OIC agrees to improve access to safe and affordable drugs

Halal vaccines were mentioned in the declaration as they were an area of concern among OIC member states. (AFP)
Updated 23 November 2018
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OIC agrees to improve access to safe and affordable drugs

  • Eventual goal is boosting peace and prosperity
  • Halal vaccines area of interest

JAKARTA: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation agreed Thursday to help improve access to safe and affordable medication in Muslim countries, many of which remain the least developed in the world.
A declaration about medical regulations and issues was adopted by 32 of the 57-member countries present at a meeting in Jakarta.
Penny Lukito, chairwoman of Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM), said the goal was to eventually boost “welfare, prosperity and peace in OIC countries.”
Delegates also agreed to adopt an action plan to strengthen the capacity of regulatory agencies and to create working groups for specific issues, such as halal vaccines or counterfeit and substandard medication. The groups would meet every two years.
Lukito said halal vaccines were mentioned in the declaration as they were an area of concern among OIC member states.
“Halal vaccine as a medication is optional. It is different from food because of the emergency factor in medication. However, there are still many debatable aspects in regards to halal vaccines,” she said.
Mustafa Albani, head of the Palestinian delegation, said he learnt a lot from BPOM’s programs in preventing, detecting and responding to counterfeit and substandard drugs. Palestine lacks control over its borders, so cannot prevent fake drugs from entering its territory.
“Indonesia’s experience is very powerful. Maybe the opportunity to implement such programs would have higher outcomes if it is adopted in a small country like Palestine,” he said.
Febrian Ruddyard, from Indonesia’s foreign ministry, said around 70 percent of OIC countries lack a drug regulatory framework and monitoring agencies that report directly to the countries’ top executives. Those without a framework have to import medicines and vaccines through the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
“Human security is important and through this meeting we touched upon issues that people in OIC countries have to deal with,” he said.
He also said OIC countries were an untapped market for Indonesia’s medicine and vaccine producers.
Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Egypt are the seven OIC countries that can produce vaccines. Out of the seven Indonesia, through its state-owned vaccine producer Bio Farma, and Senegal are among those the WHO recognizes.
However, Senegal only produces one vaccine, specifically used to meet demands in Africa to prevent yellow fever, while Bio Farma produces 12 that are distributed in 141 countries including 49 OIC countries, according to the company’s chief Rahman Roestan.
“In addition to vaccines, we have the potential to produce herbal medicines because of our rich biodiversity and this is what other countries don’t have,” he told journalists.
The two-day meeting in Jakarta was also attended by the WHO, UNICEF, the Islamic Development Bank as well as vaccine and medicine manufacturers.


Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas

Alvin Braziel appears in a booking photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Austin, Texas, US, December 10, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Man who killed newlywed during robbery executed in Texas

  • The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck

HUNTSVILLE, Texas: A Texas inmate was executed Tuesday evening for fatally shooting a newlywed during a robbery more than 25 years ago.
Alvin Braziel Jr., 43, received lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the 1993 slaying of 27-year-old Douglas White, who was attacked as he and his wife walked on a jogging trail.
Braziel became the 24th inmate put to death this year in the US and the 13th executed in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state. He will be the last Texas inmate executed this year.
The execution was delayed about 90 minutes after the six-hour window defined by the warrant began at 6 p.m. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a last-minute appeal from Braziel’s attorneys.
As Douglas and Lora White walked along a community college jogging trail in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Braziel jumped out from behind some bushes with a pistol in his hand and demanded money.
The Whites, who had only been married 10 days, didn’t have any money on them but told Braziel they could get him some and they started walking back to their truck. But Braziel became angry with the couple and ordered them to the ground.
“Doug ... was praying, asked God to forgive him and Lora their sins because they both knew that this was it,” said Michael Bradshaw, the lead detective on the case for Mesquite police. “The last thing Doug said before Braziel fired the first round, he said, ‘Please God, don’t let him hurt Lora.’“
Braziel shot White once in the head and once in his heart.
Bradshaw said he believes Braziel would have also shot then-24-year-old Lora White but his gun malfunctioned. Braziel instead took her to bushy area near the trail and sexually assaulted her.
Douglas White’s murder was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and a $20,000 reward was raised by the chiropractic college he had worked for as an electrician. Bradshaw said more than 40 potential suspects were interrogated and had their blood drawn for testing.
But White’s murder remained unsolved for over seven years.
“I really didn’t know that I would ever be able to solve it. But I really did not give up hope,” said Bradshaw, 63, who retired from Mesquite police in 2012.
Braziel was eventually tied to the killing in 2001 after he was imprisoned for sexual assault in an unrelated case and his DNA matched evidence from Lora White’s assault.
At his trial, Braziel said he wasn’t near the college during the killing.
Braziel’s attorneys didn’t immediately reply to emails and calls seeking comment on Tuesday.
Last week, his lawyers asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stop his execution, arguing in part he should not receive lethal injection because he is intellectually disabled.
The Supreme Court held in 2002 that people convicted of murder who are intellectually disabled cannot be executed.
Braziel’s attorneys later withdrew their request.
Courts had previously turned down Braziel’s appeals that have focused on claims of mental illness and that he had suffered a childhood brain injury, saying Braziel refused to be examined by a mental health expert during his trial and that his family declined to help his defense attorneys obtain evidence of any mental health problems in Braziel’s family.
His attorneys also filed a last-minute appeal Tuesday, arguing that an emotional outburst at the 2001 murder trial from Lora White was unfairly elicited by prosecutors when she was shown on the witness stand a photo of her husband’s autopsied body.
Bradshaw said he still keeps in contact with Lora White and that she started a new life and is doing well.
“Lora wants it known that she’s prayed for Alvin Braziel and his family,” Bradshaw said.