Bill 398 is defeated

Amandla’s Doug Miller bring his critical analysis to the recently defeated Canadian Bill 398 that aimed to bring cheap generic drugs to help African countries treat Hiv-AIDS.

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Farid Omar on Somalia and news on HIV policies

Afrah Aden discusses the volatile security situation in Somalia with Farid Omar a researching fellow at the York Centre for International and Security Studies at York University. He specializes in international security forecasting for African conflicts, especially Somalia. He is also a member of Grilla, Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa.

This 15 minute interview is followed by analysis from Amandla’s Doug Miller on recent news on HIV-AIDS policies in Africa. The struggle to bring adequate treatment, prevention and curative methods to bear on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa has been seriously jeopardised by the G8 countries cutbacks in this year’s contributions to the global fund and the reluctance of multinational drug manufacturers like Johnson and Johnson to loosen their profitable grip on patents that could allow the production of life-saving cheap generic drugs. In the words of Stephen Lewis, such callous indifference to the lives of Africans is essentially murder.

South Africa: Mbeki sacks deputy health minister/ Afrique du Sud: Mbeki renvoie sa vice-ministre de la santé

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Il semble que parce qu’elle faisait du bon travail, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (voir photo) a été renvoyée de son poste de vice-ministre de la santé par le président Thabo Mbeki. (Dans le Guardian de Londres)

Because she seemed to do a good work, the deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (see picture), was sacked by president Thabo Mbeki. This move brought angriness from the NGOs.

London Guardian:

Aids activists furious at sacking by Mbeki· Deputy health minister axed after Spanish visit
· Unions and opposition condemn president

David Beresford in Johannesburg Agencies
Friday August 10, 2007
Guardian

The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has sparked outrage among Aids activists by firing the highly popular deputy health minister on what they claimed were trumped up charges.

N. Madlala-RoutledgeNozizwe Madlala-Routledge was sacked for travelling to attend an Aids conference in Spain without the permission of President Mbeki. But campaigners said that Mr Mbeki seized the opportunity to rid himself of a politician who had shown herself prepared to openly criticise government on Aids and other health issues.

President Mbeki has become notorious for denying that Aids is caused by a virus. He is supported by the minister of health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang who is known as Dr Beetroot for her claims that beetroot and garlic can treat Aids.

Dr Tshabalala-Msimang was ill for nine months and has only recently resumed her duties. During the health minister’s illness, Ms Madlala-Routledge mended fences with activists in the Treatment Action Campaign and the mainstream medical community and was one of the driving forces behind a new five-year plan which has made reducing the number of new HIV infections one of its main targets, and aims to extend treatment to 80% of those with Aids by 2011.

The firing of Ms Madlala-Routledge was described yesterday by the Treatment Action Committee as a “dreadful error of judgment”. “It indicates that the president still remains opposed to the science of HIV and to appropriately responding to the epidemic. We call on him to reverse his decision,” the committee added.

The deputy minister was fired for going to Spain with her son and a government consultant at a cost of R160,000 (£11,000). His aides said that there had been a mix-up over dates and that the president only refused her permission to make the trip after she had arrived in Spain. It is believed she refused to resign and was then fired.

Reaction to her sacking has demonstrated not only her popularity, but also the deep unpopularity of Mr Mbeki. The parliamentary opposition, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions and the South African Communist party joined in the criticism of the sacking. Cosatu said her firing would “deepen a culture of sycophancy” in the government.

Patricia De Lille, leader of the small Independent Democrats party, noted the dismissal came “just hours before the dawn of our 13th Women’s day”, calling it “an insult to every single South African woman who has the courage to stand up for the truth”.

Ms Madlala-Routledge is a former deputy minister of defence. She is also a Quaker.

Mukoni Ratshitanga, a spokesman for Mr Mbeki, said the president did not need to explain his decision. “Members of cabinet and deputy ministers serve at the behest of the president,” he said.

Émission Amandla du 4 juillet 2007/ Amandla show from July 4th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 4 juillet dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Émission en anglais

Enjeux sociaux liés au SIDA au Botswana. Ces enjeux sont très liés à la situation du droit des femmes qui sont les personnes les plus affectées par le SIDA. Des ONG locales de femmes sont impliquées dans l’éducation et la dissémination de l’information sur le VIH/SIDA au sein de la population.Seun Kuti

Commentaires sur la performance du Seun Kuti (fils de Fela Kuti) au festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Voir photo ci-contre et un extrait vidéo de son spectacle plus bas.

The Ravaging of Africa: Militarizing Africa. Rediffusion d’une émission radio en quatre parties qui traite des impacts destructeurs de l’impérialisme américain en Afrique. “Militarizing Africa” décrit comment les États-Unis ont fomentés la guerre qui a dévasté la République Démocratique du Congo et planifié l’invasion de la Somalie par l’Éthiopie. Avec Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim et Halima Abdi Arush

 

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the July 4th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

Show in english.

Social issues related to HIV/AIDS in Botswana. They are closely linked to women rights since they are the most affected by AIDS. Women oriented NGOs are involved in education and dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS in the population.

Comments on Seun Kuti (Fela Kuti‘s son), performance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Here is a small piece of Kuti’s performance in Montreal:

The Ravaging of Africa: Militarizing Africa. It is four-part radio documentary series about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on Africa. “Militarizing Africa” describes how the United States has fomented the devastating war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as taken part in and engineered the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. With Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim and Halima Abdi Arush.


Émissions Amandla du 20 et du 27 juin 2007/ Amandla shows from June 20th and 27th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant les émissions Amandla du 20 et 27 juin dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez les télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Le 27 juin

Entrevue avec Béatrice Umutesi présentant son livre: “Fuir Umutesiou mourir au Zaïre. Le vécu d’une réfugiée rwandaise” – en français. Mme Umutesi est une ancienne réfugiée originaire du Rwanda qui s’enfuit au Zaïre suite au génocide rwandais. Elle travaillait comme coordonnatrice d’ONG avant de fuir au Zaïre. Elle découvre que le Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR), mouvement de libération qui est aujourd’hui au pouvoir au Rwanda, aurait aussi perpétré des massacres contre les hutus pendant le génocide. La situation rwandaise a donc été plus confuse que ce qu’a bien voulu présenter la presse internationale. Paradoxalement, c’est le FPR que Mme Umutesi dut fuir. Elle quitte pour le Zaïre. Mais la guerre la rejoint avec des soldats du Rwanda qui traversent la frontière pour attaquer les camps de réfugiés. Mme Umutesi dut encore fuir marchant 2000 km dans la jungle congolaise pour trouver la paix.

Décès de Ousmane Sembène (photo plus bas) – en français et anglais. Icône du cinéma africain, né en Casamance (Sénégal). Revue de sa carrière et de sa vie. Il a écrit 5 romans, 5 recueils nouvelles et 14 films.

Les États-Unis cherchent une base pour l’AFRICOM – en anglais. Tel que présenté dans le blog, les pays d’Afrique du Nord refusent d’héberger l’AFRICOM sur leur territoire.

 

L’Union Européenne négocie une entente de libre-échange avec la CEDEAO (Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) – en anglais. Une telle entente lierait l’une des plus riches régions du monde avec l’une des plus pauvre. Les négociations ne se font donc surement pas sur une base “d’égal à égal”. L’Europe pourrait avoir un accès total au marché de la CEDEAO.

Comment le monde arabe ignore le Darfour – en anglais. Analyse d’un article paru dans le New Internationalist, intitulé “Salaam Darfur”, et qui critique le silence et même le déni du monde arabe devant les événements du Darfur. Cet article a été écrit par deux activiste arabes: Moataz El Fegiery et Ridwan Ziyada.

 

Le 20 juin

 

Émission entièrement en anglais.

Commentaires sur les discussions entre le Front Polisario et le Maroc sous les auspices des Nations Unies – en anglais. Les discussions se sont faites sous les regards d’observateurs Algériens et Mauritaniens. Elles se sont tenues à la suite d’une résolution de l’ONU datant d’avril 2007. Jusqu’à maintenant, rien n’a bougé, si ce n’est la décision de continuer les discussions en août 2007. Pendant ce temps, une génération de réfugiés vit toujours en Algérie, et beaucoup d’entre eux n’ont jamais vu le Sahara Occidental.

Découverte du pétrole au Ghana – en anglais. Le Ghana espère exploiter son pétrole sans tomber dans le piège de la mauvaise gestion de la ressource.

SIDA et développement en Afrique – en anglais. SIDA et développement ont mauvaise presse en Afrique. Le SIDA n’est pas qu’un enjeu de santé publique, il bloque le développement économique. Même dans un pays riche comme le Botswana, il peut faire des ravages.

Grèves générales en Afrique du Sud – en anglais. L’Afrique Du Sud entre dans sa 18ème-19ème journée de grève générale alors que les syndicats et le gouvernement n’arrivent pas à s’entendre. Des reportages provenant du terrain sont présentés.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the June 20th and 27th Amandla radio shows on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the shows here (link valid for two months only).

June 27th

United States try to find an african base for AFRICOM – in english. Countries from Northern Africa don’t want the opening of the base. The subject was addressed in a previous post.

European Union wants to build a free trade deal with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) – in english. This agreement could link one of the wealthiest zone of the world with the poorest countries of the world. This deal might not be negotiated in equal terms. Europe could have total access to the ECOWAS countries…

Death of Ousmane Sembène (see picture) – in english and french. Born in Casamance Ousmane Sembène(Senegal), he was the first african film director to have an international recognition. Review of his career and his life. He wrote 5 novels, 5 short story book, and 14 films. He died on June 10th 2007.

How the arab world ignores Darfur – in english. Analysis of an article from the New Internationalist (“Salaam darfur”) who criticizes the heavy silence and denial from the Arab world regarding the events occuring in Darfur. It was written by two arabic human rights activists: Moataz El Fegiery and Ridwan Ziyada.

Interview with Béatrice Umutesi author of the book: “Surviving the slaughter. The ordeal of a Rwandan refugee in Zaïre” – in french. Mrs Umutesi is a former Rwandan refugee who fled the genocide and went to Zaïre (today called Democratic Republic of Congo). She worked for an NGO before fleeing to Zaïre. She discovered that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), the liberation movement in Rwanda who’s now in power, also perpetrated mass murders against the Hutus during the genocide. The situation in Rwanda was therefore more complex than what the international medias depicted. Oddly enough, it’s the FPR Mrs Umutesi had to run from. She fled to Zaïre. But the war caught on her with Rwandan troops crossing the border and attacking refugee camps. She had to run into the jungle and walk 2000 km to find a safe place!

June 20th

Show entirely in english.

Comments on the talks between the Polisario and Morocco under United Nations’ auspices – in english. Talks were held between Morocco and Polisario front with observers from Algeria and Mauritania. They were held following a resolution from April 2007. So far, they lead to nothing concrete and they will continue in August 2007. Meanwhile, a generation of refugees still live in Algeria and most of them were born there and have never seen Western Sahara.

Oil found in Ghana – in english. Ghana hopes to exploit its oil without falling into mismanagement.

AIDS and development in Africa – in english. AIDS and development are treated negatively in Africa. AIDS isn’t just a health issue; it hinders economic development and social capabilities. Even in a rich african country like Botswana, it can be a really serious problem.

General strikes in South Africa – english. South Africa enters its 18-19th day of general strike as the unions and the government can’t find an agreement. Reports from the field are presented.

Voici un court vidéo d’Ousmane Sembène recevant “l’Akira Kurosawa” award au Festvial de film de SanFrancisco en 1993. Here is a short video of Ousmane Sembène receiving the Akira Kurosawa award at the 1993 San Francisco International Film Festival:

Le G8, une faillite morale/ G8, a moral failure

L’ancien envoyé spécial des Nations unies en matière de VIH/SIDA en Afrique, le Canadien Stephen Lewis (voir photo), n’est pas tendre envers le G8 et la résolution qu’il a prise concernant l’Afrique (selon Canoë):

[Il] a reproché au G8, lundi à Vancouver, d’avoir abandonné ses engagements envers la santé et l’égalité sociale en Afrique, laissant entendre que ses dirigeantsStephen Lewis ont de la difficulté à trouver leur boussole morale.

La semaine dernière, lors d’un sommet à Heiligendam, en Allemagne, les leaders des pays les plus industrialisés ont promis de consacrer 60 milliards $ à la lutte à la maladie en Afrique, mais M. Lewis a déploré l’absence d’un échéancier ferme, rappelant que les fonds seront investis «au cours des prochaines années».

«Qu’est-ce que ça peut bien vouloir dire?», a-t-il demandé.

Les pays du G8 dépensent 120 milliards $ chaque année pour les conflits en Irak et en Afghanistan, mais ils sont incapables de trouver la moitié de cette somme pour lutter contre le sida et le VIH, a dit M. Lewis. «Qu’est-il arrivé au point de repère moral de notre monde?», a-t-il lancé.

M. Lewis a fait ces commentaires dans le cadre de la 19e Conférence mondiale de promotion de la santé et d’éducation pour la santé, qui regroupe quelque 3000 personnes à Vancouver. Cet événement est organisé tous les trois ans pour évaluer les progrès réalisés en matière de promotion de la santé et établir des stratégies pour s’attaquer aux problèmes de santé.

M. Lewis a aussi reproché au G8 de ne pas lutter assez efficacement en faveur de l’égalité entre les sexes, un problème qu’il affirme être le plus important du monde. «On ne peut pas continuer à marginaliser 50 pour cent de la population de la planète et espérer atteindre un semblant de justice», a-t-il lancé.

The former UN special envoy in Africa for HIV/AIDS, the Canadian, Stephen Lewis (see picture above) criticizes the G8 for its moral failure. Canoë indicates that Lewis doesn’t understand why the world can give 120 billions dollars for wars in Irak and Afghanistan but can’t offer half the amount (60 billions) to fight AIDS in Africa. He wonders if the G8 has lost its moral. We can add that Lewis has been a strong critic of international organizations. They often loose track of their true purposes and fall into unproductive bureaucratic reflexes.

Le SIDA au Swaziland/ AIDS in Swaziland.

Le Swaziland pourrait être considéré comme étant le pays africain le plus touché par le SIDA. En effet, 42% du petit million d’habitants de ce pays en est atteint. L’espérance de vie est passée de 57 ans en 1990 à 33 aujourd’hui. Pour empirer les choses, ce pays agricole vit sécheresses après sécheresses. D’un autre côté, le roi Mswati III mène un train de vie luxueux et éhonté (il faut savoir que le Swaziland est une des dernières monarchies absolues du globe):

 

Alors que le Swaziland est principalement rural et fait partie des pays les plus pauvres du monde, et que sa population est victime du Sida et de la sècheresse, le roi Mswati III est réputé pour sa passion des voitures luxueuses (en 2004 et 2005, il a acheté pour lui et ses femmes vingt voitures de marque BMW série 5 et 7, ainsi qu’une Daimler-Chrystler Maybach équipée à 500 000 USD); et réclame actuellement au gouvernement de quoi rénover ses palais et en construire onze de plus pour ses épouses. (Wikipédia)

IRIN (voir plus bas) nous parle de la situation que provoque le SIDA. Le tissus social est déstructuré au point où les mauvaises langues parlent de la “disparition du peuple Swazi”.

Swaziland could be considered as the African country with the population the most affected by the AIDS virus. 42% of the population of 1 million is affected. Life expectancy went from 57 years in 1990 to 33 years today! To make things worse, this country has an agriculture that’s going through a series of droughts years after years. On the other side, the King of Swaziland, Mswati III leads a life of luxury (Swaziland is once of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world).

IRIN, tells us about the social impact of AIDS in Swaziland:

The disintegration of the extended Swazi family, partly as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, has created a new phenomenon of urban homelessness.

A bitter early-winter cold front awakened Swazis this week to a problem nonexistent a decade ago: a seemingly permanent population of homeless people in urban centres. Temperatures plunged to almost freezing point in the capital, Mbabane, and dipped below 0 degrees Celsius in the northern town, Pigg’s Peak and the southern town, Hlatikhulu.

Samuel Dlamini was driven onto the streets of the central commercial hub, Manzini, when family elders advised him to leave after his second wife died of an AIDS-related illness.

“There was nothing to do there [in the rural homestead]. The drought was such that the fields could not be cultivated, so I came to Manzini. I lived with other people in the cemetery before they put in a new gate [to deny access]. I slept on cardboard under a plastic sheet, now I sleep on the pavement under newspapers,” said Dlamini.

Thandi Ngwenya, a social worker attached to the Baphalali Red Cross Society in Manzini said, “Dlamini is typical of the urban transients we see, who have been uprooted from the traditional life on the homestead. Homelessness was unheard of a generation ago, everyone had a home, and a purpose in life”.


Dlamini said it was more productive to scrounge through dumpsters – he does not ask people for money – than sit idle on a dried-up farm. “[At least now]I don’t have to contend with my wife’s family’s hostility”.

AIDS has worsened the problem of homelessness by decimating families. Nearly four out of 10 sexually active Swazi adults are HIV-positive, a scale of suffering that threatens to overwhelm the traditional support system of the extended family.

For many Swazis during this week of plunging temperatures, the sight of ragged people huddled around fires in alleys was a revelation. “These street people never bother us, only the children ask for money. I always assumed they had families, a place to go. But it seems they live outdoors all the time,” said Alicia Simelane, an Mbabane bank teller.

Government’s position is that there are no homeless people in Swaziland, because in this traditional society, everyone has a family homestead, the place of their ancestors, to which they can return.

Complex problem

Social welfare workers said the reality was more complex, in a country that has suffered six succesive years of poor harvests, and where one-third of the one million population is expected to need food aid this season.

“The truth is that poverty has put too much pressure on the traditional family structure. The drought has wasted the fields of subsistence farmers in all regions of the country this year, and HIV/AIDS is another stress factor,” said John Dube, a social science lecturer.

“Before independence [in 1968], most Swazis spent their entire lives within a 50km radius of the family homestead where they were born. Several generations of a polygamous household lived together.I don’t think today that a single traditional homestead like that can be found. The land has been divided and subdivided among children, and the rest have scattered,” said Dube.

A Manzini shop owner told IRIN, “It seems strange that this is a quiet and traditional country, but now we have a homeless population like Johannesburg [South Africa’s business hub].”

Des enfants du SIDA qui vivent plus longtemps/ Children with AIDS who live longer

Selon une recherche effectuée par l’organisation caritative britannique Wellcome Trust, des enfants né avec le virus du SIDA au Zimbabwe ont une espérance de vie plus longue que prévu. On a cru qu’un enfant atteint du SIDA n’atteindrait pas l’âge de cinq ans. Mais des enfants d’Harare (capitale du Zimbabwe), dans une proportion d’un sur quatre, vivent jusqu’à l’adolescence (lien anglais).

Selon Wikipedia, Wellcome Trust est la deuxième organisation médicale caritative la plus riche du monde après celle de Bill et Mélinda Gates, avec 22.6 milliards de dollars.

Quelque soit la critique qu’on attribue à ces organisation immensément riches, elles nous offrent parfois des résultats de recherche prometteurs permettant d’espérer que les ravages du SIDA en Afrique auront une fin… À condition que les entreprises pharmaceutiques n’achètent pas les résultats avant!

According to a research lead by the british charity organization Wellcome Trust, children born with AIDS in Zimbabwe have a longer life expectancy then previously expected. They were thought to not live past the age of five. But in Harare (Zimbabwe’s capital city), one child out of four lives up to the adolescence:

“The findings are quite extraordinary,” said Dr Liz Corbett, a Wellcome Trust senior clinical fellow in tropical medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, based in Zimbabwe.

“The phenomenon of long-term survival is poorly recognised and until recently has been almost positively resisted by the international HIV community because of the strongly held assumptions that HIV in late childhood is very unusual, and that survival from birth to adolescence with HIV was so unlikely without treatment as to be negligible. This just doesn’t fit with what we see in Zimbabwe and hear from neighbouring countries.

According to Wikipedia:

The [Wellcome] Trust is the world’s second richest medical charity after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with net assets at 30 September 2005 of over £11.6 billion ($22.6 billion). The Trust states its mission as being “to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health.” In addition to funding biomedical research, it supports the public understanding of science.

Whatever the critics are saying on those immensely rich foundations, sometimes they provide us with research results that are promising and let us hope the devastation caused by AIDS in Africa will come to en end… That is if the pharmaceutical companies don’t by the results first!