A Journal for Western Man

 

 

 

British American Tobacco

Perpetuates Disease in Africa

Company leads efforts to undermine new WHO malaria control policies.

CORE official calls BAT actions hypocritical and inhuman.

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

Issue LXXIV- October 1, 2006

 

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Statement of Policy

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NEW YORK – Just days after the World Health Organization announced new policies to control the spread of malaria, British American Tobacco (BAT) has emerged as the leader and financier of efforts to undermine those policies, the Congress of Racial Equality charged today.

“BAT’s actions are unconscionable,” said CORE international director Cyril Boynes, Jr. “They will prolong a vicious disease that infects 12 million Ugandans every year and kills them at the rate of nearly 300 a day.” Worldwide, malaria infects 500 million people and kills up to 2 million every year, the vast majority in Africa and most of them children.

On September 15, WHO malaria director Dr. Arata Kochi asked people to “help save African babies,” by supporting the global health agency’s decision to re-emphasize DDT in combating malaria. Along with the USAID and health ministers in many countries, WHO intends to use small amounts of the chemical to keep disease-carrying mosquitoes out of homes.

Uganda wants to follow the example of South Africa, which slashed its malaria rates by 75% in just 18 months, by spraying tiny amounts of DDT on the inside walls of houses. This method is entirely safe for people and the environment, Dr. Kochi emphasized.

But the Uganda Health Ministry’s plans have run into opposition from business interests, who claim traces of DDT on their products could adversely affect their trade with Europe. Those interests are lead and financed by BAT.

This concern has no basis in fact, Boynes stated. “European Commission President Barroso has clearly said no food or other exports would be affected, unless they have DDT residues above prescribed limits. That is extremely unlikely under the WHO programs and, if it ever does happen, only that specific shipment would be affected.”

“BAT’s actions pit its narrow business interests against people’s lives,” said Niger Innis, national spokesman for CORE. “They are the ultimate in hypocrisy and inhumanity.”

BAT makes billions of dollars annually, Innis noted, “selling carcinogenic tobacco products to Africans, Europeans, and Americans. Then it claims a life-saving chemical might cause low birth weights in babies or harm its bottom line. It won’t. But not using it will kill African mothers and children.”

British American Tobacco earned $4.7 billion in profits last year, on sales of $18 billion. Over 16% of those profits came from tobacco sales in Africa. The company insists that it supports the United Nations’ human rights principles.

“There is nothing more basic than the right to health and life,” said Boynes. “The company needs to take a refresher course in ethics, human rights, and social responsibility.” 

Anti-malaria activists in Uganda have asked the company to support the Ugandan Health Ministry’s decision to use DDT for malaria control – and help ensure that the chemical is used properly and not diverted for agricultural use. They point out that Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, and hundreds of physicians, disease experts, religious leaders, and human rights advocates fully support indoor spraying with DDT to prevent malaria. Even organizations like Environmental Defense and Sierra Club have belatedly agreed to support DDT use to save lives.

But BAT continues to resist, as the disease and death tolls mount.         

“This is shameful and callous,” Innis said. “BAT has blood on its hands.” The Stockholm Convention, World Health Organization, U.S. Agency for International Development, President’s Malaria Initiative and many others support DDT for malaria control, because it could literally save millions of lives. British American Tobacco needs to do likewise, he added.

“It’s time for the company to repudiate its legacy, which dates back to the days when British colonialists forced Ugandans to grow tobacco,” said Boynes, “and help end this healthcare disaster.”

 

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

817 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003

CONTACT:

Cyril Boynes, Jr.

212-598-4000

E-mail: cboynes@core-online.org

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue LXXIV Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.