Outbreak of Plague in Madagascar

60 people have died so far due to an outbreak of plague in Madagascar. According to the World Health Organisation, Madagascar witnesses about 400 cases of plague every year. However, this year infections have started much earlier and are spreading from remote rural areas to cities  as well.

Most cases were pneumonic plague, a dangerous and severe infection of the lung. It is highly infectious and can be transmitted through air by coughing and sneezing. It invades the lungs and can lead to death within 24 hours.

156 cases were attributed to bubonic plague, an infection that is transmitted by rats and spreads to humans through flea bites. It can be very painful and causes fever, headache, chest pain as well as swollen lymph nodes.

While both forms of plague can be treated it is important to detect the illness at an early stage and get medical help to people as soon as possible. The WHO has helped with millions of doses of antibiotics. The International Red Cross has set up treatment centres  throughout the island. In addition the government has been supplying people with masks and has closed down schools.

Madagascar, with a population of 25 million,  has witnessed outbreaks of plague since the 1980s, usually during the rainy season between November and March.  Officials fear that this time the disease  might not be contained and could spread to many regions of the country.

The most deadly plague in history occurred in Europe in the 14th century.  About a third of the continent’s population when  killed as sailors brought the infectious disease from Asia.

International Red Cross  parcel arriving at a treatment centre
International Red Cross parcel arriving at a treatment centre

Words

  • according to = as reported by
  • antibiotic = medicine that is used to kill bacteria and cure infections
  • attribute = to believe that something is caused by …
  • century = a hundred years
  • chest = front part of your body between your neck and stomach
  • contain = to stop something from spreading
  • detect = discover, notice
  • dose = an amount of medicine that you should take
  • due to = because of
  • flea = very small insect without wings that bites animals and people and eats their blood
  • in addition = also
  • infectious = disease that can be passed on from person to person, mostly by air
  • invade = here: attack
  • lymph node = small round swelling in your body with liquid that helps fight off infections
  • occur = happen
  • official = person in a high position in the government
  • outbreak = when something suddenly starts
  • remote =  far away
  • rural = in the countryside
  • severe = very bad
  • spread = move from one place ot another
  • supply = give
  • swollen = larger than normal
  • throughout = all across
  • transmit = to pass on to another person
  • treat = cure an illness with medicine and other drugs
  • treatment centre = place where people can come to in order to get medicine
  • witness = experience ; see something happen
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation which helps countries improve health care  by giving people medicine and providing information about diseases

Childhood Obesity Rates At All-Time High

Experts from the World Health Organisation say  that childhood obesity  has risen tenfold in the last four decades  and is at its highest rate since 1975.

Worldwide obesity rates have increased from less than  1% in 1975 to about 7% today. A total of 120 million children are considered to be obese, boys more than girls. The researchers examined data  that tracked the height and weight of over 30 million 5 to 19 year-olds in the last 40 years.

Obesity at a young age can lead to heart disease and diabetes as well as social problems like bullying and teasing . It also can affect the progress of pupils at school. Apart from that, the effects of childhood obesity are estimated to cost the world’s health care systems over $1 trillion in the next ten years.

While the increase in childhood obesity rates in developed  countries in Europe and North America has slowed down , it is still at a very high rate.  Children in middle and higher class areas are especially at risk because families have more money to buy unhealthy food.

Experts suggest that countries in which childhood obesity is increasing should think about measures like introducing a tax on sugary drinks  or unhealthy food. Schools should offer healthier products in their canteens and better labelling could help show consumers how much sugar, fat and salt products have.

On the other side, many children in poor countries remain underweight and malnourished. Countries with the highest number of underweight children include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In southern Asia about 25% of all children are thought to be underweight.

The WHO claims that if the trend continues there will soon be more obese  than underweight children in our world.

Childhood Obesity
Childhood Obesity – Image: Robert Lawton

Words

  • affect = change
  • apart from … = also
  • bullying = someone who uses their strength  or power to frighten or hurt someone who is weaker
  • canteen = place at school where students get a meal or other food
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you do not have the facts to prove it
  • considered = people think that
  • examine = look at information very closely
  • data = information
  • decade = ten years
  • developed countries = rich countries in the world
  • diabetes = serious illness in which there is too much sugar in your blood
  • especially = above all
  • estimate = guess how  high something is by looking at the information you have
  • height = how tall a person is
  • increase = to go up
  • labelling = information on a product
  • malnourished  = if you don’t have enough food to eat
  • measure = action that the government takes
  • obesity = when someone is very fat in an unhealthy way
  • offer = give, provide
  • remain = stay
  • researcher = person who studies a topic in order to find out more about it
  • rise – rose – risen = to go up
  • tax = money you must pay to the government for products you buy
  • tenfold = ten times as much
  • track = to look at information about something over a certain period of time
  • trillion = 1,000 000 000 000 = one thousand billion
  • weight = how heavy a person is
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation that helps improve health around the world by giving medicine and providing information about diseases

 

 

Canada Plans to Legalize Marijuana

Canada plans to allow the limited use of marijuana for adults by the middle of 2018.  For some time now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been promising  that he intends to legalize recreational marijuana. With the new law, Canada is joining  some US states which  have also voted to allow marijuana. It will become the second country in the world to legalize marijuana on a nationwide basis. A short time, ago Uruguay became the first country to officially allow its citizens the use of pot.

The Canadian plan will allow users to possess 30 grams of the drug and grow up to four plants at home.  While possession is to be  allowed , selling the drug without a licence will lead to up to 14 years in prison. The government has also set the age limit for buying and using marijuana in public to 18. It will also control producers and give special licences to sellers.

On one side , Canada’s government hopes that the new law will stop the spread of illegal marijuana. But it also wants adults to decide for themselves if they want to use the drug. Opponents of the new law state that the government is sending a message that marijuana is not harmful. Experts agree that pot may have a greater physical influence on your brain than tobacco.

According to a report recently released by UNICEF more teenagers in Canada use cannabis than anywhere else in the developed world.

 

A marijuana cigarette
A marijuana cigarette

Words

  • according to = as shown or said by …
  • agree = to have the same opinion about something
  • brain = organ inside your head that controls how you think, feel or move
  • cannabis = marijuana
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • developed world = rich countries of the world
  • drug = substance that you smoke or use to make you feel happy
  • harmful = dangerous
  • illegal = against the law
  • influence = effect
  • law = rule that a government has passed
  • legalize = to allow by law
  • limited = controlled, not in a great amount
  • marijuana = drug that is smoked like a cigarette
  • nationwide = across the whole country
  • officially = formally
  • opponent = a person who is against something
  • physical = about the body
  • possess = to have
  • pot = another word for marijuana
  • recreational = for pleasure or fun
  • state = to say officially
  • UNICEF = worldwide organization that helps children who are poor or suffer from disease , hunger etc.

Pfizer Forbids Sales of Drugs For Lethal Injection

The American pharmaceutical conmpany Pfizer has said it will no longer sell drugs that can be used for lethal injections to the Amercian government.  A total of 7 substances on the list are mostly used for operations and certain illnesses but are also in liquids used for executions. According to a Pfizer representative, the company’s aim is to save lives and not help kill people.

Pfizer says it will closely monitor buyers who try to resell the drugs to state institutions, which may use  them for executions.

After Pfizer’s decision , there are no more companies in the USA and Europe that sell lethal injection drugs to the Amercian government . The European Union  has banned the export of such drugs to the US.

As a result, state authorities are trying to find new drugs and combinations of substances that can be used for executions. Normally, three mixtures of drugs are used to execute a prisoner. The first one makes you unconscious , the second liquid paralyses the muscles  and the third stops the heart from beating.

In the past few years, the number of executions has decreased, in part due to the availability of lethal drugs. Last year only 28 executions were carried out in the US. Among the 32 states that allow capital punishment, all of them use lethal injections as the main method of execution but some allow the electric chair,hanging, the firing squad and the gas chamber as alternatives.

Human rights organizations and other groups opposed to capital punishment have welcomed Pfizer’s decision as a bold move to ban the death penalty in the United States.

Pfizer stops selling lethal injection drugs
Lethal injection room in San Quentin, California

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • aim = what someone wants to do or achieve something
  • authorities = group of people who make decisions and have power in certain areas
  • availability = the fact that something can be bought and used
  • ban = forbid, not allow
  • bold move =  action that shows a lot of courage
  • capital punishment = to officially kill a person who has committed a crime
  • combination = mixture
  • death penalty = to officially kill a person who has committed a crime
  • decrease = go down
  • drug = chemical that is used as medicine
  • due to = because of
  • execution = the official killing of a person by the state
  • firing squad = group of people who are ordered to shoot and kill a prisoner
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • human rights = the basic rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or the freedom of speech
  • illness = disease
  • in part = partly
  • lethal injection = a drug that is injected into your blood stream; it is used to execute people who have committed  certain crimes
  • liquid = substance like water
  • main = most important
  • method = way
  • mixture = here: combination of liquids
  • monitor = watch closely
  • opposed to = against
  • paralyse = if a person cannot move arms or legs or feel anything
  • pharmaceutical = about producing medicine
  • resell = sell again
  • substance = here: drug, medicine
  • unconscious = if you are not awake and do not know what is going on around you
  • welcome = here: to agree with