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Nepalese Rhino Numbers Rise by 21 Per Cent

Following the latest rhino count in Nepal, the country’s government has released very encouraging results. The good news is certainly a big boost to Nepal’s conservation efforts particularly at this difficult time, when the country is still dealing with the devastating earthquake which struck in April. The latest figures indicate Nepal’s rhino population has risen by 21 per cent during the last four years.

Nepal should be proud

According to the census, there are now 645 rhinos in the country compared with 534 when the last estimate took place in 2011. This means that there are now more rhinos in Nepal than at any other time since the 1950’s which is a huge achievement for the country and one that it should be rightly proud of. Anil Manandhar of WWF Nepal says that whilst these are difficult times for Nepal, it is stories such as these that offer a much needed ray of hope.

WWF provided support

WWF provided the financial and technical support that made the rhino count possible. Since the earthquake WWF staff in Nepal have been preoccupied with providing resources and support for the relief efforts and helping those that have been affected in the regions where they work. Nepal is also celebrating the fact that another 365 day period has passed without a single rhino being poached. This is the third time in five years that this has been achieved.

Hard work pays off

The results are a clear sign of both the commitment and hard work of the government of Nepal working side by side with WWF and other conservation groups and local communities to ensure that there is a bright future for this iconic species. The key to success has been modern patrolling technologies and constant vigilance because poaching threats are an ever present danger. Over the last year in Chitwan alone over 650 people have been arrested for involvement in wildlife crime.

The rhino count took place between April 11 and May 2 and was led by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Forests Department in collaboration with the National Trust for Nature and Conservation and WWF Nepal.

 

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World Vision Urges G7 Leaders To Help World’s Most Vulnerable Children

World Vision, the international development agency has urged UK Prime Minister David Cameron to ensure that the most vulnerable children in the world are not forgotten. World Vision issued the reminder to the British PM at the G7 summit held in Bavaria recently.

New development goals being developed

World Vision’s Geeta Bandi-Phillips who attended the summit as the agency’s External Relations Manager says this year is critical for children because the Millennium Development Goals are all set to expire with new goals for the post 2015 era still being developed. She adds that G7 meetings are an important opportunity for world leaders to show their support for an ambitious post 2015 framework.

“Children need to be in the forefront of these discussions; especially the children who missed out on the success of the MDGs are at risk of being forgotten again. They are the ones who bear the brunt of atrocities and consequences from civil conflicts and humanitarian crises,” adds Bandi-Phillips.

Assistance needs to be scaled up

The crisis in Syria has affected over 6.6 million children. Not only have those that have been affected lost their family, friends and homes, but many have had to witness or experience unspeakable violence. Things will continue to get worse unless world leaders agree to scale up assistance and deal with the roots of the problems.

G7 leaders need to be ambitious

Each year approximately 6.3 million children under the age of five die around the world, with the vast majority of those deaths occurring in the most fragile conflict prone places. Ms. Bandi-Philips says it is these children who suffer the most and should be seen as the priority. She adds that G7 leaders have an opportunity to enact goals designed to ensure no child dies from preventable causes and end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

“These leaders will sign up to new goals in September. They have already contributed to the success of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, and the number of children dying from preventable deaths. But they need to use their power to ensure that come September, the children who live and die invisible to the systems that could help them, are not ignored once again.” Ms. Bandi-Phillips said.

 

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World Vision Launches Emergency Appeal For Victims Of Nepal Earthquake

World Vision

Teams from World Vision have been working on the huge task of coordinating aid efforts to provide help to those who have been worst affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal. The organisation has sent a team to examine the extent of the damage which took them several hours by vehicle and then a half day trek despite the distance of less than 50 miles.

Lots of rubble

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, World Vision staffers described roads in Kathmandu as being blocked by rubble and debris as well as older toppled buildings. The more modern buildings in the city remained standing, however few were inhabited because people were afraid that the structures were safe. Despite the fact that Nepal sits in a region that is prone to earthquakes, many of the country’s villages and towns are simply not prepared to deal with an earthquake of this size, according to World Vision Nepal employee Matt Darvas.

“Villages in the areas affected near the epicentre are literally perched on the sides of large mountain faces and are made from simple stone and rock construction. Many of these villages are only accessible by 4WD and then foot, with some villages hours and even entire days walks away from main roads at the best of times. It will likely be helicopter access only for these remote villages,” Darvas said.

“Villages like this are routinely affected by landslides and it’s not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1000 people to be completely ‘buried’ by rock falls. We are slowly hearing reports that this may have been the case in villages in the Kaski and Gorkha regions. Delivery of medical assistance will also be a challenge. Health posts are often rudimentary in the village districts with limited services, and are not even always staffed by a registered doctor. Some villages rely on being able to access the health posts of surrounding villages. If they are ‘cut off’, it’s possible that entire villages are without medical assistance right now. ”Darvas added.

Emergency assistance

World Vision’s initial response to the plight of 50,000 people includes meeting their most pressing needs such as providing temporary shelter, blankets, sleep mats and first aid kits. The agency is also providing protection for children by setting up three child friendly spaces in order for kids to have a safe place to play.

Nepal is vulnerable

Experts say that Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to earthquakes. As such World Vision has been implementing earthquake preparedness training for communities in Nepal as well as running workshops for schools that seek to cut down on the risks from these natural disasters. The aid agency has launched an emergency appeal for to help the worst affected in Nepal and is calling on the general public to help with donations.

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Amnesty International Calls On UK Government To Do More For Saudi Arabian Blogger

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is urging the UK government to demand the freedom of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi. Unfortunately so far the government has responded with a muted response, saying only that they disagree with the public torture of Mr. Badawi. Many government ministers have condemned the public flogging of Mr. Badawi when the issue was put to them, however this was the least they could do given the UK has a policy of condemning torture and corporal punishment.

UK government must speak out

Amnesty International wants the government to more than speak out about the punishment, but also wants it to address the crime with which Mr. Badawi is charged and call for his freedom. David Cameron paid a visit to Saudi Arabia after the death of the Saudi king. Whilst Mr. Cameron praised the leadership of the late king he failed to make any mention of the many human rights abuses committed by the regime.

Public flogging

Mr. Badawi is a prisoner of conscience and was imprisoned simply for advocating for free speech. On the 9th of January he was lashed 50 times and continues to remain in jail awaiting his next set of lashes. The authorities in Saudi Arabia intend to publicly flog Mr. Badawi on a weekly basis until he has received 1000 lashes.

Freedom of speech

The reason for the sentence is Mr. Badawi’s conviction for creating the Saudi Arabian Liberals website which he saw as a platform for political and social debate. He was first arrested in June 2012 and was subsequently convicted of breaking Saudi Arabia’s strict technology laws and insulting Islam in May 2014. Mr. Badawi received a ten year prison sentence, 1,000 lashes and a fine that exceeded a quarter of a million US dollars.

The UK has the chance to make a difference

Despite public condemnation and an international outcry with over a million people signing the Amnesty International petition demanding that Saudi Arabia free Mr. Badawi, authorities in that country have refused to release him. The UK government must use its influence as a key trading partner and publicly speak out about the case and call for his release.

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Elderly At Greater Risk Of Lung And Bowel Cancer Says Cancer Research

Cancer Research UK

A new report supported by Cancer Research suggests that people aged 60 or over run an increased risk of being diagnosed with bowel or lung cancer during a hospital emergency compared to younger people. The report also suggests that the less affluent and women were also at a greater risk of an emergency lung cancer diagnosis. Researchers also found that single people which includes widowed, divorced or unmarried had a higher risk of emergency diagnosis of bowel cancer.

Emergency diagnosis has poor survival rates

The researchers examined twenty studies that included over half a million bowel or lung cancer cases where more than 200,000 cases were diagnosed following an emergency admission to hospital. In some cases patients were admitted after visiting a GP whilst others were admitted following a visit to the Accident & Emergency or Outpatient departments. The researchers were interested in understanding why so many people are emergency diagnosed, because such a diagnosis tends to have bad survival rates.

Few emergency lung cancer diagnosis patients survive more than a year

Approximately 25 per cent of bowel cancers and 40 per cent of lung cancers in England were emergency diagnosed during the time period between 2006 and 2010. Prior research suggests that just 11 per cent of lung cancer patients who were emergency diagnosed managed to survive for at least twelve months. This compares with 42 per cent of patients surviving at least a year when they were diagnosed following a GP referral. When it came to bowel cancer, the one year survival rate for emergency diagnosis was 49 per cent compared to 83 per cent for patients who had a GP referral.

“We need a better understanding of why some people are having their cancer diagnosis made via an emergency admission. This is important because we know that their survival chances are lower if people are diagnosed this way. This interesting review sheds some light on the factors that could be involved. We’re now funding further research on the subject and calling on the Government to ensure more cancers are diagnosed at the earliest possible stage because this can make such a difference for patients.” Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK said.

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World Vision Responds To Cyclone Pam

Cyclone Pam not only caused huge devastation in Vanuatu but made calls to world leaders by World Vision to prioritise children’s needs when dealing with disaster risks that much more important. The leaders had gathered to attend the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan where it was found that many proposals were put forward.

World Vision a first responder

Amongst the first responders to the crisis in Vanuatu were World Vision emergency shelter and logistics staff who made their way to the island of Tanna. The emergency responders were part of a global mobilisation of aid workers to provide assistance to the disaster stricken nation. The workers joined their country based colleagues who faced immense struggles in their response to the needs of the survivors in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Wind speeds of 270km per hour caused disruption to telecommunications, water and power services as well as damaging buildings leaving 3,300 displaced and killing 24 people.

We need to think about the children

Richard Rumsey, who is director of disaster risk reduction for World Vision says that the storm should remind us of the vital need to provide protection against natural disaster and in particular there needs to be special focus on children’s needs.

“The loss of life and destruction wrought by Cyclone Pam underscores a simple but significant point. The threats posed by disasters are on the rise, and it’s children who are disproportionately affected when disasters happen,” said Mr. Rumsey.

The lesson should not go to waste

Mr. Rumsey called on world leaders not to let the lessons learned from Cyclone Pam to go to waste. Instead he says they should be the inspiration to make sure that the unique needs of children are taken into account with planning for disaster risk reduction. Michael Wolfe who is country director for World Vision Vanuatu said much the same thing adding that the organisation was extremely worried about the impact of the cyclone on communities and especially children.

World Vision needs your donation

Initial surveys of Port Vila the capital of Vanuatu carried out by World Vision suggest the devastation is so bad that many aid agencies fear the worst for other remote islands that are inhabited on the 82 island chain. There have been 37 centres established to cater to those have been evacuated and World Vision has flown in aid supplies from Brisbane. The agency has launched an appeal for donations in the countries the agency operates in.

Image Courtesy of World Vision

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World Vision Wants Global Leaders To Provide Support For Ebola Crisis

World Vision

World Vision is calling on world leaders that attended the European Union High-level Conference on Ebola to provide increased levels of support for West African children. New data suggests that in Sierra Leone alone over 8,000 children have been left orphaned. Whilst the crisis has subsided some what over the last few months the impact of the outbreak is still being felt acutely in West Africa.

Children are being badly affected by Ebola

A recent report issued by the government of Sierra Leone suggests that over 16,500 children have been directly impacted by the outbreak of Ebola since the disease was first detected in Guinea back in December 2013. A report from the World Bank goes on to add that nearly fifty per cent of those children have either lost one or both parents.

“Ebola has taken a huge toll on children’s survival and health in Sierra Leone and across the West Africa region. Before the outbreak, Sierra Leone already had the highest maternal mortality ratio and the second highest child mortality rate in the world and the country’s health system was among the weakest in the world, with acute shortages of qualified health care professionals, essential drugs and equipment. This situation has worsened in the past year and the Brussels conference is an opportunity for world leaders to commit further support for this incredibly challenged generation of young people,” says Leslie Scott, Director of World Vision Sierra Leone.

Number of Ebola orphans increasing

The latest statistics offered by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health show that over 700 kids have been diagnosed with the disease which caused approximately 450 fatalities. All over West Africa, authorities are reporting an increase in the number of orphans that are aged under 5. Officials in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone reckon that as many as 25,900 children are in dire in need of help.

World Vision providing support

World Vision is offering support to temporary community care centres for children who have been orphaned and are being placed with extended families. World Vision has been engaged in development and relief programmes in Sierra Leone for nearly two decades and is working with the government to train teachers with the skills necessary to prepare them for schools to be re-opened later this month.

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Cancer Awareness Campaigns Are Working

According to the latest research published in the British Journal of Cancer, awareness campaigns have improved the general public’s knowledge of bowel and lung cancer symptoms. The increased knowledge has directly resulted in a rise in the number of people seeking doctor’s advice.

It has been more than six years since the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) was established to help improve cancer survival rates in the United Kingdom. The latest research suggests that the “Be Clear on Cancer” campaign produced:

  • An increase of 27 to 42 per cent of people who understood that blood in their poo could be a symptom of bowel cancer.
  • The number of people who understood that having a hoarse throat or a cough could possibly signal lung cancer increased from 41 to 50 per cent.
  • Doctor’s visits for bowel cancer symptoms increased by 29 per cent.
  • Doctor’s visits for lung cancer symptoms rose by 63 per cent.

Earlier breast cancer diagnosis could delay death

The results from this national campaign to raise awareness for bowel and lung cancer were just one of the topics that were included in this issue of the British Journal of Cancer. Other researchers were studying the mortality rate from breast cancer in elderly women which may have been delayed had they had their disease diagnosed at an earlier stage. What they found was that approximately 280 deaths from breast cancer could have been delayed by over five years for women aged over 75 in the UK if they were diagnosed earlier.

Melanoma prognosis could be improved

Researchers also studied the number of deaths from melanoma that could have been delayed had the diagnosis stage been the same for both women and men and if there was no difference between income groups. The study results shows that 215 deaths from melanoma could have been delayed in the UK by at least five years if men and women from all economic groups had the same amount of success in diagnosing the disease. The complete publication of all the papers focused on early cancer diagnosis came in advance of an Early Diagnosis Summit that will be held soon.

Image Courtesy of Cancer Research UK

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One In Two People In The UK To Develop Cancer

Cancer Research UK is forecasting that one in two people in the UK will develop cancer at some point in their lives. The research was recently published in the British Journal of Cancer and the new data highlights the urgent need to boost the NHS cancer services so it has the ability to cope with a population that is both growing and ageing. This means there is looming demand for improved diagnostics, earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Survival rates have doubled

Largely as a result of research, cancer survival rates have doubled in the UK over the last 40 years and nearly 50 per cent of patients now survive the disease for more than a decade. However as a larger number of people benefit from longer life expectancy and better healthcare, it is expected that the number of cancer cases will inevitably increase. The new research estimates that lifetime risk will now be 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer.

Age the biggest risk factor

The latest estimate replaces a previous one which was calculated using a different technique and predicted more than 1 in 3 would develop cancer at some point in their lives. The biggest risk factor for most cancers is age and the increase in risk is largely because people are simply living longer when cancer becomes more common.

According to the author of the study Professor Peter Sasieni of Queen Mary University of London:

“Cancer is primarily a disease of old age, with more than 60 per cent of all cases diagnosed in people aged over 65. If people live long enough then most will get cancer at some point. But there’s a lot we can do to make it less likely – like giving up smoking, being more active, drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight. If we want to reduce the risk of developing the disease we must redouble our efforts and take action now to better prevent the disease for future generations.”

The NHS needs to plan for the future

Harpal Kumar who is the chief executive of Cancer Research adds that because we are living longer we are more likely to develop a number of diseases that are simply age related. This means there is a need to plan for the future to ensure that the NHS is able to cope. If the NHS fails to act and invest now, there will be a future crisis with outcomes from cancer regressing.

Image Courtesy of Cancer Research

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Amnesty International Urges British Government To Demand Raif Badawi’s Freedom

Raif Badawi the blogger from Saudi Arabia continues to face as long as a decade in prison and as many a 950 lashes simply for calling for free speech. So far the British government has failed to ask for Mr. Badawi’s freedom. We need to step up and demand that our government speak on Mr. Badawi’s behalf as he has effectively been silenced.

British government response has been muted

Amnesty International is pressuring the British government to call for Mr. Badawi’s release but has so far been met with a muted response. The government has only said that they disagree with Mr. Badawi’s public torture. The government is well aware of the case. David Cameron, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond amongst other government ministers have all condemned the public flogging of Mr. Badawi when the issue was put to them.

David Cameron visited Saudi Arabia and said nothing

This however is far from difficult because the UK as a policy condemns torture and corporal punishment. It needs to go further and Amnesty International is calling on the UK government to speak out not just about the punishment, but the so called “crime” with which Mr. Badawi is charged and call for his freedom. Recently David Cameron undertook a state visit to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences following the death of the country’s king, King Abdullah. Whilst the Prime Minister praised the late king he failed to make any statement on the many human rights abuses committed by the king’s government.

1000 lashes is the punishment

Mr. Badawi is a prisoner of conscience and was imprisoned simply for calling for free speech. He was lashed in public 50 times at the beginning of January and remains in prison awaiting the next set of 50 lashes. The authorities in Saudi Arabia intend to flog him once a week after every Friday prayers until he has been lashed a total of 1,000 times.

Calling for free speech is a crime

Mr. Badawi’s sentence is the result of his website ‘Saudi Arabian Liberals’ which he created to serve as a forum for both social and political debate. Mr. Badawi was arrested in June 2012 and was found guilty of breaking Saudi Arabian laws and insulting Islamic figures by creating the online forum. He was sentenced to a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal (over a quarter of a million US dollars), 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison and has been banned from using any kind of media or travelling until 2034.

Over a million people have signed a petition

As a result of public condemnation and international outcry, over a million people have now signed Amnesty Internationals petition urging Saudi Arabia to free Mr. Badawi. So far however the authorities in Saudi Arabia have refused to release him and as a result Amnesty International is urging the UK government to apply more pressure on the Saudi authorities and secure his release.

Image courtesy of Amnesty International

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