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‘Measures taken to prevent flu outbreak’ Health ministry assures

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 22: The Ministry of Health has taken all the necessary measures to prevent the bird flu outbreak in Kuwait, following reports on some bird flu-related deaths in China. In a recent press statement, the ministry revealed the concerned Chinese liaison officer with the International Health Regulations declared two days ago the discovery of five new bird flu cases on the website of World Health Organization (WHO). It has been reported that the total number of such cases reached 360 and 67 of which led to death.

The ministry explained the researches and studies carried out by WHO have not proven that the disease can be transmitted from one person to another. For this, there is no advisory on taking special procedures along the borders and no decision has been taken to prevent people from traveling to China.

The ministry also affirmed the readiness of the Health Ports and Borders Section in the Public Health Department to deal with passengers coming from the areas witnessing rise in the number of bird flu cases, in a bid to prevent spread of the disease. In other news, harmful side effects including sudden death from the medicine known as Motilium, which is prescribed for treating nausea, have raised public concern and is a subject of debate by specialists in a number of Arab countries, reports Al-Rai daily.

The specialists are waiting for a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) to determine whether to withdraw the medicine from the market.

The Assistant Undersecretary for Medicines and Medical Equipments at Ministry of Health Dr Omar Al-Sayyed said the ministry is in direct contact with the WHO and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for updates and developments on drugs. He revealed that the opinions of the two bodies are sought before any decisions are taken in that regard. Regarding reports circulating on social networking websites about the medicine causing sudden death and serious health problems, Dr Al-Sayyed said, “We depend on global reports before making any decisions. We have direct contact with WHO and FDA and we consult them before taking necessary procedures.

Moreover, the ministry has necessary equipments and control departments to track the developments”. Meanwhile, the Head of Drug Registration and Release at the Pharmaceutical and Food Control Department Rami Behbehani said, “We must not believe everything that is being circulated on social networking websites”, warning against rumors and inaccurate news.

He stressed the importance of checking with the relevant departments at the Ministry of Health as well as on the ministry website to ensure the authenticity of the circulated news. He explained that the control departments regularly study the side effects of the medicines, indicating that the cardiac arrests noted in one country need not solely be due to the use of the drug.

Meanwhile, an independent magazine ‘Prescribe’ has demanded the European Health Authority to remove ‘Motilium’ from the market after it was linked to being the cause for about 25 to 120 sudden deaths in France in 2012. According to the magazine report, the effectiveness of ‘Motilium’ or ‘Generics’ in treating nausea and vomiting is modest while the risk of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death is high.

Approximately 7 percent of adults took this drug at least once in 2012 while about 3 million people in France have used this drug, as per data from the Health Insurance Rate. Since 2005, several epidemiological, Dutch and Canadian studies have indicated that sudden cardiac arrests are about 1.6 to 3.7 times more frequent due to exposure to domperidone. Towards end of 2011, the French Medicine Agency MSNA warned against unauthorized use of Motilium to promote breastfeeding.

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