More than $7.4 million donated to help families in NZ shooting

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A handout image obtained from Dubai's Public Diplomacy Office on March 23, 2019 shows the Gulf emirate's Burj Khalifa tower lit the previous night with an image of New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in apprciation of her solidarity position with her country's Muslim community following the March 15 massacre of 50 worshippers in a mosque in Christchurch by an Australian white supremacist. (AFP)
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, second right, waves as she leaves Friday prayers at Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP)
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New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she departs following a gathering for congregational Friday prayers and two minutes of silence for victims of the twin mosque massacre, at Hagley Park in Christchurch on March 22, 2109. (AFP)
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New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22, 2019. (Reuters)
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, meets muslim men following Friday prayers at Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP)
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (C) meets with Muslim community leaders after the Parliament session in Wellington on March 19, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019
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More than $7.4 million donated to help families in NZ shooting

  • Since then, New Zealanders have responded with an outpouring of support for the country’s small Muslim community

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: More than NZ$10.8 million ($7.4 million) in public donations has been received so far to help families of the 50 people killed in New Zealand’s mosque shootings, according to a pair of fund-raising websites.
A support fund on New Zealand site GiveaLittle.co.nz had received NZ$8,271,847 from more than 91,000 donors as of Sunday, while LaunchGood.com, a global crowdfunding platform focused on Muslims, had netted NZ$2,546,126 from over 40,000 donors.
The slaughter of 50 people at Friday prayers in two Christchurch mosques on March 15 shocked the normally laid-back country and prompted global horror, heightened by the gunman’s cold-blooded livestreaming of the massacre.
Since then, New Zealanders have responded with an outpouring of support for the country’s small Muslim community.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week that the country would cover the costs of burying the 50 victims as well as “repatriation costs for any family members who would like to move their loved ones away from New Zealand.”
The attack also left dozens of people injured, some critically.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, was arrested within minutes of the massacre and has been charged with murder.


Malawi becomes 1st nation to immunize kids against malaria

A Health Surveilance Assistant prepares to give a dose of the Malaria Vaccinne into the first recipient on April 23, 2019 at Mitundu Community hospital in Malawi's capital district of Lilongwe on the first day of the Malaria vaccine implementation pilot programme in Malawi aiming to immunise 120,000 children aged two years and under to assess the effectiveness of the pilot vaccine and whether the delivery process is feasible. (AFP)
Updated 20 min 7 sec ago
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Malawi becomes 1st nation to immunize kids against malaria

  • The vaccine, known as Mosquirix, was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015

LONDON: The World Health Organization says Malawi has become the first country to begin immunizing children against malaria, using the only licensed vaccine to protect against the mosquito-spread disease.
Although the vaccine only protects about one-third of children who are immunized, those who get the shots are likely to have less severe cases of malaria. The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, the majority of them children under 5 in Africa.
“It’s an imperfect vaccine but it still has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives,” said Alister Craig, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who is not linked to WHO or vaccine. Craig said immunizing the most vulnerable children during peak malaria seasons could spare many thousands from falling ill or even dying.
The vaccine, known as Mosquirix, was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015. A previous trial showed the vaccine was about 30% effective in children who got four doses, but that protection waned over time. Reported side effects include pain, fever and convulsions.
Pedro Alonso, director of WHO’s malaria program, said similar vaccination programs would begin in the coming weeks in Kenya and Ghana, with the aim of reaching about 360,000 children per year across the three countries.
Alonso called the vaccination rollout a “historical moment,” noting that it was significantly more difficult to design a vaccine against a parasite as opposed to a bacterium or virus.
He acknowledged the vaccine was flawed but said the world could not afford to wait for a better option. “We don’t know how long it will take to develop the next-generation vaccine,” he said. “It may be many, many years away.”
In the meantime, he said, the stalled progress against malaria demanded new tools now. Resistance is growing to medicines that treat the disease, while mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to insecticides. In addition, funding for malaria efforts has plateaued in recent years.
It took GSK and partners more than 30 years to develop the vaccine, at a cost of around $1 billion. GSK is donating up to 10 million vaccine doses in the current vaccination initiatives. A company spokesman said GSK is working with partners to secure funding for potentially broader vaccination programs.
Some experts warned the vaccination programs should not divert limited public health funds from inexpensive and proven tools to curb malaria such as bed nets and insecticides.
“This is a bold thing to do, but it’s not a silver bullet,” said Thomas Churcher, a malaria expert at Imperial College London. “As long as using the vaccine doesn’t interfere with other efforts, like the urgent need for new insecticides, it is a good thing to do.”
Craig said one of health officials’ biggest challenges could be convincing parents to bring their children for repeated doses of a vaccine that only protects about a third of children for a limited amount of time.
More commonly used vaccines, like those for polio and measles, work more than 90 percent of the time.
“This malaria vaccine is going to save many lives, even if it is not as good as we would like,” Craig said. “But I hope this will kick-start other research efforts so that the story doesn’t end here.”