Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

January 2018
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Friday, 19 January 2018
As Africa marks its own Malaria Day in recognition of the fact that it bears 90% of the deadly disease’s burden, an international research coalition is working to develop a cocktail of drugs that overcomes increasing resistance to conventional treatment exhibited by the elusive parasite.
Although the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa catches the lion’s share of international attention, the challenge posed by a number of other diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria, is sobering. For instance, malaria – a parasitic infection transmitted by female mosquitoes – kills between 1 and 2 million people per year worldwide, most of them children. Some nine-tenths of these deaths are in Africa.

Malaria is the largest cause of death among under-fives in Africa and constitutes 10% of the continent’s disease burden. It exacts an enormous toll both on those who contract it and on society at large. The scourge is estimated to have slashed Africa's economic power south of the Sahara by half. This is because sufferers are often bedridden and incapable of carrying out normal daily activities.

Malaria treatment exists but, in recent decades, traditional remedies such as chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine have become increasingly ineffective due to drug resistance. Scientists and doctors agree that the most effective treatment against malaria is a combination of drugs using artemisinin derivatives, highly potent extracts of a Chinese plant Artemesia annua, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). The UN body now actively encourages malaria-endemic countries to switch to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) – a call that has been answered by 40 countries globally.
ACT alone is not enough to ensure effective treatment and prevent future resistance from developing. Patients have to stick to the prescribed dose for the duration of the treatment period. However, without proper guidance, patients in developing countries might not take all the necessary drugs or may fail to complete the entire course.
New fixed-dose combinations are urgently needed to offer endemic countries, patients and doctors a wider range of treatment options adapted to their needs, explains the WHO.

Coalition of the healing
An international coalition set up to combat neglected diseases and a leading French pharmaceuticals company have joined forces to bring together two programmes they had been working on separately. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) and Sanofi-Aventis are currently developing the artesunate-amodiaquine (AS/AQ) fixed dose combination which should be ready for registration next year.This will be an important addition to our aramanetarium against malaria and will help improve compliance, said Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré of the WHO’s Roll Back Malaria Department. DNDi – a coalition of governmental and non-governmental organisations set up in 2003 –established its Fixed-dose Artesunate Combination Therapy (FACT) project in association with various international bodies, including the WHO. Independently, Sanofi-Aventis was working on the same combination.

The brainchild of international humanitarian NGO Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), DNDi is a 'needs-driven' global drug development network that provides treatment at cost to the end-user. The initiative seeks to fill the gap left by profit-driven drug development. It works on the premise that a great deal of valuable research lies disused in research laboratories around the world and that drugs already on the market can be adapted for other diseases. It capitalises on existing, fragmented R&D capacity, especially in the developing world, and complements it with additional expertise as needed.

For its part, the EU is also a major backer of efforts to combat neglected diseases afflicting poorer countries. For example, to help new drugs and vaccines speed through the development pipeline, the EU helped set up the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Platform (EDCTP). Funded by the EU and comprising 14 EU Member States plus Norway, the platform supports development of new clinical interventions to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, and to improve generally the quality of research in relation to these diseases. In 1998, the Union also helped set up the European Malaria Vaccine Initiative (EMVI) to speed up development and testing of anti-malarial vaccines.
National parliaments have a vital and growing role in European economic policy making. This was a key message heard by over 75 national MPs from 24 Member States gathered at the European Parliament in Brussels for a meeting with MEPs in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Following earlier meetings between the EP and national parliaments on the Lisbon Strategy and on the future EU budgetary framework, this meeting focused on the broad economic policy guidelines and the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact.
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Tuesday, 26 April 2005
The draft final reports of the Sustainability Impact Assessment
(SIA) studies for Forests within the assessment of the impact that trade negotiations may have on sustainable development indicate the following:
Further reduction of tariffs as the result of Doha negotiations is unlikely to influence forest product consumption and production much in aggregate. The already low import tariffs and relatively small share of forest products traded internationally explain the expected small aggregate impacts of full liberalisation on forest product consumption levels. Also, demand price elasticities for those products,
which on average have higher tariffs, are low. Further, the majority of trade in forest products takes place within EU, NAFTA, APEC, and under other various regional trade agreements, which may already apply zero or close to zero tariffs. However, there would be considerable differences between different countries in terms of their response to the changing terms of trade and what economic, environmental and social impacts may result from further trade liberalisation. Impacts can be either positive or negative, or a combination. Trade liberalisation appears to accentuate also the prevailing trends in the international trade in forest products (reduced trade in logs, increased trade in value-added products, increased South-to-South trade, increased intra-regional trade, etc.). Developing countries, which have established forest industries protected by high import tariffs, may incur considerable environmental and social costs due to downsizing of the industrial capacity and closing some industries entirely. In these countries, social costs may outweigh short-term economic gains unless adequate safeguards are adopted.
Forest-rich developing countries such as Papua New Guinea and the Congo Basin countries are not in a good position to gain large benefits form trade liberalisation because of poor access to capital, inadequate infrastructure, low rates of foreign investment, shortage of skilled people and technological know. However, these countries may increase their log and sawnwood exports, and in some cases also export of panels.
It is also essential that mitigation and enhancement measures proposed as part of the SIA of the agricultural trade liberalisation will address cross-sectoral linkages with forestry. The mitigation measures should be designed in keeping in mind that liberalisation of trade affecting especially edible oils (oil palm, soybean), beef and associated animal feed such as soybean, cocoa, and coffee is likely to pose risks in countries such as Brazil, Indonesia and West African countries.
The draft final reports of the Sustainability Impact Assessment
(SIA) studies for Agriculture, Forests and Distribution Services are
now available.The European Commission has commissioned an independent assessment of the impact that trade negotiations may have on sustainable development.
For the agricultural sector, within these overall impacts, there will be variations across countries. A few words on LDC's and LIDC's.
- Least Developed Countries (LDCs) typically export cash crops to developed countries under preferential access (most have tariff-free access to the EU for example). Most of the products they export are largely unaffected by the liberalisation scenario, the major exceptions being sugar (but few LDCs export significant amounts) and cotton. As exporters, LDCs gain little in general from the liberalisation scenario, while global tariff reductions imply a reduction in their margins of preferences – in general, theyface an increasingly competitive global market for their cash crop exports, implying market share losses. The erosion of preferences is unlikely to have a significant effect on unprocessed exports for most LDCs, as globally tariffs tend to be low on the cash crops they produce. As many LDCs are net food importers, they suffer a welfare loss from higher world prices. This is an adjustment cost for consumers: if domestic producers can respond to higher import prices, domestic production will expand and domestic prices may ultimately fall, implying a long-run gain to the economy. To the extent that the domestic sector expands, the social impact will be positive, favouring in particular the rural poor. As food production in LDCs tends to make low use of agro-chemicals, adverse environmental impacts will be minimal, and more than offset by savings on transport as domestic products displace imports.
- Low-income developing countries (LIDCs) are required to reduce domestic tariffs, unlike LDCs. This allows them to in effect offset the domestic impact of increased world prices for food imports, which is a benefit to consumers. This may mean that there is no price incentive for domestic producers, or at least dampens the incentive. However, liberalisation should eliminate dumping of subsidised food (at below the world price), so domestic producers will only have to compete with imports at the (higher) world price. Thus, domestic producers should benefit. A second potential benefit is that the margin of preference available to LDCs with respect to LIDCs will be reduced, implying a marginal benefit in those products where LIDCs compete with LDCs. This may only be a significant impact for a few products, such as fruit and vegetables. The probable economic benefits are positive and as the structure and forms of production in agriculture in LIDCs is similar to that in LDCs, the social impact should be positive (benefiting the poor) while the environmental impact is likely to be insignificant.
Monday, 25 April 2005
The final countdown to the advent of Europe’s own .eu internet identity, by the end of 2005, has begun. In the coming days, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) will put the .eu top level domain in the Internet root, further to a 21 March agreement between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the .eu Registry. As from the beginning of 2006, businesses and citizens who register .eu internet addresses will be able to benefit from higher visibility within the EU single market and a level playing field for electronic commerce.