science + policy + practice = development vol 00114 march - april 2019 news malaria: africa ups its game african heads of state and gov- ernment adopted the 2018 afri- can union malaria progress re- port which was prepared by malaria experts from countries in africa and in partnership with the african union, the african leaders malaria alliance (alma) and the rbm partnership to end malaria. the report presented on behalf of his majesty king mswati iii of the kingdom of eswatini by prime minister ambrose mandvulo dlamini of the kingdom of eswatini highlights significant progress toward defeat- ing malaria over the past decade as a result of shared efforts and global solidarity to rid the continent of this preventable and treatable disease once and for all. however, the report warns that recent data show that the investments and significant achieve- ments made are under threat and ac- celerated action is needed now to get countries back on track. this will be essential to meet the ambitious tar- gets outlined in the catalytic frame- work to end hiv/aids, tb and elimi- nate malaria in africa by 2030 and in the sustainable development goals. “it will take significant resources to achieve malaria elimination. now, more than ever, we must boost our do- mestic resources from both the public and private sectors.” said his majesty king mswati iii of the kingdom of es- watini and chair of alma. in 2017, out of the estimated 219 million global malaria cases, 200 mil- lion (92% of global cases) were in africa resulting with 403,000 deaths. the 10 highest burden african coun- tries reported 3.5 million more cases in 2017 than in 2016. at the july 2018 african union summit in mauritania, president macky sall of senegal and his majes- ty king mswati iii of eswatini jointly launched the “zero malaria starts with me (zmswm)” campaign which was endorsed by the assembly of af- rican heads of state and government. this continent-wide campaign seeks to reinvigorate national and regional progress against malaria. the 2018 malaria progress report provides an update on zmswm. the african union commission, alma and the rbm part- nership to end malaria developed a campaign toolkit to assist countries with the roll out. kenya ends recommendation tetanus — who kenya has received a certificate from the world health organization (who) for eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. the country made the achievement following a for validation that was made in 2018 by a who-led process. “i applaud kenya for having attained elimination status of maternal and neonatal tetanus,” rudi eggers, who representative to kenya said in nairobi during a national immunization forum. eggers said kenya now needs to maintain the elimination status by vaccinating women of reproductive age. model shows man hit by transport researchers at the university of illinois (ui) have developed a model that can predict through 2050 the impact of different environmental policies on human mortality rates and short- and long-term climate change caused by particular and greenhouse gas emissions.the researchers found that enforcing truck fleet maintenance to reduce was an effective way particulate emissions, cutting the projected mortality rate by about one- third by 2050. the number of misfit, poorly maintained trucks on the road is uncertain, but that attention to overall performance is an important factor in maintaining health. trump signs ai initiative the advantage of u.s. president donald trump signed an executive order monday, launching an initiative to ensure the country’s leadership in artificial intelligence (ai). this technology-promoting initiative at national level calls for protecting the united states in ai “against strategic competitors and foreign adversaries,” but without specifying its competitors or adversaries. ”continued american leadership in artificial intelligence is of paramount importance the economic and national security of the united states,” trump said. to maintaining
2 | asns news march - april | 2019 kenya urges malaria drug surveillance by a centralized agency to help save populations from accessing outdated medicine,” andagalu told the annual scientific and health conference in nairobi. andagalu told health experts that artemisinin-based combination ther- apies (act) malaria drugs that were recommended by the world health organization (who) as the first line of treatment for plasmodium falci- parum malaria has started showing resistance in south east asian coun- tries of myanmar, vietnam, cambo- dia and thailand. “africa is currently spared but historically, malaria drug resistance has originated from south east asia and then spread to africa,” the re- searcher noted. he said that the resistance of sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (sp), sold under the brand name fansidar, started in south east asia and spread to ssa save for madagascar that still uses the drug without resistance. — xinhua ben kenya on friday called on sub saharan african (ssa) to step up surveillance on malaria drug resistance in the region. ben andagalu, principal inves- tigator of malaria at kenya medical research institute (kemri) said that the countries should offer oversight on quality of malaria drugs coming into the countries. “the procurement of malaria drugs needs to be procured africa needs digital health technology despite high death rates due to injury, less than half of the africans have access parison to the costs of harm. to modern health facilities, according to experts, a major- ity of these cases could be avoid- able through the implementation of digital health technology, with out-of-hospital care and monitor- ing forecasted to grow globally by 30 per cent to cross the $25 billion mark in 2019. ryan sanderson, exhibition director of africa health exhibi- tion and conferences adds that the demands on healthcare systems in africa have suddenly increased as non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are on the rise. “we are, however, seeing that tech- nology is transforming how health- care is delivered on the continent, giving more people in remote areas there and around the world access to better care.” a world health organisation report published in 2018 stated that within africa, about 15% of all hospital activity and expendi- ture was a direct result of adverse events and that the costs of treating safety failures amount to trillions of dollars each year. the investments needed to im- prove patient safety pale in com- while this remains a challenge for many developing nations on the continent, countries like rwan- da are embracing technology as a way to improve healthcare for its citizens, especially those living in remote and rural areas.sanderson says that rwanda is a pioneer in digital health in africa. “their successes include the use of an artificial intelligence- based algorithm in mobile phones to get a diagnosis, doctors using telemedicine to consult, blood de- livery by medical drones, and a central electronic health records system ensuring data is collected accurately. the insights that can be learnt from projects like this are critical in order to achieve universal healthcare (uhc).” “africa needs to embrace digi- tal technology on every level,” adds sanderson. “artificial in- telligence, telemedicine, drones, health apps, and mobile solutions will bring healthcare to a whole new level. smart health needs to be recognized as one of the pillars of a country’s information and communication technology (ict) policy. ict is really something that governments need to prioritise for development as a whole.”
march - april | 2019 asns news | 3 smartphones to diagnose diseases a new imperial-led are and like there control already infectious phones spread to predict and curb of review has outlined how health workers could use existing the diseases. the review, published in nature, outlines how healthcare workers in low-income countries, those in sub-saharan africa, could use existing smartphones to diagnose, track infectious diseases in low-income countries. initiatives focused on using established mobile technologies like text messages and calls to connect healthcare workers and patients to each other, and to test results. this new review by researchers from imperial, karolinska institute, ucl, university of kwazulu-natal, africa health research institute, and the london school of hygiene and tropical medicine, says that smartphones could also help enable people to test themselves, and get results and support in their own homes. this would make it easier for people to look after their own health – particularly in rural regions, where clinics can be too far away to travel. in addition, patients worried about a potential hiv infection might be more inclined to get tested if they could do it at home and avoid the stigma of attending a clinic. many smartphones have sensors built in that could aid diagnosis, such as a heart rate monitor and an oximeter, as well as a camera and microphone that can be used to analyse images and sounds like a person’s breathing. testing technologies are being developed that can be linked into a phone, via a usb stick or wirelessly. in theory, a person could test themselves using an easy to collect sample, such as a pinprick of blood, and the results would be scanned onto mobile apps. the apps would send the results to local clinics before being uploaded to a central online database – instead of patients having to attend in person. lead author professor molly stevens, from imperial’s departments of bioengineering and materials, said: “people increasingly use smartphones to manage their money and connect with the world. it makes sense that phones can also play an even larger role in healthcare than they already do.” the picture smartphones are increasingly used in sub-saharan africa. by 2020, one in two mobile phone connections in the region will be via smartphone – a similar figure to worldwide addition, simple bigger in by developing mobile health interventions, we address a number of challenges in healthcare and public education. connected diagnostic tests for diseases have the ability to improve and build on these in new and exciting ways. and smartphone adoption. the researchers say this presents a prime opportunity to harness the existing technology where clinics in rural areas can be scarce. approaches outlined in the review include apps that use the phone’s camera to interpret test results, send findings to local clinics or healthcare workers, and host virtual follow-up appointments with healthcare workers. the authors say these approaches might help increase rates of disease testing in regions with limited facilities. combined, the test results would build a picture of symptoms across a region to help predict and fight outbreaks. current health move co-author dr chris wood, who conducted the work at imperial’s department of materials and sweden’s karolinska “by developing mobile health interventions, we address a number of challenges in healthcare and public education. connected diagnostic tests for diseases have the ability to improve and build on these in new and exciting ways.” the authors add that these ideas are not without challenges. although rapid technological advances have improved access testing, more than 35 per cent of the world has no access to mobile phones. it is also easier to accurately collect and analyse institute, future said: the on to resource samples in a healthcare setting, where there are trained staff and the environment is designed to be sterile, than in a person’s home. safeguarding measures must be put in place to protect privacy and confidentiality of patient data, the authors say. these measures must also be fully explained to users to build trust in and encourage adoption of these new healthcare services. still, the report’s authors remain optimistic. as of 2016, global smartphone adoption has reached 51 per cent and is predicted to keep growing - particularly in settings sub-saharan africa. such this means more and more of is equipped with a powerful pocket computer connect patients and share healthcare data. professor stevens said: “this is an exciting opportunity for researchers and policy makers to develop new tools and systems that could drastically improve human health and wellbeing in the future.” this work was led by the stevens group at imperial college london and i-sense interdisciplinary research collaboration, which is funded by the engineering and physical sciences research council. the world’s population limited that can the as
4 | asns news march - april | 2019 carbon: kenya moots forestry plan to capture kenya has launched a forestry project aimed at removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reser- voir. the project known as car- bon sequestration will be used to promote the planting of timber, bamboo, potato, cereals and pulses for im- proved household incomes. jerome mwanzia, senior assistant chief conservator of kenya forest service said on saturday that the project is set to give emphasis on adaptation and mitigation of climate change interven- tions. “we intend to enhance for- est conservation and liveli- hood support for climate change resilience by ben- efiting resource-poor and small land holders in the country,” mwanzia told journalists in nairobi. mwanzia said the carbon sequestration project will help transfer carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into trees and help reduce carbon in the atmosphere. “it is meant to provide new and more efficient ways of increasing forest cover, in- creasing food security, im- prove community livelihood the that through sustainable and in- clusive commodity value chain,” he added. mwanzia said the project will be implemented in 15 counties. “the project will focus on increasing the national for- est cover and household in- comes through rehabilitation of degraded forests, improve- ment of forest infrastructure and community capacities and livelihoods in the target counties,” he added. mwanzia said that the 15 counties cover four forest conservancies and three out of five of kenya’s water towers including mt. ke- nya, aberdares, and the mau complex. he noted that the project aims to increase the forest cover through forest reha- bilitation and enhanced man- agement, promotion of bam- boo for conservation and commercialization, forest infrastructure development and enhanced community livelihoods through income generation activities. mwanzia said since emis- sion rates from fossil fuel combustion has increased in the recent past, planting of trees as carbon sequester will be traded just as farm produce to provide a much needed income for the farm- er, and an essential incentive to invest in soil restoration. he noted that the project will support the use of effi- cient production, processing and utilization of technolo- gies, development of mar- keting infrastructure and capacity enhancement along value chains. the project will be imple- mented over a period of six years (2019-2024) and will be executed by the ministry of environment and forestry (moef) through the kenya forest service (kfs). the official said that ke- nya’s dependence on the nat- ural environment is profound and underpins most sectors, including agriculture and horticulture, tourism, wild- life, and energy. “in some rural areas, the forest contributes three quar- ters of the cash income to forest-adjacent households,” he added. mwanzia attributed low forest cover in the country to inadequate water supplies and adverse climatic chang- es that have negatively im- pacted on agricultural pro- duction. — xinhua systematic reviews, evidence maps and meta analysis training workshop holds in nairobi the international centre for evaluation and devel- opment (iced) in partnership with campbell col- laboration and united states international univer- sity-africa (usiu-a) organized a systematic reviews, evidence maps and meta-analyses training workshop that was held at the united stated international university - af- rica (usius-africa) in nairobi-kenya on 18th and 19th february 2019. the training targeted researchers, government ministry representatives, academics, as well as a select number of masters and post-graduate students, it attracted over 35 participants drawn from various institutions including, un habitat, iced, state department for planning kenya, partnership for economic planning, usiu-africa, the goal of the workshop was to equip the participants with relevant knowledge and skills for conducting evidence mapping, systematic reviews and meta-analysis. australian researchers turn co2 back into coal australian researchers have discovered a way to turn carbon dioxide (co2) from the earth’s at- mosphere back into coal. led by australia’s royal melbourne institute of tech- nology (rmit), the world’s first breakthrough used liquid metals to convert the gas into solid particles of carbon. with the potential to transform the globe’s carbon cap- ture and storage technologies, the findings of the research published in the journal of nature communications on wednesday also offers a new way to permanently remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. “while we can’t literally turn back time, turning carbon dioxide back into coal and burying it back in the ground is a bit like rewinding the emissions clock,” rmit researcher dr torben daeneke said. china launches research on blood control target among diabetics patients china on sunday launched a five-year medical re- search program on the blood pressure control target for adults with type 2 diabetes to reduce cardiovas- cular and death risks. over 200 research centers across the country will partici- pate in the program, launched in chongqing in southwest china. researchers will randomly compare clinical trials of 12,000 type 2 diabetic patients to find the optimal blood pressure control target, said ning guang, a chinese acad- emy of engineering academician and research initiator. “we know that lowering blood pressure is critical for the treatment of diabetes, but it is still not clear how much to reduce it,” ning said, noting that internationally, there is no standard anti-hypertension target. compared with those who have no elevated blood pressure, they have higher risks of myocardial infarction, stroke, as well as eyeground, renal and neurological complications.
march - april | 2019 conferences and workshops asns news | 5
6 | asns news march - april | 2019 harmonise response to emerging diseases african countries should adopt a harmonized approach to boost the fight against diseases affect- ing humans and animals, a kenyan scholar said on thursday. kariuki njenga, a profes- sor at washington state uni- versity, told at a health con- ference in nairobi that the traditional surveillance and response strategies to con- tain disease outbreaks should be well coordinated. “there is need for one health approach since the separate approach has result- ed in inadequate prevention and control of the diseases,” said njenga while delivering a key note address at the ongoing kenya medical re- search institute (kemri) 9th annual scientific and health conference in nairobi. he noted that one health planning for disease surveillance. approach that incorporates in- tegrated human, animal and environmental management of emerging and zoonotic disease is gaining momentum globally. njenga said that the approach is a strategy to predict and pre- vent emerging infectious diseas- es that cause losses of human beings as well as exerting pres- sure on the government’s bud- gets. “the pastoralism and con- sumption of bush meat contin- ue to risk people’s lives hence the need to conduct one health intervention,” said njenga. he said that sub-saharan african countries are burdened by emerging diseases such as ebola, marburg and rift valley fever (rvf) due to the degra- dation of environment and en- croachment by people to the national parks. “with 65 percent of arid and semi-arid lands (asal) in most countries being domi- nated by pastoralists, there is likelihood that when animals are sick, human too become sick,” said njenga. he urged african countries to adhere to the world health organization guideline by setting up a coor- dination mechanism between health and animal health sec- tors, and a mechanism for sur- veillance of zoonotic diseases. ncds destabilizing kenya’s health system a spike that faster amana revealed there is need to find means of disrupting the cycle of malaria transmission to enable the country eradicate the disease. he told scientists to enhance the reach and scope of their research in detecting disease outbreaks enough given that kenya shares borders with countries that are yet to establish robust governance and health structures. the government is in the final stages of developing health research policy that will boost response to epidemics. the official said the policy will include financing mechanisms in supporting the health sector since most development partners are already cutting their support. according to amana, the national that was set up research fund by the government will also start allocating funds to health research. “you have to translate findings in initiatives that could support economic development,” said amana. — xinhua finding local said diseases threatened in non-communicable has (ncds) the stability of kenya’s health system, a senior official on wednesday. rashid amana, chief administrative secretary of the ministry of health said that ncds that have surged against a backdrop of environmental pollution and sedentary lifestyles are a threat to kenya’s progress. “these illnesses are long term and the source of catastrophic health spending for kenyans,” said amana during the 9th annual scientific and health conference taking place in nairobi. to help find evidence to explain to the populations the origin and effect of the ncds. he noted that even though locally generated scientific evidence has helped the country make remarkable progress in its response to infectious diseases such as malaria and hiv and aids, researchers challenged scientific he a check africa science news service https://africasciencenews.com/
march - april | 2019 asns news | 7 rwanda’s plan for clean cooling rwanda’s plan for clean cooling the government of rwanda recently released a landmark plan for sustainably cooling foods and life-saving medicines, and keeping homes and other indoor spaces comfortable in hot weather. when it comes to cooling, most people think of refrigerators and air conditioners. while addressing these products is key, the govern- ment of rwanda is planning holisti- cally when it comes to meeting their cooling needs, noting that continu- ing on a business as usual path will lead to a huge rise in electricity use and a sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution that its peo- ple and the planet cannot afford. rwanda’s national cooling strategy outlines the findings of a recent assessment of the current and future market for cooling products. it includes recommended actions that would expand access to cool- ing while conserving precious re- sources. this east african country, which has some of africa’s fastest growth in expanding electricity grid connections to reach its 12 million people, is no stranger to demonstrat- ing bold leadership when it comes to sustainable development. rwanda was one of the first countries in the world to ban plastic bags. just 10 year later, its capital city hosted the meeting that agreed the namesake of the kigali amend- ment to the montreal protocol. this global treaty, which went into effect on 1 january 2019, phases-down the use of a potent greenhouse gas that is common in refrigerators and air conditioners. by doing so, it can avoid a 0.4°c rise in global temper- atures this century. rwanda not only hosted the negotiations, but was an early champion for its successful adoption. “the kigali amendment was the result of hard work and a dedication to building a future that our children and grandchildren can through the rwanda cool- ing initiative, we have conducted a cooling mar- ket assessment, developed a national cool- ing strategy and minimum energy efficiency stan- dards, and creat- ed financial tools to support busi- nesses investing in clean cooling. the kigali cooling efficiency program (k-cep) is a philanthropic collaboration launched in 2017 to support the kigali amendment of the montreal protocol and the transition to efficient, clean cooling solutions for all. be proud of, and one that is worthy of their aspirations. rwanda is proud to be working with the kigali cooling efficiency program and un environ- ment’s united for efficiency to move quickly to meet our obligations under the amendment,” said dr vincent biru- ta, minister of environment, republic of rwanda. “through the rwanda cooling ini- tiative, we have conducted a cooling market assessment, developed a na- tional cooling strategy and minimum energy efficiency standards, and creat- ed financial tools to support businesses investing in clean cooling,” he added. “the kigali amendment presents one solution to climate change that is here now. nations that ratify the amendment are committing to cutting the production and consumption of cli- mate-warming gases, known as hydro- fluorocarbons (hfcs), by more than 80 pe rcent over the next 30 years. by re- ducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons, we can avoid up to 0.4°c of global warming by the end of the century. so far, 68 parties to the montreal protocol have ratified the amendment and we look forward to many more becom- ing parties and continuing the fantastic work done under the montreal proto- col,” said tina birmpili, the executive secretary of the ozone secretariat. addressing the impacts of such gasses is only part of the challenge. the other is improving the energy ef- ficiency of cooling products, while re- ducing demand for cooling in the first place. therefore, the national cooling strategy includes regulations with an upper limit on how much electricity can be used by typical refrigerators and air conditioners, and it promotes alternative cooling solutions such as shading and natural ventilation. if such action to redesign cooling equipment for energy efficiency is taken globally as part of action un- der the kigali amendment, a far larger slice of greenhouse gas emis- sions could be mitigated. altogether, these approaches en- able the country to free up electric- ity for better uses, like electrifying more homes and businesses without having to build more power plants. residents save money on their util- ity bills, businesses become more competitive, students can better fo- cus in the classroom, high-tech in- dustries that require precise indoor conditions can take root, farmers can better preserve their crops rather than losing nearly half of their har- vest to spoilage, and electricity com- panies can better cope with growing demand and peak use on the hottest days of the year. the national cooling strategy is the first phase of the rwanda cool- ing initiative, a joint effort between the government and un environ- ment’s united for efficiency (u4e) team. “rwanda is showcasing what we aim to replicate throughout af- rica, and beyond,” said brian holuj, united for efficiency’s lead for cool- ing initiatives. “united for efficiency is working with dozens of countries on sustainable cooling, and there is no better case study than a peer who is taking bold action and showcas- ing the many benefits.” - unep
8 | asns news march - april | 2019 our november- december issue is in the process of production. our focus in the issue will be on agriculture. are you; i) a research institute? ii) seed company? iii) an ngo focused on agriculture? iv) in agri-business? you fit. send in a) your content b) your service c) your products book an advert and get one or two pages of unabridged content space. speak to your world, and frame of the issue of your interest rates full page: usd 1000 half page: usd 800 quarter page : usd500 you may also have a one-time sponsorship of a whole newsletter 12 page-usd 3,000 24 page-usd 8, 000 fill the form below and submit before the 5th of any month you wish to sponsor name: organisation: position/title: booking for full page: half page: quarter page: _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ any special instructions i would like my content and advert to be at the centre spread / back page / editorial and commentary page i am paying 50% on december 5. will pay the remaining 50% on december 18 at the delivery of the magazine. sign: ______________________________________ all cheques must be written in favour of ssa (services in scientific work in africa) p. o. box 2141, 00100, nairobi tel: +2540202051330
march - april | 2019 asns news | 9 book this space
10 | asns news march - april | 2019 editorial editorial africa should focus on technology development science policies in african countries must include a greater emphasis on technology development and innovation rather than focusing only on funding scientific research in order to spur long-term economic growth across the continent, a recent report has claimed. a study from the african academy of sci- ences says that in 2016 less than half of african countries had adopted science, technology and innovation policies and among those that had, most of the policies did “not consider sustain- able development imperatives holistically”. “instead, they tend to focus on funding scien- tific research with less emphasis on technology development, procurement and innovation. this may stimulate the production of knowledge for short-term economic growth, but fails to spur social inclusion and environmental sustainabil- ity that are necessary to long-term sustainable development,” according to the report africa beyond 2030: leveraging knowledge and in- novation to secure sustainable development goals. lab professionals for recognition by brahams momanyi the medical laboratory profession is one of the most critical jobs in saving lives, yet it is so hidden that even sal- ary review commission’s (src) job evalu- ation could not vividly recognize it. it is so unfortunate that a profession whose decisions are a matter of life and death can be so incon- spicuous. perhaps it is because medical laboratory professionals spend most of their time looking into microscopes and interacting with speci- mens from people than talking to people. this is the outcome of what medical lab- oratory professionals do in between collect- ing that blood, urine, stool or tissue specimen from you and handing over a lab report to you or your doctor. academically smart students pursue the medical laboratory profession given the in- tensity of training required. in kenya, medi- cal laboratory professionals constitute medi- cal laboratory specialists (masters and phd holders), medical laboratory officers (degree holders), medical laboratory technologists (diploma holders) and medical laboratory technicians (certificate holders). their skill level is specialized given that laboratory diag- nosis requires highly skilled, specially trained and kmlttb certified medical laboratory professionals. the intensive training and reg- ulation are necessary because of the sensitiv- ity of decisions that medical laboratory pro- fessionals make. a slight error in the clerical, procedural or quality assurance processes in the medical laboratory can lead to devastating consequences. besides, this career entails us- ing quantitative and statistical approaches to evaluate diagnostic equipment and methods to ensure that the results produced are accurate, reliable and timely for screening, diagnosis, and prognosis of diseases. there is also need to know that the practice of medical laboratory profession is legally binding. this means that if you are treated for the wrong disease in a hospital, and it turns out that the laboratory test results had errors, the medical laboratory professional that conduct- ed your tests can be prosecuted and charged in a court of law. diagnosis of patients main- ly relies on laboratory results. since doctors and clinicians directly use the lab results to determine therapeutic procedures for patients, wrong decisions in the laboratory diagnosis process are replicated in the entire process of patient management. this is why no pro- ficient medical laboratory officer can append a signature in a laboratory test report for tests they did not personally do. cap253a, an act of parliament that regulates medical laboratory practice in kenya, makes these professionals guilty of negligence or professional miscon- duct in case of errors in laboratory diagnosis. medical laboratories are the riskiest work environments in the healthcare organizations. it is demeaning, derogatory and disappoint- ing for src to classify medical laboratory professionals as semi-skilled. their skill level is specialized. more so, they are high-level skilled officers. this is why all medical lab- oratory professionals have raised their voice through the kenya national union of medi- cal laboratory officers calling upon src to reevaluate the medical laboratory profession with a keen look into its details to avoid mis- conceptions. the study adds that efforts to implement effec- tive science, technology and innovation policies are limited by “low policy literacy, weak human capacity, insufficient monitoring and account- ability, and inadequate budgets”. meanwhile, “weak coordination and collaboration” between the scientific research and the science policy communities has resulted in “misalignment of research design and prioritisation” with the united nations’ sustainable development goals, the report adds, claiming that most african sci- entists are not familiar with the goals. the study adds that progress regarding invest- ment in research and development in the past decade has been “mixed” across the continent. while countries such as algeria, botswana, kenya, rwanda, namibia and tunisia have in- creased their annual gross expenditure in this area, funding levels have declined in south afri- ca and other countries are heavily reliant on for- eign sources for r&d income.even the largest investments have not reached the target of 1 per cent of gross domestic product as recommended by the african union in 2007, it says. research and innovation collaboration across the region and internationally is also “under-resourced and underfunded” in the continent, it adds. email@example.com
march - april | 2019 advertorial asns news | 11 bridging africa’s science landscape, the african diaspora as i headed home on the plane, my mind was by dr christine ngaruiya investment cannot be undermined, the exposure, ex- pertise and knowledge from this same body could and should also be leveraged as fervently in helping to advance the continent. this includes for it’s sci- ence and academic economy. some might ask, why not move back? that would solve the issue. i hesi- tantly debate that point of view. the late, great har- vard professor, calestous juma was validated in knowing that he, like oth- ers, was better placed where he was, at harvard. quite simply, some of the resourc- es, the opportunities and the exchange that can be leveraged to benefit the continent still remain invaluable. real- izing this, how can we sustainably tap into this giant think tank, an untapped resource of knowledge and passion? more needs to be done to make it a softer landing for them to return. and we need to be creative about this. potential jobs or exchange programs for academics could be facilitat- ed, research funding to support research by african governments for african science need to be forti- fied, and african science needs to be supported and advocated for furiously. this isn’t a plea for a handout, applause or any special treatment for the diaspora either. not at all, quite the opposite. if that was the business we were in, many of us would have given up a long time ago. all we ask for is an opportunity - to be able to give back. and channels to be able to do so, so that each person, is not having to reinvent the wheel each time. a frequently recited african proverb says: “if you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together.” let’s go together. the writer is an academic physician at yale uni- versity with a research focus on public health in af- rica. firstname.lastname@example.org such programs then limited even if their intentions and methods are good. an overhaul of the system is needed. a significant change in the culture and prioritization of academics and research is needed at the government level. ministries of education, supported and ratified by the african union and funding bodies need to priori- tize the academic in the african setting for sustainable change to occur. and one population that has glaringly been left out of the equation, and who have demonstrat- ed willingness and a desire to engage is - the diaspo- ra. one of my favorite quotes pertaining to equity for women in the workplace states that you would not pick the best “team” from just half of the population. and in this case, with 170 million of us across the world, i am confident that our “teams” could do better. furthermore, as estimates have shown, diasporans are making financial contributions to the continent at an unprecedented level - as much as $35 billion. a wise indian proverb says: “if you give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day. if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. “ while the value of such financial abuzz. the engines steadily hummed in the background, dulled only by the even loud- er thoughts that raced through my mind. the plane lights were dim. snores ebbed and flowed around me, my neighbors nothing but still heaps piled under blankets. meanwhile, i sat wide awake, staring ahead into space, unable to settle down. i was on my way back to the us after a 3-week span of conferences and research project work in east africa. this exercise isn’t new to me, however. i am a penultimate example of the “reverse diaspora,” where a particular area of expertise (my academic research) which is focused in kenya has landed me there for increasingly more frequent stints every year for the past several years. while i was born in america to kenyan immigrant parents, i was raised in kenya from a young age. i went on to pursue secondary education in amer- ica, and now hold a faculty appointment at a us insti- tution. in some shape or form, i knew that i’d return some day. like others who share passions of contributing to africa’s progress in the diaspora, though, returning has come at a high cost, which has included navi- gating a murky and frequently harshly unwelcoming system, countless hours of unsalaried time, and per- sonal resources, typically to the tunes of thousands of dollars, just to find one’s footing. the only thing that kept me going was a vision that i had, one like any other kenyan, for what i’d love my country to be, and to achieve. i knew that i had something to contribute, and could see a gap that i could potentially help fill. i’ve spent the better part of the past 5 years of my life in this cycle. i’ve worked with a variety of public health organizations and individuals in east africa, including mentoring and teaching several hundred junior faculty, trainees and students on public health, research and academ- ics. and while i, and others, have worked tirelessly in these efforts, they are but a dent in the overall scheme of things. and like any intervention, without infrastructure, are futile for sustainable change. as it stands, sub-saha- ran africa accounts for <1% of the world’s research output and these scientific products remain only nom- inally cited. meanwhile, public health decisions and guidelines are being enacted upon the continent from the highest echelons in spite of this lack of primary data. there are guidelines for national health targets and clinical care that are set based on the experience and data that are not necessarily transferrable, or ide- al, for the african context. how then are we expected to thrive if the rule book is written using a blue-print that never quite accounted for our setting in the first place, anyway? unfortunately, this lack of research and academic productivity, the science that is so needed to advance knowledge on issues of importance to public health, is not expected to change in the foreseeable future. while promising initiatives such as consortium for dr christine ngaruiya making a presentation advanced research training in africa (carta) and the medical education partnership initiative (mepi) have emerged in the past few decades, they are drops in the bucket in terms of what is needed to see real change occur. furthermore, they are not comprehensive - they fo- cus on a handful of institutions, with the real reach of meanwhile, public health decisions and guidelines are being enacted upon the continent from the highest echelons in spite of this lack of primary data. there are guidelines for national health targets and clinical care that are set based on the experience and data that are not necessarily transferrable, or ideal, for the afri- can context. how then are we expected to thrive if the rule book is written using a blue-print that never quite accounted for our setting in the first place, anyway?
12 | asns news march - april | 2019 new research suggests earlier emergence of malaria in africa malaria, which claims and lluis quintana-murci, in close collaboration with the max planck institute in leipzig, germany, and the ird, has cast doubt on the role of agriculture in the emergence of malaria in africa. the results of this collaborative scientific re- search, based on a novel formaliza- tion of the specific natural selection method generally accepted in the case of βs, show that this muta- tion emerged around 20,000 years ago. these new findings therefore indicate that malaria was rife well before the adoption of agriculture - contradicting widely held interpre- tations. in the research also shows that the βs mutation emerged more recently, approximately 4,000 years ago, in hunter-gatherer pop- ulations. changes the equatorial forest during this period - most likely because of an episode of climate change and/or a period of increased deforestation owing to the emergence of agriculture, are thought to have facilitated the spread of malaria among pygmy populations. “we show that the βs mutation, which provides re- hundreds of thousands of lives each year - mainly children and especially in africa -, is one of the leading causes of death by an infectious agent, the plasmodium falcipar- um parasite. in research on ma- laria, the genetic mutation that causes sickle cell anemia (also known as drepanocytosis), a chronic disease that is often fatal in children under five, caught the attention of the scientific commu- nity very early on because it also provides protection against ma- laria. after carrying out extensive research into the βs mutation by performing full sequencing of the hbb gene together with a large- scale genomic study on 479 indi- viduals from 13 populations from sub-saharan africa, scientists from the institut pasteur and the cnrs were able to reveal that malaria emerged in africa at least 20,000 years ago - and not at the same time as the adoption of agri- culture 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. the findings will be published in the american journal of human genetics on february 28, 2019. individuals carrying the βs mutation in the hbb gene who do not develop sickle-cell anemia - healthy carriers - demonstrate increased resistance to malaria infection. this evolutionary par- adox, first revealed in the early 1950s - a mutation that is by defi- nition harmful but promotes the survival of some individuals -, means that βs can be seen both as an emblematic example of natu- ral selection in humans and above all as an ideal marker for malaria research, since the date of emer- gence of βs corresponds with the minimum date for the emergence a child under treated bed net to guard against malaria. of malaria. research carried out in recent decades suggests that the date of emergence of βs, and therefore also malaria, coincides with the dates on which agriculture is known to have been adopted as the main means of livelihood in central africa around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. the scientific community had long accepted the existence of a causal link between the emergence of ag- riculture and the spread of malaria in africa. but nothing was known about the history of malaria in af- rican populations that did not adopt agriculture. obtained by scientists from the human evolutionary genetics unit at the institut pasteur, a study car- ried out by institut pasteur and cnrs scientists guillaume laval we will be doing more tests, because we want to take the vaccine as far as we can sistance to malaria, may have been spread by agricultural pop- ulations who came into contact with these populations of hunter- gatherers during the bantu mi- gration, when farming communi- ties crossed the equatorial forest and set out on the major migra- tory routes to the eastern and southern regions of sub-saharan africa,” comments guillaume laval, lead author of the paper. “these results shed new light on a little-known chapter in the his- tory of malaria and demonstrate the beneficial effects of admix- ture for some aspects of public health, such as the spread of mu- tations conferring resistance to various pathogens among human populations,” adds lluis quinta- na-murci, joint last author of the paper.
march - april | 2019 asns news | 13 gmo cassava can provide iron, zinc to african children in poor parts of the world, people may rely on a single staple crop to meet a substantial proportion of their energy requirements. for exam- ple, those who live in southeast asia rely heavily on rice. many denizens of africa rely on cassava, a tuber some- what reminiscent of a potato. in the united states, cassava is mainly associated with tapioca, which is used in pudding or bubble tea. however, in africa, cassava is es- sential for survival: about one-third of sub-saharan africans rely on it for more than half of their caloric intake. the trouble with cassava, however, is that it is nutrient-poor. partially as a result, iron and zinc deficiencies are common in africa. iron deficiency results in anemia, zinc deficiency in susceptibility to death by diarrhea, and each is also as- sociated with impaired cognitive de- velopment. breeding better varieties of cassava that absorb and store more of these nutrients is made difficult by a lack of genetic diversity. so, scientists have turned to biotechnology. gmo cassava can help treat iron and zinc deficiency turning plastics into job creator don thompson, the ceo of the center of regenerative design and collaboration (crdc) plans to turn all south af- rica’s unrecycled plastic waste, at 1 100 000 million tons per year, into jobs, clean our environment and help build houses, hospitals, schools and roads. the product has been tested and applied by pedregal in costa rica for the past two years with great success. in south africa, crdc has partnered with a leading operations company that has extensive exper- tise and a long track record in on-site waste management, pneumoccocal vaccine price drops pfizer on thursday announced that it has reduced the price of its pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (pcv) for 73 developing countries by five cents to us$ 2.90 per dose. the price drop, a result of nego- tiations between pfizer and gavi, the vaccine alliance, is pfizer’s third for its pcv vaccine since january 2017 and is expected to lead to sav- ings to gavi and developing country governments of us$ 4.1 million this year alone. the reduction is the result of strong ongoing implementation of pneumococcal vaccine national pro- gram. sa’s medical device mart hit as south africa moves to- wards universal healthcare with a national health insur- ance system (nhis), this, combined with the competition commission’s market inquiry and further changing legislation will effect radical change to the purchasing and provision of private and public healthcare in south africa. along with egypt, south africa accounts for 40% of the medical devices market in africa; and with annual healthcare spend of 8.4% of gdp, south africa’s medical de- vice market is estimated to be worth usd1.27 billion. a farmer observes the cassava crop. controls are on the left side of each pan- el; the others are experimental plants.) the authors further assessed the effects of processing on nutrient retention. cas- sava is not eaten raw. instead, it is often turned into garri or fufu, and some iron and zinc are lost in this process. using this data, combined with food consumption patterns, the authors estimate that their genetically modi- fied cassava could provide up to 50% of the dietary requirement for iron and up to 70% for zinc in children aged 1 to 6 years, as well as non-lactating, non-pregnant women.one wonders how the anti-gmo movement could oppose something like this. but given their hostility to golden rice, which has been genetically modified to con- tain a vitamin a precursor to prevent blindness, they usually find a way. for the sake of african children, let’s hope they aren’t successful. source: narayanan narayanan, et al. “biofortification of field-grown cas- sava by engineering expression of an iron transporter and ferritin.” nature biotechnology 37: 144-151. published: scientists have genetically modified cassava to contain much higher levels of iron and zinc 28-jan-2019. doi: 10.1038/s41587- 018-0002-1 — american council on science and health an international team of research- ers, including scientists affiliated with the usda, have genetically modified cassava to contain much higher levels of iron and zinc than the non-transgen- ic variety. they used two genes from thale cress (arabidopsis thaliana), a pathetic looking plant that happens to be one of the most studied organisms in all of biology. the first gene was a deriva- tive of irt1, which encodes an iron transport protein. the second, fer1, encodes ferritin, an iron storage pro- tein. modifying the plant with these two genes increased not only iron lev- els but zinc levels, as well. (see figure below. the left panel depicts iron levels; the right panel depicts zinc levels. the forest: kenya turns to earth observation technology kenya has resorted to the use of earth observation technology in order to enhance monitoring of degraded forests, an official said recently. jamleck ndambiri, project manager at the kenya forest service (kfs), said that earth observation technology will help protect and restore tropical forests through better monitoring. “with the help of satellite data acqui- sition, ground verification and processing, we intend to assess and monitor national forest cover by mapping previously hard- to-assess forest areas more accurately and timely,” said ndambiri. ndambiri noted that parts of kenya, particularly the coastal and western re- gions, experience persistent cloud cover for most of the year, due to their proxim- ity to the indian ocean and lake victoria water bodies, respectively. “we have relied on expensive and time-consuming ground surveys to assess and undertake inventory of our forests over the years but this has not worked well,” said ndambiri. the official said that local personnel have been trained from several relevant institutions and disciplines to use the new computing technologies. he noted that a national geographic information system lab has been estab- lished. ndambiri said that kenya forest map- ping project targets some 2,039 square ki- lometers of kwale county as a pilot.
14 | asns news march - april | 2019 johnson & johnson awards winners johnson & johnson awards winners entries from eastern and western africa dominated the johnson & johnson inno- vation award winners of the first cham- pions of science - africa storytelling chal- lenge. the challenge aimed to highlight the jour- neys of scientists and innovators working in af- rica, and celebrate the impact of their work on families, communities and the world. the challenge received more than 100 en- tries from scientists and innovators in 22 af- rican nations, including south africa, nigeria, kenya and uganda, among others. an indepen- dent committee of scientists, science journalists and policymakers selected the winners, who will receive a $5,000 cash prize, publication of their stories, and international publicity. “the stories of scientists working on the af- rican continent are often hidden, yet the work they do is vitally important, and their stories are often remarkable and inspiring,” said seema kumar, vice president, innovation, global health and policy communication, johnson & johnson. “by showcasing the contributions of the tal- ented scientists and innovators in africa, we hope to build public engagement and inspire africa’s youth to pursue careers in science to help change the trajectory of health for human- ity.” backgrounds to see the unlimited opportunities that science brings. champions of science - af- rica storytelling challenge winners askwar hilonga, ph.d., tanzania, whose story profiles his invention of a low-cost water filter to clean contaminated water in rural areas elizabeth kperrun, nigeria, whose story de- scribes her work to develop award-winning lan- guage learning tools for children. philippa ngaju makobore, uganda, who de- scribed how she and a team of engineers pro- totyped an automated non-invasive infusion controller to safely and accurately regulate life- saving intravenous fluids and drugs in resource- constrained settings including hospitals and treatment spaces with unreliable power supply. maame ekua manful, ghana, who described her journey to form a start-up to create fortified foods to address the issue of vitamin a deficien- cy syndrome prevalent in developing countries. levit nudi, kenya, whose story profiles his development of an innovative mobile app to prevent use of counterfeit or substandard medi- cines. earlier this year, johnson & johnson innova- tion announced dr. mahmoud bukar maina as the winner of the africa storytelling challenge - yase edition, which was open to the partici- pants of the young african scientists in europe gathering in july 2018. scientists share ideas congratulating award winners, h.e. mma- moloko kubayi-ngubane, minister of science & technology, south africa, said there was need to create broader public awareness of the outstanding work being done by african inno- vators across diverse scientific disciplines. “i am pleased that we have the opportunity to cel- ebrate the stories of these outstanding champi- ons of science.” the africa storytelling challenge is part of johnson & johnson’s ongoing commitment to convene and catalyze champions of science and to engage people of all generations and iita launches renovated facilities sanginga said the new facilities add to the world-class research environment iita is creating to foster scientific innovations necessary for agricultural transformation in africa. it epitomizes iita’s zeal for renovation and innovation and is a tribute to the team who work smartly to make this vision possible. “the renovation expands our capabilities to use new technologies and improve the learning environment for staff and students working on a range of topics in in preventing with national and international phytosanitary procedures and assists transboundary spread of seedborne pathogens and pests. ghu and virology work complementarily in ensuring the health of planting materials generated by breeding and seed increase programs for international distribution. both virology and ghu have the unique distinction of working with scientists from all disciplines and units of all the iita mandate crops from all the updated facilities have a better aesthetic look and i hope that. the improvements will pave the way to augment labs with modern equipment to support cutting-edge research,” he added. the ibadan-based international institute of tropical agriculture recently inaugurated renovated virology and germplasm health units. the virology unit evolved from the plant health management division of iita, the birthplace of classic and applied plant virology in west and central africa. the unit is involved in the world-class interdisciplinary research on some of the most complex plant virus disease problems plaguing crop production in sub-saharan africa. research and development (r&d) efforts have resulted in great success and continue to provide knowledge, technologies, and procedures necessary to solve emerging and reemerging virus disease challenges. the unit also plays an important role in developing plant virology capacity in the subregion. inaugurating the facilities, iita director general, dr virology, diagnostics, phytosanitation, seed health testing, epidemiology, phenotyping, and others,” said lava kumar, virologist and head of ghu. “the updated facilities have a better aesthetic look and i hope that. the improvements will pave the way to augment labs with modern equipment to support cutting-edge research,” he added. according to robert asiedu, director for the western africa hub and research lead for genetic improvement and biotechnology, “these upgrades will support increased efficiency and effectiveness in virology research, capacity development, and delivery of outputs from several iita r4d programs.”ghu is the “gateway for safe international exchange of germplasm.” ghu ensures iita‘s compliance the hubs and stations. “it’s a privilege to work with esteemed colleagues within iita and partners from around the world to accomplish common goals,” said kumar. “a motivated team ready to undertake diverse r&d tasks and excellent management support to research are cornerstones of our success.”“renovated labs improve motivation and continue to attract bright, young talent to our discipline,” said patricia ogunsanya, research associate and the longest serving member of staff in virology.the new facilities are a shot in the arm for transdisciplinary research through a combination of digital technologies, biotech, and conventional plant sciences.
march - april | 2019 asns news | 15 south africa, flanders sign research pact the flemish fund for scientific secretary-general elisabeth monard. research (fwo) has renewed its agreement with the south african national research foundation to continue a joint scientific research programme. the bilateral agreement was signed in johannesburg during belgium’s trade mission to africa this week. the contract, worth €300,000 a year, focuses on fundamental research in ex- act applied social and human sciences. because of its success, the fwo de- cided to renew the agreement for a fur- ther four years. “our contacts with the south african national research foundation (nrf) have been very fruitful,” said fwo “we feel that they share the same passion for excellence and innovation as we have in flanders. we are con- vinced that this co-operation will once again generate interesting and pro- found research results.” flemish innovation minister ingrid lieten was in johannesburg for the signing of the agreement. “one of the most important principles in my scien- tific and innovation policy is to bring fundamental research closer to soci- ety,” she said. “from the beginning, i have empha- sised the importance of developing an international element to flemish re- search.” ingrid chinese scientists aim for 3d map of human brain rural sanitation: online monitoring system along with the world bank group is launching a one million farmer ini- tiative. the initiative aims to create a plat- form that leverages disruptive agricul- tural technologies to reach one million farmers. to this end, the dat challenge and conference will convene the agricul- tural ecosystem to discuss the roadmap to scale up the dat solutions. innova- tors will get an opportunity to present their dat solutions and join the initia- tive hygiene status, a conference has heard. according to kenya’s ministry of health, the country has open defecation rate of 14 per cent, with countries such as wajir and turka- na having a rate of 76.7 and 82.2 per cent respectively.the online portal could help coordinate moni- toring of water, sanitation and hy- giene (wash), and enable public health officials in rural areas facili- tate rapid acceleration of the open defecation free (odf) campaign, experts say. kenya has launched an online monitoring, evaluation and reporting system to improve capturing of data on sanitation and to address the agricultural chal- lenges in kenya, the minis- try of agriculture, livestock, fisheries and irrigation (moalfi) cern unveil new science gateway cern is launching the sci- ence gateway, a new fa- cility dedicated to science education and outreach. the science gateway will be hosted in a new, iconic building on cern’s meyrin site, designed by world-renowned renzo piano building workshop, architects. construction is planned to start in 2020 and be completed in 2022. the purpose of the project is to create a hub for scientific ed- ucation and culture in line with cern’s mission to share knowl- edge and technology with society and to inspire the younger gener- ations with the beauty of science.
africa science news covering science with an african eye | march-april 2019 published by ssa (services in scientific work in africa) p. o. box 2141, 00100, nairobi, kenya tel: +2540202051330 : email: email@example.com www.africasciencenews.org the nigerian biosafety management agency (nbma) has approved the commercial release of genetically modified, pest-resistant cowpea to farmers in nigeria. the action is a culmination of more than two decades of research, field trials, and risk assessment by multiple organizations. this places the country on the path to becoming the first country ever to cultivate biotech cowpea. this development adds a new crop to the global biotech basket from africa. nbma’s approval allows the institute for agricultural research (iar) to commercially release pod borer-resistant cowpea (pbr cowpea)-event aat709a, genetically improved to resist maruca vitrata. this permit is valid until the end of 2022. the release provides a relief to millions of nigerian farmers who depend on cowpea for food and income, as well as the consumers of cowpea. principal scientist in plant biotechnology at international institute of tropical agriculture (iita), leena tripathi, expressed delight stating, “this is indeed good news for iita and nigeria at large, as the first gm food crop will be available for commercialization.” cowpea is an important staple crop in sub- saharan africa, serving human consumption needs as well as being a good source of quality fodder for livestock. however, cowpea farmers face a challenge with a traditionally low yield factor due to its susceptibility to many insect pests at different stages of its production lifecycle. as a result, if farmers want to get a good yield they need to apply multiple insecticide sprays during the course of the production in the fields. one of the most damaging insect pests that attack the cowpea plant is the maruca vitrata, commonly called the maruca pod borer, which causes 70–90% yield loss for farmers. due to high costs and, sometimes, unavailability of suitable insecticides, many cowpea farmers resort to harmful cotton insecticides to spray cowpea fields. this has unfortunately led to significant numbers of research has shown that bt cowpea will reduce the use of pesticides from eight sprays per season to about two targeted sprays and increase yield by up to 20% nigerian biotech body okays commercial gmo cowpea intoxication and deaths. iita, which has cowpea as one of its mandate crops, along with other research partners, decided to focus on developing an improved cowpea variety that would be resistant to maruca. to achieve this, more than 15,000 cowpea varieties in the iita germplasm bank were evaluated for resistance to maruca. giving an overview on the project, iita legume geneticist and breeder christian fatokun stated that the researchers also evaluated wild relatives where resistance to this pest was detected in one called vigna vexillata. concerted efforts were made to cross this wild relative to cowpea but proved unsuccessful. with the lack of success of conventional breeding for resistance, the collaborators on the project decided to adopt a biotech approach that would result in genetically modified cowpea. previous research using a bacterium called baccilus thuringiensis (bt) to confer resistance in maize crop had proved quite successful and some of the bt gene strains have been found be effective against maruca. with genes provided by monsanto and initial phases of product development conducted at the commonwealth scientific and industrial research organisations (csiro) in australia, significant milestones were achieved in developing cowpea lines expressing the bt (cry1ab) gene that confers resistance to maruca pests. the successes graduated to confined field trials (cft) which were conducted successfully at iar in zaria, nigeria. results from the research have shown that bt cowpea will reduce the use of pesticides from eight sprays per season to about two targeted sprays and increase yield by up to 20%. this means that nigeria will record a revenue increase of more than ₦48 billion (us$132 million) annually from cowpea. years of extensive risk assessment and safety studies have shown that the bt cowpea is safe for both human and livestock consumption. the research was led by iar in partnership with the african agricultural technology foundation (aatf) to which monsanto licensed the bt gene for use in the project. other collaborators include purdue university, csiro, the ifpri-facilitated program for biosafety systems (pbs), and iita with support from the united states agency for international development (usaid). in a document dated 22 january 2019, nbma stated that it issued the permit after taking into consideration the advice of national biosafety committee, national biosafety technical sub- committee, and the risk assessment and risk management reports provided by iar. “after a thorough analysis of the application dossier which included risk assessment and risk management plans, it is unlikely that the proposed release will have an adverse impact on the environment and human health,” read part of the document.