Monday, 26 January 2009

Nigeria versus Pfizer

In 1996 an out break of measles, meningitis and cholera in Nigerian state of Kano; resulted in the deaths of 15,000 people. Pfizer an American company scrambled its International Team under the umbrella of global Assistance to help the Nigerian Health Service in treating and curbing the spread of the disease.

Nigerian Authorities claim that the Pfizer team without authorisation and consent from the (NAFDAC) National Agency For Drug Administration & (NMA) Nigerian Medical Authorities; tested a new a new drug Trovan; resulting in 200 children suffering blindness, deafness, cancer and death.

The State of Kano is currently seeking a colossal 7 Billion US Dollars from Pfizer for violating Nigerian law, unauthorised use of an untested drug, breach of (UN) United Nations Right of a Child and for flagrant disregard of medical ethics as stipulated by the (WHO) World Health Organisation.

The Nigerian government keen to set an example for the rest of Africa to follow have issued International Warrant for the arrest of Pfizer directors in the United States and further arrests warrants for the heads of partnering organisation in Nigeria. Despite differences in Legal systems and technicalities in Law between Nigeria and United States; that has resulted thus far in a long and protracted case through the courts.

Many countries in Africa have poor health facilities, weak structures and are desperate for assistance from international organisations that can support and assist in diagnoses and treatment of disease. Drug trials in Africa are common but supporting organisations are not justified in testing new drugs when there is an epidemic. The sole purpose should be about saving lives and not taking them. Trying to save cost and time during the development phase of a new drug is unacceptable.

Clearly regulations in Nigeria are weak and have no enforcement mechanism. There were no ethic review committees at the hospital where the drug Trovan was administered to children, despite the sole purpose of testing a new drug.

Dishonest and greedy Nigerians officials have to take some blame for this disaster. It is a fact that Nigerians collaborated and supported the trial; helping to facilitate the experiment on their own people. The Nigerian government has to bear some burden of responsibility for its negligent and easy Border and Immigration controls that allowed such research to be carried out.

This experimental Drug Trovan has since been licensed; but not for kids. Questions still remain as to why Pfizer had not used an alternative drug during the midst of this epidemic. Pfizer corporate social responsibility is questionable; especially as parents of the victims whom were mostly children, were never told that their kids were taking part in an experiment. There are unsubstantiated claims that Pfizer left Nigeria whilst the epidemic was still raging; negating their view that they were there to help the Nigerian People.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Ghana Elections

Ghana is the blue eye boy of the African continent. One of Africa’s brightest know democracies; from the famous Kwame Nkrumah for his revolutionary and progressive views and aspiration for a united Africa. To a chequered past was with that of infamous Jerry Rawlings – (NDC); who came to power repeatedly via the barrel of a gun. Rawlings finally adopted self-governing values with elections that eventually saw him crowned as president.

Election today in Ghana is a stark reminder of how far the nation have come since it’s independence 51 years ago. Ghana is a mature democracy having grown as a nation with decent economic growth forecasts that have cemented their position globally as a major producer of cocoa, gold and now new found wealth of high grade oil.

No wonder the John Atta-Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Akufo-Addo of the ruling party New Patriotic Party (NPP) are prepared to fight tooth and nail to the bitter end; to get what must be a lucrative opportunity for high office in Ghana.

A win for John Atta-Mills of (NDC) will be dogged by counter claims and further appeals by (NPP) to the electoral commission of vote rigging and election irregularities. Both parties must use the judiciary in line with the constitution and take their grievance to the courts.

Both the (NDC) and (NPP) must respect the courts decision as final, failure to adhere could lead to increased tensions that could lead to chaos and anarchy.

The court and the electoral commission must follow International good practice as was shown in Sierra Leone elections of 2007 and release information in a timely fashion preventing and avoiding chaos of Kenya elections of 2008.

What is clear is that the 7th of January 2008 will see the end of President John Kufuor reign and see the crowning of a new president in Ghana.