Mathai headed to Rome over elderly disease

By David Njagi

The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Prof. Wangari Maathai, will in November this year join a pontifical gathering in the Vatican, Rome, to raise awareness about the effects of ecological change to old age.

The three day conference, which will be held from November 16th t0 17th , seeks to give insight into the longterm effects of water and environmental pollution to human health, and establish if it could be the origin of diseases that afflict the elderly today.

A representative of Pope Benedict XVI to Kenya, the Apostolic Nuncio, Alain Paul Lebeaupin, extended the invitation to the Nobel Laureate Thursday, in Nairobi.

He said: “The Pontifical Council for Health andPastoral Care wishes to invite Prof.

Maathai to the22nd international conference that seeks to discuss the origin of diseases that affect the elderly.”

Scientists, academic scholars, religious leaders andother social actors from all over the world areexpected to attend the high level meeting.

While accepting the invitation, Prof. Maathai censuredAfrican leaders for what she said was their afflictionto blanket ignorance on the importance of science andtechnology.

The food insecurity that hits the country periodically, she said, was due to Africa’s failure to assimilate into modern technology that has for instance seen the North create a stable food culture through transgenic foods.

“Africa lacks laws that legislate on biotechnology,”she said, “therefore the poor lack guidance on how well they can adopt to genetically modified foods.”

She said Africa should be prepared through technology and formulation of science based policies when joining the rest of the world in drafting a successor pact to the post Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.

“Africa must be prepared to negotiate for a post Kyoto regime because the continent is heavily impacted by climate change,” said Prof. Maathai.

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