Kenya and Uganda to Test Malaria Early Warning System

British researchers are helping Kenya and Uganda put together an early warning system that should allow medical authorities in those countries to react quicker and head off possible malaria outbreaks.

Over a million people die every year from malaria related complications, and one reason so many people die is that few people have immunity to malaria. Typically large numbers of people die when malaria epidemics break out in areas where the disease is not common.

Tarekegn Abeku of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the BBC, “Most people don’t have immunity to malaria, so all the adult population and the children are affected. So the mortality rate can be very high in these areas when epidemic occur.”

Abeku is helping Kenya and Uganda predict when and where outbreaks are likely to occur through a combination of weather and disease monitoring.

On the weather side of things, unexpected malaria outbreaks tend to occur due to shifting weather patterns. According to Abeku,

Mainly, these epidemics are related to changes in weather conditions so we are also trying to set up data collection systems to collect material — meteorological data — that we can link with this morbidity data. We will use this information to develop a system that can be used for forecasting the average weather conditions and to use that to predict the probability of occurrence of epidemics.

In addition, health facilities will report malaria cases and death rates every week to health management teams which will be used with the weather data to predict any possible epidemics.

When researchers believe that conditions are right for an outbreak, they will treat people in the area for malaria in order to reduce the level of malaria parasite in the local population as well as possibly using insecticide to lower the mosquito population.

If the system proves successful in preventing malaria outbreaks, it could be used in other developing countries where malaria is a serious health problem.


Africa gets malaria early warning system. The BBC, May 5, 2002.

Female Genital Mutilation Hospitalized 21 Girls in Kenya

This happened back in October but is an frightening example of the dangers of |female genital mutiliation|. At the end of October, 21 girls in Kenya had to be hospotailized due to serious infections they developed after being forced to undergo female circumcision.

The girls, aged 9 to 14, were pulled out of school by their parents to make sure the government would not interfere, and forced to undergo the procedure. Kenyan woman’s activist Naomi Okul told the BBC that in this case, “The traditional operators used dirty knives and most of the grisl ahve infections in their wounds.”

Kenya only outlawed female genital mutilation for girls under 17 a few months ago, and the high rate of the practice among some of Kenya’s peoples is believed partially responsible for that nation’s extremely high maternal mortality rate.


Circumcision hospitalizes Kenyan girls. Muliro Telewa, The BBC, October 31, 2001.

Kenya’s President Says He’ll Enforce Ban on Genital Mutilation

In a speech on Kenya’s independence day, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi promised to rigorously enforce a new law making female genital mutilation practices illegal on girls under 17. “Anyone found circumcising a girl of 16 will go straight to jail,” Moi said.

He also promised police protection for any young girl threatened with female genital mutilation.

Moi affirmed, however, that females 17 and older would be able to choose for themselves whether to undergo the procedure saying that, “for girls above the age of 16 years, it is their choice to be circumcised or not. Should they not want to be circumcised, they shall also be protected by the new law.”

According to the BBC, a 1998 survey found that 38 percent of Kenyan women aged 15 to 49 had undergone female genital mutilation.


Kenya bans FGM among young. The BBC, December 12, 2001.

Kenyan President: Women Have ‘Little Minds’

Daniel arap Moi, president of Kenya, made headlines in that African nation when he said that women were underachieving because they have “little minds.”

“You [women] can achieve more, can get more but because of your little minds, you cannot get what you are expected to get,” Moi said.

It didn’t help matters any that Moi chose to make his remarks at the opening of a regional women’s seminar in Nairobi.

Moi’s remarks were condemned and criticized by a wide range of leaders in Kenya from the head of the Catholic church to the chairman of the Law Society of Kenya.


Outrage at Moi remark. Joseph Warungu, The BBC, March 8, 2001.

The European Union Addresses the Problem of Female Genital Mutilation

A meeting of the European Union in Brussels attracted activists from Africa and the world to discuss what, if anything, Europe can do to work against female genital mutilation in Africa. Female genital mutilation typically involves removal of all or part of the clitoris, and sometimes other parts of the genitalia, without anaesthetic and usually under unsanitary conditions.

The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide up to 130 million women have been subjected to the practice. Although some Africans defend the traditional practice as necessary to ensure young girls remain virgins until marriage, 15 out of 28 African countries have outlawed the practice. Even so, up to 2 million young girls each year undergo such mutilation either legally in 13 countries or illegally in the others.

African activists want the European Union to strongly condemn the practice as well as create European Union-wide policies allowing women who fear they may become victims of the practice to seek asylum. Greek commissioner for employment and social affairs, Anna Adamant, suggested that the European Union should make foreign aid to African nations contingent on their agreeing to outlaw genital mutilation. That suggestion is sure to draw complaints of Western imperialism from traditionalist supporters of the practice.

Meanwhile in Kenya, where genital mutilation is not specifically illegal, two young women there recently had a court agree to take up a case they filed against their father who they believe is secretly planning a traditional female genital mutilation ceremony for them. In their lawsuit, the young women argue that the practice is an affront to morality and justice.


EU tackles female mutilation. The BBC, November 29, 2000.

EU may ban aid to states that allow female circumcision. Andrew Osborn, The Guardian (UK), November 30, 2000.

Familyl in court over circumcision. Muliro Telewa, The BBC, December 1, 2000.