BANGKOK, May 17 -- A former deputy police spokeswoman could come under scrutiny by both the Royal Thai Police and the Medical Council of Thailand after suggesting on social media that Thai women can give birth in the United States using a legal loophole to obtain US nationality.
Pol Lt-General Withoon Nitiwarangkul, director of Police General Hospital, where Pol Lt Colonel Dr Anchulee (Teerawongpaisan) Phetcharat – colloquially known as Dr Air – serves in the Department of of Psychiatry and Drug Dependence, said on Friday he had instructed public relations officials at the hospital to look into the matter. Their findings would determine whether Anchulee violating any rule, he said, and if so, would lead to an official probe. Withoon stressed that there was no fact-finding or disciplinary probe underway as yet. Medical Council secretary-general Dr Itthiporn Khanacharoen said his agency was checking whether Anchulee’s “personal post” online had breached medical professional ethics. Anchulee, who gave birth to a son earlier this month, drew criticism after posting a photo of herself pregnant on May 14 with a message inscribed on her belly in Thai. The caption invited interested mothers-to-be to give birth in the US to secure a better future and good opportunities for their child. It said they could get free counseling from a private-sector service.
Anchulee deleted the post in the wake of numerous negative comments, including some questioning whether abuse of the claimed legal loophole was fair to American taxpayers. The US constitution deems anyone born in the country an American citizen. Thousands of foreigners go there every year to give birth and thus gain for their children US citizenship and the privileges it offers, including free primary and secondary education. US citizens can also apply for permission for their parents, spouses and children under 21 who live abroad to relocate to the US. The Centre for Migration Studies puts the figure at 36,000 foreign women giving birth in the US each year, with many coming from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Nigeria, Turkey, Russia, Brazil and Mexico. The administrator of the US-based Facebook page “CSI LA” criticised Anchulee’s post.
“I don’t know if Dr Air knows she is breaking US law by posting such an invitation to pregnant women to give birth in the US,” it said. “US Immigration Police have been suppressing gangs for such ‘birth tourism’. Many Chinese agents were arrested and jailed. How can Dr Air [do this, since she serves] as a police officer and a doctor? Is it for financial gain, a commission fee from the private sector?”
BANGKOK, March 13 -- Forest fires have sent air quality in nine provinces to a level considered harmful to people's health, as cities in the North like Chiang Mai registered air quality that was among the world's worst.
The air quality index (AQI) in Chiang Mai as of 4pm Tuesday stood at 230, compared with 170 in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka and 164 in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to Air Visual, an app that monitors air quality. At midnight Tuesday, in slightly cooler night-time temperatures, Chiang Mai still was listed as the world's worst, with air quality in the high-danger zone for all residents but below 200 on the AQI scale. The AQI measures a broad spectrum of air pollutants including PM2.5, PM10 and carbon dioxide. Information from the Pollution Control Department (PCD) confirmed the haze in the North had reached worrying levels.
PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. It can lodge in the lungs and enter blood vessels, leading to respiratory and cardiovascular disease. According to PCD-supplied information taken from 17 air-quality-monitoring stations in nine provinces as of 9am Tuesday, the level of PM2.5 ranged from 70-124 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³), exceeding the safety standard of 50 µg/m³ or lower. Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district had the worst recorded level (163 µg/m³), followed by Phrae, Lampang, Nan and Chiang Mai.
The pollution has become such a pressing concern that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is scheduled to visit Chiang Rai this Saturday, eight days before the national election. "Prime Minister Prayut will take a field trip to Chiang Rai with the purpose of following up on measures to deal with the haze in the North," Pralong Damrongthai, director-general of the PCD, told the media Tuesday. Dr Rangsrit Kanjanavanit, a Chiang Mai resident who serves as a lecturer and cardiologist at the Faculty of Medicine at Chiang Mai University, said the smoggy skies show how the government's campaign to eradicate forest fires and open burning has yet to prove a success. Dr Rangsrit, who also holds the post of vice president of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, said the government should come up with more sustainable and comprehensive measures, instead of just arresting farmers who start fires, or firing water to try and control dust levels.
"It should find a way to dissuade farmers from burning [waste] by giving them incentives,"he said. Some of the haze has been attributed to neighbouring countries like Laos and Myanmar. As such, critics say Thailand should work more with other governments to tackle the widespread practice of open burning. Haze has been a seasonal problem in the North for over a decade. It usually appears from January to April but peaks in March as the extremely dry conditions increase the magnitude of forest fires. This is compounded by farmers burning waste to clear land for the next harvest season.
BEIJING February 7 -- Chinese authorities have made conflicting statements about human blood plasma treatments found to be contaminated with HIV, with the country’s drug watchdog saying it had cleared the treatments just a day after its national health authority announced they were faulty.
Inspectors from the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) said on Wednesday that samples they had examined from a batch of 12,229 bottles of intravenous immunoglobulin were free of HIV and hepatitis B and C. The administration’s clearance of the batch, produced by state-owned Shanghai Xinxing Pharmaceutical Company, contradicted a notice from the National Health Commission on Tuesday announcing its contamination and warning hospitals to immediately suspend use of the treatments. The provincial health commission and disease control centre in eastern China’s Jiangxi province had detected traces of HIV in the batch, although the disease control centre told The Beijing News on Wednesday that it had not yet discovered any cases of patients having contracted HIV.
The batch of 50ml bottles are due to expire in June 2021, a source from the state food and drug regulator told the China Business Journal. Immunoglobulins are antibodies produced by white blood cells that are used to treat immune deficiencies caused by illnesses such as leukaemia, hepatitis and rabies. The NMPA – which was at the centre of a major rabies vaccine scandal last July – immediately told regulators in Shanghai to conduct on-site inspections at the pharmaceutical company and sent officials to Jiangxi, it said on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Shanghai regulator said in a separate statement that it had halted production at the company, recalled all affected treatments and sent samples for inspection. This latest blow to confidence in China’s health services comes less than a month after it was revealed that 145 children in the eastern Jiangsu province were treated with expired polio vaccines, sparking widespread protests from parents and the investigation of 17 local officials. Last July, 252,600 faulty rabies vaccines made by Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology, one of China’s biggest vaccine firms, were found to have been administered to thousands of toddlers.
In the 1990s, thousands of cash-strapped villagers in China’s central Henan province contracted HIV after being persuaded to sell their blood illegally on the black market.
Rapid spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B was caused by reuse of needles, lack of screening for diseases, false health records, and mixing of blood before re-injecting the separated red blood cells back into the donors. A study of 280,000 villagers in Henan who had sold their blood found that more than 36,000, about one in eight, had HIV or Aids. The NMPA’s apparent clearance of the blood plasma treatments on Wednesday came four days after Wu Zhen, the former deputy head of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) – which oversees the NMPA – was handed over to the judiciary system for investigation by the Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog in relation to the rabies vaccine scandal. Wu, one of four CFDA officials being investigated, was in charge of China’s vaccine regulation at the time. State-run news agency Xinhua said the allegations against Wu included nepotism and taking bribes. Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology was handed a 9.1 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) fine in October after it was found to have fabricated records. The authorities had failed to act immediately after finding inconsistencies in the company’s records in late 2017.
SHANGHAI, January 29 -- Workers are seen at a cement plant of the Shengwei Group in Tongchuan City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
Tongchuan, once a manufacturing base for coal mining industry and cement production, used to suffer from environment pollutions. The local government has focused on sustainable development in the recent years and helped industries transform to grasp more opportunities. China has pledged to coordinate its efforts of environmental protection and economic development in 2019, an important year for winning the tough battle against pollution. At the annual Central Economic Work Conference earlier this month, authorities called for building on this year's achievement in pollution control, making more efforts and input in 2019. Since the turn of this year, China has made solid efforts to combat pollution and seen constant improvement of the environment. The Central Economic Work Conference made it clear that local governments must avoid past simple and unscrupulous practices in dealing with environmental problems.
BEIJING, January 20 -- China has met its annual target for pollution control in 2018, with more blue skies, cleaner waters and greener mountains.
"We have successfully delivered all the obligatory targets set for 2018 and stayed in line with the timetable outlined by the 13th Five-Year Plan," Chinese Ecology and Environment Minister Li Ganjie said during a work meeting that concluded Saturday. Air quality has continued to improve with 338 major cities reporting good air quality on 79.3 percent of days, up 1.3 percentage points from the previous year, official data showed.
The density of PM2.5, a key indicator of air pollution, dropped by over 10 percent in 2018 from the previous year in three heavily-polluted areas, including the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. In terms of soil pollution control, Li said the country had reduced solid waste imports by 46.5 percent year on year, finished overhauls of all subpar garbage power plants and launch sweeping crackdown on the illegal transportation and dumping of hazardous waste in 2018. Thorough action has been taken to clean up 1,009 "black and malodorous" water bodies in 36 major cities and 1,586 water sources, Li said, adding that "defense of lucid waters" would be a primary task for 2019.
China has pledged to coordinate its efforts on environmental protection and economic development in 2019. At the annual Central Economic Work Conference held in December, authorities called for building on the achievements of 2018, making more effort in 2019. One of the key challenges, analysts said, is finding ways to engage in pollution treatment without harming productivity. Zhang Liqun, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council, said the conference offered targeted prescriptions. The conference made it clear that local governments must avoid the simple and unscrupulous practices of the past when dealing with environmental problems. "This will give better support to balancing environmental protection with economic development and realizing mutually-enhancing interaction," Zhang said.
In 2019, China will put the Yangtze River restoration project in full swing, clean up more "black and malodorous" water bodies, achieve environment improvement in the Bohai Sea through comprehensive measures, and launch a water quality campaign in rural areas, Li said. The country will also further reduce imports of solid waste and push for better air quality with better regional coordination and heavy-polluter revamps, according to the minister.