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Posts Tagged ‘WHO’

US spies failed to vet insider who bombed Afghan base

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 4:08 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Jordanian officials raised concerns with the CIA about an informer who later attacked the spy agency’s base in Afghanistan last year, killing seven Americans, a US official has said.

“Those concerns were weighed against the information he had already provided, and his potential to lead us to the most senior figures in Al-Qaeda,” the US intelligence official told AFP Tuesday, after an internal review of the incident concluded the CIA failed to fully vet the assailant.

(AFP) A screengrab released by SITE Intelligence Group shows Humam al-Balawi in an interview by al-Qaeda’s media arm, As-Sahab Media.

The New York Times said the CIA operative in Jordan who obtained the information chose not to pass it on to his supervisors, and that it was unclear if any displinary action would be brought over that decision.

Panetta said the operative was apparently dismissive of the information on the suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi because it was thought the Jordanian intelligence officer who offered it was jealous of a colleague’s close relationship with the eventual attacker, the Times said.

“Sufficient security precautions were not taken,” CIA director Leon Panetta said in a statement to agency employees, adding that the “missteps occurred because of shortcomings” across the agency, including “management oversight.”

The December 30 attack on a major CIA base in Khost, near the Pakistan border, was a devastating blow for the spy agency and the second worst single assault on the CIA in its history.

The CIA had believed the suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was a valuable contact and had invited him onto the base of the compound without a search.

When he was about to be searched near a building entrance, he set off his explosive and it later emerged he was tied to Taliban insurgents battling US-led forces in Afghanistan.

No single individual or group could be assigned blame for the incident, Panetta said.

“Rather, it was the intense determination to accomplish the mission that influenced the judgments that were made,” he said.

The Times said the agency was unwilling to assign blame for the bombing to an individual as those who could be found at fault might have been killed in the blast, including the Khost base chief Jennifer Matthews, who had little experience in the field.

“A lot of the evidence here died with the people,” the CIA chief is quoted as saying by the Times.

“The mission itself may have clouded some of the judgments made here,” he is reported to have said, noting the informant was offering information on one of the CIA’s top targets, Al Qaeda’s second highest commander Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Panetta approved a series of recommendations from the CIA task force probing the attack, including tightening security procedures, improving training, bolstering communication and “reinforced counterintelligence practices.”

Despite the Khost attack, Panetta vowed that the spy agency would carry on what he called “the most aggressive counterterrorism operations in our history.”

“We will sustain that momentum and, whenever possible, intensify our pursuit,” he said.

The CIA has been carrying out an intense bombing campaign against Taliban and Al-Qaeda figures in Pakistan using pilotless drones, despite public criticism in Pakistan and Western human rights groups.

Source: SGGP

Who are these heroic Chile miners?

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm

The first of 33 miners trapped deep underground in a Chilean mine for a record 68 days were pulled out alive on Wednesday in an amazing story of human survival against all odds.

Chilean miner Jose Ojeda (C), the seventh of thirty-three miners to leave the mine exits the Fenix rescue capsule upon surfacing at the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile October 13, 2010 early morning.

Here are short biographies of some of the most prominent miners whose tale of hope and endurance has captivated the world:

THE FIRST OUT: For a short time 31-year-old Florencio Avalos will be the most talked about man on the planet as he emerged first from the San Jose mine into the full glare of the media spotlight.

It is no coincidence Avalos was chosen to be first. The athletic father-of-two was the second most senior miner trapped and he was considered the safest pair of hands if something went wrong with the rescue capsule.

Avalos, who loves playing football with his two children, aged seven and 17, has a brother Renan — the doctor in the group due to his albeit limited medical experience — who will be one of the last miners to be pulled up.

THE LEADER: Luis Urzua, 54, was the head of shift when the mine collapsed on August 5 and has acted as a leader during the long months since even though he had only been working at the mine for two months.

“We’re well and waiting for you to rescue us,” Urzua told Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in a first telephone conversation from the collapsed mine. He said the confinement was like “hell.”

He described to the president how the mine caved in.

“The hill came down at 1:40 in the afternoon. We were worried for our colleagues who were heading out with a full truck. Then the dustbowl came and in four or five hours we couldn’t see what was going on, or what the situation was. Then we saw we were trapped by an enormous rock blocking the whole tunnel.”

Urzua has agreed to stay till the bitter end and be the last miner to be hoisted to freedom.

THE OLDEST: At 63, Mario Gomez is the oldest of the trapped miners. The son of a miner, Gomez has worked in the industry since the age of 12.

He expressed his love for his wife, to whom he has been married for 31 years, from the depths of the mine.

“He’s quiet and not someone to express his emotions,” said his wife Liliana Ramirez, after receiving a letter from her husband. “I was surprised by his letter. He said he loves me. I’ve never received a letter like that from him — even when we were going out he wasn’t romantic.”

The couple have four daughters.

THE EX-FOOTBALLER: Franklin Lobos, 53, is a former professional soccer player in a Chilean league. He received one of two signed T-shirts sent to the mine by Barcelona and Spanish World Cup winning star David Villa, whose father and grandfather were both miners.

“There are many (former) footballers in mining,” William Lobos, Franklin Lobos’ nephew, told AFP. “Since they only work until they are 36 years old, the mining companies which own the teams offer them work.”

Lobos did not fear working in the mine because his work was mainly transporting miners, so he spent less time in the darkness of the tunnels, his family said.

“He has two daughters and they are both studying. He took on two jobs to earn more,” said his nephew.

THE PRESENTER: Mario Sepulveda, 40, was the second worker to be pulled safely from the mine. During their 10-week ordeal he has presented most of the videos recorded by the group.

“I have been with God and with the devil,” he said on being rescued. “I fought between the two. I seized the hand of God, it was the best hand. I always knew God would get us out of there.”

His joyous celebrations, which included handing out rocks to rescuers and officials, were an immediate hit around the world.

Sepulveda’s wife, Elvira Valdivia, says he is a natural leader. He was a union representative in another mine in the same company.

THE BOLIVIAN: Carlos Mamani, 23, is the only non-Chilean in the group. The Bolivian national was the fourth miner to taste freedom. Bolivian President Evo Morales is expected to fly in on Wednesday to personally escort him home.

THE YOUNGEST: At just 19, Jimmy Sanchez is the youngest of the 33 trapped workers and had only been working in the mine for five months before disaster struck. He was the fifth to be pulled to safety.


Source: SGGP

WHO list reveals pandemic flu advisors with industry ties

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

GENEVA, Aug 11, 2010 (AFP) – Five of the 15 experts that advised the World Health Organisation about swine flu pandemic alerts had received support from the drugs industry, including for flu vaccine research, the WHO revealed on Wednesday.

This handout screen capture provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on August 10, 2010 in Geneva shows WHO Director General Margaret Chan speaking during a televised press release annoucing the end of the swine flu pandemic. AFP

The agency released for the first time a list of the 15 members of the Emergency Committee headed by Australian tropical diseases professor John Mackenzie, who was the only member publicly named during the outbreak.

They came from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin and North America, the list posted on the WHO’s website showed.

Most were scientific researchers and epidemiologists, along with a Senegalese diplomat, public health officials from Thailand and Chile as well as two specialists on international air travel and health. The list can be seen at

Critics had raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest that might have helped the drugs industry influence decisions on huge orders for special vaccines against A(H1N1) flu.

The WHO has repeatedly denied those claims, underlining that it had vetted members and maintained secrecy over their identities to protect them from undue pressure while the outbreak of swine flu was underway.

Six people declared interests to the UN health agency, including five researchers who disclosed past or current support from pharmaceutical firms, according to the WHO list.

Nancy Cox, from the US Centers for Disease Control, disclosed financial support from a drugs industry group, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) for flu vaccine research and work on viruses in her unit.

US professor Arnold Monto declared current and past consultancies on pandemic or seasonal influenza research for GSK, Novartis, Roche, Baxter and Sanofi Pasteur.

He also declared a grant from Sanofi for a clinical trial in 2007-2008 related to influenza vaccines.

John Wood’s research unit at Britain’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), had undertaken research for Sanofi Pasteur, CSL, IFPMA, Novartis and Powdermed on influenza vaccine.

Professor Maria Zambon’s laboratory at the UK Health Protection Agency Centre for Infection received funding from several vaccine makers, including Sanofi, Novartis, CSL, Baxter and GSK.

British professor Neil Ferguson, an advisor to the committee, had acted as a consultant for Roche and GSK Biologicals until 2007, according to the list.

The WHO said those interests “do not give rise to a conflict of interest such that the experts concerned should be partially or totally excluded from participation in the Emergency Committee.”

The panel provided expert advice to the WHO Director General Margaret Chan about the new swine flu virus, allowing her to raise the alert when it was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in April 2009.

It was also instrumental in the declaration of a pandemic with global spread of the disease in June 2009, triggering a chain of public health precautions including development and production of an influenza vaccine.

However, swine flu turned out to be less severe than feared.

As the virus petered out in North America and Europe in late 2009, governments sought to offload costly and huge stocks of unused vaccines and some European parliamentarians claimed the scare was unjustified.

Chan announced on Tuesday that the A(H1N1) influenza pandemic was officially over after more than 18,500 people died.

The WHO estimated that about 300 million people had been vaccinated worldwide.

Source: SGGP

WHO reassesses swine flu pandemic

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2010 at 11:20 am

GENEVA, Aug 10, 2010 (AFP) – Scientists from the World Health Organisation met on Tuesday over whether to recommend the lifting of the swine flu pandemic alert, an agency spokesman said. 

An Indian woman, wearing a mask, talks on her mobile phone outside the H1N1 swine flu screening centre at the Government Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad on August 7, 2010. AFP

WHO chief Margaret Chan, who is expected to follow the recommendations of the emergency committee of scientists after their three-hour meeting, was due to make an announcement later in the day, a spokesman for the UN body said.

“There will be an announcement today on the results of the meeting by the director general,” Gregory Hartl told AFP.

It was the third meeting since February of the emergency committee of 15 scientists headed by Australian infectious diseases expert John Mackenzie to reassess the A(H1N1) pandemic declared on its advice in June 11, 2009.

Chan has closely followed the panel’s advice since the new swine flu virus was detected in Mexico and the United States in April 2009.

The latest meeting was delayed by several weeks in order to obtain more information about the development of the flu in the southern hemisphere’s winter, Chan said last month.

A(H1N1) influenza has killed more than 18,449 people and affected some 214 countries and territories, according to WHO data, which also show that swine flu has waned since the beginning of the year.

Source: SGGP

Who manages when securities company leaders join market?

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2010 at 7:19 am

When stocks rise, financial leverages have been exerted by not only investors but employees in securities companies as well.

When stocks rise, financial leverages have been exerted by not only investors but employees in securities companies as well

When the stock market enjoy a slight rise, many securities companies allowed investors to buys a stock on high margin, some very important persons can borrow from the companies to buy securities without money or just little in their account.

Those received special treatment are general directors, directors or employees in stock companies.

When the market headed for 600 points in last October, securities company leaders colluded with some VIP to take money from the company to buy many stocks.

They had only VND20billion but they bought a large quantity of stocks worth up to VND170 billion; however, VN-Index plunges to 430 points, the stocks value decreased by over 30 percent, the group decided to keep the stock with the hope that it will increase again.

The market has maintained below 500 points, the stocks are worth around VND100billion. The group lost VND70billion not including interest. At present, the VIP have made their transaction in other companies, leaders are ordered to pay the debt.

Another loophole is that securities companies allow investors to withdraw their profit right after they gain although they have not yet paid their loan.

Above-mentioned investors usually borrowed money from banks on one-year contracts. Investors must settle these contracts which nearly fall due. Securities companies are under high pressure to seek for new sources of capital or sell all these stocks. Massive selling of these stocks will influence to the market in the current market when VN-Index hovered around 490 points.

It is high time that securities companies and the State Securities Commission must implemented practical measures to protect the market.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam to receive Tamiflu from WHO

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2010 at 11:29 am

The Ministry of Health will receive a shipment of Tamiflu worth over US$2.3 million from the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight and prevent the A-H1N1 virus, said the Government Office.

The Ministry will be responsible for managing and using the medicine under current regulations.

Source: SGGP

Nation proud of those who served in revolution

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Nation proud of those who served in revolution

QĐND – Saturday, July 17, 2010, 20:48 (GMT+7)

The nation is proud of its people who served during the revolution, said State President Nguyen Minh Triet.

“These people are worthy of being honoured as they set a good example for the community,” stated President Triet at a meeting with people who had made outstanding contributors to the nation, in the central province of Nghe An on July 16.

The meeting was attended by 300 Vietnamese heroic mothers, revolutionary veterans, pre-revolution officials, heroes of the people’s armed forces, war invalids, disabled soldiers and families of fallen combatants.

President Triet underlined that they are not only honoured because they sacrificed themselves for the nation’s revolutionary cause, but also for the contributions they made in spurring on the country’s development.

He stressed that the Party and State always care about the policies and treatment they introduce to ensure they safeguard those who have served the nation.

“Though meeting with a lot of difficulties, the Party, the State and the people spare no effort to do whatever they can as a way of expressing their respect and to honour fallen combatants and their families, invalids, disabled soldiers and heroic mothers, for the devotion and sacrifices they made for the nation,” said the President.

He noted that it is the responsibility of the current Vietnamese generation and future ones, to maintain and defend the nation’s independence for what so many people sacrificed their lives for.

The President called on the entire Party, army and the people to continue to care for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation, including the families of war fallen combatants.

The meeting, co-organised by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, the Defence Ministry, the Nhan Dan (People) newspaper, and the Nghe An provincial People’s Committee, was part of a series of activities to mark the 63rd anniversary of War Invalids and Fallen War Combatants Day (July 27).

Source: Vietnam+

Source: QDND

Access to essential medicines far from being achieved: WHO

In Uncategorized on June 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm

The government has consistently given pharmaceutical issues top priority within its development agenda. However, access to essential medicines, especially for the poor has not yet become a reality. Ways to improve the situation were discussed at a meeting held on June 23 in Hanoi titled: “Strengthen the capability of accessing essential medicines.”

Dr. Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative in Vietnam

The meeting was co-ordinated by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative in Vietnam, said increasing access to pharmaceuticals has been a major facet of significant government policies, such as the Social Economic Development Plan, and is one of the pillars of the five-year National Health Plan.

WHO recognize the government’s programs for essential medicines, especially the keen attention given to the implementation of quality programs and good practices for the manufacturers, distribution and supply of medicines.

The question that you may raise is simple – there are more than 20,000 pharmaceutical products registered in the market – but why do we say that people, especially the poor, cannot access the medicines they need? Dr. Olivé added.

The WHO representative pointed out that the prices of medicines are high and people cannot afford them. Recent comparative data shows that medicines in Vietnam, which are used to treat diseases with the highest burden, are priced higher than they are listed on the international reference index.

Dr. Olivé stressed that the poor do not have adequate resources to buy them. A study done in 2008 on the treatment of diabetes showed that people insulin costs patients an average of US$17 a month (US$204 per year). 

Medicines are also continually over-prescribed and used irrationally, wasting both government and the patient’s resources, said Dr. Olivé. When the government spends much of its budget paying for expensive medicines, resources are lost, and less people are served. On the other hand, irrational usage and sale of antibiotics, often without prescription, risks the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance, which will make treatment of infectious diseases more difficult and more expensive.

Dr. Truong Quoc Cuong, chief of the Vietnam Drug Administration, said that the total payment for medications in Vietnam last year was up to US$1.5 trillion, an increase of 19 percent. An average person spends US$19.77 on drugs yearly. Profits from drugs produced domestically reached US$831 million in 2009.

Mr. Cuong said more pharmaceutical firms in the country have strengthened production, but few of them manufactured specific drugs for new diseases.

Dr. Olivé prescribed that concerted action be taken to overcome the barriers to access. It is time that Vietnam and WHO think of different approaches and reassess our programs and policies to make sure that they meet the fundamental public health objective of ensuring access to safe, quality-assured, affordable medicines.

He advised the Vietnamese government to consider developing a comprehensive policy for generic medicines and ensure universal coverage for health that makes provisions for the poor. He proposed that medicines for children and mothers should be made available at all times in health communes and in public health facilities.

At the same time, prescription and use of essential medicines should be monitored and that inappropriate incentives in the selection and procurement of medicines should be eliminated, he stressed.

Dr Nguyen Quoc Trieu, Minister of Health, promised to rearrange the index of essential medications that home enterprises can manufacture and concentrate on producing important materials, including antibiotics, as well as to adopt measures that would stabilize the price for drugs not yet produced in Vietnam.

Source: SGGP

Kyrgyzstan crisis could affect up to one million people: WHO

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

 The World Health Organisation said Friday that it was working on a worst-case estimate that the crisis in Kyrgyzstan may affect up to one million people, about a third of whom could be refugees.

Uzbeks houses were destroyed in the ethnic clash in Kyrgyztan.

“We are working with a planning figure of one million people that have been directly or indirectly affected by this event — 300,000 of them… refugees,” said Giuseppe Annunziata, WHO coordinator for emergency programme support.

The UN health agency official confirmed when asked that the figures were a “worst-case scenario”, and that the remaining 700,000 are people who could be displaced within Kyrgyzstan by the conflict.

At the moment, up to 100,000 people have already sought refuge in neighbouring Uzbekistan, not counting children, while about 300,000 are thought to be internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

A spokeswoman for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Christiane Berthiaume, said the aid planning figure of one million would include assistance for families in both countries who have given shelter to those who have fled.

Annunziata also pointed to unconfirmed reports from different sources that some ethnic Uzbek women had been “subject to gender-based violence.”

“Unfortunately there are atrocities that have been reported targetting the Uzbek minorities in Kyrgyzstan,” said Annunziata, adding that there were cases of rapes reported by women who have sought refuge in Uzbekistan.

The official said that the key focus of the agency was therefore on the health needs of these women, as well as of the elderly people and children who had been affected by the violence.

Berthiaume added that 90 percent of people who fled to Uzbekistan were women and children who are in “a very bad physical and psychological condition.”

“Many have witnessed or have suffered acts of violence, there are thousands of families who have been separated, they have to be reunited,” she told journalists.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the situation in the conflict-hit southern part of the country remains volatile. “The tension is very high. There is a lot of sporadic violence, a lot of aggression. It’s very volatile and we are very concerned about the safety of the people who are still barricaded in Osh,” said OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs.

“They have been joined by some people fleeing villages, they are barricaded and they have no access or they don’t want to go out to have access to medical treatment,” added the spokeswoman.

The UN refugee agency’s spokesman Andrej Mahecic also noted that access for aid workers to the population in need was “extremely difficult and limited.”

Two UNHCR planes carrying 80 tonnes of relief items are expected to arrive in Osh, with the first carrying 800 tents to land on Saturday and the second carrying other relief items to arrive on Sunday, he said.

The United Nations is to launch an appeal later Friday for the displaced population in Kyrgyzstan and another appeal would be made next week for Uzbekistan, which is hosting most of the refugees.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam yet to receive WHO document about H1N1

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2010 at 11:38 am

Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan said June 7 that Vietnam has not received any official document from the World Health Organization pertaining to the swine flu; especifically whether or not the disease has become a pandemic or if earlier reports were exaggerations.

Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan

European health officials have launched an investigation into whether the seriousness of the swine flu outbreak was exaggerated as they blamed pharmaceutical giants for pressuring WHO to declare it a pandemic, Dr. Huan said, adding that if it is true, it presents a major problem.

Vietnam did ask WHO about influenza prevention in the upcoming winter at a meeting in May in Geneva, Switzerland, and WHO proposed nations to be ready to fight the pandemic and maintain the sixth level of alert.

Vietnam has not had any outbreaks in two past months; therefore, it should decrease the pandemic alert to phase two or three.

Drug companies have been accused of unnecessarily raising fears over the H1N1 swine flu virus, so as to increase profits by boosting sales of their new vaccines and have earned over US$7 billion from selling influenza medications. Meanwhile, Vietnam has spent around VND1 trillion on disinfecting chemicals, drugs and on medical equipment such as breathing machines and temperature taking machines, which have been placed at airports and border gates.

Vietnam has confirmed over 11,200 cases of H1N1, responsible for 58 fatalities.

Source: SGGP