Editor's note

The cyclone that has caused havoc on Africa’s east coast has brought home two very tough realities. First, as Jennifer Fitchett notes, storms are growing in intensity and frequency. And that is exacerbated – as Robert Šakić Trogrlić writes – when countries such as Malawi and its neighbours lack the early warning systems that could protect their citizens from ferocious storms.

Tomorrow is World TB Day – the day in 1882 that Robert Koch announced he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB. Nearly 150 years later TB still kills at an alarming rate, even though there have been some important breakthroughs as scientists continue to try and find better drug regimens. Andrew Nunn and I.D Rusen share important findings from their recently published research on improving the treatment of drug resistant-TB. With an eye on some of the biggest breakthroughs, Bavesh Kana, looks at other developments made on the prevention and treatment front. And finally, Nazir Ismail debunks the myth that the disease only affects the lungs.


Nontobeko Mtshali

Education Editor

Top stories

People leaving their homes in the flooded section of Praia Nova, Beira, Mozambique in the wake of tropical cyclone Idai. Denis Onyodi/ IFRC handout

Tropical cyclone Idai: The storm that knew no boundaries

Jennifer Fitchett, University of the Witwatersrand

The recent storms provide a grim reminder of the prospect of future tropical cyclones in a region under continued threat from climate change.

Torrential rains in Malawi have caused dozens of deaths. Arjan van de Merwe/UNDP/Flickr

Why Malawi is failing to protect people from floods and what needs to be done

Robert Šakić Trogrlić, Heriot-Watt University

High poverty levels mean people lack access to land and work and they are often driven to settle in zones that are exposed to natural hazards.

TB, which is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, is a leading cause of death. Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Major battles have been won against TB. But the war isn’t over

Bavesh Kana, University of the Witwatersrand

In Southern Africa, high rates of HIV infection have been the primary driver of TB

Health + Medicine

Drug-resistant TB: a new study offers new hope

Andrew Nunn, UCL; I.D. Rusen, University of Toronto

New research shows that the treatment of drug resistant-TB can be reduced from the current duration of 20 to 24 months to less than a year.

TB doesn’t only attack the lungs – other organs are also vulnerable

Nazir Ismail, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

TB outside the lungs accounted for 14% of TB cases recorded globally in 2017.

Politics + Society

Botswana joins list of African countries reviewing gay rights

Andrew Novak, George Mason University

Botswana's High Court could finally decriminalise same-sex relations.

Why science matters so much in the era of fake news and fallacies

Tawana Kupe, University of Pretoria

Science is not the absolute truth. Scientific findings are the beginning, not the end, of the quest for truth.

Why some won’t be celebrating Namibia’s independence 29 years on

Henning Melber, University of Pretoria

Swapo remains the dominant party by far in Namibia. But it seems increasingly unable to live up to its promises.

We asked Senegalese migrants why they leave home. Here’s what they told us

Pau Baizán, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

A crucial resource in enabling migration is having some personal link to current migrants.

Environment + Energy

South Africa kicks the can down the road on captive predator breeding

Ross Harvey, South African Institute of International Affairs

While the international conservation community unites against the captive breeding of big cats in South Africa, the government stalls.

Irrigating Africa: can small-scale farmers lead the way?

Ian Scoones, University of Sussex

The green revolution: small-scale, informal irrigation is expanding in Zimbabwe and small scale farmers are leading the way.

Business + Economy

What we learnt from young South Africans about the minimum wage and employment

Leila Patel, University of Johannesburg

A national minimum wage could benefit young people who have jobs and stimulate those who have given up trying to find work. But those without work need additional help.

Tanzanian farmers don’t vaccinate against foot and mouth disease. Here’s why

Ashley Railey, Washington State University

Foot-and-mouth disease vaccines have been successful in several parts of the world. But in Tanzania it’s not that easy.


Universities must stop relying on software to deal with plagiarism

Amanda Mphahlele, University of Johannesburg; Sioux McKenna, Rhodes University

These programmes allow institutions to claim they're doing something without really tackling the issues that lead students to plagiarise.

Fixing South Africa’s public schools: lessons from a small-town university

Di Wilmot, Rhodes University

Universities have both a responsibility and a degree of potential influence on public schooling that set them apart and impose a special duty of leadership.

Arts + Culture

Why it’s significant that the UK has returned the locks of hair of an Ethiopian king

Mohammed Girma, University of Pretoria

Ethiopia is a storytelling nation in which Emperor Tewodros has a special place.

Africa’s top film festival celebrates 50 years: what’s to celebrate, and learn

Pier Paolo Frassinelli, University of Johannesburg

Fespaco, Africa's premier film festival, celebrated its 50th anniversary in Burkina Faso. For African cinema to survive, it must adapt to today's audiences and forms of distraction.


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