- After almost two years of planning and negotiations, the ACT Government has signed an agreement to improve the provision of health and education services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is lobbying the drug company Pfizer to make the vaccine cheaper in poorer countries.
- Four people accused of witchcraft and facing death at the hands of locals are now safe, police in Papua New Guinea say.
Health News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 24th April 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
After almost two years of planning and negotiations, the ACT Government has signed an agreement to improve the provision of health and education services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2015-18 also aims to reduce the incarceration rates of Indigenous people, increase school retention rates and foster better relationships between the Government, the public service and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body (ATSEIB).
The ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia to have a body like ATSEIB, and its chairman Rod Little said the agreement set a precedent in Australia.
ACT Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Yvette Berry said the agreement was all about collaboration and the shared commitment to making a difference for Indigenous people.
“It’s more than just ink on paper,” she said.
“This formalises our relationship [with ATSEIB] and it makes all of us be accountable.
“The Government, the community and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community will be accountable to each other about making a difference in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives.”
Ms Berry said the key suggestion that came from 18 months of community consultation was the importance of strengthening families and individuals.
The agreement has been signed for three years and both parties said there would be some tweaking before it expired.
The agreement will be tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly in May.
Wealthy nations like Australia pay less for the pneumococcal virus than places like Philippines.
That is one of the reasons the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is lobbying the drug company Pfizer to make the vaccine cheaper in poorer countries.
Pfizer has been accused of ignoring the needs of children by overcharging for its pneumococcal vaccine in developing nations.
The drug companies Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline have a duopoly on the vaccine.
In New York, MSF — also known as Doctors Without Borders — is lobbying shareholders at Pfizer’s general meeting to cap the vaccine price at $5 per child in developing countries.
Around the world, pneumonia kills about one child every 22 seconds, largely because many countries cannot afford the vaccine.
The pneumococcal vaccine fights pneumonia and it is widely available in Australia and the developed world.
Some developing countries get pneumonia vaccines donated from the global immunisation program, GAVI.
Other countries miss out because they are not eligible for donations, and they cannot afford the vaccine themselves.
Many of those countries are classed as middle-income countries and are situated mostly in Africa and Asia.
It is not clear how much every country pays for the vaccine, because drug companies conceal some of that information.
Doctors Without Borders said Pfizer must be more transparent.
Four people accused of witchcraft and facing death at the hands of locals are now safe, police in Papua New Guinea say.
The two women and two men from Kaiwe, near Mt Hagen in Western Highlands, fell under suspicion of using black magic when several people in the community fell sick and died recently.
They were tortured under interrogation by locals who threatened to burn them if a glassman, or witch-finder, found them to be sorcerers.
But provincial police commander Martin Lakari said the threat to the four people has now passed after his officers diffused the situation.
Mr Lakari said the women were verbally pressured, rather than tortured, to confess.
He said police had rescued one of the women who was about to be killed by her own relatives.
“Police have issued a warning to these people that whatever they were doing was illegal and they can be arrested in numbers,” Mr Lakari said.
There is widespread belief in sorcery in the Papua New Guinea, where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune, illness, accidents and death.
In January, police and missionaries saved four women accused of witchcraft after a measles epidemic killed several people in Enga province last year.
Law reforms mean that any black magic killing is now treated as murder punishable by death in PNG.
However, beliefs about sorcery continue to spread and there are increasing reports of violence against women in many remote parts of the country.
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