Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has died after a heart attack, medical and government sources said on Friday, although few of his countrymen mourned a leader widely seen as an autocrat responsible for a stunning economic collapse.
The 78-year-old was rushed to hospital in Lilongwe on Thursday after collapsing but was dead on arrival, the sources said. State media said he had been flown to South Africa for treatment although his immediate whereabouts remained unclear.
Medical sources said the former World Bank economist had been flown out because a power and energy crisis in the nation of 13 million was so severe the Lilongwe state hospital would have been unable to carry out a proper autopsy or even keep his body refrigerated.
Many Malawians blamed Mutharika personally for the economic woes, which stemmed ultimately from a diplomatic spat with former colonial power Britain a year ago.
“We know he is dead and unfortunately he died at a local, poor hospital which he never cared about – no drugs, no power,” said Chimwemwe Phiri, a Lilongwe businessman waiting in a snaking line of cars for fuel at a petrol station.
There was no official announcement. State media said a statement would be made at midday (1000 GMT). As rumours of the death of the self-styled ‘Economist in Chief’ swept the capital on Thursday night, there were even pockets of drunken jubilation among locals who saw him turning back the clock on 18 years of democracy in the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’.
“I am yet to see anyone shedding a tear for Bingu,” said Martin Mlenga, another businessman. “We all wished him dead, sorry to say that.”
The constitution says Vice-President Joyce Banda will take over as head of state. Analysts said there would be a smooth transition even though Banda was booted out of Mutharika’s ruling DPP party in 2010 after an argument about succession.
Mutharika appeared to have been grooming his Foreign Minister brother Peter as his successor, although there was little question of the army and police not respecting the law, said former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara.
“The army has been very professional,” Kasambara, now a human rights activist, told Reuters. “He was very unpopular. People were praying for his death. We can’t get any worse than we are.”
The next election is due in 2014.
Police deployed in force across the capital immediately after Mutharika’s hospital admission, although it was business as usual on Friday as residents went about their daily struggle to get by.
Mutharika came to power in 2004 and presided over a seven-year boom – underpinned by foreign aid and favourable rains – that made Malawi one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
The good times came to a halt last year after a dispute with Britain, Malawi’s biggest donor, that led to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and the freezing of millions of dollars of aid.
The cause of the row was a leaked diplomatic cable that accused Mutharika of being “autocratic and intolerant of criticism”.
The aid freeze exacerbated an already acute dollar shortage, hampering imports of fuel, food and medicines, and leading to a fall in the value of the kwacha against the dollar.
Malawi’s diplomatic isolation and economic plight worsened in July 2011 when the United States shelved a $350 million overhaul of the dilapidated power grid after police killed 20 people in a crackdown on an unprecedented wave of anti-government protests.
Mutharika hit back in typically combative style, urging his supporters last month to “step in and defend their father rather than just sit back and watch him take crap from donors and rights groups”. REUTERS
The federal government on Thursday expressed concerns over the misconception of autism in Nigeria saying some persons are mischievously associating autism spectrum disorder to witchcraft and other bizarre beliefs.
Speaking at a joint news conference in Abuja ahead of the world autism awareness day, which is to be observed worldwide on 2 April, the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu says the government is worried that individuals are discriminated against even by their own family members while some with severe cases of autism are locked up in cages and fed like animals.
The Minister said that the reason why people discriminate against autism patient is due to lack of awareness.
He said that the lack of awareness about ailment informed the coining of the theme for this year’s autism day celebration. According to him “the theme for this year’s world autism awareness day in Nigeria is Autism- early intervention is key.”
Mr Chukwu said that “this theme reflects the commitment of the government to the provision of quality health care to all Nigerians as necessitated in goal number two of that National strategic health development plan.”
He said as Nigeria dreams to be ranked among the 20 biggest economies in the World, persons with autism must be catered for.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Education, Ruqayyat Rufai said that six zonal autism centres will be established for early detection and treatment of autism as part of the federal government’s effort to address issues of autism.
She also her ministry has been training the regular classroom teachers on “methods and techniques of handling children with autism in an inclusive classroom setting.”
“I have just been fired and you expect me to smile?” “How does smiling help me get out of this sick bed?” “I just had my heart broken by the one I truly love, and you are asking me to smile?”…the complaints could go on and on, but smiling is the key. There so many reasons not to smile, but have you ever wondered what a big grin can do for you. 1. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger Why go for face lifting or facial surgery to look young when you could go through the simpler and inexpensive way of smiling. Smiling your way through the day helps you look younger and feel better. 2. Smiling Relieves Stress Smiling is one way to reduce the distress caused by an upsetting situation. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile, it helps you from looking tired and worn out. Research and studies all around have shown that stress is reduced when one smiles. 3. Smiling gets others to trust you One signal that suggests you are trustworthy is a smile. In a world where everyone is out for themselves, who should you trust? Genuine smiles send a message that other people can trust and cooperate with you. People who smile are often rated higher in both generosity and extroversion. 4. Recover from social slip-ups Did you forget to buy your partner an anniversary present? Has an important client’s name slipped your mind? The smile you display elicits fellow-feeling from other people so they think less of the slip and forgive you more quickly. 5. Smile and (half) the world smiles with you Did you ever look at a smiling baby and felt compelled to smile back? One of the simple social pleasures of life, which goes almost unnoticed because it’s automatic, is when you smile at someone and they smile back. Smiling lightens up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. Smile lots and you will draw people to you. “Smile and the Whole World Smiles with You”…do you remember that song? So from now on, smile even if you don’t feel like it. Maybe, just maybe, a few hours later you will find you are doing it naturally. A real smile can’t be faked. There is scientific proof from studies done that real smiles go all the way to the eyes, while fake ones involve only the muscles around the mouth. So put on your happy face already! It does not cost a dime and your face looks so much prettier with a smile gracing it! “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” – Mother Teresa
New research has suggested that people who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner. New research has suggested that people who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner. The research which was carried out in the US found that those who ate chocolate a few times a week were, on average, slimmer than those who ate it occasionally.
Even though chocolate is loaded with calories, it contains ingredients that may favour weight loss rather than fat synthesis, scientists believe.
According to the researchers, there is only one chance in a hundred that their findings could be explained by chance alone.
Lead author Dr Beatrice Golomb, from the University of California at San Diego, said: “Our findings appear to add to a body of information suggesting that the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining their ultimate impact on weight.”
This is not the first time scientists have suggested that chocolate may be healthy for us.
Other studies have claimed chocolate may be good for the heart.
Consumption of certain types of chocolate has been linked to some favourable changes in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol level.
And chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, does contain antioxidants which can help to mop up harmful free radicals – unstable chemicals that can damage our cells.
Dr Golomb and her team believe that antioxidant compounds, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight – at least studies in rodents would suggest this might be so.
Mice fed for 15 days with epicatechin (present in dark chocolate) had improved exercise performance and observable changes to their muscle composition.
They say clinical trials are now needed in humans to see if this is the case.
But before you reach for a chocolate bar, there are still lots of unanswered questions. And in the absence of conclusive evidence, experts advise caution.
While there’s no harm in allowing yourself a treat like chocolate now and again, eating too much might be harmful because it often contains a lot of sugar and fat too.
And if you are looking to change your diet, you are likely to benefit most from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
A bill has been proposed by the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria to stop frequent overseas medical trips by public officials.
The Lagos State Chairman of the union, Femi Daini, while disclosing this on Monday at a news conference tagged ‘Primary Health Care Development as a platform for attaining universal access to quality health care services in Nigeria’ said public health institutions in the country are not pogressing because public officials have the alternative means of travelling abroad to treat the slightest ailment.
Accordign to Mr. Daini, “Health care delivery will continue to remain in poor state if there is no outright ban on medical trip abroad by public officials. If they cannot travel abroad for medical treatment, they will be compelled to salvage health sector in Nigeria.”
He said the Joint Health Sector Union had almost perfected its work on modalities to pursue the bill to a logical conclusion.
Taking a low dose of aspirin every day can prevent and possibly even treat cancer, fresh evidence suggests. The three new studies published by The Lancet (one of the world’s leading general medical journal) add to mounting evidence of the drug’s anti-cancer effects.
Prof Peter Rothwell, from Oxford University, and colleagues, who carried out the latest work, had already linked aspirin with a lower risk of certain cancers, particularly bowel cancer.
But their previous work suggested people needed to take the drug for about 10 years to get any protection.
Now the same experts believe the protective effect occurs much sooner within three to five years based on a new analysis of data from 51 trials involving more than 77,000 patients. Aspirin appears not only to reduce the risk of developing many different cancers in the first place, but may also stop cancers spreading around the body.
The trials were designed to compare aspirin with no treatment for the prevention of heart disease.
But when Prof Rothwell’s team examined how many of the participants developed and died from cancer, they found this was also related to aspirin use.
Taking a low (75-300mg) daily dose of the drug appeared to cut the total number of cancer cases by about a quarter after only three years – there were nine cancer cases per 1,000 each year in the aspirin-taking group, compared with 12 per 1,000 for those taking dummy pills.
It also reduced the risk of a cancer death by 15% within five years (and sooner if the dose was higher than 300mg)
And if patients stayed on aspirin for longer, their cancer death risk went down even further – by 37% after five years.
Low-dose aspirin also appeared to reduce the likelihood that cancers, particularly bowel, would spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body, and by as much as half in some instances.
In absolute numbers, this could mean for every five patients treated with aspirin one metastatic cancer would be prevented, the researchers estimate.
Prof Rothwell says for most fit and healthy people, the most important things they can do to reduce their lifetime cancer risk is to give up smoking, take exercise and have a healthy diet.
After that aspirin does seem to reduce the risk further – only by a small amount if there is no risk factor, but if there is a family history for something like colorectal cancer, it tips the balance in favour of aspirin, he said.
Prof Peter Johnson, of Cancer Research UK, said it was still a good idea for people thinking of taking aspirin to discuss it with their GP because of the possible side effects.
“We now need some definitive advice from the government as to whether aspirin should be recommended more widely,” he said.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which issues treatment guidelines for the NHS, has not yet been asked by the government to look at the topic but a spokesman for the Department of Health said they were considering how best to advise the public about the benefits and risks of aspirin.
The University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) is set to start performing cosmetic surgery and kidney transplant. The Chief Medical Director, Prof. Abdulwaheed Olatinwo, while speaking at a press conference in Ilorin on Tuesday said UITH had the capacity to match the development which will take effect from June. Prof. Olatinwo said, “We are already working with some institutions outside the country so that people can go for training on cosmetic surgery. We have the capacity, manpower, two consultants and we believe that within a very short time, people can even come in for cosmetics training.” According to him, “About renal care and kidney transplant, we believe in total quality care…I can assure you that we are almost at the state of carrying out the procedure. Investigations have been concluded. Before the end of June, we shall be able to have renal plant transmission.” The Professor disclosed that because of the improved health care, many foreigners had been coming to Nigeria for medical attention, adding that the number of Nigerians travelling abroad for medical attention had reduced.
The Japanese government on Tuesday offered a US$ 7.85 million (about N1.24 billion) grant to the Nigeria government to help it combat the problem of polio in the country.
The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu who signed and received the grant on behalf of the Federal government, thanked the Japanese government for the kind gesture adding that Japan remains a major donor to the global health sector.
He said that this year, the federal government has increased its commitment against polio with N4.7 billion for eradication effort pointing out that Nigeria will be removed from polio endemic countries by 2013.
The Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Ryuichi Shoji who presented the grant said that Japan has been making sustained efforts to fight infectious diseases noting that it has been attempting to eradicate polio in collaboration with UNICEF as well as the government of Nigeria for more than ten years.
He said that Japan’s financial contribution in the fight against polio in Nigeria amounts to more than 7 billion yen (about N14 billion) and that though Nigeria has made significant progress in polio eradication, there is need to redouble efforts to eradicate the disease.
The UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Dr Suomi Sakai said that while Nigeria is making some progress in reducing its high child mortality rate, childhood killer diseases such as measles, tetanus and whooping cough are some of the challenges that needs to be addressed.
The World Health Organisation had last year reported a four-fold increase in polio in Nigeria, saying that about Forty-three cases of the disease were reported in 2011, compared to 11 in 2010.
The organisation insists that curbing the polio virus in Nigeria is the key to eradicating the crippling disease in Africa.
In 2003, northern Muslim leaders opposed vaccinations, claiming they could cause infertility.
Nigeria is one of four countries in the world – along with Pakistan, India and Afghanistan – where polio is still a major health risk.
Spanish doctors have announced themselves as the brain behind the world’s first successful operation on fixing a fetus’ blocked bronchial tube.
The operation, which was carried out in 2010 by staff from Barcelona’s Clinic and Sant Joan de Deu hospitals, had lasted just 30 minutes but was very delicate as it was carried out on a 26-week-old fetus weighing just 800 grams (28 ounces).
The fetus, baby Alaitz, was suffering from a bronchial atresia, a relatively common condition which affects one fetus in 10,000.
Doctors from two Barcelona hospitals, Clinic and Joan de Deu, had to introduce an endoscopy through the fetus’ mouth to connect the right bronchi with the central airways in a procedure done in late 2010 that was unveiled Tuesday.
The head of the maternal-fetal medicine department at Hospital clinic, Eduard Gratacos, said “It is the first time in the world that this has been achieved. It is the first time it has been tried and it turned out well.”
Doctor Gratacos added that “It is an extremely delicate operation since it is carried out near the heart on tissues as thin as cigarette paper. But without this fetal therapy, the baby would not have survived.”
Eleven weeks after the pioneering surgery was carried out, baby Alaitz which means “joy” in the Basque language, was born weighing 2.5 kilogrammes (5.5 pounds).
“She is completely normal. She wakes up happy, she laughs if she is pleased, she cries if she is hungry,” the baby’s 33-year-old mother, Monica Corominas, told a news conference at the Hospital Clinic as Alaitz, who is now 16-months-old, played nearby under the watch of her father Marco.
“It was the only option. We either tried it or put an end to the pregnancy.”
The two Barcelona hospitals are one of the five largest centers in the world for fetal surgery. They deal with 200 cases of fetal pathology per year.
The Kenyan government has fired 25,000 striking health workers from its country’s public hospitals for defying an order to return to work.
Government spokesman Alfred Mutua disclosed that the health workers, comprising mainly of nurses, laboratory technicians and pharmacists will be replaced by the unemployed and retired health workers.
“The government has taken this firm action to alleviate further suffering of innocent Kenyans. It is wrong and unethical, regardless of any disagreement, for a health professional to abscound duty and lead to the loss of life and or suffering of any patient” Mr Mutua said.
In response, one of the Kenya Health Professionals Society, Alex Orina, says the health workers are striking because of a heavy workload due to staff shortages, inadequate equipment and supplies.
Meanwhile, the twenty-five-thousand Kenyan health workers say they will remain on strike for better pay despite already having been fired by the government.
Following another outbreak of Lassa fever in some states, the Federal Government says it will curb the spread of the deadly disease through regular enlightenment and prompt service delivery to those affected by the disease.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Ali Pate said that from November 2011 to date, a total of 397 cases of lassa fever have been recorded in eleven states, leaving forty persons dead.
He listed the affected states as Edo, Nasarawa, Plateau, Ebonyi and Taraba.
Others are Yobe, Ondo, Rivers, Gombe, Anambra, Delta, and Lagos.
Lassa fever causes extreme abdominal distension and bleeding, and has a case fatality rate of about 80%.
Although Lassa is classed as a haemorrhagic fever, only about 20 per cent of infected adults actually haemorrhage.
Most cases (roughly 80%) are either mild or exhibit no apparent symptoms. Also the agent is more lethal to non-Africans than Africans and seems to prefer the dry season to wet conditions.
No matter the season though, Lassa is a viscous viral predator; a minuscule but murderous pathogen of 110 to 130 nanometres in size (a nanometre is a billionth of a metre).
Like other viruses, it dwells furtively, in the realm between living and non-living matter, until contact with a cell occurs.