G20: US President Trump has just agreed to aid for Africa

HAMBURG, July 8 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday promised $639 million in aid to feed people left starving because of drought and conflict in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. Trump’s pledge came during a working session of the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg, providing a “godsend” to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, the group’s executive director, David Beasley, told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting. “We’re facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two,” said Beasley, a Republican and former South Carolina governor who was nominated by Trump to head the U.N. agency fighting hunger worldwide. The new funding brings to over $1.8 billion aid promised by the United States for fiscal year 2017 for the crises in the four countries, where the United Nations has estimated more than 30 million people need urgent food assistance. READ: Op-ed: Nigeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to G20: It’s time to move beyond pledges to back Africa’s future “With this new assistance, the United States is providing additional emergency food and nutrition assistance, life-saving medical care, improved sanitation, emergency shelter and protection for those who have been affected by conflict,” USAID said in a statement. Rob Jenkins, acting head of the USAID’s bureau of democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance, said of the funding, over $191 million would go to Yemen, $199 million to South Sudan, $121 million to Nigeria and almost $126 million for Somalia. Conflict in all four countries had made it difficult to reach some communities in need of food, he noted. “We’re in a dire situation right now,” said Jenkins, adding that USAID was also concerned with the situation in southern Ethiopia. “The situation in southern Ethiopia fortunately does not rise to the dire situation of the other four, but the situation is deteriorating and might very well be catastrophic without additional interventions,” he said, adding that Washington had already provided some $252 million this year to Ethiopia, “but the needs continue to grow.” Beasley said the U.S. funding was about a third of what the WFP estimated was required this year to deal with urgent food needs in the four countries in crisis as well as in other areas. The WFP estimates that 109 million people around the world will need food assistance this year, up from 80 million last year, with 10 of the 13 worst-affected zones stemming from wars and “man-made” crises, Beasley said. “We estimated that if we didn’t receive the funding we needed immediately that 400,000 to 600,000 children would be dying in the next four months,” he said. Trump’s announcement came after his administration proposed sharp cuts in funding for the U.S. State Department and other humanitarian missions as part of his “America First” policy. Beasley said the agency had worked hard with the White House and the U.S. government to secure the funding, but Trump would insist that other countries contributed more as well. A WFP spokesman said Germany recently pledged an additional 200 million euros for food relief. (Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington; editing by John Stonestreet)

HAMBURG, July 8 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday promised $639 million in aid to feed people left starving because of drought and conflict in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

Trump’s pledge came during a working session of the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg, providing a “godsend” to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, the group’s executive director, David Beasley, told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.

“We’re facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two,” said Beasley, a Republican and former South Carolina governor who was nominated by Trump to head the U.N. agency fighting hunger worldwide.

The new funding brings to over $1.8 billion aid promised by the United States for fiscal year 2017 for the crises in the four countries, where the United Nations has estimated more than 30 million people need urgent food assistance.

READ: Op-ed: Nigeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to G20: It’s time to move beyond pledges to back Africa’s future

“With this new assistance, the United States is providing additional emergency food and nutrition assistance, life-saving medical care, improved sanitation, emergency shelter and protection for those who have been affected by conflict,” USAID said in a statement.

Rob Jenkins, acting head of the USAID’s bureau of democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance, said of the funding, over $191 million would go to Yemen, $199 million to South Sudan, $121 million to Nigeria and almost $126 million for Somalia.

Conflict in all four countries had made it difficult to reach some communities in need of food, he noted.

“We’re in a dire situation right now,” said Jenkins, adding that USAID was also concerned with the situation in southern Ethiopia.

“The situation in southern Ethiopia fortunately does not rise to the dire situation of the other four, but the situation is deteriorating and might very well be catastrophic without additional interventions,” he said, adding that Washington had already provided some $252 million this year to Ethiopia, “but the needs continue to grow.”

Beasley said the U.S. funding was about a third of what the WFP estimated was required this year to deal with urgent food needs in the four countries in crisis as well as in other areas.

The WFP estimates that 109 million people around the world will need food assistance this year, up from 80 million last year, with 10 of the 13 worst-affected zones stemming from wars and “man-made” crises, Beasley said.

“We estimated that if we didn’t receive the funding we needed immediately that 400,000 to 600,000 children would be dying in the next four months,” he said.

Trump’s announcement came after his administration proposed sharp cuts in funding for the U.S. State Department and other humanitarian missions as part of his “America First” policy.

Beasley said the agency had worked hard with the White House and the U.S. government to secure the funding, but Trump would insist that other countries contributed more as well.

A WFP spokesman said Germany recently pledged an additional 200 million euros for food relief. (Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington; editing by John Stonestreet)

THE LAST WORD: Rethinking healthcare in Africa

THE LAST WORD: Rethinking healthcare in Africa

ANDREW M. MWENDA| Last week I moderated a World Health Organisation panel on providing universal healthcare in Africa. These ambitions assume that poor countries have the ability to deliver the set goals and what is missing is honest government and political will. The debate took place in Rwanda where a poor country has achieved universal medical insurance. I have come to believe that using Rwanda as a reference point is misleading because the conditions that have made it successful are rare to find and difficult to recreate. This article’s central message is that we need to unlearn assumptions that inform our policy prescriptions for poor countries.

The concept of universal publicly funded healthcare is slightly more than 100 years old. It developed in the Western world in the early 20th Century and gained full expression after the Second World War. This development was occasioned by the transformation of the West from agricultural to industrial and from rural to urban societies. This transformation produced a large and educated middle class, a professional class, organised labour and civil society and most critically massive growth in state revenues.

In other words, the state in Western Europe and her offshoots in North America, New Zeeland and Australia began providing healthcare to all citizens when they could afford it. That is to say when they had developed the financial and human (institutions backed by skilled people) capacity to do the job. Indeed, the veritable National Health Services (NHS) of the United Kingdom was created in 1946. In the United States, Medicare and Medicaid began in 1965.

This was an entirely new governance model. Henceforth, the legitimacy of the government depended to a large degree on the ability of the state to provide a wide range of public goods and services to all citizens equitably. While European governments did this at home, they did not do it in their colonies. There, they relied largely on traditional systems (indirect rule) to secure the consent of the governed. This was done by using public resources to co-opt powerful traditional, religious, and other influential leaders of public opinion in local communities i.e. patronage. Where there was resistance to colonial rule, they used repression.

Within the colonial territories, the Europeans governed their expatriate staff and its “native” allies by actually providing a modest basket of these public goods and services – education, piped water, healthcare, electricity, paved roads etc. However, the majority of the population was not catered for. The services were also, for the most part, (especially health and education) not provided by the state but by private agents and/or by nongovernment organisations; especially churches and other charitable bodies.

But the African elite who went to school read about or even saw what the colonial government was doing at home. So the leaders who fought for Africa’s independence argued that the colonial state denied natives these services because of racism. That was only partly true. Even without its racism, the colonial state could not have funded the large basked of public goods and services to all its subjects in the colonies because it could not afford it. So our founding fathers promised to deliver this wide range of public goods and services to all citizens in imitation of the colonial state at home.

Meet Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon

Meet Africa's youngest neurosurgeon

When her day starts as early as 6am, it is that cup of coffee she takes at about 6.40am that wakes her up and gets her ready for the day.

She goes to bed after 11pm, a typical work day which includes doing research and reading academic and inspirational material to improve herself professionally and personally.

“I am left with only a few months to qualify as a consultant. Then I will be a fully functional specialist,” said Jilata excitedly.

She said her journey has been demanding but she was happy with what she has achieved although a career in medicine wasn’t her first choice.

“Like most girls, I wanted to be in fashion. I wanted to be a fashion designer or movie director.

“But when I was in Grade 11, I opted for the medical field. I then applied to a number of universities before I matriculated in 2004,” said Jilata, who was born and raised in Mthatha , Eastern Cape.

After being accepted at the Walter Sisulu University, Jilata said during her varsity life she never used to party but still managed meet good friends, some of which she still keeps to this day.

She holds a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degrees after completing a five-year programme.

“When I was in varsity, I realised that there were no neurosurgeons in our hospitals. That got me even more determined and focused on my studies,” Jilata said while calling for young people to consider it as a career.

She said she found her job fascinating.

“When I was in my fourth year, I started doing hospital rotations, which assisted students in acquiring first-hand experience on the management of patients. Instead of being nervous, I was fascinated.

“The series Grey’s Anatomy taught me a lot. Childbirth scared me a little. It was something I was never really exposed to and I wasn’t sure what to expect. In our field, when doctors talk about a liver, you see a liver and when we talk about a bowel and kidneys, we see and touch those things. It is fascinating.”

She said neurosurgery which is the medial speciality regarding the diagnosis, surgical treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of disorders which affect the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and extra-cranial cerebrovascular system, was forever changing.

Jilata, who is single and has no children, completed her internship at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital in 2010.

She then did community work at Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.

In 2013, she enrolled at the University of Pretoria to do her registrar training.

She is now based at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane where she spends most of the day in theatre, except for Wednesdays.

“I start work around 7.30am in the intensive care unit which caters for post-surgery patients who require close monitoring.

“After that, I will be in theatre all day. Operations can take up to eight hours. My professor always says, ‘when you are in theatre, you forget about time and keep going’,” she said.

Asked if there were any coffee or a bathroom breaks, she laughed and said: “Once you start you cannot stop. What I usually do is I grab something to eat before going into theatre. If one is really pressed, you can unscrub and rush to the toilet. It is unusual though.

“However, the body has good coping mechanism and can deal with stressful situations.”

Jilata said although her registrar contract stipulates the number of working hours, they are usually busy “from 7am until we finish”.

The biggest daily challenge she faces is time management.

“When you go to theatre, you must know what you have to do. I have to do research and read a lot. I barely get time to spend with my friends. I have to sacrifice my social life. I would love to start living, now!

“Whenever I can, I do dinners with friends or we go on hiking trips. I do not have time for a boyfriend, and that opportunity [to date] has not presented itself.”

She noted that her field was male-dominated and expectations from society were that neurosurgeons should be male.

She, however, loves the feed back she sometimes get from relatives of a patient she operated on, who call her “a miracle worker”.

Jilata said with neurosurgery, it is not only about the patient but their families as well.

“When we have operated on somebody, say he had a chronic subdural [hematoma], and was deteriorating. Usually, it’s an old man who is confused and the family is concerned. He is not waking up.

“The next day, the family is thanking you and it is like you are a miracle worker. In the same light, when something goes wrong, it is equally hurting. Neurosurgery is a roller coaster of emotions.”

Jilata is currently reading Dr Judy Dlamini’s Equal But Different because she sees herself as a “potential woman leader”.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised her in his budget speech in May, a few weeks after Jilata graduated from the University of Pretoria.

“In doing so, she became the sixth black female neurosurgeon in South Africa,” Rampaphosa said in his speech.

Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa also mentioned her in her budget speech in June: “We also celebrate Dr Ncumisa Jilata in this Youth Month, for becoming Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon following her graduation on May 18, this year.

“Dr Jilata was appointed by Steve Biko Academic Hospital as a registrar,” said Ramokgopa

Zim mulls legalising production of cannabis to lure investment

Zim mulls legalising production of cannabis to lure investment

Harare – Zimbabwe is considering legalising the production of cannabis for medical purposes to lure investors keen to grow the drug, a cabinet minister says.

Investment Promotion Minister Obert Mpofu says a Canadian firm has applied to the government for a permit to produce the drug, known locally as mbanje, in one of the country’s soon-to-be-set-up Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Numerous inquiries

“We have received numerous inquiries from investors who want to participate in the SEZs and one of them is a big international company that wants to be involved in the production of cannabis,” Mpofu was quoted as saying by the state-run Sunday News.

Zimbabwe is in the process of setting up SEZs, initially in Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. The zones will offer investors incentives, including exemption from some provisions of the labour law and black economic empowerment rules.

Big business

Mpofu told the paper that he thought the Canadian firm, which he didn’t name, was joking when he first received an inquiry from them. That was before he realised that medical cannabis production was big business.

“This company is from Canada and it’s one of the biggest conglomerates in that country and they are producing cannabis for medical purposes under strict conditions,” he said.

Punishable by jail

“I don’t see anything wrong and I think if we legalise (production of) mbanje we will benefit medically because it is used for pain killers such as morphine,” he added.

Under Zimbabwe’s laws the possession or cultivation of cannabis is illegal, punishable by jail.

In 2015 a Harare man – who was found by police to be growing small quantities of marijuana at home, apparently to treat a rare bone ailment – was jailed for 12 months, according to The Herald.

PEDIATRIC UNIT BUILT BY MADONNA IN MALAWI TO OPEN

PEDIATRIC UNIT BUILT BY MADONNA IN MALAWI TO OPEN

Madonna says the children’s wing at a hospital in Malawi she has been building for two years completed its first surgery last week and will officially open July 11.

The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, located at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in the city of Blantyre, had a soft opening and is the first of its kind in Malawi. It was built in collaboration with the Malawian Ministry of Health.

“When you look into the eyes of children in need, wherever they may be, a human being wants to do anything and everything they can to help, and on my first visit to Malawi, I made a commitment that I would do just that,” Madonna said in a statement to The Associated Press.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has joined me on this unbelievable journey. What started out as a dream for Malawi and her children has become a reality, and we couldn’t have done it without your support,” she added.

Madonna adopted four children, David Banda, Mercy James, Stelle and Estere from Malawi. The children’s wing was named after 11-year-old Mercy.

The pop star’s charity, Raising Malawi, has built schools in Malawi and has funded the new pediatric unit, which began construction in 2015. Madonna, 58, visited the site last year.

The children’s unit includes three operating rooms dedicated to children’s surgery, a day clinic and a 45-bed ward. It will enable Queen Elizabeth hospital to double the number of surgeries for children and will provide critical pre-operative and post-operative care. It also includes a playroom, an outdoor play structure and inspirational murals curated by Madonna and other artists.

Sarah Ezzy, executive director of Raising Malawi, said the charity has been working with Queen Elizabeth hospital since 2008, helping the hospital’s chief of pediatric surgery, Dr. Eric Borgstein, develop a training program.

“Pediatric intensive care is not something that has formally existed in Malawi. There hasn’t been any training on it. It’s not part of the curriculum in nursing school (or) medical school. People had to leave the country to train … now people don’t have to leave the country to train,” Ezzy said in an interview.

“This facility is attached to the college of medicine and nursing so it will be a learning, teaching hospital.”

Trevor Neilson, who works at Charity Network and has been advising Madonna’s philanthropic efforts for the last six years, said “only someone like Madonna could do this. If you weren’t Madonna, you would have given up a long time ago.”

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives, will be saved by the hospital in the course of it operating,” added Neilson, who has worked on charity projects with Bill Gates, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Bono and others.

Madonna founded Raising Malawi in 2006 to address the poverty and hardship endured by Malawi’s orphans and vulnerable children.

“Malawi has enriched my family more than I could have ever imagined. It’s important for me to make sure all my children from the country maintain a strong connection to their birth nation, and equally important to show them that together as humans we have the power to change the world for the better,” Madonna said.

Medical interns to earn Sh206,000 in salary deal

Medical interns to earn Sh206,000 in salary deal

Doctors in public hospitals yesterday inked a deal with governors that will lift the top earners’ pay to Sh582,954.
The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed with the Council of Governors (CoG) will see the lowest-paid doctor (intern) earn Sh206,989, including allowances.

Previously, the interns earned at least Sh189,910, including allowances. Top earning medic previously was on Sh460, 660 monthly. The agreement takes effect immediately and will hold over the next four years.

“The signing of the CBA recognition agreement marks the beginning of constructive engagement between the government and the union,” said Samuel Oroko, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) chairman.

The governors said they would need more resources from the national government to meet the terms of the doctors’ pay deal.

“Counties should receive more resources to be able to cater to the need,” CoG chairman Josphat Nanok said.

The CBA follows a deal reached in March when doctors ended a three-month strike.

The agreement granted doctors increased allowances like emergency call and non-practice perks and outlined a promotion plan.

County governments were to recognise the union and conclude local agreements within 60 days, which lapsed on May 14.

Entry-level doctors or interns will earn more than four times what the government will pay a fresh graduate with a liberal arts degree.

The liberal arts graduate earns about Sh50,000, including allowances monthly.

The new salary agreement would see the lowest-paid doctor and the highest-paid one get an emergency call allowance of between Sh66,000 and Sh80,000.

They are also entitled to a leave allowance of between Sh6,000 and Sh10,000 once a year.

PENTAX Medical and Aohua Establish Flexible Medical Endoscopy Joint Venture

PENTAX Medical and Aohua Establish Flexible Medical Endoscopy Joint Venture

On July the 7th 2017 Tokyo time, PENTAX Medical (a division of HOYA Group) and Shanghai Aohua Photoelectricity Endoscope Co., Ltd. (AOHUA) today announced the creation of a joint venture to develop products in the field of flexible medical endoscopy. The new company will offer global endoscopy solutions and will initially focus on the needs of emerging markets.

Flexible endoscopy is approximately a $2.5B market globally that is growing at an average of 5% annually. The emerging markets are a key growth driver, based on increasing population, economic growth, investments in medical institutions and infrastructure and a growing demand for minimally invasive procedures.

“We are excited to establish this collaboration with AOHUA that further advances our mission to improve the standard of patient care and quality of healthcare around the world,” said David Woods, Chief Marketing Officer of PENTAX Medical, “The complementary nature of PENTAX Medical and AOHUA’s capabilities will address key healthcare challenges and our two companies share a vision of delivering improved healthcare through early detection of cancer and other GI diseases in these growing markets.”

“Instilling clinical confidence by delivering high performance, reliability and value to our customers is at the core of everything we do,” said Gerald W. Bottero, Global President of PENTAX Medical, “Now PENTAX Medical along with AOHUA looks forward to offering endoscopy solutions in the emerging countries all over the world.”

The new company, PENTAX-Aohua Medical Technologies Co., Ltd. will be headquartered in Asia and plans to develop and commercialize products beginning with key emerging markets in Asia, Latin America Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. “With PENTAX Medical as our partner, this joint venture provides AOHUA with the immediate opportunity to reach more patients throughout the world,” said Dr. Xiaozhou Gu, CEO of AOHUA, “We have been committed to developing innovative technology, and our employees’ hard work and dedication will enable us to continue to deliver better and affordable endoscopy solutions that improve patient care,” Augustine Yee, Chief Legal Officer and Global Head of Corporate Development of HOYA Corporation commented, “This collaboration brings together combined strengths of PENTAX Medical’s global infrastructure and the capabilities and knowledge of the leading endoscope company in China. We look forward to the opportunity leveraging these synergies towards the improvement of patient health globally.”

About PENTAX Medical

PENTAX Medical is a division of HOYA Group. Its mission is to improve the standard of patient care and quality of healthcare delivery by providing the best endoscopic products and services with a focus on QUALITY, CLINICALLY RELEVANT INNOVATION, and SIMPLICITY. Through leading edge R&D and manufacturing, PENTAX Medical provides endoscopic imaging devices and solutions to the global medical community. Headquartered in Japan, PENTAX Medical has a worldwide focus and presence with R&D, regional sales, service, and in-country facilities around the globe.

Dubai eyeing Kenyan medical tourists

Dubai eyeing Kenyan medical tourists

World famous travel destination, Dubai, is now shifting focus to medical tourism as it seeks to drive more tourist numbers, especially in the East African region to seek its up-scaled medical services.

Stella Fubara Obinwa, the Director of Dubai Tourism, says the gulf city has among other things increased Emirates airline daily flights to Nairobi to three, with plans underway to have Kenyans start receiving Visa on arrival in Dubai in the next three months or so.

“There’s nothing as bad as, especially during the high season, you are pushing travel to Dubai but all the seats are booked. They will be mad at the travel agents, not the airline,” opined Obinwa.

Dubai Health Authority director of health regulation Dr Leilah Mayra says most people visiting the UAE emirate on medical grounds are seeking health enhancements, anti-ageing, clinical spa, weight reduction, eye and teeth correction, knee replacement, fertility and cancer treatments.

Among the major hospitals in Dubai attracting the medical tourism numbers American Hospital, which is touted as one of best cancer treatment centers in the Middle East, Thumbay Hospital, Iranian Hospital and Zahra Hospital which mainly target gulf countries, Russian and the African market led by Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Dr Mayra said “One of the things we concentrate on is the quality of care patient receives. We have a good medical visa for all tourists who come to Dubai valid for 3 months and can be extended by three months.”

Dubai is pushing medical tourism through the Dubai Health Experience initiative, with the initiative seeking to expand the tourism portfolio of the largest and most populous city and emirate in the UAE from its traditional luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene.

“Kenyans are mostly coming for fertility, orthopedic and oncology services,” intimated Dr Mayra.

Dubai attracted 14.9 million tourists in 2016, a significant rise from 14.2 million in 2015, with Africa accounting for more than 700,000 of these numbers, an increasing number now embracing medical tourism, away from the traditional South Africa and Indian further treatment destinations.

Obinwa and Mayra were speaking during the launch of the Dubai Expert Programme at a Nairobi hotel, an initiative providing travel agencies with a virtual experience of Dubai key tourism features to enable them create itineraries for families to better market them to their clients.

“With this programme, without travelling to Dubai you are going to have a virtual experience of what Dubai has to offer. You can then create itineraries based on family preferences. This will enable people to have a touch and feel of Dubai without even having been there and that should improve their sale,” added Obinwa.

Ancient-genome studies grapple with Africa’s past

Ancient-genome studies grapple with Africa’s past

Ignored for too long by researchers, ancient humans who lived in Africa thousands of years ago are finally having their genomes studied. Two projects released results this week on the genomes of around 20 individuals, which together reveal that the history of our species on the continent was far more complex than previously thought.

Africa’s neglect until now by ancient-DNA researchers was largely down to the continent’s scorching climate. Because heat speeds the deterioration of DNA, scientists have focused on sequencing remains from cooler European sites and Siberian permafrost. The first success in Africa came in 2015 when researchers sequenced the genome of a 4,500-year-old man from Ethiopia who was preserved in a relatively chilly mountainous cave.

But advances in removing contamination and the discovery that a tiny inner ear bone is chock full of ancient DNA has convinced researchers that the technology is finally ready to grapple with Africa’s past.

Stephan Schiffels, a population geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in Jena, Germany, says gaps in the knowledge of sub-Saharan African history are “embarrassing” — especially in light of how much researchers know about ancient peoples in Eurasia. This makes it all the more important to use DNA to uncover Africa’s hidden history of human migration, he says.

That is what a team led by Pontus Skoglund and David Reich, population geneticists at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, have now done. In a talk on 3 July at the Society for Molecular Biology’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas, Skoglund said his team had examined the genomes of 15 ancient individuals — and described detailed analysis of 11 of them — who lived as long as 6,000 years ago in eastern and southern Africa.

Highly mobile
They showed ancient humans moved around on the continent far more than was appreciated. The genome of a 3,000-year-old individual from Tanzania bore the ancestry of both ancient East African hunter-gatherers and early farmers from the Middle East. That supports past studies that documented a ‘back to Africa’ migration several thousand years ago: these migrants were closely related to early farmers from the Levant region in the Middle East.

The Tanzanian fossil was found at an archaeological site linked to animal herding, or pastoralism, and some of its genetic signatures have also been found in present-day pastoralists in southern Africa, Skoglund said. This suggests that east Africans brought herding to southern Africa.

The unpublished study from Skoglund’s team revealed additional movement. The genome of a 2,000-year-old individual from southern Africa was related to contemporary southern African hunter-gatherers known as the San, as well as to ancient hunter-gatherers the team sequenced from Malawi and Tanzania — but not to the current inhabitants of eastern Africa.

The reason for this, Skoglund suggested, is a well-documented migration of ‘Bantu’ groups from Western Africa, who brought agriculture and distinct language to eastern and southern Africa around 1,000-2,000 years ago. This Bantu expansion seems to have completely replaced local hunter-gatherers. An individual who lived on Tanzania’s Zanzibar peninsula 750 year ago, after the migration, shared no ancestry with earlier hunter-gatherers from southern or east Africa.

A separate team, led by Mattias Jakobsson at Uppsala University in Sweden, found evidence for the same migrations in the genome of a boy who lived 2,000 years ago near Balito Bay in South Africa and 6 other ancient southern Africans. Their study1 was posted to the bioRxiv preprint server last month.

Proof of migrations such as the Bantu expansion have been found at archaeological sites, as well as in the DNA of contemporary Africans, says Schiffels. But it is still nice to have direct evidence of these movements, he notes.

Early days
Ancient African genomes also have the potential to illuminate much earlier events. Jakobsson’s team used the Ballito Bay boy’s genome to infer that Homo sapiens emerged at least 260,000 years ago — far earlier than previous genetic studies have suggested. Skoglund’s team, meanwhile, used their ancient genomes to help uncover a possible ‘ghost population’ that diverged from the founding population of H. sapiens before any other African group and later contributed to the genetic make-up of some present-day West Africans.

Iain Mathieson, a population geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, hopes that ancient African DNA can explain our species’ migration out of Africa, some 50,000-100,000 years ago, by painting a genetic picture of the continents’ inhabitants around this time.

This might require DNA far older than several thousand years — which could mandate another major technical advance. Analysis of bones thought to be about 300,000 years old from Morocco, attributed to the earliest-known H. sapiens, has so far yielded no usable DNA. “It’s early days,” for ancient African genomics, says Mathieson, “it really is.”

HART Africa: Utah Doctors Help Paraplegic Man

HART Africa: Utah Doctors Help Paraplegic Man

A team of Utah doctors are donating their time and skill to help a paraplegic man suffering from pressure sores in Ghana. Becky Berry and Katie Crofts are both directors for the HART Organization, and stopped by Fresh Living to share the touching story of Eric Ayala. Eric will be flying to Utah to receive treatment at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center on July 10th, 2017.

On November 2004, at the age of 12 Eric and his mother Lucy were on their way to school in Korfordia, Eastern Ghana when they were hit by a drunk driver. Eric’s body was dragged a considerable distance along the road suffering severe spinal injuries leaving him paraplegic.

“He was emaciated, suffering from malnutrition, but still so humble and thankful for our visit. He was living in a makeshift shed outside with chickens, goats and hundreds of flies”, says Diane Wood after meeting Eric in April 2016 while serving a mission through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ghana, West Africa.

Since the accident, Eric has developed pressure sores resulting from his limited mobility. The sores have now become infected, and treatments for the severe ailment require that he pedal his way to the hospital 10 kilometers away. The family cannot afford Eric’s treatment. Eric’s father, Joseph works at a hospital where he does maintenance work 6 days a week and earns three Ghanaian Cedi, or $0.68 an hour. “Eric’s situation is dire IF he doesn’t get prolonged and effective care”, says Dr. Crofts, President of HART (Humanitarian Aid Relief Team) and Eric’s Sponsoring Physician. “It will take approximately 3 months and multiple surgeries from Plastic and Orthopedic Surgeons to get Eric to a point where he can be wound free, which in turn, will free him up for living”, continues Dr. Crofts.

A local nonprofit in Ghana has agreed to take in Eric upon his return in November to help him finish high school so he can become independent and self reliant as long as he is wound free by then.

HART Africa is a non-profit organization that embarks on annual medical missions to bring multispecialty medical care to rural communities in Africa.