- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

NIGERIA

AIDS patients need costlier drugs

LAGOS — As African countries rush to get life-saving drugs to people with AIDS, a crisis looms because the medications required to continue treatment are expensive and often unavailable on the continent, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports.

The price of treatment with initial anti-retrovirals has dropped to $200 a year per patient because of lobbying by activists and governments and competition from generic drug manufacturers, the paper said.

Anti-retrovirals suppress human immunodeficiency virus in the body, but after four years or so, the patient becomes resistant and must switch to a new combination of drugs to combat HIV for a few more years. The price of these drugs is in the thousands of dollars.

An estimated 600,000 people take anti-retrovirals in Africa, the Globe and Mail reported, but in the past year or so, some have begun to need a switch to the costlier drugs.

KENYA

Drought stalls elephant relocation

NAIROBI — Drought has forced the country’s wildlife authorities to put off indefinitely resumption of an elephant relocation billed as “the biggest since Noah’s ark,” officials said Tuesday.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) had planned to resume this month the transfer of 400 pachyderms from an overcrowded coastal reserve to a more spacious inland national park. It suspended the operation in September, fearing rain would hamper the move.

But the “short rains” of November and December never came, putting millions of people, livestock and wildlife at risk nationwide and forcing the KWS to cancel the operation, officials said.

SOUTH AFRICA

Hunting advised to protect lions

JOHANNESBURG — Trophy hunting should be encouraged to protect the dwindling number of African lions facing habitat loss and other threats, a group of conservationists announced last weekend.

“Regulated trophy hunting was not considered a threat, but rather viewed as a way to help alleviate human-lion conflict and generate economic benefits for poor people to build their support for lion conservation,” the IUCN-World Conservation Union said after a weeklong meeting.

Across Africa, the lion has disappeared from more than 80 percent of its former range, and the cats now number between 23,000 and 39,000, according to the IUCN-WCU. In West Africa, lions number fewer than 1,500. “There seems to be general agreement that trophy hunting is not the cause of this lion decline,” said cat specialist Kristin Nowell.

Weekly notes …

Clashes between troops from the United Nations and supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast left four Ivorians dead yesterday as the political crisis worsened in the divided West African country. After the incident, 500 peacekeepers from Bangladesh quit their bases at Guiglo, 300 miles west of Abidjan, and at Duekoue in the same region, military sources said, seeking refuge in the demilitarized zone between rebel and government territory. … Africa’s most durable leader, Gabon’s Omar Bongo Ondimba, is to be sworn in for another seven-year term at a ceremony today attended by at least 19 heads of state. Fending off opposition accusations of fraud, Mr. Bongo, 70, extended his 38-year-old rule of the oil-rich West African state by garnering 79 percent of votes in the November presidential election.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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