African Health Sciences

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James Tumwine


African Health Sciences has come a long way since its long anticipated birth in August 2001. You are very much welcome to this first issue of volume 2, of 2002 which contains very interesting papers.

The papers include studies of the effect of Ugandan herbal extracts on measles virus1, sugar as a potential for vitamin A fortification2, experience with Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) for TB in South Africa3, the Bwamba virus in Tanzania and Uganda,4 an exploration of an interesting western lifestyle condition now on the rise in Uganda: diverticular disease of the colon5; as well as sexuality in Kenya6.
In their paper, Olila, Olwa-Odyek and Opuda Asibo1 tested the claimed efficacy of some plants in the treatment of measles - a disease of public health significance. They performed in vitro antiviral assays of extracts of two medicinal plants using measles virus as the test organism. One of the two plants had antiviral activity in seed extracts and it was established that this was due to the compound skimmianine. Clearly this is an important finding which needs to be followed up with further studies.
The paper on sugar2 as a potential for vitamin A fortification is timely in that there is a resurgence of interest in Vitamin A as an important micronutrient with anti-oxidant properties, among others. The use of sugar seems to be widespread in eastern Uganda and therefore, the argues that sugar is a potential vehicle for vitamin A fortification. However, there is need for caution here since the use of sugar has been associated with obesity and dental ill health. No doubt the debate on this issue will continue.

Poor patient adherence to prescribed medication is one of the hindrances to effective TB control and is the rationale for DOT advocated by WHO. However this is a labour intensive practice, which over burdened health systems find difficult to implement. Kironde3 and Kahirimbanyis paper in todays African Health Sciences, report on their experience with community involvement in the delivery of TB treatment in the northern Cape Province in South Africa. One third of the TB patients received treatment from lay DOT volunteers who had been trained and supported to administer and record the treatment. Treatment outcomes for new patients supervised in the community were equivalent to those who received treatment from the health units. For patients on re-treatment, community based treatment was superior to self-administered therapy. Clearly, community participation might be a viable way of achieving effectiveness of DOT.

In this issue we also bring you the study of the Bwamba virus (genus Bunya virus, family Bunyaviridae) from Uganda and northern Tanzania4. As it causes un identified fevers because of its benign nature, this may be more common than previously believed. The virus was isolated from several sources: mosquitoes obtained during the Oonyong-nyong virus fever out break in Rakai in 1997, and from a refugee in a camp in Ngara in north-eastern Tanzania. As the virus causes an illness similar to malaria, further studies are needed to clearly define its epidemiology and natural history.

Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwaddes5 article reminds us that adoption of western life-styles such as the consumption of refined, fibre-poor foods might be responsible for the emergence of diverticular disease of the colon in Uganda.

Finally Missie Oindos article on contraception and sexuality among the youth in Kisumu Kenya brings out the gap between knowledge and practice - a serious situation in this era of HIV and AIDS6.

We wish you enjoyable reading.

The Editor

Table of contents

1. Olila D, Olwa-Odyek, Opuda-Asibo J. Screening extracts of Zanthoxylum chalybeum and warburgia ugandensis for activity against measles virus (Swartz and Edmonston strains) in vitro. African Health Sciences 2002; 2(1): 2-10

2. Kawuma M. Sugar as a potential vehicle for vitamin A fortification: experience from Kamuli district in Uganda. African Health Sciences 2002; 2(1): 11-15

3. Kironde S, Kahirimbanyi M. Community participation in primary health care (PHC) programmes: lessons from tuberculosis treatment delivery in South Africa. African Health Sciences 2002; 2(1): 16-23

4. Lutwama JJ, Rwaguma EB, Nawanga PL, Mukuye A. Isolation of Bwamba virus from south central Uganda and north eastern Tanzania. African Health Sciences 2002; 2(1): 24-28

5. Kiguli-Malwadde E, Kasozi H. Diverticular disease of the colon in Kampala, Uganda. African Health Sciences 2002; 2(1): 29-32

6. Oindo ML Contraception and sexuality among the youth in Kisumu Kenya. African Health Sciences 2002; 2(1): 33-40

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