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AFRO-NETS> Equal Opportunity Research on HIV/AIDS for poor countries?

Equal Opportunity Research on HIV/AIDS for poor countries?

Should all HIV/AIDS research become centralised in Western competence 
centres? You may cast your vote (anonymously) at:

A few persons (12), who kindly took the time to answer this survey, 
favoured that research on the HIV virus type C involving blood sam-
ples collected in Botswana directly takes place at the University of 

They estimated that the Botswana University should be allocated ca. 
US$ 6.8 millions to fund HIV research efforts by scientists in Bot-
swana. Is this enough or too much in your opinion?

In development work, relief efforts, humanitarian operations, human 
rights advocacy, the scientific research isn't a burning issue. But 
as AIDS activists backed by physicians (Nobel peace price winner 
medecins sans frontieres) raised the question of equal access to es-
sential drugs, they underestimated the need to include the question 
of scientific research in their discourse, by limiting themselves to 
cost and production aspects.

Meanwhile Kofi Annan announced the creation of a large fund for de-
livering HIV/AIDS drugs to patients; but if you carefully read his 
small print, he does speak up about research and the need to provide 
research funds.

But who should be the *legitimate* recipient of these research funds? 
Western countries or the poor countries directly affected by the AIDS 

For anyone who has visited research facilities at the University of 
Botswana, there is no doubt that it is the ideal place to start to 
promote more HIV/AIDS research in developing countries.

A centralised or privately managed research on HIV/AIDS (as suggested 
by GlaxoSmithKline) will further weaken the capacity of people to ad-
dress HIV/AIDS questions in a competent fashion: our progress doesn't 
originate from "good practices" but from the will to objectively ob-
serve our world as it is. Some systematic investigations may be 
needed sometimes (e.g. to systematically synthesise and test new 
modifications of antiretroviral molecules), but there are people with 
the scientific experience to undertake such multidisciplinary re-
search at the University of Botswana: offer them a fair chance to 
prove their scientific skills.

But also wherever an HIV/AIDS epidemic was the direct consequence of 
a UN peace keeping operation, e.g. the UNTAC in Cambodia, the UN has 
the moral duty to provide research funds to those countries, so that 
they can equip themselves to study and to research what AIDS is caus-
ing in their country.

There is no such thing as good "scientific research management". Ex-
cellency in scientific research comes from questions, confrontations, 
diversity, openness... Research funds on HIV/AIDS must be allocated 
to universities directly (no strings attached), so that they can en-
sure independence of thoughts and explore the HIV/AIDS questions they 
consider appropriate.

Yes, Kofi Annan is correct to say that essential AIDS drugs and HIV 
research are intimately linked. Thus if you make the journey as a 
delegate to the United Nations to discuss the AIDS fund, please do 
support an "Equal Opportunity Research" for poor countries. Please 
make a plea for funds to promote independent research in developing 


Christian Labadie

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