Launched four years ago, the two clinical trials, known as ASPIRE and The Ring Study, set out to determine how safe and effective the ring was in prevention of HIV infection in women. The ring, which is used for a month at a time, contains an antiretroviral drug called dapivirine that acts by blocking HIV from multiplying.
The studies enrolled close to 4500 women aged 18 to 45 in South Africa, Uganda, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Each study found that the ring helps reduce the risk of HIV infection in women. In ASPIRE, the ring reduced the risk of HIV infection by 27% overall. In The Ring Study, infections were reduced by 31% overall.
It sounds seemingly impossible, but there is yet another area of Africa that is under threat of a food shortage due to erratic rains during the growing season. While the Sahel is still experiencing food shortages, southern Africa is now joining ranks with the northwestern part of the continent.
According to the World Food Programme, 3.5 million people are living in drought-hit areas in Malawi, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe and are in need of food assistance. The hunger season lasts from December through March.
“Large numbers of smallholder farmers and their families are in the grip of what is set to be one of the harshest hunger seasons of recent years,” says Brenda Barton, WFP Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa. “With the help of governments, donors and regional organizations, we’re mobilizing resources to help the most vulnerable, not only with food distributions but also with innovative solutions like cash transfers via mobile phones so people can buy their own food.”
1.8 million people are receiving food assistance
200,000 people are receiving food assistance
1.6 million people are receiving food and cash assistance
What can you do to help? You can donate securely on the World Food Programme web site. There is currently a $4 million emergency operation shortfall in Lesotho and a $14 million shortfall in Malawai, so every donation counts.
The World Bank released its 10th annual edition of Doing Business which shows the state of, in fact, doing business in 185 economies. On its ease of doing business index it is easiest to do business in Singapore followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, United States, Denmark, Norway, and the UK. Some African countries made doing business easier such as Zimbabwe that reduced start-up fees and sped up name search in databases, for example. Zambia also reduced their required start-up capital amount and Mozambique simplified its licensing procedures. You can search by country if you’re interested in seeing how they have improved or reduced the ease of doing business. Poland is the most improved economy in the past year. Of African countries, Burundi was the most improved.
As far as women in business, 39 countries made a legal move toward gender equality and yet 232 million women still live in economies where they cannot start their own business without their husband’s permission. Legally women have equal rights with men in only 45 countries out of 141 economies.