Male health workers from Tupange

Africa: A New Male Contraceptive Could Help Men Bear the Family Planning Burden

A new method of male contraception that is as effective as a vasectomy but entirely reversible with little to no side-effects is being tested and is showing promising results in animal trials.

If it is successful, it could drastically change the field of contraception. It would give men the power to prevent a pregnancy without any input from women using a method that is not permanent, such as the vasectomy.

The vasectomy is currently the only reliable contraceptive option available to men. It is a minor surgical procedure where the the duct that conveys sperm from the testicle to the urethra is tied or cut. The challenge is that it is not reversible.

The new contraceptive – Vasalgel – is a type of no-scalpel vasectomy. It has no hormonal effects or other side-effects, and can be reversed when the man wants to start a family.

In the same way that a vasectomy would, Vasalgel blocks the flow of sperm from the testicles to the penis. But it does not require any surgery. Instead of severing the tube that carries sperm – called the vas deferens – a gel is injected into the tube, forming a barrier that blocks sperm but allows other fluids to pass through.

Low uptake of vasectomies

Vasectomies are usually quick and straightforward procedures that carry minor risks like bleeding or infection. There is also a small chance that a man might experience post-vasectomy pain due to pressure build-up in the testicles.

Although very few vasectomies fail or go wrong, globally there has been a low uptake of this procedure.

In 2013 only 2.2% of men globally had vasectomies. This compares to 18.9% of women who underwent female sterilisation. Although some countries like Canada have higher rates of men who have undergone a vasectomy (22%), in Africa only 0.1% of men have undergone vasectomies.

On the continent, vasectomies could be one of the most effective male birth control methods because they are inexpensive and could therefore have a major impact on sustainable development and population growth. But the procedure is misunderstood and, as a result, is poorly used.

A second attempt

The new contraceptive is not the first time a male contraceptive has been introduced. Several years ago, the idea of the “male pill” was abandoned and more recent research efforts have been focusing on intra-vas devices, including Vasalgel.

Previous efforts to develop a male contraceptive focused on hormonal manipulation, which is how the contraceptive “pill” for women works. A man would basically be given hormones (like testosterone and progesterone) and these hormones would then interfere with certain processes in the body and cause the testicles to stop producing sperm.

The male hormone testosterone is linked to sperm production and by lowering the testosterone level in a man’s testicles you can prevent the production of sperm. But to lower testosterone in the testicles, you have to increase testosterone levels in the blood. Several studies have shown that there are too many unpleasant side-effects to this. These include aggression, depression, fatigue, low libido, high blood pressure and an increase in cholesterol levels.

Researchers have also tried to tweak the method of hormonal male contraception by adding other hormones, like the female hormone progesterone. But it still had too many side-effects and wasn’t effective enough.

Final steps

Vasalgel is currently being tested in humans but its reversability has only been shown in animal studies. These studies have shown rapid restoration of sperm flow.

For the reversal to happen, the man gets an injection of a bicarbonate solution into the duct that conveys sperm from the testicle to the urethra. This bicarbonate solution will dissolve the Vasalgel and it is flushed from the duct.

The challenge with Vasalgel is that although it blocks the flow of sperm, it does not offer any protection against the transmission of sexually-transmitted infections such as HIV.

Family planning is still considered a woman’s responsibility in many parts of the world. This has prevented men from being more involved in family decisions about fertility. It has also limited their access to family planning services targeted at them. The new method could be the first step to change this.


Liberia Declared Ebola Free for 4th Time

Liberia is officially free of the Ebola virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday Thursday, after the country successfully passed 42 days without a confirmed case of this often-fatal disease, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.

“WHO commends Liberia’s government and people on their effective response to this recent re-emergence of Ebola,” said Dr. Alex Gasasira, the organization’s representative in Liberia.

“WHO will continue to support Liberia in its effort to prevent, detect and respond to suspected cases,” he assured.

This is the fourth time that Liberia has been declared free of the virus since the epidemic began in December 2013. The most recent flare-up was traced to a woman who had been exposed to the virus in Guinea and traveled to Liberia with her children. They subsequently became infected thereby spreading the virus.

By late last year, when the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak virtually over, the virus had killed more than 11,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the three most seriously affected West African countries.

Mgabathi Hospital in Nairobi

Large Kenyan Government-led Program to Modernize Health Services

The Kenyan Ministry of Health’s program to modernize core healthcare services at 98 hospitals and government facilities across the country is being heralded as “the first Government-led program of its kind in Kenya – and one of the largest undertaken to date in Africa to support sustainable healthcare development.” As a technology provider, GE Healthcare will supply the radiology modernization tranche of the program as well as training and technical support for medical staff to ensure the optimal operation of the equipment. Read more. More about GE in Africa in this BRIEFING.

In Pic: Patients wait to be treated at Mgabathi Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya on June 15, 2016. Mgabathi Hospital is one of the 98 hospitals in Kenya that will benefit from the program being led by the Ministry of Health to modernize core healthcare services at key government facilities across the country.

MEDEXPO KENYA 2016 – East Africa’s Prime Medical & Health Care Trade Fair

The 19th MEDEXPO, East Africa’s biggest event on the Medical & Health Care Industry is to be held at a new venue from June 16 to 18 this year. Seeking more exhibition and parking space, the trade event will be hosted at the Carnivore Grounds. According to the organizers, Expogroup, the event is already 15% bigger this year presenting exhibitors from 25 countries booked already.

“We are overwhelmed with the response this year on both the international and local fronts.” said Divine Anella, the Public Relations Manager for the event.

“We are very positively expecting a much higher flow of visitors as well this year. Having changed the venue, we will have much more parking space which was missing at the KICC, the previous venue “, she added.Continue reading

Namibia: Africa Focused On Eliminating Malaria – Kamwi

Former minister of health Dr Richard Kamwi says eliminating malaria in Africa by 2030 is possible though it will require concerted efforts.

“We have an array of tools which, when used in combination, give us a very effective method of attack against the disease,” said Kamwi, who is one of the Elimination 8 (E 8) ambassadors.

E 8 is a coordinated eight-country effort intended to eliminate malaria in four southern African countries by 2020, namely, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland and subsequently pave the way for the elimination of malaria by 2030 in four more countries, namely, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.Continue reading

Ethiopia: Hospital Construction Phase II Cornerstone Laid

The cornerstone for the phase II construction of Tirunesh Beijing General Hospital was laid yesterday. The expansion is meant to provide special treatment to patients and would be undertaken on 5,750 square meter.

Health Ministry Health Infrastructure Development Director Mekonnen Engida on the occasion said that the project is intended to give specialized maternal and child medical treatment. It is also aimed at providing residential quarter to hospital staff to facilitate service delivery, he added.Continue reading

Wasso Designated Hospital Gets Medical Facilities Support

Arusha — Loliondo division, not only the second largest but also a remotest division of Ngorongoro District, is under a nasty experience as it depends on a single health facility of Wasso District Designated hospital.

But the Wasso Hospital has problems of its own that include acute shortage of over 70 patient beds, limited medical personnel and regular visits from ferocious wild animals and patients who escape without footing their medical bills, aided by the fact that the entire health centre does not have a fence.
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Tanzania: Govt Plans to Hire 10,000 Health Workers This Year

THE government plans to hire about 10,000 health workers before the end of this financial year, to team up with the current workforce in order to strengthen health service delivery in the country, it was announced.

The Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Hamisi Kigwangala, said this in Dar es Salaam during a ceremony to open the new Aga Khan University (AKU) Nursing and Midwifery training facility.
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Kyerwa Plans 200m/ – Hospital

Kyerwa district has set aside over 200m/- in its budget for construction of a district hospital, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kyerwa, Mr Innocent Sebba Bilikwate has said.

Mr Bilikwate told the ‘Daily News’ in an interview that for quite a long time people depended on Isingiro District Designated Hospital (DDH), which is owned by the Catholic Church.
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