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.
Japan’s Mount Aso erupted yesterday, spewing a giant column of ash thousands of meters into the sky as hikers rushed away from the popular tourist spot. No injuries were immediately reported after the late-morning eruption in southwest Japan, which sent rocks flying in a dramatic blast captured by nearby CCTV cameras. People were warned not to approach the volcano as it ejected hot gas and ash as high as 3,500m, and sent stones tumbling down its grassy slopes. Authorities were checking if any hikers had been trapped or injured, officials told local media, as TV footage showed dozens of vehicles and tour buses
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South
‘AVOIDABLE SITUATION’: After being tortured in his home country, a Sri Lankan and his family are at risk of deportation from the UK, despite his academic fellowship A scientist conducting groundbreaking research into renewable energy is facing deportation with his family to Sri Lanka, where he was tortured, after receiving contradictory information about his case from the British Home Office. Nadarajah Muhunthan, 47, his wife, Sharmila, 42, and their three children, aged 13, nine and five, went to the UK in 2018 after Muhunthan, who is working on thin-film photovoltaic devices used to generate solar power, was given a prestigious Commonwealth Rutherford fellowship. The award allowed him to reside to the UK for two years to research and develop the technology. His wife obtained a job caring for
A top global law firm is no longer representing the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in seeking the removal of a Tiananmen memorial from its campus after it came under heavy criticism in the US for helping China purge dissent, the Washington Post reported. Mayer Brown is the latest international company to face pressure over how its actions in China contradict its more progressive statements in the West. The 8m high Pillar of Shame sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot has stood on HKU’s campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China. It features 50 anguished faces and tortured