I have posted a blog in the PALM Africa blog site on an open access book from Fountain Publishers in Uganda, created as part of the PALM project. The timing of this publishing initiative is telling for us in South Africa, as the book deals with an issue that is directly releant to the Department of Science and Technology's legislation and proposed Regulations aimed at forcing the commericlialisation of research. The impact of profit-driven commercialisation of public health research is an issue that this book takes apart in a searing critique.
From the PALM blog:
in Uganda has launched as its first open access book a powerful and
moving indictment of the price in human lives that the global
innovation system has extracted in sub-saharan Africa, written by the
internationally respected AIDS specialist, Peter Mugyenyi. The book is Genocide by Denial: How profiteering from HIV/AIDS killed millions. This is the first demonstration project in the PALM Africa initiative and the response to the open acess book as well as its impact will be tracked and researched by the PALM team…
The timing is impeccable, as
the release of the open access version of the book coincides exactly
with a breakthrough at the World Health Organisation, which has finally
reached agreement on a global strategy and plan of action on public health,
innovation and intellectual property. The WHO initiative, after long
negotiations driven by developing countries, aims to address exactly
the problem that Mugyenyi addresses – the excessively and unaffordably
high prices of the drugs needed to treat neglected diseases in
developing countries, driven by the global patenting system. In
addition, it addresses the lack of adequate research on neglected
diseases, also spawned by the profit-driven Intellectual propoerty
regime supported by the developed world.
recommendations in the WHO plan of action is government intervention
to ensure voluntary sharing or research, open access publication
repositories and open databases and compound libraries of medical
research results. Thus Fountain's engagement with open access
publishing on a public health topic is right in line with – and ahead
of – developing global policy.
Mugyenyi's book needs to be
read by the South African bureaucrats who are trying to enforce
widespread and rigid commercialization of public research. Mugyeni's
conclusion to his book puts the issues succinctly:
that deny or delay access to life-saving and emergency drugs should be
urgently addressed on the humanitarian principle of lives above
profits, but without hurting the businesses. Innovation in the crucial
area of human survival should not be entirely dependent on money-making
and big business, but should primarily aim at the alleviation of all
human suffering and saving lives as a basic minimum.
does not contradict fair trade. Business success and humanism are not
incompatible It is just a big lie to suggest that humanity is too dim
to find ways of rewarding innovation and discovery other than by
holding the very weakest of our society at ransom. It is also untrue
that the only way businesses can thrive is by cutthroat pursuit of
profits under powerful and insensitive protective laws, irrespective of
the misery caused and the trail of blood in their wake. Lessons learns
from the AIDS disaster should help the world find a way of
incorporating justice and human rights in business. It is glaringly
clear that the ills of the present system need to be fixed.
He appears to be vindicated by the fact that the WHO is now aligning itself with this approach.
The book is a powerful indictment of a failed system, written with passion and clarity.