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Guterres, Biden Mourn Former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe

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New York, July 8, 2022 (NAN) United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres and U.S. President,Joe Biden, have paid tributes to a former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on Friday.

Abe, who was Japan’s longest-serving leader, was shot from behind  while speaking at a campaign event in the western city of Nara.

The 67-year-old Abe went into cardiac arrest and was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said a man was arrested at the scene and was believed to have carried out the attack.

Guterres, in a statement by his Deputy Spokesman, Farhan Haq, stated that the secretary-general was deeply saddened by the horrific killing of  Abe.

“The secretary-general described the killing as an act that has profoundly shocked Japanese society in a country with one of the lowest rates of gun crime.

“He will be remembered as a staunch defender of multilateralism, respected leader and supporter of the United Nations,’’ he said.

According to Haq, the secretary-general recalls Shinzo Abe’s commitment to promoting peace and security, championing the Sustainable Development Goals and advocating for universal health coverage.

“As the longest-serving Prime Minister, he was dedicated to reviving his country’s economy and serving the people of Japan.

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“The secretary-general expresses his deep condolences to Shinzo Abe’s family and the people and Government of Japan.,’’he said

Similarly, Biden expressed shock over the assassination of Abe, describing it as a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him.

“I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend, Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning.

“This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him,” he said in a statement.

Biden stated how the two worked “closely” together when he was Vice President.

“He was a champion of the alliance between our nations and the friendship between our people.

“Above all, he cared deeply about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service.

“Even at the moment he was attacked, he was engaged in the work of democracy,” he said.

Also, in a statement, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, offered his sincerest condolences on the tragic passing of former Abe.

“Prime Minister Abe was a global leader and unwavering ally and friend of the United States, whose vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific lifted our Alliance cooperation to new heights.

“We offer our thoughts to Prime Minister Abe’s family and the people of Japan. Together with them and the world, we mourn his passing,’’ he said. (NAN)

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UNICEF Awards $170m Malaria Vaccine Contract to GSK

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has awarded a contract for the first ever supply of a malaria vaccine to GSK with a value of up to 170 million dollars.

Newsmen report that GSK plc, formerly GlaxoSmithKline plc, is a British multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company with global headquarters in London, England. Established in 2000 by a merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham.

UNICEF in a statement issued from New York on Tuesday said the landmark award would lead to 18 million doses of RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) being available over the next three years, potentially saving thousands of lives every year.

In 2020, nearly half a million children died from malaria in Africa alone, a rate of one child death per minute.

Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division said the vaccine rollout would give a clear message to malaria vaccine developers to continue their work because malaria vaccines are needed and wanted.

“We hope this is just the beginning. Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market.

“This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

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According to WHO data, more than 30 countries have areas with moderate to high malaria transmission, where the vaccine could provide added protection against malaria to over 25 million children each year once supply scales up.

The RTS,S malaria vaccine is the result of 35 years of research and development and is the first-ever vaccine against a parasitic disease. The vaccine acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa.

In 2019, pilot routine vaccine use was launched in three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – as part of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme coordinated by WHO.

The experience and evidence generated by the pilots informed WHO’s recommendation in October 2021 for widespread use of the first malaria vaccine in countries with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.

Soon after, in December 2021, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s decision to provide funding for malaria vaccine programmes in eligible countries opened the pathway for broader roll-out of the vaccine.

“We recently opened the first application window for Gavi support in rolling out the malaria vaccine.

“Thanks to UNICEF’s procurement work, we now have more certainty on supply and can move a step further towards getting this life-saving vaccine to the people who need it the most.

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“As manufacturing ramps up over time, we hope that increasing volumes will also lead to more sustainable, lower prices,” Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said.

Dr Kate O’Brien, WHO Director of the Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals said lives are at stake, every day.

“WHO welcomes the progress to secure supply and timely access to vaccine so that more countries can begin to introduce this additional malaria prevention tool as rapidly as possible.

“Given the initial limited supply, it is crucial that children living in areas where the risk of disease and need is highest are prioritised first.”

This award is the culmination of 18 months of intensive preparation and consultation with industry and partners.

As the largest buyer of vaccines in the world, UNICEF accelerated action to conclude procurement negotiations, to ensure there are no delays in securing available supplies of the malaria vaccine to help protect vulnerable children.

Demand for the malaria vaccine is expected to be high among affected countries. As with any new vaccine, supply will be limited at first and will increase over time as manufacturing capacity ramps up to the level required.

As volumes increase, costs per dose should decrease. Plans are already underway to boost production, including through technology transfer, so that every child at risk will one day have the opportunity to be immunized against this killer disease.

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“We must not lose sight of the need to accelerate access to this and future malaria vaccines, and to make the necessary investments in malaria control and immunization services, as well as in research and development.

“Effective malaria and immunization programs are both key to the successful delivery of a malaria vaccine and contribute to stronger health systems overall,” Dr Ashley Birkett, Global Head of Malaria Vaccines and Biologics at PATH, said.

UNICEF supports the regional diversification of vaccine production and encourages GSK and other pipeline manufacturers to consider partnering with companies in Africa as part of this effort. (NAN)

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Senior Kenyan Election Officials Disown Results of Presidential Election

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The planned announcement of the Kenyan presidential election results on Monday descended into chaotic scenes after the deputy chairperson of the election commission and three other commissioners disowned the presidential election results.

“We are not able to take ownership of the results that will be announced,’’ Juliana Cherera, the deputy chairperson of the electoral commission told a media briefing at a different venue from where the announcement was to be made.

Diplomats and international election observers were whisked out of the tallying hall where the chairman of the electoral commission was preparing to announce the presidential results.

Meanwhile, Deputy President, William Ruto, appears to be leading a tight presidential race against opposition leader, Raila Odinga, on Monday as Kenyans awaited final results of the election held nearly a week ago.

However, Kenya has a history of post-poll violence and slow progress by the electoral commission in tallying Tuesday’s vote has fed fears that the election will be disputed, leading to bloody scenes like those that followed presidential polls in 2007 and 2017. (NAN)

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Severe Drought Displaces More Than 1m Somalis – UN

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The number of drought-related displacements has surpassed one million to hit 1,002,796 people in Somalia since January 2021, the United Nations (UN) humanitarian agency said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said some 83,518 people were displaced in July by drought, a 26 per cent decrease compared to the previous month.

The UN agency on June 24 appealed for 993.

3 million U.S. dollars to provide live-saving and life-sustaining assistance to prevent famine and respond to the drought in Somalia by December.

The OCHA said the impact of the drought and increasing economic pressures are deepening the severity of needs and driving the country to the brink of famine. (Xinhua/NAN)

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