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  • Christine Chumbler
    Aug 6, 2003
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      Malawi bans Big Brother Africa

      Big Brother Africa has been taken off the air in Malawi after the
      country's parliament condemned it as "immoral".

      It voted to ban the pan-African reality series from its public TV
      station because of concerns about its sexual content.

      Taylor Nothale, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the media,
      said he had received a number of complaints, particularly from parents.


      He said most Malawians felt the show might encourage young people to
      engage in immoral behaviour.

      "People are subjected to horrible pictures which are corrupting the
      morals of our children," Mr Nothale said.

      Opposition leader Gwanda Chakuamba said: "We want the government to
      stop that nonsense on TV."

      Most of the southern African country's 10.6 million people are deeply
      conservative Christians. It also has a Muslim minority.

      Malawi has become the third African nation to condemn the series
      following concerns raised by religious and political leaders in Zambia
      and Namibia.

      They have complained that some of the footage broadcast is too
      explicit.

      State-run Television Malawi has been broadcasting highlights of the
      South Africa-based show every evening.

      It originally featured 12 contestants, each from a different African
      country, locked together inside the Big Brother house.

      As with the western-style format, they are voted off one by one.
      Malawi's representative, Zein Dudah, was removed a month ago.

      Apart from the condemnation over sexual content, the show has been
      praised for bridging cultural gaps and exploding some of the myths
      contestants share about fellow Africans.

      Show producer Carl Fischer said: "If (the show) didn't generate any
      controversy, the project would be a failure."

      Rich Malawians will still be able to watch the show on satellite
      television.

      *****

      Cheap malaria drug approved

      A cheap drug to combat malaria is to be launched by GlaxoSmithKline.
      The drug could help to save millions of lives each year in some of the
      world's poorest countries.

      According to GSK, a course of treatment with Lapdap will cost just 18
      pence (29 US cents) for an adult and 9 pence for a child.

      This is much cheaper than many existing drugs, some of which can cost
      as much as £33 per course.

      Major killer

      Malaria affects around 300 million people around the world each year.

      Nine out of 10 cases occur in Africa. The disease claims the lives of
      at least one million people annually, according to the World Health
      Organization (WHO).

      Many of these lives could be saved if more affordable drugs were
      available.

      This latest drug, which combines two existing anti-malaria compounds,
      has been developed by GSK in collaboration with the WHO and scientists
      in the UK.

      The $5m development costs were shared between GSK, the WHO and the UK
      Department for International Development.

      Trials have shown that it is more effective than some existing
      treatments and can also help people who are resistant to some older
      drugs.

      It has now been approved for use by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare
      products Regulatory Agency.

      GSK said the drug would be made available in sub-Saharan Africa as soon
      as possible.

      In a statement, the company said: "GlaxoSmithKline plans to make Lapdap
      available at preferential prices across sub-Saharan Africa as soon as
      local approval has been granted."

      Professor Peter Winstanley, director of the Wellcome Trust Tropical
      Centre at the University of Liverpool which led the development work,
      welcomed the drug's approval.

      "Lapdap can help us meet the urgent need for an affordable anti-malaria
      treatment for use in Africa," he said.
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