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Thursday, June 25, 2015


It is being called "hidden hunger". The systemic lack of nutrient-rich foods in the diet of over 2 billion people worldwide - with most being within the developing world. Scidev.net, recently, has publicized this chronic issue head-on in their article: "Tapping into local resources to curb malnutrition". 

While it is important that work must be done in order to feed the many hungry people throughout the world, it is just as important to adequately feed them a balanced nutrient-rich meal; not just consisting of protein-heavy foods that give the appearance of a healthy weight [my own opinion added]. 

Andrea Rinaldi - the author - takes on the issue of malnutrition, with emphasis on the use of local resources. She points out that most farmers within the Global South are encouraged to grow foods that are more profitable for the international market, rather than indigenous crops that are high in nutrient value. Accordingly, a focus on planting locally found plants and using age-old techniques, such as the consumption of highly nutritious insects, could help curb this ongoing problem. She goes onto reiterate that the use of these foods is still common amongst "...traditionally oriented" people. 

Adepoju et al., in their journal: "Nutrient Composition and Sustainability of Four Commonly Used Local Complimentary Foods in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria" and published in the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, study the issue of inadequate nutrition more thoroughly. According to the authors, adequate nutrition is of utmost importance during infancy and childhood; where a short period of malnutrition has longstanding effects on growth, development, and overall health in adults. Specifically, the period between 6 months and 2 years of age is crucial for such factors. If a lack of complimentary foods is not provided, long-term ramifications of such inadequacy will - in most circumstances - occur. 

The study was conducted to examine the nutrient composition and suitability of four commonly used complimentary foods in two separate Local Government Areas (LGAs) within Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The method used was a descriptive cross-sectional survey involving mothers with children aged 6-24 months old. To avoid any biases within the study, the LGAs were randomly selected to provide accurate information on the commonly used complimentary foods within the regions. A total of 300 mothers aged 18-60 years old, presenting their children for immunisation in the two LGAs, were respondents. A semi-structured questionnaire, that had been pre-tested prior, was used to determine socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge on breastfeeeding, complimentary feeding practices, and types of complimentary foods used in preparation of meals. From this information, standardized samples of four of the most commonly used complimentary foods were analyzed for nutrient and anti-nutrient composition using AOAC methods of analysis.  

Data from the study was then analyzed using descriptive statistics and a Chi square test, with the level of significance set at p= 0.05. The most commonly used complimentary foods used were: two types of unripe banana porridge, one mashed bean porridge, and a type of mixed cereal pap with crayfish and 'turn brown' (soybean, groundnut and crayfish). One hundred gram portions of these foods contained on average between 2.52- 6.70 g of crude protein, 1.26-7.23 g crude lipids, 8.16-13.97 g carbohydrates and yielded up to 415.57 kcal of energy. Measurements of the mineral content were also analyzed: the range was between 31.58-230.40 mg potassium, 46.78-184.68 mg calcium, 55.23-120.93 mg phosphorus, 10.37-23.26 mg iron, 7.53-18.53 mg zinc per 100 gram portions. 
Results indicated that the four complimentary foods used by the respondents in this study were nutritionally adequate and were low in anti-nutrients (oxalates, phytates, trypsin inhibitors, saponins and tannins). Therefore, there is little risk of malabsorption of the nutrients. The utilization of unripe banana and mixed cereals with turn brown for infants is recommended. Using this method provides cheap complimentary foods that are adequate in energy and nutrition and promotes biodiversity.  

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Team Photo

Bioline would like to take this opportunity to welcome our new and existing work-study students! Blane, Charanya, Ramsha, Kai-Ann,Yuan, Sabika, and of course, the management Leslie and Dong!

Thursday, May 28, 2015


One month ago today, Nepal was struck with a 7.5 magnitude earthquake: destroying homes, businesses, villages, and consequently the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of Nepalese people. The Guardian's recent publication: "Nepal one month after the quake: ' The emotional impact has been devastating", spells-out in great detail the impact the quake has had on the locals. Sam Jones, who is the author, tells a compelling story about a woman's initial fright while her home and the buildings around her crumbled by the shock. How, when a community is devastated by disaster, the people can come together to support one-another. However, while they can support each other emotionally, help is urgently needed by the international community.   

The UN estimates that while international aid has started to arrive, 1.4 million dollars is needed to supply food, water, and other necessities to the many effected within the 39 districts, including the 11 districts that were most severely hurt.

Financial help is of great importance, yet many fail to realize - or at the very least, do not discuss it at great lengths - the impact on mental health of displaced victims of natural disasters. This crucial step in the identification of mental health  is the focus within Nilamadhab Kar's study: "Natural Disasters In Developing Countries: Mental Health Issues".

It is suggested by Kar, cultural differences regarding the perception of stress, resilience and coping are well known. These factors also effect the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity following such disasters. Kar's study brings to light a previous study by Telles et al., which suggests that acute psychological effects, specifically the risk of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and depression, were found to be more prevalent within the elderly population who had lived through a natural or man-made disaster. Elderly people, according to Kar, are one of the most vulnerable groups for post-disaster psychiatric morbidity.  

After the Tsunami disaster in the Andamans, in the early post-disaster phases, significant mental health problems were recorded. Similarly, 3 months after Orissa super-cyclone, 50% of the victims were reported of having post-traumatic stress symptoms. Further, long-term post-disaster studies in India  have also reported a considerable amount of psychiatric morbidity in the victims, comprising mostly of post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety disorders.

Kar goes on to suggest that observations of the study by Telles et al. reemphasize that systematic screenings of the victims in the disaster-affected areas are preferable to routine clinical evaluation. Otherwise many victims may suffer in silence, rather than seek psychological help, due to the cultural stigma attached to mental health. It is also suggested that while it is pertinent to conduct post-disaster studies, arranging such studies can be difficult considering the ground realities in the immediate aftermath of disasters. Yet, data-gathering should be an integral part of disaster relief and support work, which will improve overall knowledge for better care of victims of natural and man-made disasters.

Donations for the relief efforts in Nepal can be given to the Red Cross or any of the many other organizations providing help on the ground.  

For this journal and others from this issue, click here.

Sunday, May 03, 2015


The recent earthquake that rocked Nepal is a tragedy, to say the least. In some cases where a natural disaster has left cities in ruins, the government is quick to act and rebuild. However, according to Sam Jones - who is the author of a recent article published by the Guardian - and her interviewee, Katie Peters, governments should not be quick when rebuilding. Rather, they should take more time and plan so new infrastructure can withstand such environmental disasters. Such disasters are inevitable, Jones reiterates.

Jones goes onto mention the issue of the millions of displaced locals-turned-migrants from such disasters. Approximately 1.5 million people from Haiti were displaced due to the tragic earthquake in 2010 and while funding from the international community is important, Jones suggests that the funds should be allocated locally. Doing so, makes the process more sustainable and lessens the dependence of such extensive funding in the future.

Pourhameshi et al., in their journal: "Analyzing the individual and social rights condition of climate change refugees from the international environmental law perspective" take on this complex issue of climate change displacement more specifically. While Jones may be correct when emphasizing the importance of a more sustainable development plan. Pourhameshi et al. focus more attention on the countries taking in refugees. With emphasis being placed on the inefficiencies and the lack of rights being provided to each individual migrant, they are - according the Pourhameshi et al. - deprived of the most essential human rights, such as a healthy living environment. Currently, the legal administration has not made the necessary contingencies for responding to the environmental consequences of immigration and is extremely inefficient in expanding this phenomenon.

The journal seeks to address the question: To what extent can existing forms of legal and operational protection be applied in climate change-related displacement, in general, as well as cross-border displacement, in particular. Further, the authors seek to provide a better insight, so as to address the gaps and inefficiencies within the governments providing safe-haven to migrants. It is expected that analyzing these gaps and determining the international community's duties and commitments - both governments and international organizations - can result in a more efficient management of the crisis and prevent contagion of chaos globally. 

For this journal and others from this issue, click here.

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Monday, April 27, 2015


Although development into anti-malarial drugs have come a long way, much work still needs to be done in order to prevent the hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of senseless deaths caused by this rampant virus each year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.2 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria, with an estimated 198 million cases and 584 thousand deaths in 2013, alone. The Guardian recently published an article outlining some of the blockades preventing the treatment of malaria.

Carla Kweifio-Okai in her article: "When people come with severe malaria, it is like a race against time", notes the lack of adequate healthcare services within Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda. Further, special emphasis is given to the lack of new and better medications being used to treat malaria, such as injectable Artesunate. Despite its advantages, she notes, the use of Artesunate is pitiful and its roll-out has been frustratingly slow. In Ethiopia, the government has introduced the drug into its national guidelines, yet adequate training in administering it ceases to exist; combined with higher prices and shortages, means the many healthcare facilities have chosen to use older, less effective drugs.  

While this is an issue that needs to be addressed, another issue within this area is increasingly becoming a greater threat to the spread of malaria. Omole et al., in their journal: "A Survey of Antimalarial Drug Use Practices among Urban Dwellers in Abeokuta, Nigeria" emphasizes the increasingly problematic use of Artesunate by locals who are self-medicating to treat malaria. While it's noble that they are taking an initiative to get better, the drug is not being used appropriately, which according to the authors, posses a greater risk of new drug-resistant strains of malaria to form.

A descriptive cross-sectional survey was carried out to assess anti-malarial drug-use practices amongst locals residing in Adigbe communities, Abeokuta, Nigeria. The study documented the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of 350 respondents in terms of drug preference, attitudes to drug use, and effects of non-compliance to anti-malarial medication. Structured questionnaires were used for data collection with a total of 370 being handed out and 350 used for analysis. 125 (35.71%) of the respondents frequently experienced malaria attacks and practiced self-medicating in hopes of ridding themselves of the illness. 115 (32.86%) of the respondents treated their malaria episodes with a Sulphadoxine-Phyrimethamine combination, while 90 of the respondents frequently purchased Artesunate as a monotherepy malaria treatment due to cost-implications associated with newer and readily available Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs). This equates to only 43 (12.29%) of the respondents purchasing the newer and more better Artemisinin- Combination Therapy. 

The results revealed that therapeutic failure to conventional use of Sulphadoxine-Phyrimethamine by the respondents, as 139 (33.71%) of them experienced no cure and had to repeat self-medicating with anti-malarial medication. The authors suggest that if this pattern of self-medicating persists and is not monitored adequately, there is a possibility of early emergence of resistance to the highly effective anti-malarial drugs presently in use.  

For this journal and others from this issue, click here. 

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Friday, April 24, 2015


Gender equality: while we have come along way to an equal path for both men and women, there is still much work to be done. The United Nations' new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being finalized at this very moment with much talk and recognition being on equality for women within the developing world. It is within this goal that brings attention to women having adequate access to education and tools for sexual and reproductive health; the choice to choose their family size, according to Sarah Shaw. 

Sarah Shaw is the author of the Guardian's article: "Sustainable development must prioritise women's sexual health" and states that the governments around the world are now accepting the fact that the key to achieving a world without poverty, is the rights of women and their sexual and reproductive health. Having access to adequate women's healthcare services is of great importance, as well as educating them. Most cannot deny this fact. Women are the foundation of our society, they give birth to us and they should have the same rights as men do when it comes to their health and well-being, amongst many other rights they deserve, but do not receive at this present time. 

While there is much talk - Shaw goes on to suggest - between now and September, while in discussions of the post-2015 development proposals, there is no guarantee that the references of sexual and reproductive health will remain in the original document. And so it begins, the push to continue the talk and public opinion on the importance of this crucial issue. Equality of rights has come far, lets continue the push to empower women. To not, would mean the utter breakdown of the new Sustainable Development Goals and continue the existence of deprivation and poverty throughout the Global South. 

Larsson et al. in their journal: "Women's Education, Empowerment, and Contraceptive Use in Sub-Saharan Africa: Findings From Recent Demographic and Health Surveys" echo the need for better sexual and reproductive healthcare services. 

According to Larsson et al., fertility remains higher and contraceptive levels are substantially lower in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the developing world. In their paper, the authors used information on individuals and couples from recent Demographic and Health Surveys that took place in Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, and Zambia. They used both a bivariate and multivariate method to examining the determinant of contraceptive use among married women (age 15-49), with special emphasis on women's education and empowerment. 

The results indicated that education was an important determinant of contraceptive use, but mattered less in choice of method effectiveness. The overall impact of education was similar in all countries studied, except for Kenya, where it was non-existent. Empowerment of women was less important in determining contraceptive use. 

It is suggested within the study that efforts to increase contraceptive use in general and the use of modern methods needs to be addressed. Specifically, emphasis needs to be taken on providing basic education for all women and on changing gender roles.   

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015


Within the West we experience upheavals that in some cases are severely problematic. Developing countries - on the other hand - continue to face ongoing social, political, climatic and economic disparities on an ongoing basis. In turn, locals are forced to flea these ongoing stresses and migrate in hopes of a better life. Most within the African continent turn to Europe, its faraway neighbor. 

It is a fact that we are bombarded with coverage in the news of the amount of migrants fleeing war-torn areas. Yet, in most cases we are not provided with the full story. Rather, the migrants are described in a negative fashion as being a burden on Western society because of their overwhelming numbers. In turn, most news coverage of this issue lacks acknowledgment of the individual struggles migrants go through for a better life in the West. The Guardian in their article: "Fear, fatigue and separation: a journey with migrants willing to risk everything", has done just this - gave the individuals a voice.

The unnamed journalist followed a group of African migrants and the smugglers from Athens, Greece through the Balkans. Most migrants use Greece as a safe haven because they can claim asylum, but many do not stay due to the economic struggles Greece is currently under. In turn, smugglers then bring the hopeful group on a 10-day journey in hopes of gaining entry to the heart of the EU - Germany and France. Most, however, don't make it and are caught by police who take them back to Athens. One woman in particular was caught and was separated from her small child, causing her great stress and sadness. She describes these ordeals as being wrong and inhuman. 

While most migrants believe that the EU - specifically Germany - would free them of their worries, Erhabor Sunday Idemudia states that this might not be the case. In his journal Idemudia studies the "Associations between demographic factors and perceived acculturative stress among African migrants in Germany". Further, special emphasis is placed on the idea that living in Germany would be stressful on African migrants. 

Data from 85 migrants from the general population, as well as prisons, showed that 73.4% were males and 26.6% were females with age ranging from 18 to 46 years old. Participants of the study completed the MAQ interview that is used while assessing acculturative stress.

Results from the hierarchical regression analysis indicated that: majority of Africans living within Germany reported some form of racial discrimination, a negative situation, precarious job and a substantially large amount of daily hassles. To this extent, acculturative stress increased with duration of stay within Germany. Family fragmentation and being separated from one's spouse was a strong predictor of acculturative stress, as well as being an economic refugee. 

It is recommended that genuine attempts to support African migrants within Germany should be put it place. Moreover, attitudes of "you should not be here in the first place" has not only effected the migrants, but has also put economic and political stresses on the host country - Germany.   

For this journal and others from this issue, click here.

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Saturday, April 04, 2015

IMPACT OF FLOODING ON FISHERMEN'S FAMILIES IN PEDRO COMMUNITY, IWAYA-LAGOS, NIGERIA - Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, Vol. 18, No. 4

Climate change is getting much worse. While some self-interested individuals like to deny its very existence, many throughout the developing world are seeing it first hand. The Guardian's most recent publication: "Cameroon's fishing industry and tourism industry battered by extreme weather" outlines the struggles many in Kribi southern Cameroon, Africa are feeling. This is due to the increase in unusual heavy rains and inland flooding. Elias Ngalame - who is the author - first opens up the story with a compelling, yet very real, story of a struggling fisherman.

"I go for days without going to sea for my catch because of the frightening weather [...] this is the first time we are witnessing such aggressive weather".

The lack of fishing has essentially increased poverty according to Ngalame's article. The town of Kribi has seen a drastic decrease in tourism, which is another staple the locals rely on. All this due to the vicious increase of torrential rain and argued to be the externalities of global warming.

Chuckwu, MN's journal: "Impact of Flooding on Fishermen's Families in Pedro Community, Iwaya-Lagos, Nigeria" echoes Ngalame's above article. The study examined the effects flooding has had on a total of 50 fishermen within Iwaya-Lagos, Nigeria. Further, the fishermen were interviewed using structured questionnaires that were distributed through a simple random sampling technique. Data was then collected, summarized and computed using a technique called descriptive statistics. 

Results indicated that flooding was a dominant seasonal climate factor. Seventy-six percent of the individuals interviewed stated that flooding played a substantial role in the decrease in fishing. Destroying fishing implements and impacted negatively on their social lives. In turn, flooding also disrupted children's schooling, increased environmental pollution, and reduced the amount of fish caught. Consequently, it decreased family income and increased the occurrence of water born diseases. 

Most (96%) were recorded saying that they would not like their children to continue in the fishing business, and that if they had an alternative means of income, they would opt out altogether. 

The study concludes by suggesting that efforts to remedy the effects of flooding should include: provision of alternative skill development, as well as affordable health services for treatment of water born diseases.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015


Just recently, the Guardian published an article named: "Bean breakthrough bodes well for climate change challenge". Which is about a breakthrough in heat-resistant beans that have the potential of flourishing in the African heat. Yet, a question resides on the immediate threat of distribution of the bean seeds because of corporate America's profit-over-prudence ideology. To this end, questioning the ethical boundaries of the international businesses that are contributing to the agricultural and development growth within Africa needs to happen. 

While one could argue that the investment of community growth through the means of private investment is a step forward, Mark Anderson - who is the author - points out that this could backfire. Anderson reiterates concerns that profit seeking corporations have been known to pressure governments to change laws and policy in favor of big business. Mariam Mariet in response to a recent gathering of these businesses, and who is the director of the African Centre For Biodiversity, cements this thought: 

"Public-farmer partnerships that integrate farmer and scientific knowledge will generate a more accountable process, and produce longer-lasting and more meaningful solutions for African  agricultural production, than these profit-driven, exclusive and narrow processes." - The Guardian

While the sentiment of private partnership is not without merit, a business model that creates further dependency is not the best plan of action in order to rid the Global South of hunger and poverty. Katungi et al., in their journal: "A cost-benefit analysis of farmer based seed production for common bean in Kenya", provide a more economically sustainable alternative to this issue.

Community based informal seed production has recently gained popularity as a alternative to the formal seed sector. This is because farmer produced seed, which is readily available, costs much less than certified seed. To this extent, the authors of the study examined the profitability of locally produced common bean seeds within Kenya, Africa. 

The study used data collected from farmers and one seed company participating in seed multiplication. Findings suggested that farmer based common bean seed production was a profitable enterprise and was less sensitive to market price fluctuations. However, compared to certified common bean seed production, net profit margins were five times higher for certified common bean. The reason for this is because of two distinct factors; namely, high productivity from the use of sophisticated irrigation systems and relatively higher prices for certified bean seeds. 

It is suggested by the authors of the study that with the current varieties, profitability - and thus a locally sustainable market - depends on access to irrigation and good agronomy. 

For this journal and others from this issue, click here.



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Sunday, March 15, 2015


Recently, The Guardian's article: "Toxic 'e-waste' dumped in poor nations, says United Nations", outlines the severity of the illegal dumping of what is being referred to as 'e-waste' within developing countries. John Vidal, who is the author of the publication, lists the many hazards of dumping discarded electronics has on both the environment and the locals. Because the areas being used as trash sites for the Wests' addiction of consumer goods, the people - often times small children - use this as a means for income. Because the locals within the exploited communities lack adequate resources, most times they burn the plastics in order to retrieve the metals. This is obviously a health risk.

Vidal goes onto state that the global volume of electronic goods is expected to grow by 33% within the next four years, and that it is now the fastest growing system of waste, with China and the US being on top for the most consumption. The European Environment Agency estimates that between 250,000 tonnes to 1.3 million tonnes of used electronic goods are illegally shipped out of the European Union each year. And while it is highly illegal to ship discarded goods to developing countries, Vidal suggests that they are falsely labeled and packaged as 'used goods' in order to get through customs.

While this is no new issue, it has to be said that it is exciting to see more attention being brought to this serious issue. Igaharo et al. in their journal: "Toxic Metal Levels Nigerian Electronic Waste Workers Indicate Occupational Metal Toxicity Associated With Crude Electronic Waste Management Practices", thoroughly evaluate the health risks associated with electronic waste metals within Nigeria.

In the study, they evaluated the toxic metal levels in Nigerians who have been occupationally exposed to e-waste. Large levels of Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Chromium were detected within the blood tests of the Nigerian e-waste workers. To unsure a non-biased study, age-matched non-exposed participants were also studied using: standard electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. 

The results showed statistically significant elevated levels of toxic metals within the workers compared to the non-exposed study group (see: article for scientific measurements). Additionally, data indicated that elevated levels of toxic metals within the e-waste exposed population is directly related to the e-waste management practices within Nigeria. The potential for serious health effects, such as kidney disease and cancer; proceeded by genome instability and depressed immune response were highlighted within the study. 

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Monday, March 09, 2015

CHILD LABOUR IN FOOTWEAR INDUSTRY: POSSIBLE OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH HAZARDS - Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol. 9, No. 1

The demand for inexpensive labor is an increasing problem throughout the developing world. While most people would point to the west and the ever increasing consumption of goods that drives this demand/ supply market. In some circumstances the demand for cheap labor comes from within individual developing countries, and the failure of their governments to implement policies to protect its citizens from exploitation is very much to blame.

The Guardian's recent publication: "Aid money for development projects in Nepal linked to child labor", supports the claim that so-called "blood-bricks", made by children as young as eight and who are working up to 15 hour days, are being funded by the very initiatives that are put in place to uplift the country from poverty (development aid money). In effect, the money being invested is doing the opposite of what it is meant to do and increasing the already problematic exploitation of children that exists today. 

Pete Pattisson, who is the author of the above story, further goes on to suggest that the use of child labor in the production of "blood bricks" is far-reaching in many development projects throughout Nepal and has been systematically traced back to United Kingdom aid money in one such circumstance. Pattisson further suggests that it is estimated that up to 28,000 children are working in brick kilns across Nepal, with an estimated half being that of the age of 14 or under. This alarming number is due to the lack of policies, and the failure of adherence of existing ones, by the many aid agencies and governments throughout the development chain. 

The exploitation of children within the labor force is staggering throughout developing countries, and no more is this issue apparent than in India. The West's overconsumption of goods and the need for a bargain-price creates a market of impoverished children whom work long hours for very little, or in some cases, no pay at all. 

Rajnarayan R. Tiwari in his journal: "Child Labour in Footwear Industry: Possible Health Hazards", provides a more concrete study of the potential risks and overall health hazards involved with such unethical businesses practices. He states that the Government of India has acknowledged that at least 17.5 million children are being used as workers throughout its export industry. Further, is the fact that the footwear industry is considered to be one of the most significant within India, as well as globally- next to China. Children between the ages of 10 - 15 years of age are mainly employed in assembling shoes, while approximately 80 percent work for contractors at home.

Some of the processes involved in producing footwear for export are: cutting patterns, sewing, assembling, and finishing. While finishing consists of soling (fixing upper potions of the shoes to leather or rubber soles) with glue. The child workers are cramped in poorly lit rooms and suffer from continuous inhalation and skin contact of toxic industrial adhesives. Thus most of these children suffer from respiratory problems, lung diseases, and skin infections. The more serious side effects being that of: nasal cancer, neurotoxicity and adverse physical factors. 

It is suggested by Rajnarayan, that child labor be abolished completely within the production of goods and services in India and to allow the child to be a bread eater, instead of a bread earner.

For this journal and others from this issue, click here.


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Monday, March 02, 2015


The recent article: "Creating a fertile future for smallholder farmers in Africa" and published by The Guardian, asks what the most effective ways are to encourage development of smallholder farmers within Africa. Frederika Whitehead, who is the author, answers this very crucial question. She suggests that diversification, training, and working with the private sector are the main variables to encourage such growth. Whitehead argues that diversification is a high priority, in effect, it helps smallholder farmers in preventing economic risks of market collapses, and helps prevent land degradation. Yet, this is hindered by governments, as well as businesses that encourage dependency on fertilizers, as well as encourage them to grow single crops (see: above article). 

Further to this, Whitehead reiterates her interviewee, Marc Pfitzer, who is managing director of a non-profit consulting firm; that one of the main issues within development of smallholder farms is the lack of training. Pfitzer advocates that the private sector has a real incentive to provide adequate training because the farmers will then provide them with their products/ services. Therefore both parties have the potential for economic gain. 

Ngugi et al., in their journal: "Transforming Agriculture Through Contracted Extension Service Delivery Systems: The Case of Kenya's Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project", verifies the inadequate expertise and diversification mentioned above. Further, they solidify the fact that the transformation of smallholder agriculture from subsistence farming to agribusiness focused systems is crucial to attaining Kenya's vision 2030 goal.

To counter this issue: The Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project (KAPAP) is implementing an innovative service delivery model, which focuses on Community Driven Development (CDD), demand driven and public private partnerships through contracted Service Providers (SPs). With the aim being, that such a model will contribute towards increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers, as well as their income.

The implementation of the model brings together sector players as implementing agents; while the SPs alliance were competitively selected. The services delivered to the farmers' common interest groups (CIGs) include high level value chain interventions, such as organizing farmers for marketing, and connecting them to other markets, as well as other service providers. Payment of the service is achieved using farmer grants and is established through achievements of a set income benchmarks negotiated prior between the farmers and their SPs.  

A total of 109 service provider alliances were contracted within the month of January 2012 to offer services and expertise to 118, 865 smallholder farmers (Males= 57%; Females= 43%). They were then organized into 4,355 Common Interest Working Groups (CWGs), and after a time-span of 15 months, the achievements made through use of this model were substantial. 

The results indicated that the farmers had both an increase in production, as well as income. They earned a total of US$ 44,118 million at a service delivery of US$ 1,124,706, giving an econometric return of investment of 39.4 percent. To this end, the achievements made by the use of this model qualifies it for inclusion amongst other feasible extension approaches. The potential to transform the agricultural sector in Kenya, as well as other developing countries with minimal modifications, is of great significance altogether. 

For this journal and others from this issue, click here.


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Tuesday, February 24, 2015


The Guardian's recent publication: "Why are there still so many hungry people in the world?", crucially outlines the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while at the same time, lightly critiquing the achievements and progress made by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While most tend to stray towards paying close attention to the achievements made, it's just as important to study the potential improvements. It is suggested by the author of the article, Hilal Elver, "that the greatest challenge for the [...SDG's] is to eradicate poverty and hunger while maintaining sustainable food security for all in a crowded and dramatically unequal world". While the MDG's reduced poverty, they essentially failed at improving food security and nutrition because food has not been considered a human right. Elver goes onto suggest that in order for the SDG's to succeed in eliminating hunger, a shift is needed from a development model based on charity and aid, to one based on human rights reinforced by accountability mechanisms. 

Kamara et al., in their journal: "The Politics of Food and The Fight for Hunger: Reflections and Lessons From Uganda", echos Elver's views for better policy, as well the social effects associated with this issue. While Uganda can be seen as having major successes in economic progress. The country still faces substantial developmental issues, with a large percentage being that of hunger and malnutrition. This effectively creates a situation in which threatens the economic stability, essentially unraveling the hard work and progress that has been made. Civil unrest within the country is a large part of the negative externalities associated with food deprivation; and understandably so, when people become desperate they do whatever is necessary to survive. The urban poor are most affected by this, as apposed to the rural poor, who have the ability to farm and live off their land. 
The journal is an analysis of how Ugandan politics is being reshaped by the geopolitics of food, taking into consideration the impact of various factors such as:international food markets, population growth and increasing demand for biofuel. Further, the journal also examines other forces driving food insecurity including: changes in the weather, the growing middle-class, government policies, and the increase in urbanization. 

In summary, food insecurity is a threat that can no longer be ignored. By achieving food security, especially for the urban poor, it is an effective way of preventing further civil unrest, violence, and insecurity in Uganda. It is suggested that in order for this to occur, the government must be proactive in creating food independence and national security.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Impact on nursery seeding density, nitrogen, and seedling age on yield and yield Attributes of fine rice - Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 71, No. 3

The Guardian's recent publication: "India's rice revolution", outlines the remarkable use of a more sustainable way of agricultural rice production. Specifically, it outlines the record-breaking yield one farmer has produced using a unique, yet simplistic, method called System of Rice Intensification- SRI for short. While this method can be traced as far back as Madagascar - according to the author John Vidal - it has seen wide use around the world with staggering and impressive results that could be implemented further in developing countries, as a more economically-sound, and environmentally efficient process of agricultural production.

Sarwar et al., in their study: " Impact on Nursery Seeding Density, Nitrogen, and Seedling Age on Yield and Yield Attributes of Fine Rice", compliments Vidal's article nicely. They state within their journal that the most important aspect to the process of rice production is producing vigorous seedlings and planting them at the appropriate age, in order for a high yield to occur. Further, the impact of seeding densities, nitrogen, and seedling age was assessed after transplanting 10, 20, 30, and 40 day-old seedlings raised by using different seeding rates (high and low); as well as different nitrogen conditions (with and without) during the 2008 - 2009 rice growing seasons. 

The Study brought to light some key aspects: That 10 day-old nursery seedlings, regardless of seedling density and fertilizer application, showed higher yields and yield attributes (productive tillers, plant height, 1000-grain weight, and straw yield), while at later stages significant interaction was observed with nursery management. The transplanting of 20 day-old fertile seedlings grown with low seeding density during nursery-bed growth stages, engendered in a higher number of productive tillers per squared meters (233.3 227.3), straw yield (11.1, 10.7 t ha-1), and a final yield (3.6, 3.5 t ha-1) in both 2008 and 2009.

The results to the study were that yield and yield attributes significantly diminished when transplanting older seedlings grown at high seeding density and without nitrogen application during the nursery-bed growth stages. Minimum productive tillers (165.7, 133), straw yield (8.7, 8.1 t ha-1), as well as rice paddy yield (2.0, 1.8 t ha-1) were observed with transplanting 40 day-old seedlings grown at high seeding density and without the use of nitrogen application. These results support the use of young seedlings in a system of rice intensification, and illustrates by making minor changes to production methods, farmers can increase their rice yield exponentially. 

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Sunday, February 01, 2015

PneumoADIP: An Example of Translational Research to Accelerate Pneumococcal Vaccination in Developing Countries - The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, Vol. 22, No. 3

The Guardian's recent publication: "Help us crowdsource vaccine prices around the world" outlines the need for pneumococcal vaccination prices to be cut. It is suggested by the aid agency, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), that due to the domination of the two main pharmaceutical companies (GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer) and thus the lack of competing forces within the market, that this has essentially created a monopolistic market for vaccines. This situation has allowed the companies to price the vaccines at a substantially higher price per vaccine, creating a situation in which it is not sustainable for developing countries to provide adequate vaccination care to children. A call to these companies to fix their prices at five dollars per vaccine, per child, for developing countries, is strongly suggested by the MSF in order to counter this ongoing problematic situation.

Levine et al., in their journal: "PneumoADIP: An Example of Translational Research To Accelerate Pneumococcal Vaccination in Developing Countries" echoes this need, as well as provides a theoretical model for future success of public-private coordination and vaccine distribution. It is suggested that the introduction of new vaccines in developing countries has largely been delayed due to a lack of coordinating efforts to address both supply and demand issues. Further, is the fact that the introduction of vaccines in developing countries has been plagued by a vicious cycle of the uncertainty of demand, which has lead to limited supply output, which keeps prices substantially higher, and in turn, leads to an uncertainty of demand in the longterm. 

To overcome this problem, the authors of the study suggest using the Pneumococcal Vaccines Accelerated Development and Introduction Plan (PneumoADIP), which will assure an affordable and sustainable supply of vaccines within the developing countries. Translational research will be important in achieving the goals of PneumoADIP by concretizing the burden of pneumococcal disease and establishing the value of vaccines regionally, as well as on a global scale. If correct, the PneumoADIP will reduce the uncertainty of demand, allow appropriate planning of supply, and attain acceptable and affordable availability of product for the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines within developing countries.

Using this model could provide a useful example and valuable lessons for how a successful public-private partnership can improve global health.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Climate change, sea level rise and coastal inundation along part of Nigeria Barrier Lagoon Coast - Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, Vol. 18, No. 1

It's 2015: What does that mean, exactly? Well, 2015 was the end-year of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It seems it was just yesterday when the UN announced what some were saying to be a radical shift forward for development, and while much has been done to counter the worlds many issues, there is still much to do. Recently, The Guardian published an article and interactive web outlining the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): "Sustainable development goals: changing the world in 17-steps interactive". These goals were produced by the many participating nations within the United Nations Assembly. To say the goals are anything less than amazing, would certainly be an understatement in itself. For starters, the UN Assembly plans to eradicate all poverty by 2030. This alone, will take great dedication, however, there is many, many more goals set forth. 

While the UN has met most of its projected goals under the MDGs, some projections, it seems, have been harder to reach than the others. Climate change has actually increased since the MDGs came into existence in 2010. This is largely due to the increase in carbon emissions (CO2). While focus on the others were just as important, it is just as important to note that the increase of climate change does, in fact, have a great impact on the outcome of the other developmental goals. The negative external costs associated with the increase in carbon emissions creates a ripple-effect throughout the world, consequently increasing agricultural droughts, floods, and other environmental disasters, thus increasing the rate at which poverty exists. This issue, some would argue, needs to be addressed more seriously in the future by the developed world.

Odunuga et al., in their journal: "Climate Change, Sea Level Rise and Coastal Inundation Along Part of Nigeria Barrier Lagoon Coast", analyzed the potential effects climate change could have on sea levels, as well as to evaluate the vulnerabilities of the surrounding infrastructure. Using an interactive GIS-based simulation, the authors of the study mapped the area of the Badagry coastal environment with data collected from two different sources: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (IPCC-SRES), and the Locally Oriented Economic Development Scenarios (LOEDS).

The resulting analysis of the IPCC-SRES scenario showed the area inundated with high emissions, as well as a worse-case sea level rise was less than 0.13%. Yet, the LOEDS inundation analysis showed a significant impact beginning at a 4 meter rise in sea level. It is suggested that since it is only environmental catastrophism and anthropogenic activities that can attain such serious dimension at local, regional, and global sea level scales; that significant coastal sea level infrastructures should be integrated in any developmental activities in and around the area. 

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Reproductive Tract Disorders among Afghan Refugee Women Attending Health Clinics in Haripur, Pakistan- The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, Vol. 28, No. 5

Intrastate conflict - or known to most as civil wars - within the developing world attest to the greatest number of civilian displacements, more so than any other social or political upheaval. The Guardian's recent publication: "5.5 million people displaced over first half of 2014, say UN refugee agency", however, pays concern to, and addresses most frequently, the number of recently displaced people within the Middle East and the bordering regions of Africa. While conflict is a problem in-and-of itself, it is equally important in understanding the health problems within refugee camps in order to provide the necessary education for the people to prevent further health- related issues.

Balsara et al., in their journal: "Reproductive Tract Disorders among Afghan Refugee Women Attending Health Clinics in Haripur, Pakistan", emphasize this need. While this is a past study and most recently, Syrian refugees have surpassed Afghanis in the number of displaced people, the importance of the study is not who is displaced, but rather to underline the health issues effecting these refugee communities.

The objective of the study was to identify commonly-occuring reproductive tract infections (RTIs), asses the knowledge of the women with RTIs, as well as asses  the physical and behavioural factors contributing to the development of RTIs. Afghan women who had been displaced by conflict and were living in refugee camps in Haripur, Pakistan: Who had reproductive health-related complaints, were included in this study as well (n=634). 

The data collected included implementation of an interview-administered questionnaire, as well as a physical examination and laboratory tests with a descriptive analysis being conducted first. Qualitative data was then coded and analyzed using predetermined themes. Chi-square tests were used in determining the possible relationships between binary outcomes and categorical risk factors.

The outcomes were substantial: over three-fourths (76.7%) of the women who visited the clinics with complaints of reproductive complaints had, in fact, had an RTI. While nearly half (49.5%) of the women were diagnosed with some form of vaginitis, as well as 14.7% being diagnosed with clinical suspension of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Women with a cervical prolapse (p=0.033) or who cleansed after sexual intercourse (p=0.002) had a higher probability of having vaginitis. Yet, there was a substantial difference (p=0.017) in the prevalence of suspected PID among women who used mud to cleanse (11.1%). Whereas women who used water had an exponentially higher rate of prevalence at 18.8%. Women who used an old cloth or toilet paper had the lowest prevalence at 9.8% when cleansing after defaecation. In summary, specific physical and behavioural contributors to the high prevalence of RTIs in the refugee communities studied were identified and recommendations to counteract these health issues are recommended. 

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Friday, January 09, 2015

A Comparative Kinetic Study of Acidic Hydrolysis of Wastes Cellulose from Agricultural Derived Biomass - Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, Vol. 15, No. 4

Agricultural waste has been an issue for farmers throughout the world, specifically, the conversion of said waste into useful resources to further development, both socially and economically. The Guardian's recent publication: "Rice waste makes 'green wood' to build low-cost homes in India", outlines this very issue. The article takes into account the negative externalities from the production of rice and how a young girl from India has - essentially - thought of a way to counter this problem. The 16 year-old girl from Delhi, decided after seeing the amount of waste that was produced from the production of rice: that she could search for a way to use the rice husks to contribute to the growth of her community, which allowed for her to create a positive, rather than a negative external cost of production and to a more sustainable community, overall.

Today's featured journal: "A Comparative Kinetic Study of Acidic Hydrolysis of Wastes Cellulose From Agricultural Derived Biomass" by Ajani et al., studies the use of bioconversion of agricultural waste in order to produce economically and environmentally sustainable chemicals and fuels that have a significant advantage over traditional fossil- based products.

For this study, the authors of this journal observed the kinetics of acid hydrolysis cellulose that was isolated from banana skin, cowpea shells, maize stalks and rice husks at temperatures ranging between 70 - 100°c in a stirred conical flask, which served as a batch reactor. The effects of acid concentration on cellulose hydrolysis were also taken into consideration while conducting this study. 

The results showed that the rate of hydrolysis by virtue of glucose yield, generally increased with increase in temperature and acid concentration for all four of the agricultural wastes used. The experimental data was fitted to integrated first-order rate kinetics, and the results obtained suggested a first-order rate of glucose formation for the four agricultural waste cellulose used.

The activation energy estimated while using a Arrhenius equation was 39.60 kJ/mole for banana skin cellulose. While the use of cowpea shells' cellulose revealed an estimated 38.83 KJ/mole and 34.29 KJ/mole for rice husk cellulose. Maize stock cellulose yielded the highest amount of energy at 44.37 KJ/mole. These values suggest the ease with which hydrolysis can occur between the four agricultural wastes' cellulose.  

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