Diaz-Canel: Nothing is more important in Cuba than the life of a child

Havana, October 14 (RHC)-- President Miguel Diaz-Canel conveyed his condolences to the parents of Paloma Dominguez Caballero, the one-year-infant who died on October 9 because of health complications resulting from an adverse reaction to a Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccination.

Diaz-Canel wrote on his twitter account that the Public Health Ministry is investigating the event and is taking good care of the other children hospitalized.

 “The political manipulation of adversaries offends and hurts. Nothing is more important to the Cuban Revolution than the life of a child,” he stressed.

A note from the Ministry of Public Health issued Saturday reported about an incident in Habana del Este municipality in which five children reacted adversely to the vaccination and were hospitalized. Of them, Paloma Dominguez died.

No similar incidents have been reported anywhere else on the island.

As a result of this unfortunate event, enemies of the Cuban Revolution have unleashed a political campaign of manipulation intending to tarnish the image of Cuba and its health system, which enjoys worldwide recognition for its achievements.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
  • Published in Now

Nostalgia in chivichana

I made a bet it would not appear in the encyclopedia, but there it was: f. Cuba. Wooden platform mounted on four wheels and with a mobile front axis, used by the children to slip.

However who reads such definition has little idea on what a chivichana truly is: thundering of steel bearings downhill on the childhood street, laughter and fright on the curves, scolding for torn pants, startle and laughter, much laughs.

This summer, how many chivichanas will be seen during vacations? New technologies are a stronger competition each passing day, but none has been able to compete with that cool air and shot of adrenaline you feel going down a steep hill on a chivichana, hair in disarray and bumping with each pothole.

Antonio Machado, the famous Spanish poet, assured that his childhood was "memories of a clear orchard where a lemon tree grew ripe"; the childhood of many Cuban children who today have grey hair was spent on top of the wheels of a chivichana.

Millions of children worldwide develop asthma annually due to traffic-related pollution

About 4 million children worldwide develop asthma each year because of inhaling nitrogen dioxide air pollution, according to a study published today by researchers at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH). The study, based on data from 2010 to 2015, estimates that 64 percent of these new cases of asthma occur in urban areas.

The study is the first to quantify the worldwide burden of new pediatric asthma cases linked to traffic-related nitrogen dioxide by using a method that takes into account high exposures to this pollutant that occur near busy roads, said Susan C. Anenberg, PhD, the senior author of the study and an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at Milken Institute SPH.

"Our findings suggest that millions of new cases of pediatric asthma could be prevented in cities around the world by reducing air pollution," said Anenberg. "Improving access to cleaner forms of transportation, like electrified public transport and active commuting by cycling and walking, would not only bring down NO2 levels, but would also reduce asthma, enhance physical fitness, and cut greenhouse gas emissions."

The researchers linked global datasets of NO2 concentrations, pediatric population distributions, and asthma incidence rates with epidemiological evidence relating traffic-derived NO2 pollution with asthma development in kids. They were then able to estimate the number of new pediatric asthma cases attributable to NO2 pollution in 194 countries and 125 major cities worldwide.

Key findings from the study published in The Lancet Planetary Health:

  • An estimated 4 million children developed asthma each year from 2010 to 2015 due to exposure to NO2 pollution, which primarily comes motor vehicle exhaust.
  • An estimated 13 percent of annual pediatric asthma incidence worldwide was linked to NO2 pollution.
  • Among the 125 cities, NO2 accounted for 6 percent (Orlu, Nigeria) to 48 percent (Shanghai, China) of pediatric asthma incidence. NO2's contribution exceeded 20 percent in 92 cities located in both developed and emerging economies.
  • The top 10 highest NO2 contributions were estimated for eight cities in China (37 to 48 percent of pediatric asthma incidence) and for Moscow, Russia and Seoul, South Korea at 40 percent.
  • The problem affects cities in the United States as well: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Milwaukee were the top five cities in the U.S. with the highest percentage of pediatric asthma cases linked to polluted air.
  • Nationally, the largest burdens related to air pollution were found in China at 760,000 cases of asthma per year, followed by India at 350,000 and the United States at 240,000.

Asthma is a chronic disease that makes it hard to breathe and results when the lung's airways are inflamed. An estimated 235 million people worldwide currently have asthma, which can cause wheezing as well as life-threatening attacks.

The World Health Organization calls air pollution "a major environmental risk to health" and has established Air Quality Guidelines for NO2 and other air pollutants. The researchers estimate that most children lived in areas below the current WHO guideline of 21 parts per billion for annual average NO2. They also found that about 92 percent of the new pediatric asthma cases that were attributable to NO2 occurred in areas that already meet the WHO guideline.

"That finding suggests that the WHO guideline for NO2 may need to be re-evaluated to make sure it is sufficiently protective of children's health," said Pattanun Achakulwisut, PhD, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral scientist at Milken Institute SPH.

The researchers found that in general, cities with high NO2 concentrations also had high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the solutions aimed at cleaning up the air would not only prevent new cases of asthma and other serious health problems but they would also attenuate global warming, Anenberg said.

Additional research must be done to more conclusively identify the causative agent within complex traffic emissions, said the researchers. This effort, along with more air pollution monitoring and epidemiological studies conducted in data-limited countries will help to refine the estimates of new asthma cases tied to traffic emissions, Anenberg and Achakulwisut added.

Story Source:

Materials provided by George Washington University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

100s of children facing terrorism charges after forced confessions – HRW

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claims that Iraqi and Kurdish governments have imprisoned hundreds of children who have been forced, through torture, into confessing that they are Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) members.

In a damning 53-page report, released Wednesday, HRW alleges that some 1,500 children have been charged with IS terrorism offences. It says that many are based on dubious accusations and forced confessions extracted via torture.

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In addition, 185 foreign children have already been convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to prison, according to Iraqi government officials cited by HRW.

This is despite the fact that international law recognizes children, recruited by armed groups, primarily as victims.

“This sweeping, punitive approach is not justice, and will create lifelong negative consequences for many of these children,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for HRW.

Many of the children claim circumstantial evidence, mistaken identity or even personal grievances are behind their detention and that they are sentenced after hastily-prepared trials which can often last mere minutes. They also fear reprisals once they are released.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in particular, has been accused of employing “beatings with plastic pipes, electric cables, or rods; electric shocks; and being forced into stress positions,” to elicit confessions.

Can we all agree on one thing at least: torturing children is wrong. New report from Iraq:

“Iraq and the KRG’s harsh treatment of children looks more like blind vengeance than justice for ISIS crimes,” Becker said. “Children involved in armed conflicts are entitled to rehabilitation and reintegration, not torture and prison.”

  • Published in World

Poverty Strikes Three Out of Four Children in Angola

Poverty now hits three out of four Angolan children, according to a study based on National Statistics Institute's multiple health indicators 2015-2016.

The study The Angolan Child: A Multidimensional Analysis of Child Poverty shows 74 per cent of children under 18 is poor because they suffer from three to seven deprivations, which include nutrition, health, child protection, malaria prevention (the main cause of death here), education and access to water and sanitation.

Only one percent of the infants included in the research do not have deprivations.

The study quantified poverty in that age group using the Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) system, developed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

There is also an influence on poverty when living in urban or rural areas, since while in cities it affects 62 percent of children, in the countryside the proportion reaches 96 percent.

Regarding provinces, Cunene (in the south) and Cuanza Sur (in the center) have high rates, 93 and 90 percent, respectively, while Luanda (the capital) and Cabinda (the only one separated territorially from the rest of the country) have the lowest with 54 and 56 percent, respectively.

The sample included 41,647 children from all over the country.

Unicef's representative in Angola, Abubacar Sultam, called for more government and other civil society actors' efforts to benefit parents or guardians of these children and adolescents to change their situation.

According to the 2014 population and housing census, 13,791,482 people under age 18 live in the country.

  • Published in World

More than half of parents of sleep-deprived teens blame electronics

It's no secret that many teenagers stay up late to scroll through social media or catch up with friends on phones.

And 56 percent of parents of teens who have sleep troubles believe this use of electronics is hurting their child's shut-eye.

Forty-three percent of parents report that their teen struggles to fall asleep or wakes up and can't get back to sleep, according to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan. A fourth of these parents say their child experiences occasional sleep problems (one to two nights per week) while 18 percent believe their teen struggles with sleep three or more nights per week.

Not being able to stay off electronics -- including social media and cell phones -- was the no.1 reason parents cited for sleep disturbance.

Other reasons included irregular sleep schedules due to homework or activities (43 percent), worries about school (31 percent), and concerns about social life (23 percent). Ten percent of parents say their teen's sleep problems are related to a health condition or medication, cited more often by parents of teens who experience frequent sleep problems.

The new report is based on responses from a nationally representative household survey that included responses from 1,018 parents with at least one child 13-18 years old.

"This poll suggests that sleep problems are common among teens and parents believe late-night use of electronics are a main contributor," says poll co-director Sarah Clark, M.P.H.

"Teens' hectic schedules and homework load, as well as anxiety about school performance and peer relationships, also are seen by parents as contributing to sleep problems."

Parents polled say they've encouraged their teen to try different strategies at home to help with sleep problems, including limiting caffeine in the evening (54 percent), turning off electronics and cell phones at bedtime (53 percent), having a snack before bed (44 percent), and natural or herbal remedies, such as melatonin (36 percent). A quarter of parents (28 percent) say their teen has tried some type of medication to address sleep problems.

Forty percent of parents of teens with frequent sleep problems, and 22 percent of parents of teens with occasional sleep problems, say they have talked to a doctor about sleep struggles. Parents who have consulted with doctors say the top recommendations from experts included turning off electronics and cell phones at bedtime (72 percent), adhering to a regular sleep schedule (64 percent), limiting caffeine (47 percent), and taking natural remedies (42 percent).

When doctors recommended medication for teens' sleep problems, it was twice as likely to be prescription sleep medication rather than over-the-counter sleep or "nighttime" medicine, parents recalled. Yet parents rated over-the-counter sleep medicine as safer for teens than prescription sleep medicine.

"Parents whose teens continue to have frequent sleep problems, despite following recommendations for healthy sleep hygiene, may want to talk with a health care provider, particularly when considering which type of medication to try," says Clark.

"Inadequate or disrupted sleep can have long-lasting health effects that go beyond moodiness and irritability for teens," Clark adds.

"Sleep-deprived teens may have difficulty concentrating in school and those who drive have an increased risk of auto accidents. Inadequate sleep has also been linked to health problems ranging from obesity to depression.

Thai Cave Mission: All 12 Boys, Coach Have Been Rescued

Sunday's mission, the second rescue, was completed over nine hours and resulted in four boys being removed from the complex cave network.

Thai officials have confirmed that all 13 members of the Wild Boar soccer team have been successfully rescued from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave. A team of 19 divers undertook the third and final mission, entering the flooded cave to retrieve the final four members of the team and their coach, who had been trapped underground for more than two weeks.

Sunday's mission, the second rescue, was completed in less than 10 hours and resulted in four boys being removed from the complex cave network. The mission mirrored Saturday's successful attempt to rescue the first group of four but reduced the task by some two hours.

“The first day we spent 11 hours, yesterday we spent nine hours, [today] we hope we can do it faster or the same as yesterday. If everything goes right, we will see four kids and a doctor and Seals that have stayed with the kids will all come out,” head of the joint command center, Narongsak Osatanakorn, said.

“Four plus one coach, so it’s five.”

The rescue parties will also extract a doctor as well as three Navy SEALs who had been monitoring the members of the soccer team.

  • Published in World

U.S.: Children's Crying and the Power of Collective Anger

The immigration policies of the current U.S. government frequently provoke criticism and condemnation, but collective anger at these practices reached a new level when thousands of children became its most visible victims.

Reports of the increasing separation of families in the U.S. southern border began weeks ago, as a result of the implementation of the 'zero tolerance' policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April, which came into force the following month.

The policy, aimed at prosecuting those who illegally entered U.S., had a collateral damage that caused great indignation: while parents waited to face criminal charges, their children were taken from their side and sent to centers with other kids.

Data released in recent days indicate that there are more than 2,300 infants separated from their parents as a result of the Donald Trump administration's measure.

Meanwhile, On June 18, condemns increased as a result of a recording released by ProPublica News Agency, in which'the desperate crying of ten Central American children separated from their parents one day from last week'is heard, according to the media.

Immoral, shameful, cruel or heartrending were some of the adjectives used by Democratic and Republican legislators, immigrant rights groups, religious leaders, pediatricians, officials of previous administrations and users in social networks to qualify this practice.

The four former first ladies of the country who still live -Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama- were among the voices of condemnation, which even the current President's wife, Melania Trump, joined.

We need a country where all the laws are followed, but also where leaders rule with the heart, expressed the current first lady in a statement, seen by several sources as an unusual positioning somehow opposed to his husband's position.

While Melania called to govern with the heart, the Republican ruler used the strategy of blaming Democrats for the separation of families, due to what he considers obstructionism in approval of new immigration laws by the blue partymembers.

What is happening is 'very sad,' but it is Democrats' fault, said the head of State noting that if the members of the opposing force sat down to negotiate, 'instead of obstructing', they could quickly do something about it.

However, the media and other sources maintained that Trump falsely blamed Democrats for his government's decision to criminally accuse every adult immigrant.

Under Barack Obama's administration (2009-2017), families were only referred to the immigration courts for deportation proceedings or for asylum applications to be heard, and they were released with supervision, CNN recently recalled.

The Washington Post said the situation had become a moral test for Trump and his mandate and that, despite his insistence on blaming Democrats, he had the power to immediately order the border agents to stop separating families.


The truthfulness of The Post and other media's statements was confirmed on June 20, when pressured by the increasing demands coming from several groups and places, Trump signed an executive order to put an end to family separation.

The anger expressed by so many voices seems to have forced the head of the White House not to wait for the action of Congress, which he intended to make responsible in the matter, especially five months to the mid-term elections of November to come.

The immigration issue must have an important weightfor those elections, in which Republicans will try to maintain control of the two legislative chambers.

When signing the document in the Oval Office, the Republican leader told the media his government'sdecision to continue with the 'zero tolerance' policy that gave rise to the situation.

The only change of his decree isthat the parents awaiting trial will be able to stay with their children, instead of being taken to different facilities, as it was happening until now.

The order states that although the administration will 'strictly' enforce immigration laws, it's also part of its policy to respectfamily unit, including the detention of family members in a united manner when appropriate and consistent with the law and available resources.

However, since the head of State signed the text, alarms about its content have appeared, and the controversy on the matter seems far from over.

One of the widely debated issues is that the order does not apply to families already separated, but to those that will arrive in the future; therefore, the 2,300 children who are currently heldin custody by the Health Department will not meet immediately with their parents.

The executive decree also pointed out that the Department of Homeland Security will be in charge of the new families during the period required for their process in court, which can last for months or even years, although Trump decided to give priority to cases with children.

This decision conflicts with the legal agreement known as Flores, of 1997, which prohibits the government from keeping children in detention for more than 20 days, even with their families.

That's why the document states that the U.S. Attorney General must quickly submit an application to the Central District Court of California to modify that ruling so that it allows the authorities to retain foreign families while proceeding with prosecutions.

Given the content and conditions of the new order, immigrant rights advocacy groups are expected to take legal action.

Leaders of some entities have already spoken about it, such as the director of Movimiento Puente in Phoenix, Arizona, Francisca Porchas, who said in a press conference that what Trump approved 'is not family reunification, it is family imprisonment.'

According to Cesar Espinosa, executive director of Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle, based in Houston, Texas, they oppose the order because many children will be still detained while the text is only used as a political trick to appear more 'compassionate.'

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