AS part of the Aids Awareness Day commemorations Red Cross volunteers have installed an information table at a communal area in L’Arabi secondary school in l’Alfas del Pi. This will be manned and have information on the disease appropriate for both younger and older pupils at the school with the emphasis being on prevention. This is a collaboration with the town hall, specifically the Health and Education Departments as well as the headmistress of the school. Aids Awareness Day is on the 1 December and is an international event.

HERE in the west, we generally regard measles as an irritant if contracted, certainly not something that can prove deadly. However, an outbreak sweeping the Democrat Republic of the Congo (DRC) shows that is far from the case with more than 5,000 people being killed there this year, 90% of those children under five. Around 250,000 people in the poverty-stricken central African state have contracted measles, mainly due to the lack of vaccines and the trouble distributing it to remote and often war-torn areas.

Fear of the disease has led in turn to attacks on health care facilities as people search for the vaccine with six health care workers having been killed just this year and dozens hurt. The authorities are trying to focus on the worst-hit areas and then work down from there but admit to fighting a losing battle in a country also struggling with an Ebola virus outbreak. The majority of the deaths are from measles-related side effects such as severe diarrhoea and encephalitis that would be treatable in wealthier countries but can often spell death to the poor, especially the very young. Ironically in parts of the west, there is a growing “anti-vax” movement while in the DRC children are dying as there are not enough vaccinations to go around – and also showing how rapidly the disease can spread.

BENIDORM was once again the venue for the second Congress of Police Drones last week. The flying machines have become an increasingly important tool for the police and other authorities giving them quick access to difficult locations, improved surveillance, the capability to sweep an area to search for criminals or lost people and to better monitor large crowds.

The drones were given various tasks and missions to complete against the background of the iconic Benidorm skyline and demonstrated how they can also transport items to help with rescue missions. Councillor Lorenzo Martinez (Public Safety Department) stressed the rapid evolution of drones, not just for leisure but for the police, schools and private companies.

VALENCIA’S municipal buses welcomed their first canine passengers on Monday after the introduction of the special EMT Mascota Card. Sunny and Pepo were the first official users of the card, which costs five euros and grants unlimited travel on the network for two years. However, dogs over 15 kilos are excluded from the scheme which has upset some owners of large dogs who are alleging discrimination. EMT has said that this is for health and safety reasons as they are too large to travel in a pet basket which is a requirement for the protection of other passengers. The operator says that the driver will always have the ultimate discretion so if a passenger has phobias or allergies, they need to let the driver know before he allows pooches onboard.

AS people up and down Spain undertook activities on Monday relating to the Day against Gender Violence, a 26-year-old woman in Tenerife became the latest victim, seemingly murdered by her 29-year-old partner. The events happened between 4 am and 5 am in San Isidro and the authorities were called to the address. When the Guardia Civil arrived at the scene the young woman had already died of stab wounds and her partner, a Colombian national, has now been arrested. The Regional Executive said that as things stand this is being treated as a clear case of gender violence, the eighth such fatality on the Canary Islands so far this year and the 53rd in Spain during 2019.

A 23-year-old man died after falling from a fourth-floor property in Valencia he was trying to access and where his ex-girlfriend lived. The pair had separated just the day before and apparently the victim had taken away his personal belongings while his former partner had the keys. His reason for returning to the property is not known; it appeared he slipped and fell to his death, landing in the inner courtyard of the apartment block. An ambulance crew attended but the medical staff said that his injuries were so severe that they were unable to attempt resuscitation.

ALTEA’S Santa Barbara fiestas started earlier this week and really get underway today (Friday 29 November). Today’s highlights include the parade from 5 pm and music from DJ Sento at 10 pm. On Saturday there are morning events for the children and at 2 pm there will be a giant paella with more kids’ activities in the afternoon. Music for the evening is from Grupo Diamonds and DJ Ivan, starting at 9.30. There is a mass for Santa Barbara and a choir on Sunday followed by food and drink at 2 pm and a magic show for the little ones from 4 pm while the events are finalised in the evening. As timings and venues may be subject to change depending on the weather it is best to contact the tourist information for full details. The town hall website is www.altea.es

THE Hospital de Denia in collaboration with Javea Cancer Care, was the venue last week for a major gathering of experts in the field of oncology, specifically colon, breast and gynaecological cancers. The day focused on treatment, clinical best practice and research. There was also a round table and presentation on genetic factors and their importance in both early-onset cancer and that of senior citizens. Case studies of patients treated at Denia Hospital were used to illustrate the work being carried out. Spain is one of the leading countries when it comes to cancer treatment and clinicians in this part of the world have a lot of experience with it, partly due to the disproportionately older citizenship that lives on the Costa Blanca.

THE HarleQuins Cabaret Group have a 45th-anniversary show this Saturday (30 November) at Camping Almafra and you may still be in time to get a ticket for what promises to be a great night. Group choreographer Carol Levey is the only remaining member of the original cast and is now ably helped by co-producer Dawn and several others, both old and new members. The evening starts at 7.30 and proceeds from the €10 ticket sales will help out local cancer care and animal charities. For tickets or information contact Carol (651 459 776) or Camping Almafra (965 889 075). Alternatively, you can go to the groups Facebook page at HarleQuins Elite Cabaret.

LOCALLY based Falken Tours were last week awarded the “Best Group Producer Winner” by the MSC cruise company. Members of the Falken management team accepted the award on board the MSC Grandiosa, MSC’s flagship liner that operates in the Mediterranean. Falken Tours have offices in La Marina, La Zenia (Orihuela Costa) and Denia – see their Facebook page for more details.

(Pictured): Happy scenes at the awards ceremony.