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Trinidad bans importation of all poultry meat from Guyana

Trinidad bans importation of all poultry meat from Guyana

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun 1, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government has imposed a ban on all poultry products from Guyana “until further notice”.

Duck Virus Hepatitis

A two paragraph statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, said that “with immediate effect, all and any raw and cooked poultry meat from Guyana is banned from entry into Trinidad and Tobago until further notice”.

It said that such items would be seized upon entry into the country, but gave no reasons as to why the ban had been imposed.

Media reports in Guyana said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country has advised of the existence of Duck virus hepatitis (DVH) in a part of the country.

DVH is a highly fatal contagious disease of young ducklings between the ages one to 28 days. Ducklings are most susceptible at the younger ages and gradually become more resistant as they grow older. The disease is rarely seen in ducklings over four  weeks of age.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Health, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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Here’s What Could Happen If You Get Measles While Pregnant

By Cari Nierenberg, Live Science Contributor | May 16, 2019

Here’s What Could Happen If You Get Measles While Pregnant
Credit: Shutterstock

The measles can be dangerous for people of all ages, but the highly contagious virus poses a particular threat to pregnant women.

That threat was clearly illustrated in a recent case report, which detailed the case of a 27-year-old woman in England — who had not been vaccinated — who got measles during her third trimester and ended up needing an emergency cesarean section to save her baby.

When the woman was initially hospitalized, it wasn’t clear that she had measles, according to the case report, published May 9 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. In fact, it took doctors nearly 2 weeks to make the proper diagnosis. [27 Devastating Infectious Diseases]Advertisement

Within a day of being hospitalized, the woman began having severe breathing problems.

Problems that arise from any respiratory infection are more severe in pregnant women, because the immune system is in a naturally suppressed state, said lead case report author Dr. Jassimran Bansal, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at King’s College Hospital in London. But the woman’s breathing problems didn’t improve; they worsened over the next five days, and her lungs showed signs of severe respiratory failure.

Because both the woman and her baby’s health were at risk from her illness, the woman’s doctors recommended she have an emergency C-section, where she delivered a healthy, but premature baby.

Measles during pregnancy

Measles can be difficult to diagnose during pregnancy, because the infection’s telltale rash is often absent, said Bansal, who was involved with the woman’s treatment. It’s not clear why the characteristic rash — which shows up as distinctive large red spots that typically spread from the face to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet— may be absent, but it’s likely due to changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy, she said.

In fact, the woman did have a mild rash when she went to the hospital during her 32nd week of pregnancy. She told doctors that she also had a sore throat and fever. The rash, which was itchy with red bumps, had first appeared on the palms of her hands and then spread to her face, according to the report. But simply having a rash doesn’t mean a person has the measles; other viruses can also cause rashes, Bansal said.

When the woman was admitted to the hospital, doctors initially suspected she may have had a nonspecific viral respiratory infection, like the flu, Bansal told Live Science. Measles was lower down on the list of possible diagnoses, because the woman didn’t have the typical rash, and because measles in pregnancy is still very rarein England, she noted.

As her illness worsened, however, doctors noted that her rash did spread to her chest, back and stomach, a pattern that is more typical of measles, according to the report.

Making the diagnosis

As the woman recovered from both her C-section and the illness, test results suggested that her breathing problems were due to pneumonia caused by a parainfluenza virus, a type of virus linked to respiratory infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Throat cultures from people with measles will also test positive for parainfluenza virus, according to the report.)

But it wasn’t until a week after the baby was born — when the woman’s husband came down with measles — that the doctors decided to test her for the infection, too.

Indeed, the woman had also had the measles, the tests revealed. But luckily, her baby did not. (Babies can develop “congenital measles,” a form of the disease that can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy and appears shortly after birth.) [7 Ways Pregnant Women Affect Babies]

After spending three weeks in the hospital, the woman was sent home. Both mother and baby are doing fine, Bansal said, adding that the woman’s two other children had, in fact, received the MMR vaccine before their parents had come down with the measles.

Pregnant women who have not received the MMR vaccine, as was the case with this woman, are at increased risk of severe illness and complications of measles, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The group also notes that getting the measles during pregnancy is linked with an increased risk of hospitalization and pneumonia, as well as an increased risk of giving birth prematurely, miscarriage or having a low-birth-weight baby.

Posted in Births, Health, International, Local, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

CARICOM Secretary General says youth crime and violence demands a regional solution

CARICOM Secretary General says youth crime and violence demands a regional solution


by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan 15, CMC – A two-day conference aimed at examining and redefining violence prevention solutions as it relates to youth violence and prevention in the Caribbean began here on Tuesday with the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin LaRocque, saying it is a regional problem that demands a regional solution.

LaRocque told the conference that has brought together leaders from youth movements, governments, civil society, development organizations and academia that crime and security is an issue that is having an impact on all the 15-members of the regional integration grouping.

CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque

“It is a regional problem that demands a regional solution.  It not only requires the full co-operation of all our countries but also all the stakeholders within the member states.  The multi-state, multi-sectoral response to this challenge is vital for us to succeed in defeating it,” LaRocque told the opening ceremony.

He said a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2012 Caribbean Human Development Report on Citizen Security, noted that crime and violence impose high social, economic and cultural costs.

Crime and violence are development issues and the report recommended that a model of security for the region should be based on a human development approach with citizen security being paramount, he added.

The two day conference, which is being hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, UNICEF, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat, the St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, and the Caribbean Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS) Network., is intended to design transformational youth-centered action to combat crime and violence and address constraints that youth activists face in improving safety outcomes in their communities.

LaRocque told the conference that the youths are the demographic that is most affected by crime and violence and that some of the main findings of recent studies are that the majority of victims, as well as perpetrators of crimes recorded by the police, are young males 18 to 35 years old.

He quoted the UNDP report as indicating that the Caribbean has some of the highest figures of youth convicted of crime with at least 80 per cent of prosecuted crimes being committed by young people between the ages 19 to 29 years old.

“There are a number of socio-economic determinants of crime, not least of which is the high youth unemployment rate in the region of 25 per cent in 2017. That is three times the adult average and highest among young women ages 18 to 30 at 33 per cent,” he said, adding that to combat this scourge, Caribbean leaders approved the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy in 2013, which incorporates the CARICOM Social Development and Crime Prevention Action Plan.

LaRocque said that the plan hinges on a multi-pronged approach, including crime prevention, justice reform, prison and corrections reform, capacity development within law enforcement and border security, and intelligence-led law enforcement.

He said that within the realm of crime prevention, it has been recognised that there is a need to work closely with communities, to address citizens’ perception of, and support for, the security and law enforcement sector.

This involves the development of close collaboration between and among ministries responsible for national security and their counterparts in related sector.

LaRocque said that the Crime Prevention Action Plan and the CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan (CYDAP) are two of the main policy frameworks which guide the design and implementation of policy and programmes in member states to address crime and violence from a prevention perspective and through addressing the underlying social factors.

He said they also seek to create an enabling environment for adolescent and youth well-being, empowerment and participation in national and regional development.

But LaRocque told the delegates that notwithstanding the value of the projects and programmes that are put in place to deal with crime and violence in the region, he is of the firm view, “the core of this battle must be fought in the home.

“Families have a vital role to play in turning the tide of this struggle.  The universal values of love, hard work, honesty, character building, belief in self and self-respect are key weapons.

“The first intervention must be in the home.  It is there that our youths are first socialised. It is there that we must tackle the concept of toxic masculinity which comes out of a false notion of what it takes to be a man,” he said, adding ‘we must demonstrate that gangs, crime and violence are not the answer to a path of success and self-actualization”.

He said conferences such as this one provide an opportunity for young people to be fully involved in providing solutions to problems that affect them.

“The engagement of youth at all levels of the decision-making process is critical for the successful outcome of all these interventions.  It is not only your future that is at stake but your present circumstances.  You must be equal partners in this struggle as your theme, “Youth as Partners and Innovators” suggests,” he added.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Crime, Education, Health, International, Labour, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Jamaica - marijuana - lovely as the green

Jamaica’s small farmers to begin benefitting from marijuana industry

Marijuana plants – now a ‘legal’ crop in some Caribbean islands

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan 8, CMC – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says that the Alternative Development Programme (ADP), which will provide an avenue for small farmers to benefit from the marijuana industry, will start by March. The programme is intended to prevent and eliminate the illicit cultivation of marijuana and channel the process through legal system.

Jamaica Prime Ministe Andrew Holness

The pilot, which will begin in Accompong, St. Elizabeth, south west of here and Orange Hill in Westmoreland, west of the capital, will involve the farming of marijuana to provide raw material for processors. “It is a real fear that as that (marijuana) industry emerges to become more corporatised, that the original ganja man, the original farmer, could very well be left out of the gains and the benefits, when you were the ones singing the praises and the benefits from how long,” Holness said.

“So this programme is of significant importance to ensure that small farmers, and, in fact, communities like Accompong, where there is certain discipline, a certain order, a certain social system that will ensure that it is not used in illicit ways, will benefit,” he added.

Speaking at a ceremony in commemoration of the 281 anniversary of the peace treaty signed by the Accompong Maroons with the British and to commemorate the birthday of legendary leader Cudjoe, Holness said he has received the commitment of the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, that the programme will begin within the first quarter of this year. “I know that you have actually started your part of the programme, but you are now awaiting the Government’s part of the programme to commence. I had a word with him (Shaw) and he gave me a commitment that the Alternative Development Programme for the small ganja farmers to produce for the legal trade will start,” he said.

The 1998 Action Plan, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, provides for the inclusion of a programme, such as the ADP, through specifically designed rural development measures consistent with sustained national economic growth.

The programme will be administered by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries with oversight from the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

Among the stipulations are the tagging of plants under a track and trace mechanism; sale of products through licensed processors; farmers’ alignment to community-based associations/organisations; accommodating specThe ial groups, such as the Maroons and Rastafarians; and that maximum cultivation should not exceed half an acre per farmer.

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Military called in to help with Gatwick drone crisis

The Guardian

https://youtu.be/RqP5xCrrXZE

Airport still closed after what police describe as deliberate attempt to disrupt flights

Matthew Weaver, Damien Gayle , Patrick Greenfield and Frances Perraudin

Thu 20 Dec 2018 17.02 GMT First published on Wed 19 Dec 2018 23.16 GMT

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First flights leave Gatwick after drone disruption – video report

The army has been called in to help with the ongoing crisis at Gatwick airport, where drones flying near the runway have kept planes grounded for more than 24 hours.

The airport has been closed since Wednesday night, when the devices were repeatedly flown over the airfield in what police and the airport described as a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights.

Tens of thousands of travellers have been affected, with 110,000 passengers on 760 flights due to fly on Thursday. People camped out overnight at Gatwick, waiting for news of whether the airport would reopen on Friday.

At around 9:30pm on Thursday Gatwick’s chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said the airport would be reviewing the situation overnight to see “whether there is any potential to open tomorrow” but they are “working up contingency plans all the way through to no flights tomorrow.”

How dangerous are drones to aircraft?

Woodroofe said the situation remained “fluid”, given the drone operator had not yet been found. He said the airport is expected to be closed for the “foreseeable future” while the hunt for the drone operator continues.

The airport’s advice is that those due to travel on Friday should check with their airline before arriving at the airport.

The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, told Sky News Sussex police had requested support from the armed forces. “We will be deploying the armed forces to give them the help that they need to be able to deal with the situation of the drones at Gatwick airport,” he said. Advertisement

Williamson added that he could not say how the armed forces would help but said: “The armed forces have a range of unique capabilities and this isn’t something we would usually deploy but we are there to assist and do everything we can so that they are in a position to open the airport at the earliest opportunity.”

Flights were suspended at Gatwick just after 9pm on Wednesday, when two drones were spotted flying near the runway. The runway briefly reopened at 03.01 on Thursday morning but closed 45 minutes later after a further drone sighting. There was another sighting around midday.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Theresa May said: “I feel for all those passengers whose travel plans have been disrupted by this drone activity and the action that has had to be taken in response to it. At this particular time of year this is particularly difficult for people.

“We have already passed legislation in relation to the use of drones. As it has been made clear, the activity we have seen is illegal and those who are caught endangering aircraft can face up to five years in prison. And we’re consulting on further aspects of this, including further police powers.

“We will continue to work with the Gatwick authorities in order to bring this to a close such that people will be able to get on to the travel that they were expecting over the Christmas.”

Woodroofe told BBC News: “There are 110,000 passengers due to fly today, and the vast majority of those will see cancellations and disruption. We have had within the last hour another drone sighting so at this stage we are not open and I cannot tell you what time we will open.

“It was on the airport, seen by the police and corroborated. So having seen that drone that close to the runway it was unsafe to reopen.

“Realistically if we do reopen today, what the airlines will seek to do is deal with the passengers who are on site and to prepare for an operation tomorrow morning where we repatriate passengers who are in the wrong place. It’s realistically going to take several days to recover.”

Earlier, he said the drones could not be shot down because of the risk posed by stray bullets. Officers from Surrey and Sussex police forces have been scouring the perimeter to try to catch the operators of two drones. Sussex police said there was no indication that the ongoing incident was terrorism-related.

Updating the House of Lords on events, the transport minister Elizabeth Sugg revealed the scale of the response. “Sussex police are in the lead and have officers on the ground. They are doing everything they can to locate drone and its operators,” she said.

“All relevant parts of government including the Department for Transport, Home Office and the Ministry of Defence, are involved in the response.”

Justin Burtenshaw, Gatwick’s policing commander who was in charge of trying to catch the operators of the drones, told the BBC it was a painstaking process because the bigger the drone the further away the operator could be. “Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears,” he said.

“When we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears, so I’m absolutely convinced it is a deliberate act to disrupt Gatwick airport.”

Some people reported being left on aircraft for several hours while they waited to find out what was going on. Gatwick advised anyone flying from the airport, or collecting someone, to check the status of their flight. EasyJet advised its passengers not to travel to the airport if their flights had been cancelled.

Arthur Serbejs, 22, and Domante Balciuniate, 21, factory workers from Hastings, sat on the floor by a prayer room on Thursday morning, approaching their 16th hour of waiting for a flight to Barcelona.

“We came about 6pm yesterday, and we’re going to be here until like 7pm,” Serbejs said. “At 9pm yesterday we were on the plane for four hours – they turned the lights off and everything like it was going to take off.”

“But we were still sitting there,” Balciuniate added. Serbejs said he had fallen asleep while the plane sat on the airport apron, hoping to wake up in Spain, “and I woke up and we hadn’t moved”.

How have you been affected by the delay at Gatwick airport?

Eventually they were taken off the flight, and offered a hotel in Brighton, which they declined as they live nearby. They were told they would get an email with a ticket for another flight, but none came. “We stood in line for three hours for a 30-second conversation saying: ‘Your flight has already been transferred hours ago,’ but we didn’t know about it,” Serbejs said.

“It’s crazy, it’s my worst airport experience.”

“We don’t even expect to go to Barcelona any more,” Balciuniate said. “Maybe there’s another drone up there – but we have hope. There’s a prayer room over there, we were thinking about going.”

Mamosta Abdulla said he was on an Iraq-bound flight on Wednesday evening before getting stuck on the tarmac for four hours. He would miss his father’s memorial service, he said.

“We got here at 6pm and should have flown at 9.10pm, but we were stuck four hours on the plane with a crying baby, the child was disabled, and everyone was sweating because it was so hot in there,” he said.

Passengers were given a voucher for food, he added, but were left to sleep “in a freezing place on uncomfortable chairs”.

“We are in Iraq with bombs going off nearby and the plane still lands. But here some drones have shut down the airport.”

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There was criticism from opposition parties as well as unions representing pilots and engineers that the rules on drones needed to be toughened up and enforced. The British Airline Pilots Association said the government should consider creating a larger no-fly zone around airports.

Labour said the government has been too slow to address safety concerns about drones and should fast-track laws to protect against their misuse and create a drone exclusion zone around airports. The Liberal Democrats also called for more stringent rules.

Lady Sugg said: “We absolutely need to make sure that we introduce new laws to ensure that drones are used safely and responsibly. Earlier this year we brought in a law that makes it illegal to fly within a kilometre of an airport and above 400ft.

“We are also introducing a registration system, which will include a mandatory safety check before you are able to fly your drone.”

She added that research was being carried out into counter-drone technology.

An airport spokeswoman said that airlines were working to provide affected passengers with hotel accommodation, or transport for those whose flights were diverted.

Luton, Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester were among the airports that accepted diverted flights. Passengers were also sent as far as Amsterdam and Paris.

• The graphic in this article was amended on 21 December 2018 because an earlier version said drones must not fly within 50 metres of crowds and built up areas. This has been corrected to say 150 metres.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Crime, Environment, Health, International, Local, News, Opinions, Police, Science/Technology0 Comments

You Don’t Want Fries With That

You Don’t Want Fries With That

 French fries might be derived from potatoes but they’re no substitute for green leafy vegetables, nutritionists say.

CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Image
French fries might be derived from potatoes but they’re no substitute for green leafy vegetables, nutritionists say CreditCreditMatt Roth for The New York Times

If French fries come from potatoes, and potatoes are a vegetable, and vegetables are good for you, then what’s the harm in eating French fries?

Plenty, say experts and nutritionists, including Eric Rimm, a professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, who called potatoes “starch bombs.”

Potatoes rank near the bottom of healthful vegetables and lack the compounds and nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, he said. If you take a potato, remove its skin (where at least some nutrients are found), cut it, deep fry the pieces in oil and top it all off with salt, cheese, chili or gravy, that starch bomb can be turned into a weapon of dietary destruction.

A study last year in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that potatoes have a high glycemic index, which has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study found that, controlling for other risk factors, participants who ate fried potatoes two to three times a week were at a higher risk of mortality compared with those who ate unfried potatoes.

Sweet potato fries might offer more Vitamin A and fiber than white potato fries but they’re still no health food, experts say. CreditCraig Lee for The New York Times
Image
Sweet potato fries might offer more Vitamin A and fiber than white potato fries but they’re still no health food, experts say. CreditCraig Lee for The New York Times

Dr. Nicola Veronese, of Padua, Italy, who was one of the study’s authors, said he and his colleagues were surprised at the amount of French fries Americans consumed compared with the amount consumed by people in other countries.

In the United States, potatoes are the most consumed vegetable, with Americans eating an average of 115.6 pounds of white potatoes a year, of which two-thirds are in the form of French fries, potato chips and other frozen or processed potato products, according to Agriculture Department statistics.

Of Americans’ appetite for fries, Dr. Rimm said, “It’s too bad in this country you’ll pry them from my cold dead hand.”

But fries, with their appealing “mouth feel” of warmed salt and fat, are undeniably tasty. Going fries-free seems like a lot to ask. So if you do indulge, here are some better ways to do it.

How many fries you eat matters more than things like the fries’ surface area or the type of oil used in making them, Lindsay Moyer, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said.

Waffle fries rank lower on the list of better options because their greater surface area soaks up more oil, experts say. CreditEirik Johnson for The New York Times

Consider, for instance, that a large serving of McDonald’s fries is 510 calories, nearly the same as a Big Mac (540 calories), she said. The Agriculture Department lists a serving of fries as three ounces, which amounts to 12 to 15 individual potato sticks, or about 140 calories.

Split your order, get the smallest portion possible or substitute with a side salad or some kind of green vegetable, Ms. Moyer said, or get a baked white or sweet potato instead.

“There aren’t a lot of people who are sending back three-quarters of an order of French fries,” Dr. Rimm said. “I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries.”

The National Potato Council and the National Restaurant Association did not respond to emails for comment.

Some appetizers consist of fries coated with cheese and chili or other dressings, which can deliver as much as 1,000 calories per serving, Ms. Moyer said.

Home fries are a better option because they usually have their skins and are cooked in a skillet instead of being deep-fried. Credit Ryan T. Conaty for The New York Times

Don’t overdo it on the condiments, either: An average packet of ketchup is only 10 calories but the same amount of aioli or mayonnaise can add nearly 100 calories.

“With such an epidemic of obesity, nowadays most of us need to cut back,” Ms. Moyer said. “There’s not a lot of room for an extra 100 calories here and there.”

Elaine Magee, the author of 25 books about nutrition and healthy cooking and a corporate dietitian for the supermarket chain Albertsons Companies, ranked fries best to worst this way:

Homemade baked fries: Make them at a high temperature with a sprinkling of canola or peanut oil.

Home fries: “They tend to still have their skin on as chunked or wedged potatoes, and they aren’t deep fried but tend to be fried in a skillet, usually in oil,” she said.

Sweet potato fries: Ms. Magee said Americans aren’t likely to eat as many of them as white potato fries, and they will have more Vitamin A and fiber. Still, don’t be lulled into thinking too highly of them, Ms. Moyer said, noting they’re “no health food.”

Nutritionists warn that French fry servings laden with toppings can amount to 1,000 calories.CreditClay Williams for The New York Times

Chili cheese fries: These are second to last but it depends on the kinds of fries, the chili ingredients and the amount of cheese, Ms. Magee said.

Poutine: “This is an example of taking something with fat and salt (French fries) and topping it with something that adds more fat and saturated fat (cheese curds) and topping that with something that contributes potentially more fat, saturated fat and salt (gravy),” Ms. Magee said.

Diners should ask how often a restaurant changes its oil, Dr. Rimm said. The repeated heating, cooling and reuse of oil promotes the creation of unhealthy fatty acids.

Sharon Zarabi, the bariatric program director and a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, noted that corn oil, which is often used in making French fries, is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which contribute to inflammation.

“In a country where we already consume a fatty diet comprising mostly of pro-inflammatory markers of omega-6 versus heart-healthy omega-3 (often found in fatty fish) we must limit its use and intake,” she said in an email.

Dr. Rimm suggested that consumers track how they feel after eating fries, and that, in turn, might lead to changes in eating habits.

Ms. Magee said to savor the flavor. Take half a fry, put it on your tongue and close your eyes, she said.

“Anything can be eaten healthfully if it’s eaten mindfully,” she said. “If you eat French fries that way, you will probably be satisfied with 10.”

Posted in Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Man drinking sex drink- file-20181206-128190-hd2cwb

Beware of natural supplements for sex gain and weight loss

The Conversation


Natural supplements may be popular, but they can have dangerous side effects when they include prescription drugs. Oleksandr Zamuruiev/Shutterstock.com

December 7, 2018

Many consumers consider dietary supplements to be natural and, therefore, safe. In fact, the Council for Responsible Nutrition reported in 2017, that 87 percent of U.S. consumers have confidence that dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, oils, microbiome bacteria, and amino acids, are safe and effective. Unfortunately, their confidence may be misplaced when it comes to supplements for male sexual dysfunction and weight loss.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, 776 dietary supplement products from 146 different manufacturers sold between 2007 and 2016 contained synthetic/prescription drugs. Most of these products are marketed for just two conditions, sexual enhancement (45.5 percent) or weight loss (40.9 percent). Most recently, on Nov. 30, 2018, the FDA advised consumers not to purchase a product called Willy Go Wild, available online and in some retail stores because the product includes hidden prescription drugs.

Why does this matter?

As a pharmacist and dietary supplement researcher, I’m concerned about the hidden inclusion of these prescription drugs in supplements. It increases the risk of patient harm, and it allows people to attribute the benefits and harms they experience to an herb rather than to the true culprit – the added drug. This makes it harder for doctors and pharmacists to decipher in what types of patients these natural therapies could be used and in whom they should be avoided.

Risky sex enhancement pills

Packaging for Viagra in a Madrid pharmacy. Enriscapes/Shutterstock.com

It is considered malpractice for pharmacists to fill prescriptions for erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs like Viagra, Levitra or Cialis if patients are taking nitrate drugs, such as nitroglycerin pills or spray or isosorbide mono/dinitrate. These nitrate drugs are often used to treat chest pain or heart failure. Combining them with a drug to treat ED; as the FDA said the makers of Willy Go Wild did, can cause a patient’s blood pressure to drop precipitously. This in turn can lead to hospitalization or death.

Some patients taking nitrate drugs, who cannot safely take one of the ED drugs, have turned instead to so-called natural products. Had they bought one of the 353 tainted products, they would have gotten the same active ingredients nonetheless.

In addition, prescription erectile dysfunction drugs can cause priapism, a medical emergency where the penis can be irreparably damaged. The higher the dose consumed, the greater the risk. So imagine you want to enhance your prescription erectile dysfunction drug with an herbal remedy only to find out you were getting a prescription drug’s active ingredient instead. There are cases of priapism with herbal sexual dysfunction medications.

ED drugs and antidepressants

Some other dietary supplement products for male enhancement added a drug called daptoxetine. The FDA has not approved it for any reason, including sexual dysfunction. People on other serotonin-enhancing drugs for depression or intestinal issues are more likely to end up with a condition called serotonin syndrome when inadvertently exposed to this undisclosed drug. Serotonin syndrome is a life-threatening problem with high body temperatures, muscle stiffness, seizures and kidney damage.

Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, was removed from the U.S. market by the FDA in 2010 because its use increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, 269 dietary supplement products touted for weight loss contained sibutramine, and others contained the stimulants ephedrine and fenfluramine.

Ephedrine, a stimulant, was banned in the U.S. because it also increased cardiovascular risk. Fenfluramine, an amphetamine derivative, was combined with phentermine in the popular “fen-phen” diet that was banned after numerous cases of pulmonary hypertension, heart valve damage and heart failure occurred.

Still other dietary supplement products for weight loss contained the laxative phenolphthalein or prescription diuretics. Phenolphthalein is no longer used as a laxative in the U.S. because it may cause cancer and hurt fetuses. Laxatives and diuretics only cause weight loss through diarrhea or loss of water weight. They do not result in fat loss. They can cause dangerously low blood pressure and low blood potassium concentrations.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015 estimated that dietary supplements led to 23,000 emergency department visits and over 2,000 hospitalizations a year. Weight loss products or those related to increased energy also caused 72 percent of supplement-related adverse events, including palpitations, chest pain or racing heart rate. I suspect the predominance of deliberate synthetic drug tainting of these dietary supplements might explain some of these findings.

How can you protect yourself?

If a package claims to be magic or to provide a miracle cure, don’t buy it. Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock.com

The FDA does not approve dietary supplements, and in many ways you are on your own. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 created a new category of health product. As long as the product contains natural ingredients intended to promote or support health and not to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease, it qualifies as a dietary supplement. Under DSHEA, the FDA has to prove risk to human health before removing these products from the U.S. market.

The FDA, however, does have an ongoing list of products in which they have detected synthetic or prescription drugs, and you can check that out. If the product you have purchased is on that list, don’t use it. On Nov. 20, 2018, two dietary supplements for pain or drug addiction were found to be tainted with tianeptine, an antidepressant drug that is not FDA-approved for use in the U.S. market. If your product is not on that list, however, it doesn’t guarantee lack of tainting. The FDA simply does not have the resources to check the tens of thousands of dietary supplements on U.S. shelves.

Independent laboratory verification from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) can help assure that the vitamin or herb specified on the label is in the bottle and that the product has a low risk of microbe, heavy metal or PCB contamination. Unfortunately, USP does not routinely test dietary supplements for synthetic or prescription drug tainting.

ConsumerLab.com does not usually test for prescription drug tainting during their product verification either. However, for sexual dysfunction drugs, ConsumerLab.com did test for prescription drug tainting.

Beware of dietary supplements manufactured in Asia, because they are more likely to be contaminated and tainted according to the FDA. Also, ethnically diverse, non-English speaking and poor people are more likely to come across tainted dietary supplements because they shop for these products at ethnic stores, flea markets, swap meets or online. Buying from reputable brands in reputable stores or websites might reduce the risk. Finally, don’t believe miraculous claims of effectiveness, especially if the only data to back it up comes from testimonials.

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PANCAP calls for better environment to allow people to be tested for HIV/AIDS

PANCAP calls for better environment to allow people to be tested for HIV/AIDS

 

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 1, CMC – The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) Saturday urged all stakeholders, including regional governments, to ensure that the necessary actions are taken to allow people who want to know their HIV/AIDS status to “come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently”.

PANCAP director, Dereck Springer, in a message marking World AIDS Day, said such persons if they tested positive should receive “the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression.

“Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean,” he warned.

World AIDS Day is being observed under theme “Know your status” and Springer said that it encourages people to be tested.

“This theme is very relevant as the world has committed to fast track actions towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by the year 2020. The UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report informs us that there are an estimated 310,000 adults and children living with HIV in the Caribbean, of which nearly 55,000 are unaware that they have HIV.”

Springer said that while many people experience anxieties when contemplating being tested, it is good to know that the majority of them will test HIV negative.

“What is important is those who know that they are HIV negative have an incentive to keep themselves free from HIV by adopting changes to their lives that can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. The few who test positive for HIV can have immediate access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs that would enable them to enjoy a good quality life and live much longer.

“The 2018 UNAIDS GAM report also helps us to understand that we still need to place 74,400 persons who are living with HIV on treatment and 103,000 are yet to achieve viral suppression, that is, having very low levels of virus in the body, even though the virus is still present,”’ the PANCAP director said.

He said the science and evidence show that AIDS can be defeated “once we get 90 per cent of people to know their HIV status, of those who are HIV positive 90 per cent receive anti-retroviral drugs and are retained in care, and 90 per cent of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Once this happens, we are well on the way to achieving the end of AIDS, by 2030.”

But he said the biggest challenges facing the region are persistent judgment and unfair treatment of people living with HIV and persons belonging to key population groups such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and other mobile populations, and persons with disabilities.

“We judge persons who are different from us and we often times treat them differently. We do so because we do not take the time to understand. This year’s theme must, therefore, serve as a catalyst for increased strategic advocacy using the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy 2017 and national advocacy plans for increasing political will to remove the policies and legislative barriers that obstruct people from coming forward to know their HIV status. The fear is real as people are concerned that they will be treated differently if they test positive.

“We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our region. We need more laboratory facilities including those led by the communities themselves to know our status.

“We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests. We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and health care providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses,’ Springer added.

Meanwhile, .UNAIDS said that the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day provides an occasion to remember the millions of people who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses because they couldn’t access HIV services or because of stigma and discrimination.

It said last year, 9.4 million people living with HIV globally were not aware of their status.

“If people don’t know their HIV status, those who are living with HIV can’t start treatment, and those who are HIV-negative can’t get the knowledge and skills they need to stay that way. Access to HIV testing is a basic human right, and UNAIDS is calling for a global commitment to remove the barriers preventing people from testing. This includes eliminating HIV-related stigma and discrimination and ensuring confidentiality in HIV testing and treatment services.”

Countries are also urged to deploy an optimal mix of HIV testing strategies including community-based testing and home testing to help mitigate many of the logistical, structural and social barriers to people learning their status. This is particularly important for men and members of key population communities.

UNAIDS said that there were an estimated 310,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean in 2017. The region experienced 10,000 AIDS-related deaths last year. AIDS-related deaths have declined by 23 per cent in the Caribbean since 2010. In 2017 there were an estimated 15,000 new infections. New infections have decreased by 18% in the region since 2010.

It said 73 per cent of people living with HIV in the Caribbean were aware of their status in 2017.

“Late diagnosis is also a challenge for several countries in the region. In 2017 nearly quarter of HIV diagnoses occurred among people with advanced HIV infection,” UNAIDS said, adding that 79 per cent  of diagnosed people were receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2017 while 70 per cent of those on treatment were virally suppressed. This viral suppression rate is far below the global average of 81 per cent.

“The Caribbean must strengthen strategies for successful treatment including increasing viral load monitoring, scaling up support for organizations that provide psychosocial services to those on treatment, and working to reduce stigma and discrimination,” said UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team Director, Dr. César Núñez.

CMC/id/ir/2018

 

 
 

Posted in CARICOM, Features, Health, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

Message from the Director of PANCAP, Mr. Dereck Springer

on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2018

PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     This year’s World AIDS Day theme “Know your status” encourages us to be tested to know whether we are HIV negative or positive. This theme is very relevant as the world has committed to Fast Track actions towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by the year 2020. The UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report informs us that there are an estimated 310,000 adults and children living with HIV in the Caribbean, of which nearly 55,000 are unaware that they have HIV. 
 
While many people experience anxieties when contemplating being tested, it is good to know that the majority of these will test HIV negative. What is important is those who know that they are HIV negative have an incentive to keep themselves free from HIV by adopting changes to their lives that can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. The few who test positive for HIV can have immediate access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs that would enable them to enjoy a good quality life and live much longer.
 
The 2018 UNAIDS GAM report also helps us to understand that we still need to place 74,400 persons who are living with HIV on treatment and 103,000 are yet to achieve viral suppression, that is, having very low levels of virus in the body, even though the virus is still present.
 
Science and evidence show that AIDS can be defeated once we get 90 percent of people to know their HIV status, of those who are HIV positive 90 percent receive anti-retroviral drugs and are retained in care, and 90 percent of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Once this happens, we are well on the way to achieving the end of AIDS, by 2030.
 
So what is stopping us from achieving these 90-90-90 targets? The biggest challenges we face are persistent judgment and unfair treatment of people living with HIV and persons belonging to key population groups such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and other mobile populations, and persons with disabilities. We judge persons who are different from us and we often times treat them differently. We do so because we do not take the time to understand.  This year’s theme must, therefore, serve as a catalyst for increased strategic advocacy using the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy 2017 and national advocacy plans for increasing political will to remove the policies and legislative barriers that obstruct people from coming forward to know their HIV status. The fear is real as people are concerned that they will be treated differently if they test positive.
 
We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our region. We need more laboratory facilities including those led by the communities themselves to know our status. We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests.  We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and health care providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses.
 
We cannot get people tested if we do not have test kits, the right diagnostic equipment, and the right human resources. When we talk about placing 90 percent of people who are HIV positive on treatment and retaining them on treatment we must also ensure that we do not have stock-outs of key drugs. How can we be taken seriously when we encourage people to be tested and then fail to provide uninterrupted treatment? How can we fail to respond to people living with HIV when sometimes drugs are not available and people become anxious because their health care provider had stressed the importance of adherence to treatment and the impact of non-adherence on their health, including the potential for drug resistance?
 
If we are serious about getting people to know their status, we must move beyond the rhetoric to decisive actions to demonstrate that we understand the full implication of what it means to move someone who tests HIV positive to sustained viral suppression. We must guarantee good quality laboratory testing and laboratory services, uninterrupted treatment and monitoring within our health care system. And we must begin to tackle the reform of the justice system to enable persons who suffer discrimination to obtain redress in a timely manner. This calls for the engagement and involvement of our ministries of justice and attorneys general among others.
 
I call upon our governments and all who can make this happen to take the necessary actions to create an enabling environment in which people who want to know their status can come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently, and that if they test positive they will be provided with the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression. Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean. 
 
 
 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Education, Health, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

BVI institutes policy to protect public officers in the workplace

BVI institutes policy to protect public officers in the workplace

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Oct. 28, CMC – The Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) says a policy is now in place to protect the health, safety and welfare of the Territory’s public officers in the workplace.

On Friday the Government that its cabinet recently approved the Health and Safety Policy and Procedure Manual that outlines the government’s “commitment to ensuring the protection of its officers, clients, contractors, suppliers, visitors, neighbors and the public from hazards and risks associated with its operations, and to the provision of adequate workplace facilities.”

Health and Safety Coordinator in the Department of Human Resources, Dawn Leonard said that the policy’s implementation has already begun, adding that “it is envisioned that it will be fully implemented over a two-year period.

She said the primary goal of the policy is “to protect officers from injuries arising on the job.”

“She also hopes that the Public Service will emerge as a leader in the promotion of healthy, safe and congenial working environments in the Territory and eventually the region,” the statement said, adding that the BVI Government is now compliant with Section 138 (1) a, “which speaks to a workplace having a policy.”

“The policy compliments the information outlined in the Virgin Islands Labor Code, 2010, as it relates to work place safety, and can be used as a guide for other organizations in the Territory,” the statement said.

It said the policy will be enforced in part by a team of public officers from various ministries and departments, who make up a committee called the Joint Workplace Health and Safety Oversight Committee.

“The committee’s responsibilities are to conduct, where necessary, accident investigation, and provide expert advice on health and safety matters to the Deputy Governor and Director of Human Resources,” the statement said.

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