RNW Press Review, Friday 6 June 2008

6th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

6 June 2008

Unnecessary c-sections in Maastricht and Tilburg
Today's De Telegraaf reports that Dutch gynaecologists and midwives at the university hospitals in Maastricht and Tilburg say that their colleagues at other hospitals carry out thousands of unnecessary c-sections a year, putting both mothers and babies needlessly at risk.

The gynaecologists say that a breech presentation almost invariably results in a c-section, even though in 46 percent of these cases, doctors could have used an external treatment, which was introduced more than five years ago.

In a breech presentation, which occurs in three to five percent of all pregnancies, the baby's feet point downward instead of its head. The external treatment involves one doctor pushing the baby's behind out of the mother's pelvis, while another doctor pushes the head toward the birth channel.

Between 2004 and 2006, the treatment was used on 209 pregnant women and achieved the desired result in 46 percent of all cases. In the past few years, the number of c-sections in breech presentations increased from 50 to 80 percent. C-sections increase the risk of death and complications in future pregnancies.

To or not to support embryo selection?
De Volkskrant writes in an editorial that the controversy over embryo selection has been overtaken by daily medical practice.

The Christian Union coalition partner is fiercely opposed to the selection of embryos based on whether they carry a breast cancer gene.

However, Dutch law allows pregnant women who have relatives carrying the hereditary breast cancer gene to have an amniocentesis followed by, if necessary, an abortion.

The paper asks which is worse, to have an embryo destroyed in a laboratory or an abortion after four months? The dispute between the Labour Party and the Christian Union is described as "a surrealistic spectacle, a fight over principles long overtaken by medical practice”.

According to de Volkskrant, it also shows how difficult ruling with the Christian Union can prove to be. Each new medical development that touches on ethical issues could spark a fundamental dispute that would be very difficult to resolve.

The paper writes that selection of embryos based on the chance of contracting a disease, not a certainty, can lead to a society in which all imperfections are considered unacceptable.

However, the women carrying the breast cancer gene have a 60 to 80 percent chance of contracting the disease. Embryo selection would make it possible to ban the disease from the lives of families who for generations have lived with the fear of prematurely losing their loves ones.

De Volkskrant concludes that concrete suffering should outweigh concerns about the future. Christians have every right to reject prenatal examinations, but it would be undemocratic for them to want to impose their minority views on others.

Rehabilitation of Dutch soldiers in Uruzgan
AD has a report on the rehabilitation of Dutch soldiers injured in the fighting in Uruzgan. The mission there has resulted in a larger number, and more serious injuries compared to other Dutch peace missions. So far, 22 soldiers have sustained injuries that required rehabilitation. Most of them lost arms or legs.

According to Lieutenant-Colonel Jos van 't Root, "It's because of the roadside bombs, soldiers were protective clothing but the arms and legs are exposed. In an explosion, these body parts are vulnerable."

The Military Rehabilitation Centre in Doorn has recently introduced a new movement simulator intended to expedite rehabilitation. The device consists of a conveyor belt on a moving platform linked to a video screen. Patients do video game-like exercises intended to restore their sense of balance.

The new movement simulator, already in use in Israel and the United States, takes four weeks off of the average rehabilitation period of between three and four months.    

Time bomb in criminally insane clinic
In today's de Volkskrant, staff at a clinic for the criminally insane in the town of Rekken says that the shortage of staff is so severe that it's actually the criminals who are in charge. Their loyalty to staff members is the only reason the situation there has remained calm.

Staff at the Oldenkotte clinic describes the situation as worrying and dangerous, and "a ticking time bomb". The shortage of personnel means that during the weekends and on two weekdays, patients are locked up in their rooms from five in the afternoon until eight the next morning.

The clinic's work council has lost confidence in the board of the privately run clinic, and demands the immediate dismissal of both directors. The works council has drawn up a list of 32 separate charges of mismanagement. Staff says the clinic has not actually treated anyone for the past three years.

Deputy Justice Minister Nebahat Albayrak has ordered an in-depth investigation of the clinic.

Fewer butterflies than before
De Volkskrant reports on the deplorable state of Dutch butterflies. The much-too-warm month of April 2007 led to desiccated plants and a serious food shortage for caterpillars, making 2008 the worst year ever for butterflies.

The Dutch Butterfly Foundation has sounded the alarm about a drastic reduction in the number of butterflies. A spokesperson for the foundation says that "things have been going downhill for quite some time, mainly because of inadequate management of roadsides and agricultural areas."

Recent counts shows that a number of species have been reduced by at least 50 percent and some even by as much as 80 percent.  The Butterfly Foundation calls for a more butterfly-friendly management of fields, meadows and nature reserves, and urges people to grow more nectar producing flowers in their gardens.   

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]

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