Manila, Sep 20 (AP/UNB) — Philippine health officials on Friday confirmed a second case of polio in a 5-year-old child a day after declaring the country's first outbreak in nearly two decades, and announced plans for a massive immunization program.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said authorities confirmed the new case in a boy from Laguna province south of Manila after samples were found positive for the polio virus.
Health officials declared a new outbreak Thursday after confirming the disease in a 3-year-old girl in southern Lanao del Sur province. They said the polio virus has also been detected in sewage in Manila and in waterways in the southern Davao region, prompting plans for an immunization drive starting next month that is likely to include tens of thousands of children under age 5.
At least 95% of children that age need to be vaccinated to halt the spread of polio in the Philippines, according to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund, which expressed deep concern over the disease's reemergence in the country and pledged to support the government in immunizing children and strengthening surveillance.
The boy afflicted with polio in Laguna experienced the onset of paralysis late last month but has been discharged from a hospital, is able to walk and is being closely monitored for residual symptoms, health officials said.
Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which mainly afflicts young children. There is no known cure and polio can only be prevented by immunization, according to WHO.
"We continue to urge parents and caregivers of children below five years old, health workers, and local chief executives to take part in the synchronized polio vaccination to be scheduled in their communities," said Duque, who administered polio vaccine to a child a suburban Quezon city.
The government's immunization programs were marred in 2017 by a dengue fever vaccine made by French drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur which some Philippine officials linked to the deaths of at least three children. Duque and other Philippine health officials say many parents became scared about immunizations but they have worked to restore public trust in vaccines since then.
The government halted the dengue immunization drive after Sanofi said a study showed the vaccine may increase the risk of severe dengue infections. More than 830,000 children received the Dengvaxia vaccine under the campaign, which was launched in 2016 and halted in 2017.
Sanofi officials said the Dengvaxia vaccine was safe and would reduce dengue infections if the vaccination drive continued.
Tokyo, Sep 17 (AP/UNB) — The president of the Asia Development Bank, Takehiko Nakao, plans to step down early next year, the regional lender said Tuesday.
Japan has usually headed the ADB as a top donor. Finance Minister Taro Aso said in a statement that Tokyo would soon nominate a "high-caliber candidate" as Nakao's successor.
Aso said the government planned to recommend Masatsugu Asakawa, a former vice finance minister, as Tokyo's choice as "best qualified" for the job.
Nakao, 63, will leave on Jan. 16, 2020. He took the ADB post in 2013 when his predecessor Haruhiko Kuroda was named Bank of Japan governor. He was re-elected to a second five-year term in 2016.
He said he was leaving to make way for someone with "fresh ideas."
Asakawa, 61, was Japan's top currency official for four years before becoming a government adviser in July.
The Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei cited officials expressing concern China might challenge Tokyo's hold over the Manila, Philippines-based bank, which it has headed since its 1966 founding.
The bank said in a statement that "The election for the new president will be in accordance with the open, transparent and merit-based procedure."
Geneva, Sep 17 (AP/UNB) — Myanmar's envoy to the top U.N. human rights body says his country rejects any move to bring the issue of alleged rights violations against ethnic Rohingya Muslims to an international legal forum.
Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun insisted Myanmar's government will "never tolerate any violation of human rights to anyone" and is "capable of addressing the issue of accountability."
He was responding Tuesday to a report presented a day earlier by a special U.N. fact-finding mission that called for Myanmar to be held responsible for alleged genocide against the Rohingya.
The report chronicled human rights violations by security forces and said counterinsurgency operations against Rohingya in 2017 included "genocidal acts." It said the operations killed thousands of people and caused more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.
Kabul, Sep 17 (AP/UNB) — A suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted a campaign rally by President Ashraf Ghani in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 24 people and wounding 31, officials said. Ghani was present at the venue but was unharmed, according to his campaign chief.
Just hours later, an explosion struck near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul but details on that blast were not immediately known.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The violence comes as Afghanistan faces presidential elections on Sept. 28. The Taliban have warned that polling stations and election campaigns would be targeted.
In Tuesday's suicide attack, the bomber rammed his motorcycle packed with explosives into the entrance of the venue where Ghani was campaigning on the outskirts of the city of Charakar in northern Parwan province.
There were many women and children among the casualties, said Dr. Qasim Sangin, a local official.
Wahida Shahkar, spokeswoman for Parwan's governor, said the rally had just begun when the explosion occurred.
Firdaus Faramarz, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said there was no immediate information about casualties in the Kabul blast, which took place near Massood Square, a deeply congested intersection in the center of Kabul. NATO and U.S. compounds are located nearby as are several Afghan government ministries.
Campaigning for the Afghan elections resumed last week after President Donald Trump declared that the U.S.-Taliban talks which have been going on for months in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar are over.
Most presidential candidates had suspended their campaigns while negotiations were taking place and as the U.S. peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, said a deal was all but signed.
Trump's tweets at the beginning of September declaring the deal and the talks were "dead" launched the war-battered nation on an election campaign.
Ghani, who had been sidelined during much of the talks between Khalilzad and the Taliban, resumed campaigning immediately and had been steadfast in his demand that presidential polls should take place.
Khalilzad and some of Ghani's rivals, however had talked of establishing an interim administration to run the country while a peace deal was implemented.
In the aftermath of the scrapped talks, Afghans braced for what many expected to be an increase in violence.
The Taliban have opposed the elections and have refused to meet with representatives of Ghani's government for talks. They have also refused to agree to a cease-fire.
But it was two attacks in Kabul in recent weeks that caused Trump to halt the negotiations with the Taliban, including one that killed two NATO soldiers, one of whom was an American. Another U.S. soldier died in combat in Afghanistan on Monday.
Seattle, Sept 17 (AP/UNB) — Bill and Melinda Gates aren't backing down from honoring India Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite concerns about human rights abuses in the disputed Kashmir region.
A dozen people, some wearing "Free Kashmir" T-shirts, with the Justice For All coalition delivered 100,000 petition signatures to the Gates Foundation's Seattle headquarters on Monday, asking the world's largest private nonprofit not to honor Modi's Swachh Bharat Mission, a sanitation initiative that improved access to toilets.
Javed Sikander, a demonstrator in Seattle who said he is a former Microsoft employee, spoke of his admiration for the Microsoft co-founder, calling Bill Gates and his namesake foundation an inspiration.
"That is all the more reason we're so disappointed that the foundation would honor a person who is clearly committing human rights violations in India," Sikander said.
Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government presented an order in Parliament on Aug. 5 revoking the autonomy of India's only Muslim-majority state. It has imposed tighter controls on India's side of Kashmir, including limiting internet access, mobile and landline phones and cable TV in the disputed region home to 12.5 million people.
The Gates Foundation in a statement said it respects the petitioners' views, but Modi will receive its annual Goalkeepers Global Goals Award for providing 500 million people in India safer sanitation.
"We work on the specific issues where we believe we can have the greatest impact for the world's poorest," the Gates Foundation statement said.
The Gates Foundation's annual event focusing on global inequality on September 24 and 25 coincides with the UN General Assembly gathering and has drawn big-name politicians and celebrities, from Barack Obama to Ed Sheeran.
However, the Gates Foundation confirmed actors Jameela Jamil and Riz Ahmed have dropped out of their event. Jamil, who stars on the U.S. sitcom "The Good Place" hinted at the geopolitical tensions but declined to say specifics in a post on Twitter.
Modi will be in the U.S. next week to receive the foundation's award.
The prime minister will also attend a rally with President Donald Trump in Houston.
The White House said Trump will use the "Howdy, Modi! Shared Dreams, Bright Futures" event to "emphasize the strong ties between the people of the United States and India" and reaffirm the two countries' strategic partnership.