Jun 5, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia’s health minister said today the government has stopped the practice of promptly notifying global health officials each time it confirms a human H5N1 avian influenza case or death, a move some say will likely hamper efforts to monitor the world’s pandemic risk level.Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari today confirmed that a 15-year-old girl from Jakarta tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza on May 13 and died the next day, according to a report from the Associated Press (AP). Indonesia’s National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza had previously listed the case as confirmed on its Web site, but the information is apparently no longer listed.The WHO, which typically confirms cases when it receives notifications from health ministries or test results from its collaborating laboratories, has not yet confirmed Indonesia’s most recent case and has not commented on Supari’s decision to stop sending out H5N1 case notifications. The WHO’s last confirmed an Indonesian H5N1 case, in a 3-year old boy who died on Apr 23, on Apr 30.Supari told the AP that the health ministry would not send out H5N1 case confirmations until after they have been reported in the media. However, Reuters reported today that the ministry will announce the death toll from the H5N1 virus only every 6 months.”How does it help us to announce these deaths?” Supari told the AP. “We want to focus now on positive steps and achievements made by the government in fighting bird flu.”She told Reuters that announcements of H5N1 deaths are sometimes misunderstood. “It’s OK not to announce it. Sometimes they only give hurtful comments instead of helping,” she said without further explanation.Indonesia has been hit hardest of any country by the H5N1 virus. According to the WHO’s most recent count, the country has had 133 cases and 108 deaths.The country’s refusal to share timely reports of human H5N1 cases is the latest in a series of controversies that began when Indonesia stopped sharing its H5N1 isolates in early 2007 to protest what it views as a lack of access to affordable H5N1 therapies and vaccines. The WHO has held several meetings to resolve the virus sharing issues, but so far no agreements have been reached.Sharon Sanders, editor-in-chief of FluTrackers, a well-known Web message board that focuses on avian flu developments, told CIDRAP News that Indonesia’s decision to delay H5N1 notifications will obscure what is happening there, which negatively affects the world’s ability to prepare for a pandemic.She said Indonesia’s news blackout would likely have the opposite effect from what the government apparently intends. “Now, there will be intense speculation and generation of rumors surrounding suspicious deaths that have similar symptoms to H5N1 infections,” Sanders said. “False rumors of an H5N1 outbreak have the potential to be even more economically devastating than a government-confirmed outbreak.”Established in early 2006, FluTrackers monitors avian flu developments in several languages from several sources and hosts international discussion forums and resource lists.Sanders said media reports coming out of Indonesia are generally reliable, but have some drawbacks. “In many instances, reported suspicious human cases have little or no follow up, so we are left with gaps in our total picture,” she said.Indonesia’s avian flu news blackout might increase traffic to online avian flu communities, such as FluTrackers and FluWiki, because they translate and analyze Indonesian newspaper reports, blogs, newscasts, and other sources, Sanders said.”FluTrackers will continue to publish what we can; however, we rely on the local sources in Indonesia,” she said. “Since the national government is imposing restrictions on when they confirm human deaths, we are watching for other restrictions such as suppression of the local news media to develop.”
The AHV manages its commodity exposure in-house, tracking the Bloomberg Commodity Index via swaps.Under the new strategy, which allows commodity investments in energy and precious metals only, “the index will have to be changed”, the scheme said.The fund has also decided to manage government bonds in US dollars in-house to cut asset-management costs.The AHV said it expected to save “more than half a million Swiss francs” with the measure.Further, the pension fund decided to define a separate allocation for less liquid investments “to increase transparency in reporting”.Strategic investment in real estate was increased from 6% to 7%, while the AHV said it would start to build indirect exposure to foreign real estate via funds “step by step”.To date, the fund has invested 26% of its real estate portfolio in foreign real estate, mainly Asia and North America, using listed vehicles; the remainder comprises domestic direct and indirect investments.A similar step to invest in foreign property had been considered more than a year ago, when the AHV looked into a Europe-only real estate fund. To make the portfolio “more resilient” to market corrections, hedging tools were expanded to include a tail-risk hedging vehicle, which the fund developed internally and will be implemented in the coming months.Further, it introduced an operational risk report to provide the managing board with additional information beyond the existing compliance report.Last year, the AHV’s portfolio would have returned 10.36%, but equity overlays, as well as interest rate and foreign currency hedges, lowered the reported return to 7.1%.However, after the Swiss National Bank cut the peg of the Swiss franc to the euro on 15 January this year, the AHV noted its foreign-currency hedging prevented a CHF1bn loss. Switzerland’s CHF33bn (€27bn) first-pillar fund AHV has decided against investing in agricultural commodities in future, according to its 2014 annual report.It said it based its “new concept” for commodity investments on “political sensitivity” to investments in food, agriculture and livestock.In 2014, commodity holdings were the only part of AHV’s portfolio to register a loss, returning -8.2%.For the year previous, the asset class returned -9.85%.
Oil and gas company Vår Energi has entered into a partnership with the Norwegian Carbon Capture & Storage Research Center (NCCS) to enable fast track CCS technology development and deployment.Goliat field in the Barents Sea. Source: Vår EnergiVår Energi said on Friday that the agreement has a total value of NOK 30 million ($3.5 million) over a six-year period and is part of an industry-driven and science-based innovation effort.“This partnership complements Vår Energi’s research and development portfolio. The company is committed to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases through CCS technology development,” said Oddvar Ims, R&D Manager in Vår Energi.Vår Energi will contribute by investing 5 million NOK every year for a period of six years. The joint industry project started in 2017 and will continue until 2025.“NCCS’ main objective is to become a world-leading CCS Center by enabling fast-track CCS technology development and deployment by addressing major barriers in industry projects,” Vår Energi said.“It is a proud moment for NCCS to welcome Vår Energi to one of the largest CCS R&D efforts worldwide. Personally, I am sure Vår Energi will bring enlarged momentum to the center,” said Mona J. Mølnvik, NCCS director and Research Director at SINTEF.CCS is considered to be one of the most promising solutions to effectively reduce emissions of greenhouse gases on a global scale, as a means of limiting atmospheric CO2 emissions. The NCCS consortium comprises several oil and gas companies, CCS technology vendors and users in the private and commercial sector. The joint industry project also consists of institutions such as SINTEF, NTNU, UiO, NGI and others.“Our objective is to further minimize environmental impact in our operations, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a key element in our mission. The Vår Energi-operated Goliat field in the Barents Sea demonstrates this commitment by being mainly electrified with power from shore, making it one of the lowest CO2 emitting fields on the Norwegian continental shelf. All initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint are positive, and CCS deployment is an effective measure. We hope that our contribution in addition to others, will further enable NCCS’ progress,” Ims added.This partnership supports the Norwegian full-scale CCS project. In addition to this, the center also supports its industry partners in developing the necessary knowledge for large scale CO2 storage in the Norwegian part of the North Sea basin.“Supported by the Research Council of Norway and the partnership, NCCS will contribute to the development of cost and energy efficient CCS technologies, smart business models, and CCS deployment at large scale in Norway, Europe and globally,” said Mølnvik.
The scholarship was established in 2006 and was designed specifically to help students transfer from one B.C. post-secondary institution to another B.C. post-secondary to finish their degrees.Rory Grewar, program director of the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society said, “B.C. has a great transfer system that allows students to move from one institution to another. When students can start their program at a local college in their hometown, they save money and can rely on their networks for support. Then, when it’s time to move elsewhere to finish their degrees, the Ike Barber Transfer Scholarship can help financially.”In a release sent by Grewar, Good stated, It’s a huge weight off my shoulders. With moving and tuition, I had no idea how I was going to do it. Even though I already knew how hard it was to move away from home for school, I knew what I wanted to do and had to make it happen.”- Advertisement –