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Concept: North Africa


Being taller is associated with enhanced longevity, and higher education and earnings. We reanalysed 1472 population-based studies, with measurement of height on more than 18.6 million participants to estimate mean height for people born between 1896 and 1996 in 200 countries. The largest gain in adult height over the past century has occurred in South Korean women and Iranian men, who became 20.2 cm (95% credible interval 17.5-22.7) and 16.5 cm (13.3-19.7) taller, respectively. In contrast, there was little change in adult height in some sub-Saharan African countries and in South Asia over the century of analysis. The tallest people over these 100 years are men born in the Netherlands in the last quarter of 20th century, whose average heights surpassed 182.5 cm, and the shortest were women born in Guatemala in 1896 (140.3 cm; 135.8-144.8). The height differential between the tallest and shortest populations was 19-20 cm a century ago, and has remained the same for women and increased for men a century later despite substantial changes in the ranking of countries.

Concepts: Human, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Human height, Netherlands, Cold War, Gigantism


Scrub typhus is a life-threatening zoonosis caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi organisms that are transmitted by the larvae of trombiculid mites. Endemic scrub typhus was originally thought to be confined to the so called “tsutsugamushi triangle” within the Asia-Pacific region. In 2006, however, two individual cases were detected in the Middle East and South America, which suggested that the pathogen was present farther afield. Here, we report three autochthonous cases of scrub typhus caused by O. tsutsugamushi acquired on Chiloé Island in southern Chile, which suggests the existence of an endemic focus in South America. (Funded by the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica and the Wellcome Trust.).

Concepts: North Africa, Middle East, Asia, South America, Chile, Asia-Pacific, Scrub typhus, Orientia tsutsugamushi


Jean-Pierre Allain and colleagues argue that, while unintended, the foreign aid provided for blood transfusion services in sub-Saharan Africa has resulted in serious negative outcomes, which requires reflection and rethinking.

Concepts: HIV, AIDS, Blood, Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Blood transfusion


Malaria causes significant mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), especially among children less than five years of age (U5 children). Although the economic burden of malaria in this region has been assessed previously, the extent and variation of this burden remains unclear. This study aimed to estimate the economic costs of malaria in U5 children in three countries (Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya).

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Sahara, Malawi, West Africa, Niger-Congo languages


Untreated syphilis in pregnancy is associated with adverse clinical outcomes for the infant. Most syphilis infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where coverage of antenatal screening for syphilis is inadequate. Recently introduced point-of-care syphilis tests have high accuracy and demonstrate potential to increase coverage of antenatal screening. However, country-specific cost-effectiveness data for these tests are limited. The objective of this analysis was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and budget impact of antenatal syphilis screening for 43 countries in SSA and estimate the impact of universal screening on stillbirths, neonatal deaths, congenital syphilis, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted.

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Sahara, Syphilis, Pharmacoeconomics, Southern Africa


Culex pipiens L. is the most widespread mosquito vector in temperate regions including North Africa. Cx. pipiens has two recognized forms or biotypes; pipiens and molestus are morphologically indistinguishable with distinct behavior and physiology that may influence their vectorial status. In our study, we prospected for the different forms of Cx. pipiens in Morocco.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Nonanal, Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara


The rapid Arab-Islamic conquest during the early Middle Ages led to major political and cultural changes in the Mediterranean world. Although the early medieval Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula is now well documented, based in the evaluation of archeological and historical sources, the Muslim expansion in the area north of the Pyrenees has only been documented so far through textual sources or rare archaeological data. Our study provides the first archaeo-anthropological testimony of the Muslim establishment in South of France through the multidisciplinary analysis of three graves excavated at Nimes. First, we argue in favor of burials that followed Islamic rites and then note the presence of a community practicing Muslim traditions in Nimes. Second, the radiometric dates obtained from all three human skeletons (between the 7th and the 9th centuries AD) echo historical sources documenting an early Muslim presence in southern Gaul (i.e., the first half of 8th century AD). Finally, palaeogenomic analyses conducted on the human remains provide arguments in favor of a North African ancestry of the three individuals, at least considering the paternal lineages. Given all of these data, we propose that the skeletons from the Nimes burials belonged to Berbers integrated into the Umayyad army during the Arab expansion in North Africa. Our discovery not only discusses the first anthropological and genetic data concerning the Muslim occupation of the Visigothic territory of Septimania but also highlights the complexity of the relationship between the two communities during this period.

Concepts: North Africa, Iberian Peninsula, Al-Andalus, Spain, Islam, Italy, Archaeology, 1st millennium


It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) must leave their home to collect water, putting them at risk for a variety of negative health outcomes. There is little research, however, quantifying who is most affected by long water collection times.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Sahara, Black people, Malawi, Southern Africa, Morocco


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has embarked on a new era of dam building to improve food security and promote economic development. Nonetheless, the future impacts of dams on malaria transmission are poorly understood and seldom investigated in the context of climate and demographic change.

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Poverty, Food security, Dam, Economic development


Due to the lack of written records or inscription, the origin and affiliation of Indian Jewish populations with other world populations remain contentious. Previous genetic studies have found evidence for a minor shared ancestry of Indian Jewish with Middle Eastern (Jewish) populations. However, these studies (relied on limited individuals), haven’t explored the detailed temporal and spatial admixture process of Indian Jewish populations with the local Indian populations. Here, using large sample size with combination of high resolution biparental (autosomal) and uniparental markers (Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA), we reconstructed genetic history of Indian Jewish by investigating the patterns of genetic diversity. Consistent with the previous observations, we detected minor Middle Eastern specific ancestry component among Indian Jewish communities, but virtually negligible in their local neighbouring Indian populations. The temporal test of admixture suggested that the first admixture of migrant Jewish populations from Middle East to South India (Cochin) occurred during fifth century. Overall, we concluded that the Jewish migration and admixture in India left a record in their genomes, which can link them to the ‘Jewish Diaspora’.

Concepts: DNA, North Africa, Chromosome, Middle East, Indian Ocean, Asia, Israel, Hebrew language