Friday, January 16, 2004

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been accused of 'medical malpractice' against malaria patients in Africa. Drug resistance to traditional, cheap, treatments is an increasing problem in the fight against the disease. Writing in the Lancet, critics say the Global Fund, backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is wrongly funding these treatments. But the WHO said it always advocated the newer, more effective, treatment. Malaria kills around a million people each year, most of whom are children.

Human rights groups say that use of child soldiers is actually on the rise globally. The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers says in Ivory Coast, Liberia and the DR Congo recruitment of children increased massively in 2003. It says a series of moves by the UN aimed at eradicating such practices has made remarkably little progress... Soldiers, sexual slaves, labourers, porters and spies: children continue to perform all those roles in conflicts around the world, a new report by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers says.

A disturbing article by the BBC reports that an African food appeal was 'exaggerated'. A group of leading charities in the UK overstated the seriousness of southern African food shortages in 2002 and 2003, an audit has said... As well as using misleading or emotive language, the audit said some groups had not consulted local people enough and did not fully understand their needs. For example, one charity provided an expensive diesel pump to irrigate a small field where a foot pump would have been sufficient. And the report said there was not enough understanding of how the Aids epidemic affects the ability to cope with food shortages. This is quite disturbing. Unfortunately, such a report risks undermining the credibility of ALL charities who engage in such work.

James Carville, strategist for then candidate Bill Clinton, famously said, "It's the economy, stupid!" to describe on what political campaigns should be focused. Apparently, this is not the case in South Africa. The Daily Mail and Guardian reports that the bulk of supporters for the ruling African National Congress party are unemployed. The ANC is believed to have the support of about 60% of South Africans despite findings by the South African Broadcasting Corporation that showed the ANC support base is stronger among the youth, South Africans with lower education profiles and those with lower incomes and that Three quarters of ANC supporters are not employed either full-time or part-time.


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