Daily Archives: October 27, 2017

Kenyan Wins $100,000 Grant for Device to Help Expectant Mothers

A Kenyan university student has won a $100,000 research grant for an idea aimed at decreasing maternal and infant deaths among cattle-raising families on the Kenya-Ethiopia border.

Dahabo Adi Galgalo secured the 2017 innovation award from AESA, Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, for designing a GPS-like device to track expectant mothers in the area and ensure they seek health care for themselves and their babies.

Born into a pastoralist family in Kenya's Marsabit County, Dahabo told VOA Horn of Africa that she always wanted to improve health care for families in the border area who depend on raising and selling livestock to make a living.

"The area of the pastoral community is so vast. The hospitals and health workers are very few. In fact, Marsabit County is among the top counties in Kenya in maternal and infant death," she said.

One of the key factors contributing to the high death rates, she believes, is a lack of antenatal care (ANC) for pregnant women.

ANC clinics providing prenatal services are few and far between in the area, and pastoralists don't often visit the ones that do exist, partly because of the long distances they would have to cover.

Dahabo says that in 2015, she conducted a study of mothers who gave birth at a regional hospital. Out of 1,042 mothers who delivered during the one-year period, she says, 116 lost their babies during delivery.

Of those 116 women, she says, 40 percent had never gone to an ANC clinic. And those who did make a visit, often traveled 50 to 80 kilometers to receive checkups and treatment.

"That is when my idea of going mobile came to my mind," Dahabo said.

Her goal was to give expectant mothers a GPS-like device to help health care workers track them, remind them to get proper antenatal care, and arrange a visit with a doctor or health care volunteer.

The solar-powered device � which Dahabo helped design and a manufacturer is helping to build � is the size of a coin, and designed to be worn on a bracelet.

"With this, we can track the expectant mothers wherever they are and give them treatment," she said.

Under Dahabo's envisioned system, the program would be centered at the Moyale regional hospital and would cover the majority of Marsabit County with a radius of 160 kilometers.

The program aims to reach up to 200 expectant mothers for an initial period of two years. "We follow the expectant mothers for nine months and follow their children for full immunization," Dahabo said.

Dahabo has been involved in research and control of diseases for more than 10 years in the Kenyan ministry of health.

She is among eight African inventors who have received research grants from AESA, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

One of the other winners, Diawo Diallo from Senegal, is working on a surveillance system to track Zika-infected mosquitoes.

Another winner, Niaina Rakotosaminanana of Madgascar, is developing a low-cost, minimally invasive diagnostic test for pregnant women using blood samples drawn from finger pricks.

Source: Voice of America

GIGABA: SOUTH AFRICA NEEDS REFORMS TO RETURN TO GROWTH PATH

CAPE TOWN, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba says the government needs to fast-track reform and make difficult, bold decisions in order to return the South African economy to a desirable growth path.Briefing a joint sitting of the parliamentary Select and...

Analysts Fear Low Voter Turnout Will Undercut Kenya Election Results

NAIROBI �

Kenya's electoral commission has called for patience and calm as it tallies the results of Thursday's re-run presidential election. However, some analysts already fear that the low turnout � just 35 percent compared to nearly 80 percent in the previous poll in August � may undercut the credibility of the results.

The chief of Kenya's electoral commission says 6.5 million voters, about one-third of all registered voters, cast ballots in the election Thursday.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga told his supporters to boycott the vote, and some polling stations looked like ghost towns. Others had lines, but significantly shorter than the original August election. Some were closed entirely due to security concerns.

Murithi Mutiga, the International Crisis Group's Kenya analyst, said "if this turns out to be the final act in what has been a very dramatic election, it will be a very unsatisfactory conclusion for all sides."

The president, Mutiga added, will "move forward with what seems like a very shaky mandate, without a clear mandate from the people; that's a very, very low turnout. It's the lowest turnout in Kenya's multiparty history. We've had six elections since 1992 and the lowest was just about 57 percent. In general, Kenya election turnout levels are always above 65 percent.

The electoral commission said voting would take place Saturday in four areas of western Kenya where polling was halted due to violent clashes between protesters and security forces.

But late on Friday, the commission said electoral staff would be at risk and postponed the voting to an undetermined future date.

As of mid-afternoon Friday, the IEBC reported that it has received the large majority of official polling station forms and official constituency forms back from the field, but had yet to announce any vote count.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is making his second attempt at re-election. The Supreme Court nullified his victory in the August 8th poll, ruling that the electoral commission had not followed electoral law and the constitution.

Odinga called for several members of the commission to step down and for the polls to be postponed beyond a 60-day deadline announced by the court.

The opposition has not said whether it plans to file a legal challenge the results of Thursday's election.

Source: Voice of America

SOUTH AFRICAN MINISTERS REVEAL DIFFERENCES OVER NUCLEAR ENERGY

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa's finance and energy ministers have revealed their differences over the development of nuclear power plans after Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said the country cannot afford any new nuclear power project because of the weak ...

Al-Shabab Stones Somali Mother of 8 to Death

Al-Shabab militants in Somalia have stoned a mother of eight to death for allegedly committing adultery.Hundreds of residents gathered at a public square in the town of Saakow, about 400 kilometers south of Mogadishu, to watch the execution on Thursday...