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Egyptian court confirms death sentence on ex-president, earlier imprisoned for spying with foreign powers like Hamas

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Mohamed_MorsiAn Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced former president Mohamed Morsi to death on Tuesday over a prison break in 2011, confirming a preliminary death sentence issued in May.

Earlier in the day, Morsi was also sentenced to life imprisonment related to charges of spying with foreign powers – including Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards – to destabilise Egypt, Al Ahram reported.

The court also sentenced 17 defendants to life in prison, and 16 to death, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders Khairat El-Beltagy and Mohamed El-Beltagy, Al Ahram reported.

The general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, was also sentenced to 25 years in jail in the same case. However, the death sentence can be appealed.

On May 16, the court issued a preliminary death sentence against Morsi and 105 other defendants in the jailbreak case, after which their papers were referred to the grand mufti, a senior Muslim cleric, for a consultative review as required by Egyptian law. The mufti’s advice regarding the death sentence is not legally binding.

In the Wadi Natroun jailbreak case, the prosecution charged Morsi and 130 co-defendants, many tried in absentia, with damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder, attempted murder, looting prison weapons depots and releasing prisoners while escaping from the prison during the January 2011 revolution.

According to the prosecution, the prisoners who escaped include members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Hezbollah, as well as jihadis and criminals.

Prosecutors said over 800 fighters from Gaza had infiltrated Egypt and used rocket-propelled grenades and weapons to storm three prisons, abducting four policemen and killing several others.

-(IANS)

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A Vaccine Against Pneumonia And Meningitis Saves Million Children

"far too many deaths , about 900 every day, are still being caused by these two infections."

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A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012.
A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012. VOA

A vaccine against bacterial pneumonia and another against meningitis have saved 1.45 million children’s lives this century, according to a new study.

The diseases the vaccines prevent are now concentrated in a handful of countries where the medications are not yet widely available or were only recently introduced, the research says.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children worldwide. The bacteria targeted by the shots, Haemophilus influenzae type b (known as Hib) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), are major causes of pneumonia and also cause meningitis. Together, the two bacteria claimed nearly 1.1 million lives in 2000, before the vaccines were widely available, according to the World Health Organization.

Vaccines against the bacteria are not new, but funding to provide them in low-income countries only became available recently.

A baby with parents
A baby with parents, Pixabay

To estimate their impact, the researchers started with country-by-country data from the WHO on pneumonia and meningitis cases and deaths, as well as vaccine coverage estimates. They factored in data from dozens of clinical studies on infections caused by the two bacteria to create estimates of illness and death from the diseases in 2000 and 2015.

They found deaths from Hib fell by 90 percent in 2015, saving an estimated 1.2 million lives since 2000. Pneumococcus deaths fell by just over half, accounting for approximately 250,000 lives saved.

The research appears in the journal The Lancet Global Health.

“What was interesting was to see the rate at which some of these deaths have been prevented in the last several years,” said lead author Brian Wahl at Johns Hopkins University, “largely due to the availability of funding for these vaccines in countries with some of the highest burdens [of disease].”

The study estimates that 95 percent of the reduction in pneumococcal deaths occurred after 2010, when 52 low- and middle-income countries began receiving funding from Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to introduce the vaccine into their national immunization programs.

“The good news is that the numbers are moving in the right direction,” wrote Cynthia Whitney at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an accompanying editorial.

Pneumonia in child
Pneumonia in child, flickr

However, Whitney added, “far too many deaths — about 900 every day — are still being caused by these two infections.”

She notes that more than 40 percent of the world’s children live in countries where pneumococcal vaccine is not a routine childhood immunization.

Many of the countries with the largest number of deaths from these two bacteria have recently introduced the vaccines, but coverage is uneven.

India, Nigeria, China and South Sudan had the highest rates of death from Hib, the study says. All but China have introduced the vaccine in the past few years.

Half of the world’s pneumococcal deaths occurred in just four countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan. All have recently introduced the vaccine, though in India it is a routine immunization in only three states.

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Lowering the global burden of these diseases will depend on improving coverage in these countries, the study says. (VOA)