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Major step in malaria prevention as three West African countries roll out vaccine 

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In a significant step forward for malaria prevention in Africa, three countries—Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone—today launched a large-scale rollout of the life-saving malaria vaccine targeting millions of children across the three West African nations. The vaccine rollout, announced on World Malaria Day, seeks to further scale up vaccine deployment in the African region.

Today’s launch brings to eight the number of countries on the continent to offer the malaria vaccine as part of the childhood immunization programmes, extending access to more comprehensive malaria prevention. Several of the more than 30 countries in the African region that have expressed interest in the vaccine are scheduled to roll it out in the next year through support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as efforts continue to widen its deployment in the region in coordination with other prevention measures such as long-lasting insecticidal nets and seasonal malaria chemoprevention.

Benin, which received 215 900 doses, has added the malaria vaccine to its Expanded Programme on Immunization. The malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from around 5 months of age.

“The introduction of the malaria vaccine in the Expanded Programme on Immunization for our children is a major step forward in the fight against this scourge. I would like to reassure that the malaria vaccines are safe and effective and contribute to the protection of our children against this serious and fatal diseases,” said Prof Benjamin Hounkpatin, Minister of Health of Benin.

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In Liberia, the vaccine was launched in the southern Rivercess County and will be rolled out afterwards in five other counties which have high malaria burden. At least 45 000 children are expected to benefit from the 112 000 doses of the available vaccine.

“For far too long, malaria has stolen the laughter and dreams of our children. But today, with this vaccine and the unwavering commitment of our communities, healthcare workers and our partners, including Gavi, UNICEF and WHO, we break the chain. We have a powerful tool that will protect them from this devastating illness and related deaths, ensuring their right to health and a brighter future. Let’s end malaria in Liberia and pave the way for a healthier, more just society,” said Dr Louise Kpoto, Liberia’s Minister of Health.

Two safe and effective vaccines — RTS,S and R21 — recommended by World Health Organization (WHO), are a breakthrough for child health and malaria control. A pilot malaria vaccine programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi reached over 2 million children from 2019 to 2023, showing a significant reduction in malaria illness and a 13% drop in overall child mortality and substantial reductions in hospitalizations.

In Sierra Leone, the first doses were administered to children at a health centre in Western Area Rural where the authorities kicked off the rollout of 550 000 vaccine doses. The vaccine will then be delivered in health facilities nationwide.

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“With the new, safe and efficacious malaria vaccine, we now have an additional tool to fight this disease. In combination with insecticide-treated nets, effective diagnosis and treatment, and indoor spraying, no child should die from malaria infection,” said Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Health of Sierra Leone.

Malaria remains a huge health challenge in the African region, which is home to 11 countries that carry approximately 70% of the global burden of malaria. The region accounted for 94% of global malaria cases and 95% of all malaria deaths in 2022, according to the World Malaria Report.

“The African region is taking positive steps in scaling up the rollout of the malaria vaccine – a game-changer in our fight against this deadly disease,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Working with our partners, we’re committed to supporting the ongoing efforts to protect, save the lives of young children and lower the malaria burden in the region.”

Aurelia Nguyen, Chief Programme Officer at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, noted: “Today we celebrate more children gaining access to a new lifesaving tool to fight one of Africa’s deadliest diseases. This introduction of malaria vaccines into routine programmes in Benin, Liberia, and Sierra Leone alongside other proven interventions will help save lives and offer relief to families, communities and hard-pressed health systems.”

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Progress against malaria has stalled in these high-burden African countries since 2017 due to factors including climate change, humanitarian crises, low access to and insufficient quality of health services, gender-related barriers, biological threats such as insecticide and drug resistance and global economic crises. Fragile health systems and critical gaps in data and surveillance have compounded the challenge.

To put malaria progress back on track, WHO recommends robust commitment to malaria responses at all levels, particularly in high-burden countries; greater domestic and international funding; science and data-driven malaria responses; urgent action on the health impacts of climate change; harnessing research and innovation; as well as strong partnerships for coordinated responses. WHO is also calling attention to addressing delays in malaria programme implementation.

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Swizz Beatz & Timbaland Cement New Distribution Partnership Between Verzuz & X

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Swizz Beatz & Timbaland Cement New Distribution Partnership Between Verzuz & X

Making a monumental power move, VERZUZ—the online award-winning, multi-media platform launched by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland—has cemented an exclusive partnership with Xfor distribution. Swizz and Timbaland personally broke the news at an activation in Cannes, France today.

 

Earlier this year, Swizz and Timbaland reacquired VERZUZ from previous partner Triller, now owning 100% of the platform, while retaining their equity (along with the artists who participated in VERZUZ) in Triller. Upon resuming complete control, they sought out the perfect channel for independent distribution.

The partnership journey with X has now begun!

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Together, the companies orchestrated a mutually beneficial alliance where Swizz and Timbaland maintain their full ownership and creative control, while X receives exclusive distribution rights. As a result, VERZUZ will now broadcast to an audience of over 550 million active users, exponentially expanding its viewership and international reach like never before. Since the inception of VERZUZ, the conversations around each VERZUZ naturally evolved on X from fans and enthusiasts alike. Viewers will now be able to watch for FREE exclusively on X, bringing the visual series, and viral conversation, all to one platform! Stay tuned for the announcement of the next VERZUZ matchup coming soon.

 

About this chapter, Swizz stated, “We are beyond thrilled to have found the best partner for Verzuz. Not only are we excited to have Verzuz on X, we’re excited to help X build the biggest entertainment company in the world. I would like to thank Elon Musk, Linda Yaccarino, Brett Weitz, Mitchell Smith and the entire X team for believing in the Verzuz vision. We can’t wait to get to work.”

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Timbaland added, “We are thrilled to partner with X, the most innovative platform globally. Our goal has always been to bring Verzuz to the world which we can now do bigger than ever.”

As they have since the first VERZUZ, the founders uplift the culture and community into the spotlight in the center of the world’s stage. However, they preserve the same grit, honor, authenticity, and integrity that makes hip-hop, rap, R&B, soul and ALL genres of music so special. They have the opportunity to magnify its resonance, thanks to Elon Musk, Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, and the entire X team championing their unfiltered voices.

 

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Linda Yaccarino stated, “X is so proud to partner with trailblazing creators, artists, and entrepreneurs Swizz Beatz & Timbaland. Our platform stands at the forefront of innovation, and Verzuz defines the essence of an innovative content experience. As we continue to work with the most exciting voices to bring premium content to X, there is no better fit than this series. Together we will redefine how consumers engage with their favorite entertainment, one Verzuz at a time.”

 

VERZUZ has partnered with Uncontained Media, led by Christian Sarabia, and Raymond Garcia. Together, they have produced multiple hit shows including Emmy Winner DRIVE WITH SWIZZ BEATZ and will serve as the production company and Executive Producers of VERZUZ.

 

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The influence and impact of VERZUZ has proven to be undeniable. So far, it has produced over 40 episodes, generating 100 million-plus live views and over 70 billion impressions. It has naturally encompassed other verticals with VERZUZ SPORTS, and VERZUZ COMEDY, all which play well to some of the most highly engaged communities on X. Not to mention, the power of the #VERZUZEFFECT cannot be overstated. Every artist that has participated in a VERZUZ have seen dramatic increases in streaming, ticket sales, merchandise, and overall revenue from just one appearance.

 

Welcome to the biggest, boldest, and best era of VERZUZ. Welcome to the future of entertainment.

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“Lord Of The Rings” actor Ian McKellen hospitalized after falling off stage during London performance

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Sir Ian McKellen has been taken to hospital after falling off stage during a performance of Player Kings at the Noël Coward theatre in London. (more…)

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People & Lifestyle

German officials decry racist attack on 8-year old Ghanaian girl and her father

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German officials decry racist attack on 8-year old Ghanaian girl and her father

Police say a group of youths and teenagers injured an 8-year-old Ghanaian girl and her father in the town of Grevesmühlen in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

German officials have condemned an attack that resulted in the injury of a Ghanaian girl and her father.

Police said that an 8-year-old Ghanaian girl and her 10-year-old sister were attacked by a group of around 20 teenagers and young adults late on Friday.

The 8-year-old girl and her father sustained mild injuries and were hospitalized.

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The attack occurred in the town of Grevesmühlen in the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Police said the attackers kicked the younger girl in the face, after which the girl’s parents intervened.

According to police reports, one of the suspected attackers continued to direct racist insults at the victims after officers arrived at the scene.

Police are investigating a breach of the peace, grievous bodily harm, incitement of hatred and verbal abuse.

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Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on the platform X, formerly Twitter, that her thoughts and solidarity were with the children and their family.

“Calling children racist names and brutally attacking them is a sign of deep hatred and inconceivable inhumanity,” she said.

Grevesmühlen Mayor Lars Prahler told the German public radio station NDR 1 Radio MV that he was shocked at the incident.

“This racially motivated offense simply leaves me stunned. It shows bottomless hatred and uninhibited inhumanity and cannot be excused,” he said.

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He added that the fact that some of the suspects are teenagers is no excuse for the behavior.

State Premier Manuela Schwesig condemned the attack in a post on X.

“The injured girl is 8 years old — as young as my daughter. We must not allow hatred and hate speech to poison our society and violence to threaten our children,” she declared.

Jana Michael, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Integration Commissioner, urged those in the group of youths to name the perpetrators.

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“Every witness who remains silent is complicit and prevents the investigation of this disgusting violence against children,” she said.

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Social Trends: 101 Nations Unite for Ukraine Peace

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101 Nations Unite for Ukraine Peace

The Ukraine Peace Summit in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, convened with the participation of 101 countries and international organizations, focusing on achieving a just and sustainable peace between Ukraine and Russia.

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Key issues discussed included nuclear and food security, the release of civilian and military prisoners, and the return of deported children. A draft declaration emphasized the recognition of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the need for Russia to hand over control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to Ukraine, and the unacceptability of attacks on merchant vessels in the Black and Azov Seas.

Read Also: Freedom Fashion Ukraine heads to New York

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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed hope for international agreement on a peace proposal to present to Russia, while President William Ruto of Kenya and other world leaders participated in discussions aimed at addressing the conflict.

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Social Trends: Global Leaders Unite in Eid al-Adha 2024 Celebration

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Global Leaders Unite in Eid al-Adha 2024 Celebration

Eid al-Adha, a significant Muslim holiday, was celebrated globally on June 16, 2024. Public figures, politicians, and sports personalities took to social media to extend their greetings and wishes to the Muslim community.

The messages conveyed unity, joy, and blessings, with many expressing hope for peace, prosperity, and acceptance of sacrifices made during the festival.

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Read Also: Cristiano Ronaldo faces $1bn lawsuit over Binance ads

The greetings were shared across various platforms, reflecting a global celebration of the event.

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Social Trends: Alicia Keys & Jay-Z Tease New Collab

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Alicia Keys & Jay-Z Tease New Collab

Alicia Keys and Jay-Z are set to release a new collaboration soon, following the success of their previous hit ‘Empire State of Mind’ which recently surpassed a billion streams on Spotify.

The announcement has sparked excitement among fans, with many expressing anticipation for the upcoming song.

Read Also: Alicia Keys Reflects on the 20th Anniversary of The Diary of Alicia Key With Apple Music,First Grammys Experience & Learning To Celebrate Herself

“Empire State of Mind” is a song performed by American rapper Jay-Z featuring American singer Alicia Keys from the former’s 11th studio album, The Blueprint 3 (2009). It was released on October 20, 2009. Produced by Al Shux, the song features a music sample of “Love on a Two-Way Street” performed by The Moments. Angela Hunte and Janet Sewell-Ulepic originally wrote it as a tribute to their hometown, New York City.

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The following month, they submitted it to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation, whose reviews were discouraging. They later took the suggestion of an associate of EMI Music Publishing and resubmitted it to Jay-Z, who kept the “New York” singing part on the hook, changed the verses, and recorded it. The song’s title, similar to “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel and “N.Y. State of Mind” by Nas, is a wordplay and tribute to New York’s nickname “Empire State” and could also be a reference to the Empire State Building in Manhattan.

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