Public bicycle system as a value-added destination

first_imgOne of the European trends that is rapidly spreading in European cities is the use of public bicycle systems, all under the motto of healthy living and raising environmental awareness of citizens. Ecological public transport is becoming more and more a reality, and not just an upcoming trend, and citizens are increasingly thinking green, and thus choosing tourist destinations for their vacation that are environmentally conscious.It is a system based on an economically and environmentally sustainable mobility system that helps reduce traffic congestion, solve parking problems, contribute to environmental protection, enrich the tourist offer, position the destination as a desirable cycling destination, and affect extended seasons. The public bicycle system is slowly but surely conquering Croatia. The company Sustav javnih bicikala doo ( NextBike Croatia ) started operating in 2013, and by the end of June 2016 it will operate in 13 Croatian cities with a tendency to further expand in Croatia and the region. What is most interesting to me as well as the motive for this story is that the system of public bicycles in the destination provides benefits for guests and enriches the additional offer in the destination. It was on this topic that I talked to the founder of NextBike Croatia Krešimir Dvorski.The idea for the NextBike system of public bicycles arose as a consequence of the problems that plague the citizens of all Croatian cities, Dvorski points out and adds “Crowds in trams, long waits at stations, high prices of fuel and public transport, parking, air pollution and the appearance of excess weight due to lack of time to take care of health. Also, the system of public bicycles in the destination provides benefits for guests and enriches the additional offer in the destination, positions the destination as a desirable cycling destination, and this has been recognized by the cities on the Adriatic coast as well as various other private renters that offer a system of public bicycles as their additional offer. ” Dvorski pointed outcompany NextBike Croatia is a licensed partner and exclusive representative of the German company Nextbike GmbH from Leipzig, which is present in more than 100 cities in 18 countries on 4 continents, making it the largest public bicycle system in the world. This year NextBike has experienced its expansion and is expanding from year to year, in how many cities are you currently present? Last year we started with two cities and ended the year with six cities using the public bike system. This year we are experiencing a real “boom” and by the end of June we are setting up a system of public bicycles in six more cities, as well as in Sarajevo. This is all the result of last year’s competitions and hard work when we went through literally the whole of Croatia and presented the benefits of the NextBike public bicycle system for citizens as well as for tourists. NextBike system of public bicycles is currently present in six cities (Zagreb, Sl.Brod, Makarska, Šibenik, Gospić, Karlovac) and by the end of June 2016 we will be in six more cities (Zadar, Lastovo, Brinje, Ivanić grad, Vukovar, Jastrebarsko) in Croatia as well as in Sarajevo. Currently, over 8.500 thousand users are registered in Croatia, and when we add more than 100 cities in 18 countries on 4 continents to a wide branch of cities that use the public bicycle system, we can certainly talk about a wide network. It is interesting that so far in Croatia, CO2 emissions have been reduced by as much as 80 tons, and a total of 130.000 leases have been realized. The system of public bicycles also directly benefits renters in family accommodation “We work well with accommodation providers, renters, hostels, camps and tourist boards. In Zagreb, we have cooperation with about 20 hostels and various renters to whom we offer bicycle rental for 45,00 kuna per day. Renters have an added service at no cost and generate additional income, while tourists have added value. Dvorski points outWhen we talk about the additional service for hosts in family accommodation, certainly how buying your own bikes requires an additional cost that is not negligible, and it is a question of return on investment. The public bicycle system just offers hosts an added service for their guests without any investment, and the realization that such a system exists in the destination can only raise the quality of the whole story. “The investment of buying a bike is not small, while on the other hand what will your bikes do when you have a public bike system in your destination. It is important for tourists that there is a bicycle rental service, while the renters are carefree, have no cost and still generate additional income. When a renter has a system of public bicycles at his disposal, he does not have to invest in his own warehouse, service, maintenance… when we do it for them. In addition to zero kuna, investments to renters receive 20 percent of earnings with each membership fee sold. Certainly earnings are not the primary interest but solely the added value to the accommodation service. So without any investment, renters have an added service. It is also a question of cost-effectiveness to buy their bikes, whether the renters who buy their bikes will have a real benefit or will remain as a cost.What are the reactions of tourists and is there a potential for integrating public bicycle systems through cycling tourism? “The system of public bicycles provides tourists with added value as well as easier movement around the destination. Also, the whole process is simple and transparent, and it is interesting for tourists that they can leave their rented bicycle at any station, and not necessarily at the starting one, which gives them a certain freedom of movement. Cyclotourism is not negligible and more and more cities are investing in this type of tourism as a supplement to the whole experience of the destination, because today tourism is no longer just the sun and the sea ” Dvorski concludedIt is interesting that the system of public bicycles, due to the wide European network, is known to tourists, which certainly makes the whole story easier. The public bike system is compatible with more than a hundred cities in the world which means if used by a guest from Germany, Poland or Hungary they can use it without registration because it is already in the system and they know the whole concept because they use it in their city. Honestly, in my opinion, the system of public bicycles should have every modern and urban city, and especially those cities whose primary focus is precisely on tourism. The public bicycle system brings to each destination the added value that tourists want and seek. In healthy competition and fighting for every guest, the public bike system is definitely one plus on the list when choosing a new holiday destination.last_img read more

The adult Špancirfest is over

first_imgYesterday’s concerts of Nena Belan in Villa Bedeković and Cold Beer in the Old Town ended the eighteenth edition of Špancirfest. The adult Varaždin Festival of Creativity has hosted more than 500 performers, 120 exhibitors and 55 concerts on a total of 6 stages in the past ten days, and the concert of the main star, the legendary Manu Cha, who filled the main stage of the festival on Tuesday, August 23, attracted the most attention.In addition to a rich music program, visitors on the last day, as well as the whole week, enjoyed the rich street program, Creatives in Uska Street, Creative Park and many other additional facilities that enriched this year’s Špancirfest.Yesterday’s concert by Neno Belan, accompanied by the extended Fiumens, ie the Mediterranean Orchestra, delighted the visitors of Villa Bedeković, while the main stage was set on fire by Siddharta and one and one of the most popular Croatian punk rock bands Hladno pivo. The metal band Russkaja performed on Kapucinski Square, and Žiga and bandists entertained the Royal Zone. In the former Synagogue, the artist Saša Živković opened his exhibition System Mandala 4.The street performances again this year attracted a lot of attention and numerous walkers who enjoyed various types of street art throughout the week. So yesterday was the most notable point Circus performed by the duo Cicro Pitanga, and this year’s Špancirfest certainly marked the theater-circus spectacle Mú, which is the largest street performance ever held in Croatia.The novelty of the eighteenth edition of the festival was the Royal Zone, Špancirfest this year expanded to Capuchin Square, and Špancirfest marked its coming of age with many other surprises for visitors.last_img read more

The Visitor Center of the Cultural Route “Frankopan Roads” was opened in Kraljevica

first_imgUnder the arcades of the Nova Kraljevica castle, and within the project of the cultural route ‘Roads of the Frankopans’, the Visitor Center Kraljevica was opened with a special ceremony.Cultural routes “Roads of the Frankopans” is a project of preserving the cultural heritage of seventeen Frankopan castles and castles and three sacred buildings. HRK 2,6 million was invested in the renovation of the Center in Kraljevica with funds from the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County and the European Union. The cultural and tourist route Frankopan Routes connects 17 Frankopan castles and castles of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County and 3 sacral buildings.It is part of a project launched by the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County with the aim of restoring and sustainable use of the cultural heritage of the famous Croatian Frankopan family. On behalf of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, the opening was attended by Deputy Prefect Marko Boras Mandić and heads Goran Petrc and Valerij Jurešić. “The Frankopan family lived in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County for five centuries and left numerous testimonies of their influence and power. It is this rich cultural heritage that has obliged us to preserve it and pass it on to new generations. I am sure that the Visitor Center Kraljevica will make a significant contribution to the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Kvarner area, but also give a new dimension to the tourist offer of the entire Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.”, Is the message of Deputy Boras Mandic.”The Kraljevica Visitor Center is just one stage of the project of the cultural route “Roads of Frankopan” where we aimed, through joint cooperation of tourism and the local community, to put the castle into operation so that it could enrich the lives of every resident of our county, but also every visitor”, Said the head of the Administrative Department for Sports, Culture and Technical Culture Valerij Jurešić, after which he thanked all those who gave their contribution to the project. “25 years ago, a group of enthusiasts and volunteers raised the issue of revitalizing the castle in Kraljevica. Thanks to the excellent cooperation with the County of Primorje-Gorski Kotar and the European Union, the project was realized”, Emphasized the Mayor of the City of Kraljevica Nada Turina Đurić after the welcoming words of welcome. At the same time, she explained how the project goes further and its next stage in the coming period will focus on landscaping the castle and parking spaces in front of the castle.After the opening, a tour of the Center was made, where the history of the Frankopan family, which is indispensable for the identity of the entire Croatian history, was presented to the audience with a rich costumed presentation and a detailed presentation. At the same time, the concept of the functioning of the visitor center is explained.In the future, the visitor and interpretation infrastructure of the Center will consist of a number of centers, the central one of which will be the Visitor Center Kraljevica. Its networking in the HERA project will enable the placement of the cultural route “Frankopan Roads” on the European map of cultural routes and thus certainly strengthen the tourist potential of our blue-green county.Explore the cultural routes of the Frankopan Routes here, and more about see at official websitelast_img read more

A tourist complex worth 75 million kuna opened on Korcula – Port 9

first_imgToday, the renovated complex of the tourist resort HTP Korčula dd was officially opened, which is now called Port 9 resort.With this, the island of Korcula has already become one of the most sought after destinations for guests from key emitting markets of Croatian tourism, so on Korcula we can expect an increase in the number of guests from Great Britain, Slovenia and France, as there is already great interest from domestic guests. from distant Asian countries.The investment worth 75 million kuna, Port 9 includes 180 accommodation units at the 4-star level, and Korcula brings a long-awaited development boost in the segment of high quality tourism, which with its accommodation facilities and offer allows full enjoyment of natural beauty and rich heritage of Marco Polo. “The big job is behind us, but also in front of us. I would like to congratulate and thank the entire project team, as well as our employees, who with their contribution enabled this project to be successfully completed. A large number of reservations says that we did a good job and that we can expect another great season” said Ivana Hatvalić, President of the Management Board of HTP Korčula dd Port 9 is designed to fully connect the tradition of Korcula with a modern approach to tourism. Thus, the four renovated buildings were given new names that bring to life interesting details from history. The knowledge and products of Croatian experts were used to the maximum in the renovation of the resort, and the project is, from idea to realization, the work of the Split architect Duje Kaliterna. “Congratulations to HTP Korčula and Prosperus FGS for deciding to raise the category of this facility to 4 stars. Congratulations to the City of Korcula, which is becoming a 4-star destination. This is the best way for Korcula, but also for our county. We are recognized as a county of top tourism, and this investment is an important contribution in this regard”, Said Nikola Dobroslavić, prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County.The Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, Ivo Bašić, pointed out that Croatia is positioned as a quality destination accessible to various market segments, in which the hotel sector plays a significant role.. “This project represents the development, innovation, raising the tourism of Korcula, but also the Dubrovnik-Neretva County to a higher level, and this is what we need to make Croatian tourism even more recognizable, high quality and more competitive on the world market.” The new tourist complex consists of five pavilions, a restaurant complex, reception and a series of facilities whose names symbolize the works and travels of Marco Polo from Korcula. The resort is dominated by facilities intended for families with children and those who want an active vacation in the sea and rich vegetation, all not far from the old town of Korcula.”Guests of the new Port 9 resort will surely enjoy the diverse offer of the resort and the city of Korcula. We expect a strong return of British guests to the island of Korcula, good traffic from Germany, France, Slovenia and Poland, but also many other countries. We are facing another very successful tourist season for which we have prepared well and are already recording record tourist traffic in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.” said Vladimir Bakic, director of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board.Port 9 is one of the largest investment projects of Prosperus FGS in tourism. Existing and new facilities in the season will employ more than 340 workers, and their opening, with additional new facilities, significantly contributes to the development of the entire destination.last_img read more

Exercise may slow brain aging by 10 years for older people

first_imgShare Exercise in older people is associated with a slower rate of decline in thinking skills that occurs with aging. People who reported light to no exercise experienced a decline equal to 10 more years of aging as compared to people who reported moderate to intense exercise, according to a population-based observational study published in the March 23, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.“The number of people over the age of 65 in the United States is on the rise, meaning the public health burden of thinking and memory problems will likely grow,” said study author Clinton B. Wright, MD, MS, of the University of Miami in Miami, Fla., and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our study showed that for older people, getting regular exercise may be protective, helping them keep their cognitive abilities longer.”For the study, researchers looked at data on 876 people enrolled in the Northern Manhattan Study who were asked how long and how often they exercised during the two weeks prior to that date. An average of seven years later, each person was given tests of memory and thinking skills and a brain MRI, and five years after that they took the memory and thinking tests again. LinkedIn Email Share on Facebookcenter_img Pinterest Share on Twitter Of the group, 90 percent reported light exercise or no exercise. Light exercise could include activities such as walking and yoga. They were placed in the low activity group. The remaining 10 percent reported moderate to high intensity exercise, which could include activities such as running, aerobics, or calisthenics. They were placed in the high activity group.When looking at people who had no signs of memory and thinking problems at the start of the study, researchers found that those reporting low activity levels showed a greater decline over five years compared to those with high activity levels on tests of how fast they could perform simple tasks and how many words they could remember from a list. The difference was equal to that of 10 years of aging. The difference also remained after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect brain health, such as smoking, alcohol use, high blood pressure and body mass index.“Physical activity is an attractive option to reduce the burden of cognitive impairment in public health because it is low cost and doesn’t interfere with medications,” said Wright. “Our results suggest that moderate to intense exercise may help older people delay aging of the brain, but more research from randomized clinical trials comparing exercise programs to more sedentary activity is needed to confirm these results.”last_img read more

Psychedelic drug use linked to reduced risk of opioid abuse and dependence, study finds

first_imgShare on Twitter The study, which was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, was based on data collected in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008 to 2013.PsyPost interviewed the study’s corresponding author, Vincent D. Pisano of Touro College. Read his responses below:PsyPost: Why were you interested in this topic?Pisano: Due to the ongoing opiate epidemic there is clearly a need for new treatments for substance use disorders. Both prior and recent controlled trials have shown some success of psychedelic-assisted therapy for substance use, PTSD, anxiety, and depressive disorders. Additionally, recent epidemiological research has indicated that even non-medical psychedelic use was associated with decreased psychological distress, domestic violence, psychoses, and suicidality.We wanted to build on the prior epidemiological research using the federal government’s data to see if there is an indication that non-medical psychedelic use is associated with reduced substance use disorders.What should the average person take away from your study?Among 40,000 respondents with a history of opioid use, those that had also used psychedelics were 27% less likely to have struggled with opiate abuse, and 40% less likely to have struggled with opiate dependence in the previous year when compared to those who had never used psychedelics.Our findings suggest that psychedelics may have some protective mechanism if opiate users have also used psychedelics, which challenges the current designation of psychedelics as illicit substances with a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical use. Our findings add to the justification of ongoing investigations of psychedelic-assisted therapy of treatment of alcohol, cocaine, opiate and tobacco use disorders with drugs like LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca and ibogaine. That our results stem from unsupervised and unmonitored non-medical use adds compelling empirical support to the multitude of anecdotal successes with psychedelic self-medication.Are there any major caveats? What questions still need to be addressed?First and foremost, though our findings are significant, these results are preliminary, and at best we hope that others will replicate our work in further research. The survey data relies largely on personal self-report, which leaves open the large possibility of flaws and low reliability in the sample.The main drawback of a cross-sectional analysis is that it can only show that psychedelic use is associated with decreased opioid use, and not that psychedelics specifically cause reduced use. There’s also the possibility that another factor, unaccounted by the model, is the true driving force behind the outcomes, although our analysis attempted to account for variables such as age, education and sex.But without significant funding sources from government agencies, or removing psychedelics from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, these questions cannot be answered more quickly and directly, especially given the high cost of running large multi-center clinical trials. However, public benefit and private foundations are making good progress.Is there anything else you would like to add?Although we encourage the development of psychedelics into prescription medicines, research should be conducted by trained clinicians and medical professionals. Non-medical use and self-experimentation is not encouraged. Nevertheless, we recognize that millions of people are using illicit drugs all the time. Given the discrepancy with the harms of illicit opioid use, a legally approved substance, and the physically low-risk, psychologically manageable, and potentially beneficial qualities of psychedelics, a banned substance, we hope our research will draw attention to the need to move toward medical recognition of psychedelic use, and embrace decriminalization and harm reduction measures for non-medical use.The study, “The association of psychedelic use and opioid use disorders among illicit users in the United States“, was also co-authored by Nathaniel P. Putnam, Hannah M. Kramer, Kevin J. Franciotti, John H. Halpern, and Selma C. Holden Pinterest Share Emailcenter_img LinkedIn New research has found that the use of psychedelic drugs is associated with a decreased risk of opioid abuse and dependence.The study examined so-called classic psychedelic drugs, which included lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, psilocybin, peyote, San Pedro cactus, dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and ayahuasca. The use of these psychedelics was associated with a 27% reduced risk of past year opioid dependence and 40% reduced risk of past year opioid abuse among the 44,678 respondents with a history of illicit opioid use.In contrast, the use of most other drugs was associated with increased risk of opioid abuse and dependence. Share on Facebooklast_img read more

Study highlights how incivility can backfire in online political discussions

first_imgShare Share on Facebook LinkedIn Pinterest “Unfortunately, incivility is prevalent in online political discussion settings, so the potential of the internet for improving democratic deliberation is limited by its seemingly ubiquitous presence in many online political discussion contexts that involve disagreement.”The researchers found that incivility had a large impact on the perceptions of online political discussions. Participants who viewed proponents of political arguments as uncivil, unpleasant, and uncooperative tended to also view their line of reasoning as less logically sound, even when strong arguments were presented.Proponents viewed as more civil, on the other hand, tended to be viewed as more rational.The findings were based on three separate experiments with 356 participants in total. The participants read and evaluated fabricated political discussions on an online forum, which varied in tone and the strength of their arguments. Conservatives evaluated liberal arguments, while liberals evaluated conservative arguments.“If you want to persuade others that disagree with you by the content of the argument you are making, it is generally best to avoid belittling their views. Name calling and mockery will cause your arguments to appear to be less rational, even in circumstances where you are making good points,” Popan told PsyPost.“The paper addresses the role of incivility in the perception of outgroups, but it does not look closely at how one might perceive uncivil behaviors carried out by ingroup members. The role of incivility in garnering ingroup support or harnessing the collective emotions of an ingroup is an important avenue for future research.”It is also possible that incivility can make arguments more persuasive in certain contexts.“Incivility in U.S politics has been a growing concern, but the latest (2016) presidential demonstrated that incivility, name calling, and mockery can be a central part of a winning political campaign,” Popan explained.“How such behaviors impact the potential for political deliberation between opposition political groups to lead to progress through compromise remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely that compromise and progress can coexist with behavior consistent with a wrestling entertainment match.”The study, “Testing the effects of incivility during internet political discussion on perceptions of rational argument and evaluations of a political outgroup“, was authored by Jason R. Popan, Lauren Coursey, Jesse Acosta, and Jared Kenworthy.center_img Email Well-reasoned arguments can get disregarded if their proponents are perceived as disrespectful and uncivil, according to new research that examined perceptions of online political discussions. The findings appear in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.“Conflict between political groups is interesting to me because it presents an intergroup situation where individuals often assert their views with a great deal of certainty and a great deal of enmity, yet discussions and contact between people with different political perspectives and identities is important to democratic society,” said study author Jason Popan, an associate professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.“Discussions involving different political viewpoints is the method by which compromise and potential progress can come about. When we throw incivility into the equation, much of the potential for progress through the exchange of ideas may be lessened.” Share on Twitterlast_img read more

New research raises questions about the nature of hypersexuality — and whether it’s a mental disorder

first_imgShare on Facebook The researchers recruited 211 men, and 81 participants were determined to fit the criteria for hypersexuality following clinical interviews. The participants watched neutral, sexual,  anxiety-inducing,  and sadness-inducing video clips from documentaries and commercial movies as their genital responses were objectively measured using penile strain gauges. Following each clip, the participants reported their mood and subjective sexual arousal.But the researchers observed no significant difference between hypersexual and non-hypersexual men when it came to their genital response or subjective sexual arousal. In other words, hypersexual men were not more likely to become erect than the control group. Mood also appeared to play no role.“Men who were diagnosed as hypersexual did not respond with more sexual arousal to sexual films when in a negative mood than men not diagnosed as hypersexual. They also didn’t become more sexually aroused in general,” the researchers told PsyPost.“Also, the amount of pornography that the men viewed was not related to their sexual arousal in response to the sexual films. This does not mean that these men are not struggling or deserving of help, but the nature of their problem might be very different than proposed diagnoses like ‘sexual compulsivity’ suggest.”The main predictor of genital responses was how the participants responded on a sexual inhibition/excitation questionnaire, which asked how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “When an attractive person flirts with me, I easily become sexually aroused.”“Men who had higher scores on sexual excitation had a stronger erectile response to the sexual films than men with lower scores. So, sexual excitability was a better predictor of sexual arousal in the laboratory than the diagnosis of hypersexuality or porn use,” Prause and Janssen explained.The findings are in line with a previous study that found neural reactivity to sexual images was not related to hypersexuality but was instead associated with levels of sexual desire.But the new study — like all research — includes some limitations. It could be, for instance, that hypersexual men respond differently outside of a laboratory setting.“It may be that hypersexual men would respond with more sexual arousal to different types of sexual films, or that they would only show greater sexual arousal when they are with an actual sexual partner,” Prause and Janssen said.The study, “Sexual Responsivity and the Effects of Negative Mood on Sexual Arousal in Hypersexual Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)“, was authored by Erick Janssen, Nicole Prause, Rebecca Swinburne Romine, Nancy Raymond, Angus MacDonald III, Eli Coleman, and Michael H. Miner. Share Hypersexuality does not appear to be associated with sexual responsivity and does not appear to be influenced by mood, according to a new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.The World Health Organization lists compulsive sexual behavior disorder, a related concept, as an impulse control problem that is “characterized by a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior.” But the new findings raise questions about the nature of hypersexuality.“Men who are hypersexual have been described as using sexual behaviors to manage their negative emotions. If true, then we expected men who have ‘hypersexual disorder’ would respond with more sexual arousal, measured as erectile responses in the laboratory, when in a negative mood,” explained study authors Nicole Prause of Liberos Research and Erick Janssen of the University of Leuven. Share on Twittercenter_img LinkedIn Email Pinterestlast_img read more

World Health Assembly opens 64th session in Geneva

first_imgMay 16, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Delegates from 193 countries met today in Geneva at the start of the World Health Assembly (WHA), which will address several infectious disease topics, including a report from an independent pandemic review committee, a virus-sharing agreement, and the fate of the world’s remaining smallpox virus stocks.The WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the meeting runs through May 24. Today’s agenda mainly consisted of housekeeping tasks such as electing a president for this year’s assembly and adopting a provisional agenda. Cyprus’ health minister, Dr Christos Patsalides, was elected president,The WHA’s first day was capped by a keynote address by Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general. Early in her speech she said a trend is emerging that puts the world’s latest and best health technology into the hands of countries that need it the most.In the past, she said, people with drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) had to wait 3 months for a solid diagnosis, but the launch of a rapid diagnostic test for the disease last year gives medical teams a faster, more sensitive tool that can deliver a result in 100 minutes. “WHO endorsement of the test brought an immediate price reduction of 75% for developing countries. Roll-out has begun in more than 30 countries, assisted by WHO and other partners,” she said.She said a major success over the past years has been a reduction in the malaria burden, especially in Africa, thanks to the support of global health partners, African leaders, and groups such as the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.”Thanks to intense surveillance, the first signs of resistance to artemisinin were detected along the Thai-Cambodian border,” Chan said. “An aggressive containment plan was quickly devised. If fully implemented, this plan could stop further spread of resistance dead in its tracks.”An independent group that reviewed the WHO’s performance during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic will present its final report during the WHA. The group met for the fourth and final time in late March to preview its findings and conduct final closed-door deliberations. The group’s other task was to assess how the International Health Regulations (IHRs) functioned during their first use in a global health emergency. In 2005 the WHA approved a revision of the IHRs, the first since 1969. Most of the changes took effect in 2007.Chan said she welcomes the report, which she says exonerates the WHO from criticisms that it overstated the pandemic threat and that its decisions were unduly influenced by pharmaceutical companies.”Equally important, the report offers some constructive criticisms, identifies several examples of outstanding collaboration, and issues a number of specific recommendations to make the world better prepared for the next public health emergency of international concern,” she said, noting that the WHO has already adopted a suggestion by African Union countries to speed the strengthening of core capacities needed to implement the IHR.The WHA delegates will consider and vote on the pandemic virus-sharing agreement that was finalized by a working group on Apr 17, after 4years of complex and contentious negotiations that spanned 14 meetings.In her speech, Chan characterized the agreement as a set of strategies that will help improve the world’s pandemic preparedness, facilitate sharing of influenza viruses, and extend the reach of new drugs and vaccines to developing countries.”In the end, trust and diplomacy and, I do believe, respect for the issues on the table won the day,” she said, praising the leadership of working group members from Australia, Mexico, and Norway.Also, the WHA will consider whether or not to destroy the world’s remaining smallpox virus stocks. The issue has been brought to the WHA five times before, most recently in 2007. The United States and Russia have maintained samples of the eradicated disease for research purposes, especially for bioterrorism countermeasure development. On May 13 a US health official signaled that the country would ask the WHO to postpone the decision so it can finish research on new vaccines and drugs.See also:May 16 Margaret Chan speechWHA meeting background materialsMar 28 CIDRAP News story “WHO pandemic reviewers field comments on preview report”Apr 18 CIDRAP News story “WHO group finalizes landmark virus-sharing agreement”May 13 CIDRAP News Scan “US to ask WHA to postpone smallpox destruction pact”last_img read more

Avian Flu Scan for Feb 27, 2014

first_imgStudy: 10% avian flu rate in Egyptian birds, H5N1-H9N2 co-infectionsActive surveillance in Egypt found that 10% of all poultry samples from August 2010 through January 2013 tested positive for avian flu, and the H9N2 strain emerged in the country during that time and co-infected birds with H5N1, according to a report yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.A team of veterinarians collected cloacal (anus) and oropharyngeal (beak) swab samples from 11,452 birds from commercial farms, backyard flocks, live-bird markets, and abattoirs. The teams also collected samples from sick or dead birds at the sites.Of the samples, 84.2% were from chickens, 10.3% from ducks, and 5.5% from other domestic bird species.Polymerase chain reaction tests were positive for 1,144 birds (10%), with the percentage by governorate ranging from 3% in Menoufia to 18% in Dakahlia.The authors, from Egypt and the United States, also noted their first detection of H9N2 virus in Egyptian poultry in December 2011 and the first H5N1-H9N2 co-infections in March 2012. They detected 151 such co-infections during the study period.The authors advocate for continued avian flu surveillance and conclude, “Cocirculation of different subtypes poses concern for potential reassortment.”Feb 26 Emerg Infect Dis report Cambodia, Nepal report H5N1 outbreaks in poultryHighly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu has struck small flocks in Cambodia and Nepal recently, affecting 2,700 poultry, according to separate reports posted yesterday by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).In Cambodia, H5N1 killed 210 birds in a village flock of 450 in Kampong Speu province, and the remaining 240 poultry were culled to prevent disease spread. And in adjoining Kandal province, the virus killed 200 of 250 birds, with the remainder of the village flock culled.The provinces are in southern Cambodia, near the capital of Phnom Penh. Kandal abuts Vietnam on the province’s southern border. The larger outbreak began Feb 18 and the other a day later. Both were resolved on Feb 25.Feb 26 OIE report on CambodiaIn Nepal, H5N1 killed 570 of 2,000 poultry on a layer farm in Koshi province in the eastern part of the country, not far from its border with India. The remaining birds were culled to contain the outbreak.Beginning Feb 13, the birds showed signs of depression, decreased egg production, respiratory distress, and paralysis before they died, the OIE report said. The farm is being disinfected, and officials have restricted movement of poultry in the area.Both countries have experienced numerous recent H5N1 outbreaks in domestic birds, as has Vietnam.Feb 26 OIE report on Nepallast_img read more