Posts filed under ‘international relations’

Migration and Population

Migration is not a new phenomenon, but it is one which increasingly hits the headlines. It is highly controversial, with some believing the UK is too open to migrants and others defending migrants as beneficial to our economy. Meanwhile, the population of the UK and the world continues to grow amid fears about sustainability. Is there a solution to the problem?

The information in this book comes from a wide range of sources and includes government reports and statistics, newspaper reports, features, magazine articles and surveys, literature from lobby groups and charitable organisations.

You can read more about this book on the publisher’s website; you can buy it there, or on Amazon.

Editor: Cobi Smith and Lisa Firth
Publisher: Independence Educational Publishers
ISBN: 978 1 86168 423 3
Published: January 2008

February 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Suriname has already hit malaria MDG

The country of Suriname in northern South America has already exceeded its 2015 Millennium Development Goal target for the reduction of malaria.

Leopoldo Villegas, consultant for the Global Fund Malaria Program in Suriname, presented a poster on the success at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in London last week (14 September).

Part of Millennium Development Goal six is to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria.

Villegas said that rates of malaria in Suriname fell by 70 per cent between 2001 and 2006, and there have only been 700 cases of malaria this year – a 90 per cent reduction since 2001.

Suriname’s malaria decline is the result of an intensive campaign that began in 2005, Villegas said.

“We have the whole population of the interior of Suriname covered with insecticide-treated nets, we have passive case detection through the primary healthcare system and we have active case detection – so we don’t wait for patients to come to us, we look for them, we have mobile teams,” said Villegas.

These measures are complemented by insecticide spraying in high-risk areas, a comprehensive public awareness campaign and good detection systems for possible epidemics.

“When we had a lot of malaria our epidemic detection was at 70 or 200 cases. Now the epidemic starts when you have three cases reported,” he said.

“If three cases are coming from the same place we automatically activate a team who go there and have a mass screening of people to see who have parasites.”

Chris Curtis, professor of entomology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said Suriname’s progress was excellent, but warned the campaign must be maintained.

“They can’t afford to relax – the parasites and the mosquitoes are still there and if they do relax then there is the risk that eventually it will come back,” he told SciDev.Net.

He said the need for constant vigilance was demonstrated by the situation in neighbouring French Guyana.

“I think now French Guyana has the worst malaria rates in South America, which is a great shame because in the late 1940s they eradicated malaria in the inhabited north using DDT house spraying,” he said.

Villegas said Suriname’s malaria prevention measures have reduced the number of cases in French Guiana, and there are plans to replicate efforts in other South American countries.

“We’re now trying to put down all the data and start publishing to show that we can work in border areas between two governments, it doesn’t need to be one side,” he said.

Read this story on the Science and Development Network.

October 9, 2007 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment

End of monopoly could mean better connectivity in west Africa

The Association of African Universities has called for African leaders to use the end of a monopoly on a submarine communications cable to provide cheaper Internet access for students.

The SAT-3 submarine communications cable — which runs from Europe down Africa’s west coast — is currently monopolised by a consortium of state-owned and private telecommunications providers in different countries, and pricing structures have been the subject of criticism.

That monopoly ends in June, which could open up internet access for west African nations.

Information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in African universities are suffering due to expensive, slow and limited connectivity, says Akilagpa Sawyerr, the executive secretary of the Ghana-based Association of African Universities (AAU).

“In our universities you’ve got 18,000 students and 1,000 teachers using the same amount of bandwidth as an American household,” said Sawyerr at a conference on African development at the UK-based Open University last week (16–17 May).

“The more people that use it, the slower it works. And because of the monopoly pricing in Africa, that university will pay 50 times more per unit than the American household.”

Sawyerr says the association needs to persuade governments that ICT programmes will not work without connectivity and effective networks between universities.

Rather than looking at expensive satellite Internet services as a solution, west African universities should be accessing the SAT-3 cable, he says.

“The monopolies run out in June and it is very important that before our governments renew their licenses we persuade them that these companies could give away a portion of their lines at a discounted rate to us,” Sawyerr said.

“We need those who are making the choices at higher levels to realise that it would cost them quite little and make a difference.”

He said the AAU is keen to work with other African organisations to lobby governments to this end.

Read the whole story on the Science and Development Network.

May 29, 2007 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

Norfolk technology to eliminate world’s broadband black holes

A Norfolk company has developed an inexpensive wireless internet service, which has been linking coastal villages in the East of England and will now be distributed in the developing world.

Newman Concepts has partnered with the Commonwealth Business Council to supply the broadband technology to developing Commonwealth countries.

The company’s Managing Director Will Newman is heading to Johannesburg in coming months to organise distribution of the technology to Africa.

“The fact that technology developed here in West Norfolk will benefit those far less fortunate in the developing world is a humbling realisation,” said Will.

The Digital-Bridge Network technology uses a wireless backbone system, with users connecting at access points along the backbone using fixed aerials from their premises.

While in England and Europe the technology can eliminate black spots, much of the developing world is a black hole when it comes to internet access. Solar energy can be used to power the broadband access in developing areas, where schools and hospitals will be brought online.

“Giving access to schools and hospitals has the potential to help a lot of people in countries where most can’t afford their own computers,” Will said.

The technology will be distributed to more English black spots by another Norfolk business, Swains Voice and Data Plc, while the East of England Innovation Relay Centre is working to take the technology to mainland Europe.

“This is good news for us, for all those who have helped us, and for the people of West Norfolk,” Will said.

“It is just a first step and there remains a great deal to do. As we step down this path there will be many hi-tech jobs created here in Dersingham which will boost the local economy and provide a career path for more local people.”

Read this article on the Norfolk Network.

November 21, 2006 at 8:58 am Leave a comment

Training for agricultural development

You can download the magazine containing this article from the ACPFG website (I also edited this magazine).

The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) is hosting a talented plant scientist from China.

Dr Xiaojuan Wang is a plant scientist and Associate Professor at Lanzhou University in northwest China. She has joined the ACPFG in Adelaide for six months, where she is studying genes and loci related to low salt accumulation in Arabidopsis.

Dr Wang is looking forward to the challenges of studying overseas for the first time.

“Meeting people from different cultural backgrounds will open my eyes. Also, it should be a good chance to improve my English,” she said.

Dr Wang’s Australian project is jointly funded by the Federal Government’s Australia-China Council and the Crawford Fund. The Crawford Fund gives talented agricultural scientists from developing countries practical training at an Australian agricultural research institute, which they can apply to agricultural development in their home county.

Dr Wang will be passing on knowledge gained at the ACPFG to students when she returns to China.

“I have completed the ACPFG Transformation Workshop and am starting my experiments on salt tolerance. My time at ACPFG will strengthen my knowledge of DNA transformation and molecular mechanisms in salt tolerance, as well as giving me practical training,” she said.

In China, Dr Wang has been investigating the genetic diversity of alfalfa germplasm in arid and semi-arid areas using molecular markers.

In 2005 she worked on a project with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, collaborating with South Australian researchers to develop lucerne adapted to harsh conditions in China and Australia.

Dr Wang is now working in Professor Mark Tester’s lab with the support of Dr Stuart Roy.

“I hope my six month visit to the ACPFG is the start of more collaboration between the ACPFG and Lanzhou University. Our university encourages us to establish links with laboratories overseas, so I hope people from the ACPFG will come to Lanzhou University in the future,” she said.

October 3, 2006 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

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