An estimated 13 million babies are born each year to girls aged 15 to 19 - themselves little more than children. The periodical Entre Nous reports that ‘the most notable feature about the contraceptive practice of adolescents (according to the WHO consultant Dr L. G. van Parijs) is its inconsistency’.
Top three diseases
After the first five years of life, cancer is one of the three main causes of death worldwide. The other two are cardiovascular diseases and accidents. And the three commonest forms of cancer are stomach cancer, with some 6 80.000 new cases yearly, lung cancer with 5 90.000 and breast cancer with 540,000.
From World Health, June ‘84.
Too many pacifiers
Walk into the Penang Plaza Shopping Centre in Malaysia. The drugstore has 36 different kinds of baby feeding bottles for sale - and at least 50 different kinds of rubber teats and dummies (pacifiers).
South Koreans seem to like them too. In 1982, 28,000 kilos of these teats and dummies were imported from the West at a cost of $348,000.
From Consumer Currents No.68.
Poison figures doubled
A recent report notes that the usual estimate of 750,000 accidental poisonings per year through pesticide use is likely to be too low. Country reports indicate that the world total could be double the previous figures: as many as 1.5 - 2 million.
Sri Lanka has a good pesticide poison reporting system - and the number of pesticide deaths there in 1978 was 50 per cent more than the deaths from malaria, tetanus, diptheria, whooping cough and polio put together.
From Consumer Currents, No.68.
No to cup-noodles
Instant noodles made in the cup maybe injurious to your health - says the very man who gave the world this easy-to-fix snack. The product is a huge success, consumed at an average rate of 40 per year by every man, woman and child in Japan alone.
Tatsuro Tanaka is head of the laboratory of the Nissin Food Company that pioneered cook-in-the-cup noodles. He had to taste the contents of seven cups worth every morning - and blames the intake for the gallstones, hypertension, hardened arteries, cardiac insufficiency, diabetes, gastritis and gout he suffers now.
From Japan Times, 7.6.83.
South Africa claims to have ‘abolished’ apartheid in Namibia. But classification by racial groups persists. Its traumatic effects are illustrated clearly in the case of children of racially mixed marriages.
Mr and Mrs Sack, for instance, were married in 1981. Mr Sack is classified ‘White’ and is required to pay income tax to the ‘Administration for Whites’ - but isn’t entitled to enrol his children into a white school or take them to a hospital for whites. Some doctors have segregated waiting rooms where he and his wife have to wait separately.
Mrs Sack is classified ‘Coloured’. The children are automatically assumed by the authorities to be ‘Coloured’ also.
Says Mr Sack, ‘I should be able to bring my children up in the belief that they are first and foremost Namibians. Instead, the first loyalty is to the ethnic group.
From IDAF briefing paper, June ‘84.
Tea for Tamils
Tea is the life-blood of the Sri Lankan economy. Every year it accounts for two-thirds of the island’s foreign exchange earnings. This money goes towards subsidising the free education and health care that the Sri Lankan population enjoys. All of the Sri Lankan population, that is, except the tea workers themselves.
· In a country that boasts a literacy rate of more than 80 per cent - 80 per cent of plantation workers are functionally illiterate.
· At least one in five children living in the plantations is malnourished and twice as many women die in childbirth there than anywhere else in the country.
· They live in ‘line-rooms’ built by British planters in the 19th century, these tiny rooms have neither ventilation, heating, cooking or sanitation facilities, nor space for furniture. Five people or more must squeeze into each room and consider it home.
From The Campaign for Human Rights for Sri Lankan Plantation Workers.
Good news for babies
A US Federal survey shows that breastfeeding increased dramatically in the 1970s - good news for babies and bad news for babymilk manufacturers who capitalise on women’s self-fulfilling fears that they can’t’ breastfeed.
The researchers also found that better-educated mothers were more likely to breastfeed - and that white mothers were twice as likely to breastfeed as black mothers. In a 1980 survey, 51 per cent of white mothers fed their children exclusively on breastmilk, compared with 25 per cent of the black mothers surveyed. Both the figures are far higher than in 1969, when they were 19 per cent and nine per cent respectively.
From The New York Times, 25.3.84.
Plugging in the banana tree
Television aerials on housetops have become an ugly feature of the metropolitan scene all over the world. Now an Indian scientist has come up with a way of dispensing with aerials. Since plants and trees can transmit electromagnetic impulses like the metallic antenna used for television signal reception, you just plug into a date palm, a betel bush, a papaya tree...
Dr Shiv Prasad Kosta is a space scientist of international standing - and a champion of the natural way of living. Dr Kosta’s discovery is based on the fact that certain geometrically-shaped vegetation can radiate electromagnetic waves when suitably excited. ‘All you do is to prick a cable into the surface of the stem or leaf of the plant, he says. He believes he can take his work a stage further by using green vegetation as a substitute for telephone cables.
From Benevolent Forum, April 84.
Eight hundred ex-servicemen have finally been paid for their services in the Second World War. The soldiers, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. received only a third of the wages of their white comrades-in-arms. When they mutinied they were forced back to the front line at gunpoint.
Now - 40 years later - the Federal government has awarded them a total of $7.4 million compensation spread over three years.
From Natite Peoples’ News No, 1O.
Bishops v. death row
Tennessee still electrocutes people. There are 38 men on death row, waiting to be sent to the electric chair.
But Tennessee’s two Catholic bishops have called for an end to the death penalty. In a joint pastoral letter, the bishops ask: ‘Is it right to kill people who kill people, in order to show that killing people is wrong?’
From The Tablet, June, ‘84.
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