New Internationalist

Update

Issue 119

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[image, unknown] SOUTH AFRICA [image, unknown]

White baby shortage
Fertility plea to white parents

THE Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa— the NGK— which was recently in the news following its expulsion from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, has evoked another controversy by calling on all-white married couples to have a minimum of four children.

The latest 'more white babies' campaign has been initiated by eight branches of NGK in the eastern province. It follows similar exhortations from other prominent organisations who have expressed disquiet that, while the black population continues to grow at what they term an 'alarming rate', white population growth is negligible.

If the present birth rates are maintained there will be in 1985 about five and a quarter million whites, one million Indians, three and a half million coloured people and twenty four million Africans.

The leader of the NGK in the Eastern Cape, the Rev. D.T. Moolman, said that, while white couples wanted the pleasure of sex, they did not want the responsibility of having children. Their present birth rate was 2.7 children per family and he wanted to see it increased to four. 'We could become a negligible minority,' he said, 'and future generations of whites could be swamped by other race groups.

The NGK move follows hot on the heels of call from a government official that the state would have to resort to enforced birth control if the black people did not lower their birth rate.

The Director-General of the Government's Health, Welfare and Pensions Department, Dr Johan de Beer, warned that the black birth rate could not carry on unchecked. And, unless all population groups within the country accepted family planning on a voluntary basis, future generations would be forced to take less pleasant and compulsory measures.

Press Trust of South Africa

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[image, unknown] NUTRITION
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Revolting recipes
Philippines survey of unlikely edibles

THE MENU of the future may contain such unlikely items as snake soup. stewed bat, alligator eggs, vegetables mixed with ants eggs or even barbecued ricefield rat The Nutrition Centre of the Philippines and the University of the Philippines College of Home Economics are currently making a survey of alternative foods which they say are both nutritious and delicious.

Alternative meat sources identified include bats, wild cats, deer, horses, monkeys, ricefield rats, alligators, snakes, turtles, frogs and tadpoles. Many wild birds are also edible, including wild hens, wild ducks and quails. At least 15 protein-rich insect varieties have so far been identified. among them various beetles, crickets and grasshoppers.

Although such foods may sound strange now, the researchers are confident that people will one day develop a taste for many of them, noting that many of what are today considered conventional foods were once also new and strange. Even the everyday potato was considered an exotic rarity when first introduced to Europe from the New World and the juicy tomato was considered lethally poisonous by most Americans until Benjamin Franklin began eating them in public two centuries ago.

JDRC

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[image, unknown] HEALTH
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Superbugs
More bacteria resist antibiotics

IN less than 50 years of often indiscriminate use, antibiotics are facing a crisis of confidence as bacteria all over the world are rapidly' becoming resistant to them.

As Dr. K. B. Sharma, a WHO adviser on antibiotic resistance, puts it: 'If current trends continue, the very future of chemotherapy will soon be in doubt'.

Professor Sharma says that over 90 per cent of disease-causing bacteria are already immune to antibiotics in various parts of the Third World.

Antibiotic resistance was first noticed in an epidemic form in the Third World in 1972; first in Mexico, where more than 10,000 cases of chloramphenicol resistant typhoid cases were reported with higher than usual mortality, and about the same time in faraway Kerala in India The first reaction of medical scientists was to think that the two incidents were somehow linked but it soon became clear that this was not true. In each case, doctors had overprescribed antibiotics for minor treatments and paved the wax' for antibiotic resistant strains to emerge in an epidemic form.

'We are forced to allow our primary health care workers to prescribe strong antibiotics in villages where doctors exist, says Dr. Rani Bang, who works with a rural health care project in Central India 'Milder antibiotics just do not work

Doctors often defend themselves by arguing that patients themselves demand medicines. But this is challenged by primary health care expert David Werner:

'It is a vicious circle,' he argues. 'Doctors first create the feeling that there is a pill for every ill by overprescribing drugs and then they blame their patients for asking for medicines.

Behind all this overprescribing is also the handiwork of the drug industry, which builds up a strong sales pressure on chemists and doctors. Doctors who proscribe more are recompensed in a variety of way's. In a special campaign for Acromycin IM, a multinational drug company, Cynamid, is alleged to have been providing chemists 48 vials free for every 52 vials purchased. An Indian company, Alembic, is reported to have offered stainless steel utensils for purchasers of Alcycline vials.

Amita Deepale and Shvam Jha, CSE

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[image, unknown] TRADE
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Tea tussle
Australasian agencies refute subversion accusations

A TEA promotion campaign which the (Sri Lankan) government suspects is a guise to raise funds for a separatist movement in Sri Lanka has now spread from Australia to New Zealand.' This was how the Colombo daily paper the Sun began its leading article on August 18, 1982.

'Top politicians in NZ duped', 'Are separatists involved?' ran the sub-heads.

The campaign they were talking about was that of the New Zealand agency Trade Aid. Like similar organisations in other countries Trade Aid imports tea into New Zealand both to provide an income for the producers in Sri Lanka and to educate the public in New Zealand to the issues involved in the tea trade.

The Sun accused Trade Aid, however, of using inaccurate facts in its publicity in order to create anti-Sri Lankan feeling and also of funding separatist organisations in Sri Lanka According to the Sun the Sri Lankan Government had an investigation underway to find out what happened to the money 'raked in' by the campaign.

Trade Aid's reply was that the only way in which tea sales differed from their normal trading pattern was that there was a one per cent levy on each pack sold. The money from this went to the Co-ordinating Secretariat for Plantation Areas, which is a development organization working on behalf of employees on the tea estates.

The Sun's attack had come as no surprise.

Since mid-July articles had been appearing which made similar accusations against the Australian agency Action for World Development.

But a further alarming development now was that the company which was exporting the tea to them, Stassens, could not get licenses for future shipments.

As a result, both organisations decided to send a delegation to Sri Lanka. By the time they had left eight days later they had reassured the Government that they were doing nothing underhand, carefully examined the accounts of the Co-ordinating Secretariat to Plantation Areas to make absolutely sure that all their money had got to the right place and started legal proceedings against the Sun.

But why would the paper have wanted to cut off this particular kind of tea trade? Trade Aid's General Manager, Peter Elvy, is convinced that the whole affair was caused by the multinational tea companies feeling threatened by the success of Stassens as an exporter. By accusing their trading partners in Australia and New Zealand of funding separatist organisations they hoped, he says, to turn commercial rivalry into a political issue.

Margaret Lovell-Smith

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[image, unknown] SOUTH AFRICA
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Toothless code
Commonwealth Games apartheid policy

ON paper it looks strong stuff: any country whose sporting teams or individuals compete either in or against South Africa will be liable to expulsion from the Commonwealth Games, whether or not the sports are 'Games' sports.

This code of conduct was adopted overwhelmingly in October 1982 by the Commonwealth Games Federation meeting in Brisbane during the 12th Games. Only two nations abstained. England, which thought the policy too restrictive, and Nigeria, which described it as 'just a joke'.

Nigeria has been the frontrunner in campaigning for the sporting isolation of South Africa and its chief delegate, Mr. Abraham Ordia, claimed that nations had adopted a typically colonial line in watering down the code.

The code had no teeth, Mr. Ordia said, and the Commonwealth Games Federation no machinery to police it.

Certainly South African sporting officials seem less than terrified by the code.

Just two weeks after it was adopted 14 top Sri Lankan cricket players slipped out of Colombo on their way to South Africa

The Sri Lanka Cricket Board of Control says the players will certainly be banned and its chairman, Gamini Dissanayake, attacked them: 'The lepers who are surreptitiously worming their way to South Africa must understand that they are not playing fair by the entire coloured world'.

But in the short term the Sri Lankans' tour is a psychological victory for South Africa It will test whether the Games code is as toothless as Mr. Ordia claims.

Cameron Forbes

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[image, unknown] DISABILITY
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Second best foot forward
Indian technology for artificial limbs

AN Indian professor of orthopaedics, who pioneered work on a unique design of artificial limb, has won one of this year's Guinness Awards for Scientific Achievement.

Professor P. K. Sethi and his colleagues at the Sawai Man Singh medical college and hospital in Jaipur, India, realised in the early 1960s that Western-style artificial limbs are totally impractical for most Indian amputees.

They are designed for people who sit on chairs and walk on level surfaces and they also need to be fitted with a shoe. Indians, however, often squat or sit cross-legged and villagers walk barefoot over stony, uneven ground and can work all day in muddy fields.

The Western way was also expensive. It involved making two moulds, reshaping and laminating the limb, making a socket and aligning all the different parts.

The Jaipur team decided to design a limb which was suited to the Indian life-style and, in rejecting conventional Western ideas, came up with something far superior.

The Jaipur Limb is made of aluminium, with no plastic or wooden sockets, and can be ready for use in 45 minutes. It costs no more than $30 to make and lasts for between two and five years. The 'Jaipur Foot', as it has become internationally known, is the waterproof and sturdy rubber foot-piece. It contains a virtually indestructable sponge rubber universal joint, enclosed in rayon cord (as used in tyres). Outside it has a layer of vulcanised rubber moulded in a die. The design allows the range of movement required for squatting sitting cross-legged and walking on uneven ground and the foot-piece looks so realistic that it is difficult to distinguish from a normal foot

Amputees can watch their limbs being made by local craftsmen and feel at ease in the almost rural atmosphere of the fitting centre, which can now provide more than two thousand artificial limbs a year. A local relief society gives financial help so limbs can be provided free to poor patients.

Annette Gartland

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[image, unknown] OVERSEAS AID
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Campaign for real aid
Report calls for an overhaul of British policy

A REPORT questioning the quality of the British Government's aid programme will provide the basis for a 'Campaign for Real Aid' launched by a group of UK voluntary organisations.

In a mountainous area of Peru, for example, British aid is supporting dairy development. This is irrelevant to the vast majority of small farmers who may keep sheep but not cattle and largely just grow subsistence crops. The scheme appears to benefit primarily the large ranch owners who have been seen bringing sick calves in their Mercedes cars for free veterinary treatment at the project headquarters. But the major beneficiary is the Nestlé corporation which is fast building up a new market for dairy products in Peru. This project is described by the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) as 'poverty focussed'.

On the other hand the ODA - funded Family Welfare Project in Orissa State, India, is affording a basic health care service to millions of poor people. The scheme is based on 'health volunteers' drawn from the local villages and paid a small honorarium. Already the incidence of certain childhood diseases is decreasing and there has been a marked increase in the take-up of family planning methods.

Sadly, the great majority of ODA projects are closer to the first example than the second. The latter demonstrates that when the will is there official aid can be used to help the poor. And its potential is vast compared to the much smaller resources of the voluntary agencies.

The Chairman of the Independent Group on British Aid is Professor Charles Elliott, former Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Overseas Development and recently appointed Director of Christian Aid. Other members include academics and representatives of Oxfam and the World Development Movement.

Their report, 'Real Aid: A Strategy for Britain,' examines how British aid is used and why it frequently fails to help the poor. It presents a blueprint for a revitalised, remodelled aid programme which could make a dramatic impact on the lives of millions of poor people throughout the world.

Following the launch of this report voluntary organisations will mount a campaign to encourage the government and the ODA to consider the recommendations

RealAid, published by IGBA, is available from
Oxfam, 274 Banbury Rood, Oxford OXZ 7DZ
Or from Christian Aid, WDM, or ODI.

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