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Conversion therapy to be restricted but not banned in proposed bill

Conversion therapy

Conversion therapy to be restricted but not banned in proposed bill

Consenting adults should be able to undergo the so-called conversion therapy, the government has recommended.

Setting out proposals for how they plan to crack down on “coercive and abhorrent” practices that seek to change sexual orientation or gender identity, the Government Equalities Office said: “We recognise there is a plurality of experience in this area and that there are adults who seek counselling to help them live a life that they feel is more in line with their personal beliefs.”

“We do not intend to ban adults from seeking such counselling freely, but consent requirements will be robust and stringent.”

Under the proposals, conversion therapy of all kinds will be banned in England and Wales for anyone under the age of 18, and adults who are vulnerable and not able to properly consent. The government said any type of the practice that involves physical or sexual violence is already illegal under existing legislation.

Further moves to clamp down on conversion therapy also promised include making it a potential aggravating factor that could lead to a longer jail sentence if prosecution is pursued, and creating new protection orders to take away people’s passport if there is substantial evidence they will be taken abroad to be subjected to the practice.

A consultation will run for six weeks, after which the equalities minister, Liz Truss, will decide on whether the plans should be amended. A bill will be drawn up by next spring, with the aim of putting it on to the statute book by May 2022.

Around 5% of people who responded to the national LGBT survey in 2017 reported having been offered conversion therapy, while a further 2% said they had undergone it.

Jayne Ozanne, who quit the government’s LGBT advisory panel in March and has direct experience of conversion therapy, said she welcomed the consultation’s launch, but added she was “deeply concerned about the loophole it creates by allowing adults to consent to these harmful and degrading practices”.

Ozanne told the Guardian: “The consultation document makes little mention of the harm that religious practices are known to cause, nor does it recognise that the government’s own research has shown that these form the majority of such practices in the UK – instead it focuses on ‘talking therapies’ in clinical settings.

“This is a grave mistake and will come as a severe blow to all survivors who have bravely shared their stories in the hope that the government will protect others.”

She added: “We have been saying this to government for years … but sadly few in government want to engage with these facts.”

Alicia Kearns, a Conservative MP who has long campaigned for a conversion therapy ban, said the government’s plans would “protect LGBTQ+ people from bigotry and quackery packaged up by sinister charlatans to snare and profit off the vulnerable”.

She praised the “robust proposals” but added: “I remain unconvinced that anyone can consent to such an abusive practice, and will look closely at the proposed ban to ensure that victims and survivors get the protections they need and deserve.”

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Health

Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Health

Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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Health

Amid Racism Concerns, WHO Renames Monkeypox “mpox”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended ‘mpox’ as a new name for monkeypox.

In a statement on Monday, the organisation said its move was prompted by concerns of “racist and stigmatising language online”.

“Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term “mpox” as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while “monkeypox” is phased out,” the statement reads.

“WHO, in accordance with the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) update process, held consultations to gather views from a range of experts, as well as countries and the general public, who were invited to submit suggestions for new names.

“Mpox will become a preferred term, replacing monkeypox, after a transition period of one year. This serves to mitigate the concerns raised by experts about confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak. It also gives time to complete the ICD update process and to update WHO publications.

“The synonym mpox will be included in the ICD-10 online in the coming days. It will be a part of the official 2023 release of ICD-11, which is the current global standard for health data, clinical documentation and statistical aggregation.

“Various advisory bodies were heard during the consultation process, including experts from the medical and scientific and classification and statistics advisory committees which constituted of representatives from government authorities of 45 different countries.

“The issue of the use of the new name in different languages was extensively discussed. The preferred term mpox can be used in other languages. If additional naming issues arise, these will be addressed via the same mechanism. Translations are usually discussed in formal collaboration with relevant government authorities and the related scientific societies.

“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”

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