At Least 11 Dead In Rio Hospital Blaze

Firefigters transfer a patient during a fire at the Badim private Hospital in Tijuca neighborhood, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on September 12, 2019. MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP

 

At least 11 people, many of them elderly, were killed when a fire swept through a hospital in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro as staff and desperate visitors battled to rescue patients from smoke-filled wards.

Hospital authorities said the blaze late on Thursday was thought to have been caused by a short circuit in a generator, although the city mayor said sabotage could not be ruled out.

Firefighters tackled the fire at the private Badim hospital, near Rio’s Maracana World Cup football stadium, for several hours before finally managing to extinguish it.

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The city’s forensic institute said most of the dead were aged 66 or over, many of whom were in the intensive care unit.

“The majority were due to suffocation and other causes related to the accident… the devices keeping them alive stopped working because of the fire,” Gabriela Graca, director of the forensic institute, told local media.

Emergency personnel searched through the burned-out building until the early hours of Friday to recover bodies.

The hospital said there had been 103 patients in the building when the fire broke out and that “more than 100 doctors were mobilized to bring help to the victims.” Seventy-seven of them had been moved to other hospitals while 14 had been cleared to return home.

During the evacuation, patients on gurneys and stretchers were carried into surrounding streets as ambulances struggled through crowds of curious onlookers to transport patients to other medical facilities.

“The doctor arrived in the room and told us that there was a fire and that we had to evacuate as quickly as possible,” 58-year-old Teresa Dias, who was visiting her father, told AFP.

“They put him on a wheelchair and tied him up to prevent him from falling out. There were a lot of other sick people on stretchers on the stairs.”

Staff wheeled medical equipment outside, and the most seriously ill patients were taken at first to a nearby children’s nursery.

Sheets tied together were seen hanging from hospital windows.

– Smoke spread quickly –
“I was able to take my mother out of her room and when we got to the fire escape, there were a lot of people running around,” lawyer Carlos Otorelo, whose 93-year-old mother was being treated for pneumonia, told the UOL news website.

“It was terrible because the smoke spread very quickly.”

Other relatives were forced to wait outside for word on their loved ones as dense black fumes filled the sky.

“I heard the loud noise of glass breaking and thought it was shooting or a robbery when I heard screaming. I went downstairs to see what was happening and I saw a lot of smoke,” said one resident, Terezinha Machado, 76.

Hospital authorities said smoke spread to all floors of the building and pointed to a generator in the oldest part of the complex as the probable cause of the fire.

Mayor Marcelo Crivella said investigators would probe whether the fire was an accident.

“Experts will have to find whether anyone was responsible. I hope I am wrong, but we have to check there was no sabotage, we have to investigate,” he told reporters when visiting the hospital Friday.

The fire service said the premises had safety certificates.

Rio has been hit by two major fires in the past year, including when the National Museum was gutted by flames last September, destroying most of its priceless collections.

In February, 10 teenage members of the Flamengo football club were killed in the prefabricated building where they were staying.

Faulty air conditioning systems were the cause of both fires.

At Least 10 Dead In Rio De Janeiro Hospital Blaze

Firefigters transfer a patient during a fire at the Badim private Hospital in Tijuca neighborhood, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on September 12, 2019. MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP

 

At least 10 people died in a fire inside a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday evening with rescuers desperately trying to evacuate scores of patients from the building, the fire service said.

The fire broke out at dusk at the Badim hospital in the north of the city, with first reports suggesting the cause was a short circuit in a generator in the oldest part of the complex.

“At least 10 people died,” the Rio de Janeiro fire department said in a statement, without specifying whether the victims were patients or workers.

“About 90 patients had to be transferred to other medical units.”

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The blaze was brought under control by 8:00pm (2300 GMT), and fire fighters searched until the early hours of Friday to recover bodies from the scene.

During the emergency evacuation, dozens of trolly beds and stretchers were taken into the surrounding streets as ambulances struggled to get through crowds of curious onlookers to rush the most vulnerable patients to other hospitals.

Dense black smoke poured out of one side of the hospital, a private facility in the Tijuca neighborhood, as doctors, nurses and volunteers ran inside to rescue patients.

‘Latex Gloves Serve As Urine Bags’, Zimbabwean Hospitals Struggle With Mugabe’s Legacy

 

For Zimbabwe’s doctors, few institutions reflect their country’s decay under Robert Mugabe than their public hospitals, once vaunted but now under-equipped and crumbling.

Latex gloves serve as urine bags, operating rooms lack light bulbs and patients are often required to refuel their own ambulances, medics say.

Mugabe, who died last week in Singapore at age 95, may have swept to power as a liberation hero, but his rule was marked by economic collapse that left his people scrambling to survive.

Zimbabwean doctors note the symbolism of Mugabe seeking treatment 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) from home in Singapore’s gleaming Gleneagles clinic, where the cheapest suite costs around US$850 (770 euros) a day.

“It is very symbolic that the former president who presided over all the system for three decades can’t trust the health system,” said Edgar Munatsi, a doctor at Chitungwiza, 30 kms (18 miles) from the capital Harare.

“It says a lot about the current state of our health system.”

Mugabe’s death has left many debating the legacy of a man who ended white minority rule and was initially lauded for advances in public health and education.

In his nearly four-decade rule, Mugabe later brutally repressed opponents and oversaw a catastrophic mismanagement of economy that led to hyper-inflation, food shortages and misery.

Mugabe was not alone in seeking overseas care. Current Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is away for several weeks of treatment in China.

It is not hard to see why.

In Chitungwiza hospital, a glowing sign promising “Quality Health” welcomes patients, but conditions inside say otherwise: Operations are often cancelled for lack of anaesthetic, Munatsi says.

The hospital recently issued an internal memo warning its poorly-paid staff against “eating food made for patients.”

Two-decade Crisis

The situation is equally dramatic in paediatrics at Harare Central Hospital, one of Zimbabwe’s top clinics. Cleaning is done only twice a week, for lack of staff and detergents, doctors told AFP.

The operations are often postponed for lack of running water and nursing staff, in a country mired for two decades in economic crisis.

“In theatre, we have linen full of blood and faeces and you can’t do the laundry,” said one doctor.

He requested anonymity, like many of his colleagues, for fear of reprisals from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Only one of three paediatric operating rooms at the central hospital is working.

“We have a four-year waiting list for inguinal hernias, the most common condition in children,” says one of the specialists.

Without treatment, this hernia can cause male infertility.

Drug shortages, obsolete equipment and lack of staff: the mix is sometimes deadly.

“It is heart-breaking when you lose patients who are not supposed to die under normal circumstances,” Munatsi said.

‘Pathetic’

Since the early 1990s, the public health system has steadily deteriorated, whereas before, people came from overseas to be treated in Zimbabwe, recalls one senior doctor.

That is a legacy of the Mugabe years as the country was tipped into endless economic crisis — three-digit inflation, currency devaluations, and shortages of commodities.

In hospitals, patients and loved ones who experience the situation daily, are resigned.

“It’s pathetic,” says Saratiel Marandani, a 49-year-old street vendor who had to buy a dressing for his mother.

Given her age, she should receive free health care. But the reality is starkly different.

“Only the consultations are free (…) if you need paracetamol, you need to buy it yourself.”

His mother will have to do without the ultrasound she needs. At 1,000 Zimbabwean dollars or 100 euros, it’s beyond his reach.

Doctors say they sometimes have to pay out of their own pocket for patients’ medication, or even just their bus ticket home.

At Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, Lindiwe Banda lays prostrate on her bed. A diabetic, she was given the green light to go home. But on condition, she paid her bill.

“But I do not even have five Zimbabwean dollars (less than one euro) to pay for the transport,” she said in tears.

“I can’t reach my relatives. I think they have dumped me. They don’t have money, but they should show some love”.

If hospitals and patients are penniless, doctors too cannot escape Zimbabwe’s ruin.

Medics have just begun their latest protest to demand a pay rise after salaries lost 15 times their value in a few months and consumer prices spiralled out of control.

“We are incapacitated,” says Peter Magombeyi, a doctor whose salary is the equivalent of 115 euros a month – a pittance that requires him to do odd jobs to get by.

“We are very aware” of the problems, says Prosper Chonzi, the director of health services in Harare.

“The health system reflects the economy of the country.”

Four Dead In Romania Psychiatric Hospital Attack

 

Four people have died and nine were injured after being attacked by a patient in a psychiatric hospital, Romanian press reports said Sunday.

They said a 38-year-old man who had admitted himself to the hospital in Sapoca, northeast of the capital Bucharest, entered a treatment room and attacked other patients with a transfusion stand.

Three of the patients suffered head injuries and died at the scene while a fourth died later in hospital, the reports said.

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Among the nine injured in the attack, two were in a coma, they added.

“Everything happened in less than a minute,” hospital director Viorica Mihalascu was quoted as saying.

“This patient was admitted on a normal surveillance level. His symptoms did not give an indication that a tragedy was imminent,” she told Antena 3 television station.

British-Iranian Held By Tehran Taken To Mental Ward – Family

 

A British-Iranian mother jailed in Tehran since 2016 on sedition charges has been transferred to the mental ward of a hospital in Tehran, her family announced Wednesday.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was transferred from Evin prison to Imam Khomeini hospital on Monday, where her father confirmed she is being held by the Revolutionary Guard, according to a statement from the Free Nazanin campaign.

“It is unknown how long Nazanin is expected to be in the psychiatric ward. It is not clear what kind of medical treatment will be provided,” it said.

A psychiatrist recently recommended that she be “instantly hospitalised” due to her sharp deterioration since her previous meeting, and the risk of her taking matters into her own hands”, added the statement.

“I was healthy and happy when I came to Iran to see my parents,” she was quoted as saying by her family.

“Three and a bit years later and I am admitted to a mental health clinic. Look at me now –- I ended up in an asylum. It should be an embarrassment.”

The 40-year-old recently ended a 15-day hunger strike held to mark her daughter Gabriella’s fifth birthday.

She was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking then 22-month-old Gabriella to visit her family.

She was sentenced to five years for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group’s philanthropic arm, she denies all charges.

The case has added to long-standing tensions between Tehran and London, which is a major arms supplier to Iran’s arch-enemy Saudi Arabia.

Iran confirmed on Tuesday that it had arrested a well-known French-Iranian academic without giving any details of her case.

The detention of Fariba Adelkhah, 60, risks increasing tension between Paris and Tehran at a critical moment in efforts to save a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Other Iranian dual nationals jailed in Iran include Iranian-American Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, who are serving 10-year sentences for espionage in a case that has outraged Washington.

Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University researcher, is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage, and US national Michael White, 46, was this year also sentenced to 10 years.

AFP

One Rebel Killed In DR Congo Hospital Attack

 

The DR Congo army fought off an attack on a hospital by a rebel group, killing one militiaman, police said Saturday, in the latest assault on medical staff trying to rein in an Ebola outbreak in the east of the country.

Armed rebels from the Mai-Mai militia attacked Katwa hospital near the city of Butembo at around 3.40 am (0140 GMT), officers told AFP.

“We have resisted and repelled the attack even though these ‘Mai-Mai’ had a PKM machine gun,” said Butembo police chief Colonel Paul Ngoma.

He said one rebel was killed and four captured.

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The attack came a day after a WHO doctor, Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, was shot dead in an assault by armed militiamen on Butembo University Hospital, according to the World Health Organization.

The WHO said the epidemiologist had been deployed to help combat Ebola in the region.

The attacks are the latest in a string of assaults on teams grappling with a near nine-month-old Ebola outbreak that has claimed almost 850 lives.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday condemned the Butembo University Hospital attack and called on Congolese authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

DR Congo declared its tenth outbreak of Ebola last August, in northeastern North Kivu province, before the virus spread into the neighbouring Ituri region.

Local organisations have said the number of Ebola deaths is rising.

An updated toll by the health ministry, issued on Wednesday, said there had been 843 deaths since August.

WHO data from April 9 put the number of confirmed or probable cases at 1,186, of which 751 had been fatal.

The outbreak is the second deadliest on record, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-16, which killed more than 11,300 people.

Efforts to roll back the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever in DRC have been hampered by fighting but also by resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.

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.

AFP

Pele Under ‘Observation’ In Brazil Hospital

Brazilian football legend Pele speaks during a meeting with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and France national football team forward Kylian Mbappe at the Hotel Lutetia in Paris/ AFP

 

Pele remains under “observation” in a Brazilian hospital, his doctors said Thursday, describing the three-time World Cup winner as “clinically stable”.

The latest update on the Brazilian football great’s health comes a day after the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo said he would need an operation to remove a “ureteral stone”.

The 78-year-old was admitted to the medical facility on Tuesday after he returned from France where he had spent six days in a Paris hospital for a urinary tract infection that required surgery.

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Pele “remains clinically stable and in good health”, the Sao Paulo hospital said.

“He has been medically evaluated and is still under observation.”

Pele, who is widely considered to be the greatest footballer in history, was discharged late Monday from the private American hospital in the Paris suburbs where he had been taken after falling ill following an appearance at a promotional event with France striker Kylian Mbappe.

Pele, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and perhaps most memorably in Mexico in 1970 when his swashbuckling team re-defined modern football, has had several health scares in recent years.

AFP

Pele To Undergo Urinary Tract Surgery In Brazil

Brazilian football great Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele, arrives at Guarulhos International Airport, in Guarulhos some 25km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 9, 2019. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP

 

Pele will have an operation to remove a ‘ureteral stone,’ his doctors said Wednesday, a day after the football great returned to Brazil following treatment in a Paris hospital for an infection.

The 78-year-old was admitted to the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo for more tests after arriving in Brazil early Tuesday.

“The tests show the presence of stones in the left ureter and their removal is scheduled during the current hospital stay, but still without a defined date,” the hospital said in a statement.

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“The patient is in a stable condition and good general state from a clinical point of view.”

Pele, who is widely considered to be the greatest footballer in history, was discharged late Monday from the private American hospital in the Paris suburbs where he had been taken after falling ill following an appearance at a promotional event with France striker Kylian Mbappe.

In a statement on Monday on the Globoesporte.com site, Pele said he had required “medical assistance and surgery” for a “severe urinary infection.”

Pele, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and perhaps most memorably in Mexico in 1970 when his swashbuckling team re-defined modern football, has had several health scares in recent years.

AFP

Brazilian Legend Pele ‘Improving’ In Paris Hospital

Legendary Brazilian footballer Pele/ AFP

 

Brazilian football legend Pele is “improving” after being hospitalised in Paris for a urinary infection, his spokesman said Thursday, although it was not clear when he would be released. 

The 78-year-old three-time World Cup winner was admitted for treatment on Wednesday and his entourage had expressed hope he would be out within two days.

“Everything is under control, always improving,” the spokesman confirmed in a WhatsApp message to AFP.

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Pele, who won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970, had been in Paris for a promotional appearance alongside France star Kylian Mbappe.

The declining health of the player known as ‘O Rei’ has been a cause for concern in recent times, and the planned meeting with Mbappe had already been postponed last November.

Previously, Pele had admitted to not being up to the task of lighting the flame at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Before that, he spent time in intensive care in Brazil in late 2014 following a kidney complaint.

AFP

Three Die In Bulgaria Psychiatric Hospital Fire

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Three patients died in a fire that engulfed a room in the men’s ward of a psychiatric hospital in the central Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, officials said Thursday.

“A fire erupted around midnight. Three men died — patients, who have been identified,” hospital chief Mariana Gospodinova told BNR public radio.

The other 60 patients in the hospital were safely evacuated, she added.

“The fire started from their (the three victims’) room, maybe from a cigarette or some other inflammable substance, but for the time being it is unclear if it happened by accident or was intentional,” Plovdiv regional prosecutor Rumen Popov said.

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He however added that the initial investigation at the site ruled out the possibility of an electrical fault.

The strict regime at the ward — which kept patients with paranoid schizophrenia locked in their ward and banned the possession of lighters or matches — “suggests arson”, Popov said.

The three dead — all men in their fifties — had been sent to the hospital because of aggressive behaviour, the prosecutor said.

Meagre funding, poor conditions and a severe shortage of staff at many of Bulgaria’s 12 public mental health hospitals and 13 asylums have drawn criticism from both local and international observers for years.

However incidents such as Thursday’s have been rare.

AFP

Edo Govt Earmarks N100m To Develop Health Sector

File Photo. A hospital ward.

 

The Edo State Government has earmarked a total of N100 million as counterpart fund for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), to provide responsive, efficient and accessible health care through Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs).

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. David Osifo, disclosed this at a workshop on Health Workforce Registry, held in the state on Tuesday.

Osifo said the contribution is to enable the state benefit fully from the BHCPF of the Federal Government.

He further explained that the Edo State House of Assembly has passed the Health Insurance Bill into law, a development which he says will pave the way for the smooth running of the fund, even as other provisions for the take-off of the state insurance scheme take shape.

The BHCPF is the fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act, signed in 2014.

States are expected to benefit from the fund when they meet the requisite criteria, which includes contributing the counterpart fund.

“To ensure sustainability and ownership of the BHCPF, the states are expected to co-fund the BHCPF, beginning with an initial N100 million as part-expression of interest to implement the BHCPF,” he said.

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The states are also required to create state Health Insurance Agencies and state Primary Health Care Development Boards to serve as channels through which implementation would be monitored.

Governor Godwin Obaseki had recently inaugurated a 17-member Primary Health Care Board in the state to deepen the revamp of the state’s primary health care system.

He charged members of the board to support the vision of his administration in delivering quality and affordable health care to the people.

Thai Cave Boys To Leave Hospital Earlier Than Planned

A photo collage showing the 12 rescued Thai boys released by the Ministry of Health, Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital on July 14, 2018. Handout / Ministry of Health / Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital / AFP

 

Twelve boys and their football coach who survived a highly dangerous and dramatic rescue from a flooded cave in Thailand are preparing to leave the hospital and speak to the media for the first time.

The “Wild Boars” football team are being discharged a day earlier than announced, with authorities hoping a question and answer session will satisfy — at least temporarily — the intense media speculation that has accompanied their epic underground ordeal, before they head home later Wednesday.

“The reason to hold this evening press conference is so media can ask them questions and after that, they can go back to live their normal lives without media bothering them,” Thailand’s chief government spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd told AFP.

But with experts warning of possible long-term distress from the ordeal inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand, the briefing will be closely watched.

The public relations department in Chiang Rai province solicited questions from news outlets in advance and they will be forwarded to psychiatrists for screening.

Called “Sending the Wild Boars Home” and broadcast on major television channels, the session will last for about 45 minutes, Sunsern said, adding that it would be conducted in an informal style with a moderator.

“They are likely to return home immediately after the press conference,” he said.

Thailand’s junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha urged media Wednesday to be “cautious in asking unimportant questions” that could cause unspecified damage.

“Today everything is already good, including the perception in foreign countries,” he told reporters in Bangkok. “Nothing is better than this so we should not make it get worse.”

Doctors have advised families of the boys, aged 11 to 16, that they should avoid letting them contact journalists for at least one month after they are discharged.

But interest in the saga is unlikely to abate, with film production houses already eyeing a Hollywood treatment of the ready-made drama.

Though the boys and coach are said to be in good mental and physical health, health officials will provide additional psychological monitoring to detect lingering trauma.

Families of the youngsters are eagerly awaiting the homecoming.

Khameuy Promthep, the grandmother of 13-year-old Dom, one of the boys rescued from the cave, told AFP in an interview at their family shop in Mae Sai near the Myanmar border on Wednesday that she was very excited.

“This is the happiest day of my life,” she said.

The daring Thai-led international effort to rescue the team captivated the world after the football team walked into the cave on June 23 and were trapped by rising floodwaters.

After nine days without a steady supply of food or water, they were found emaciated and huddled in a group on a muddy ledge by British divers several kilometres inside Tham Luang.

Rescuers debated on the best plan to bring them out but ultimately decided on a risky operation that involved diving them through waterlogged passages while they were sedated to keep them calm and carrying them out in military-grade stretchers.

Not even the foreign cave diving specialists who took part were sure the mission would work and many expressed relief when it was all over after the final five were rescued on July 10.

AFP