AIDS campaigners say that the billions of dollars pledged to fight the killer disease in Africa are not enough to subdue the pandemic, and that a landmark deal last month on access to generic drugs falls far short of the needs of the devastated continent. \nActivists, speaking ahead of Africa's 13th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, which starts in Nairobi tomorrow, welcomed the agreement at the WTO in Geneva late last month to make it easier for poor countries to buy cheap versions of brand-name medicines, but said major problems remained. \nMore than three million people -- 600,000 of them children -- died of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa last year, according to UN figures, and the future looks bleak, with life expectancy tumbling and men and women in their 30s and 40s being wiped out, leaving frail grandparents to care for the children. \nThe Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria expects to disburse close to US$5 billion during 2002-2004, and US President George W. Bush has pledged US$15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean over the next five years. \nBut Jonathan Berger, a South African researcher at the AIDS Law Project, based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said the Geneva deal still left poor importing countries, which could not make their own drugs, at the mercy of richer exporting countries. \n"It still requires that compulsory licences must be issued in both importing and exporting countries. The problem is that even when a country which desperately needs the drugs issues a compulsory licence to import them, it is up to the exporting country to do the same," he said. \n"In many countries with a capability to manufacture generic drugs and export them, their patent laws may not provide for export of products under compulsory licenses, or may not allow for such licenses to be issued, or the political will may not exist." \nRwanda's secretary of state in charge of the prevention of AIDS, Innocent Nyaruhirira, said access to anti-retroviral drugs would draw people to clinics. \n"When there is no motivation, people are not interested in being tested or going for counselling," he noted. \nCurrently, anti-AIDS treatment in Rwanda costs around US$35 per month, against US$700 in 1999. \n"But the cost remains too high," he said, underscoring the poverty of a continent where many people exist on less than US$1 a day. \nBut Kenya Coalition for Access to Essential Medicines spokeswoman Beryl Leach said the Geneva agreement would make it difficult for developing nations to promote their own pharmaceutical industries and manufacture generic drugs. \nIn Zimbabwe, where 2,500 people are reported to be dying of AIDS every week, health professionals and AIDS activists said the Geneva deal was welcome, but might not be effective if other factors affecting poor countries were not addressed, such as shortages of health workers, and provision of clean water and electricity.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since