Thursday, February 08, 2007

HIV Vaccine to be tried in South Africa

This article comments on a new HIV vaccine that is to be tried out on 3000 HIV negative, sexually active men and women in South Africa (the country with most HIV infections in the world). The vaccine has been created in Seattle and will be tried in South Africa, but is not the final cure. It is a trial that, if it works, may lead to future advanced studies leading to the eradication of this much feared disease. It is especially a trial to see if this vaccine can help a heterosexual population, especially women.
Participants will be aged 18 to 35 and no pregnant women will participate. The vaccine does not contain active HIV genes so cannot commence the illness, but it is hoped that it can cause immunization to the illness. Some participants will receive the vaccine, others a dummy version and will be given advice on practicing safe sex. There is much hope for success in gaining more information about HIV through this vaccine in all sectors of the field.
I believe though this vaccine seems like a good idea, since there will not be any HIV positive exposure to it may not help as much as hoped. It seems that it is a very vague idea that could eventually work but needs much more put into it. But is a cure really available for HIV? And how much will this vaccine cost, if it works? Will it be tested on HIV positive subjects whether it works with the present subjects or not?

New Option to aid Development?

In Uganda, many children are orphaned by violence and AIDS. Typically these solitary children are sent to orphanages where they live until their late teens when they then set out to live on their own. As we read in the readings for last week, the young people of a country can be a help or impediment to development. If the youth are unhealthy (AIDS) or uneducated (orphaned, poverty) they cannot contribute to a country's development. For example, if a child is orphaned or too poor to be educated both formally and in moral values, then he/she cannot grow up to become an engaged citizen. THis is important especially to developing countries because it is the young and the educated who undertake social change.
I think that this foster-system is extremely important for the future of the youth in Africa. By having a guardian and sense of family, these young people will be able to contribute more to their country and will be less likely to engage in violence.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Haleluya...Now There's Something New!

Burundi's president, Mr. Pierre Nkurunziza, is not allowing his position to tamper with his love for football. The man who once coached a first division team still manages to make time to play or train with his team, Haleluya FC, each week. Too often, many African leaders consider election into public office an elevation to demi-god status. Politics offers them a chance to distance themselves from the rest of the population, and many seldom look back. It is refreshing to see a president juggling balls and avoiding tackles on the same pitch as his fellow countrymen. In the end, he, Burundi and football are all winners.

Global Warming is Flooding African Villages

The negative effects of Global Warming can be experienced all over the world. The consequences of this problem are especially felt in Ngomeni, a village in Nairobi. The strong currents and rising sea levels have left many without shelter. Another problem this is creating is that fishermen are left without a job and their families are starving due to the low abundance of fish. In addition, people are making the situation worse by trying to fix the problems with the wrong approaches. One fisherman is trying to put up walls of rubbish close to the water in order to block the water from flooding the village.

The biggest issue that can be observed in this case is a general lack of education throughout the inhabitants of the Ngomeni village. First, the fishermen believe that the abundance of fish is low due to global warming. Today, there are very little fish in the sea due to over fishing in the past centuries. Fisheries have been depleted due to direct human actions, and not through global warming. Fishermen also hope that divine intervention will save them, instead of acknowledging their negative impacts and taking the initiative to change problems on their own.
Second, the individual putting up walls of garbage realizes that the junk makes people sick (attracting mosquitoes, and polluting the water as well as the village itself). His argument is that it is better to get sick than to lose one’s house. Again, the lack of education is clearly shown here: a problem can never be solved by another problem. Medication is very sparse in Africa and Malaria is a very big issue in areas infected with mosquitoes. It is evident that a wall of garbage is not a positive long-term solution. Garbage will not hold back heavy currents and will kill and contaminate the few fish that remain around the area.

There are clearly many solutions that almost anyone could think of. A few examples could be to address global warming a lot more aggressively, to educate African people, and to relocate the people living in this village. However, it takes time and money to do all these things and only efficient politicians in both Africa and Western countries will slowly but surely help resolve these issues.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Fight to Prevent Child Soldiers

58 nations, including Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Uganda have vowed to prevent the use of child soldiers. Known as the “Paris Principle”, the aim is to make child soldiers, who commit crimes, be viewed as victims and not criminals. Countries will now have the obligation of finding child soldiers and help them leave arms groups. Besides the overall efforts to prevent children from becoming involved in war, there will be no amnesty given to those commit crimes against children.

While this is viewed as a significant step to stop the use of soldiers under the age of 18, it appears to be easier said than done. Few, if any, arms groups who use children as soldiers “play by the rules.” It is doubtful that war -lords like Joseph Kony will give into the pressures of this principle.

Ending Child Warfare

Imagine being raised not as a lighthearted child playing games and laughing, but rather being molded into a machine of war. What seems inconceivable for many around the world is the appalling reality for many in Africa. The children are not to blame, rather the monsters that kidnap and brainwash them to be used as soldiers in their army.
It is a difficult problem to stop, but a problem that requires international attention. It may be gaining some international consideration, as almost 60 nations, including 10 the UN believes still have child soldiers, signed an accord to put a stop to the use of child soldiers as well as disarm all existing child soldiers. The accord will obligate nations to find and liberate child soldiers as well as punish those who recruited them.

A Viable alternative for Southern Cameroons?

Sovereignty is a touchy thing. Just ask all those "nations" that don't have it. Kosovo is dealing with it, Somalia, Quebec, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the list goes on. But what to do about an on-going problem in a small African country that has been called a microcosm of Africa: Cameroon?
For many years, a small but vocal group of anglophones has been calling for the succession of the "Southern Cameroons". Should the Southern Cameroons be granted independence from francophone Cameroon or should federalism be re-instituted, or should there be a UN presence like in Kosovo? Only one African country has successfully won independence: Eritrea from Ethiopia. Will the Southern Cameroons be next?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ugandan rebel 'prophetess' buried

Alice Lakwena, the 'prophetess' of Ugandan rebels died last month in Kenya in a refugee camp. Unfortunately, the LRA did not cease to exist along with her. Ms. Lakwena led a rebellion, starting during President Yoweri Museveni's rule in the 1980s and was defeated finally by government forces in 1988. Her followers believed she could cure major diseases and she founded the Holy Spirit Movement in 1986. Her followers also founded the Lord's Resistance Army, which is led today by Ms. Lakwena's cousin Joseph Kony. Thousands attended her funeral...yet how many funerals of lost children is the LRA responsible for? With more than 1.5 million people moving to avoid their children being abducted by the LRA, should Ms Lakwena be honored, or blamed for the atrocious human rights violations against thousands of Ugandan children today? Who is responsible for the continual abduction of Ugandan children- the Ugandan government, Ms. Lakwena, the LRA, Joseph Kony or the rest of the bystanding world?