Hit by Sanctions, Asia’s Iran Crude Oil Imports Drop to 3-Year Low in 2018

Iranian crude oil imports by Asia’s top four buyers dropped to the lowest volume in three years in 2018 amid U.S. sanctions on Tehran, but China and India stepped up imports in December after getting waivers from Washington. Asia’s top four buyers of Iranian crude — China, India, Japan and South Korea — imported a total 1.31 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, down 21 percent from the previous year, data from the countries showed. That was the lowest since about 1 million bpd in 2015, when a previous round of sanctions on Iran led to a sharp drop in Asian imports, Reuters data showed. The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports last November as it wants to negotiate a new nuclear deal with the country. U.S. officials have said they intend to reduce the Islamic Republic’s oil exports to zero. On a monthly basis, Asia’s imports from Iran rebounded to a three-month high of 761,593 bpd in December as China and India stepped up purchases after Washington granted eight countries waivers from the Iranian sanctions for 180 days from the start of November. “We expect Iranian exports to Asia to remain stable at around 800,000 barrels per day until May, when the waivers expire,” said Energy Aspects analyst Riccardo Fabiani. In December, China’s imports climbed above 500,000 bpd for the first time in three months, while India’s imports rose above 302,000 bpd. Japan and South Korea did not import any Iranian crude that month because they …

US Researchers Looking For Long Lasting Ebola Vaccine

The World Health Organization reports that more than 700 people have been sickened with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And now, neighboring countries of South Sudan and Rwanda are bracing for the virus to spread. But, half a world away, U.S. researchers are hoping to develop a new, long-lasting vaccine against Ebola. VOA’s Carol Pearson has more. …

Nearly Half of US Adults Have Heart or Blood Vessel Disease

A new report estimates that nearly half of all U.S. adults have some form of heart or blood vessel disease, a medical milestone that’s mostly due to recent guidelines that expanded how many people have high blood pressure.   The American Heart Association said Thursday that more than 121 million adults had cardiovascular disease in 2016. Taking out those with only high blood pressure leaves 24 million, or 9 percent of adults, who have other forms of disease such as heart failure or clogged arteries.   Measuring the burden of diseases shows areas that need to improve, the heart association’s chief science and medical officer, Dr. Mariell Jessup, said in a statement.   High blood pressure, which had long been defined as a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90, dropped to 130 over 80 under guidelines adopted in 2017. It raises the risk for heart attacks, strokes and many other problems, and only about half of those with the condition have it under control.   Being diagnosed with high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily mean you need medication right away; the first step is aiming for a healthier lifestyle, even for those who are prescribed medicine. Poor diets, lack of exercise and other bad habits cause 90 percent of high blood pressure.   The report is an annual statistics update by the heart association, the National Institutes of Health and others.   Other highlights:   Heart and blood vessel disease is linked to 1 of …

Ghirardelli, Russel Stover Fined over Chocolate Packaging

Ghirardelli and Russell Stover have agreed to pay $750,000 in fines after prosecutors in California said they offered a little chocolate in a lot of wrapping. Prosecutors in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Fresno, Santa Cruz and Yolo counties sued the candy makers, alleging they misled consumers by selling chocolate products in containers that were oversized or “predominantly empty.” Prosecutors also alleged that Ghirardelli offered one chocolate product containing less cocoa than advertised. The firms didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing but agreed to change their packaging under a settlement approved earlier this month. Some packages will shrink or will have a transparent window so consumers can look inside. San Francisco-based Ghirardelli and Kansas City-based Russell Stover are owned by a Swiss company, Lindt & Sprungli. …

Trump Order Asks Federal Fund Recipients to Buy US Goods

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Thursday pushing those who receive federal funds to “buy American.” The aim is to boost U.S. manufacturing. Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, told reporters during a telephone briefing the policies are helping workers who “are blue collar, Trump people.” Later he amended that, saying he “every American is a Trump person” because Trump’s economic policies affect everyone.   Navarro said the order would affect federal financial assistance, which includes everything from loans and grants to insurance and interest subsidies.   He says some 30 federal agencies award over $700 billion in such aid each year. Recipients working on projects like bridges and sewer systems will be encouraged to use American products.     …

WHO: Cervical Cancer Preventable, Can Be Eliminated

Ahead of World Cancer Day (February 4), the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for accelerated action to eliminate cervical cancer, a preventable disease that kills more than 300,000 women every year. Cervical cancer ranks among leading causes of death for women worldwide.  Nine in 10 deaths occur in poor and middle-income countries.  The disease is caused by the human papillomavirus and is transmitted through sexual contact. The WHO says cervical cancer can be cured if the infection is diagnosed and treated at an early stage. But, as with some ailments in life, prevention is the best cure.  And, in the case of cervical cancer, an effective vaccine is available that can prevent the disease when given to girls between the ages of nine and 14.   The WHO’s Immunization Program technical officer, Paul Bloem, says the vaccine is widely administered in rich countries.  While countries with the highest burden of cervical cancer in Africa and Asia are lagging behind, he says progress is being made. “In countries, such as Rwanda, a trailblazer in Africa, that reaches over 90 percent since five, six years.  Bhutan, that reaches also 90 percent of its girls.  Malaysia, that reaches 97 percent of its girls.  So, there are some extremely good examples that show that this vaccine is accepted and can be delivered in low-income settings,” he said.   Bloem says four countries in Africa – Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Senegal – introduced the vaccine last year.  He says 11 more countries in Africa …

Survey: 2018 ‘Worst Year Ever’ for Smartphone Market

Global smartphone sales saw their worst contraction ever in 2018, and the outlook for 2019 isn’t much better, new surveys show. Worldwide handset volumes declined 4.1 percent in 2018 to a total of 1.4 billion units shipped for the full year, according to research firm IDC, which sees a potential for further declines this year. “Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,” said IDC analyst Ryan Reith. “Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, (South) Korea and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018.” Reith said the market has been hit by consumers waiting longer to replace their phones, frustration around the high cost of premium devices, and political and economic uncertainty. The Chinese market, which accounts for roughly 30 percent of smartphone sales, was especially hard hit with a 10 percent drop, according to IDC’s survey, which was released Wednesday. IDC said the top five smartphone makers have become stronger and now account for 69 percent of worldwide sales, up from 63 percent a year ago. Samsung remained the number one handset maker with a 20.8 percent share despite an eight percent sales slump for the year, IDC said. Apple managed to recapture the number two position with a 14.9 percent market share, moving ahead of Huawei at 14.7 percent, the survey found. IDC said fourth-quarter smartphone sales fell 4.9 percent – the fifth consecutive quarter of decline. “The challenging holiday quarter closes out the worst year ever for …

Slowing Economy Hangs Over Chinese New Year Holiday

As millions make the trek home in China to celebrate the Lunar New Year Holiday, news about layoffs at big companies, the slowing economy and the rising cost of goods has added a layer of uncertainty at a time that is typically marked by festivity. In 2018, China’s economy grew at its slowest rate in 28 years and some employers are warning of “tough times” and talking about “surviving” at year-end banquets. On top of that, the U.S.-China trade dispute and tariffs has added to the uncertainty and downward pressure on the broader economy. On the streets in Beijing, most people that VOA spoke with were still hopeful the situation would improve but nervous as well. Li Xu, who runs an Internet music startup, said there’s not much one can do but find ways to adapt and create new opportunities. “Everyone can see what’s happening. Online businesses rely on money and investors are very cautious now,” Li said. To adapt, he said his company is “cutting promotion costs, squeezing the cost of personnel and office rent.” Tech anxiety Another tech worker voiced similar concerns, calling the situation serious. “The overall environment for online businesses is not good. In addition to competition, the industry is taking a downturn and many big Internet companies are making cutbacks,” he said. The tech worker, surnamed Wang, who works for a small online advertising agency, said the company he works for has not seen any layoffs so far. Others have not been as lucky. In …

Державна агенція із закупівлі ліків оголосила перші тендери – МОЗ

Державне підприємство «Медичні закупівлі», яке має перебрати на себе повноваження із закупівель ліків та медичних виробів у міжнародних організацій, оголосило перші тендери, повідомляє Міністерство охорони здоров’я на своєму сайті. За цією інформацією, йдеться про закупівлі ліків від супутніх інфекцій при ВІЛ та побічних реакцій від терапії, а також медичних респіраторів у межах програм Глобального фонду. «У цілому у 2019 році «Медичні закупівлі України» мають не лише провести десятки тендерів, а й застосувати нові інструменти закупівель. Наприклад, електронні каталоги (е-каталоги), що дозволять замовникам, в першу чергу – невеликим регіональним медичним закладам, – швидко і зручно замовляти типові препарати і вироби за принципом інтернет-магазину», – мовиться у повідомленні. Міністерство охорони здоров’я України в 2015 році передало міжнародним організаціям ПРООН, ЮНІСЕФ та компанії Crown Agents право проводити державні закупівлі медичних препаратів. Це, насамперед, ліки з онкології, ВІЛ/СНІДу, туберкульозу, гепатиту, дитячої гемофілії і вакцинації. Читайте також: Від міжнародних організацій – до нацагенції: як відбувається і як зміниться закупівля ліків в Україні Потім цю функцію мала перебрати новостворена держагенція із 2019-го, але врешті було ухвалено рішення відтермінувати її офіційний запуск. МОЗ обіцяє запустити повноцінну роботу національної агенції із закупівель ліків із наступного року, а нинішній рік має стати перехідним.   …