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November 26, 2007

More On Tree Man: Indonesia's Health Minister Criticizes US For Trying To Treat Him, Arguing That His Blood Samples Could Be Used To Make Vaccines The Poor Could Not Afford.

Yes, let's all be miserable. Allah commands it.

n Indonesian fisherman who developed tree-like growths on his hands and feet is at the centre of an international medical spat after his country's health minister criticised doctors trying to treat him.

Indonesia's health minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, lambasted the US doctor currently treating the 35-year-old man, who has the rare affliction caused by the Human Papilloma Virus.

Mrs Supari is angry that Dr Anthony Gaspari has taken blood and tissue samples out of the country to the United States in a bid to diagnose the illness. She claims such samples could be used in the future to make vaccines that the poor could not afford.

Developing nations such as Indonesia risk exploitation unless they maintain control over their virus strains, Mrs Supari said.

But her comments have now offended Dr Gaspari, an American dermatologist at the University of Maryland, who maintains that, while he took the samples without permission, his sole motivation was getting treatment for the man.

Known simply as Dede, the man, who lives in a village south of the capital Jakarta, has massive root-like warts growing from his arms and legs which have gone untreated for years.

"We did take samples, and the reason we did was to render a diagnosis. We did it for humanitarian reasons, to help the patient," Dr Gaspari said, stressing his willingness to put in writing that the samples were not for commercial use.

Mrs Supari, who has famously refused to share bird flu samples with international scientists, made her comments on Sunday after returning from a World Health Organisation (WHO) conference in Geneva.

"We are offended because the samples were taken from Dede without our permission," she told reporters at the hospital where the man was being treated. "If they are taken abroad, they could become lucrative commodities."

The intergovernmental conference was aimed at rebuilding a global system for sharing viruses. Indonesia is the nation the worst hit by bird flu, with a total of 91 human deaths recorded.

Mrs Supari has, however, steadfastly refused to share samples of the deadly H5N1 strain of the disease until she receives assurances they will not be used to make expensive pandemic vaccines.

For its part, WHO wants to make sure the virus has not mutated to a form that spreads more easily between people.

Definitely the samples should remain in Indonesia. They have such a good track record at creating vaccines and eliminating disease, whether for the poor or rich.

Another pic. Poor blighter.

There's more vid at the link.


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posted by Ace at 05:47 PM

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