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Concept: Ethiopia


Abstract. Evidence shows that malaria risk maps are rarely tailored to address national control program ambitions. Here, we generate a malaria risk map adapted for malaria control in Sudan. Community Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate (PfPR) data from 2000 to 2010 were assembled and were standardized to 2-10 years of age (PfPR(2-10)). Space-time Bayesian geostatistical methods were used to generate a map of malaria risk for 2010. Surfaces of aridity, urbanization, irrigation schemes, and refugee camps were combined with the PfPR(2-10) map to tailor the epidemiological stratification for appropriate intervention design. In 2010, a majority of the geographical area of the Sudan had risk of < 1% PfPR(2-10). Areas of meso- and hyperendemic risk were located in the south. About 80% of Sudan's population in 2011 was in the areas in the desert, urban centers, or where risk was < 1% PfPR(2-10). Aggregated data suggest reducing risks in some high transmission areas since the 1960s.

Concepts: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, United States, Ethiopia, Plasmodium vivax, Map, Darfur


BACKGROUND: Globally, there was an estimated number of 287,000 maternal deaths in 2010. Eighty five percent (245,000) of these deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Among the causes of these deaths were obstructed and prolonged labour which could be prevented by cost effective and affordable health interventions like the use of the partograph. The Use of the partograph is a well-known best practice for quality monitoring of labour and subsequent prevention of obstructed and prolonged labour. However, a number of cases of obstructed labour do happen in health facilities due to poor quality of intrapartum care. METHODS: A cross-sectional quantitative study assessed knowledge and utilization of partograph among obstetric care givers in public health institutions of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia using a structured interviewer administered questionnaire. The collected data was analyzed using SPSS version 16.0. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with knowledge and use of partograph among obstetric care givers. RESULTS: Knowledge about the partograph was fair: 189 (96.6%) of all the respondents correctly mentioned at least one component of the partograph, 104 (53.3%) correctly explained the function of alert line and 161(82.6%) correctly explained the function of action line. The study showed that 112 (57.3%) of the obstetric care givers at public health institutions reportedly utilized partograph to monitor mothers in labour. The utilization of the partograph was significantly higher among obstetric care givers working in health centres (67.9%) compared to those working in hospitals (34.4%) [Adjusted OR = 3.63(95%CI: 1.81, 7.28)]. CONCLUSIONS: A significant percentage of obstetric care givers had fair knowledge of the partograph and why it is necessary to use it in the management of labour and over half of obstetric care givers reported use of the partograph to monitor mothers in labour. Pre-service and on-job training of obstetric care givers on the use of the partograph should be given emphasis. Mandatory health facility policy is also recommended to ensure safety of women in labour in public health facilities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Concepts: Health care, Scientific method, Logistic regression, Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Obstetrics, African Union


BACKGROUND: Antenatal care (ANC) is a key strategy to improve maternal and infant health. However, survey data from sub-Saharan Africa indicate that women often only initiate ANC after the first trimester and do not achieve the recommended number of ANC visits. Drawing on qualitative data, this article comparatively explores the factors that influence ANC attendance across four sub-Saharan African sites in three countries (Ghana, Kenya and Malawi) with varying levels of ANC attendance. METHODS: Data were collected as part of a programme of qualitative research investigating the social and cultural context of malaria in pregnancy. A range of methods was employed interviews, focus groups with diverse respondents and observations in local communities and health facilities. RESULTS: Across the sites, women attended ANC at least once. However, their descriptions of ANC were often vague. General ideas about pregnancy care - checking the foetus' position or monitoring its progress - motivated women to attend ANC; as did, especially in Kenya, obtaining the ANC card to avoid reprimands from health workers. Women’s timing of ANC initiation was influenced by reproductive concerns and pregnancy uncertainties, particularly during the first trimester, and how ANC services responded to this uncertainty; age, parity and the associated implications for pregnancy disclosure; interactions with healthcare workers, particularly messages about timing of ANC; and the cost of ANC, including charges levied for ANC procedures - in spite of policies of free ANC - combined with ideas about the compulsory nature of follow-up appointments. CONCLUSION: In these socially and culturally diverse sites, the findings suggest that ‘supply’ side factors have an important influence on ANC attendance: the design of ANC and particularly how ANC deals with the needs and concerns of women during the first trimester has implications for timing of initiation.

Concepts: Health care, Pregnancy, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Focus group, Ethiopia, Qualitative research, Malawi


Coccidiosis, caused by species of the apicomplexan parasite Eimeria, is a major disease of chickens. Eimeria species are present world-wide, and are ubiquitous under intensive farming methods. However, prevalence of Eimeria species is not uniform across production systems. In developing countries such as Ethiopia, a high proportion of chicken production occurs on rural smallholdings (i.e. ‘village chicken production’) where infectious diseases constrain productivity and surveillance is low. Coccidiosis is reported to be prevalent in these areas. However, a reliance on oocyst morphology to determine the infecting species may impede accurate diagnosis. Here, we used cross-sectional and longitudinal studies to investigate the prevalence of Eimeria oocyst shedding at two rural sites in the Ethiopian highlands.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Agriculture, Infection, Ethiopia, Apicomplexa, Chicken


The Pliocene fossil ‘Lucy’ (Australopithecus afarensis) was discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia in 1974 and is among the oldest and most complete fossil hominin skeletons discovered. Here we propose, on the basis of close study of her skeleton, that her cause of death was a vertical deceleration event or impact following a fall from considerable height that produced compressive and hinge (greenstick) fractures in multiple skeletal elements. Impacts that are so severe as to cause concomitant fractures usually also damage internal organs; together, these injuries are hypothesized to have caused her death. Lucy has been at the centre of a vigorous debate about the role, if any, of arboreal locomotion in early human evolution. It is therefore ironic that her death can be attributed to injuries resulting from a fall, probably out of a tall tree, thus offering unusual evidence for the presence of arborealism in this species.

Concepts: Bone, Ethiopia, Human evolution, Australopithecus afarensis, Hominina, Lucy, Afar Region, Afar Depression


The predominantly African origin of all modern human populations is well established, but the route taken out of Africa is still unclear. Two alternative routes, via Egypt and Sinai or across the Bab el Mandeb strait into Arabia, have traditionally been proposed as feasible gateways in light of geographic, paleoclimatic, archaeological, and genetic evidence. Distinguishing among these alternatives has been difficult. We generated 225 whole-genome sequences (225 at 8× depth, of which 8 were increased to 30×; Illumina HiSeq 2000) from six modern Northeast African populations (100 Egyptians and five Ethiopian populations each represented by 25 individuals). West Eurasian components were masked out, and the remaining African haplotypes were compared with a panel of sub-Saharan African and non-African genomes. We showed that masked Northeast African haplotypes overall were more similar to non-African haplotypes and more frequently present outside Africa than were any sets of haplotypes derived from a West African population. Furthermore, the masked Egyptian haplotypes showed these properties more markedly than the masked Ethiopian haplotypes, pointing to Egypt as the more likely gateway in the exodus to the rest of the world. Using five Ethiopian and three Egyptian high-coverage masked genomes and the multiple sequentially Markovian coalescent (MSMC) approach, we estimated the genetic split times of Egyptians and Ethiopians from non-African populations at 55,000 and 65,000 years ago, respectively, whereas that of West Africans was estimated to be 75,000 years ago. Both the haplotype and MSMC analyses thus suggest a predominant northern route out of Africa via Egypt.

Concepts: Human, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, West Africa, Egypt, World population, Somali people


Although global food demand is expected to increase 60% by 2050 compared with 2005/2007, the rise will be much greater in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Indeed, SSA is the region at greatest food security risk because by 2050 its population will increase 2.5-fold and demand for cereals approximately triple, whereas current levels of cereal consumption already depend on substantial imports. At issue is whether SSA can meet this vast increase in cereal demand without greater reliance on cereal imports or major expansion of agricultural area and associated biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies indicate that the global increase in food demand by 2050 can be met through closing the gap between current farm yield and yield potential on existing cropland. Here, however, we estimate it will not be feasible to meet future SSA cereal demand on existing production area by yield gap closure alone. Our agronomically robust yield gap analysis for 10 countries in SSA using location-specific data and a spatial upscaling approach reveals that, in addition to yield gap closure, other more complex and uncertain components of intensification are also needed, i.e., increasing cropping intensity (the number of crops grown per 12 mo on the same field) and sustainable expansion of irrigated production area. If intensification is not successful and massive cropland land expansion is to be avoided, SSA will depend much more on imports of cereals than it does today.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Agriculture, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Risk, Ethiopia, Sustainability, Greenhouse gas


The black rhinoceros is again on the verge of extinction due to unsustainable poaching in its native range. Despite a wide historic distribution, the black rhinoceros was traditionally thought of as depauperate in genetic variation, and with very little known about its evolutionary history. This knowledge gap has hampered conservation efforts because hunting has dramatically reduced the species' once continuous distribution, leaving five surviving gene pools of unknown genetic affinity. Here we examined the range-wide genetic structure of historic and modern populations using the largest and most geographically representative sample of black rhinoceroses ever assembled. Using both mitochondrial and nuclear datasets, we described a staggering loss of 69% of the species' mitochondrial genetic variation, including the most ancestral lineages that are now absent from modern populations. Genetically unique populations in countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Malawi and Angola no longer exist. We found that the historic range of the West African subspecies (D. b. longipes), declared extinct in 2011, extends into southern Kenya, where a handful of individuals survive in the Masai Mara. We also identify conservation units that will help maintain evolutionary potential. Our results suggest a complete re-evaluation of current conservation management paradigms for the black rhinoceros.

Concepts: Evolution, Species, Ethiopia, Population genetics, Extinction, Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros


Sexual dimorphism in body size is often used as a correlate of social and reproductive behavior in Australopithecus afarensis. In addition to a number of isolated specimens, the sample for this species includes two small associated skeletons (A.L. 288-1 or “Lucy” and A.L. 128/129) and a geologically contemporaneous death assemblage of several larger individuals (A.L. 333). These have driven both perceptions and quantitative analyses concluding that Au. afarensis was markedly dimorphic. The Template Method enables simultaneous evaluation of multiple skeletal sites, thereby greatly expanding sample size, and reveals that A. afarensis dimorphism was similar to that of modern humans. A new very large partial skeleton (KSD-VP-1/1 or “Kadanuumuu”) can now also be used, like Lucy, as a template specimen. In addition, the recently developed Geometric Mean Method has been used to argue that Au. afarensis was equally or even more dimorphic than gorillas. However, in its previous application Lucy and A.L. 128/129 accounted for 10 of 11 estimates of female size. Here we directly compare the two methods and demonstrate that including multiple measurements from the same partial skeleton that falls at the margin of the species size range dramatically inflates dimorphism estimates. Prevention of the dominance of a single specimen’s contribution to calculations of multiple dimorphism estimates confirms that Au. afarensis was only moderately dimorphic.

Concepts: Human, Ethiopia, Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus, Australopithecus africanus, Donald Johanson


The Acheulean technological tradition, characterized by a large (>10 cm) flake-based component, represents a significant technological advance over the Oldowan. Although stone tool assemblages attributed to the Acheulean have been reported from as early as circa 1.6-1.75 Ma, the characteristics of these earliest occurrences and comparisons with later assemblages have not been reported in detail. Here, we provide a newly established chronometric calibration for the Acheulean assemblages of the Konso Formation, southern Ethiopia, which span the time period ∼1.75 to <1.0 Ma. The earliest Konso Acheulean is chronologically indistinguishable from the assemblage recently published as the world's earliest with an age of ∼1.75 Ma at Kokiselei, west of Lake Turkana, Kenya. This Konso assemblage is characterized by a combination of large picks and crude bifaces/unifaces made predominantly on large flake blanks. An increase in the number of flake scars was observed within the Konso Formation handaxe assemblages through time, but this was less so with picks. The Konso evidence suggests that both picks and handaxes were essential components of the Acheulean from its initial stages and that the two probably differed in function. The temporal refinement seen, especially in the handaxe forms at Konso, implies enhanced function through time, perhaps in processing carcasses with long and stable cutting edges. The documentation of the earliest Acheulean at ∼1.75 Ma in both northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia suggests that behavioral novelties were being established in a regional scale at that time, paralleling the emergence of Homo erectus-like hominid morphology.

Concepts: Time, Chronology, Ethiopia, Kenya, Periodization, Homo erectus, Lake Turkana, Turkana people