APEC calls for immediate steps vs swine flu, but no travel ban

Swine FluManila - Asia-Pacific transport ministers on Wednesday called for immediate steps to contain the spread of a deadly swine flu virus outbreak, but they did not call for a travel ban in the countries affected by the disease. At the end of the 6th Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Transportation Ministerial Meeting in Manila, the ministers expressed concern over the spread of the swine flu virus, which now affects seven countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Communist rebels abduct soldier in southern Philippines, army says

PhilippinesManila - Communist rebels abducted a Philippine army soldier who visited a clinic for a medical check-up in a southern province, an army spokesman said Wednesday. Troops have been dispatched to rescue Private Ronnie Trinidad from the guerrillas in Compostela Valley province, 930 kilometres south of Manila, Lieutenant Franco Ver Lopez said.

Trinidad went to a clinic in New Bataan town Tuesday after experiencing stomachaches and was accompanied by another soldier, who bought supplies for their battalion, Lopez said.

Asian Development Bank to help improve flood management in region

Asian Development Bank to help improve flood management in region Manila  - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Wednesday it was providing a 2-million-dollar grant to help improve flood management in the region in a bid to reduce rising human and economic costs of water-related disasters.

The Manila-based ADB said the regional assistance will come from the Japan Special Fund, which is financed by the government of Japan.

Wealthy Asians consider private jets to avoid swine flu risks

Wealthy Asians consider private jets to avoid swine flu risksHong Kong - Wealthy Asian travellers are considering flying by private jet to avoid the risk of swine flu exposure on commercial flights, a news report said Wednesday.

Private jet service Asia Jet has seen a 40-per-cent rise in inquiries about its flights, at a cost of 5,900 US dollars an hour, since the swine flu scare spread Monday to Asia, the South China Morning Post reported.

Enquiries had come from across the region for the Hong Kong-based company's fleet of Gulfstream jets, said chief executive Justin Lee Firestone.

WHO vows to intensify fight against malaria in Asia-Pacific

World Health Organization (WHO)Manila- The World Health Organization (WHO) vowed on Friday to intensify the fight against malaria in Asia and the Pacific amid growing signs of the disease developing greater resistance to commonly used drugs.

The Manila-based WHO Western Pacific Office expressed concern over the situation in the Thai-Cambodian border where a strain of malaria that is increasingly resistant to artemisinin, the most effective drug available to fight the disease, has proliferated.

Oxfam: Climate crises to affect 375 million by 2015

global warmingBangkok - Natural disasters caused by climate change are expected to affect 375 million people by the year 2015, threatening to overwhelm the current humanitarian aid system, a confederation of internatonal aid groups warned Tuesday.

Oxfam International Tuesday launched its report entitled The Right to Survive, studying the potential impact of climate change on the current humanitarian aid system.