The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 59.0°F | A Few Clouds and Breezy
Article Tools

Ebola cure delayed by drug industry’s drive for profit, WHO leader says

The leader of the World Health Organization criticized the drug industry Monday, saying that the drive for profit was one reason no cure had yet been found for Ebola.

In a speech at a regional conference in Cotonou, Benin, Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the organization, also decried the glaring absence of effective public health systems in the worst-affected countries.

At least 13,567 people are known to have contracted the Ebola virus in the latest outbreak, and 4,951 have died, according to the latest data on the WHO website, which was updated Friday. All but a few of the cases have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Chan said her organization had long warned of the consequences of greed in drug development and of neglect in public health.

In the midst of the Ebola crisis, she said, these “two WHO arguments that have fallen on deaf ears for decades are now out there with consequences that all the world can see, every day, on prime-time TV news.”

The Ebola virus was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire, in 1976. But because it was confined to impoverished African countries, Chan said, there was no incentive to develop a vaccine until this year, when Ebola became a broader threat.

“A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay,” she said. “WHO has been trying to make this issue visible for ages. Now people can see for themselves.”

Efforts to find a cure have been stepped up in recent months as the disease has spread, with a small outbreak in Nigeria and isolated cases in Mali, Senegal, Spain and the United States. At an emergency meeting in September, the U.N. Security Council declared the Ebola crisis a threat to international security.

—Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

Amid tensions, Israeli lawmakers push for Jewish access to sacred site

JERUSALEM — A hard-line Israeli lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party toured this city’s most contested holy site with a police escort on Sunday, and a far-rightist minister reiterated a contentious call for Jews to be allowed to pray there, despite Netanyahu’s plea for politicians to show responsibility and restraint after days of heightened tensions over the sacred compound.

The visit by the lawmaker, Moshe Feiglin, passed without violence, eliciting only chants of “God is Great!” and taunts from Muslim protesters as Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders appeared intent on lowering the heated language and trying to calm the atmosphere.

The site — revered by Jews as the Temple Mount where the ancient Jewish temples once stood, and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, the location of Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and the third-holiest site in Islam — was reopened to non-Muslim visitors Sunday.

The compound was reopened Friday for Muslim worshipers, with certain age limitations, one day after Israel closed the revered plateau entirely for the first time in years, a move denounced by the Palestinians and the authorities in Jordan, which is the official custodian of the Aksa compound in the Old City in East Jerusalem.

The closing came after counterterrorism forces killed a former Palestinian security prisoner suspected of shooting Yehuda Glick, a U.S.-born Israeli leading the struggle for increased Jewish access and prayer rights at the site. The assassination attempt Wednesday left Glick severely wounded.

—Isabel Kershner, The New York Times