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Cancer takes its toll on Afghans amid diagnostic, treatment challenges

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(Last Updated On: May 20, 2021)

The Afghanistan Cancer Foundation (ACF) said on Thursday that 15,000 people in Afghanistan die of cancer in the country every year.

The ACF said that a shortage of diagnostic centers, low capacity and food, drugs and insecurity all contribute to the increase in numbers.

“Twenty thousand get cancer annually and 15,000 out of the 20,000 of them die from the disease. Shortage of health centers increased the disease,” said Nasrin Oryakhil, head of the ACF.

According to the ACF a lack of human resources to treat cancer patients forces thousands of people to seek treatment every year outside the country.

Rula Ghani, the first lady of Afghanistan, meanwhile, voiced concerns about this and said that awareness programs must be held.
“The government can’t fight the disease alone, world countries should help the Afghan government,” she said.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Public Health, said the closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in cancer patients seeking treatment in the country.
The ministry stated that lack of coordination between diagnostic centers and the ministry is another challenge.

“Challenges exist in the country regarding diagnosing the disease, and the lack of human resources is the other problem that we face,” said Wahid Majrooh, acting minister of public health.

The Ministry of Public Health said that a large diagnostic center will be established in Kabul with the help of Saudi Arabia.

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China reports first ever human case of H10N3 bird flu

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2021)

A 41-year-old man in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu has been confirmed as the first human case of infection with the H10N3 strain of bird flu, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Tuesday.

Reuters reported the man, a resident of the city of Zhenjiang, was hospitalised on April 28 after developing a fever and other symptoms, the NHC said in a statement.

He was diagnosed as having the H10N3 avian influenza virus on May 28, it said, but did not give details on how the man had been infected with the virus.

The man was stable and ready to be discharged from hospital. Medical observation of his close contacts had not found any other cases, Reuters reported.

H10N3 is a low pathogenic, or relatively less severe, strain of the virus in poultry and the risk of it spreading on a large scale was very low, the NHC added.

The strain is “not a very common virus,” said Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases at the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Reuters reported.

Only around 160 incidents of the virus were reported in the 40 years to 2018, mostly in wild birds or waterfowl in Asia and some limited parts of North America, and none had been detected in chickens so far, he added.

No other cases of human infection with H10N3 have previously been reported globally, the NHC said.

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Playing PUBG war game harms mental health: Psychologists

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(Last Updated On: May 26, 2021)

The Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), a popular multiplayer online gaming, could harm the mental well-being of the players, Psychologists said.

According to Psychologists, a continuous play of the game could lead to game addiction, health issues like neck pain, and weakening of eyesight, and behavioral issues such as aggressive thoughts among teenagers.

PUBG, developed by Chinese technology giant Tencent, has around one million active users in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) in December 2020, decided to ban the PUBG in the country, but the game is still accessible.

Saeed Shinwari, a spokesman for ATRA, told Ariana News: “based on demands of families, we have decided to ban the game, and we have also informed the telecommunication companies to limited access [to the game] on websites.”

Some Psychologists believe that excessive excitement in this anxious game has caused mental disorders in dozens of PUBG players. 

Omulbanin Sadaat, a Psychologist stated: “This game is dangerous at all and causes mental disorders and brain fissures.”

Psychiatrists, however, rejected the claims, stating that playing games could have positive impacts but gaming hours must be limited and players must also engage in other activities such as sports and studying.

“These games have their benefits like technology. The timing of playing games must be managed in order to prevent its side effects,” Bashir Ahmad Sarwar, head of the mental health department of the Ministry of Public Health said.

PUBG got famous during the pandemic lockdown and it was one of the most gamed played in the period and helped players to cope with seclusion. 

Currently, the game reportedly has around 300,000 active users across the world.

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Long working hours are a killer: WHO study shows

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(Last Updated On: May 17, 2021)

Working long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year in a worsening trend that may accelerate further due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

In the first global study of the loss of life associated with longer working hours, the paper in the journal Environment International showed that 745,000 people died from stroke and heart disease associated with long working hours in 2016, Reuters reported.

That was an increase of nearly 30% from 2000.

“Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard,” said Maria Neira, director of the WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health.

“What we want to do with this information is promote more action, more protection of workers,” she said.

The joint study, produced by the WHO and the International Labour Organization, showed that most victims (72%) were men and were middle-aged or older. Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the shifts worked.

It also showed that people living in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region — a WHO-defined region which includes China, Japan and Australia — were the most affected, Reuters reported.

Overall, the study – drawing on data from 194 countries – said that working 55 hours or more a week is associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease compared with a 35-40 hour working week.

The study covered the period 2000-2016, and so did not include the COVID-19 pandemic, but WHO officials said the surge in remote working and the global economic slowdown resulting from the coronavirus emergency may have increased the risks.

“The pandemic is accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time,” the WHO said, estimating that at least 9% of people work long hours.

WHO staff, including its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, say they have been working long hours during the pandemic and Neira said the U.N. agency would seek to improve its policy in light of the study, Reuters reported.

Capping hours would be beneficial for employers since that has been shown to increase worker productivity, WHO technical officer Frank Pega said.

“It’s really a smart choice not to increase long working hours in an economic crisis.”

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