Sequencing of the genomes of agriculturally important grasses such as maize (Zea mays) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) has allowed us to gain important insights into the evolution and abiotic stress response of these plants.
In recent years there has been an increased focus on applying these advances to more localized crops, which often constitute an important nutritional resource in low-income countries. In Ethiopia Eragrostis tef (Tef), a grass native to the Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands, is a staple crop and accounts for approximately a quarter of cereal production.
Tef has a number of properties that makes it attractive for farmers in Ethiopia. The crop grows well in both arid and water-logged areas and it is relatively …
This is a guest post by Eve Gray. Once an academic publisher in Cape Town, she went on to be a publishing strategy consultant before becoming a researcher on open access scholarly communications at the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning and the IP Law Unit at UCT. To mark the release of the 2014 Impact Factor Report she debates the value impact factors serve for the developing world.
The impact factor under fire
The release of the 2014 Impact Factor Report was being awaited, as usual, with some anticipation by journal publishers and researchers to see who is in and who is out in this particular club this year. Yet this comes at a time when there is …
The fierce heat of the sun was burning. Aba wiped the sweat from her brow as she trudged through the farm entrance and emptied the cocoa beans into the designated crate. Hot and parched from carrying the heavy load. She knelt by a small cloudy pond. Not fussed by its murky appearance she cradled her hands together and slurped unceremoniously.
In the weeks that followed, Aba’s health slowly deteriorated. She was tired, her body ached and her abdomen was tender. As she hacked at the cocoa pods, she had to double over intermittently, trying to ease the storm that was brewing in her stomach. It was releasing one anguishing blow after the other. The pain would eventually subside; it was …
The University of Nairobi is the oldest university in Kenya and is a keen supporter of open access. Alongside its open access policy it is a BioMed Central Foundation Member and operates an institutional repository. We talked to Agatha N. Kabugu, Deputy Director, and Milkah Gikunju, Repository Administrator of the University of Nairobi Library about the role of the librarian in the 21st century, research at the University of Nairobi and open access.
How do you feel the role of librarian is changing?
The librarian’s role has changed from being a passive purveyor of information to an active participant in the research and scholarly communication cycle. The digital era has brought with it new challenges …
New open access database puts quality of anti-malarials on the map
Everyone has the right to safe, affordable, effective, and quality medicines. However, many are being denied this right. Over the last decade there has been a renewed focus on the importance of drug quality. Government bodies have been found guilty of slacking in their obligations to human rights policy.
Quality control has been slipping off the agenda. Nearly a third of antimalarial medicines have failed quality tests due to poor packaging and incorrect levels of the active ingredients. A review of drug analyses, published in Malaria Journal, concludes that the distribution of falsified and substandard medicines threatens lives, putting patients’ health at risk and increasing the likelihood …
A mother cradles her child. Her son has developed a fever. His blanket is damp from heavy sweating. He lets out a piercing scream, the headaches have started again. She strokes his forehead and rocks him gently. “He’s been sick?” the doctor asks. The mother nods. All the symptoms point to malaria. A simple test could confirm the doctor’s prognosis. However, the clinic’s resources are limited, no microscope and no diagnostic tests. He has to act on observations alone and writes out a prescription for anti-malarial drugs.
Although hypothetical, this is a common scenario in Sub-Saharan Africa, where poor resources and inadequate laboratories are detrimental to public health. There are two commonly used methods for malaria diagnosis: laboratory diagnostic methods …
To mark World Malaria Day we spoke with Dr Francis Ndungu about his research into malaria immunity. Dr Ndungu completed his PhD at the National Institute for Medical Research before returning to Kenya where he is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Research Programme.
Why did you choose to study malaria?
My interest in how humans develop immunity to malaria started during my undergraduate studies at Kenyatta University, Nairobi. We visited the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) in Kilifi for an academic field trip and whilst there, the Director of KWTRP, Prof Kevin Marsh, who went on to become my mentor, gave us a lecture on ‘the immunology of malaria’.
It became …
This is a guest post by Professor Alan Lopez, Director of the Global Burden of Disease Group at the University of Melbourne. He takes a look at why we need to know more about causes of death in populations, and how verbal autopsy provides a viable solution.
We need to know more about causes of death
Each year, over 50 million people die worldwide, many of them prematurely, but for only about one-third of them do we know with some confidence what they died of. In some regions of the world this fraction is much higher at 90% or more; in others, like sub-Saharan Africa, it is less than 10% Yet politicians, policy makers and public health professionals are expected to …
This is a guest blog by Peter Byass, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Verbal Autopsy at Umeå University, Sweden. Peter has a regular global health blog and is on Twitter, @UCGHR.
“Nothing is certain except death and taxes” – Benjamin Franklin, 1789
Unfortunately, Franklin was correct in excluding cause of death from the realm of certainty. Whatever method is used to determine the cause of a particular death, there is some degree of uncertainty. Even if a body is put in front of several pathologists, there can well be multiple opinions about cause of death. But for more than half of the world’s deaths today, no expert opinion is even sought or recorded around cause of …
This is a guest post by Professor Prabhat Jha and Lukasz Aleksandrowicz of Centre for Global Health Research.
Reliable cause of death (COD) statistics have transformed public health in the last century. These basic data have uncovered links between diseases and risk factors (such as smoking), and are essential to smart allocations of spending and planning of health programs. Whereas high-income countries have near universal robust death certification and medically-certified COD, these systems are uncommon in low and middle-income income countries.
Most deaths worldwide occur outside of the medical system, and consequently, are invisible in vital statistics. As we point out in this series, global indirect estimates of the causes of death have to rely on roughly 850 guesses for one actual …