- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2003


Antibiotics provided to combat blindness

NEW YORK — In a major boost to a U.N. campaign to eradicate an eye infection that causes blindness, Pfizer has announced that it will provide an antibiotic free to treat about 90 percent of the 150 million people afflicted.

The international organization leading the fight against trachoma-related blindness said it is “enthusiastic” that, with the medicine, it now can achieve the goal set by the World Health Organization of eliminating the ancient scourge by 2020.

In the past five years, the pharmaceutical giant has provided 8 million doses of the antibiotic Zithromax to the International Trachoma Initiative to treat sufferers in nine impoverished countries in Africa and Asia.

Hank McKinnell, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive officer, told a news conference on Tuesday that the initial program had been so successful that Pfizer would donate 135 million additional doses of Zithromax during the next five years.

In the past century, trachoma was eliminated in many countries, including virtually all of the Americas, but it is still prevalent in 48 countries in the poorest parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where clean water and sanitation are scarce.


Prosecutor hopeful about U.N. tribunal

KIGALI — Rwandan state prosecutor Gerard Gahima said yesterday he was optimistic that relations would improve with the U.N. court trying accused ringleaders of the 1994 genocide.

“I believe the new prosecutor [of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda] is determined to improve the workings of the tribunal,” Mr. Gahima said after meeting Hassan Bubacar Jallow, who was making his first official visit to Rwanda.

In September, Mr. Jallow, a Gambian, took over as tribunal prosecutor from Carla Del Ponte, whose relations with Kigali grew increasingly tense toward the end of her tenure.


Students protest strike by teachers

KHARTOUM — High school students in the capital of Sudan’s Blue Nile state protested teacher strikes by attacking and setting fire to offices of the state’s Education Ministry, police said yesterday.

Students in Ed-Damazine Tuesday were protesting the school closures because of a strike by teachers protesting pay delays, Blue Nile police commissioner Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ahmed al-Jizouli said.

Police have contained the situation and arrested a number of students for involvement in the riots in the city southeast of Khartoum, authorities said.


Daily News battles for right to publish

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s Daily News, battling for the right to publish after being shut down twice this year, yesterday asked a court to intervene in a long-running dispute with the government.

The paper’s legal officer, Gugulethu Moyo, said it had filed an urgent chamber application to force the authorities to allow it to resume publication in line with an administrative court order.

Under the Oct. 24 order, the paper, which is fiercely critical of President Robert Mugabe, must be issued an operating license by end of this month.

Zimbabwe police first forcibly closed down the Daily News on Sept. 12, a day after the Supreme Court ruled that the paper was illegal because it did not have a license.

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