News Article | May 8, 2017
"Our goal is to develop breakthrough technologies that improve people's lives, and we thank the HAS and the French Health Ministry for recognizing the great benefit FreeStyle Libre has and for ensuring that people in France have wide access to this innovation," said Jared Watkin, senior vice president, Diabetes Care, Abbott. "We share a common goal—to make the best technology available to people with diabetes so that they have access to the information that they need to live healthier lives." The FreeStyle Libre system eliminates the challenges of routine finger sticking1 for people with diabetes. With the data from the device, they can have a better understanding of their glucose levels through the Ambulatory Glucose Profile (AGP), a chart generated by the software that provides a visual snapshot of glucose levels, trends and patterns over time. It also provides doctors with deeper insights to make more informed treatment decisions. "People with diabetes find finger sticking painful and cumbersome so they often don't test as frequently as they should," said Hélène Hanaire, M.D., University Hospital Center of Toulouse, Toulouse, France. "Having easier access to technology like FreeStyle Libre is going to increase freedom for individual patients on a larger scale, and ultimately change how they—and we—manage diabetes going forward." Abbott's FreeStyle Libre system was introduced across Europe in 2014, and is now available in more than 30 countries and used by more than 300,0004 people with diabetes around the world. Two published clinical trials5 and real-world evidence from more than 50,000 users6 show that people who use FreeStyle Libre system test their glucose levels an average of at least 15 times per day. The studies show that people who scan more frequently spend less time in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) while having improved average glucose levels, demonstrating improved glucose control overall. About the FreeStyle Libre System Abbott's FreeStyle Libre system is designed to change how people with diabetes measure their glucose levels and ultimately help them achieve better health outcomes. The system reads glucose levels through a sensor that can be worn on the back of the upper arm for up to 14 days, eliminating the need for routine finger sticks1. In addition, no finger stick calibration is needed—a key differentiator from current continuous glucose monitoring systems. In the U.S., the FreeStyle Libre system is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration7. About Abbott At Abbott, we're committed to helping people live their best possible life through the power of health. For more than 125 years, we've brought new products and technologies to the world -- in nutrition, diagnostics, medical devices and branded generic pharmaceuticals -- that create more possibilities for more people at all stages of life. Today, 94,000 of us are working to help people live not just longer, but better, in the more than 150 countries we serve. Connect with us at www.abbott.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Abbott and on Twitter @FreeStyleDiabet, @AbbottNews and @AbbottGlobal. 1 A fingerstick test using a glucometer is required during times of rapidly changing glucose levels when interstitial fluid glucose levels may not accurately reflect blood glucose levels; or if hypoglycemia or impending hypoglycemia is reported by the system; or when symptoms do not match the system readings 2 Data on file, Abbott Diabetes Care, Inc. 3 A caregiver at least 18 years old is responsible for supervising, managing, and assisting the child or young person ages 4-17 years old in using the FreeStyle Libre system and interpreting its readings 4 Data on file, Abbott Diabetes Care, Inc. 5 Bolinder J, Antuna R, Geelhoed-Duijvestijn P, Kroger J, Weitgasser R. Novel glucose-sensing technology and hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetes: a multicentre, non-masked, randomised controlled trial [published online September 12, 2016]. Lancet. 2016 6 Data on file. Dunn T, Xu Y, Hayter G; Evidence of a Strong Association Between Frequency of Flash Glucose Monitoring and Glucose Control Measures During Real-World Usage 7 Pending FDA approval. Not available for sale in the United States To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/abbott-announces-national-reimbursement-for-freestyle-libre-in-france-providing-access-to-revolutionary-technology-for-people-with-diabetes-300452755.html
News Article | May 1, 2017
It’s a fairly common tactic in Peru to issue a significant or potentially controversial decision or resolution when you hope no one is paying attention. 24, 26 or 31 December, for example. The Environment Ministry (MINAM) recently adopted that ploy by releasing, just before the Easter week holiday, proposals to dramatically roll back certain air quality standards across the country. The draft National Environmental Quality Standards for Air propose maintaining the maximum legal limits for nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, lead and benzene, but doubling the limit for some particulate matter. Most startling, they propose increasing the limit of sulfur dioxide by more than 12 times. MINAM effectively claims that Peru is the global leader in sulfur dioxide limits because it is the “only country in the world” which meets World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. That limit is 20 micrograms per cubic metre over a 24 hour averaging period, compared with 210 in Australia, 250 in Chile and Colombia, 288 in Mexico, 300 in Canada and 365 in Brazil, according to the ministry. Elsewhere in the world - although these are not acknowledged by MINAM - the limit is 150 in China, 125 in the EU, 131 in South Korea and 80 in India. The current proposal is to raise Peru’s limit to 250. One justification is that “no clearly defined link exists” between sulfur dioxide and negative impacts on human health, MINAM claims, according to its interpretation of research by the WHO, the US’s Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada, among others. Further justifications are that no other country in the world has a limit as stringent as 20 and adopting it was a mistake out of touch with “national reality.” It isn’t being complied with, the ministry argues, and therefore undermines the public’s faith in government and the law. “[The 20 limit] was adopted in a very short timeframe without a solid technical and economic argument and without considering sustainable development policy that involves taking acceptable risks to public health while at the same time introducing effective strategies to reduce environmental contamination,” MINAM states. The ministry’s proposals have met with serious concern and criticism from Peru’s Congressional Commission on the Environment, Ecology and Andean, Amazonian and Afroperuvian Peoples, NGOs, and many others. Lima-based APRODEH and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) say that MINAM is ignoring scientific evidence of the “serious health harms” caused by both sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. These include lung problems and premature death - with children, the elderly and people with asthma being particularly vulnerable. “There is overwhelming scientific evidence to conclude that sulfur dioxide pollution poses a serious health risk, particularly when the contamination reaches high levels over short periods of time, something the proposal does not take into account,” says AIDA’s co-director Anna Cederstav in a joint statement with APRODEH. Both organisations argue that MINAM’s proposals violate the American Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties binding on Peru. In addition, the public consultation was “flawed”, they state, with too little time for discussion and the scientific basis for the proposals not made public. That opinion is shared by the Congressional Commission on the Environment, which has written to Environment minister Elsa Galarza requesting a further 30 days for the public consultation process. The Commission is presided by Maria Elena Foronda, who has taken the lead in drawing public attention to the issue. “In the Commission’s view any law that would reduce environmental quality standards requires a responsible and timely technical evaluation, as much by members of congress as civil society,” Foronda says. “It’s appropriate to point out that MINAM is trying to establish parameters that are weaker than those recommended by the WHO.” Other NGOs like Red Muqui and the Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA) have also issued critical statements. SPDA argues that the government is legally prohibited from weakening environmental standards, that MINAM failed to provide sufficient justification for its proposals, and that the WHO, contrary to the ministry’s interpretations of its research, has proved that sulfur dioxide negatively impacts human health. According to Red Muqui, a collective of 29 organisations across Peru, the proposals are “regressive” and ignore WHO recommendations. MINAM failed to coordinate with the Health Ministry, they argue, and the timeframe for public discussion was too short. “Life and health shouldn’t be dependent on economic interests,” Red Muqui states. “[The proposals] fail to consider that particulate matter is very fine and can easily penetrate respiratory tracts and blood, increasing the risk of morbidity and premature death following short- and long-term exposure.” Former high-ranking MINAM personnel are critical too. Ex-Environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal was quoted in El Comercio newspaper saying the proposals would reduce air quality. Mariano Castro, former vice-minister, told the Guardian the proposals are “wrong”, “very risky” for Peruvians’ health, and ignore the “scientific evidence in epidemiological and toxicological studies that show the serious dangers that sulfur dioxide poses for peoples’ health.” So why propose raising the legal limits? According to AIDA, APRODEH and anyone else following the issue, the answer is an infamous poly-metal smelter in a town in Peru’s central Andes, La Oroya, which 10 years ago was named as one of the top 10 most polluted places on earth by the US-based Blacksmith Institute. Formally called the Metallurgical Complex of La Oroya, the smelter has been the property of Doe Run Peru since 1997, and ultimately under the control of the US’s Renco Group. It closed in 2009 and partially re-opened in 2012. Now it is administered by liquidators - and Peru’s sulfur dioxide limits are reported to be scaring off potential investors. This is despite the fact that La Oroya has been exempted from the national 20 limit. In recent years it was raised to 80 and then to 365 for a 14 year period until it is scheduled to revert to 80 again, according to APRODEH’s Christian Huaylinos. He told the Guardian that MINAM’s proposals are “completely connected” to the proposed Doe Run Peru sale. “[In the long-term the limit] continues being 80, which is a very demanding standard that I imagine has discouraged possible bidders for Doe Run Peru, given that it would require serious investment in new technology,” Huaylinos says. “So that’s where the issue of relaxing the standards comes in. Now they would no longer have to adjust from 365 to 80, but 365 to 250.” Tenders have been held for Doe Run Peru as recently as March this year, but no offers were reportedly received. “Now, given the lack of offers, MINAM has put forward a law to relax the limits, the aim of which is to facilitate the next tender round,” Huaylinos told the Guardian. “[This would seriously affect] the rights to health and clean environment of the people living in La Oroya.” The connection between MINAM’s proposals and Doe Run Peru also seems obvious to AIDA’s Victor Quintanilla, who told the Guardian that government representatives have said publicly that modifying environmental standards is part of promoting the smelter’s sale and re-opening. Such representatives include president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, congressman Moisés Guía Pianto, Environment minister Galarza, and Energy and Mines minister Gonzalo Tamayo. On Friday Gestion newspaper stated that potential bidders for Doe Run Peru have been lobbying for changes to the sulfur dioxide limits - something that the Congressional Commission on the Environment has noted too. Pablo Peschiera, from DIRIGE, the liquidators, reportedly said that the next tenders will be held in July and MINAM’s proposals would save investors huge sums. “Under the previous [current] standards an investment of US$788 million [in the smelter] had been foreseen, and even then there was no guarantee of meeting the 80 standard,” Peschiera was quoted as saying in Gestion. “There was a low probability of complying even after making that investment. Now [if MINAM’s proposals are approved], with the limit being 250, the amount needed to invest will be lower.” Liliana Carhuaz, an Oroya resident and member of the Movimiento por la Salud de La Oroya (MOSAO), told the Guardian she rejects MINAM’s proposals and believes the sulfur dioxide limit should be 20. She said that local people didn’t agree with the suggested changes either, and she cited respiratory problems and lead poisoning as ongoing health impacts. “After so many years of contamination in La Oroya [the ministry’s proposal] to increase the permitted levels is not just,” she says. Last year, just before the end of the previous government, MINAM published a dossier on Doe Run Peru which included six reasons why air quality standards shouldn’t be weakened, although it acknowledged that the contamination in La Oroya was so severe that it would be impossible for the smelter to ever meet any standards, no matter how “flexible.” The dossier cited Health Ministry statistics from 2007 saying that during some hours the sulfur dioxide levels reached 28,300 and average daily emissions were over 2,000 - which MINAM alleged was one of the reasons why Doe Run Peru hadn’t yet been sold. “It’s clear that with daily emissions and yearly averages such as these, La Oroya, if its copper circuit is working, wouldn’t even comply with the most flexible environmental standards in the world,” stated the dossier, dated July 2016. In comments sent by AIDA and APRODEH to MINAM as part of the public consultation, they noted that the proposed 250 limit would permit severe short-term spikes in contamination. “With the new proposed daily average (250 micrograms per cubic metre), it would be possible to have every day a period of two hours of contamination at a level of 1,500 and another five hours of contamination at 500 without exceeding it,” the two organisations stated. “However, it is known that these levels of contamination are severely dangerous to human health.” Mariano Castro believes that this is a key weakness of MINAM’s proposals: there are no limits for short periods of time - just one hour or three hours - which would prohibit severe peaks in contamination. In Colombia, he says, the limit for 24 hours is 250, as proposed for Peru, but crucially there is also a limit for three hours set at 750. “Without this  limit on short-term peaks, you could get up to levels around 2,000 for several hours over a 24 hour period and never exceed the daily limit,” Castro told the Guardian. “The dangers to human health and the environment would be irreversible. Under no condition should an increase in the 24 hour limit be permitted if an appropriate limit for just one hour is not established, as in other countries.” Fernando Serrano, a scientist at Saint Louis University in the US who has conducted research in La Oroya and testified before US Congress about it, agrees with Castro. “The proposed new air standards for sulfur dioxide don’t include a hourly standard and therefore don’t hold the smelter responsible for the hourly peaks that are far greater than anything that is acceptable,” he says. “The most effective way to protect people’s health and environmental quality is to reduce smelter emissions through technical measures and to enact and enforce air quality standards and other regulations that prevent health and environmental risks.” Serrano describes the La Oroya smelter as for years “serving a toxic cocktail of metals” including lead, cadmium, arsenic and air pollutants like sulfur dioxide. “This mix of contaminants has gravely affected the health of the people of La Oroya and surrounding areas,” he told the Guardian. “The only time people enjoyed a cleaner and safer environment - low sulfur dioxide levels, decreasing blood lead levels - is when the smelter closed, which shows that it is the primary source of contamination.” The appalling health impacts of the smelter on La Oroya’s inhabitants have been reported for many years, with the government concluding almost two decades ago that more than 99% of children living nearby suffered from lead poisoning. A series of legal actions have been taken against the Health Ministry in Peru, against the Peruvian state at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and against Doe Run in the US. Peru’s Congressional Commission on the Environment is scheduled to discuss MINAM’s proposals tomorrow, 2 May, and has requested Environment minister Galarza to attend. MINAM did not respond to questions.
News Article | May 23, 2017
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro shows a document with the details of a "constituent assembly" to reform the constitution during a rally at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria CARACAS/PUERTO ORDAZ, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's state prosecutor has panned unpopular President Nicolas Maduro's plan to create a grassroots congress, deepening a rare public split among the ruling Socialists as the death toll from two months of unrest hit 51. Chief State Prosecutor Luisa Ortega stunned the crisis-hit country in March when she lambasted the Supreme Court for annulling the powers of the opposition-led National Assembly. Since then, she has been a wild card within the publicly homogenous Venezuelan government, whose foes accuse it of seeking to dodge elections by creating a parallel assembly with powers to rewrite the constitution. Socialist Party official Elias Jaua, in charge of the "constituent assembly" project, confirmed on Monday that Ortega had written him to express her discontent in a letter that was previously leaked on social media. "It is my imperative to explain the reasons for which I have decided not to participate in this activity," Ortega's two-page missive reads. "Instead of bringing stability or generating a climate of peace, I think this will accelerate the crisis," she said, mentioning it would heighten uncertainty and alter the "unbeatable" constitution launched under late leader Hugo Chavez. Jaua acknowledged receipt of Ortega's letter, but quickly said she was merely expressing a "political opinion," without any power to change the situation. "We consider that the only organ the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's constitution empowers to interpret the constitution is the Supreme Court's constitutional chamber," he said at a news conference, in reference to the pro-government top court. Venezuelans are scrutinizing Maduro's government and the armed forces for any cracks as protesters take to the streets daily to demand early elections, humanitarian aid to alleviate food and medicine shortages, and freedom for jailed activists. While there are no outward signs of major fissures that would destabilize 18-years of 'Chavista' rule, demonstrators have been cheered by Ortega's public dissent and by some public denunciations of officials by their relatives. While anti-government protests have brought hundreds of thousands to the streets, Venezuelans are increasingly concerned about spates of nighttime looting and barricades popping up in many neighborhoods. Masked youths man roadblocks, turning back traffic or asking motorists for a monetary "collaboration" to be allowed through. The worst nighttime unrest has largely been concentrated outside the capital, however, with the jungle and savannah state of Bolivar hard-hit overnight. Some 51 buses were burned after a group attacked a transport company in the city of Puerto Ordaz, the prosecutor's office said on Monday. Barricades and clashes with the National Guard were also rippling through the city on Monday, according to a Reuters witness. There also was trouble on Monday in Barinas, the rural state where Chavez was born and which is regarded by his supporters as the "cradle of the revolution." Mobs burned the headquarters of the Socialist Party in the state capital, and clashes and looting raged throughout the day, witnesses and authorities said. Several opposition leaders have condemned the violence, but the episodes highlight the risks of protests spinning out of their control amid widespread anger at Maduro, hunger, and easy access to weapons in one of the world's most violence countries. Maduro accuses his opponents of an "armed insurrection," backed by the United States, his ideological foe. His government blames "fascist" protesters for looting and deaths in the unrest since early April. The death toll increased to at least 51 people after a policeman, Jorge Escandon, died after being injured in Carabobo state and three people died in protests in Barinas, the prosecutor's office said on Monday. Hundreds of people also have been injured and more than 2,600 arrested, with about 1,000 still jailed, according to rights groups. On Monday, opposition supporters and doctors in white robes tried to march to the Health Ministry in Caracas to demand access to proper treatment amid major shortages of medicines ranging from painkillers to chemotherapy drugs. "Today, I'm not here as a lawmaker, I'm here marching for my sister who has a cerebral tumor, a tumor that is growing again and producing paralysis, a tumor for which Venezuela used to receive medicine and the injections for this not to happen," said opposition lawmaker Miguel Pizarro. "Today I walk for my brother, who is diabetic, and who, like my mom, can't find medicine," added Pizarro, part of a new generation of opposition leaders who have been at the forefront of protests and often been tear-gassed. In a scene repeated over and over in recent weeks, security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators and clashes erupted with hooded youths who threw rocks.
News Article | May 26, 2017
Aftermath of attack on buses and truck carrying Coptic Christians in Minya Province, Egypt, May 26, 2017. EGYPT TV via REUTERS MINYA, Egypt (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians travelling to a monastery in central Egypt on Friday, killing 28 people and wounding 24, with many children among the victims, Health Ministry officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan. It followed a series of church bombings claimed by Islamic State in a campaign of violence against the Copts. Islamic State supporters reposted videos from earlier this year urging violence against the Copts in Egypt. Eyewitnesses said masked men opened fire after stopping the Christians, who were in a bus and other vehicles. Local TV channels showed a bus apparently raked by gunfire and smeared with blood. Clothes and shoes could be seen lying in and around the bus, while the bodies of some of the victims lay in the sand nearby, covered with black sheets. The attack, which Egypt's Muslim leaders condemned, happened 15 km (10 miles) from the monastery, a security official on the scene told Reuters. Ambulance workers, monks and Muslim clerics were also present but declined to speak. Police armed with assault rifles formed a security perimeter and officials from the public prosecutor's office were gathering evidence and fingerprints. Heavily armed special forces arrived later wearing face masks and body armour. The injured were taken to local hospitals and some were being transported to Cairo. One of the vehicles attacked was taking men to carry out maintenance work at the monastery while another had children on board, officials said. Dozens of people gathered at the emergency area of a local hospital. Some carried a wooden coffin to a hearse. The Health Ministry said that among those injured were two children aged two. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called a meeting of security officials, the state news agency said, and the cabinet said the attackers would not succeed in dividing the nation. The grand imam of al-Azhar, Egypt's 1,000-year-old centre of Islamic learning, said the attack was intended to destabilise the country. "I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism," Ahmed al-Tayeb said from Germany, where he was on a visit. The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawki Allam, condemned the perpetrators as traitors. The Coptic church said it had received news of the killing of its "martyrs" with pain and sorrow. The attack took place on a road leading to the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, which is home to a sizeable Christian minority. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the unidentified gunmen had arrived in three four-wheel-drive vehicles. Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road. Coptic Christians, whose church dates back nearly 2,000 years, make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million. They say they have long suffered from persecution, but in recent months the frequency of deadly attacks against them has increased. About 70 have been killed since December in bombings claimed by IS at churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta. An Islamic State campaign of murders in North Sinai prompted hundreds of Christians to flee in February and March. Copts fear they will face the same fate as brethren in Iraq and Syria, where Christian communities have been decimated by wars and Islamic State persecution. Egypt's Copts are vocal supporters of Sisi, who has vowed to crush Islamist extremism and protect Christians. He declared a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of the church bombings in April. But many Christians feel the state either does not take their plight seriously enough or cannot protect them against determined fanatics. The government is fighting insurgents affiliated to Islamic State who have killed hundreds of police and soldiers in the Sinai peninsula, while also carrying out attacks elsewhere in the country. Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said the state of emergency was failing to prevent attacks. "The state is not addressing the root cause, which is the sectarian climate that encourages terrorism," he said. "There are no serious steps being taken to use culture or education to address this."
News Article | May 12, 2017
KINSHASA (Reuters) - At least one person has died from the Ebola virus in Democratic Republic of Congo, the Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, signaling a new outbreak of the disease which killed thousands in West Africa.
News Article | May 13, 2017
KINSHASA (Reuters) - At least one person has died from the Ebola virus in Democratic Republic of Congo, the Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, signaling a new outbreak of the disease which killed thousands in West Africa. The case was confirmed from tests on nine people who came down with a hemorrhagic fever in Bas-Uele province in the northeast of the country on or after April 22, a ministry statement said. Three people have died of fever. Other samples are still being tested, and six people remain hospitalised. "Our country must confront an outbreak of the Ebola virus that constitutes a public health crisis of international significance," the ministry said. An investigation team led by the ministry of health with WHO support was expected to reach the scene of the outbreak in the coming days, the WHO said. The ministry said it should arrive on Saturday. "It is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. We always take this very seriously," the WHO's Congo spokesman, Eugene Kabambi, said. This latest Ebola outbreak is Congo's eighth, the most of any country. The deadly hemorrhagic fever was first detected in its dense tropical forests in 1976 and named after the nearby river Ebola. That experience helped Congolese authorities respond effectively to an outbreak in 2014 that killed 49 people. At the same time, a separate outbreak killed more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 as it swept through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and caused alarm around the world. In June last year, WHO declared Liberia free of active Ebola virus transmission. Liberia was the last country still fighting the world's worst outbreak of the disease. "Our country is full of people well-trained in this matter and our health professionals also helped contain similar epidemics in other countries," the health ministry said in its statement. The GAVI global vaccine alliance said on Friday some 300,000 emergency doses of an Ebola vaccine developed by Merck could be available in case of a large-scale outbreak and that it stood ready to support the Congo government's efforts to bring the epidemic under control. Under an agreement between GAVI and Merck, the developer of an Ebola vaccine known as rVSV-ZEBOV, it said up to 300,000 doses of the shot would be available in case of an outbreak. "The WHO and others will determine if and when deployment of vaccine into this outbreak is warranted," it said in a statement. "There are 300,000 doses of Ebola vaccine available if needed to stop this outbreak becoming a pandemic," said GAVI's chief executive Seth Berkley. "The vaccine has shown high efficacy in clinical trials and could play a vital role in protecting the most vulnerable."
News Article | May 12, 2017
Venezuela’s unraveling is claiming more victims, this time a government minister scapegoated for the country’s deteriorating health situation and military officials suspected of disloyalty to the regime. On Thursday night, Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who is currently under sanctions from the United States for alleged drug trafficking, announced over Twitter that Health Minister Antonieta Caporale had been fired. She will be replaced by Luis Lopez, a pharmacist. (And yes, picking a pharmacist to run the Health Ministry is as confidence-inspiring as choosing a bus driver for president.) Caporale’s termination comes just days after the government released health data for the first time in two years, showing the appalling toll of the country’s descent into economic dysfunction. The information showed that infant and maternal mortality rates had skyrocketed — by 30 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Malaria cases rose 76 percent last year. Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela is currently marked by scarcity of medicine and food, as well as failing hospitals, where patients are required to provide even the most basic equipment and tools, like needles and gauze. Over 13,000 doctors have left Venezuela in recent years. Lopez has been the government’s deputy minister for hospitals. Also on Thursday, reports emerged that at least 65 members of Venezuela’s military have been detained, according to the attorney representing several of them.Some have reportedly been charged with “betraying the motherland” or “instigating rebellion.” Still others are awaiting trial. Henrique Capriles, a top opposition figure currently banned from holding office for 15 years, said there is great discontent amidst the military’s ranks. Maduro insists that all of his military’s members are standing together in support of the government. (Well, all but 65 at least.) The military’s tolerance for the political meltdown will be key to the near-term future of Venezuela. Maduro, instead of offering to hold already-delayed elections, is now calling for a handpicked assembly to write a new constitution, reinforcing worries that the embattled government will go to almost any lengths to cling to power. For now, Maduro might just be right about the military’s loyalty. He is still in office, even though massive protests have rocked Caracas and other cities, and clashes between protesters and security forces have left nearly 40 dead since early April. Maduro secured a vow of “unconditional loyalty” from the head of the military just before the nationwide protests began. One way Maduro has ensured the military’s loyalty is through a top-heavy general officer corps — with about five times more generals than the military actually needs — which lets him dole out control of lucrative parts of the economy, from food to medicine to energy, which gives soldiers a stake in the permanence of the regime.
News Article | May 12, 2017
A Palestinian protester reacts during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank village of Beita, near Nablus May 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian during stone-throwing clashes in the occupied West Bank on Friday, residents and the Palestinian Health Ministry said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said about 100 Palestinians were involved in what she described as a violent riot during which they threw stones at Israeli soldiers. "In response to the threat the soldiers fired riot dispersal means," she said. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the man killed had been shot in the chest. Residents of the West Bank village Nabi Saleh, near the city of Ramallah, said he was shot during stone-throwing clashes that erupted after Friday prayers. At least 244 Palestinians have died during a wave of sporadic violence in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, that began in October 2015. At least 164 of them had launched stabbing, shooting or car ramming attacks, Israel says. Others died during clashes and protests. In the same period of violence, 37 Israelis, two American tourists and a British student have been killed. The frequency of the attacks has slowed but has not stopped. Israel has said the Palestinian leadership is inciting the violence. The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, denies incitement and says that, in many cases, Israel has used excessive force in thwarting attackers armed with rudimentary weapons.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Burnt beyond recognition from an accident at home with gasoline, clinging for life in a hospital at age 9, John O’Leary’s mother asked him if he wanted to live or die. O’Leary remembers thinking only how much trouble he was going to get in with his dad. “The only other thing I was thinking was. ‘Do I have the strength to take the next step in my journey?" says O’Leary, now married, a best-selling author and inspirational speaker. O’Leary is also the keynote speaker for the 2017 Refresh Your Soul Conference, presented annually by the Parish Health Ministry of Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS), an event expanding in exponential fashion next year with a two-day symposium in partnership with Xavier University. To be held at The Cintas Center March 13 and 14, the 2017 Refresh Your Soul Conference, the primary fundraising vehicle for Parish Health Ministry, promises to be as insightful, thought-provoking, informative and fun as ever. A longtime service of ERS, Parish Health Ministry serves as the ecumenical outreach between ERS (http://www.episcopalretirement.com) and 70+ churches across Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Mr. O’Leary will be sharing his inspirational life story and buoyant messages to a crowd of caregivers and health care professionals seeking to understand more about life-changing conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. He will be joined by renowned industry speakers Loretta Anne Woodward Snow and Teepa Snow; Ms. Snow spoke last year. “Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Overcoming the Struggles and Living Inspired” is the theme; day two is the annual Xavier Dementia Care Summit. Tickets are on sale for a $59 early-bird price good until Feb. 22, 2017, after which the fee is $69. Contact Hours are available for continuing education and professional accreditation purposes (RN/LPN, Social Worker, Nursing Home Administrator, etc.) Ms. Veney is an author and well-known speaker who has motivated, taught and trained audiences throughout the U.S. and Europe. She is the founder and principal consultant of Superior Training Solutions, LLC. She has delivered numerous presentations on dementia and elder care planning for the Alzheimer’s Association, support groups, and memory care communities. She chronicles her nine-year journey with her Mom’s dementia as their parent/child roles have reversed in her book, "Being My Mom's Mom - A Journey through Dementia from a Daughter's Perspective." Their journey has been faithful, funny, heartbreaking and hopeful. Teepa Snow is one of America’s leading educators on dementia. Working as a Registered Occupational Therapist for more than 30 years, her experience has led her to develop Positive Approach™ to Care techniques used by families and professionals working or living with dementia throughout the world. She has an independent practice as well as clinical appointments with Duke University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She is an enlightening, witty, entertaining, and energetic speaker. Registration, exhibitors and continental breakfast starts at 8 a.m. Luncheon presentations will be offered by Mr. O’Leary and Ms. Veney, entitled “ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life” and “Lifting the Spirit of Caregivers,” respectively. For tickets, registration and additional information, please visit: http://www.episcopalretirement.com/parish-health-ministry/refresh-your-soul-conference. To help meet the long-term goal of Parish Health Ministry becoming self-supporting, this event is the primary fundraiser for the ministry. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this conference will benefit ERS Parish Health Ministry. Parish Health Ministry, a program of Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS), assists congregations of all denominations throughout Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Southeastern Ohio develop or enhance their own faith community nurse/health ministry. The ministry was founded in 1998 and currently serves 70 congregations across southern Ohio. Since 1951, ERS has dedicated itself to improving the lives of older adults through innovative, quality living environments and in-home and community-based services delivered by experienced and compassionate professionals.
News Article | February 28, 2017
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel carried out a series of airstrikes on militant sites across the Gaza Strip on Monday, wounding at least four people, officials said, following a rocket attack on southern Israel that caused no casualties. Explosions could be heard and smoke rose into the air in the southern town of Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border. "The Israeli entity bears full responsibility for the continuation of this dangerous escalation against Gaza. Continuing the targeting of the resistance sites and other properties and structures to deliberately blow up the situation is unacceptable," said Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the ruling Hamas militant group. The Israeli military said it had targeted five Hamas positions throughout Gaza in response to the earlier rocket strike. The Israeli military "holds Hamas accountable for any attacks from the Gaza Strip that jeopardize the safety of Israelis and breach Israel's sovereignty," said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman. Hamas security forces blocked journalists from approaching one of the targets in Rafah, suggesting a sensitive installation had been hit. The local Health Ministry said four people were slightly or moderately wounded. Local media said training bases used by the ruling Hamas militant group, as well as the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group, were also struck in central and northern Gaza. Earlier Monday, a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel, landing in an empty field. There were no reports of injuries. Since a 50-day war between Israel and Gaza militants in the summer of 2014, a cease-fire has largely held. But militants in Gaza occasionally fire rockets at Israel's south. Israel typically responds to any rocket fire from Gaza. Although most rocket fire since the war has come from smaller rivals of Hamas, Israel holds the Islamic militant group, which has controlled Gaza for a decade, responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory. There was no immediate claim of responsibility in Gaza for the rocket. A Jihadist group that supports the Islamic State group has taken responsibility for similar attacks in the past.