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Concept: Sub-Saharan 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


Anopheles arabiensis is a dominant vector of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, which feeds indoors and outdoors on human and other vertebrate hosts, making it a difficult species to control with existing control methods. Novel methods that reduce human-vector interactions are, therefore, required to improve the impact of vector control programmes. Investigating the mechanisms underlying the host discrimination process in An. arabiensis could provide valuable knowledge leading to the development of novel control technologies. In this study, a host census and blood meal analysis were conducted to determine the host selection behaviour of An. arabiensis. Since mosquitoes select and discriminate among hosts primarily using olfaction, the volatile headspace of the preferred non-human host and non-host species, were collected. Using combined gas chromatography and electroantennographic detection analysis followed by combined gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, the bioactive compounds in the headspace collections were identified. The efficiency of the identified non-host compounds to repel host-seeking malaria mosquitoes was tested under field conditions.

Concepts: Human, Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Anopheles, Mosquito, Vector, Mosquito control


Background Malaria control has not been routinely informed by the assessment of subnational variation in malaria deaths. We combined data from the Malaria Atlas Project and the Global Burden of Disease Study to estimate malaria mortality across sub-Saharan Africa on a grid of 5 km(2) from 1990 through 2015. Methods We estimated malaria mortality using a spatiotemporal modeling framework of geolocated data (i.e., with known latitude and longitude) on the clinical incidence of malaria, coverage of antimalarial drug treatment, case fatality rate, and population distribution according to age. Results Across sub-Saharan Africa during the past 15 years, we estimated that there was an overall decrease of 57% (95% uncertainty interval, 46 to 65) in the rate of malaria deaths, from 12.5 (95% uncertainty interval, 8.3 to 17.0) per 10,000 population in 2000 to 5.4 (95% uncertainty interval, 3.4 to 7.9) in 2015. This led to an overall decrease of 37% (95% uncertainty interval, 36 to 39) in the number of malaria deaths annually, from 1,007,000 (95% uncertainty interval, 666,000 to 1,376,000) to 631,000 (95% uncertainty interval, 394,000 to 914,000). The share of malaria deaths among children younger than 5 years of age ranged from more than 80% at a rate of death of more than 25 per 10,000 to less than 40% at rates below 1 per 10,000. Areas with high malaria mortality (>10 per 10,000) and low coverage (<50%) of insecticide-treated bed nets and antimalarial drugs included much of Nigeria, Angola, and Cameroon and parts of the Central African Republic, Congo, Guinea, and Equatorial Guinea. Conclusions We estimated that there was an overall decrease of 57% in the rate of death from malaria across sub-Saharan Africa over the past 15 years and identified several countries in which high rates of death were associated with low coverage of antimalarial treatment and prevention programs. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others.).

Concepts: Death, Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon


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


Sleeping sickness, also called human African trypanosomiasis, is transmitted by the tsetse, a blood-sucking fly confined to sub-Saharan Africa. The form of the disease in West and Central Africa is carried mainly by species of tsetse that inhabit riverine woodland and feed avidly on humans. In contrast, the vectors for the East and Southern African form of the disease are usually savannah species that feed mostly on wild and domestic animals and bite humans infrequently, mainly because the odours produced by humans can be repellent. Hence, it takes a long time to catch many savannah tsetse from people, which in turn means that studies of the nature of contact between savannah tsetse and humans, and the ways of minimizing it, have been largely neglected.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, African trypanosomiasis, Southern Africa, Subregion, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness


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