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As Bed Net Bribes Pushes Search to Tanzania, UN's Malaria Man Praises Twitter

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 13 -- Amid happy talk on malaria, the question of what to do with the two largest bed net producers both charged with corruption was raised Thursday at the UN by Inner City Press.

Ray Chambers, Special Envoy of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Malaria, replied that "none of us has the complete picture."

  He went on to say, "from what we've heard, it was two local people, nothing to do with senior management." But what about command responsibility? A committee of the Global Fund will meet soon to consider what to do with the companies, which Chambers called "Vestergaard and Sumitomo."

  (Vestergaard Frandsen is based in Switzerland; when the New York Times referred to Sumitomo Chemical of Japan, they had to correct it to Sumitomo Chemical Singapore.)

  Chambers mentioned another bed net producer, A to Zed in Arusha, Tanzania. Later on Thursday a long time UN global public health expert told Inner City Press "We've been trying to build up a company in Tanzania but there have been problems;" he mentioned electricity.

  Inner City Press also asked about the response on malaria in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda.

  Dr. Robert D. Newman, Director of the Global Malaria Program at the World Health Organization cited a recently publication; Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky offered to provide contacts for WHO in Geneva (then proceeded to refuse to take a second question from Inner City Press, while given another scribe a total of four).

Chambers said that the offers of monetary and other help for Typhoon Haiyan have never been greater, which he attributed to social media, Facebook and Twitter and people using them to come together. Video here from Minute 20:55.

Given lack of transparency and double standards at the UN, including in what questions can be be asked to Ban Ki-moon and his top officials like UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous (video here, UK coverage here) the new Free UN Coalition for Access is using social media to bring together people wanting and needing information from the UN. We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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