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Pandemic, essential health services to dominate WHO South-East Asia Region meet

Pandemic, essential health services to dominate WHO South-East Asia Region meet

first_img News Public Health Related Posts Read Article 73rd Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East AsiaCOVID-19public healthSustainable development goalsUniversal Health Coverage Pandemic, essential health services to dominate WHO South-East Asia Region meet Phoenix Business Consulting invests in telehealth platform Healpha Share Comments (0) By EH News Bureau on September 7, 2020 WHO tri-regional policy dialogue seeks solutions to challenges facing international mobility of health professionals MaxiVision Eye Hospitals launches “Mucormycosis Early Detection Centre” Scheduled for September 9-10, some countries will be felicitated for recent public health achievements as wellHealth Ministers from the 11 member countries of the WHO South East Asia Region will discuss measures to curtail the outbreak, ways to maintain essential health services and transition to the ‘new normal’ during the upcoming 73rd Regional Committee Session of WHO South-East Asia on September 9-10.The mid-term review of progress, challenges, capacities and opportunities for the decade of health workforce strengthening 2015-2024; and annual report on monitoring progress on universal health coverage and health related Sustainable Development Goals, are among the agenda of the session. Some countries will be felicitated for recent public health achievements as well.Being held virtually for the first time and hosted by Thailand, the meet will see participation from WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, health ministers and senior health officials of the 11 member countries of the Region, UN agencies, partners, donors and civil society representatives.India, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste are the 11 member countries of the WHO South-East Asia Region The missing informal workers in India’s vaccine story Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals releases first “Comprehensive Textbook of COVID-19” Heartfulness group of organisations launches ‘Healthcare by Heartfulness’ COVID care app Menopause to become the next game-changer in global femtech solutions industry by 2025 Add Commentlast_img read more

Angela Merkel’s latest migration headache

Angela Merkel’s latest migration headache

first_imgAt the time, Merkel and her Christian Democrats called for tougher laws governing the process, including a move to designate three North African countries — Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria — “safe countries of origin,” meaning Germany could more easily reject asylum applications from these countries as without merit. A law to this effect had passed the lower house of Germany’s parliament earlier in 2016, but was rejected by the upper house of parliament, where the Greens have proportionally higher representation.‘Difficulty in details’Though deportations are carried out by each of Germany’s individual states (or Bundesländer), the federal government has a strong voice in shaping policy.Peter Altmaier told Bild that asylum seekers who have committed crimes should be deported “particularly quickly” | John MacDougall/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Greens’ Amtsberg said it’s “currently very difficult to mediate” on the issue because the Greens are directly at odds with the other three parties over deporting criminal offenders to Afghanistan — a move on their part she says is more about politics than good policy.“Their foreign policy is motivated by internal politics,” she said. “And in our opinion that’s wrong.”And in his Friday interview with Bild, the CDU’s Altmaier acknowledged that it will be difficult for the four would-be coalition partners to find agreement on the issue of deportations.“In principle we agree: No one wants to change the fundamental right to asylum,” Altmaier said. “But in the details, it will be difficult.” New figures published by the German government last week indicated that 158,000 people denied asylum were still living in Germany. About 118,000 had received a delay (or a Duldung) on deportation notices for reasons such as illness or political instability back home — but 28,000 denied asylum seekers are counted in the new stats as potential “enforced deportations.”Critics, led by the Greens, argue that Afghanistan isn’t safe enough for the government to send even criminal offenders back: Greens leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt called the practice “irresponsible,” saying Afghanistan “will always be unsafe.”German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, speaks with the co-leaders of the Germany Greens Party Cem Özdemir, second left, and Katrin Goering-Eckardt, second right, and Wolfgang Kubicki, left, FDP’s vice chairman in Berlin on October 20, 2017 | Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty ImagesMembers of Merkel’s government, meanwhile, have called for increased deportations, under pressure from their Bavarian sister party the CSU and from the rhetoric of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Peter Altmaier, who serves as Merkel’s chief of staff and acting finance minister, indicated Friday that the CDU intends to “intensify” its efforts to deport those rejected for asylum. The Free Democrats also support a tougher line.Migrants and true crimesThe pressure on Merkel’s government to speed up deportations has been fueled by attention to the issue in German media — including some stories that experts and politicians say are overhyped.Last week, German tabloid Bild printed a series of articles alleging the German government had lost track of 30,000 rejected asylum seekers. The newspaper urged its readers to call on Merkel and the German government to deal with the issue — and said it received more than 20,000 responses calling for the immediate deportation of all denied asylum seekers.Fact-checkers have challenged the premise of the Bild piece, saying the numbers they cite include more than just asylum seekers; the figure can also include tourists on expired visas, for example. And politicians call it a stunt to influence the current political climate: Luise Amtsberg, the Greens’ spokeswoman on refugee issues, said Bild is “knowingly creating a false picture” and “trying to block and impair the coalition talks.” While there’s no shortage of policy disagreements between the three parties, from defense spending to agricultural policy, the differences between the Greens and the two center-right parties on migration may be unbridgeable.“The question of whether it’s going to be possible to form a government remains wide open,” Alexander Dobrindt, a negotiator for the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), said on Saturday.New election?If they don’t find a solution in the coming days, Germany could be headed for a new election. That’s because the Greens have scheduled a party congress for November 25 to vote on whether to push forward with formal coalition talks. If the preliminary talks don’t result in substantial progress, a vote may not even be necessary.Much of the debate on migrants has focused on setting a formal cap and the conditions for reuniting families. The divide between the parties isn’t just about letting new refugees in, however. What could turn out to be an even bigger problem surrounds the question of sending people back.“In principle we agree: No one wants to change the fundamental right to asylum. But in the details, it will be difficult” — Peter Altmaier, Angela Merkel’s chief of staffIn late October, a plane carrying 14 denied asylum seekers left Leipzig for Afghanistan. Berlin suspended the flights earlier this year after a massive truck bomb in Kabul killed more than 150 people in May, but in September the government resumed the practice. Still, Bild’s campaign is “of course fueling this narrative of loss of control, that the state doesn’t control what’s going on,” said Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin. “That’s very explosive for any government.”In response to the articles, Altmaier told Bild that asylum seekers who have committed crimes should be deported “particularly quickly.” (Bild is published by Axel Springer, co-owner of POLITICO Europe.)In addition, a number of high-profile crimes this year committed by denied asylum seekers give further ammunition to those hoping for more and faster deportations. In Berlin, a 60-year-old woman was found murdered in the city’s Tiergarten park — a crime for which authorities later arrested an 18-year-old man from Chechnya. The man should have been deported the previous year, local media reported at the time, but he was not deported because he was a minor and was serving time for theft. Shortly thereafter, a 34-year-old rejected asylum seeker from Nigeria was arrested for sexually assaulting a female jogger in the Bavarian city of Rosenheim.“It’s really in light of the influx of refugees from 2015 that the German tendency to strengthen deportations and so on became much stronger” — Stephan Dünnwald, Bavarian Refugee CouncilThe debate over the government’s responsibility to deport rejected asylum seekers isn’t new. Since the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015, Merkel has been under pressure to tighten existing laws governing migration into the country. Talk of speeding up deportations further intensified after a December 2016 terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market killed 12 people and injured 53 others.“It’s really in light of the influx of refugees from 2015 that the German tendency to strengthen deportations and so on became much stronger,” said Stephan Dünnwald, who works for the Bavarian Refugee Council. “And it became much more popular to talk about it.”center_img BERLIN — Try as she might, Angela Merkel can’t escape the refugee crisis.The migration question, which loomed large in Germany’s fall election, now threatens to dash her efforts to form a new government.Germany’s future course on refugees quickly emerged as one of the most contentious in ongoing exploratory coalition talks between Merkel’s conservatives, the liberal Free Democrats and the Greens. Last week, a top conservative negotiator even accused the Greens, who advocate less stringent asylum and refugee policies, of trying “to provoke the collapse” of the talks over the issue. Also On POLITICO Martin Schulz calls for party reforms after election defeat By Judith Mischke Germany’s would-be governing parties stress ties with France By Janosch Delcker Gloves off in fight for German finance ministry By Janosch Delcker and Florian Ederlast_img read more

EPA calls for Keysor site cleanup

EPA calls for Keysor site cleanup

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsThe Keysor facility in Saugus manufactured polyvinyl chloride used in making record albums and other plastics from 1958 to 2003. The EPA classifies vinyl chloride, a gas used in making PVCs, as a cancer-causing substance. Keysor’s attorneys could not be reached Wednesday for comment. EPA investigators said Keysor illegally stored, handled and burned hazardous waste at the site, falsified emissions-monitoring reports and altered gauges that measured workers’ exposure to the chemicals to disguise safety breaches. The EPA began its site investigation in June 2005, sank five groundwater monitoring wells and collected soil samples from 15 areas on the property. The assessment report issued today shows hazardous volatile organic compounds remain in the soil and the water. Contaminants include lead compounds, solvents and vinyl chloride that can cause cancer, kidney and brain damage. Mitguard said chemicals released into the air can dissipate, and the groundwater would only be treated if it a source of drinking water. The report notes that the property sits over two local groundwater sources, which are tapped for drinking water. SANTA CLARITA – Cancer-causing chemicals still in the soil and groundwater at a former Saugus plastics plant make the property eligible for the federal Superfund cleanup program, the Environmental Protection Agency has found. In a report issued today, the agency recommends including the property, which is southeast of the junction of Bouquet Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads, on a priority list of hazardous sites that warrant cleanup by state or federal agencies. The Superfund was established by the federal government in 1980 to deal with the nation’s most polluted sites. “We now have a site that is eligible for further federal action,” said Matt Mitguard, project manager for the EPA’s Superfund. “We have to determine whether that’s a viable option or whether there are other regulators that would be more suitable to ensure the site is cleaned up, according to our findings.” Mitguard said the property’s current owner, Saugus Industrial Center LLC, granted access to investigators. The contamination was left by the prior owner, Keysor Century Corp., he said. “Since a release to groundwater has been demonstrated, the 23 drinking water wells within the 4-mile radius of the site may be threatened,” the report said. Local water purveyors have not yet been notified of the findings, but years ago the EPA alerted Valencia Water Co. about the problems at the Keysor site. At that time, the water company provided the EPA with water quality data from wells in the groundwater basin. The water utility’s wells in the area augment its supply of state water to serve local customers. Five water wells in the vicinity believed to be contaminated from operations at the Whittaker-Bermite site, which abuts Keysor, tested positive for perchlorate. They were shut down and monitoring wells were dug nearby. Perchlorate has been linked to thyroid problems. Water companies routinely test for the compounds found at the Keysor site, but none had been found in the local water supply as of September 2005, when Mitguard announced the agency’s plans. If the substances were found in the water supply, the company would be required to inform its customers and city and county agencies. While the contaminated Whittaker site is nearby, investigators found Keysor’s “contaminants are attributable, at least in part, to the Keysor site because (the compounds) have been detected at elevated concentrations in onsite soil samples … (and) vinyl chloride was used as a raw material in Keysor’s manufacturing process for approximately 45 years.” In August 2004, Keysor officials pleaded guilty to felony charges of violating environmental laws by belching cancer-causing chemicals into the air and sending toxic wastewater into the Santa Clara River over a number of years. Keysor paid $4.3 million in civil and criminal penalties and issued a public apology. Following a tip from a whistle-blower in 2000 and an investigation by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office changed the company with illegal disposal of waste, falsifying records, conspiracy and mail fraud during the period from 1997 to 2001. Keysor Century had halted operations and filed for bankruptcy in 2003. About three-quarters of the hilly 32-acre property was covered by grass and shrubs. Structures and processing areas were concentrated on eight acres. The fenced site is nestled in an industrial area near the Santa Clara River and its south fork. The EPA tries to involve stakeholders in the cleanup process, and in this case it might refer the site to a state agency as part of a federal-state partnership. “We no longer have a tax that supports the Superfund Trust Fund,” Mitguard said. “It has expired and has not been renewed by this administration. That’s what our cleanup vehicle has been.” Superfund pinpoints, evaluates and cleans up the country’s most severely contaminated sites. Sites are scored on a point system, with the worst offenders qualifying for inclusion on the National Priorities List. Sites on the list compete for funding. The results of the Keysor investigation have been slow in coming, in part because the program’s staff is stretched thin, with Mitguard and a handful of staff members overseeing a region that includes California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. About 100 hazardous sites are priority-listed in that territory and about 400 to 500 sites are in the pipeline along with Keysor. Decades before the city blossomed into its current incarnation as a highly desirable commuter hub of Los Angeles, companies sprawled around town manufactured and tested munitions, fireworks and plastics at a time when materials’ disposal was not as stringently regulated as it is now. The nearly 1,000-acre Whittaker-Bermite property lies on Keysor Century’s eastern boundary. Contaminants in the soil and groundwater remain from five decades of weapons manufacturing and testing. The state Department of Toxic Substances Control finished its investigation of the soil and is cleaning the first of several contaminated sectors. The groundwater investigation is in the final stages. [email protected] (661) 257-5255160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more