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Aid delivered to four besieged towns in Syria: ICRC

Seventy trucks of humanitarian aid were delivered on Sunday to four besieged towns in Syria for the first time in almost six months, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. The aid organisation said convoys were delivered to Madaya and Zabdani near Damascus and to the villages of al Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province in the north west. Kefraya and al-Foua, in Idlib province in northwest Syria, have around 20,000 people, according to U.N. estimates, and have been surrounded by insurgents since April 2015.

Thousands march in Dublin, abroad for Irish abortion rights

By Padraic Halpin DUBLIN (Reuters) – Thousands of protestors marched in Dublin, and Irish expatriates joined in demonstrations around the world on Saturday, to put pressure on the Irish government to hold a referendum to repeal restrictive abortion laws. Regulations in the once stridently Catholic Ireland are among the strictest in the world and next month Prime Minister Enda Kenny will call a citizens' assembly to advise the government on whether a vote should be held to boost access to abortion. Demonstrators marched in the rain on government buildings from Dublin's main thoroughfare of O'Connell Street, bringing traffic to a standstill by the River Liffey as they chanted, beat drums and held placards saying “My Body, My Choice”.

Novartis drug Zykadia gets positive trial results

ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis cancer drug Zykadia showed positive results in a phase III clinical trial in treating patients with a form of lung cancer, the Swiss drugmaker said on Friday. Zykadia, whose generic name is ceritinib, displayed significant improvement in progression-free survival compared to standard chemotherapy in previously untreated patients with advanced anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive non-small cell lung cancer, it said. …

United Nations pledges to fight drug-resistant superbugs

United Nations member countries pledged for the first time on Wednesday to take steps to tackle the threat posed by drug-resistant superbugs in a coordinated effort to curb the spread of infections by pathogens that defy antimicrobial medicines. The pledge during the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York followed years of warnings by global health officials about the rise of drug-resistant infections, which threaten to wipe out all effective antibiotics and antifungal medicines, leaving the world vulnerable to simple infections that once could be easily cured.

Saudi plane isolated at Manila airport after false hijack alarm, incident over

A Saudi Arabian Airlines plane was temporarily isolated after landing at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday following a false hijack alarm, airline and airport officials said. Saudi state television said the incident was over, and passengers could be seen disembarking from flight 872, which was traveling from the Saudi city of Jeddah to Manila. Earlier, a pilot on board had advised the airport’s control tower that the plane was “under threat”.

Merkel’s party suffers rout in Berlin in migrant policy backlash

By Michael Nienaber and Madeline Chambers BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party suffered its second electoral blow in two weeks on Sunday, slumping to its lowest level since 1990 in a Berlin state vote that rejected her open-door refugee policy. Voters turned to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which with 12.9 percent of the vote will enter its 10th regional assembly among the country's 16 states. Merkel's Christian Democrats were routed in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern two weeks ago, triggering calls from the CSU for her to toughen up her migrant policy.

Belgium reports first case of euthanasia for a minor

By Francesco Guarascio BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A 17-year-old has been euthanized in Belgium in what is the first application of rules adopted by the country in 2014 allowing doctor-assisted death for minors of all ages, the head of the national committee for euthanasia said on Saturday. Wim Distelmans, who chairs Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia, said in an emailed statement that the first case was reported to his committee by a local doctor last week. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, and two years ago amended the rules to permit doctor-assisted death for minors in a hopeless medical situation and with their explicit consent.

Global goal to reduce maternal deaths threatened by lack of access to quality care: study

By Anastasia Moloney BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Unequal access to health services and poor quality care for pregnant women is hampering progress in meeting international goals for eradicating deaths during childbirth, researchers said on Thursday. U.N. member states agreed a year ago to reduce the rate of maternal mortality, defined as a woman’s death during pregnancy, childbirth or within 6 weeks after birth, to fewer than 70 per 100,000 live births globally by 2030 as part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Globally maternal deaths have nearly halved since 1990 – falling to 216 women dying of maternal causes per 100,000 live births in 2015 from 385 per 100,000 in 1990.