Maldives Foreign Minister dies

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has said that it was with great sadness that he learned of the passing away of Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla and that the Maldives has lost a great man. The President said Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla’s death was a national tragedy and paid tribute to Dr Samad’s services to the country. The Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla passed away today. The Maldives President’s Office said that Minister Abdul Samad passed away while being treated for kidney and heart disease, at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital.President Dr Mohamed Waheed has declared that the national flag be flown at half-mast for three days starting Sunday, 25 August 2013 till the end of Tuesday, 27August 2013. He died at the age of 67 and was survived by his wife and three children. Dr Samad was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs on 05th March 2012.A Book of condolences in memory of Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla will be placed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Bird flu UNsponsored conference draws up sixpoint action plan

“The international solidarity to confront these threats is clear,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Lee Jong-wook told the final session at his agency’s headquarters in Geneva, ahead of a donors’ conference in Beijing in January.”The urgency of acting now is felt by us all. Precise recommendations for action have emerged. Equally, precise offers of help and support have been put forward, by both developing and industrialized countries,” he added. “We have plans on paper, but we must now test them. Once a pandemic virus appears, it will be too late.”Although the current H5N1 virus, linked to widespread poultry outbreaks beginning nearly two years ago in Viet Nam and Thailand, has only infected 125 humans so far, killing 64 of them, health experts have warned that the virus could evolve into a global human influenza pandemic if it mutates into a form which could transmit easily among people. The so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920 is estimated to have killed from 20 million to 40 million people worldwide.The global plan seeks to control avian influenza in animals and simultaneously limit the threat of a human pandemic. Participants stressed the urgent need for financial and other resources for countries already affected as well as those most at risk from the virus, currently circulating in animals in Asia and parts of Europe. Key components are:Control at Source in Birds – improving veterinary services, emergency preparedness and control, including culling, vaccination and compensation, and helping countries to curb avian influenza in animals.Surveillance – strengthening early detection and rapid response systems for animal and human flu, and enhancing laboratory capacity.Rapid Containment – training for investigation of animal and human cases and clusters, and planning and testing of rapid containment activities.Pandemic Preparedness – building and testing national pandemic preparedness plans, conducting a global pandemic response exercise, enhancing health systems, training clinicians and health managers.Integrated Country Plans – developing national plans across all sectors to provide the basis for coordinated technical and financial support.Communications – factual and transparent communications, in particular risk communication, which is vital to support the other elements. “We must use all our assets and skills to the best effect, avoid duplication, share expertise, learn from our experiences and tune-up our ways of working,” Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza David Nabarro said. “We must focus on support for existing country mechanisms and provide integrated global joint plans, programmes and monitoring.”The meeting discussed financing needs for countries in the short-, medium- and long-term. According to an analysis presented by the World Bank, the needs of affected countries could reach $1 billion over the next three years. The overall figure would be substantially higher, since this does not include financing for human or animal vaccine development, for antiviral medicines or for compensating farmers for loss of income due to animals which have been culled.”Many countries where the disease is endemic have already taken action but they are overwhelmed by the situation and require urgent assistance,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Assistant Director-General Louise Fresco said. “Fighting the disease in animals is key to our success in limiting the threat of a human pandemic.”The meeting supported an urgent resource request for $35 million to fund high-priority actions by WHO, FAO, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) over the next six months. Additionally, surveillance, control and preparedness work in countries requires urgent funding.”Time is of the essence,” Margaret Chan, Representative of the WHO Director-General for Pandemic Influenza, said. “We must act now if we are to have the maximum possible opportunity to contain a pandemic.””The minute there are more regions or countries with animal outbreaks or human-to-human transmission, the funding needs will increase hugely,” the Vice-President of the World Bank for Operations and Head of the Bank’s Avian Flu Task force, James Adams, said. “Based on our work here in Geneva over the past three days, we now have a strong business plan to take to the donors’ financial conference in Beijing in mid-January.” read more

JLR commits extra £1 billion to UK suppliers and creates 300 new

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced that it will be spending an additional £1 billion with UK automotive suppliers over the next four years, thanks to continued global demand for the Range Rover Evoque. The company has already sold more than 60,000 Range Rover Evoque models globally.JLR’s £1 billion spend with the UK automotive supply chain over the next four years is in addition to the £2 billion supply contracts that it awarded to more than 40 UK suppliers in March 2011. These suppliers provide components, facilities and services to support the Range Rover Evoque production line at Halewood on Merseyside.In a separate announcement, the company confirmed that a new logistics facility in Ellesmere Port will open this summer to support the success of both the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Freelander 2 models, creating around 300 new jobs. JLR’s logistics provider, DHL, will manage the purpose-built site to enhance its existing operations at the Halewood plant. Details of how to apply for the new roles will be released by DHL in the near future.Dr Ralf Speth, CEO Jaguar Land Rover, said “Today’s announcements demonstrate JLR’s strong products and clear ambition for continued growth. The demand we have seen across the globe for the Range Rover Evoque means we are able to significantly increase what we spend with our suppliers, which is great news for the UK economy, and the thousands of jobs JLR supports in its supply chain.  Our commitment to the North West will also be enhanced with the new logistics facility and this will support the future success of both our Freelander 2 and Range Rover Evoque models.”Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Manufacturing is continuing to lead our economic recovery with automotive at the forefront of long-term growth opportunities. The major investment commitments made by global vehicle manufacturers to their UK plants and facilities are now beginning to create more jobs and stronger growth in the supply chain.”Paul Dyer, Managing Director of DHL Supply Chain’s automotive services in the UK and Ireland, commented: “We are delighted to continue our support for JLR’s ever-growing expansion plans. As the UK’s North West region is fast becoming a major supply chain hub for the automotive industry, this new facility will greatly enhance the next stage of the company’s development and future success.”In April 2012, JLR announced that more than 35,000 candidates had applied for 1,000 new jobs at its Halewood plant, which will support production of the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Freelander 2. This recruitment campaign will take the workforce at Halewood to almost 4,500 – trebling the number employed there compared to three years ago – as the plant moves to three shifts and 24 hour production.Find out more about recent investment announcements by UK automotive companies.Read about SMMT’s ongoing commitment to driving growth in the supply chain.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more