North Island Midweek

GRANS speak out for Third World

Standing up and being counted, Campbell River Grandmothers Advocacy Network members rallied at Spirit Square Nov. 1 to urge Parliament to pass Bill C-398 to amend Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime to provide generic medicines ot developing countries. - Photo by Karen Wasilenchuk
Standing up and being counted, Campbell River Grandmothers Advocacy Network members rallied at Spirit Square Nov. 1 to urge Parliament to pass Bill C-398 to amend Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime to provide generic medicines ot developing countries.
— image credit: Photo by Karen Wasilenchuk

Over 60 people in Campbell River came together at Spirit Square on the afternoon of November 1 at a rally organized by Campbell River’s Grandmothers’ Advocacy Network (GRAN).

The rally was part of a national campaign to urge Parliament to pass Bill C-398 to amend Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) to provide generic medicines to developing countries.

Emcee Janet Lackey opened the event with some sobering statistics:   22.9 million people in Sub Saharan Africa have HIV/AIDS which includes 90% of the world’s child patients; African Grandmothers are raising two-thirds of the children orphaned by AIDS; half the babies born with HIV do not survive to their second birthday; and, one third of those needing medication receive none, resulting in death.

“But AIDS is not a death sentence. Drugs are available to treat the disease. The Canadian Government passed legislation called Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) to authorize the sale of affordable, generic, life-saving drugs to developing nations . . . but sadly, in the eight years since CAMR was introduced, only ONE order of drugs has reached people in need of treatment,” she said.  “This is because CAMR needs fixing and Bill C-398 has been designed to reduce the red tape and allow the export of generic, life-saving medicines to flow to developing countries.”

Federal NDP representative Ronna-Rae Leonard told the crowd that her party supports the passage of this bill, but that it is not a partisan issue.

“Helping people in developing countries is something most Canadians believe in. It is simply the right thing to do.” Campbell River’s Mayor Walter Jakeway stated that “nobody should ever underestimate the power of Grandmothers when they are determined to affect change.”

Sally Gellard, a political activist and representative from the Merville GRAN, spoke passionately about her own experiences in Africa.

“AIDS/HIV does not have to be a death sentence, nor does it get passed on to others, either during birth or throughout the course of one’s life if medication is available,” Gellard said.

She spoke about babies of infected mothers being born free of the HIV virus if the mother was taking medication.  The speakers urged all citizens to contact their federal representatives and insist that they support the passage of this bill.

To end the rally, Tina Filippino, Director of Letz Sing, choral groups in Campbell River and the Comox Valley, led the audience in songs.

Everyone was encouraged to contact their North Island MP John Duncan at 250-338-9381 to encourage him to support the passage of Bill C-398 which should be before the House of Commons by the end of November.

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