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UK infected blood scandal 'could largely have been avoided': Inquiry report

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London, May 21 (IANS) A contaminated blood scandal in the UK, which has caused more than 3,000 deaths, “could largely, though not entirely, have been avoided,” according to the inquiry report on the scandal.

The report said on Monday that “a catalogue of failures” by successive governments and doctors caused the “calamity,” in which tens of thousands of patients with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses after receiving infected blood and blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It may also be surprising that the questions why so many deaths and infections occurred have not had answers before now,” the report added.

The scandal has been called “the worst treatment disaster” in the history of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

The report also revealed that there has been “a hiding of much of the truth” by the government and the NHS “to save face and to save expense”.

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Such a cover-up was “not in the sense of a handful of people plotting in an orchestrated conspiracy to mislead, but in a way that was more subtle, more pervasive and more chilling in its implications,” it said.

The scandal was linked to supplies of a clotting factor imported from the US, which used blood from high-risk paid donors.

The government announced the establishment of a UK-wide public inquiry in 2017 to examine the circumstances that led to individuals being given contaminated blood and blood products.

In 2022, the government made interim compensation payments of 100,000 British pounds (about $127,000) to about 4,000 infected individuals and bereaved partners who were registered with the country’s infected blood support schemes.

–IANS

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Canada unveils national school food policy

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Ottawa, June 21 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled the federal government’s policy to deliver the National School Food Program across the country.

With an investment of 1 billion Canadian dollars ($730 million) over five years, the programme will provide meals to up to 400,000 more kids every year, beyond those served by existing school food programmes, according to a news statement from the Prime Minister’s website.

On average, the programme is expected to save participating families with two kids up to 800 Canadian dollars ($584) a year in grocery bills, the statement said as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

The programme includes investments that will support school food programming for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities as well as Self-Governing and Modern Treaty partners, many of whom have some of the highest rates of food insecurity in Canada, the statement added.

According to Statistics Canada estimates, in 2022, 22.3 per cent of families and more than 2.1 million children under the age of 18 in Canada reported experiencing some level of food insecurity over the past 12 months.

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–IANS

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Poliovirus detected in sewage samples of 7 infected districts of Pakistan

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Islamabad, June 21 (IANS) Wild poliovirus type 1 has been detected in sewage samples of seven already infected districts of Pakistan, the Pakistani Health Ministry said.

Nine environmental samples collected between June 3 and June 4 from Quetta, Chaman, and Pishin districts of southwest Balochistan province, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas, and Karachi Keamari districts of southern Sindh province and Peshawar district of northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, tested positive for the virus, the Ministry said on Thursday in a statement.

So far in 2024, five people have been reported to have been infected by the virus, Xinhua news agency reported.

This year the virus has been reported in 45 districts, including two districts where only polio cases have been positive, not sewage samples, said the statement.

The Pakistan Polio Programme is implementing an intense vaccination schedule this year to curb the spread of the virus, it added.

The programme has already conducted five polio vaccination campaigns, including two national campaigns as well as crucial polio campaigns ahead of the recent high-travel Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, according to the Ministry.

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–IANS

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TN hooch tragedy: Death toll rises to 40; government, BJP announce compensation (Lead)

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Chennai, June 20 (IANS) The death count in the hooch tragedy in Tamil Nadu’s Kallakurichi district is steadily climbing while those battling for life in the hospitals are complaining of vision problems.

According to reports, the number of persons who have lost their lives consuming the killer drink has touched 40 and over 100 persons are undergoing treatment in various hospitals with many battling for their lives.

Chief Minister M.K.Stalin on Thursday morning announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the 34 families who had lost their loved ones.

In a statement issued here, he also said the government has also appointed a one-man commission under retired High Court Justice B. Gokuldas to look into the issue and recommend measures to prevent such occurrences in the future. He said the orders have been issued to pay Rs10 lakh to the families of the dead and Rs 50,000 out of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to those getting treated in the hospitals.

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He said four persons have been arrested in this connection and action will also be taken against those who had supplied methanol for making the illicit liquor.

The CM said the CBCID (Crime Branch-CID) has been asked to investigate the source of methanol.

According to him, action has been taken against the police officials concerned and the District Collector has been transferred. Meanwhile, Stalin’s son and Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin visited the affected people in the hospital and later distributed the Rs.10 lakh compensation to the families who had lost their loved ones.

Meanwhile, AIADMK General Secretary and former Chief Minister K Palaniswami demanded the resignation of Stalin accepting responsibility for the death of several people after consuming the illicit liquor. He alleged that the illicit liquor was being sold in the centre of the Kallakurichi district with the authorities turning a blind eye.

Palaniswami said the party MLA from Kallakurichi M. Senthilkumar had complained to the police about the sale of illicit liquor and had even brought a calling attention motion in the Assembly earlier on the issue. But the DMK government led by Stalin did not do anything, Palaniswami charged.

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Tamil Nadu BJP President K. Annamalai visited the affected families and consoled them. He also said Rs 1 lakh will be paid by the party to the families as relief.

Governor R.N. Ravi, condoling the deaths and wishing a speedy recovery of the victims, blamed the state government for its lapses. “Every now and then tragic loss of lives due to consumption of illicit liquor are reported from various parts of our state. This reflects continuing lapses in preventing the production and consumption of illicit liquor. This is a matter of serious concern.”

The continued hooch tragedies in Tamil Nadu show the callous attitude of the state government, said actor-turned-politician Vijay, president, of the TVK.

Coming down heavily on the DMK government led by Chief Minister Stalin for the first time after floating his party, Vijay also strongly urged the government to take strong preventive action so that such events do not occur again. Recalling last year’s hooch deaths in the state where over 20 people lost their lives, Vijay posted on X that even before coming out of the grief of the earlier tragedy, another such event shows the government’s callous attitude.

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–IANS

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From Lumbini to Pokhara, India spreads message of yoga in Nepal ahead of IDY-2024

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Kathmandu, June 19 (IANS) More than 900 yoga enthusiasts attended a large-scale event organised by the Embassy of India in Nepal at Lumbini — the revered birthplace of Lord Buddha which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site — on Thursday.

Jokh Bahadur Mahara, the Chief Minister of Lumbini and also the Chief Guest for the programme, thanked the Indian Embassy for organising the significant event at the sacred birthplace of Lord Buddha and for strengthening India-Nepal cultural ties.

He underlined that the International Day of Yoga (June 21) will help generate greater awareness about yoga, leading to a more healthy and balanced society.

Ambassador of India to Nepal, Naveen Srivastava, underlined that yoga has become a global phenomenon, particularly since the United Nations designated June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in 2014 based on a proposal moved by India.

“The sacred land of Lumbini, a symbol of peace and harmony, provides a perfect setting to celebrate the timeless practice of yoga. The Indian Embassy will collaborate every year with the Lumbini Development Trust to celebrate the International Day of Yoga,” said the Indian Ambassador.

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The Indian Embassy has been organising a series of events across various cities in Nepal to celebrate the 10th International Yoga Day.

Assimilating yoga, nature, and spirituality, the events also spread the message of ‘Yoga for Self and Society’ – the theme for this year’s International Yoga Day on Friday.

The Indian Embassy also organised yoga demonstrations at three iconic landmarks of Pokhara, the tourism capital of Nepal, on Thursday.

It started with a sunrise yoga session at the Sarangkot temple overlooking the Annapurna mountain range, followed by yoga practice at the imposing Pumdikot Shiva Temple before ending with a yoga demonstration at the Shanti Stupa atop the Anadu Hill – the first World Peace Pagoda in Nepal.

Experienced yoga instructors led the participants through a series of asanas, pranayama, and meditation techniques, highlighting the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of yoga.

On Friday, the Embassy, in association with the Pokhara Metropolitan City, will organise a mega yoga demonstration at the Pokhara Rangshala Stadium to celebrate the 10th International Yoga Day.

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–IANS

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Removal of ovaries before menopause linked with reduced white matter in brain: Study

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San Francisco, June 20 (IANS) Women who have their ovaries removed before menopause, particularly before the age of 40, have reduced white matter integrity in multiple regions of the brain later in life, a new study said on Thursday.

White matter refers to the nerve fibres that connect neurons in different areas of the brain.

In the study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the researchers analysed data from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging to identify women over the age of 50 with available diffusion tensor imaging, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that measures white matter in the brain.

“We know that having both ovaries removed before natural menopause causes abrupt endocrine dysfunction, which increases the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia,” said Michelle Mielke, PhD, professor at the US-based Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Researchers found that females who had premenopausal bilateral oophorectomy (PBO) before the age of 40 had significantly reduced white matter integrity in multiple regions of the brain.

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“There were also trends in some brain regions such that women who had PBO between the ages of 40-44 or 45-49 years also had reduced white matter integrity, but many of these results were not statistically significant,” said Mielke.

She also said that 80 per cent of participants who had their ovaries removed also had a history of estrogen replacement therapy.

Therefore, the study was not able to determine whether the use of estrogen replacement therapy after PBO mitigated the effects of PBO on white matter integrity.

“Having both ovaries removed results in an abrupt decrease in both estrogen and testosterone in women. Therefore, one possible explanation for our results is the loss of both estrogen and testosterone,” Mielke mentioned.

–IANS

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