Tanzania: TB Cases Reported On the Rise


The government has explained its strategies for the envisaged expansion of medical treatment services for tuberculosis (TB) following a reported increase in the number of cases.

Tabling his ministry’s budget estimates for the financial year 2014/2015, the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Seif Rashid, told the National Assembly that data have it that the number of TB patients is on the increase and people above 45 years of age are highly affected. “For the first time the TB Prevalence Survey was conducted last year.

It showed that the disease remains a threat with 295 people affected out of 100,000. People above 45 years of age are highly affected as compared to youths,” he said.

Dr Rashid noted further that the government will continue with efforts to take TB treatment services to lesser hospitals from the Kibong’oto Hospital which is a specialized medical centre for TB treatment.

He added that TB services will be put up in mining areas as the study indicates that miners are in a risky environment when they contact the disease which is airborne.

Dr Rashid noted that Gene-Xpert machines will be distributed around the country to increase hospitals’ capacity of diagnosing TB patients. In another development, the minister said that the ministry’s efforts in collaboration with its stakeholders have managed to reduce HIV/ AIDS prevalence rate to 5.3 per cent in 2012 from 5.8 in 2008.

“This achievement has been registered following various efforts and campaigns geared at counselling and voluntary tests,” he said.

He noted that by December 2013, the number of people who had tested has increased from 11,640 in 2009 to 20,469,241 which is equal to an average of an increase of 2,000,000 per annum.

“The increase in number is a vivid demonstration that the society is highly motivated and informed on the need to understand their health status,” he said.

Dr Rashid noted that 457,901 HIV/AIDS patients were tested for TB out of which 5,413 patients or 1.2 per cent were discovered to have contracted TB and were put into treatment.

Source: All Africa

Tanzania: Millions of East Africans Are Eating Poison – but Are They Aware of It?

But now we have to contend with a new one that is demanding our attention as well – eating poison. No, our people are not swallowing pesticides to end their lives.

They are happily eating their maize, cassava, groundnuts, rice and other foodstuffs the way they have always done.

And there lies the problem, because these foods are killing them slowly. A workshop held in Bujumbura on 6-7 March was told that millions of East Africans are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning. Simply put, aflatoxin is a poison produced by a fungus that infects various plants, cereals and legumes.

This can be either in the farm or during storage. The toxin is responsible for serious public health challenges including liver cirrhosis and stunting in children. Livestock that feeds on contaminated produce also gets affected, leading to lower productivity.

Many countries around the world have established what they deem to be safe standards to protect their citizens from harmful imports, the most stringent of these being those imposed by the European Union.

This has obviously affected the acceptability of produce from East Africa, which is said to be one of the major hotspots of aflatoxin. But the crisis has not attracted headlines.

It is unfortunate that the vast majority of our people have never even heard of aflatoxin. Perhaps, this saves them from a situation they would seem helpless to do anything about since at the end of the day they will need to eat something, anyway.

And you cannot tell them the food in the family granary is slowly but surely killing them without offering an alternative. What about the urban poor?

Putting together one meal at the end of the day is hard enough for them, so telling them to watch what they are eating may seem equally cruel. Experts say that up to 100 per cent of the harvest in some areas is often contaminated.

There are occasional outbreaks and some deaths, but generally the effects tend to be felt in the long term, which perhaps encourages officialdom to feign ignorance.

Moreover, the symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning are similar to many other conditions, which again makes it expedient to do nothing and to assume that some other condition may be the culprit. But burying our heads in the sand won’t solve the problem.

Source: All Africa



World’s Oldest Cancer Arose in a Dog 11,000 Years Ago

One cancer outlived the dog in which it emerged by spreading its abnormal cells on to other dogs during mating. Now, researchers have named this sexually transmitted canine cancer the oldest known line of cancer cells, at 11,000 years old.

This type of contagious cancer is extremely rare. Canine transmissible venereal tumor (CTVT) is one of only two known diseases in which cancerous cells from one animal infect another. The researchers compare CTVT to a millennia-old “parasitic life form.”

“The cancer cells in all the dogs around the world today are derived from the original dog,” said Elizabeth Murchison, a study researcher and cancer geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, both in the United Kingdom.

By looking at a particular type of mutation in the cancer cells from two dogs, an Aboriginal camp dog from Australia and an American cocker spaniel from Brazil, Murchison and colleagues estimated when this original dog — Patient Zero for the bleeding, ulcerated genital tumor-causing disease — lived. And since the cancer cells still contain genetic material from the original dog, the team was able to extract a few clues to its identity.

The original dog was likely medium to large in size. It showed genetic similarity to an Alaskan malamute or husky, and carried a mix of genetic variations associated with the domestication of dogs. Because one of the dog’s two sex chromosomes had disappeared in the cancerous cells, it was unclear whether this dog was male or female, and researchers have yet to determine in what part of the world it lived.

The other naturally occurring cancer spread by the transfer of cancerous cells is a facial cancer afflicting Tasmanian devils and transmitted they bite each other, and this disease puts the animals at risk for extinction. These cancers are extremely rare, because the immune system usually recognizes and attacks foreign cells.

In the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of the dog cancer cells, researchers found what Murchison speculates is a clue to how this cancer established itself early on. Although the original dog lived about 11,000 years ago, its DNA showed a level of inbreeding similar to that of a modern dog breed, perhaps because it was part of an isolated population. It is possible the genetic similarity among the dogs it first encountered helped the cancer cells avoid recognition by their immune systems, allowing it to become established, Murchison said.

Likewise, the low genetic diversity among Tasmanian devils may have contributed to the emergence of the contagious facial cancer that threatens these animals, Murchison said. No similar cancer afflicts humans. However, some human cancers are associated with infection by viruses or other pathogens. For instance, human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for 26,000 cases of cancer annually in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

Source: Yahoo news