The residents of Kyukuni Village, Voo Kyamatu Ward, Kitui County had challenges in accessing water before the intervention of the Amref Health Africa Kitui WASH Project. Residents would trek for over 15km in search of water, a situation that not only affected the time women spent doing other economic activities, but also affected school enrolment and attendance among school going children.
According to the Project Officer George Wambua, there were shallow aquifers which were an alternative source of water, but the residents believed that water from this source would only be enough for household use and nothing else. This was a long standing belief that they held, and changing it was an uphill task.
During a baseline survey that was carried out in 1998, water was ranked first on the priority list of needs among communities. For the residents of Kyukuni Village, water was a priority but they did not realize how it could help to change their economic status. “Changing their mind-set to make them see how water could improve their lives economically was a challenging task. However, with continued follow-ups and interactions with the community, we were able to change the community’s way of doing things,”said Mr Wambua.
In trying to make a case for using water to improve the community’s economic status, the project started by developing a small farm around the Miembeni giant well situated in Zombe/ Mwitika Ward. The well serves a group of 12 families who decided to change their traditional way of doing things. They decided to extend water use from domestic to other economic activities including horticulture farming and poultry keeping.
According to Mr Mutua, one of the beneficiaries of the project, a number of giant wells were commissioned along the Thua River through the support of Amref, but only a few of the groups seriously engaged in intensive farming.
“You would find a group of 15 households doing small scale farming that was not enough to support the whole group, but yet the well had sufficient recharge of about 10m3.
This means they only utilised 30% of the water in the well leaving 70% not utilised”, said Mr Mutua. He added that when his group realized that they were sleeping on gold about two years ago, they started serious farming activities around their water points. The group now owns a two-acre piece of land that can be utilized freely by the group.
Kitui East has been hard hit by the regular occurrence of drought due to erratic rainfall. For the last 10 years, the rainfall pattern has been unpredictable. The rainfall onset has been delayed every year, and when it has rained, rainfall has also not been adequate. The only remaining option is to use water from the well to grow crops that can feed their families and have some left overs to sell for economic sustainability. This is what Mr Mutua the chairperson, encouraged his group to do.
“We started our farming in a small way by cultivating very basic crops just enough to feed our families. Little did we know it was our turning point as a group,” said Mr Mutua.
Mr Mutua added that they upgraded their activities by growing cash crops like tomatoes, onions, water melons and carrots. The first group was successful and made good profit. On sharing the profit among the 15 households’ after all necessary deductions, each was able to get Kshs 5,000. This enabled members have cash to do other things like paying school fees and other bills. The community members had longed for.
“God is great, our dream has come true,” said one of the group members.
Additional activities carried out using water from the well include poultry farming. This is another project that has had multiple benefits to the family. The groups now have eggs that they use to feed their children, thus preventing diseases associated with poor feeding. They also sell the birds to make good money for the household use.
The project though funding from Amref Italy has built 50 giant wells to support 20,500 people with agricultural activities and 218,940 people with access to safe water and sanitation. The project is committed to make safe and affordable drinking water, hygiene and sanitation a reality for the people of Kitui County.
Memfys Hospital and GE Healthcare Collaborate to Improve Disease Diagnosis for Nigeria’s South-East Regions
Memfys is the first hospital in South-East Nigeria to install GE Healthcare’s SIGNA™ Explorer 1.5Tesla MRI system
LAGOS, Nigeria, August 29, 2019 – The collaboration will help provide innovative technology to enable early diagnosis and detection of diseases; Memfys is the first hospital in South-East Nigeria to install GE Healthcare’s SIGNA™ Explorer 1.5Tesla MRI system.
GE Healthcare has partnered with Memfys Hospital to provide the SIGNA™ Explorer 1.5Tesla MRI system services and training to advance early diagnosis of diseases. By providing clinicians with detailed information about diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and heart diseases, the new equipment will help the hospital to deliver high quality medical services and better care to more patients across the region.
As the only dedicated Neurosurgery hospital in South-East Nigeria, Memfys Hospital is serving a population of over 60 Million People. Investing in the latest technologies such as the SIGNA™ Explorer 1.5Tesla MRI system will help improve the hospital’s diagnostic capabilities for early detection of diseases and at the same time keep up with global best practices to provide the very best for the country and West Africa region at large.
“As a leader in the neurosurgical space, we are committed to continue providing high quality patient care using modern, high tech and reliable equipment that meets the recommendation by the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS). Acquisition of the SIGNA™ Explorer is a huge milestone towards this commitment,” said Professor Samuel C. Ohaegbulam, CEO Global Memfys & Co Ltd.
To ensure sustainability of such investments, Memfys hospital is providing training for both young and experienced doctors embarking on a career in Neurosurgery and Spinal surgery. The hospital is accredited by the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) for full training in neurosurgery making it the only private health institution to enjoy this status in all of Africa. To date, Memfys has trained 20 neurosurgeons and about 10 senior residents.
“We are committed to continue collaborating with both private and public partners to co-create solutions that help tackle pressing healthcare challenges for our region such as Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), as we strive towards Universal Health Coverage. With the SIGNA™ Explorer 1.5Tesla MRI system, the people of South-East Nigeria will not need to leave the region for such specialized services as it has been the practice in the past,” said Eyong Ebai, General Manager for West & Central and French Sub-Sahara Africa Region.
According to WHO’s 2018 report, NCDS including stroke, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are estimated to account for 71% of the 57 million global deaths, while in Nigeria NCDs are estimated to account for 29% of all deaths (2.1M). Early diagnosis of diseases such as cancer improves outcomes by providing care at the earliest possible stage.
Egypt denies postponing official launch of health insurance system
Hala Zayed, Minister of Health Pic: Egypt Today
CAIRO – 29 August 2019: Egypt denied delaying the official launch of the comprehensive health insurance system in Port Said, which is scheduled for the first half of coming Septwmbwe, due to failure of teh pilot phase, according to the cabinet’s media center.
Ministry of Health confirmed that the effective implementation of the system will start in the first half of September, especially after the success of the pilot, the center added in a statement.
Earlier in August, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi called for implementing the health insurance system, taking into consideration the technical, human and medical sides to ensure the good quality of medical services.
In July, the pilot operation of the comprehensive health insurance system in Port Said governorate started in July.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said earlier in a press conference that the governorate will be the first to benefit from the new system through 11 general and specialized hospitals and 32 healthcare units.
This CSIR Female Researcher Is One Of Few Stem Cell Reprogramming Experts In South Africa
Dimakatso Gumede, CSIR Researcher.
Only a handful of people in South Africa have mastered Stem Cell reprogramming and Dimakatso Gumede (34) is one of them. As the CSIR’s candidate researcher of the Bioengineering and Integrated Genomics Research Group, she works on creating disease models of the innate immune system to study unique African gene variants that lead to elite controllers that naturally control viral load levels without antiretroviral therapy.
By using induced pluripotent stem cell technology, the CSIR research group also creates“mini liver”models in order to determine the adverse drug affects in the South African population.
“The African population is known for its genetic variation, which often affects the way in which an individual responds to particular medication. For example, while an aspirin may work effectively for 70% of the population, it is possible that the remaining 30% may experience adverse effects. Therefore, as part of CSIR’s Bioengineering and Integrated Genomics group, we are looking to create effective and personalised medication for those who do not respond positively to the drugs that have been distributed for the general population,” says Gumede.
Gumede, who is a PhD scholar of the University of Cape Town (UCT), recently submitted her doctoral thesis. She studied the role of a gene mutation that causes skin and lung fibrosis, using a scientific method called induced pluri-potent stem cells. This approach produces any cell type in the body, such as skin or lung cells, which, in this case, provides insight into how an inherited dermatological condition is associated with lung fibrosis – a condition caused by uncontrolled scar formation that affects the organ and air sacks.
However, this was not Gumede’s original project. Initially, her PhD project was on cardio genetics, and she was working with the late Prof. Bongani Mayosi and Dr. Gasnat Shabooden at the UCT Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa.
“While I was busy with my initial research project, the late Prof. Mayosi suggested that I shift the focus of my project to the study of a rare genetic condition that is associated with lung, skin and muscle fibrosis. I was excited because not only was it a ground-breaking research project that would serve as a massive breakthrough for the South African medical science sector, but it would also provide me with the opportunity to apply my cell biology expertise,” says Gumede.
With the assistance of Prof. Susan Kidson and Dr Robea Ballo, Gumede focused mainly on the cell biology of the rare skin condition in question. She learnt a great deal about reprogramming skin cells into pluripotent cells to understand what causes this gene mutation, how this rare skin condition develops at cellular level and how or why it affects organs such as the lungs and muscles and prevents them from functioning properly.
“I discovered that the gene mutation that causes this condition accelerates cell division, which contributes to fibrosis in the affected individuals and is also associated with cancer progression,” says Gumede.
Further, according to Gumede’s Principal Investigator at the CSIR – Dr Janine Scholefield, her ability to not only master but, explain highly technical and advanced science in isiZulu and Sesotho is what makes her so highly prized at the CSIR.
“She has mastered the craft of communicating her work fluently in isiZulu, Sesotho and English which is so important. With science and technology shaping our lives daily, it ought to be accessible to all, especially young people wanting to pursue a career in science. Having a young black woman who is at the top of her game and is able to make the work we do relatable is what will continue to inspire young girls entering the science field. It also makes her even more invaluable to the CSIR and the scientific community at large” added Dr Scholefield.
With the skills that she has gained, she aims to use her PhD to further establish the stem cell platform for precision medicine, drug screening and, possibly, commercialisation in the CSIR. She also intends to use the stem cell and genome engineering platforms to find new approaches to eliminate HIV reservoirs in infected persons and, hopefully, also contribute in finding key therapeutic strategies that resolve excessive scar formation in heart and lung conditions, which are a great burden of disease worldwide.
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