World report - 11 September 2009
• CHINA STARTS VOLUNTARY ORGAN DONATION SYSTEM
THE Chinese Government has launched a voluntary organ donation system in an attempt to curb the country’s thriving illegal organ trade.
Coordinated by the national Red Cross Society in conjunction with China’s Health Ministry, the pilot program was unveiled at a news conference in Shanghai last month.
The voluntary donor scheme will be trialled in 10 cities and regions throughout China, including Shanghai and the prosperous Guangdong province, with the program expected to be rolled out nationwide, The New York Times reports.
Vice-Minister of Health Dr Huang Jiefu said the goal was to create an organ donation system that would benefit patients regardless of social status and wealth.
Historically, China has relied on executed prisoners as its primary source of organ transplants, drawing widespread criticism from international human rights groups.
• NICARAGUA ABORTION BAN LINKED TO MATERNAL DEATHS
THE maternal death rate in Nicaragua has climbed dramatically in the wake of the country’s complete abortion ban, an Amnesty International report has found.
The human rights group has reported that dozens of pregnant women have died since the ban was introduced in July 2008. The law stipulates a maximum 14-year prison sentence for any health professional who performs abortions.
Kate Gilmore, executive deputy secretary general at Amnesty International, said: “Nicaragua’s total ban on abortions has had a devastating impact on women in Nicaragua, denying them life-saving treatment, preventing health professionals from practising effective medicine.”
Nicaraguan government figures showed 33 women and girls died while pregnant this year compared with 20 during the same period last year. However, Amnesty claims there have been dozens of deaths among pregnant women since the ban came into force.
The Amnesty report also identified an increase in adolescent girls committing suicide by taking poison after being raped by family members.
• RESOURCES WASTED ON BRITISH FLU PANDEMIC GAME
A NEW swine flu-inspired role-playing game, which can be downloaded from the UK Department of Health’s website, has attracted criticism from patients’ groups who claim it is a waste of resources.
Devised by Camden Primary Care Trust in North London, the Flu Pandemic Game simulates the effects of a flu pandemic on staffing in an imaginary group of small businesses. A version has also been developed for use in GP surgeries and hospitals.
Players assume the identity of staff at imaginary workplaces. At the beginning of each round, players roll a set of four dice, with the number they roll indicating whether they will be infected with swine flu.
By round six, a player only has to roll two sixes to become infected, excluding them for three rounds. Once players have finished a game using imaginary characters, they play a second time using their real job titles.
A spokesperson from the UK Patients’ Association told the Daily Mail that the game was a waste of time and money, which should instead have been devoted to a more comprehensive swine flu helpline.