Editor’s note: Contrary to this story, information obtained Mar 23 from the World Health Organization and from another news report indicated that Thailand had no plans to withhold H5N1 virus samples. See link at end of story for more information.Mar 22, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Thailand today announced that it was joining Indonesia’s boycott on sharing its H5N1 avian flu virus samples with vaccine developers and the international health community.Mongkol Na Songkha, Thailand’s public health minister, told reporters in Bangkok today that the country has received no special benefits from sharing samples it has collected from avian flu patients, Bloomberg News reported.”Drugmakers rarely help us. They only gave us a small amount of vaccine, just like a donation,” Songkha told Bloomberg News.The country has reported no human avian flu cases in 2007. The last Thai case was confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Sep 27, 2006. Thailand has had 25 H5N1 cases and 17 deaths since 2003, ranking it the fourth hardest hit country.Indonesia stopped sharing its H5N1 samples with the WHO at the end of 2006, and in February announced that it was withholding them because the strains were being used to develop vaccines that the country couldn’t afford.Researchers need current H5N1 samples to trace changes in the virus, map its spread, and develop vaccines in preparation for the threat of a human flu pandemic.Indonesia has demanded a “legally binding” guarantee from the WHO and pharmaceutical companies that its citizens would have access to vaccines produced from Indonesian H5N1 sample strains. The country is hosting a meeting with the WHO and other Asian nations in Jakarta on Mar 26 and 27 to discuss vaccine access issues.An Indonesian official told Bloomberg News that he was pleased Thailand decided to withhold its H5N1 strains. “We hope a joint agreement on vaccine distribution could be achieved,” Bayu Krisnamurthi, chief of Indonesia’s committee on avian and pandemic flu, told Bloomberg.Thailand’s decision to withhold H5N1 virus samples signals a new round of friction between the country and pharmaceutical companies over access to medications. In January the country issued a “compulsory license” that allowed it to make or buy generic versions of an Abbott Laboratory HIV/AIDS drug, Reuters reported.In return, Abbott announced on Mar 14 that it would stop launching new medications in Thailand, Reuters reported, adding that Doctors Without Borders and other health groups accused Abbott of depriving Thailand’s poor of lifesaving medicines.See also:Mar 23 CIDRAP News story “Thailand to continue sharing H5N1 samples”
(REUTERS) – Australia have rested paceman Mitchell Starc and dropped left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe for the upcoming two-Test series in Bangladesh, Cricket Australia said yesterday.Starc featured in Australia’s failed Champions Trophy campaign but scans revealed the left-arm paceman has not fully recovered from the foot fracture that cut short his India tour earlier this year.“Mitchell was due to go for follow-up scans after the Champions Trophy, as part of his recovery plan,” physiotherapist David Beakely said after CA named a 13-member squad.“He will now undertake a period of rest from bowling with the aim to have him return for the one-day series in India in late September as he begins his build-up to the Ashes.”Fit-again James Pattinson joined fellow pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, while the selectors will name a fourth fast bowler later.O’Keefe was a notable omission, having taken 12 wickets in the first Test in India and finishing as Australia’s joint leading wicket-taker in the series, which the hosts won 2-1.“Whilst Steve O’Keefe bowled well in Pune, he did not maintain this level in the remaining matches of the series…” national selector Trevor Hohns said.Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar has been asked instead to partner off-spinner Nathan Lyon for the Tests in Dhaka (from August 27) and Chittagong (from September 4).“Ashton has continued to impress us with his form and we believe his bowling is at a level where he deserves to be playing on the highest stage,” Hohns said.“He will work nicely in tandem with Nathan Lyon and also brings a great all-round package to the team.”All-rounder Hilton Cartwright has also been named in the Steve Smith-led squad.Australia postponed their tour of Bangladesh in 2015 over security concerns but CA executive general manager Pat Howard was satisfied with the assurance from their hosts.“The Bangladesh Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Government have provided satisfactory levels of assurance and security for this tour to proceed at this stage, and we’re very grateful to them for this,” Howard said.“We will continue to work with them to finalise plans but also monitor advice from Government agencies and our own security advisers about the security risk.”Australia squad:Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Matt Renshaw, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper).
AfricaRice has donated a compact weather station to the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) for the recording and research in meteorology (weather forecasting).CARI is the research arm of the Ministry of Agriculture in Suakoko, Bong County.The equipment was installed in May and is intended to provide daily weather recordings of temperature, relative humidity, wind direction and speed and rainfall.The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), formerly known as the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA), is an African organization currently headquartered in Cotonou, Benin. It is an agricultural research center that was constituted in 1971 by 11 West African countries. Presently the center counts 24 African member states and since 1986, AfricaRice has been one of the 15 specialized research centers of the CGIAR.AfricaRice aims to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa through research for development. The organization is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture through the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP).CARI benefits from these interventions through the production and multiplication of improved rice varieties for Liberia. One of the major tasks of AfricaRice is the development and introduction of new rice seed varieties that are suitable for African conditions.In an interviewed with CARI team leader Mr. Aaron Marshall, he disclosed that Liberia is a member and works in collaboration with AfricaRice and as such the donation is part of the country’s benefit from AfricaRice.“Liberia is a member of AfricaRice so it’s Liberia’s benefit from the center and we also have three scientists that are helping CARI,” Mr. Marshall said.Meanwhile, in an interviewed with Mr. Marshall at CARI a few weeks ago he disclosed that 504 metric tons of seed rice was produced within two years.“At CARI, there are several streams of research going on. We are researching different varieties of rice that would take only 70 to 90 days to germinate to yield more varieties of rice,” he disclosed.He told the Daily Observer that following the deadly Ebola outbreak, a lot of work was done at CARI in that farmers in Lofa, Nimba and in other counties had produced more rice and other foodstuff.It is not strange that the huge donation from AfricaRice will boost the production and the activities of CARI in terms of research and at the same time ensure that farmers and consumers benefit from their own grown food.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)