Louise Fong, Project Grace, Yunnan, China
I read the article about helpful weeds in Footsteps 48 with a keen interest. In Nigeria, the Tiv people of Benue State have many local chickens. Newcastle disease constantly plagues these chickens. Tiv people use a cheap means of controlling this dangerous disease. They use striga, a common weed of maize and sorghum, and find this treatment as effective as the vaccine.
They soak the whole striga plant in water for 10–20 minutes. Leaving the plant in the water, they give the water to the chickens to drink. The mixture should be kept topped up with water. Continue treatment for one week.
Akaa Ijir, PO Box 491, Makurdi 970001, Benue State, Nigeria
Reflections on HIV/AIDS
Statistics show clearly that unless drastic measures are taken immediately, the HIV/AIDS epidemic will claim half of Africa’s population within the next few years. It is estimated that over 7,000 Africans are dying and about 11,000 are being infected with the virus every single day!
If HIV testing facilities and life-saving medicines were readily available and affordable, more people would be encouraged to go for an HIV test. Over 90% of people who discover they are HIV positive try to avoid passing on the virus to others until they die. This helps reduce transmission of the disease.
Life-saving medicines such as Nevirapine help reduce HIV/AIDS being passed from mother to child. However, improving child survival without doing anything to prolong the life of the mother will produce orphans with an uncertain future.
Children who become orphans because of AIDS must be helped in a sustainable way, with education and training that will eventually make them self-sufficient. There is a danger of pouring money into institutions for orphans, as extended families will hand over their traditional responsibility of looking after orphans. It is vital to strengthen and support African extended families to take care of orphans.
Dr Eben Mwasha, PHC Ambassadors Foundation, PO Box 9618, Moshi, Tanzania E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org