children

health

Parents can’t be found for 545 children separated by US border policy

The parents of 545 migrant children who were separated under US border policy cannot be located, a court filing and US rights group revealed Tuesday.

The separations were carried out in relation to US President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward migrants who illegally crossed the border.

“Through our litigation, we just reported to the court that the parents of 545 kids — forcibly separated by the Trump administration’s cruel family separation practice — still cannot be found,” the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted.

Under the zero tolerance program, the US began separating children from their parents in May 2018, prompting a domestic and international outcry.

Then, six weeks into the practice Trump announced that his administration would stop separating families unless the parents posed “a risk” to their child.

Two-thirds of the parents who cannot be found are believed to have been deported, according to a court document posted online by CNN.

According to NBC News, the children whose mothers and fathers have yet to be located were separated under a 2017 pilot program ahead of the zero tolerance policy, and were deported.

“It is critical to find out as much as possible about who was responsible for this horrific practice while not losing sight of the fact that hundreds of families have still not been found and remain separated,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project told NBC.

“There is so much more work to be done to find these families.”

The global coronavirus pandemic briefly hampered a search for the children’s parents, but has now resumed.

“Following a suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, limited physical on-the-ground searches for separated parents has now resumed where possible to do so,” the court filing said.

A 2018 court order mandated that the government reunite the separated families.

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medicine

Sidra Medicine highlights mental health services for children, young people and perinatal women

Sidra Medicine, has partnered with the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in its national mental health and wellness campaign “Are you ok” to highlight the support services available for women, children and young people in Qatar.

Professor. Muhammed Waqar Azeem, the Chair of Psychiatry at Sidra Medicine said, “The pandemic has changed the landscape regarding the critical need for robust mental health support systems.  It is very assuring and speaks to the caliber of the healthcare services in Qatar, to see how the Ministry of Public Health and Sidra Medicine have rapidly mobilized to keep mental health on top of the country’s service agenda. At Sidra Medicine, we remain committed to supporting the people of Qatar, particularly children, young people and perinatal women in meeting their mental health care needs. In addition to world class mental health services, our Department of Psychiatry has started a number of educational and training programs and is also involved in various leading-edge mental health related research projects.”

Sidra Medicine, a QF entity, offers Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Adolescent Medicine and Perinatal Mental Health services in Qatar. The services are either referral based (in the case of children) or self-referral/ direct (perinatal mental health services).

Sidra Medicine’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is available for children ages five to eighteen (5-18) years and includes outpatient, inpatient, consultation liaison and emergency care.  The service can be accessed via referral from Primary Health Care Centers, private clinics, schools and other sources.

Dr. Ahsan Nazeer, Division Chief of CAHMS at Sidra Medicine said: “As part of our ongoing efforts to strengthen mental health support services, we have focused on patient care, education to build local human resources, research and building community models of care in Qatar.  The success of our program is based on the collaboration of patients, their relatives and our staff, who all work to help achieve patient goals to live their lives as fully possible. I am also proud of our team’s achieving accreditation for the world’s first Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education International (ACGMEI).”

“Our advice to parents dealing with children with anxiety, especially during this time, is to encourage their children to share their concerns and have frank and open discussions about their fears and concerns.  It is also important that children obtain accurate information from reliable sources.

We also encourage parents to focus on instilling a sense of hope and optimism in their children by role modelling appropriate positive behaviours,” continued Dr. Nazeer.

Dr. Alanoud Al Ansari, Division Chief of Adolescent Medicine whose clinic provides developmentally appropriate mental health and medical care for adolescents aged 12 to 18 years old, has seen a rise in anxiety in teenagers.

“Teenagers are manifesting their anxiety around loss of control and unpredictability through eating disorders, depression and cutting. Many of them have not been able to cope being back at school. Despite families being in lock down and opting to stay home during the

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health

We created a new form of PPE to restart surgery for deaf children during coronavirus

  <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Douglas Hartley</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span>
Douglas Hartley, Author provided

When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the UK, thousands of surgical procedures were put on hold. For a surgeon like me who performs operations on deaf children to restore their hearing, this created a significant moral dilemma – I wanted to get back into surgery to provide this vital care, but I didn’t want to inadvertently catch or pass on COVID-19 in the process.

I regularly carry out cochlear implant surgery, a process in which a surgeon embeds an electronic device which stimulates the hearing nerve in the ear. The scientific evidence is clear that this surgery needs to be performed at the earliest opportunity so that these children can benefit from being able to hear at a vital stage in their development.

But performing the surgery as normal would have put both children and surgical teams in danger. We needed to come up with another way of doing things. Our team in Nottingham had to combine creativity and science to develop a novel and safe way to restart cochlear implant surgery in a matter of just a few weeks.

This article is part of Conversation Insights
The Insights team generates long-form journalism derived from interdisciplinary research. The team is working with academics from different backgrounds who have been engaged in projects aimed at tackling societal and scientific challenges.

A grave risk

Soon after the pandemic began, some of the earliest reports, notably those from China and Italy, suggested that healthcare workers were at significantly higher risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to the general public, and that treating ear, nose and throat (ENT) conditions was particularly risky.

I was deeply saddened when I was told that the one of the first healthcare workers in the UK to die of COVID-19 was Amged El-Hawrani, a 55-year-old ENT colleague from the university hospitals of Derby and Burton. El-Hawrani succumbed to this dreadful disease on March 28 in Leicester’s Glenfield hospital. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, his passing was a huge shock to us all. And his exposure to the virus during his care for his patients was a stark reminder of the brutality of this disease.

A picture of Amged El-Hawrani, smiling wearing medical scrubs.
Amged El-Hawrani was one of the first health workers in the UK to lose his life to coronavirus. University Hospitals of Derby and Burton/NHS

Like other ENT departments across the world, our service at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust initially halted all elective procedures in March when the pandemic hit the UK, so we could concentrate our team’s efforts on the management of our sickest patients, including those conditions requiring emergency admission, and our cancer services.

Although this initial response proved effective, we were aware that we were not meeting the needs of other patients with time-critical, albeit not life-threatening, conditions. These patients included children who are born deaf and need cochlear implant surgery to restore their hearing as quickly as possible to maximise their chances of developing normal speech and language. Delaying cochlear implant

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health

Thousands more underfed children may die due to COVID

LONDON (Reuters) – An extra 10,000 children per month may die this year from malnutrition due to the COVID-19 crisis, the head of the World Health Organisation warned on Wednesday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a U.N Food and Agriculture (FAO) conference that due to the pandemic he expected a 14% rise in cases of severe child malnutrition this year – or 6.7 million more people – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

“We cannot accept a world where the rich have access to healthy diets while the poor are left behind… the rich can afford to stay home, the poor must go out to work,” he said.

After the economic devastation of the pandemic, governments must work with the private sector and civil society to support sustainable food systems and end subsidies for producers of unhealthy foods, the WHO director general added.

Millions of lives could be saved if countries expanded childhood feeding programmes, reduced marketing of unhealthy foods and used fiscal policies to drive better food choices amongst consumers, he said.

“COVID has reminded us that life is fragile, health is precious, and healthy diets are not just for the wealthy, they’re a human right,” he said.

“The pandemic has caused serious disruptions to essential services, immunisation, maternal services, child nutrition, family planning and more.”

(Reporting by Maytaal Angel; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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health

Netherlands to Allow Doctors to Help End Lives of Terminally Ill Children

The Dutch government announced plans this week to allow doctors to end the lives of terminally ill children who are under 13 years old, a decision that is bound to inflame the debate over physician-assisted death.

The Netherlands already allows doctors to facilitate the deaths of people who are over 12 or less than a year old as long as parents have given their consent.

In a letter to parliament on Tuesday, the Dutch health minister, Hugo de Jonge, proposed expanding the law to include children between the ages of 1 and 12 who are dying and suffering.

“In a small number of cases, palliative care isn’t sufficient,” Mr. de Jonge wrote. “Because of that, some children suffer unnecessarily without any hope of improvement.”

He estimated that the measure would affect about five to 10 children every year.

Doctors in the Netherlands have expressed concern that they could be held criminally liable if they were to help end the lives of “incurably ill” children between 1 and 12, since the law had no provision for children that age who are expected to die imminently.

Under the current law, a doctor may end the life of a child younger than 1, with the consent of the child’s parents, if the child is experiencing “intolerable and hopeless suffering,” Mr. de Jonge wrote.

He said the new regulation would provide more transparency for doctors.

Three other European countries — Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland — allow physician-assisted death, though the laws differ in each country. Belgium allows children to die with the help of a doctor, but in Luxembourg, the law is restricted to adults with an incurable medical condition.

Canada, parts of Australia and Colombia have also legalized physician-assisted death for adults in certain cases.

In the Netherlands, parliament does not need to vote on the new regulation because it will be folded into the already existing law, Mr. de Jonge said in the letter.

Nevertheless, a parliamentary majority is expected to agree with the change, which will take a few months to finalize, a spokesman for Mr. de Jonge said.

“It’s an intensely complicated and sad issue,” Mr. de Jonge told the Dutch broadcaster NOS on Tuesday.

According to Dr. Ira Byock, a palliative care physician and director of the Providence Institute for Human Caring, the development in the Netherlands is a worrying example of the growing reliance on medically assisted death to address wrenching health cases, rather than finding compassionate ways of helping people cope with pain and suffering.

“We can always manage someone’s physical suffering,” he said. “We can always provide medication that approaches general anesthesia and allows someone to die gently — sleep through the end of their life.”

Dr. Byock said he was concerned about growing calls in the United States to use euthanasia to help adults with degenerative conditions to end their lives.

“When patients who are suffering are seen as problems to be fixed, rather than whole persons to be cared for, we have set ourselves

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health

Head Start never stops working for children and families, and neither should Congress

For 55 years, Head Start has stood by America’s children and families. Created as part of the War on Poverty, locally operated Head Start programs have prepared nearly 40 million children from at-risk backgrounds for success in school and life. Today, an unwavering bipartisan commitment from Congress enables Head Start programs across the nation to serve the educational, socio-emotional, health, and nutrition needs of more than 1 million children in safe, nurturing environments.

Fortunately, while COVID-19 has shut down many valuable forces in American life, it hasn’t stopped Head Start. In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading in the United States, Head Start staff have been working in overdrive to adapt their teaching strategies, sanitize classrooms, make necessary health-related adjustments to facilities, and provide access to quality online and other remote learning opportunities for children and families from at-risk backgrounds ― all while grappling with rising COVID-19 operational costs.

Head Start families are expressing relief that their programs have remained steadfast in their efforts to keep children healthy and prepare them for success in school and life. One Head Start parent in California shared that her program is “incorporating outdoor activity and keeping children on track. They are educating the children about why they cannot visit family and friends. They are supporting parents in managing working from home and helping our children learn at home. Our Head Start program has gone above and beyond in supporting our children.”

This fall, as more Head Start programs are engaged in reopening their classrooms safely, they are confronting the true cost of operating in the COVID-19 era. From PPE for children and staff to increased hours for janitorial staff to additional mental health services for children coping with this new trauma, Head Start programs are facing a funding shortfall that will soon impact the children and families they are supporting in navigating this crisis.

Since the start of COVID-19, Head Start programs have pivoted in countless innovative ways: conducting online classrooms, donning PPE and making home visits to check on children, erecting elaborate screening barriers and devising creative bus routes, arranging contactless health screenings and food drops — doing everything physically and financially possible to ensure children and families living on the margins aren’t pushed further to the edge. Head Start never stopped working.

That’s why Congress and the administration must not stop, either. They can start by making sure Head Start programs have the critical resources necessary to reopen classrooms safely. Based on extensive surveying of Head Start providers, the National Head Start Association estimates operational costs will increase by up to 20 percent this year as individual programs adapt and respond to the pandemic. That’s why the Head Start community has been advocating to Congress for at least $1.7 billion in emergency funding to keep up with COVID-19-related costs — PPE for teachers, IT upgrades to support virtual learning, facility adaptations, additional staff hours to meet smaller classroom ratios for social distancing, and many other needs.

Lack of emergency

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