Health: Sick Notes

INDIA: The state of Uttar Pradesh in India has declared trade in human organs illegal, following the arrest of three surgeons on charges of robbing poor patients of kidneys and selling them to rich clients. Shiva Kant Ojha, the minister for medical education, said that the unauthorised transplant of organs is now an offence punishable with prison terms from two to seven years. The going rate for a stolen kidney is reported to be between pounds 4,000 and pounds 6,000, including the operation.

LOS ANGELES: A mother is suing an ansthetist for refusing to give her an epidural during childbirth because her insurance did not cover the costs. Mrs Chavez said the anaesthetist requested $400 last summer while she was in labour with her fifth child. She said she offered a credit card, a cheque and a Western Union confirmation number for cash, and all were refused. "I think it was barbaric," she said. "At first, I thought they were joking."

WASHINGTON: A study at Rutgers University has confirmed the benefits of sex education. An experimental group comprised over 3,700 men and women all of whom had engaged in unprotected sex during the previous 90 days, and also satisfied at least one of the following criteria: sex with multiple and new partners; infection with a sexually transmitted disease; sex with a partner known to have multiple partners; sex with an injection drug user; or sex with an HIV patient. Those who were lectured on safe sex increased their condom use, but those who were given instruction in small groups and rewarded with food, gifts and money showed a significantly greater increase.

GERMANY: Research at the University of Bonn has shown that garlic does not have any effect on blood cholesterol levels, exploding the myth that it helps to combat heart disease.

SCOTLAND: A survey conducted by Greater Glasgow Health Board has led to a collaboration between health authorities and travel agents to provide health packs for young Scots taking holidays in the Mediterranean. Of 160 youngsters, 91 per cent imbibed alcohol on holiday though only 69 per cent did so at home; 67 per cent used Ecstasy (63 per cent at home); and 50 per cent had sex (67 per cent at home). The researchers admitted surprise at the decline in sexual activity, but suggested that it could be related to the increased use of drugs and alcohol. The new travel kits will contain a condom, sunscreen, health protection advice - and a toothbrush.

IRAN: Hospitals in Iran were reported to be bracing themselves at the weekend to treat "overly excitable" fans for injuries sustained during the country's match with the United States in the World Cup. In November, three people were treated for heart attacks after Iran qualified for the finals by drawing with Australia, and many others suffered cuts, bruises and sprained ankles when they jumped in excitement.

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