World Tour: Language laws and Ghana’s drone delivery program

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Mindy Belz.

MINDY BELZ, REPORTER: Indian elections—We start today in India.

AUDIO: [Street noise outside polling place]

Voters in the world’s largest democracy went to the polls for a fourth round of national elections on Monday. The voting started April 11th. It will take a total of seven rounds for all 900 million registered voters to cast their ballots. Counting will begin May 23rd.

This Mumbai resident said she believes incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party will win.

WOMAN: I think the BJP will win because they are giving us good services, and we have had no problems since this government is there.

“No problems” for Hindus, perhaps. Non-Hindus have not fared so well under Modi. Opposition candidates have criticized his encouragement of Hindu nationalism. They say that has aggravated religious tensions and violence against Muslims and other minority faiths.

Pre-election polling suggests Modi will win this election but with a smaller majority in parliament.

Language laws in Ukraine—Next we go to Ukraine.

AUDIO: [Sound of cheering]

Lawmakers in Kiev cheered the passage of a law requiring civil servants, doctors, teachers, and lawyers to speak Ukrainian. The move is an attempt to minimize use of Russian language. Many Ukrainians are bilingual.

But the measure might not survive the country’s newly elected president. Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement he would review the law carefully once he takes office.

Zelensky is a TV actor with no political experience. He often speaks Russian at public events.

Moscow voiced outrage at the new language law. But just a day earlier, the outrage was reversed. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree making it easier for people living in eastern Ukraine to get Russian passports.

PUTIN: [Speaking in Russian]

Putin said he eventually hoped the two countries would share a common citizenship. Ukraine and its allies criticized the move as an assault on the country’s sovereignty.

Malaria vaccine in Malawi—Next we go to eastern Africa. Healthcare workers in Malawi celebrated a medical milestone last week.

AUDIO: [Babies crying]

Nurses administered the first malaria vaccine to babies in the country’s capital, Lilongwe. Dr. Michael Kayange is with the health ministry.

KAYANGE: This vaccine has the potential of preventing 1 million cases, and at the moment we are experiencing 6 million cases each year.

Malaria remains one of the world’s most deadly diseases. It kills more than 250,000 children each year in Africa alone. Globally, at least one child dies of malaria every two minutes.

Clinics in Kenya and Ghana also will begin distributing the vaccine later this month.

Burkina Faso church attack—Next we go to the West African nation of Burkina Faso. Islamic militants there attacked a Protestant church on Sunday, killing the pastor and four worshippers.

Security experts say it’s the first attack on a church since jihadist violence erupted in 2015.

AUDIO: [Man speaking French]

Paul Oumarou Koalaga says the terrorists are trying to spark inter-religious conflict. Several jihadist groups are active in the country. But no group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.

350 people have died in terror attacks in the last four years. And more than 4 million people have fled their homes.

Ghana’s drone delivery program—And finally, we end today in neighboring Ghana. There a U-S company has launched what it calls “the largest drone delivery network on the planet.”

AUDIO: [Sounds from clinic]

The fleet of 30 drones will distribute vaccines, blood, and life-saving medications to health facilities across the country. Justin Hamilton is a spokesman for Zipline.

HAMILTON: When people are in urgent need, when their life is on the line and the hospital might no have the blood or the medicine they need to stay alive, we are able to get that medicine to them in 15 or 20 minutes by sending a drone and airdropping a package of medicine to the hospital.

If the program succeeds in Ghana, it could help bring access to healthcare in other remote parts of the world.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Mindy Belz.

(Photo/Karel Prinsloo, Associated Press)A baby receives a malaria vaccine during a trial at the Walter Reed Project Research Center in Kombewa, Kenya. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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