The Americas to be Declared “Rubella Free”

The Pan American Health Organization will officially designate that Rubella has been eliminated from the Americas, the first region in the world to do so. This means that there have been no endemic transmission of the virus in North America, Latin America or the Caribbean in three years. “Rubella is a viral disease that causes mild symptoms in children and adults but can cause multiple birth defects or fetal death if contracted early in pregnancy. An international committee recently declared the Americas free of endemic transmission of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Rubella and CRS are now the third and fourth diseases to be eliminated in the region, following smallpox in 1971 and polio in 1994. In all four cases, the Americas region was the first in the world to eliminate these diseases, thanks to mass immunization efforts coordinated by PAHO/WHO in partnership with ministries of health and with support from CDC, UNICEF, and others.”

You can watch a live stream of the announcement at 11am EST

The Good News: Hundreds of Abducted Girls Rescued in Nigeria…it looks like none of the rescued were among the girls kidnapped in Chibok last year. But this is still a critically important “Nigeria’s military on Tuesday claimed the rescue of 200 girls and 93 women from a notorious Boko Haram stronghold, but said there was no confirmation the hostages were those kidnapped from Chibok a year ago.” (Reuters

But Still More of the Same… “Hundreds of people have been found dead in the northeast Nigerian town of Damasak, apparently victims of the Boko Haram insurgency, as details emerged on Monday of fresh attacks by the militants. Reports of decomposing bodies littering the streets of Damasak came as president Muhammadu Buhari denounced the Islamists as a bogus religious group and vowed a hard line against them when he comes to power at the end of next month.” (AFP )

Health Concerns Rise as Conditions Deteriorate for Displaced Nepalese… “There are an estimated 1.6 million people temporarily displaced in Kathmandu, according to the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS). The picture outside the capital, including areas closest to the epicentre, is still unclear, as remote mountain villages have yet to be reached. The Nepalese government says it has identified 16 camps in the capital, but NGOs say the figure is actually in the hundreds. People have sought shelter wherever they can, on every available piece of open, flat ground, in every neighbourhood of the city. Damaged buildings are still vulnerable to aftershocks so survivors prefer to sleep out in the open.” (IRIN )


Hundreds of people marched in the outskirts of Burundi’s capital on Tuesday in a third day of protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term. (VOA

Burundi told diplomats on Tuesday to stay neutral in a political crisis sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third term, a move that sent protesters onto the streets for three days. (Reuters

Tuareg rebels shot at UN peacekeepers outside Timbuktu in northern Mali on Tuesday in a sign of growing tensions that threaten a fragile peace process. (VOA

A practice of denying admission to South African public schools of children without visas or whose parents are refugees from other African countries is creating a foundation for the current rash of xenophobia, critics of the practice say. (IPS


A US-flagged ship was recently intercepted by an Iran Revolutionary Guard naval patrol in the Strait of Hormuz. (CNN

Some young Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem are turning to drugs to cope with Israel’s military occupation of the city. (Al Jazeera

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the arrest of 93 suspects with ties to the Islamic State. (VOA


The Indonesian government rejected last-ditch calls for clemency for eight of the so-called Bali Nine heroin smugglers, executing seven foreigners and one Indonesian by firing squad. (The Week

A massive landslide in a remote province in northeastern Afghanistan killed at least 52 people Tuesday. (Al Jazeera

The Afghan government has rushed thousands of troops to the northern province of Kunduz in recent days as a fierce Taliban offensive has surrounded the regional capital city. (NYT

Pakistani human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud was fatally shot by gunmen on the streets of Karachi after hosting a seminar on abuses in the restive Baluchistan province. (WaPo

The Americas

After the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen, the campaign has intensified in Latin America to ban the herbicide, which is employed on a massive scale on transgenic crops. (IPS

According to data from the UN and other international organizations, people of African descent in Latin America face numerous structural barriers including less access to education, higher maternal and infant mortality rates, lower earning potential and limited political participation. (El Pais; Spanish)

…and the rest

The ascendance of militant extremists and criminal gangs who abduct and kill reporters, combined with rising government repression in the cause of counterterrorism, has created the biggest threat to journalism in recent times. (NYT


The aftermath of Nepal’s earthquake exposes Asia’s geopolitical fault lines (WaPo

Want to help in Nepal (or any crisis)? Here’s how (WhyDev

Nepal: The disaster everyone knew was coming (Humanosphere

Why India Won’t Follow in China’s Environmental Footsteps (CFR

Can Creative Innovators Drive Global Health and Humanitarian Change? (IntraHealth

With Pope Francis’s Encyclical on Climate Change Done, Now a Vatican Sales Push – and Pushback. (Dot Earth Blog )