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          Found: The First Color Made By a Living Thing      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   
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It's hard to imagine the prehistoric world. What did the sun feel like? What did the ancient oceans sound like? What did it smell like back then? (It can't have been good.)

Thanks to new research, we've now got a tiny inkling of what we might see if we traveled a billion years back in time. It turns out that, as far as living things were concerned, Earth was pretty pink.

By grinding up pieces of marine shale, a team of researchers from the Australian National University has discovered the oldest known colors produced by living things. The pigments, which are 1.1. billion years old, once belonged to cyanobacteria, and were used in photosynthesis. They were found in marine shale dug out from the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, and when diluted, they're about the color of a sunrise.

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It was a lucky find: As senior researcher Jochen Brocks told LiveScience, chlorophyll doesn't usually stick around this long. This particular batch of bacteria must have died all at once and sunk down to the seafloor, where it was isolated from oxygen long enough to fossilize. It stayed preserved underground until about 10 years ago, when a mining company dug it up.

The pigment molecules were discovered by the Ph.D. student Nur Gueneli, who extracted them by pulverizing the shale and running a solvent through it. "When held against the sunlight, they are actually a neon pink," Brocks told the BBC. "At first I thought [the sample] had been contaminated."

Besides being nice to think about, the pink also gives us a picture of who ran the seas back then. Larger animals don't appear in the fossil record until around 600 million years ago, and scientists have long wondered why they did not evolve more quickly. "The precise analysis of the ancient pigments confirmed that tiny cyanobacteria dominated the base of the food chain in the oceans a billion years ago," at the expense of bigger, tastier algae molecules, Gueneli said in a press release. "[This] helps to explain why animals did not exist at the time." Pink is nice to look at, but it doesn't make a meal.


          NEPAD’s transformation into the African Union Development Agency      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

At the recent 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government in Nouakchott, Mauritania, African Heads of State and Government received several reports, including the status of the implementation of the AU Institutional Reforms presented by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. President Kagame is the current chair of the African Union and the champion for the AU Institutional Reforms process.

English

          Comment on Whither Wahhabism by Herman J. Cohen      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   
It is important that Saudis stop sending Wahabbist missionaries to Moslem countries in Africa, with lots of money to play with, who tell the local clerics that their Sufi brand of Islam is heresy, and that they must adopt Wahabbism, accompanied by financing for a new mosque. This is very destabilizing for countries like Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and Niger who have enough socio-economic troubles without having to face growing Islamic extremism.
          World’s oldest colour discovered in rocks deep beneath Sahara Desert      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   
SYDNEY. – An international team of scientists discovered the oldest colour in the geological record in rocks beneath the Sahara desert: the bright pink pigment aged 1.1 billion years old. Nur Gueneli, from The Australian National University, said the ancient pigment was extracted from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa. […]
          Scientists Have Discovered Ancient Color Pigment Inside A Fossilized Rock That Is 1.1 Billion Years Old      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

The oldest color pigment has been found inside a 1.1-billion-year-old fossilized rock.

Scientists have made the startling discovery of fossilized chlorophyll that is the most ancient color pigment ever to be found inside of a rock, shattering the previous record by more than 600 million years. The color of this particular pigment? A dazzling pink.

As Science Alert reports, this discovery is proof of photosynthesis 1.1 billion years ago, yet more more exciting than that was the revelation that the pigment was created by bacteria, which might explain why when it comes to evolution animals took as long as they did to appear on the scene.

The fossilized chlorophyll was found hidden inside marine black shales by a team of researchers who were investigating an area of Mauritania, West Africa, that is known as the Taoudeni Basin. And while the color itself was a brilliant shade of pink, the life that created it would almost certainly have been even more vivid.

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          United States of America: Technical Program Officer, GHSC-TA Francophone TO      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   
Organization: Chemonics
Country: United States of America
Closing date: 24 Jul 2018

Chemonics seeks a Technical Program Officer for the USAID Global Health Supply Chain – Technical Assistance Francophone Task Order (GHSC-TA Francophone TO). The GHSC-TA Francophone TO provides technical assistance for strengthening national and sub-national health supply chain systems in Francophone Africa and Haiti; and supports regional collaboration and capacity building activities within the West Africa region to improve commodity security. At the global level, the Francophone TO supports the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to ensure that Emergency Preparedness strategies are supported by adequate country supply chains.

Access to quality pharmaceutical products remains a challenge in many countries in the sub-Saharan region. Ensuring the availability of these products remains critical to improving the health and well-being of vulnerable populations; to the reduction of morbidity and mortality from major public health threats; and to the economic development of countries and the region. The Technical Program Officer will provide technical support to the Task Order country portfolios supporting timely and quality completion of project deliverables, and the documentation and dissemination of results. The Technical Program Officer will also coordinate regional activities aimed at capacity building of regional organizations/initiatives, and the promotion of commodity security within the region, especially for family planning and reproductive health products.

The Technical Program Officer will report directly to the Francophone TO Technical Manager and will provide support to designated activities for program countries including but not limited to, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Haiti, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo. We are looking for individuals who have a passion for making a difference in the lives of people around the world.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Support the implementation of the Population and Reproductive Health (PRH) work plan activities ensuring adequate deployment of resources, timely completion of deliverables, and assuring quality of products

  • Supports the technical manager in managing strategic technical activities in the home office and in field offices (FOs) and works closely with country offices and regional technical advisors

  • Supports technical preparation and documentation for internal and external meetings and activities

  • Assists in supporting and reporting on activities as agreed in approved workplans.

  • Plans, coordinates, and manages a variety of activities such as work planning and client and technical meetings and conferences

  • Liaises with GHSC-PSM on procurements and deliveries of PRH commodities

  • Works with the M&E manager to coordinate the implementation of EUV surveys, PPMRs and other M&E activities

  • Contributes to knowledge management plans and supports dissemination activities for program results and best practices, research studies, evaluations, and reviews

  • Collaborates with a range of partners, including but not limited to WAHO, RHSC, in-country Ministries of Health, GHSC-PSM project field offices, other USAID and non-USAID project field offices, international donors, implementing partners, and inter-agency initiatives

  • Performs other duties as required

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree required, Masters’ degree in public health, supply chain management, or related field preferred

  • Minimum 5 years of public health, health system strengthening, and/or technically relevant work experience if holding a MS/MA/MB

  • Minimum of 6 years of public health, health system strengthening, and/or technically relevant work experience if holding a BS/BA

  • Experience with Family Planning/Reproductive Health in developing countries preferred

  • Ability to present data and analysis in easily understood infographics and data visualizations

  • Demonstrated ability to communicate clearly and concisely orally and in writing

  • Proven analysis and organization skills working in a cross-cultural environment

  • Ability to foster and demonstrate a workplace inclusive of serving others, building trust, innovation, and exceeding expectations

  • Willingness to travel, both internationally and within the US; ability to work overseas for up to 4 to 8 weeks per year; and experience working in developing countries preferred

  • Strong administrative skills, word processing abilities, knowledge of MS Office applications, attention to detail, ability to manage multiple competing priorities at once, excellent customer service skills

  • Professional level of oral and written fluency in French and English

  • Demonstrated presentation skills

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

  • Strong organizational and work prioritization skills


How to apply:

Application Instructions:

Apply through our Career Center at https://chk.tbe.taleo.net/chk05/ats/careers/jobSearch.jsp?org=CHEMONICS&cws=1 by July 24, 2018. No telephone inquiries, please. Finalists will be contacted.

Chemonics is an equal opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate in its selection and employment practices. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, age, or other legally protected characteristics. Military veterans, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other national service alumni are encouraged to apply.


          Scientists Discover ‘World’s Oldest’ Color That Is 1.1 Billion Years Old      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

Image via Shutterstock

You might have been told that Millennial pink was outdated, but who knew a variation of it went even further back?

A team of researchers from Australia, Japan, and the United States have uncovered what is believed to be the oldest color in the world: bright pink.

The ancient pigments were excavated from 1.1 billion-year-old rocks underneath the Sahara Desert in the Taoudeni Basin of Mauritania, West Africa, where a prehistoric ocean used to be. The bright pink hue is more than half a billion years older than pigments found previously.

Dr Nur Gueneli, who led the analysis for her PhD studies at Australia National University, describes that the pigments were “molecular fossils” of chlorophyll produced by long-extinct ocean organisms capable of photosynthesizing.

When concentrated, the fossils vary from blood red to deep purple. Once crushed into powdered form, extracted, and diluted, they become a bright pink.

Aesthetics aside, the researchers say that the discovery of these pigments could indicate why it took millions of years before Earth saw its first sign of animal life.

The rocks from which the bright pink was extracted from contained ancient organisms called cyanobacteria, which dominated the bottom of the food chain then. However, they were too tiny to keep larger organisms nourished.

Oceans containing cyanobacteria were wiped out only 650 million years ago, paving way for algae, which was 1,000 times larger. This new microorganism proved to be large enough to “provide the burst of energy needed for the evolution of complex ecosystems, where large animals, including humans, could thrive on Earth,” said senior lead researcher Associate Professor Jochen Brocks.

Scientists have just discovered the world's oldest colour – and it's a billion-year-old bright pink https://t.co/vWBaQVA2DJ pic.twitter.com/vcQdxY5VAA

— Just Be Good :) (@narangjprakash) July 10, 2018


Scientists discover world's oldest color https://t.co/rCQsKR9b4T pic.twitter.com/1LXVa0s1Il

— robert lea (@learobert3002) July 10, 2018


If you’re intrigued about the history of colors, you might want to check out the world’s rarest pigments, some of which were extracted from now-extinct ingredients.



[via CNN, images via various sources]
          Este color rosa brillante es el color más antiguo del mundo       Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

Ahr0cdovl3d3dy5saxzlc2npzw5jzs5jb20vaw1hz2vzl2kvmdawlzewmc82nduvb3jpz2luywwvcgluay1syw5kc2nhcguttk8tukvvu0uuanbn Pigmentos rosa brillante de 1.100 millones de años extraídos de rocas en el desierto del Sáhara en África es ahora el color más antiguo encontrado hasta la fecha, 500.000 años más antiguos que los descubrimientos de pigmentos previos.

Los fósiles varían de rojo sangre a púrpura oscuro en su forma concentrada, y de color rosa brillante cuando se diluyen.

Mauritania

Los investigadores machacaron las rocas de hace mil millones de años, antes de extraer y analizar las moléculas de organismos antiguos de ellas.

Los pigmentos fueron tomados de las lutitas negras marinas de la Cuenca de Taoudeni en Mauritania. Según explica Nur Gueneli, de la Escuela de Ciencias de la Tierra de la Australian National University (ANU):

Los brillantes pigmentos rosas son los fósiles moleculares de la clorofila que fue producida por organismos fotosintéticos antiguos que habitan en un océano antiguo que hace tiempo que desapareció. El análisis preciso de los pigmentos antiguos confirmó que pequeñas cianobacterias dominaron la base de la cadena alimenticia en los océanos hace mil millones de años, lo que ayuda a explicar por qué los animales no existían en ese momento.

Pasaron algunos cientos de millones de años hasta que las algas comenzaran a multiplicarse, finalmente formando la base de una red trófica que eventualmente alimentaría la evolución de animales más grandes. Pero hasta el surgimiento de algas y organismos más complejos, el planeta pertenecía a la bacteria.

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La noticia Este color rosa brillante es el color más antiguo del mundo fue publicada originalmente en Xataka Ciencia por Sergio Parra .


          Remittance rip-offs      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

All over the world migrant workers are sending money home to their families. The money pays hospital bills and school fees, buys land, builds houses and sets up small businesses. The cash goes from the US back to Mexico, from the Gulf back to India, from the UK back to Somalia, and from South Africa back to Malawi, Zimbabwe and the rest of southern Africa. 

But what these workers probably do not realize, since they usually only ever send to one country, is that the cost of sending money varies greatly. Now a study of the cost of remittances, carried out by London's Overseas Development Institute with support from the fund-raising charity Comic Relief, has revealed that transfers to African countries cost around half as much again as the global average, and twice as much as transfers to Latin America. 

The ODI estimates that if remittance charges were brought down to the world average, the money saved could educate an extra 14 million primary school children, half of all those currently out of school on the continent.

The bulk of this money goes through money transfer companies rather than banks, since the recipients are unlikely to have bank accounts, and transfer companies are quick, efficient and have a wide network of agents. But just two big international players dominate the business in Africa, Moneygram and Western Union, and participants in a meeting to launch the research were highly critical of the way they seemed to be abusing their market dominance.

Rwanda's High Commissioner in London, Williams Nkurunziza, said he was shocked at what the report revealed. “If you look at the remittances, 30 or 40 percent of the money that goes to Africa goes to rural areas,” he said. “This money goes to the people who are most needy, and you are allowing a multinational corporation to take bread out of the mouth of hungry children. This is not what I would call responsible capitalism!”

Glenys Kinnock, opposition spokesman on International Development in the upper house of the UK parliament, who chaired the meeting, called on the country's financial regulatory authority to intervene over the issue of excessive charges. “It is not a technocratic issue,” she said, “although it may sound like one. It is also about people's lives and the future of their children... These things have to change. We can't put up any longer with the prospect of its making things so difficult, very often impossible, for people who have such needs.”

At the end of last year, when the ODI did its research, the fees and charges to send money to most of Africa were around 12 percent - a bit less to Zambia or Tanzania, a bit more to Uganda, Malawi and the Gambia - against a world average of just over 8 percent. Even that is quite expensive; the governments of the G8 and G20 countries have pledged themselves to working towards reducing this to 5 percent.

It found that in more than 30 countries the two big players had more than 50 percent of the market; and in 10 countries they had more than 90 percent. Sometimes either Moneygram or Western Union had an effective monopoly, but even where both companies were present it did not necessarily mean that customers had much choice; one company could still have a monopoly of outlets in a particular area, and the companies habitually make their paying-out agents sign contracts promising not to also act as agents for their rivals. 

Somalia different

Significantly, the one country where the big two are absent - Somalia - has far lower remittance charges; transfers go through a number of smaller, competing companies.

Competition has been limited by the fallout from the US “war on terror”, with the banks who do bulk international transfers citing money-laundering and anti-terrorism regulations as the reason they are reluctant to extend facilities to smaller companies. Now only the biggest of the Somali companies, Dahabshiil, still has an account with a major British bank (Barclays) and even that concession was forced by a court case and is only until other arrangements can be put in place.

Inter-Africa transfers cost most

But if charges to send money to Africa from outside are steep, the cost of sending money from one African country to another can be eye-watering. 

Dilip Ratha, who works on these issues for the World Bank says exchange controls are one of the reasons the rates are so high; in some places sending money out of the country is illegal. “So if you are sending money,” he says, “let's say from Benin to Ghana, it is actually allowed (in some countries it's not even allowed) but first the CFA has to be passed through into euros or sterling or dollars, and then it has to be transferred back into the local cedi, and in both cases you pay commission. Some sort of regional currency market really needs to be created.” 

"So if you are sending money, let's say from Benin to Ghana, it is actually allowed (in some countries it's not even allowed) but first the CFA has to be passed through into euros or sterling or dollars, and then it has to be transferred back into the local cedi, and in both cases you pay commission. Some sort of regional currency market really needs to be created"  

The report found 10 routes with bank transfer charges over 20 percent. Charges from Nigeria to Ghana were 22 percent. To send from Tanzania to the rest of East Africa, or from South Africa to its near neighbours is particularly expensive, peaking at 25 percent for bank transfers between South African and Malawi. Some of the fees charged by money transfer companies are even higher; if you send money that way from Ghana to Nigeria you may have to pay a staggering 39 percent.

In some places mobile phone based systems like M-Pesa have made in-country transfers much easier and cheaper, but they haven't really taken off internationally, largely because conservative, inflexible regulatory systems insist that all international transfers must go through conventional banks. And African banks tend to have very high charges, often because they are forced by governments to finance government projects or make uncommercial loans. 

Chukwuemeka Chikezie of the Up Africa consultancy told IRIN a lot of the responsibility lay with African governments. “One of the reasons M-Pesa took off in Kenya was because the authorities nurtured and enabled innovation. If you look at other countries the regulators have tended to stifle innovation. They are very risk-averse and they don't enable even limited experiments to prove that the markets can absorb technical innovation.”

In addition, money-laundering regulations are putting impossible demands on systems designed to serve the poor, requiring, for instance, “know your customer” procedures like taking copies of ID documents for anyone receiving an international payout. Selma Ribica of M-Pesa points out this is an impossibility for agents in rural areas with no power supply. She told IRIN she would like to see a more realistic, tiered approach with much lighter regulation for small international transfers (under, say, US$200-300) which are most unlikely to have anything to do with money laundering.

Beware Facebook, Walmart

M-Pesa depends on moving money between different customers' mobile phone accounts. Now people are beginning to think of other kinds of electronic “purses” which might be linked in the same way. 

Facebook has just proposed allowing transfers between customers who have accounts with the company which they normally use to make payments for online games. So far this is only proposed for payments within the European Union, but Facebook has a huge geographical spread and has said it is keen to extend its reach in Africa. 

And the big profits made by the transfer companies are tempting other players into the market. The latest to announce it is starting money transfers is the US supermarket chain Walmart, with recipients being able to pick up their cash from any shop in the chain. To start with this will only work within the United States and Puerto Rico, but Walmart is an international group with nearly 350 stores in South Africa, and it also has a presence in Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi and Mozambique, opening up the tempting prospect of a new, and cheaper way for workers to send money home.

All these new ways of sending money aim to undercut Moneygram and Western Union. Now Western Union has responded by offering so-called “zero-fee” transfers to Africa if the money is sent from a bank account rather by credit card or cash. This would mean a saving of just under £5 ($8.40) for someone sending $100 from the UK to Liberia. The company would still make money (nearly $4) by using a favourable exchange rate, but it would bring the cost down to just below the G8/G20 target. 

For African's hard-pressed and hard-working migrants and their families back home, change may - finally - be on the way.

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99977 201404221522570983.jpg Feature Politics and Economics Remittance rip-offs IRIN LONDON Angola Burkina Faso Burundi Benin Botswana DRC Congo, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Colombia Cape Verde Djibouti Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Ghana Gambia Guinea Equatorial Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya Liberia Lesotho Morocco Madagascar Mali Mauritania Mauritius Malawi Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Rwanda Seychelles Sudan Sierra Leone Senegal Somalia Sao Tome and Principe eSwatini Chad Togo Tanzania Uganda Samoa South Africa Zambia Zimbabwe
          Ilmuwan Temukan Warna Tertua di Dunia, Apa Saja?      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

Liputan6.com, Canberra - Para ilmuwan telah menemukan apa yang mereka katakan sebagai warna tertua di dunia, yakni warna merah muda cerah.

Fakta tentang sejarah pigmen tersebut ditemukan setelah peneliti menghancurkan bebatuan berusia 1,1 miliar tahun pada serpihan deposit laut, yang ditemukan di lapisan bebatuan Gurun Sahara, di cekungan Taoudeni di Mauritania di wilayah barat Afrika.

"Tentu saja Anda mungkin mengatakan bahwa semuanya (bebatuan) memiliki beberapa warna," kata Prof Jochen Brocks, pemimpin peneliti senior dari Australian National University.

"Apa yang kami temukan adalah warna biologis tertua," lanjutnya sebagaimana dikutip dari The Guardian pada Rabu (11/7/2018).

Prof Brocks membandingkannya dengan penemuan tulang T-Rex berusia 100 juta tahun.

"Itu (fosil tulang T-Rex) juga memiliki warna, namun cenderung memiliki dasar pigmen abu-abu, atau coklat. Tetapi, hal tersebut tidak akan memberi tahu Anda tentang seperti apa warna kulit yang dimiliki oleh T-Rex," sambung Prof Brocks menjelaskan.

Ia menjelaskan bahwa molekul pigmen terbaru yang ditemukan timnya tidak berasal dari makhluk besar, tetapi organisme mikroskopik yang hidup di era awal pembentukan Bumi.

Warna tertua itu, pertama kali ditemukan oleh seorang mahasiswa doktoral bernama Nur Gueneli, yang menghancurkan bebatuan fosil menjadi bubuk. Dia kemudian mengekstrak dan menganalisis molekul organisme kuno dari zat-zat kimia yang dikandungnya.

Gueneli mengatakan pigmen tersebut lebih tua setengah miliar tahun dari penemuan pigmen fosil sebelumnya.

"Pigmen merah muda yang cerah adalah fosil molekuler klorofil yang dihasilkan oleh organisme fotosintetik kuno, yang menghuni lautan purba," katanya dalam sebuah pernyataan.

 

Simak video pilihan berikut: 

 

 

Berkontribusi pada Pemahaman Evolusi Bumi

Ilustrasi Bumi (NASA)#source%3Dgooglier%2Ecom#https%3A%2F%2Fgooglier%2Ecom%2Fpage%2F%2F10000

Sementara itu, Profesor Brocks mengatakan bahwa hasl temuan tersebut berkontribusi pada pemahaman tentang evolusi bentuk kehidupan di Bumi.

Sementara Bumi berusia sekitar 4,6 miliar tahun, kata Brocks, makhluk seperti hewan dan hal-hal lain yang lebih besar, seperti rumput laut misalnya, baru muncul sekitar 600 juta tahun yang lalu.

Ketika para peneliti menganalisis struktur molekul merah muda, mereka dapat menemukan cyanobacteria kecil, yang menjadi cikal bakal pigmentasi alami di era modern.

"Cyanobacteria kecil mendominasi dasar rantai makanan di lautan satu miliar tahun yang lalu, yang membantu menjelaskan mengapa hewan tidak ada pada saat itu," katanya.

Penelitian, yang juga melibatkan para ilmuwan di AS dan Jepang, telah diterbitkan dalam jurnal Proceedings of National Academy of Science, Amerika Serikat.


          Joint Statement on Mauritania: Death Penalty for Blasphemy and Journalist’s Imprisonment      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   
JOINT ORAL STATEMENT UN Human Rights Council, 38th Session (18th June – 6th July 2018) General Debate on Item 4: Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention On 27 April 2018, Mauritania’s National Assembly adopted an amendment to the Penal Code which makes the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of “blasphemous speech” and …
          West Africa gears up to contain Ebola spread      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

As the Ebola caseload rises to over 5,350, aid agencies and governments in countries not yet affected by the deadly virus are gearing up for its potential spread across new borders by pre-positioning supplies, training health workers, identifying isolation centres, and disseminating prevention campaign messages, among other activities.

Countries that share a land border with the affected countries, including Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, and Mali, are considered to be most at risk.

"It is vitally important that, countries - especially surrounding countries that don't have Ebola cases as of yet - are prepared for a worst case scenario," said Pieter Desloovere, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO).

In August, WHO issued an Ebola Response Roadmap to help countries across the region limit the spread of the virus. One of its three objectives is to strengthen the ability of all countries to detect and deal with any potential cases.

"The reason that Ebola started in Guinea and has since spread to Liberia and other countries is that no one was paying attention," said Grev Hunt, the UN Children's Fund's (UNICEF's) sub-regional coordinator for the Ebola outbreak. "We were caught unaware. But now, we are paying very close attention to what is going on and making sure the same thing won't happen again."

Unlike in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where response plans and training materials had to be created from scratch, UNICEF is now replicating those resources and giving them to neighbouring countries, saving time and effort.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says they have put in place Ebola preparedness and response activities in 11 countries across West Africa, and many local and international NGOs have been pre-positioning medical supplies, training health workers and educating the public.

"Failing to plan is actually planning to fail," said Unni Krishnan, the head of disaster preparedness and response for Plan International. "And we know from previous disasters that a dollar you put towards preparedness... tends to save thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of lives."

Preparedness funds

Key to prevention and preparedness in at-risk countries is having access to timely funding, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Senegal currently has US$5.7 million at the ready to use towards Ebola preparation and prevention.

Mali has around $3.6 million and Côte d'Ivoire $2.9 million. In Guinea Bissau, where the health system is extremely weak, only $800,000 is currently available for Ebola-related activities. "It's quite a fragile situation right now," said Daniel Sanha, a communication officers for the Guinea Bissau Red Cross. "We have a contingency plan in place, but the Red Cross still has no funds to implement any Ebola intervention activities. At the same time, the government doesn't have enough funds or equipment to take all the necessary precautions."

Mass public education campaigns

National media campaigns, including radio shows, TV programmes and other on-air broadcasts, are now under way in all sub-regional countries to educate people about Ebola and give them enough information to protect themselves, as well as to prevent rumours and misunderstandings from spreading.

"This is the first time we have had an Ebola outbreak in West Africa and part of the challenge we are facing is that people have no idea what the disease actually is or how it is spread," Desloovere said.

Volunteers in Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau are handing out pamphlets and flyers door to door, as well as posting them in public areas. Social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, along with text messages to mobile phone subscribers, are being used by Health Ministries and aid agencies to transmit information and to remind people to practise safe hygiene measures, and to go to a clinic if they detect symptoms.

UNICEF says the messages, which have all been approved by the Ministries of Health, are transmitted in local languages and in culturally appropriate ways. Rather than urging families not to bury their dead in the traditional way, for instance, aid agencies work with communities to find a safer burial procedure that both are comfortable with.

"Our message is very simple," said Buba Darbo, the head of disaster management for the Gambian Red Cross. "Don't touch a sick person, don't touch a dead body. If everyone follows this advice they will prevent themselves from getting Ebola."

Some messaging specifies that people should avoid shaking hands as a gesture of greeting.

Aid agencies have also begun working with religious leaders and local community leaders to spread messages about what to do, and not do, in case of possible Ebola infections.

Health worker training

Doctors and nurses across the region are being trained to spot possible cases, as well as to follow protocol for reporting suspected cases, how to prevent any further contamination and how to protect themselves.

"Educating and protecting our health workers is a top priority," said Ibrahima Sy, a grants manager and health expert with the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA). "We need to put at their disposal all the materials they need to avoid contamination, and arm them with the information they need to avoid further spread of this virus."

In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, the Red Cross has been conducting staged simulations of Ebola cases, so that health workers know exactly what to do if they encounter a suspected case.

"We hope Ebola never comes here, but if a case were to be declared today, with the emergency health system we have in place, we are ready to take charge of it," said Franck Kodjo, the communications officer for Côte d'Ivoire's Red Cross. "All the actors, from the Ministry of Health to the local volunteers, we are prepared to take it on."

Other countries, such as The Gambia, have been training healthcare workers on how to handle the dead bodies of suspected cases.

Thus far over 300 health workers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola, according to WHO.

Specialized prevention and response teams

To help coordinate prevention efforts and put such measures in place, many countries have created multi-sectorial committees to implement the measures. Senegal's National Crisis Committee, for example, now has a 10-committee unit dedicated to Ebola prevention and containment. They have been working with the Ministry of Health and other key partners, including the Senegalese Red Cross and WHO, to engage in activities such as resource mobilization, media and communication, surveillance, logistics, security and clinical care. The Gambia has a similar seven-committee Ebola response unit, which works alongside the government and various health partners and NGOs to implement prevention measures.

Pre-positioning materials

Items such as soap, chlorine, gloves, disinfectant materials, medicines, medical equipment, and hygiene kits are being stocked in countries across the region. In Mali, protection kits have also been given to some of the volunteers who are involved in contact tracing and mass education campaigns.

Identifying isolation and treatment centres

Some treatment centres and isolation units in at-risk countries have been pre-identified, but not in sufficient numbers, say aid agency staff.

Cameroon now has isolation centres and laboratories in selected hospitals throughout the country, as well as a quarantine zone in the Southwest Region of the country, near the Nigerian border. The Gambia has also established three Ebola treatment centres: one in the greater Banjul area, the second in the country's "middle belt", and the third in the far east. Senegal has established an isolation unit and has testing facilities at its Institute Pasteur, as do the Institute Pasteur in Côte d'Ivoire and laboratories in Mali. Guinea-Bissau has not yet identified isolation units.

Border closings and surveillance measures

Despite strong recommendations by WHO not to close borders, or to restrict travel to or from the affected countries, seven African countries have decided not to allow anyone from an Ebola-affected country in or out. Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire, for example, have shut all land, sea and air borders with Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Guinea Bissau has closed its land borders with Guinea, and Guinea, in an attempt to contain the outbreak, has shut its land borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia. Cameroon has also closed its land and air borders with Nigeria though refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks have been crossing the border.

All countries in the sub-region now have health workers posted at all main border crossings and points of entry, including the airports, where incoming travellers are screened for Ebola-like symptoms.

In Nigeria, where 21 cases have been confirmed, health workers are also going around communities to check people's temperatures and seek out the sick. Many schools, shops and restaurants now have handwashing stations set up outside their doors.

"It has become an everyday sight to see temperature-taking devices both at major border crossings, as well as hospitals and offices," said O. Nwakpa, of the Nigerian Red Cross. "They take our temperature and give you hand sanitizer each time you enter a building."

In Mauritania, not only do incoming travellers go through health checks, but outgoing travellers do as well, as the capital, Nouakchott, is considered a "last stop" before Europe.

Many communities in border areas most at risk have also created neighborhood watch programmes, in which people are encouraged to report anyone who shows Ebola-like symptoms.

Countries, such as Burkina Faso and Senegal, have set up toll-free numbers for people to call and report suspected cases.

Restricting public gatherings

To avoid potential bodily contact, many countries, such as The Gambia, have restricted or prohibited large public gatherings.

In Burkina Faso, the government has cancelled important high-level meetings, including the African Union Employment and Poverty Reeducation conference, which was scheduled to be held in the first week of September.

NGOs and health volunteers across the region say they have stopped performing educational theatre sketches on Ebola for fear of encouraging crowds to gather.

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100645 201407311238290807.jpg News Health West Africa gears up to contain Ebola IRIN DAKAR/OUAGADOUGOU Burkina Faso Benin Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Cape Verde Gabon Ghana Gambia Guinea Equatorial Guinea Guinea-Bissau Liberia Mali Mauritania Niger Nigeria Sierra Leone Senegal Sao Tome and Principe Chad Togo Samoa West Africa Africa
          Científicos descubren el color más antiguo del mundo: el rosa brillante      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   
Los investigadores descubrieron antiguos pigmentos rosados en rocas de 1.100 millones de años de antigüedad, muy por debajo del desierto del Sahara, en la cuenca Taoudeni de Mauritania, África Occidental. Se trata de los colores más antiguos del registro geológico.
          West Africa:Can AU Tackle Security Challenges in the Sahel?      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   
[VOA] African leaders meeting in Mauritania last week pledged to redouble efforts aimed at curtailing and defeating extremist groups on the continent, especially in the Sahel region.
          Requiem for an Octopus      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   
Bertha Vazquez, director of our Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science, is the guest on Cara Santa Maria’s podcast Talk Nerdy. CFI is a signatory to this joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council on Mauritania’s use of the death penalty for blasphemy and the imprisonment of a journalist. Rob Wile at the Miami Herald …
          Scientists Stumble On World’s Oldest Colours Hidden In Africa      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

The rocks of the Taoudeni Basin, in Mauritania, hid a secret of 1.1 billion years: the oldest colors in the world. These are pink pigments that, according to scientists at the National University of Australia, range from blood red to dark purple and that diluted give off an intense pink color. Dr. Nur Gueneli, who …

The post Scientists Stumble On World’s Oldest Colours Hidden In Africa appeared first on Youth Village Kenya.


          È stato scoperto il colore più antico del mondo      Cache   Translate Page   Web Page Cache   

I colori più antichi del mondo erano di una tonalità rosa brillante. È quanto sostengono alcuni ricercatori dell'Australian National University che hanno scoperto un pigmento biologico che sperano possa far luce sul mistero della vita sulla Terra.

Secondo uno studio pubblicato sulla rivista scientifica Pnas, i ricercatori hanno scoperto pigmenti, prodotti da antichi cianobatteri microscopici, dopo aver estratto rocce di 1,1 miliardi di anni, rinvenute negli scisti neri marini al di sotto del deserto del Sahara in Mauritania.

Gli scienziati sostengono che tali pigmenti sono il "più antico colore biologico" e sono più vecchi di mezzo miliardo di anni rispetto alle precedenti scoperte di pigmenti. "I pigmenti rosa brillante sono fossili molecolari della clorofilla prodotti da antichi organismi fotosinteticiche abitavano un oceano scomparso da tempo", ha detto Nur Gueneli, scienziato dell'Australian National University che ha trovato le molecole come parte dei suoi studi di dottorato.

I ricercatori hanno polverizzato le rocce, antiche miliardi di anni, prima di estrarre e analizzare le molecole degli organismi. I fossili- dicono gli scienziati - vanno dal rosso sangue al viola intenso nella loro forma concentrata fino al rosa accesoquando vengono diluiti.

"L'analisi precisa degli antichi pigmenti ha confermato che minuscoli cianobatteri dominavano la base della catena alimentare negli oceani un miliardo di anni fa, il che aiuta a spiegare perché gli animali in quel momento non esistevano", ha detto Gueneli. Le rocce sono state inviate all'università da una compagnia petrolifera in cerca di petrolio nel deserto del Sahara circa 10 anni fa.

"Tutto ha un colore e i colori risalgono all'inizio dei tempi. Il termine più corretto per descrivere il risultato sarebbe il più antico colore organico biologico", ha detto Jochen Brocks, scienziato tedesco presso l'Anu e ricercatore senior dello studio. Ciò significa che i ricercatori hanno scoperto una molecola con un pigmento biologico di oltre un miliardo di anni che ancora oggi si è conservata. Secondo Brocks, è come trovare la pelle di dinosauro fossilizzata dopo 100 milioni di anni con il colore dell'animale ancora intatto. "Provo pura curiosità e stupore per il fatto che un simile pigmento possa sopravvivere per così tanto tempo", ha detto Brocks alla Dpa.

Secondo lo scienziato, la struttura isotopica della molecola potrebbe aiutare a risolvere l'enigma sulla vita ampia e complessa che comparve tanto più tardi nella storia della terra antica 4,6 miliardi di anni. Probabilmente l'emergere di organismi grandi e attivi fu frenato da una quantità limitata di particelle alimentari più grandi, come le alghe, ha spiegato Brocks.

In termini di dimensioni, i cianobatteri misurano un milionesimo di metro, ha proseguito il ricercatore, mentre le alghe microscopiche più piccole hanno "un volume mille volte più grande dei cianobatteri e sono una fonte di cibo molto più ricca".

"Gli oceani cianobatterici hanno iniziato a svanire circa 650 milioni di anni fa quando le alghe iniziarono a diffondersi rapidamente per fornire l'energia necessaria per l'evoluzione degli ecosistemi complessi, dove i grandi animali, compresi gli umani, potevano prosperare sulla Terra", ha detto Brocks.

Significa che la mancanza di ossigeno potrebbe non essere la ragione per cui gli animali più grandi non esistevano prima; invece, potrebbe essere perché non c'era cibo per l'evoluzione della vita complessa.




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