Wednesday December 19, 2018

Zika Threat: WHO rejects the call to postpone or move Olympics from Rio

The letter to WHO is signed by 150 international scientists, doctors and medical ethicists from such institutions as Oxford University and Harvard and Yale universities in the United States

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FILE - A municipal worker prepares insecticide to be sprayed at Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan. 26, 2016. The Sambadrome will be the site of the archery competition during the Rio Olympics. Image source: Reuters
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  • Zika virus also is linked to serious birth defects
  • The outbreak began in Brazil a year ago in 2015
  • Abnormal small heads are seen in newborn babies affected with the virus

Good news for people who are eagerly waiting for 2016 Olympics. The World Health Organization (WHO) has rejected a call to move or postpone this summer’s Rio Olympic Games over the Zika outbreak, reported BBC.

Zika virus also is linked to serious birth defects. WHO said that delaying the Olympics or shifting it from Rio would “not significantly alter” the spread of the virus.

Renowned scientists from all over the world wrote an open letter to WHO saying that the global health body should go through the new Zika guidance and that the new findings about the virus has made it “unethical” for the Games to go ahead.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it sees no reason to delay or move the Games because of the mosquito-borne disease.

More than 60 countries and territories are continuing with the transmission, while the  outbreak began in Brazil a year ago.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on the latest research and forecasts on the Zika virus, May 26, 2016. Image source: AP
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on the latest research and forecasts on the Zika virus, May 26, 2016. Image source: AP

While mild symptoms are seen in people affected with Zika, in the letter, the experts mention it causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and may also cause a rare and sometimes fatal neurological syndrome in adults.

This letter is signed by 150 international scientists, doctors and medical ethicists from such institutions as Oxford University and Harvard and Yale universities in the United States.

They cite the failure of a mosquito-eradication programme in Brazil, and the country’s “weakened” health system as reasons to postpone or move the Olympics in “the name of public health”.

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Robots May Be Able to Perform C-Sections Soon

These big, set-piece operations will become less common as we are able to intervene earlier and use more moderate interventions

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C-section, Robots
A newborn, one of 12 babies born by C-section, cries inside an incubator at the Bunda Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 12, 2012. VOA

Robotics are expected to become so sophisticated, hospitals may not need surgeons. Controlled by healthcare assistants, the machines will soon be delivering babies by carrying out C-sections as well as other surgeries, say experts.

The predictions are based on the report by the “Commission on the Future of Surgery” set up by the Royal College of Surgeons in 2017, the Daily Mail reported.

According to the report, the robots controlled by healthcare assistants such as technicians are expected to conduct vaginal surgeries and operations on the bowel, heart and lungs.

This will help advance diagnoses of illnesses like cancer before they destroy organs and, as a result, operations will be smaller in scale and less traumatic.

Robot, Reading Companion
FILE – A visitor shakes hands with a humanoid robot at 2018 China International Robot Show in Shanghai (VOA)

Even healthcare assistants — who do not need any formal qualifications to get a job — could one day be trained to perform C-sections with the robots, The Telegraph reported.

Specialists and surgeons will remain in charge of operations but may not always need to be in the room.

“This is always going to be under the watchful eye and careful supervision of a surgeon,” Richard Kerr, neurosurgeon at the Oxford University and Chair of the commission, was quoted as saying.

“These are highly qualified healthcare professionals and they will be trained in a specific aspect of that procedure.

“The changes are expected to affect every type of operation. This will be a watershed moment in surgery,” Kerr said.

While some applications of robots and DNA-based medicines are expected to happen sooner than others, those with healthcare assistant-led C-sections is possible within five years, the report said.

C-section, Robots
These are highly qualified healthcare professionals and they will be trained in a specific aspect of that procedure. Flickr

However, the experts warn that the use of robots in surgery could be controversial. This is in light of an investigation which revealed that a 69-year-old man in Newcastle died when a robot was used to carry out his heart surgery in 2015.

The commission’s report also claims that major cancer operations could become a thing of past because screening DNA will pick up diseases earlier, before they ravage the body.

Also Read: AI  to Help the Students of Japan in Enhancing English Speaking Skills

Similarly, people with severe forms of arthritis could be identified early on and faster treatment might reduce the need for major hip and knee replacement ops.

“These big, set-piece operations will become less common as we are able to intervene earlier and use more moderate interventions,” said Professor Dion Mortonm, a member of the commission. (IANS)