Première du film The Fever à Leipzig

Zeigt die Schandtaten von Bigpharma, WHO und Bill Gates

Lors de la première du film The Fever à Leipzig il devenait évident que le glas (« Totenglocke ») a sonné pour le néocolonialisme médical, responsable d’un génocide. Les Africains ont maintenant pris en main la lutte contre les maladies tropicales. &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& THE FEVER A film by Katharina Weingartner One dead child every minute – this stark equation is the toll that Malaria is still taking in Africa. The parasite Plasmodium falciparum is transmitted by mosquitoes and mostly finds its victims among children, while a global industry is attempting to control this epidemic. Katharina Weingartner takes us in her film, The Fever, to an area that she calls the “ground zero” of malaria: the countries around the Lake Victoria basin in East Africa. In Uganda and Kenya she found people who have taken action against malaria using local strategies…. Rehema Namyalo is an activist who has dedicated herself to raise the standing of traditional herbal medicine. She has to battle prejudice that appeared with colonialism in Africa: herbalists were considered to be witches by Christian missionaries, herbal treatment therefore criminalized. But their own governments do not act much better: Rehema argues eloquently that the authorities in Kampala and Nairobi rather work with global pharmaceutical companies - for tax reasons - than with their own people. The Fever reveals the international connections that determine the fate of so many impoverished patients: a pharmaceutical company such as the Swiss firm Novartis defends their market for the most popular malaria medication; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested heavily in a company´s (Glaxo Smith Kline) vaccine that doesn’t work; the World Health Organisation (WHO) uses their approval process to direct the distribution of medicines, often to the benefit of Western companies. Following the logic of economic expansion, African governments have made health into a product. “Something always feeds back into the system,” is how the situation seems to the local people. Katharina Weingartner reveals these connections strictly from the perspective of the local people. Although she is European, and her film is a co-production of three German-speaking countries, she has managed to avoid all the usual patterns: she is not one of the army of Western “experts” who see Africa as a case that can be “treated” using rationality, technology and economic strategy, repeating and cementing the colonial power dynamics of the past. Weingartner is changing sides based on principle and feminist solidarity. Along with Rehema, she also accompanies people like Richard Mukabana, a scientist who in the rice fields of Kenya uncovers the damp conditions that are ideal for the transmission of malaria. It was the British colonial rulers who brought rice cultivation to Africa. In another location it is a sugar cane company that has destroyed the rain forest with their monoculture production process, which gives the spread of the fever a boost. Additionally, the science is being done almost exclusively in developed countries: “We’re just field workers,” Richard Mukabana complains, making it plain that he would prefer the fight against Malaria to be directed locally, not without the involvement of Africa. Unfortunately, there are huge economic interests working against this: mosquito nets are made in Tanzania by a Japanese chemicals company, which destroyed the local market and is creating insecticide resistant mosquitoes. One of the most gripping excursions in The Fever takes us to China. There Katharina Weingartner meets a nobel prize laureate who way back in 1972 had determined that artemisinin was the most important active agent for use in fighting malaria. The WHO was reluctant to include the medicine on the list of approved malaria drugs for 30 years, even though it was considerably more effective with less side effects. The Fever makes stops in Seattle, Basel and Beijing, but the actual research is done in Africa. Among women who have lost six of their twelve children to the fever, among primary school teachers who teach the children how to recognise malaria, in the forest and bush landscapes where the healing plants grow. Patrick Ogwang, a pharmacologist, sums it up as follows: “If we free Africa from malaria, we free Africa from poverty.” The Fever sketches out a possible route to this freedom, and to a change in Western aid policy. It also offers a different view of African history, because malaria is in no way a force of nature, it is a phenomenon that was “made natural” through changes brought by colonialism. At least there is now hope that it can be fought using natural means. Text: Bert Rebhandl

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