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August 2, 2014

International team of scientists studies malaria drug resistance in Southeast Asia

International team of scientists studies malaria drug resistance in Southeast Asia

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Southeast Asia

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Researchers from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United States have mapped resistance of malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum to antimalarial drug artemisinin, mainly in Southeast Asia; correlated the resistance-causing mutation with slow parasite clearance; and found that prolonged therapy is highly effective against drug-resistant malaria. Their study was published in New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday.

The mutation considered in this study was identified last year as the molecular marker of artemisinin-resistant malaria. The current study found the mutation, located in the propeller domain of a Kelch protein on human chromosome 13, predicted when parasite clearance half-life would exceed five hours with 91.8% sensitivity and 88.4% specificity — usually correct in predicting both when long half-life would occur, and when it wouldn’t. OpenClinica web-based database was used for collection of data which was used to assess parasite clearance rate.

The study found a six-day treatment course effective against artemisinin-resistant malaria. The standard regimen consists of three-day dihydroartemisininpiperaquine treatment, and had a 25% rate of failure at day 42 in another recent study in Pailin, Cambodia. The prolonged regimen which includes three days of artesunate followed by three days of dihydroartemisinin–piperaquine, has shown 2% rate of failure at day 42 in the same area. Geometric mean of the half-life values were similar in two treatment groups of 60 patients each at each study site: one group received artesunate at a daily dose of 2 mg per patient’s body-weight kilogram and the other 4 mg per kilogram. Afterwards, patients at several study sites were followed for 42 days — Pailin, Cambodia; Attapeu, Laos; Binh Phuoc, Vietnam; Shwe Kyin, Myanmar; and Pingilikani, Kenya — and for 28 days in Kinshasa, DR Congo. The treatment regimens were highly effective at all the study sites.

Support for the study came from the UK Department for International Development, the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network, the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Also, the UK-based Wellcome Trust funds one of the participating research organizations, the MahidolOxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme.



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February 25, 2014

Researchers identify protein responsible for malaria transmission

Researchers identify protein responsible for malaria transmission

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes.

Two groups of researchers have independently identified the the protein responsible for malaria transmission to mosquitoes in studies published in journal Nature on Sunday.

The scientists found a direct relationship between the protein AP2-G’s with malaria gametocytes (male and female sexual forms) production, which is necessary for the transmission. Only the sexual forms infect mosquitoes and sexual reproduction occurs within the mosquito digestive tract.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The initially separate teams looked at different plasmodium species. One, an international group led by Manuel Llinás of Penn State University in the US, examined Plasmodium falciparum, which is responsible for the worst form of human malarial infections; the other, led by UK scientists Oliver Billker from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England and Andy Waters from University of Glasgow in Scotland, looked at Plasmodium berghei, which infects rodents.

The P. falciparum group was kickstarted by research in Spain which found different organisms from the same strain with identical DNA had varying levels of AP2-G, with a strong correlation to their levels of sexual activity. The more AP2-G, the higher the rate of gametocyte formation. Researchers in England, later also drawn into the international team, analyzed the genomes of two mutated strains of P. falciparum which were both unable to form gametocytes. They found that the gene responsible for producing the AP2-G protein was the only common non-functioning gene.

The international team found found the AP2-G protein catalyzes the transmission by activating a relevant gene set in the parasite.

Women tend to their malaria-infected babies in Angola.
Image: USAID Africa.

Both teams confirmed the finding by gene therapy — both by adding the gene into a mutated strain and observing its ability to form gametocytes, and the other way round.

The parasites exist in a mosquito, then in a human, and require subsequent transmission for the parasite to spread. The transmission can only happen through gametocytes. The parasite triggers formation of the sexual gametocytes into the human’s circulatory system every two days in small quantities — not wasting energy on the process at the dry time of year when few mosquitoes are available — but little was known about the mechanism.

Dr. Oliver Billker commented on the potential of getting the transmission of malaria under control, unlike the existing focus on addressing the phrase causing the clinical symptoms, “Current drugs treat patients by killing the sexless form of the parasite in their blood — this is the detrimental stage of the malaria lifecycle that causes illness. However, it is now widely accepted that to eliminate malaria from an entire region, it will be equally important to kill the sexual forms that transmit the disease.”

The researchers hope to continue research toward drugs to prevent the transmission of the disease. The science was funded by groups including UK research councils, the Spanish government, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the European Commission.



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May 6, 2010

African leaders start drive to eradicate malaria

African leaders start drive to eradicate malaria

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

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The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), consisting of leaders of 26 African countries, are beginning a drive to eradicate malaria from the continent by distributing medication, insecticides, and bed nets.

US$100 million worth of funds will be given out to battle the disease in endemic nations; the budget was announced yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Ray Chambers, a special envoy for malaria with the United Nations, commented on the push, saying: “We believe that if we cover everybody in Africa with bed nets, insecticides and medication by the end of this year, we will have zero deaths or near zero deaths from malaria in Africa by 2015.” A statement from Chambers said the funds will be provided by the US President’s Malaria Initiative.

The statement continued: “The new US funding comes as ALMA finalises a bulk purchase of long lasting insecticidal nets. This bulk purchase of 50 million long lasting insecticidal nets by twelve African nations will reduce costs and streamline procurement and distribution, accelerating the rate at which nets will begin reaching risk populations […] African leaders, working together with friends of ALMA, are forging the African-led response needed to solve one of Africa’s most severe health challenges.”

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, in comments to the World Economic Forum, said that the same strategy had lowered the incidence of malaria in Zanzibar from 40% to 1%.

According to health experts, use of nets can lower the spread of malaria by 50%, and cut child deaths by a fifth.

Malaria, a disease spread to humans through infected mosquitoes, costs Africa more than $40 billion annually in sick days and treatment, according to the Reuters news service.



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January 31, 2010

Gaddafi loses African Union chair

Gaddafi loses African Union chair – Wikinews, the free news source

Gaddafi loses African Union chair

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gaddafi at last year’s African Union summit, where he became president.

File photo of Mutharika, who is taking the presidency.

Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya, has not been able to win his bid to stay as chairman of the African Union, losing out to Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika, who was backed by several eastern and southern states.

Gaddafi used his final speech to highlight the need for political unity between African states. Libya has been chairing the African Union for the last year, and the job of chair was due to go to a southern African representative. However, Gaddafi wished to retain the presidency, which was backed by Tunisia, and had allegedly won over other countries by paying their membership fees.

The African Union summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, involved a speech to the African leaders by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who called for the countries to strive for national union in Sudan, where the southern part of the country may secede from the north. In addition, the Secretary General highlighted the various achievements of the African Union. He said that they had “seen a sharp decrease in malaria and measles deaths across the continent, virtual gains in primary school enrolment [and] marked improvement in child health”, stating that “we must build on these successes and help spread them around the world”.

The three-day summit involves topics such as the state of affairs in Somalia, and a Senegalese proposal to resettle Haiti earthquake victims.


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November 8, 2009

China offers Africa financial aid including $10 billion in loans

China offers Africa financial aid including $10 billion in loans

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Members of the FOCAC
Image: Wangyunfeng.

China has offered Africa concessional loans worth US$10 (€6.5) billion as part of a host of new measures aimed at improving the economy of African nations. The announcement was made at the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders of nearly 50 African countries are attending the two-day conference.

China had already stated today at the 3rd Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs, held immediately before the FOCAC, that Chinese firms would be encouraged to invest in Africa, while both sides would work together to improve the tourism, telecommunications and finance industries. China also said that governments should work with businesses to ensure co-operation between China and Africa.

As well as the loans, made over three years, China will write off the debt of Africa’s poorest countries, build 100 African green energy facilities and systematically lower import duties on 95% of all African products exported to China. Another promise is a loan of one billion dollars aimed at small and medium sized businesses in Africa. There will also be efforts to promote each other’s culture and increased medical assistance to Africa. Medical assistance comes in the form of 500 million yuan (US$73.2 million) of goods for the 60 hospitals and malaria centers China has already built, as well as 3,000 doctors and nurses. Roads will also be improved.

China also plans to assist with satellite weather monitoring, to help combat desertification and work within the urban environment, all aimed at reducing global warming. The new energy facilities will focus on solar, biogas and small-scale hydroelectrical installations. Another new measure is a promise to aid African farmers to ensure the continent is fed, increasing the number of demonstrations of agricultural technology in Africa to 20 and sending 50 teams of agricultural technology experts to the continent. Training in agricultural technology will be provided to 2,000 people.

“The Chinese people cherish sincere friendship toward the African people, and China’s support to Africa’s development is concrete and real,” said co-chair Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as the FOCAC opened up, adding “Whatever change that may take place in the world, our friendship with African people will not change.” He described this friendship as ‘unbreakable’. Two years ago China pledged US$5 (€3.37) billion at the last FOCAC in Beijing and now, according to Jiabao, “China is ready to deepen practical cooperation in Africa.”

Cquote1.svg We want more investment from China Cquote2.svg

—Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

China has fulfilled its 2006 pledge, investing a total of US$7.8 (€5.26) billion in Africa last year alone. 49 African countries are represented at the FOCAC, which was created in 2000, although Jiabao noted that relations between China and Africa go back fifty years. China had already forgiven or reduced the debt for thirty nations at that FOCAC summit.

According to Chinese state-owned paper China Daily, trade between China and Africa increased by 45% last year, to give a total value of US$107 (€72.1) billion, a tenfold increase since 2001 and up from US$491 (€331) million in 2003. The Chinese have a 9.8% market share, the largest of any nation, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. China has paid for schools, hospitals, malaria clinics and Chinese scholarships for African students. 50 more schools are to be built and 1,500 people trained to staff them.

File photo of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao

Since 2006 Chinese energy firms have committed to spend at least US$16 (€10.8) billion securing African oil and gas. China’s Sinopec Group, an oil giant, bought up Addax Petroleum Corporation from its Swiss owners that year, gaining control of oilfields in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon. China promised earlier this year to spend US$9 (€6) billion on infrastructure in the Congo in exchange for mineral deposits for mining operations.

Jean Ping, leader of the African Union, said the told those at the conference that the money is coming at an opportune time, because African growth was “totally compromised” by the global financial crisis. Ping said one of the lessons learned is that the world is paying for “the irresponsible and lax behavior” of large financial companies whose philosophy was to make short-term profits.

Cquote1.svg We thank China particularly for backing efforts by our countries to achieve peace and stability in Africa’s zones of conflict Cquote2.svg

—Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir

Not all Africans are happy with China’s increasing involvement in their continent. Trade practices are a concern for some, with a view that China exploits Africa for raw materials before selling back finished goods. Among these are Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid. Egypt is the richest nation in the Middle East and is discussing this perceived issue with China. Rachid told Bloomberg “What is a worry for me is if competition is unfair. That is where we are unhappy.” Jiabao described the trade as being based on “win-win programmes… and transparency.”

Others in Africa are delighted with the situation. “We want more investment from China,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete told the forum. Egypt’s own President Hosni Mubarak talked of “peace, security and growth,” and of “boosting cooperation between China and Africa.”

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Jiabao also used his speech to respond to criticisms that China worked with nations regardless of their human rights record, such as Sudan, whose President Omar al-Beahir is wanted on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. “Africa is fully capable of solving its own problems, in an African way,” he said, adding that “China has never attached any political strings […] to assistance to Africa.”

Beshir thanked China in a speech for diplomatic work in Sudan, including working to defuse the Darfur conflict, which the United Nations says has left 300,000 dead. “We express our deep appreciation for China’s efforts in backing the comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan and its peace efforts in Darfur,” he said, referring to a peace deal between the northern and southern parts of his country. “We thank China particularly for backing efforts by our countries to achieve peace and stability in Africa’s zones of conflict.” Jiabao said China was willing to work towards “the settlement of issues of peace and security,” in Africa.

A further criticism has been that China has brought in Chinese workers and used their own knowledge, instead of training locals. Jiabao’s speech indicated an intention to co-operate better in the fields of science and technology, as well as improve training for African students on technical courses.

“Why do some only criticise China?” asked Jiabao. “Is this a view representing African countries, or rather the view of Western countries?”



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February 5, 2009

Bill Gates releases mosquitoes during conference for malaria awareness

Bill Gates releases mosquitoes during conference for malaria awareness

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gates at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in 2008.
Image: World Economic Forum.

Bill Gates, the founder of computer software company Microsoft, tried to bring attention to malaria while speaking at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference on Wednesday February 4 in Long Beach, California. He did so by releasing a “swarm” of mosquitoes from a jar, into the crowd.

“Malaria is spread by mosquitoes. I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected,” said Gates as he opened the jar. After waiting a minute, Gates then stated that the mosquitoes were not infected with the disease.

“There is more money put into baldness drugs than into malaria. Now, baldness is a terrible thing and rich men are afflicted. That is why that priority has been set,” said Gates jokingly.

The prank was first reported by Dave Morin, Facebook‘s manager, on the social networking and micro-blogging site Twitter. Morin stated that “Gates just released mosquito[e]s into the audience at TED and said: ‘Not only poor people should experience this,'” followed by a smiley face.

Gates donated nearly US$170 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative in September 2008 to fund research to fight malaria, and develop a vaccine.

The TED conference, held annually, features, among other things, the latest in technology, science, and politics. People who have previously spoken at the conference include former United States president Bill Clinton and former vice president Al Gore.



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February 16, 2008

Bush starts off Africa trip in Benin

Bush starts off Africa trip in Benin – Wikinews, the free news source

Bush starts off Africa trip in Benin

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States, upon arrival in Benin, with Chantal de Souza Yayi, First Lady of Benin.

Yayi and Bush previously met at the White House in December 2006.

U.S. President George W. Bush, accompanied by his wife Laura, began his five-nation trip to Africa today in Benin, where he met with President Yayi Boni and participated in a joint press conference. This is Bush’s second visit to Africa and the first time any US president has visited Benin. Topics that were discussed included malaria, cotton, and the crises in Kenya and Darfur.

At the press conference, held at Cadjehoun International Airport in Cotonou, Yayi thanked Bush for coming to visit and praised him for his “great concern for Africa, its well being, and of the development of its people.” Bush then commended the government of Benin for their “fight against corruption” and “firm commitment to the investment in its people”.

“Your fight against corruption is visible and easy for the people to see,” Bush said. “This is such a good lesson … because leaders around the world have got to understand that the United States wants to partner with leaders and the people, but we’re not going to do so with people that steal money, pure and simple.” Benin is one of the recipients of the Millennium Challenge Account, which aims to foster economic growth in countries that are deemed to have effective governments and economic freedom.

On the topic of malaria, Bush mentioned the Malaria Initiative, which intends to provide a mosquito net for every child to prevent the spread of the disease. He also mentioned initiatives to facilitate the spread of HIV and AIDS. “We can save lives with an aggressive, comprehensive strategy,” Bush said. “And that’s exactly what you’re putting in place here in Benin.”

Cquote1.svg The United States wants to partner with leaders and the people, but we’re not going to do so with people that steal money, pure and simple. Cquote2.svg

—George W. Bush

The economy was also an important issue. President Yayi said he and President Bush discussed diversifying Benin’s economy away from its dependence on cotton. “He shared his vision with us, and he is encouraging us to diversify the sources of solutions to the problem that we have today, namely the cotton industry.” Yayi says it is hard competing with cotton markets in Asia and the United States. Bush said the World Trade Organization is willing to help Benin’s economy, but he also suggested exporting more cotton-based products in addition to raw cotton.

Bush said the United States will help facilitate a peacekeeping force in Darfur, but will not send troops to the region. “I made the decision not to [send troops], upon the recommendation of a lot of the groups involved in Darfur, as well as other folks … once you make that decision, then there’s not many other avenues except for the United Nations and the peacekeeping forces.”

When asked about the situation in Kenya, Bush said he has sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to visit the country on Monday to support former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in mediating the conflict. “Kenya is an issue … and that’s why I’m sending Secretary Rice there to help the Kofi Annan initiative – all aimed at having a clear message that there be no violence and that there ought to be a power-sharing agreement,” said Bush.

White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley said Rice’s visit will only last a few hours. “It’s basically to go in, give some impetus, but then step out and let Kofi Annan continue his diplomacy,” he said. At a press briefing aboard Air Force One, one reporter questioned what could be accomplished in a few hours and asked why the President didn’t go to Kenya instead. Ambassador Jendayi Frazer answered with, “Secretary Rice’s engagement on Kenya has been much longer than a few hours. She has been talking to President Kibaki and Raila Odinga before the election, right on the eve of the announcement, immediately after that. And so she’s been very much engaged over the last three or four months on dealing with electoral crisis.”

“The purpose of her going is to back Kofi’s mediation, it’s not to take over that mediation,” Frazer continued. “President Bush does not need to go to Kenya at this point. At the right moment in time, the President will engage, but right now it’s occurring in a very systematic way to back Annan’s mediation, not to try to supplant Annan’s mediation.”

After spending three hours in Benin, Bush flew to Tanzania, where he will stay for three nights. He will then continue his trip in Rwanda, Ghana, and Liberia.



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January 26, 2008

George Bush announces trip to Africa

George Bush announces trip to Africa – Wikinews, the free news source

George Bush announces trip to Africa

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Map showing Africa

The White House announced that the American president George W. Bush and his wife, First Lady Laura Bush will travel to Africa, next month.

The tour, which is scheduled to take place from 15 to 21 February, will include visits to Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, and Liberia.

The White House said the president will meet with leaders of these countries to discuss how the United States can support the continuation of democratic reforms, respect for human rights, and economic opportunities throughout the continent.

The last time Bush visited Africa was in 2003.

The White House said that during this visit, George Bush will review progress made in efforts in which Washington offers assistance to enhance economic development and the fight against HIV AIDS, malaria and other treatable diseases.

This is a complete or partial translation of the article “Bush anuncia un viaje a África” from the Spanish language Wikinews. The original article in Spanish was based on an article from VOA. VOA is in the Public Domain.



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September 8, 2007

Four young girls killed in Zambia wall collapse

Four young girls killed in Zambia wall collapse

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Four young girls were killed and six more people injured when a brick wall collapsed on top of them in Zambia. The victims had been trying to reach a free mosquito net handout when a stampede erupted, causing the collapse.

The accident occurred in the town of Mpika, where the Ministry of Health was conducting the handout as part of an anti-malaria initiative. As people flocked to the community hall where the event was taking place, people outside the premises began climbing the walls in an effort to get in, initiating the collapse.

The four girls died on the spot in the incident, which occurred at around 17:30 local time. Six others were taken to the local Mpika District Hospital, where they were treated for their injuries, which are believed to be non life-threatening.



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August 4, 2007

Asian monsoon rains force millions to flee

Asian monsoon rains force millions to flee

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Saturday, August 4, 2007

Monsoon rains in Cambodia last month.

Torrential monsoon rains for the past 11 days have inundated parts of Southeast Asia, heavily flooding areas of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh and affecting over 20 million people.

An estimated 1,400 have been killed across the region, as waterborne diseases have proliferated and become highly virulent in the humid and wet conditions.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, is currently providing relief to affected areas.

India

India

In the Northern Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, as many as 12.5 million people have been displaced or affected by flooding. Clashes with police in Bihar have left 20 villagers injured and one man dead, since many are staging protests after being forced from their homes. UNICEF estimates as many as 1,103 may have died in 138 districts throughout northern India.

Hospitals are reaching dangerous volumes as disease is sickening thousands. Many are ill from dehydration, exposure and dysentery.

Aid workers warn that malaria is a serious risk.

The Indian Air Force began dropping aid packages containing medical supplies and food yesterday.

Santosh Mishra, a villager in the Gondra district of Uttar Pradesh remarked, “I have not seen such flooding in the last 24 years.” Bodies of two students of the IIM Indore swept in the flash floods in Indore were recovered.

Nepal

Nepal

UNICEF reported that 84 people have died and some 270,000 people have been displaced by floods and landslides in 32 districts in the last two weeks. Flood waters this year have remained stationary, and are not flowing as in the past, they also said. This could lead to landslides and further damage to thousands of poorly constructed adobe homes. Thousands of acres of agricultural land have already been destroyed.

Clean water, is a primary concern, as much of the water has been contaminated with disease.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Flooding has affected 41 of its 64 districts. The Associate Press reports that over 5 million have been displaced and that 46 have died.

The capital, Dhaka, has seen some flooding, but officials fear that soon the city will be completely inundated since torrential rains show no sign of abating.

Relief efforts

UNICEF is working with the governments of affected nations to coordinate aid, providing water purification tablets, emergency medical supplies, and various MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat). The Nepalese ministry of finance has released additional funds for continued aid work.

The conditions in the region do not seem promising, since more rain is forecast Saturday, and early next week.

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