Kenya: Free program to treat malaria

A drug treatment based on a Chinese herb will be distributed free by the Kenyan government in a campaign to curb malaria-related deaths and counter the growing ineffectiveness of commonly used sulfur-based drugs.

Artemisinin, duplicated in the laboratory at a cost of $2.40 for a course of treatment, is 90 percent effective in combination with other anti-malarials. According to Kenya’s public health ministry, more than 20 million people, or 70 percent of the population, are threatened by the parasitic disease carried by mosquitoes.

The World Health Organization reports that 2-3 billion people, or 40 percent of the world’s population, are at risk, primarily in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Most of the 500 million annual cases are in sub-Saharan Africa, where a child dies every 30 seconds from malaria-related disease.

Venezuela: Music transforms children’s lives

A national law in Venezuela guarantees every child a right to a music education. Teachers seek out children in the poorest neighborhoods, juvenile offender programs and schools for the disabled as part of a music education program that has transformed the lives of thousands in this culturally diverse Latin American country.

Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, former minister of culture, told the British daily Morning Star, “Playing a musical instrument in an orchestra is one of the best forms of socialization there is … you learn to cooperate with others, you are an individual performer but you are involved in teamwork with others, you learn to give and take, to show solidarity and sympathy. You pass on your skills and knowledge to others selflessly and learn in the same way from them.”

The music movement is primarily sponsored by the state-owned oil company PDVSA.

A recent film, “Tocar y Luchar” (Play and Struggle), is a tribute to the program.

Britain: Muslim student victimized by U.S. bias

The Muslim Council of Britain warned April 24 that the U.S. appears to be treating all Muslims as potential terrorists, after student Mohammed Umar Haleem Khan was forced to pay for extra visa checks.

The university student, who studies politics in Manchester, told the Morning Star that he was outraged when told by U.S. Embassy officials that he would need to undergo additional checks because there are a lot of “bad people” with his name.

Khan said that he had been ordered to fork out an extra $80 to have his fingerprints taken and checked against a U.S. “terrorist suspect” database.

“I feel really gutted,” he said. “They are discriminating against me purely and simply because of my name and that is unfair. I’m sure that if some white candidate came along, there would have been no problem.”

Khan added that he had never been to Afghanistan or any trouble spots and could think of no other reason why his name would be flagged.

Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said that it was a worrying incident and seemed to fit a recent pattern whereby the US appears to be treating all Muslims as potential terrorists just because of their religion. “U.S. Embassy officials ought really to have had the training to cope with basic elements of Muslim culture, which would help prevent these kinds of unfortunate situations,” Bunglawala said.

Cuba: Belarus pledges support

Belarus will support the Cuban economy, said Belarusian premier Sergei Sidorsky in Havana April 22 as he was summing up results of an official visit.

“As a highly developed export-oriented economy, our country will supply Cuba with dry milk, butter, sugar and other products” that Cuba currently buys on the world market, Sidorsky told the Belta news agency.

Plans for Belarus to supply automobiles, quarry trucks and tractors to Cuba were also discussed, as were plans to supply potassium fertilizers. New projects also included heightened cooperation in providing municipal services in the sister cities of Minsk and Havana and joint development of medicines and vaccines.

Noting that Cuba has experienced some difficulties recently in refining its sugar harvest, Sidorsky said Belarus will buy 100,000 tons of raw sugar, process it and send it back to Cuba.

Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of his visit, Sidorsky said Cuban leader Fidel Castro is a man of “unique political charisma” who is appreciated worldwide.

World Notes are compiled by Pamella Saffer (