Africa’s Healthy Food and Their Health Benefits

Food is a crucial aspect of lifestyle in Africa. It unites family members and allows them to have conversations at the table. During holidays, Africans enjoy gathering around the meal table – it’s a great way to meet new people or reunite with relatives.

Unfortunately, for many, food is also the enemy, causing rapid increases in diseases across Africa, such as heart attack, type-2 diabetes, stoke and certain cancers.

The number one culprit of food-related diseases is a diet rich in fast food. For many, not only is fast food tasty but it is affordable, satisfying and filling. Additionally, it’s also easy to have during a busy schedule.

Most healthy foods or “Superfoods” tend to be inaccessible or expensive to the average African, making individuals feel like they are not getting enough from their diet. Luckily, being healthy does not always have to involve a visit to the supermarket. In fact, most healthy foods can be found at home.

The following are some African staples that have been touted as some of the healthiest food options in Africa, and some even around the world.

1. Coconut and coconut oil

Coconuts and coconut oil consist of lauric acid and heart-healthy fatty acids, that also boost brain function. Furthermore, coconut milk contains protein and it helps enhance skin and digestive system health. Lauric acid possesses antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties making it an excellent addition to your palate. To top it all off, coconut milk can make a wonderful and delicious “energy drink” due to its massive levels of electrolytes that can hydrate the body and boost its energy levels.

2. Tamarind

While some like to have tamarind solo, others like to make a juice which is rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that can be incorporated into various dishes to boost flavor. The pulp is a great source of fiber and consuming it can also help restore electrolyte balance, similar to coconut water.

3. Teff

Teff is a grain grown mainly in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is packed with nutrients, especially calcium, iron, protein and vitamin C – a combination that is not typically found in grains.

4. Fonio

A close relative to millet, fonio is a grain resistant to drought and also an African favourite in stews, salads and porridges. It is rich in amino acids and fibre, making it a superb choice for your regular meals.

5. Amaranth

Amaranth is incredibly dense in protein, with 30% more protein than most cereal grains like rye, sorghum and rice. Amaranth’s nutritional profile is comparable to those of oats and wheat germ, which means it’s also full of fiber, antioxidants and minerals.

6. Moringa

Moringa has become quite popular over recent years due to its high levels of chlorophyll, minerals and vitamins. Moringa’s high calcium, iron, protein, magnesium, vitamin A and Vitamin C levels have also lead to it being called a superfood by many health experts. In fact, some estimates show that moringa may contain 25 times the iron found in spinach, twice the protein from yogurt, 7 times the vitamin C in oranges and 4 times the calcium in milk!

7. Pumpkin leaves

Pumpkin leaves are consumed all over Africa and are often eaten dried or fresh. You can steam the leaves like spinach or sauté with your favorite oil and seasoning. Pumpkin leaves have adequate levels of calcium, iron, folate, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B and C.

Health Benefits of Morogo (African Spinach) + Recipe

Morogo also known as wild or African Spinach, refers to a group of various dark leafy vegetables indigenous to Africa and harvested for human consumption.

Some cultures choose to dry the leaves and eat them during the dry season when chances of planting are not good. Morogo is mainly valuable in our
communities as it gives an inexpensive way of obtaining the nutrients that the body requires.

Health Benefits

  • Morogo is rich in vitamin A and C, iron, Omega 3s and calcium.
  • Consumption of morogo can minimize the risk of vascular-related chronic diseases and Type 2 diabetes

Morogo Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of morogo
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 250ml water
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper
  • Barbecue or any spice of your choice.

Clean morogo in cold water. Take out the stem and throw away. Chop the leaves. Pour water in a pot, then add the chopped leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until soft. In the meantime fry the onions in a pan with olive oil, add black pepper and barbecue or any spice of your choice. Then add tomatoes, bring to a simmer. Pour the tomatoes in a pot of cooked morogo. Add salt to taste and simmer until well blended.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org https://nutritioncommsa.wordpress.com/

Health Risks of Smoking Cigarettes

Sourced by: Choma Magazine (www.choma.co.za) – HIVSA Project

Unlike food and water, the body doesn’t need tobacco in the system. So, why then do we start smoking chomas? Is it because we think it looks cool? Do we do it to fit in with the popular crowd or do we do it because one of our relatives smokes? Some people smoke their first cigarette never thinking that they may end up as regular smokers. But, are we aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes? Continuous tobacco smoking may result in health problems and in serious cases, may be fatal. I’ve slightly touched on the dangers of cigarette smoking and how bad it can be for your health, but not in detail. Here are the health risks of cigarette smoking chomas.

Health effects of smoking tobacco

1. Change in appearance on the face

Smoking negatively affects the appearance of your face causing you to age quicker and get deeper wrinkles. Smoking damages your skin which could be due to the heat from the cigarette directly burning the skin. It also yellows your teeth which is caused by tar and nicotine. Nicotine is a colourless chemical which turns yellow when mixed with oxygen. When the tobacco is placed in your mouth or inhaled, the nicotine and tar will settle in the front of your mouth and these substances will then try and get into your teeth causing your teeth to turn yellow.

Your skin will also start sagging and have more wrinkles which may be caused by the chemicals found in tobacco. The chemicals damage collagen and elastin which are fibres that give your skin its elasticity and strength.

2. Lung damage

If you remember smoking your first cigarette, you may have felt a pain or burning in your lungs and throat right? Others may have felt sick or even threw up the first few times of smoking a cigarette. This is your body defending itself against poisons from entering.

The chemicals in tobacco interfere with your body’s method of cleaning out air and your lungs. When the smoke gets into your lungs, it can lead to your body overproducing mucus – that’s why some smokers cough a lot to clear their throat.

The walls of your lungs have many sacs that hold the air. The smoke then damages these sacs and will end up in less oxygen getting into your blood.
That’s why smokers have a shortness of breath. This will eventually end up as lung disease if the smoking continues. In most cases, lung cancer is caused by cigarette smoking. And if you have asthma, the tobacco smoke can trigger an attack or make the attack worse.

3. Heart and blood vessels

The chemicals found in tobacco may harm your heart and blood vessels in many ways, namely:

  1. Increase the blood pressure (which leads to a stroke) and heart rate (which makes your heart work harder than normal).
  2. Damage the blood vessel walls, making them stiff and less elastic. Smokers are at a higher risk for clogged arteries in the legs because there’s not enough blood flow going to the leg muscles. This may cause pain in the legs when walking, for example, and if it’s not treated the lack in blood flow can lead to the legs being amputated/removed.
  3. Increase your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease (which may lead to a heart attack) or a stroke (when the part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood due to a clot or a burst blood vessel).

Tobacco found in cigarettes is dangerous chomas, and sometimes deadly. It is addictive, so it makes it harder to quit. Do you have any other risks you think I might have left out? Share in the comments below.

Read original article

6 Parenting Tips for Raising Kids With ADHD

When Hal Meyer learned that his son, 5, had ADHD, he couldn’t believe it. When his child was at school, “He was rambunctious, he couldn’t stay in his seat, he was going around, helping everybody,” Meyer recalls. But to him and his wife, these were signs of brightness and curiosity, not symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

But experts told them, “You don’t understand. These are not typical of a 5-year-old.”

After they explained the disorder, the couple took a long time to accept the news. “We went through a year or two of denial,” Meyer says.

That was 20 years ago. Since then, Meyer has learned a lot about raising a child with ADHD. He shares those lessons with other parents who are dealing with the power struggles, tantrums, low self-esteem, and school problems that often come with the disorder.

Shortly after his son’s diagnosis, Meyer co-founded the New York City chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a nonprofit education and advocacy group. He also founded the ADD Resource Center in New York City, which provides parenting classes and support groups, among other services.

In New Jersey, Eva O’Malley also knows the challenges first-hand. She has ADHD and so do her daughter, 22, and son, 17. O’Malley founded the Monmouth County CHADD chapter.

When O’Malley’s son was diagnosed at age 12, her husband worried about his son being “labeled.” Would people see the ADHD and not the boy?

The children have grappled with school problems, forgetfulness and disorganization, O’Malley says. Sometimes, ADHD makes both offspring live only in the moment. “You don’t learn from your past, and you don’t have a vision to the future,” O’Malley says. But there have been bright spots, too, including her son’s improved grades.

WebMD asked these parents, as well as a developmental pediatrician, to share insights on raising a child with ADHD.

1. Be honest with your child about ADHD.

Meyer never thought about keeping the news from his son. “I told him exactly what was going on,” he says.

In contrast, some parents hide the disorder by telling their child, for example, that their ADHD drug is a “magic vitamin,” he says. But Meyer has done ADHD coaching with kids who have confided that they aren’t fooled: they know that it’s medication.

ADHD isn’t a child’s fault. It’s a brain disorder that causes youngsters to have trouble with concentration, ability to complete tasks, or plan for the future. By being open, Meyer lessened the stigma for his son.

Once, he took his son, who was 7 or 8 at the time, to a restaurant where they spotted a youngster in perpetual motion — so much, in fact, that one parent had to hold him down. “My mouth must have dropped,” Meyer says. “And my son said to me, ‘Don’t look at him as hyperactive. Look at him as being in a hurry to see the world.”

“We can reframe things,” Meyer says. “We don’t have to always look at the most negative.”

Patricia O. Quinn, MD, a developmental pediatrician in Washington, D.C., agrees that it’s best to tell the truth. “It’s really important to be honest and upfront,” she says. The child really needs to understand that it’s just part of who he or she is and it’s really something they can control.”

Quinn specializes in treating children and adults with ADHD. She has the disorder, as do three of her four children. She has consulted for pharmaceutical companies and has written numerous books about ADHD.

2. Don’t turn ADHD-related problems into a character issue.

Children with ADHD may not perform as consistently as peers who have no problems with focus and concentration.

“I don’t expect consistency from a child with ADD,” Meyer says. “One day, a child may come in with a 90 on a test. The next day, it may be 60. The next day, 70. The next day, it might be 95.”

When grades bounce around, “It’s typical for any [parent] to say, ‘Well, you did so well yesterday. Why aren’t you doing it today?’” he says.

“Often, kids with ADHD are very bright,” Quinn says. “They know what to do, but they simply don’t know how to get started, they don’t stick with it, and people may misinterpret that.”

3. Don’t let ADHD become a convenient excuse

Yes, ADHD makes many tasks harder, but children should learn to take responsibility, Meyer says.

“Don’t let them make ADHD an excuse for something.,” Meyer says.

“For example, many young children quickly learn to say things, such as, “I don’t need to do my homework because I have an attention deficit disorder,” Meyer says. “That’s not going to cut it.”

The reality? “It may be harder for me to do my homework because I have an attention deficit disorder.”

4. Enforce rules and consequences calmly.

For a child with ADHD, it helps to have verbal and written expectations. For example, parents could post a chart that lists the child’s responsibilities and the house rules.

Rewards are fine, Meyer says, but make them immediate, such as TV time or gold stars that can be redeemed for prizes. Since children with ADHD have trouble with planning for the future, it may not work to offer a new bike for a year’s worth of good grades.

Parents must be clear about consequences and enforce them right away, calmly and clearly. While parents may often feel frustrated, avoid punishing in the heat of disappointment or anger, Meyer says.

That can be hard when a parent has ADHD, too, Quinn says. The disorder can run in families.

Parents with ADHD might yell because they have trouble with impulsivity, according to Quinn. “We really do try to help the parent remain in control in these situations,” she says. “Often, I say that the child doesn’t need a time out — sometimes the parent needs a time-out before they discuss the situation.”

Parents need to get their own ADHD under control so that they can model appropriate behavior, Quinn says.

5. Help your child discover his strengths.

Children with ADHD are often compared unfavorably to others. Hence, some develop low self-esteem and depression, Meyer says.

Problems with self-esteem occur as early as age 8, says Quinn. Many teens with ADHD, especially if undiagnosed, develop a learned helplessness. “They say, ‘Nothing ever goes right for me. Why should I even bother to try?’ There’s a lot of demoralization and depression that goes along with it,” Quinn says.

Meyer wanted his son to discover his own best abilities — “islands of competency,” he says. “I would say to him, ‘Look, you have weak spots and you have strong spots.”

When his son found subjects dull, “He couldn’t care about it, period,” Meyer says.

“But when he was interested in something, he would master things five years above his age [level],” he says. For example, his son knew how to wire electrical outlets and replace computer parts well ahead of peers. “That stuff stuck with him and he knew that was one of his islands of competency. So he had things to look at other than negative things.”

Meyer would offer a favorable comparison: he told his son that few people his age could master such tasks. “High expectations in the proper areas, I think, is very important,” he says.

6. Don’t overprotect your child.

As children with ADHD grow, they’ll need to learn independence.

“We tend to try to solve everything for kids with issues,” Meyer says. “I’m adamantly against that. I want them to learn how to be on their own, to be successful. I don’t want them to feel, ‘I have a disability and Mommy and Daddy are going to be there to solve all my problems, to make everything good.’”

With his son, that involved “not telling him what to do, but having him telling me what he should do,” Meyer says. “He had to learn to be able to do it by himself, which is very hard for kids with ADHD.”

For parents, that might mean allowing children to deal with their own traffic fines instead of paying on their behalf. Or letting them solve their own roommate problems when they leave home.

O’Malley, the mother of a college student with ADHD, learned that lesson in hindsight. When her daughter had dorm-mate troubles, O’Malley and her husband asked the president of the college to intervene. The couple “went to bat for her,” O’Malley says. After they gave her some solutions, the young woman ultimately rejected the ideas.

Don’t rush in and present solutions for a child with ADHD to select, O’Malley says. “This is a lesson you learn when you have teenagers and you’re always giving them choices. You’re never really teaching them how to solve problems.”
Sources

Hal Meyer, co-founder, New York chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD); founder, ADD Resource Center, New York.

Eva O’Malley, founder, Monmouth County, N.J. chapter of CHADD.

Patricia O. Quinn, MD, developmental pediatrician, Washington, D.C.; consultant and/or speaker for McNeil Pediatrics and Shire Pharmaceuticals.

Reviewed on December 16, 2013

© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

How to get help?
To speak to a counselor for FREE telephonic counselling, information and referrals – call the ADHD Helpline on 0800 55 44 33 between 08:00 and 20:00. They are open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Self-help tips & online resources at www.sadag.org

Your Guide to Childhood Immunization

Vaccination against childhood illnesses is an integral part of national public health programs globally. Vaccination programs not only reduce the incidence of diseases, but also mitigate the social and economic burden of diseases in communities. Very high immunisation coverage levels can lead to complete blocking of transmission for many preventable diseases.

Due to increasingly effective national expanded programs for immunisation across Africa, the region has been able to reduce measles mortality by 88% since 2000 and only one country remains endemic for the poliovirus (WHO AFRO, 2015).

Early immunisation of infants and completion of the full schedule of recommended vaccinations based on your country’s guidelines contributes to reducing illness and death among children. New vaccines can now protect against pneumonia and diarrhea two of the leading causes of death among children aged less than five in Africa.

In the table below, we have summarized information on vaccine preventable childhood illnesses, with corresponding standard immunization schedules from birth to 18 years.

Vaccine Preventable Childhood disease Brief description Vaccine & Vaccination schedule Minimum age for first dose
Diptheria Caused by a bacterial toxin which causes a thick coating in the back of the nose or throat that makes it hard to breathe or swallow. DTP-HepB-Hib or Pentavalent (5 in 1 vaccine)

Given at
6, 10 and 14 weeks of age

6 weeks (or first contact after that age)
Hepatitis B A liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. Adults usually spread it through sex or sharing needles. A pregnant woman can pass it to
her baby. Hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV.
DTP-HepB-Hib or Pentavalent (5 in 1 vaccine)

Given at
6, 10 and 14 weeks of age

6 weeks (or first contact after that age)
Hepatitis B vaccine

Given
at any age, as four doses over 12 months – a baby born to a mother infected with hepatitis B will be offered a dose at birth, one month of
age, two months of age and one year of age

Birth
(Hib) Haemophilus influenzae type B A bacterial disease that infects the lungs (pneumonia), brain or spinal cord (meningitis), blood, bone, or joints.

Some people have Hib bacteria in their nose or throat but are not ill. When they cough or sneeze, the bacteria go airborne. Babies and
young children are especially at risk because their immune systems are weak.

DTP-HepB-Hib or Pentavalent (5 in 1 vaccine)

Given at
6, 10 and 14 weeks of age

6 weeks(or first contact after that age)
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) A lung infection that makes it hard to breathe due to severe coughing. People can breathe in the pertussis bacteria when someone who has
whooping cough coughs or sneezes.It can be life-threatening, especially in babies less than 1 year old.
DTP-HepB-Hib or Pentavalent (5 in 1 vaccine)

Given
at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age

6 weeks(or first contact after that age)
Pneumococcal disease A bacterial disease that can cause many types of illness, including pneumonia, ear and blood infections, and meningitis (which affects the
brain and spinal cord). It is transmitted through contact with an infected person’s mucus or saliva.Complications can be serious and fatal especially in children
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)

Given
at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age

6 weeks(or first contact after that age)
Meningococcal disease A bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, an infection and swelling of the brain and spinal cord. It can also infect the blood.

It’s caused by bacteria that live in the back of an infected person’ nose and throat. Symptoms are usually fever that starts suddenly,
headache, and stiff neck.

Meningococcal conjugate A (MenA)

Given at: two months, four months and 12 months of age

6 weeks
Polio Polio is a viral disease. The polio virus lives in the intestines and is spread from person to person through contact with contaminated
feces.Most people get no symptoms or experience mild flu-like symptoms that last a few days, but polio can cause brain infection, paralysis,
disability and death.
Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)

At birth or within the first two weeks, then at six weeks or first contact after six weeks

Birth

 

Inactivated Polio vaccine(IPV)

Given at 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and a booster dose at 4-6 years

8 weeks
Rotavirus Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea in infants and young children. Rotavirus vaccine

Given at: 6 and 10 weeks

6 weeks
Rubella Children whose mothers have rubella during the early stages of pregnancy often contract congenital rubella

syndrome (CRS). Children with CRS are born with lifelong disabilities and are at risk for other developmental

problems such as congenital heart disease and mental retardation

Measles, Mumps& Rubella vaccine

Given at:
12-13 months and at three years and four months of age, or sometime thereafter

Measles A highly contagious lung infection that is caused by a virus. The measles virus gets into the air when someone who has it coughs or
sneezes.Measles can cause pneumonia, brain swelling, and death.
Measles vaccine

Given at 9 months

9 months

 

Measles, Mumps & Rubella vaccine. Given at 12-13 months and at three years and four months of age, or sometime
thereafter
12 months
Mumps Caused by a virus. Symptoms include swollen salivary glands, fever, headache, and muscle aches. When someone with mumps coughs or sneezes,
the virus gets into the air, and other people can breathe it in. It can cause meningitis and deafness.
Measles, Mumps & Rubella vaccine

Given at
12-13 months and at three years and four months of age, or sometime thereafter

12 months
Tetanus A bacterial disease that causes lockjaw, breathing problems, muscle spasms, paralysis, and death.

The bacteria that causes tetanus is found in soil, dust, and manure/animal dung. Mothers and newborns are at risk of contracting tetanus
where deliveries happen in unhygienic conditions.10% to 20% of tetanus cases are fatal.

DTP-HepB-Hib or Pentavalent(5 in 1 vaccine)

Given
at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age

6 weeks
Tuberculosis TB is a disease that typically attacks the lungs. BCG Vaccine

Given
from birth to 16 years of age

Birth
Human Papilloma Virus HPV vaccine(Girls only)

Given at 10-13 years at first contact, then 4 weeks after and then five months after that

At first contact, girls aged 10 years

Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

Contrary to popular belief, exercise is actually good for pregnant women and it is safe. However, research shows that most pregnant women don’t get enough exercise on a regular basis. Exercising regularly will not harm your baby; in fact, it may help in the prevention of some pregnancy-related complications like pre-eclampsia.

Know what you should avoid

Avoid horse riding, scuba diving, football or any contact sport that may cause any type of trauma to your abdomen. Ruling these workouts and sports out, you still have large variety of exercises you can do.

Avoid exercises that require lying on your back for prolonged periods. Lying on your back for prolonged periods during your pregnancy can cause the uterus to push down on your blood vessels. The uterus may put pressure on the vena cava (the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from the lower part of the body), interfering with circulation and causing a feeling of dizziness.

If you’re an active person already, you’ll need only a few modifications in your routine, just be sure to talk to your doctor about it first. However, if you’re not an active person, seek advice on how you can safely start moving. 10-minute walks are a great way to start!

Stay hydrated

Be sure to stay hydrated at all times, especially before, after and during a workout. Hydration is one of the most important aspects of your pregnancy self-care routine. Dehydration can cause unhealthy and potentially damaging effects on you and your baby. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and drink before you feel thirsty.

Be sure to warm up and cool down

Warming up your body before a workout is important because it prepares your joints and muscles for the workout and prevents muscle strains. This is especially important for pregnant women. Warming up before a workout will also help gradually build your heart rate. Your heart rate is already higher when you’re pregnant so increasing it at a moderate pace will make your workout safer and more rewarding.

In addition, you should also cool down after a workout with 5 to 10 minutes of light stretching.

Understand why you’re working out

You’re not working out to lose weight or to challenge yourself, you’re working out to maintain your fitness and not lose it. Pregnancy is not about strenuous workouts, it’s about feeling healthy for yourself and your baby. If you’re comfortable with 30 minutes, don’t push yourself beyond this limit. As per your doctor’s advice, if you feel any pain, stop immediately.

Beginners should aim for 10 minutes every other day and slowly build up the length to 30 minutes. Be sure to call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Uterine contractions
  • Vaginal bleeding

Continue moving

Avoid stationery workouts such as holding yoga poses or lifting weights for prolonged periods. Keep moving during your workouts. If you haven’t found your pregnancy workout yet, try prenatal yoga flow, swimming or Pilates.

By Shomaila Issam

The Burden of HIV Among Adolescents in Africa: An Emerging Crisis

Despite impressive progress towards achieving global targets aimed at halting and reversing the spread of HIV; it still remains a pressing public health challenge in Africa. Across the world, unprecedented investments into the HIV response have resulted in increased access to antiretroviral therapy, increased coverage of risk reduction programs and considerable success in prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV to the extent that ending the HIV epidemic by 2030 is a vision well within reach of global resources and efforts.

Africa has come a long way in the HIV response and has been both a trailblazer and host for various innovations aimed at controlling the HIV epidemic. For example, over the past 15 years, services for prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV expanded so rapidly across Africa that 85% of the 1.4 million children prevented from becoming infected with HIV were in Africa alone (WHO 2015). By 2014 however, Africa (which comprises only 11% of the world’s population) was home to 70% (25.8 million) of people living with HIV. A lot more therefore needs remains to be done before Africa can begin to realize the full benefits of HIV control measures within the continent’s unique context of rapid cultural, economic, political and population shifts.

A key emerging concern is the growing burden of HIV among adolescents aged 10 – 19 years. AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second most common cause of death among adolescents globally (WHO, 2014). According to UNAIDS, in 2013, an adolescent between the ages of 15 and 19 was newly infected with HIV every two minutes. Every year, 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV—that is 7,300 every week, over 1,000 every day. It should be noted that while this is by no means an African problem alone, the challenges of inadequate coverage and quality of HIV prevention and treatment services on the continent affects specific population groups like adolescents who traditionally have not been sufficiently targeted and / or reached by existing health systems. In addition in 2013, nearly half of all adolescents living with HIV globally were in six countries alone of which five are in Africa.

The drivers of this emerging crisis are varied and complex. Children who have acquired HIV from their mothers often present for treatment initially as adolescents; while on the other hand, adolescents are also acquiring HIV during unprotected sex or by using contaminated drug-injecting equipment. High mortality rates among adolescents living with HIV indicate challenges with access and adherence to treatment. In this region moreover, adolescent girls are disproportionately at high risk of acquiring HIV. Girls and young women account for 71 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in sub Saharan Africa. 50% of these new infections are occurring in only 10 countries namely Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Adolescent girls are more vulnerable due to gender inequalities and gender violence. According to a UNICEF report released in 2015, adolescent girls are more likely to be married or in union by age 19 than their male counterparts, and less likely than boys to have comprehensive knowledge of HIV (UNICEF, State of the World’s Children report 2015).

The magnitude and importance of this emerging crisis has grabbed the attention of governments, NGOs and communities across Africa and the world. There is general consensus that ambitious and aggressive programs targeting adolescents need to be established. There are structural or non-health sector drivers of new HIV infections among adolescents such as social acceptance of child marriage, culturally-sanctioned gender violence, declining retention rates of girls in school and persistent stigma and discrimination. These structural drivers call for multisectoral approaches to reduce new infections among adolescents. In addition HIV services must be deliberately designed as youth friendly, meeting both confidentiality and quality expectations to ensure increased access to information, prevention and treatment for adolescents. The psychosocial support and counseling services needed by adolescents living with or at risk of acquiring HIV are obviously unique to an age group that is transitioning from childhood to adulthood. This calls for innovative approaches that include assuring adolescent participation in the design, management and evaluation of HIV programs and services. At all levels: individual, community and system; Africa and her partners must take action to engage, equip and empower adolescents as part of a dynamic and sustained HIV response movement across the continent.

Engage, Equip and Empower!


“AIDS is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa. Globally, two-thirds of all new infections among adolescents were among adolescent girls. This is a moral injustice. I am calling on young people to lead the All In movement, alongside the United Nations, public and private partners, and countries themselves, to end the adolescent AIDS epidemic.”

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS

 

References

  1. Health for the world’s adolescents: a second chance in the second decade.2014 www.who.int/adolescent/second-decade

  2. Global health sector response to HIV, 2000-2015: focus on innovations in Africa: progress report. WHO 2015

  3. The State of the World’s Children 2015: Reimagine the Future: Innovation for Every Child http://sowc2015.unicef.org

  4. UNAIDS All In: #EndAdolescentAIDS, 2015. http://allintoendadolescentaids.org

 

Useful links

All In! to #EndAdolescentAIDS http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/20150217_ALL_IN_brochure.pdf

5 Great Reasons Why Sleep is Important

A good night’s sleep is just as important as maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise. Unfortunately, our fast-paced lives do not allow our bodies to get the rest they deserve. Not only are people sleeping less, their sleep quality has drastically declined too. To understand what poor sleep can do to you, keep reading.

1. Weight gain

There may not seem to be any connection between your weight and sleep patterns but studies, show that people who sleep less are much more likely to gain weight significantly compared to those who get enough sleep. Research suggests that lack of sleep is strongly linked to obesity.

Another major factor that may play a role in weight gain among the sleep deprived is that they have a much bigger appetite than the well-rested and tend to eat more calorie-rich foods. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re affecting your body’s daily hormonal balance and this is believed to interfere with appetite regulation. This means your body produces more ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone while levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone; leptin go down.

2. Heart disease

Not getting enough sleep is also closely related to complications involving the heart, such as heart disease and stroke. A review of fifteen studies demonstrated that people have a much greater risk of heart disease and stroke if they sleep less than those who sleep for 7 to 8 hours every night.

3. Type-2 diabetes

Research shows that insufficient sleep reduces insulin sensitivity in adults and affects their blood sugar levels. A study conducted with healthy young men showed that limiting sleep duration to 4 hours for 6 nights in a row resulted in symptoms of pre-diabetes in these individuals. The effects were fortunately reversed with a week of better sleep duration.

4. Depression

Estimates show that 90% of people with depression have poor sleep quality. Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep can go as far as increasing a person’s chance of wanting to commit suicide. People with sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia, report higher rates of depression compared to those without these conditions.

5. It affects your immune function

Just a tiny amount of sleep loss can significantly affect your immune system. One large study that monitored the development of the common cold found that people who slept less than 7 hours a night were roughly 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who got 8 hours of sleep every night.

By Shomaila Issam