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World Health Organization (WHO) and Medical Workers Mark Progress in Southeast Asia Malaria Fight, close monitoring on India and Africa

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A Cambodian woman hangs her mosquito net in the temporary dwelling in the fields that she and her husband are clearing to farm. , VOA

ASIA, April 23, 2017: Concerted campaigns in the Greater Mekong Subregion [GMS] to radically reduce the impact of malaria has lifted hopes a vital target to eradicate malaria from the region may be within reach.

Deyer Gobinath, a malaria technical officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Thailand, said the outlook is positive for eliminating severe forms of malaria across the region within the next decade.

The goal is for most of the GMS countries by 2025 to try and eliminate falciparium malaria – the most severe form of malaria – the falciparium malariia – and then by 2030 basically all forms or all species of malaria,” Gobinath said.

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In 2015, WHO leaders said there were 14 million malaria cases across Southeast Asia, resulting in 26,000 deaths. Globally, in the same year, the WHO reported 438,000 lives lost, mostly in Africa and warned that 3.2 billion people – almost half the world’s population – face health risks from the disease.

Mortality rates decline; challenges remain

The campaigns in Southeast Asia cover Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, all reporting consistent declines in mortality rates, by as much as 49 percent since 2000.

Populations most vulnerable to the mosquito-borne disease are largely in remote border regions, isolated from infrastructure and immediate medical support.

ASIA, April 24, 2017: The key areas of concern lie in regions between Thailand and Myanmar – also known as Burma – and in Cambodia among others.

But Saw Nay Htoo, director of the Burma Medical Association, said collaboration between medics and local communities has had a positive impact in reducing malaria’s impact.

“In the ground level we set up the malaria [clinic] post which we have at least one malaria health worker, according to the population they have, to detect malaria,” he said. “And if there is malaria positive then the patient is given the malaria medicine. So we have been doing this for three years. It seems our program is going very well – there are less malaria cases in the border areas.”

Combination of drugs

The fight against malaria is largely based on a combination of drugs known as Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy, or ACT, as the main line of drug treatment.

The World Health Organization’s Gobinath said Thailand’s medical infrastructure and funding support have all contributed to lowering the numbers of malaria cases.

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“For malaria in Thailand here’s been quite a remarkable decrease – a steady decrease, decline in the number of confirmed cases of malaria. In the past 10 years or so something like 30,000 cases in 2012; to 2015 it was 19,000 to 20,000 cases. So it’s been a gradual but persistent decline of confirmed malaria cases,” he told VOA.

But he said for progress to be sustained it will require continued “political will and commitment.”

WHO officials said attention needs to focus on migrant worker populations moving across the region’s borders. Thai health authorities have taken steps to enable medical access to migrant populations at risk of malaria, largely in remote border areas.

The battle far from over

But challenges remain, said Maria Dorina Bustos, a WHO technical officer with responsibilities for monitoring drug resistant strains of malaria across 18 countries in the Asia Pacific.

Dorina Bustos said the region with drug resistant forms of malaria is spreading. “The Thai-Cambodia or the Thai-Myanmar border, you need to think about the Thai-Laos border because the Southern Laos drug resistance is also about evident – is documented, it is also there. And what is actually more alarming is happening in the Cambodia side,” she told VOA.

She said drug resistance becomes evident in the delay in clearance of the parasite from the patient. Dorina Bustos says the use of fake drugs and self-treatment also opens the way to drug resistance.

“What we are seeing in the last five years is that it is really emerging in the most parts of the region – initially just in the Western border of Cambodia and now it has also spread to the east and almost the whole country,” Dorina Bustos said.

She said there is a need for close monitoring of major population centers – especially in India and Africa – to ensure successful treatment and avoiding issues of the use of fake medicines.

A positive note has been ongoing investment and research in new drugs, including commitments by major pharmaceutical industries.

“It’s really here in the Mekong where we really have a problem. Cambodia, the borders of Thailand, the borders of Thai/Laos and Cambodia/Vietnam – it’s very specific in the Mekong region,” she said. “For Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and even India, Bangladesh and Nepal the ACT [Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy] is all working perfectly well.” (VOA)

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.