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Concept: Somali people


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


In contrast to the developed nations, invasive cervical cancer (ICC) is the most common womens malignancy in Kenya and many other locations in sub-Saharan Africa. However, studies on survival from this disease in this area of the world are severely restricted by lack of patient follow-up. We now report a prospective cohort study of ICC in Kenyan women analysing factors affecting tumour response and overall survival in patients undergoing radiotherapy.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Cervical cancer, Africa, Ethiopia, Radiation therapy, Kenya, Somali people


Haplogroup E, defined by mutation M40, is the most common human Y chromosome clade within Africa. To increase the level of resolution of haplogroup E, we disclosed the phylogenetic relationships among 729 mutations found in 33 haplogroup DE Y-chromosomes sequenced at high coverage in previous studies. Additionally, we dissected the E-M35 subclade by genotyping 62 informative markers in 5,222 samples from 118 worldwide populations. The phylogeny of haplogroup E showed novel features compared to the previous topology, including a new basal dichotomy. Within haplogroup E-M35, we resolved all the previously known polytomies and assigned all the E-M35* chromosomes to 5 new different clades, all belonging to a newly identified subhaplogroup (E-V1515), which accounts for almost half of the E-M35 chromosomes from the Horn of Africa. Moreover, using a Bayesian phylogeographic analysis and a SNP-based approach we localized and dated the origin of this new lineage in the northern part of the Horn, about 12 kya. Time frames, phylogenetic structuring and socio-geographic distribution of E-V1515 and its subclades are consistent with a multi-step demic spread of pastoralism within north-eastern Africa and its subsequent diffusion to sub-equatorial areas. In addition, our results increase the discriminative power of the E-M35 haplogroup for use in forensic genetics through the identification of new ancestry-informative markers.

Concepts: DNA, Genetic genealogy, Phylogenetics, Y chromosome, Haplogroup, Somali people, Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup, Haplogroup E1b1b


To maximise the potential benefits of maternity care services, pregnant women need to be able to physically get to health facilities in a timely manner. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, transport represents a major practical barrier. Here we evaluate the extent to which an innovative national ambulance service in Ethiopia, together with mobile phones, may have been successful in averting pregnancy-related deaths.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, Mobile phone, Somali people


There have been no repeat surveys of psychotic symptoms in Kenya or indeed subSaharan Africa. A mental health epidemiological survey was therefore conducted in a demographic surveillance site of a Kenyan household population in 2013 to test the hypothesis that the prevalence of psychotic symptoms would be similar to that found in an earlier sample drawn from the same sample frame in 2004, using the same overall methodology and instruments. This 2013 study found that the prevalence of one or more psychotic symptoms was 13.9% with one or more symptoms and 3.8% with two or more symptoms, while the 2004 study had found that the prevalence of single psychotic symptoms in rural Kenya was 8% of the adult population, but only 0.6% had two symptoms and none had three or more psychotic symptoms. This change was accounted for by a striking increase in psychotic symptoms in women (17.8% in 2013 compared with 6.9% in 2004, p < 0.001), whereas there was no significant change in men (10.6% in 2013 compared with 9.4% in 2004, p = 0.582). Potential reasons for this increase in rate of psychotic symptoms in women are explored.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Demography, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somali people


Diarrhea is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Data on risk factors for mortality are limited. We conducted hospital-based surveillance to characterize the etiology of diarrhea and identify risk factors for death among children hospitalized with diarrhea in rural western Kenya.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Ethiopia, Southern Africa, Somali people


BACKGROUND: Female circumcision (FC) has lifelong adverse social and health consequences for women, and its abolition will not only enhance the health of children and women, but also promote gender equality. Like many other Western countries, Norway hosts a large proportion of immigrants from FC-practicing countries, though primarily from Somalia, which is the country with the highest prevalence of FC in the world. A behavioral change by the practicing communities has the best chance to successfully and sustainably eliminate this practice. However, FC prevention programs require a behavioral surveillance that monitors the process of change, with this being the first quantitative study since the major migration of the Somali community to Norway began in 1991 to investigate whether or not Somali immigrants' attitudes toward the practice has improved in favor of its abandonment. METHODS: A cross-sectional study using a respondent-driven sampling (RDS) was conducted in Oslo from April to June of 2011. A sample of 214 persons was interviewed, using structured questionnaires. RESULTS: The results show that 70% of Somalis in Oslo support the discontinuation of all forms of FC compared to 30% who support its continuation, with the latter group more likely to be people who lived in Norway [LESS-THAN OR EQUAL TO] 4 years. Of the 10 girls who came to Norway at the age of [LESS-THAN OR EQUAL TO] 7 years, only one was circumcised, though whether the circumcision occurred before or after the girl’s arrival in Norway remains unclear. The perception that FC is required by religion was the sole factor to be significantly associated with an ongoing support of FC. CONCLUSION: The study reveals that Somalis in Oslo demonstrate a trend to abandon this practice over time. Nevertheless, the 30% of the people who still support its continuation, and who are primarily newly arrived immigrants, require a targeted intervention that is implemented in the early phase of the immigrants' arrival.

Concepts: Gender, Equals sign, Norway, Circumcision, Equality, Somali people, Somalia, History of Somalia


Complications of unsafe abortion are a leading cause of maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Adolescents and young women are disproportionately represented among those at risk of these complications. Currently, we know little about the factors associated with young women’s timing of abortion. This study examined the timing of abortion as well as factors influencing it among adolescents and young women aged 12-24 years who sought post-abortion care (PAC) in health facilities in Kenya.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Ethiopia, Abortion, Maternal death, Southern Africa, Somali people


The timing and abruptness of the initiation and termination of the Early Holocene African Humid Period are a subject of ongoing debate, with direct consequences for our understanding of abrupt climate change, paleoenvironments, and early human cultural development. Here, we provide proxy evidence from the Horn of Africa region that documents abrupt transitions into and out of the African Humid Period in northeast Africa. Similar and generally synchronous abrupt transitions at other East African sites suggest that rapid shifts in hydroclimate are a regionally coherent feature. Our analysis suggests that the termination of the African Humid Period in the Horn of Africa occurred within centuries, underscoring the non-linearity of the region’s hydroclimate.

Concepts: Africa, Climate change, Pleistocene, Holocene, East Africa, Eritrea, Somali people, Horn of Africa


Previous research has documented an increased risk of subfertility in areas of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as an ecological association between urogenital schistosomiasis prevalence and decreased fertility. This pilot project examined reproductive patterns and the potential effects of childhood urogenital Schistosoma haematobium infection and individual treatment experience on adult subfertility among women who were long-term residents in an S. haematobium-endemic region of coastal Kenya.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Ethiopia, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma, Schistosoma haematobium, Somali people