reform taking place under the surface.
Cameroon stands a slight chance of an economic recovery because of its favorable agricultural landscape and precious natural resources, but this will not likely happen anytime soon under a regime intent on maintaining the status quo.