The death of a pregnant Algerian doctor from the COVID-19 disease after she was denied maternity leave has sparked an uproar and prompted the dismissal of a hospital director.
Health Minister Abderrahman Benbouzid sacked the director of the Ras El Oued hospital in eastern Algeria after Wafa Boudissa succumbed to COVID-19, a source close to the case told AFP.
The 28-year-old doctor was eight months pregnant and worked at the IC surgery unit of the hospital when she died on Friday.
She had asked the hospital chief, who was not named, for early maternity leave, but he refused to let her take any time off.
Colleagues of the victim had backed her request and signed a petition in solidarity, one of them said.
Benbouzid on Saturday ordered an investigation into the death of Boudissa and, in an unprecedented move, tasked the inspector general of the health ministry to head the probe.
The source close to the case said that anyone found directly responsible for her death could face trial for negligent homicide.
State television meanwhile broadcast footage showing Benbouzid visiting the hospital and then Boudissa’s family home to offer his condolences.
In the footage, Benbouzid said he could not comprehend why a pregnant woman was forced to work, while Boudissa’s co-workers denounced those behind her death.
A presidential decree released at the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic had stated that pregnant women and those raising children were among individuals allowed to take exceptional leave from work.
According to officially declared figures, Algeria has registered 6,821 cases of coronavirus, including 542 deaths, since February.
Despite rigid hygiene guidelines for the restart of the Bundesliga this weekend, a leading German sports doctor has warned footballers are still at risk of suffering “irreversible” and potentially career-ending lung damage from the coronavirus.
With Europe’s other top leagues at least a month away from resuming, the German Football League (DFL) has drawn up strict rules for when games restart this Saturday.
Matches will be played behind closed doors, with only a limited number of media and officials allowed to attend.
The key games see second-placed Borussia Dortmund at home to Schalke in Saturday’s derby and leaders Bayern Munich, who are four points clear, visiting Union Berlin on Sunday.
Players have been told to limit contact, even on the pitch, and must avoid pre-match handshakes and hugs to celebrate goals.
The DFL says while no plan could ever be “100 percent safe”, the guidelines aim to create a playing environment with a low, “medically-justifiable risk”.
However, professor Wilhelm Bloch, from the German Sports University in Cologne, warns that contracting the coronavirus has the potential to end a player’s career.
With the rapid rise of hospitalizations and a health system nearly at capacity, New York doctor Shamit Patel is preparing for the worst over the next few days, all while hoping he won’t have to start choosing which coronavirus patients to treat.
Just 10 days ago, only half of the 46-year-old internist’s patients at Beth Israel — one of the Mount Sinai hospitals in Manhattan — were suffering from COVID-19.
“We’re not over capacity yet, but we’re planning for it to go over capacity,” he said, adding he thinks the hospital has “planned well.”
The wave of virus patients at Beth Israel corresponds to the one inundating New York City, which shot from 463 confirmed cases two weeks ago to 36,000 on Monday.
“At the rate that I’m seeing, the peak could be anywhere from end of this week to sometime next week,” said Patel.
Under extreme pressure for the past two weeks, he is preparing for the worst, even if “it’s something that we hope we don’t have to see.”
For Patel, the worst would be a situation similar to that in certain regions of Italy, where the health system is so overwhelmed that it can no longer take care of all patients.
“You’re gonna have to be a little quicker in seeing and assessing and getting the treatment plan for each patient,” Patel predicted, noting they “may have to double or triple the number of patients you’re seeing.”
But, he added worriedly, “you can’t really go more than triple the number of patients you’re seeing in a day and provide effective treatment.”
– ‘Picking and choosing’ –
In addition to the limitations of healthcare personnel, Patel is worried about a potential shortage of equipment, particularly of ventilators. New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio talk daily about the need for the machines.
“If you get a surge of patients coming in, and you only have a limited number of ventilators, you can’t necessarily ventilate patients,” Patel said. “And then you have to start picking and choosing.”
Outside of the hospital, Patel is also worried about transmitting the virus to his family. He lives with his 80-year-old father, who suffers from Parkinson’s, and his aunt, who has cancer.
“I don’t want to come back here and actually give it to them because I don’t think they would do well at all,” he said.
He maintains the minimum two meter (six-foot) distance and uses antibacterial wipes generously, while ensuring his relatives have enough food.
“I stay pretty much in my room,” Patel explained, “and then I’ll go out there and periodically check on them.”
But stress and anxiety are ever-present, both at work and at home for Patel and his colleagues, who are running a marathon, as governor Cuomo put it.
“If it’s something that kicks in, then it goes down after it peaks, then we can sustain it for a little while,” Patel said. “But all hands on deck for months on end is something that’s hard to sustain.”
“This is going to be a long and drawn out battle.”
The French government is also under pressure from doctors’ unions to impose a total nationwide curfew, with some cities, including Nice and Perpignan, already banning people from going out.
With authorities expected to extend the lockdown beyond the end of March, doctors want it tightened to “at a minimum” stopping people going out to jog or exercise.
Parliament toughened fines for people who break the current confinement measures late Saturday. Repeat offenders now face six months in prison and a fine of 3,700 euros ($3,950).
– Shortage of masks –
Dr Razafindranazy died on Saturday in a hospital in the northern city of Lille, with his son paying an emotional tribute to him on Facebook.
“He was passionate about his work and chose not to retire. He has left a family behind him who will never forget him,” he added.
The family also warned that “this illness is extremely serious and must not be taken lightly”.
Marini said Dr Razafindranazy “would soon have been 68” and had treated some of the first cases in the Oise department, the first area in France to be badly hit by COVID-19.
He was infected in early March, the mayor added.
A quarter of the more than 7,200 people now in hospital with the virus are in intensive care.
Veran said many medical staff who contract the virus could in fact be getting infected outside of their work, while adding that protection for frontline staff was “absolutely indispensable”.
But doctors and nurses were losing patience, with the Frederic Adnet, the head of an emergency department at Seine-Saint-Denis in the northern suburbs of Paris, saying supplies of protective clothing were clearly under strain.
“We know we are exposed,” he told French television. “We know a number of us are going to contract it and there will be a price to pay… with protective gear cruelly lacking.”
Not all patients who fall into a coma return, and when they do it can mark a moment of joy for their loved ones — but their troubles are rarely over.
Often, brain damage leaves them paralysed or unable to communicate.
Belgian neurologist Steven Laureys has dedicated himself to the question of how to improve the lives of the formerly comatose, and of their families.
And on Thursday, his work was recognised with a million-euro ($1.1 million) grant from the King Baudouin Foundation, presented by the Belgian king’s sister, Princess Astrid.
The award will support the work of Laureys’ world-class Coma Science Group at the University Hospital of Liege, in the south of the country.
“Our ignorance about the brain is enormous,” Laureys told AFP at his clinic, lamenting that the patients that he sees have been “neglected” by medical science.
Laureys, who leads a team of 30 researchers, sees a “silent epidemic” of cases of patients who were revived from a coma but with their consciousness limited to varying degrees.
Around 150 cases a year are recorded in Belgium alone. Some leave intensive care able to open their eyes, but only move in reaction to outside stimuli.
In other, rarer, cases full consciousness returns but the patient’s body remains paralysed, limiting or preventing two-way communication with carers and loved ones.
The possibilities for treatment are limited, but the 51-year-old doctor says the royal grant will help his team study one promising route — the use of the drug apomorphine.
Already used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and in tackling some addictions, apomorphine could prove effective in the “gentle and gradual” treatment of brain damage.
“For patients with brain injuries, there’s no current treatment that has proven truly effective. If we find one, that will make a great difference to patients’ quality of life,” said researcher Leandro Sanz.
Laureys’ group tackles Belgium’s toughest cases, those where a head trauma, brain haemorrhage or cardiac arrest plunges a patient into a coma and causes serious brain damage.
One of their most celebrated cases was that of Belgian professional cyclist Stig Broeckx, who was involved in a catastrophic crash in May 2016 on the Tour of Belgium.
He suffered several brain injuries and spent six months in a coma. Today, he can ride a bike once more.
“He regained motor control and intellectual function, he’s a true athlete with great motivation,” said Laureys.
Thursday’s ceremony saw Laureys awarded the Generet Prize, a grant from the King Baudouin Foundation named after the former Belgian monarch that manages 44.8 million euros in donations.
The first edition of the prize in 2018 went to Professor Miikka Vikkula, a Finnish specialist in vascular medicine working in Belgium’s Catholic University of Louvain.
The Ogun state police command says it has arrested a 56year old suspected quack Doctor Salahudeen Jamiu for carrying out abortion that led to the death of a house wife and mother of four in Ota area of the State.
According to the state police public relations officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, the suspect was arrested following a report by the husband of the deceased
“The husband of the deceased reported at onipanu division that he received a call from one Dupe Odebunmi who claimed to be a nurse that his wife one kehinde Olakitan was sick and on admission at Mojisola Maternity clinic belonging to the suspect,” he said.
“He stated further that on getting to the clinic, he found nobody there, but on his way back home, he discovered the corpse of his wife in front of a building close to his house. ”
“Upon the report, the Divisional Police Officer Onipanu division Superintendent of Police, Magdalene Adeniji detailed her detectives to launch a manhunt for the Operator of the Maternity center”
“Their efforts yielded positive result when the suspect was arrested on the 24th of October 2019.”
“On interrogation, the suspect admitted carrying out an abortion on the deceased who was brought to him by her friend named Dupe Odebunmi and that the deceased a mother of four died in the process.”
“He confessed further that it was out of fear that made him dumped her corpse in the frontage of a house close to the woman’s residence. ”
According to him,the remains of the deceased has been deposited at general hospital ota mortuary for autopsy.
“Meanwhile, the commissioner of police cp Bashir Makama has ordered the transfer of the suspect to homicide section of the state criminal investigation and intelligence department for proper investigation and prosecution.”
The commissioner of police also appealed to members of the public to always patronize qualify health providers whenever the need arises instead of seeking medical assistance from quack and unqualified practitioners.
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo said they arrested 11 suspects Thursday in the murder last week of a doctor with the World Health Organization (WHO) who was fighting an Ebola outbreak in the country.
The judge of a military court in the eastern province of Nord Kivu, Colonel Kumbu Ngoma, said three of the suspects were thought to have fired shots in the April 19 killing of Cameroonian doctor Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, and another four of them were believed to be accomplices.
“We hope that with these multiple arrests, security forces will be able to identify and deliver justice to all individuals who were involved in this violence against medical personnel,” DR Congo’s health ministry said in a statement.
Mouzoko was shot dead in an attack on a hospital in the eastern city of Butembo. WHO said he had been deployed as part of a medical team to help rein in the Ebola outbreak which started last August in North Kivu.
The outbreak is the second deadliest on record, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-2016, which killed more than 11,300 people. The health ministry said Wednesday it had counted 885 deaths in DR Congo from the latest outbreak.
But efforts to roll back the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever have been hampered not only by fighting but also by resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.
On Wednesday, dozens of local doctors and nurses protested against the physical risks they ran in Butembo, urging authorities to provide sufficient security by the beginning of May or they would go on strike.
On March 9, an attack on a treatment centre at Butembo left a policeman dead and a health worker wounded. It was the third attack on that centre.
On February 24, a treatment centre in Katwa was set ablaze.
The attacks prompted MSF, an international medical charity, to suspend operations in the area.
For years after the last doctor left the small German village of Weissenborn, 79-year-old former mayor Arno Maeurer had to rely on his car to reach the nearest clinic, as a chronic shortage of practitioners gripped his rural region.
But this year a clinic started coming to him.
The “Medibus” is a complete doctor’s office in a red and yellow bus that sets up shop in the community of around 1,000 people for a few hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“The day will come when I won’t be able to drive anymore, so I’ll be totally dependent on the Medibus,” Maeurer says.
For the time being, he turns to the mobile practice now and then but still sees his doctor when he isn’t completely booked up.
Every week, the bus, set up by the Hesse state medical association, stops off in six villages in western Germany.
As in many areas of western Europe, they are afflicted both by an aging population and a scarcity of practitioners to take care of them.
On board the Medibus, doctor Matthias Roth saw around 35 patients a day in the summer months, or roughly the same number as a traditional GP’s practice, the association says.
Around 70 percent of the patients were more than 55 years old, and 30 percent older than 76.
“It’s a full practice, we have everything on board to diagnose and care for patients,” Roth tells AFP, from his chair behind the tiny desk squeezed into the consulting room in the vehicle’s rear.
Outside on the town square of Cornberg — population 1,600 — project supervisor Carsten Lotz from the medical association declares the project a “very big success, we’re very satisfied.”
Creeping ‘medical deserts’
Across Hesse, more than 170 doctors’ posts are unfilled, according to data from the medical association.
Even the offer of a bonus of up to 66,000 euros ($75,000) over five years to those setting up in specific areas has failed to lure enough new blood, while doctors delaying retirement are offered up to 2,000 euros per quarter.
The shortage is so acute that the Medibus received a special exemption from a general ban on itinerant doctors.
Fearing the initiative might speed up the growth of so-called “medical deserts”, some local officials have resisted the bus, Lotz says.
“It’s still our job to bring young doctors to the towns, the Medibus is just there as a top-up” where that isn’t possible, he says.
For doctor Roth, it’s “a good solution given what’s available,” even if it’s “certainly not an ideal state of affairs”.
“We aren’t competing with local doctors,” he adds.
While waiting for the “miracle” of a new permanent doctor arriving, former mayor Maeurer says the bus “must absolutely be kept going… it’s better than nothing.”
Managers, for now, plan to keep the Medibus going for two years at a total cost of 600,000 euros.
Europe-wide, the problem of medical deserts is spreading, with falling numbers of generalists, a wave of older doctors heading into retirement and their young successors looking for a more balanced lifestyle.
In the UK, the British Medical Association estimates there are around 2,000 patients for every GP, and rural areas struggle to lure young doctors away from the cities, a spokesman told AFP.
The country’s National Health Service (NHS) has offered bonuses of 20,000 pounds (22,500 euros, $25,500) to newly qualified practitioners setting up in the least attractive areas.
And in France, around eight percent of the population — 5.3 million people — lives in one of the 9,000 municipalities judged to have an undersupply of doctors, according to the French government.
While France has a similar ban on itinerant medicine to Germany’s, the medical association has authorized the practice in exceptional cases “in the interests of public health” — with a first mobile unit planned in the central Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region early next year.
One of Queen Elizabeth II’s doctors was killed in a road accident while cycling through London, police said Thursday.
Peter Fisher, 67, collided with a truck on Wednesday, Scotland Yard said. Buckingham Palace said the monarch had been informed.
“He was an international figure in homeopathy who was committed to holistic and compassionate care for his patients,” said Doctor Gill Gaskin, a medical director for University College London Hospitals where Fisher worked for more than 35 years.
“He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and patients alike.”
Fisher was pronounced dead at the scene.
The truck driver stopped at the scene and is assisting the police with their enquiries. No arrests have been made.
The London Evening Standard newspaper said he had served as homeopathic physician to the sovereign for about 15 years.
He chaired the World Health Organization’s working group on homeopathy and was a member of the global body’s expert advisory panel, Sky News television reported.
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump quoted a letter from his former personal doctor gushing about his apparently excellent health — a note the physician now says the president “dictated” himself.
Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, New York doctor Harold Bornstein said Trump “dictated that whole letter. I didn’t write that letter.”
“I just made it up as I went along.”
In December 2015, the Trump campaign released the glowing missive which said that “if elected, Mr Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
The Manhattan doctor months later said he wrote the note hastily as Trump’s car waited.
Bornstein’s new comments come as the long-haired, bespectacled physician finds himself back in the spotlight after he told NBC that a bodyguard visited his Park Avenue office last year and confiscated the president’s medical records.
“They must have been here for 25 or 30 minutes. It created a lot of chaos,” Bornstein told NBC, saying the February 3, 2017 incident made him feel “raped, frightened and sad.”
Bornstein said the original and only copy of Trump’s medical charts, including lab reports under the president’s name and various pseudonyms, were taken.
But White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the incident was “standard procedure.”
According to Bornstein, the “raid” came two days after The New York Times quoted the doctor as saying he had prescribed Trump a hair growth medicine for years.