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Faith healing not enought to fight HIV/AIDS archbishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, November 4, 2012 p 6. November 7, 2012

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Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi

The former Archbishop of Kenya has urged church leaders not to scorn anti-retroviral medications and rely upon prayer alone to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, a spokesman for the Kenya Network Religious Living with or Personally Affected by HIV, told a Nairobi news conference last week that Christians need to seek medical treatment in addition to relying upon prayer.

“We want religious leaders not to mislead their congregation, but instead preach to them the right information about the scourge. We must fight it to the end through proper information. Miracles alone cannot reduce their viral load, but proper ARV use will lengthen their lives,” the archbishop said..

Members of the ecumenical HIV/AIDS ministry also criticized societal attitudes that stigmatized those with the disease, as well as unscrupulous healers who prayed on the credulity of believers by claims of faith healings or through herbal medicines.

Canon Gideon Byamugisha a Ugandan Anglican priest, who in 2002 became the first religious leader in Africa to publicly declare his HIV status, said the government health campaign should target those already infected to avoid new infections. “If those already with HIV/Aids are targeted by providing them with needed treatment, care and nutrition and encouraging them to lead safer lifestyles where they don’t infect others then this war against this scourge will be won,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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Archbishop denounces govt AIDS sterilization programme: The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 6. October 5, 2012

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Retired Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi

Church leaders in Kenya have denounced a government health programme to sterilize women with HIV/AIDS. In a statement released last week through the Kenya Network for Religious Leaders living with or affected by HIV and AIDS (KENERELA), the former primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said it was a “pity” that in a time of “great scientific advancement in human reproduction, someone can go ahead and sterilizes a woman because she is HIV positive.”

Archbishop Nzimbi was joined by Muslim and Christian leaders in condemning the plan. They alleged that government health workers had been coercing HIV positive women to be sterilized by offering free medical treatment or food and medical aid for their children in return for undergoing the procedure.

As women with AIDS can now give birth safely to children who will be free from the disease, “any attempt to bar a woman from having children through forced sterilization amounts to violation of their rights,” the archbishop said in a statement published on 19 Sept 2012.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

No more circumcision advertising, bishop cries: The Church of England Newspaper, April 22, 2012 p 6 April 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Church of the Province of Uganda, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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Promoting circumcision as a prophylactic against the spread of HIV/AIDs was a waste of government funds, a Ugandan bishop has warned.

Speaking to a 12 April 2012 gathering of the clergy of the Diocese of West Ankole, Bishop Yona Katoneene called upon the ministry of health to redirect funding from its campaign to encourage male circumcision to one that promotes abstinence.

The bishop did not oppose the government promotion of circumcision for reasons of hygiene and general health, but warned that its promotion to stop HIV/AIDS was ineffectual as it did not address the behaviors that led to the spread of the disease. And, he warned, it also encouraged people to engage in immoral behavior.

“After circumcision some people think that it is a ticket for one to engage in sex and this is likely to worsen the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities,” the bishop said, according to local press accounts of his speech.

The campaign to halt the spread of the disease by promoting abstinence education had worked, he said.  However, overseas aid agencies had different priorities and were more ready to provide funds for their pet projects.  The bishop said that if money spent on advertising circumcision were spent instead on purchasing bicycles to allow youth workers to travel between villages to educate young people about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and to promote abstinence, the disease could be contained.

Circumcision as a prophylactic against HIV/AIDs has a mixed record in Africa. In 2010, the chairman of Malawi’s National Aids Commission, Archbishop Bernard Malango said his group would not recommend the government adopt circumcision as a government policy.  He said that a comparison of the rates of infection in Muslim districts, where most men are circumcised, to that of Christian areas of Malawi, where circumcision is not practiced, showed no difference in the rate of infections.

“We have no scientific evidence that circumcision is a sure way of slowing down the spread of AIDS,” Dr. Mary Shaba, the government’s chief HIV/AIDS officer said at the press conference with Archbishop Malango.

However, a 2006 report from the U.S. government’s National Institute of Health found that male circumcision significantly halts the spread of the disease.

Double effect and the birth control debate: Get Religion, March 15, 2012 March 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Health/HIV-AIDS, Politics, Press criticism, Religion Reporting.
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Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. Now moral acts take their species according to what is intended, and not according to what is beside the intention, since this is accidental … . Thomas Aquinas, (Summa Theologica, Secunda Secundae Partis, Q. 64)

The best way to start the day is with a little Aquinas! The misty realms of memory and a youth misspent in theological education brought this jingle to mind when I read an article in the Huffington Post that took a swipe at one of my colleagues at GetReligion. The article by Reuters correspondent Nicole Neuroulias entitled “I was a Virgin on Birth Control” (catchy, no?) asserts that Mollie Ziegler Hemingway’s (MZH) report entitled “No such thing as free contraception” fails the test of good journalism.

Is this a fair summary of the issues or a fair comment? Not really. Ms. Neroulias bases her argument on a faulty premise, while the story as a whole has not been thought through. Yet, the HuffPo story raises a valid point that the press has not done justice to the ethical as well as scientific issues at play in the controversy surrounding the government’s bid to require all employers and institutions to provide contraceptive coverage in their health insurance packages. Ms. Neroulias writes that:

as a religion reporter weary of oversimplified culture wars, and personally, as someone who took birth control pills long before becoming sexually active, I feel disappointed by most of the reporting so far.

She recounts the furore surrounding the debate — Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke, congressional hearings, Catholic bishops — and then presents her thesis. Ms. Neroulias writes:

Yet, as [Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke]tried to explain in her opening statement, both frames miss the big picture: Women take the pill to address myriad health issues, from ovarian cancer, menstrual problems, hormone imbalances and fertility treatments to cystic acne, et al.

This is the angle I’ve been waiting in vain for religious and mainstream journalists to acknowledge and investigate. As a teenager, I had debilitating menstrual cycles, but the perceived stigma of going on the pill deterred me from getting the help I needed. I finally started taking it in college, as a virgin with no foreseeable pregnancy panic, buoyed by all other the young women around me who were taking it for a variety of reasons. …

Since then, my mother and sister have also taken the pill on medical grounds, as have dozens of our relatives and friends. …

So how about some coverage of where these outraged clergy and institutions stand on using contraception in all these medical cases? And even if they technically allow it, does that translate to allowing their health insurance policies to include it? Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, a conservative commentator who has slammed media “misrepresentation” of the HHS mandate at GetReligion, shrugged me off with “presumably” when I brought up this angle. Needless to say, “presumably” isn’t good enough in journalism, especially when the story concerns fundamental questions about freedom and morality.

And logically, even when clergy approve of contraceptives for unrelated medical reasons, how would they have their institutions apply these directives? Should women who work at Catholic hospitals and schools get a doctor’s note for their bosses before requesting insurance reimbursement for the birth control pill? Would ovarian cysts and infertility make the cut, but acne and bad cramps be more along the lines of God’s will? And what if religious authorities and their hospitals disagree on these theories in practice, as they have in cases of abortion to save a woman’s life?

These questions are founded upon a flawed assumption and propose a straw man argument — an Aunt Sally — based upon the premise that taking a birth control pill for medical reasons other than contraception is immoral in the eyes of “outraged clergy.”

The 1968 encyclical Humanea Vitae which governs Catholic teaching on birth control contains a chapter which discusses this point. Paragraph 15, entitled “Lawful Therapeutic Means” states:

On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever.

The encyclical cites two speeches by Pius XII for its authority on this point. It puts into words the long standing moral teaching expressed by Thomas Aquinas, among others, as the principle of double effect.

This moral teaching can be seen in the case of a woman who has a hysterectomy due to cancer. The principle intent is to excise the cancer. The secondary end, infertility, does not forbid the surgery as the intent is the cure of disease not birth control. A second example would be surgery to remove a fallopian tube because of an ectopic pregnancy. While an abortion is a medical procedure whose primary end is a dead child – and is thus considered illicit — the death of the pre-natal child in a surgery to correct an ectopic pregnancy is an unavoidable side effect. The surgery is licit even though one of its ends is death.

Closer to home, and working in a Sandra Fluke angle, you can see the practical effect at work in the Georgetown University Student Handbook. The student health department is allowed to dispense the pill for non contraceptive medical ends.

Q. Are pre-existing conditions covered?

A. Pre-existing conditions are covered if the condition or treatment is not specifically excluded or limited per the Exclusions and Limitations in Description of Benefits Booklet.

(Note: Although birth control is not covered, medications used for birth control that are required to treat other medical conditions are covered. Your provider may submit requests for such coverage in the form of a “Prescription Override” by faxing the details of the diagnosis and treatment to …)

Ms. Neroulias is quite right in saying the press has let down its readers by not developing this angle — focusing the debate on those who shout the loudest, not upon the critical issues. This is a big country, and I am sure one can find “outraged clergy” somewhere who would make the argument that the use of birth control pills for acne treatment is a sin — or we should let women die of ovarian cancer because a total hysterectomy causes a women to become infertile and is thus EVIL. Such people doubtless exist, but their voices do not represent the mainstream.

A little research by reporters would reveal that this issue was recently addressed in the press coverage of a Lancet article that urged nuns to take birth control pills as a prophylactic against the medical effects of nulliparity. In December I posted a story to GetReligion noting how ABC had addressed these issues, killing the canard that nuns were forbidden to take birth control pills for non-contraceptive medical reasons.

Did MZH (the reporter not the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture & Food) make a journalistic error in not engaging with Ms. Neroulias questions? Not to my mind. GetReligion reports on the reporting — not on the topics being reported. If I were in MZH’s position I would not have engaged either for the aforesaid reason and because the assumptions being put forward about the ethics were wrongheaded and had no bearing on the arguments at play.

Am I too quick to defend, too quick to judge? Does the press understand the nuances of Catholic moral teachings or the Theology of the Body? What say you GetReligion readers?

First published at GetReligion.

Church condom split ends: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2011 p 8. May 16, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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Bishop-elect Stanley Hotay of Mount Kilimanjaro

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A schism within the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) over the propriety of using condoms as a prophylactic against the spread of HIV/AIDs has been healed following the retirement and election of a new bishop.

On April 15, the Mount Kilimanjaro synod elected the Rev. Stanley Hotay as the third bishop of the diocese that covers the Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara regions.

The general secretary of the ACT, Dr. Dickson Chilongani, told reporters after the vote, the elections had been a “testimony” that the diocese was “now more united than before.”

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt. Rev. Tim Stevens, is scheduled to attend the June 12 consecration in Arusha, as Leicester has had a link to Mount Kilimanjaro for several years.  The new bishop is pastor of two churches in Arusha and serves as diocesan missioner.  In 2010 he was awarded a BA in Theology from the University of Gloucester.

The election of a new bishop ends a ten year split within the diocese between the former bishop Simon Makundi and his clergy that mirrored a wider fight within the province over the morality of condom use.

In 2001, Bishop Makundi along with several other bishops and the church’s HIV/AIDs ministries endorsed condom use as a prophylactic against disease, and in 2002 the Tanzanian delegation to the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) AIDs summit in Nairobi stated their church had “openly discussed the efficacy of condom use and endorsed such use in order to save lives.”

However, St. James Parish in Arusha denounced this new policy as immoral, and when Bishop Makundi attempted to visit the congregation he was ejected.

In 2004, the dispute was brought to a special meeting of the House of Bishops, which agreed to accept jurisdiction over the parish until the controversy was settled.  Bishop Simon Chiwanga of the Mpwapwa, the former chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, was sent to the parish by the House of Bishops and confirmed that the church’s stance was that the use of condoms as a prophylactic against disease was immoral.

In 2010 St James parish relented in its opposition to Bishop Makundi, who had recanted his views on condom use, and accepted his jurisdiction.  The election of a new bishop, church leaders tell CEN, should end the dispute.

Church Commissioners offer their moral support to hospital chaplains: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 17, 2010 p 6. December 21, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appointed the Bishop of Carlisle as the lead bishop for health care, the Second Church Estates Commissioner told Parliament last month.

In response to a question from the member for Loughborough, Ms. Nicky Morgan (Cons.), as to “what steps the Church Commissioners are taking to support hospital chaplaincy,” Mr. Anthony Baldry said that one of Bishop James Newcome’s tasks included the “support of hospital chaplains.”

He noted the Church of England worked “extensively with workplace chaplains, especially in hospitals” but then added the church was “keen wherever possible to develop interfaith chaplaincy co-operation.”

The Church Commissioners “believe that chaplains of all faiths play a vital role in the support of patients, families and staff in hospitals,” Mr. Baldry said.

Ms. Morgan responded by asking how the Church of England was dealing with hospital trusts that had cut back on chaplaincy services.

Mr. Baldry responsed that the government, through the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Health, the Earl Howe, “has recently stressed to hospital trusts the importance of chaplaincy services.”

The Church Commissioners believed chaplaincy services were “central to meeting the spiritual needs of patients, families and staff” and would “continue to reinforce that message at every level, because we are all too keenly aware of the importance of chaplaincy services to those who are sick, the dying, their families and the bereaved,” Mr. Baldry said.

Malawi ‘no’ to circumcision as tool to stop HIV/AIDs: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 1, 2010 p 8. October 3, 2010

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Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The government of Malawi has rejected calls to promote circumcision as a prophylactic against HIV/AIDs.

In a Sept 7 address to Malawi’s 2010 HIV & AIDS Research and Best Practices Conference, the chairman of the country’s National Aids Commission, Archbishop Bernard Malango said that a comparison of the rates of infection in Muslim districts, where most men are circumcised, to that of Christian areas of Malawi, where circumcision is not practiced, showed no difference in the rate of infections.

“We have no scientific evidence that circumcision is a sure way of slowing down the spread of AIDS,” Dr. Mary Shaba, the government’s chief HIV/AIDS officer added.

The UNAIDS agency estimates that approximately 930,000 people, or 12 per cent of Malawi’s population, are living with HIV of whom 840,000 are adults aged 15 and above.

However, the archbishop said the 12 per cent prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS does not accurately reflect the incidences of the disease in the country,

Archbishop Malango said that most overseas NGOs look at the overall rate of infection, or the prevalence of the disease, within the population when devising prevention and treatment strategies.  However in Malawi, the rate of new infections has been decreasing, while people with HIV/AIDS were living longer, thus keeping the prevalence rate at 12 per cent.

“With the continued scale up of the treatment programme, we will have more and more people alive and therefore considerably contributing to the high prevalence of HIV,” Archbishop Malango said.

“The number of those who were already infected is being maintained and by 2015, we should minimize the new infections by educating people,” the archbishop said.

Dr. Shaba told the conference the number of new cases was estimated to be 90,000 per year.  “The difference between incidence and prevalence is that incidence is number of infections that are taking place now while prevalence is the number of people who are considered positive at that time.”

“The prevalence has been 12 per cent for a long time but we need to look at how many infections are taking place. If we are going to move from prevalence from 12 per cent to almost zero, it means the incidences are the ones which have to be zero,” she said.

Study finds link between a doctor’s faith and end of life care: The Church of England Newspaper, Sep 10 p 5. September 12, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A doctor’s religious faith, or lack of faith, influences a patient’s end of life care, a study published in this month’s Journal of Medical Ethics, has concluded.

In a study published on-line Aug 23, Dr. Clive Seale, professor in the Centre for Health Sciences at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, found that self-identified agnostic and atheist physicians were almost twice as likely to take decisions that speed up the dying process as compared to their religious peers.

In a survey taken of over 3700 geriatric, palliative care, intensive care and general practice physicians in the UK, Dr. Seale received 2933 responses from physicians asking about their faith and religious beliefs, ethnicity, and views on assisted dying and euthanasia.  The survey also asked whether they had prescribed ‘terminal sedation’, giving patients a continuous deep sedation until they died, or if they had spoken to their patients about health care decisions judged likely to shorten life.

The results showed that Geriatricians—specialists in the care of the elderly—were more likely to be Hindu or Muslim, while hospice or palliative care physicians were more likely to be white Christians, who responded to questions about faith.  Overall, however, white doctors—the largest ethnic group—were those least likely to report strong religious beliefs.

The survey found strong links between a physician’s specialty and faith and the likelihood of discussing treatments judged likely to end the life of their patients.  Hospital specialists were ten times more likely to discuss life ending treatments than palliative care doctors, while those physicians who described themselves as “extremely” non-religious were twice as likely to have recommended treatments that would end life as compared to their religious counterparts.

The Seale survey also found a link between views on religious faith and support for assisted dying and euthanasia legislation, with palliative care specialists and those with strong religious beliefs the most strongly opposed to such legislation.

While the survey does not predict that all religious and non-religious doctors act in certain ways, Dr. Seale concluded that there was a need to acknowledge the links between a doctor’s religious beliefs and the clinical decisions they make.

Bishop backs rise in drinking age to 20: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 27, 2010 p 6. September 1, 2010

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Bishop Ross Bay of Auckland

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Auckland has backed the National Party government plans for a rise of the legal age for drinking from 18 to 20, but has expressed disappointment the government will allow a “conscience vote” from its MPs on the bill.

A report from the New Zealand Law Commission released in April offered 153 recommendations for reducing the harmful effects of alcohol upon society, including tax increases, stricter blood alcohol limits for drink driving offences, and raising the drinking age.

The proposed legislation has not yet been released, but Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the party planned to introduce a ‘zero’ drink drive limit for repeat offenders and for drivers under the age of 20.  Mr. Joyce said the National Party had affirmed that “all transport safety measures will continue to be voted on as a party,” but raising the purchase age of alcohol would be a free vote.

The Rt. Rev. Ross Bay, Bishop of Auckland backed the tough new laws, and called for cross party support for the bills.  “Legislation will not fully solve the problem but it can send a strong signal to society that it is time to change attitudes,” the bishop said, adding that “MPs can provide leadership on this and vote as a unified body rather than turning to a conscience vote for the proposed age split regarding the purchase of alcohol.”

New Zealand was facing a “crisis” over binge drinking, he said.  “We need strong leadership for this generation and Parliament needs to act and show leadership for such a significant issue in society.”

Alcohol abuse had become a significant health issue the New Zealand Ministry of Health concluded in a 2007 report on alcohol consumption.  Alcohol abuse harmed not only drinkers, but those around them.  “People had also experienced problems as a result of someone else’s drinking, including physical assault, sexual harassment, and impacts on their family life, social life and financial position,” the report Alcohol Use in New Zealand found.

An estimated 81.2 per cent of New Zealanders aged 12–65 years “had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months” the study found, and of these 14.7 per cent consumed large amounts of alcohol at least once a week, which was defined as consuming six standard drinks in one sitting for men, or four for women.  “Overall, 9.5 per cent had consumed enough alcohol to feel drunk at least once a week,” while “20.7 per cent had done at least some of their driving under the influence of alcohol in the last 12 months,” the study found.

Healing Prayer works, US study finds: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 13, 2010 p 6. August 17, 2010

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Sebastiano Ricci, "Christ Healing the Blind Man" (circa 1712-1716). National Gallery of Scotland

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A study to be published next month in an American medical journal reports that “proximal intercessory prayer” (PIP) — when one or more people pray for someone in that person’s presence and with physical contact – has been found to have remarkable results in healing the sick.

The study, entitled “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique,” measured improvements in vision and hearing in economically disadvantaged areas of rural Mozambique where eyeglasses and hearing aids are not readily available.

“We chose to investigate ‘proximal’ prayer because that is how a lot of prayer for healing is actually practiced by Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world,” Dr. Candy Gunther Brown of Indiana University, the study’s lead researcher, said.”

The study to be published in the September issue of the Southern Journal of Medicine is part of a larger research program conducted by medical and religion scholars funded by the John Templeton Foundation Flame of Love Project, on the cultural significance and experience of spiritual healing practices.

The success of Pentecostal Christians in healing the success was one reason for its explosive growth in the developing world, the authors said.  “When people feel that they have a serious need for healing, they are willing to try almost anything,” Dr. Brown said. “If they feel that a particular religious or spiritual practice healed them, they are much more likely to become an adherent. This phenomenon, more than any other, accounts for the growth of these Christian subgroups globally,” she suggested.

The researchers joined healing prayer teams from Iris Ministries and Global Awakening in Mozambique and using an audiometer and vision charts evaluated 14 subjects who reported impaired hearing and 11 who reported impaired vision—before and after receiving proximal intercessory prayer (PIP).

Dr. Brown said the study chose to test hearing and vision as changes could be measured by hearing machines and vision charts, while other ailments provided a less subjective standard of measurement.

They found that the study subjects exhibited statistically improved hearing and vision after receiving PIP.  Two with impaired hearing reduced the threshold at which they could detect sound by 50 decibels. Three subjects had their tested vision improve from 20/400 or worse to 20/80 or better. These improvements are much larger than those typically found in suggestion and hypnosis studies, the authors said.

One participant, an elderly woman named Maryam, initially reported that she could not see a person’s hand, with two upraised fingers, from a distance of one foot. An intercessor placed her hand over Maryam’s eyes, hugged her and prayed for her.  The intercessor then held up five fingers before Maryam, who could count them and was tested on an eye chart and able now to read the 20/125 line on a vision chart.

Scientific research on the benefits of intercessory prayer has produced contradictory results in recent years.  A 2006 Harvard Medical Schools study concluded that prayer had no effect on healing, but certainty of receiving prayer adversely affected health.

Critics of the Harvard study note that it focused on distant rather than intercessory prayer.  Those offering the prayer differed from the Mozambique study as the Harvard study was a multi-faith enterprise, and included only one group of Protestant intercessors: Silent Unity, a group which rejects the efficacy of prayers of supplication or petition as “useless.”

“If empirical research continues to indicate that PIP may be therapeutically beneficial, then — whether or not the mechanisms are adequately understood — there are ethical and nonpartisan public policy reasons to encourage further related research,” Dr. Brown said.

Faith can overcome alcohol abuse, US study finds: The Church of England Newspaper, July 9, 2010 p 5. July 16, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church attendance lowers the risk of alcohol abuse among teenagers, a study published in the United States has found, even for those who have a genetic pre-disposition for the disease.

In a paper that will appear in the September 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers at the University of Colorado found that “adolescents who are raised to value religious concepts are less likely to develop problems with alcohol use, even in the presence of a genetic predisposition for doing so.”

However, the prophylactic effect of faith on alcohol abuse does not extend to young adults, the study found.

Researchers have long known that neither nature nor nurture by themselves leads to alcoholism, but are influenced by phenotypes, measurable traits or behaviors for the disease that are products of environment and genetics.  “Levels of alcohol-related phenotypes, such as frequencies of drinking and intoxication, can be dependent on social background,” explained Dr. Tanya Button, one of the authors of the study.

“For instance, people with a religious background may be less likely to express alcohol-related phenotypes than those from nonreligious backgrounds,” she said. “Furthermore, the influence of genes on these phenotypes also varies according to social background. We also know that genes play a more important role in alcohol-related phenotypes in people from urban backgrounds, unmarried women, and nonreligious individuals than those from rural backgrounds, married women, or those with a religious upbringing.”

The University of Colorado team examined 1,432 pairs of twins and found that “genetic factors could influence problem alcohol use more in nonreligious adolescents than adolescents with a greater religious outlook.”

Faith “exerted a strong enough influence over the behavior of religious individuals to override any genetic predisposition” towards alcoholism, Dr. Button said.  However, this was not true for young adults “for whom the genetic influence was consistent across levels of religiosity.”

The Colorado study was “evidence that problem alcohol use in adolescents is subject to controlling influences associated with religiosity, even when genetic risks are present,” Dr. Button concluded.

Church attendance helps combat depression study finds: The Church of England Newspaper, May 28, 2010 p 7. June 6, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

There is no scientific evidence that Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented or its onset slowed down, an independent panel of scientists convened by the US National Institute of Health (NIH) has determined.  However, an active church life and keeping physically and mentally fit were consistent with a decreased risk of the disease, the report found.

The study released by the NIH’s Office of Medical Applications of Research (OMAR) state-of-the-science conference program found that exercise, social interaction, brain puzzles, fish oil, nutritional supplements, or medications did not prevent the disease.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s report, Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures, 2010, there are over 5 million Americans living with the disease today.

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust Dementia 2010 reported that in Britain there were 822,000 people living with the disease.  This number is expected to pass the one million mark by 2025 the report found.  “People who reach the age of 65 have a one in three chance of having dementia before they die,” said the report’s author, Professor Alastair Gray of Oxford University’s Health Economic Research Centre in February.

The US panel reviewed 25 systematic reviews and 250 primary research studies, lead researcher Dr Martha Daviglus of Northwestern University said, and found that most studies could only show links, and did not prove cause and effect between a factor and disease prevention.

“We wish we could tell people that taking a pill or doing a puzzle every day would prevent this terrible disease, but current evidence doesn’t support this,” said Dr. Daviglus.

The panel examined scientific studies that took into account “nutrition, medical conditions, prescription and non-prescription medications, social/economic/behavioral factors, toxic environmental factors, and genetics.”

Only a few factors showed a “consistent link” with Alzheimer’s disease: diabetes, genetic predisposition, smoking, and depression.

Factors showing a “fairly consistent association” with decreased risk of the disease and a cognitive decline were: cognitive engagement and physical activities. However the “modification to risk” was “small to moderate” for Alzheimer’s and “small” for cognitive decline.

The current state of scientific evidence was not “enough to enable a confident assessment of links with [Alzheimer’s] or cognitive decline,” the report said, and “further research that addresses the limitations of existing studies is needed prior to be able to make recommendations on interventions.”

However, one of the studies reviewed found that regular church attendance was associated with less cognitive decline.    A 2003 paper published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences entitled “Religion and cognitive dysfunction in an elderly cohort,” cited in the US NIH study concluded that “religious attendance may offer mental stimulation that helps to maintain cognitive functioning in later life, particularly among older depressed women.”

The paper concluded that doctors should prescribe church attendance in certain situations.

“Given the possible benefits religious attendance may have on cognitive functioning, it may be appropriate in certain instances for clinicians to recommend that clients reengage in religious activities they may have given up as a result of their depression,” the 2003 paper concluded.

Episcopal Church backs “Obamacare”: The Church of England Newspaper, March 26, 2010 p 8. April 6, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland

Episcopal Church leaders have applauded the passage of US President Barack Obama’s health care bill. The Episcopal Church had joined with other advocacy groups in backing the controversial legislation, which critics charge will nationalize the American health care system.

“For 2,000 years followers of Jesus have been at the forefront of efforts to provide for the health and well being of all people. We do this because the law of love compels us to care for everyone,” the Bishop of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton told the Episcopal News Service after the vote.

Writing from the House of Bishops meeting in Texas, Bishop Sutton conceded that “people of good will” have disagreed about “some controversial” provisions of the 3000-page bill. A majority of Americans opposed passage of the bill which was passed on a party line vote.

However, “Christians everywhere should rejoice that our society has taken a major step toward ensuring that all citizens have adequate and equitable access to health care without fear that sickness will result in their financial ruin,” said Bishop Sutton.

Roman Catholic and Evangelical leaders have been harshly critical of the bill. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver, Msgr. Charles Chaput denounced the process by which the bill was passed as a “failure of decent lawmaking.” No Republicans in the US Senate or House supported the bill, which passed on a vote of 219-212 after a group of Catholic “pro-life” Democrat congressmen voted “yes” in the wake of intense pressure from the White House.

The legislation was “unethical and defective on all of the issues pressed by the [Catholic] bishops and prolife groups,” Archbishop Chaput said.

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations and the Episcopal Public Policy Network had lobbied lawmakers to pass the Democrat bill, and sent emails to Episcopalians across the country urging them to contact their congressmen to back health care reform.

The Episcopal Church’s national office endorsed a Feb 24 letter prepared by the Faithful Reform in Healthcare coalition that urged legislators to “complete the task at hand on behalf of the millions who are left out and left behind in our current health care system,” and pass the Democrat health care bill.

“We now stand closer than ever before to historic health care reform. Turning back now could mean justice delayed for another generation and an unprecedented opportunity lost,” they argued.

“Let us not delay health care justice any longer. This is your moment for political courage, vision, leadership and faith,” the letter said.

Faith groups commit to ending the stigma of HIV/AIDS: The Church of England Newspaper, March 31, 2010 April 1, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Representatives of the world’s principal faiths have endorsed a pact committing faith groups to end the moral stigma of HIV/AIDS.

Some 40 Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist leaders signed the ‘personal commitment’ after a two-day meeting on March 23 in The Hague.

In their statement they acknowledged that “those living with HIV have at times been at the receiving end of judgement, rejection” at the hands of faith groups.

“We need to make greater efforts to ensure that all people living with HIV find a welcome within faith communities,” they declared.

“During the Summit, participants addressed the realities of how stigma and discrimination are perpetuated both in religious communities and society at large,” according to UNAIDS.

The leaders worked to identify “best practices to strengthen the voice and action of religious leaders and bring about collaboration among different faiths and with other sectors involved in the response to HIV,” according to UNAIDS.

The President of the Latin American Council of Churches, Bishop Julio Murray of Panama, the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, and Ugandan HIV/AIDS activist Canon Gideon Byamugisha were among the Anglican participants at the gathering.

Archbishop Makgoba told the conference that “churches were, frankly, at least as much part of the problem as we were part of the solution,” following The Hague meeting. “Yes, we were committed to caring for the sick. But when it came to stopping the spread of HIV, much of our stance was, I fear, unhelpful – fuelling stigma, with all its negative consequences.”

“Churches have fuelled society’s negative responses to HIV and AIDS. We all know the horror stories, which I won’t bother repeating,” Archbishop Makgoba said.

The Anglican Church in Southern Africa had taken the lead in changing attitudes towards HIV/AIDS, he said. Since 2002 the church “worked hard to change the way we speak about sex and sexuality, and HIV and AIDS.”

“Tackling stigma has been a particular goal,” he told the AIDS conference. “An independent survey conducted in 2006 shows we have been making progress. People in our churches, by and large, have grasped that discourse around ‘God’s judgement’ is entirely inappropriate.”

“Let us be honest,” he went on. “It is not easy for the church to get it right – especially when our spiritual teaching does indeed uphold faithfulness within marriage, and sexual abstinence outside of marriage, as the ideal. But at the same time, we should not appear to preach that only perfection is acceptable, nor that sexual sin is worse than any other,” the archbishop said.

Row over condoms is settled: CEN 1.29.10 p 7. February 10, 2010

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A schism caused by divisions over the morality of using condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs has been healed in the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Anglican Church of Tanzania reports.

The split between St James Parish in Arusha and its Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Simon Makundi, mirrors a wider fight within the province over the morality of condom use. The Roman Catholic Church and a number of leading Muslim clerics have long opposed government health programmes that promoted condom use, arguing it promoted promiscuity and immorality. After initially backing the use of condoms to halt the spread of the disease, the Anglican Church of Tanzania reversed course.

In 2001, Bishop Makundi along with several other Tanzanian bishops and the church’s HIV/AIDs ministries endorsed condom use as a prophylactic against disease, and in 2002 the Tanzanian delegation to the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) AIDs summit in Nairobi stated their church had “openly discussed the efficacy of condom use and endorsed such use in order to save lives.”

St. James Parish in Arusha denounced this change in policy as immoral, and when the bishop attempted to visit the congregation he was ejected.

In 2004, the dispute was brought to a special meeting of the House of Bishops, which agreed to accept jurisdiction over the parish until the controversy was settled. According to the Arusha Times, Bishop Simon Chiwanga of the Mpwapwa Diocese, the former chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, told the parish Bishop Makundi had recanted his earlier statements on condom use.

Bishop Chiwanga told the congregation that the use of condoms as a prophylactic against disease was immoral, and contrary to the stance of the Anglican Church of Tanzania. However, the parish refused to accept Bishop Makundi’s oversight, saying they had no confidence in his leadership.

The Anglican Church in Tanzania that year also launched an HIV/AIDS control project that required clergy to take an HIV test and two years later came out against government plans to introduce sex education in the national primary school curriculum, joining with the Catholic Church in successfully forcing the Education Ministry to withdraw the programme until it passed muster with the churches.

However, several years of quiet mediation between the parties by provincial leaders and the bishop’s climb down over condoms appears to have resolved the dispute, as last week the parish acknowledged the jurisdiction of Bishop Makundi.

South Africa must “continue to fight AIDs”: CEN 1.15.10 p 5. January 19, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Cape Town has urged South Africans to mark the death of the country’s former health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, by recommitting the nation to fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

Archbishop urges South Africans to fight scourge of Aids

Dubbed “Dr No” by political opponents and the press for her opposition to the use of anti-retroviral drugs, Dr Tshabalala-Msimang was a controversial figure in post-apartheid South Africa and had backed the AIDS policies of former President Thabo Mbeki, who expressed doubts about whether HIV caused AIDS.

Installed as health minister in June 1999, Dr Tshabalala-Msimang rejected the dominant view of HIV/AIDS treatment, and in 2000 championed a diet of raw garlic, lemon peel, olive oil and beetroot to fight HIV. Opposed to the use of anti-retroviral drugs in the belief that they had baleful side effects, as health minister she was slow to implement the government’s 2003 Operations Plan for Comprehensive Treatment and Care for HIV/AIDS. Two years after the government introduced the public health anti-retroviral drugs programme to combat the disease, only 104,600 people were being treated with ARVs in South Africa, out of the 837,000 the World Health Organisation estimated needed the treatment.

Professor Francois Venter, president of the HIV Clinicians Society of Southern Africa, stated that the minister’s “family should be allowed to grieve in privacy.”

“Equally, political leaders should keep eulogizing to a bare minimum, to respect the large number of people who died unnecessarily of HIV or who suffered at the hands of a decimated health system,” he said.

In a Dec 16 statement released after her death, Archbishop Makgoba noted Dr Tshabalala-Msimang’s service to the African National Congress during the apartheid era, while “others tell of a Member of Parliament and Deputy Minister of Justice who strove to pursue gender equality and ensure that Constitutional commitments found effective expression through significant legislative landmarks.

“However, more recent chapters carry a tale that is at best ambiguous,” Archbishop Makgoba added, as “it is with aching hearts and deep regret that we recall those policies on HIV and AIDS which were for so long pursued by our former President and his health minister. We also honour the countless thousands who in consequence died during this time, and stand in solidarity alongside those who grieve their all too often untimely loss.”

However, God continues to work for good in all circumstances, the archbishop said, asking that South Africa mark the late health minister’s death as a “milestone on our journey, a signpost towards a future with an AIDS-free South Africa. Let us go on from here determined to fight this scourge, and – through honesty and respect for ourselves, for our own bodies, and for others – let us take whatever steps are necessary to achieve this,” Archbishop Makgoba said.

Scottish alcohol plan backed by bishops: CEN 11.13.09 p 7. November 20, 2009

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The bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church have backed the Scottish Government’s proposed bill to regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol. “If our nation and each of us within it is to have a healthy future then the nettle that is alcohol misuse must be grasped,” the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, Dr. Robert Gillies said on behalf of the college of bishops in a Nov 5 statement.

The proposed Alcohol Bill includes provisions to establish a minimum pricing policy to reduce alcohol consumption by raising prices. It would ban “irresponsible promotions” and restrict marketing in supermarkets, promote the sale of smaller bottles of wine and spirits, introduce a “social responsibility fee” and raise the drinking age to 21 in some areas.

Bishop Gillies said that while some “bits of the Bill are going to be controversial,” there was a need to tackle alcohol abuse in Scotland.

There was a growing “gap” in society between those “enjoying a drink as a normal and respectable social activity and those who misuse it,” he said. “Sadly a laissez-faire, free-for-all attitude that lacks responsibility for oneself and for others seems to rule the day.

“Far too many people view each approaching weekend as an occasion to descend to a state where they are out of control and out of mind, making our city and town centres unpleasant, threatening and unwelcome places,” the bishop said.

The government’s Healthier Scotland campaign reports that alcohol consumption in the UK has more than doubled since 1950, and that the misuse of alcohol costs the Scottish economy around £2.25 billion each year

Scotland needs a “real, lasting, social and cultural change” in its attitude towards alcohol, he said. Alcohol abuse, anti-social behavior, social and cultural degradation, “none of this helps make Scotland an attractive place,” Dr. Gillies said

Diocese partners with bank to distribute mosquito nets: CEN 10.23.09 p 8. October 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Health/HIV-AIDS, NGOs.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Bo has partnered with the Standard Chartered Bank to distribute 16,000 mosquito nets in the Bo and Pujehon districts of Sierra Leone as part of the “Nets for Life” programme.

An initiative of Episcopal Relief & Development, Nets for Life works with local partners in Africa to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to stop the spread of malaria.

The World Health Organization estimates there are approximately 250 million cases of malaria each year, the majority occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly one million people die from the mosquito-born disease each year, mostly children younger than five years old.

Diocese partners with bank to distribute mosquito nets

Ninety per cent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa, and the disease also retards economic growth, costing an estimated $12 billion in lost productivity in Africa each year, ERD reports.

The Nets for Life programme is active in 17 African countries and has benefited more than 11 million people, ERD stated. Partners in the distribution programme include ExxonMobil, Standard Chartered Bank, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Starr International Foundation and the White Flowers Foundation.

The CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Sierra Leone, Albert Saltson, said that in addition to the nets, the programme will provide training in the prevention of the disease. “Standard Chartered Bank is committed to fighting malaria in Africa because its effects kills and also slows the very economies in Africa that we are helping to develop,” he told the local media.

The Rt Rev Emmanuel JS Tucker, Bishop of Bo said the diocese would ensure an equitable distribution of the nets, and would coordinate the anti-malaria education campaign in the largely rural Southern Province of Sierra Leone.

Church urged to promote condoms: CEN 9.11.09 p 6. September 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in CAPA, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Abstinence and prophylactics are key ingredients to combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, government and civic leaders told a gathering of the Anglican Archbishops of Africa to coordinate the church’s response to HIV/AIDS.

The Sept 1-2 meeting at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi brought together church and NGOs leaders with government ministers and was organized by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) as part of the organizations five-year AIDS awareness programme launched in 2007.

Archbishops urged to back condoms in fight against Aids

The Vice President of Kenya, Kalonzo Musyoka lauded abstinence as the best method for stopping the spread of the disease. This meant a return to the “strict observance of our values as Christians,” Mr Musyoka said, adding HIV/AIDS could be stopped if “we keep the promise of fidelity.”

The chairman of CAPA, Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, said the church should offer both pastoral and practical support to its 40 million members. “For example, the use of condoms can help to check the spread of AIDS. So preventive measures have to be courageously presented, and this should be accompanied by appropriate teaching on human sexuality and reproductive health,” he said, according to local press reports.

The Anglican support for condoms as a prophylactic against the transmission of HIV/AIDS is not shared by the Catholic Church in Africa, which has repeatedly denounced their use as immoral. However, the Anglican support for condom use to control disease was first enunciated almost 90 years ago. After initial protests, the Church of England acquiesced to the distribution of condoms to soldiers to control the spread of venereal diseases during the First World War. The 1920 Lambeth Conference condemned all “unnatural means of conception avoidance,” but the 1930 Conference relaxed this ban.

According to a statement released by CAPA, the conference was designed to “create the space in which the two groups of leaders” could build the “leadership required to overcome the pandemic;” work towards providing “universal access to HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care through social community mobilization strategies;” and “spread and strengthen the network of leaders committed to advocating for the behaviors and resources needed to halt and reverse the pandemic.”

‘Common sense’ urged over chalice: CEN 8.28.09 p 5. September 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has urged calm and common sense in the wake of fears of infection of the H1N1 ‘swine’ flu from a common chalice at communion.

On Aug 20 Archbishop Thabo Makgoba reported that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York “recommended the suspension of the sharing of the chalice at communion” upon the advice of the government not to “share ‘common vessels’ for food and drink.”

The Archbishops’ July 22 letter to the English bishops recommended suspension of the “administration of the chalice” during the flu pandemic, citing clause 8 of the 1547 Sacrament Act, which allowed administration of communion in one kind in times of plague or “except necessity otherwise require.”

“For those who still wish to offer in both kinds,” the archbishops wrote, “we recommend the practice” of priestly intinction of the bread in the chalice “before placing them in the hands of communicants.”

In South Africa, the clergy should “observe prudence in maintaining good hygiene and in taking care to reduce exposure to infection,” Archbishop Makgoba said, noting that six people had died so far in the epidemic.

While all “life is sacred and we regret the loss of this precious life,” the archbishop wrote “we should not panic, but rather be prudent about our health.

“If you are not well, it makes sense to behave as you would with any of the other strains of flu that we experience each year,” he said, and “take care not to expose others needlessly to the virus.”

Intinction, the practice of dipping the wafer or bread in the chalice, is practiced by Anglicans in Africa, the West Indies and North America. In the West Indies the priest commonly instincts the wafer and places it directly in the mouth of the communicant in the Roman Catholic fashion. Intinction was authorized by the Episcopal Church during the global influenza epidemic of 1920 and has developed in different ways, with some churches practicing priestly intinction, while in other churches the communicant receives the wafer in his hand and intincts or dips it in a chalice held before him.

A paper released by the Anglican Church of Canada on “Eucharistic practice and risk of infection” however, notes that “modes of intinction used in parishes do not diminish the threat of infection, and some may actually increase it.”

“Hands, children’s and adult’s, are at least as likely to be a source of infection (often more so) as lips,” Dr. David Gould wrote on behalf of the Canadian Church. “Retention of the wafer in the hand of the recipient then intincting it means that the wafer, now contaminated by the hand of the recipient, is placed in the wine, thus spreading the infection to it,” he noted.

“If a priest retains the wafer, intincts it, and places it on the tongue of the communicant there is the possibility of his/her hand coming in contact with the tongue, and thereafter spreading the contamination. Meticulous technique would avoid this however, and it would seem better to trust in the technique of one individual (the priest) than in the individual techniques of the communicants should they do the intinction themselves,” he noted.

“Communion in only one kind (the bread) is the best option for those fearful of the cup,” Dr. Gould wrote, but the “present use of the common cup is normative for Anglican churches, and poses no real hazard to health in normal circumstances.”

Budget cuts hits African efforts to combat Aids: CEN 6.12.09 p 6. June 16, 2009

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Budget cuts by Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) have led to a curtailment of HIV/AIDS outreach work in the Diocese of Namibia, Bishop Nathaniel Nakwatumbah told his diocesan synod in Windhoek on May 29.

Bishop Nakwatumbah urged the clergy and lay delegates to redouble local efforts in combating the spread of the disease, but warned that cutbacks by the British and American governments would lead to a reduced diocesan presence in the fight.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Siyafundisa programme has reached almost 850,000 young people between the ages of 10 to 24. It teaches abstinence until marriage, faithfulness within marriage and monogamous partnerships. But it has been cut back due to the end of support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Siyakha programme, which had been funded by the DfID, was also being scaled back. Siyakha built upon the Siyafundisa programme and sought to strengthen understanding among church and community leaders of HIV and AIDS and reduce the stigma and marginalization surrounding the illness.

Siyakha developed models of care for orphaned and vulnerable children, taught counseling skills, created pilot programmes for voluntary counseling and testing services run by churches in areas not served by the government, and developed HIV/AIDS workplace policies, programmes and materials for church employees, clergy and lay leaders.

The loss of British and American money was a “high setback in our effort to help our people,” the bishop said. “We need to pray that another donor be found to help us pick up the fallen sphere on HIV/AIDS,” he said in his charge to the diocese.

Priest awarded peace prize: CEN 5.14.09 p 6. May 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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A Ugandan Anglican priest who in 1992 became the first African Christian leader to announce that he was HIV positive, was awarded the 26th annual Niwano Peace Prize in Tokyo.

The Rev Canon Gideon Byamugisha was honoured by the Niwano Peace Foundation for his work in promoting Aids awareness in Africa. The Primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, Archbishop Makoto Uematsu accepted the award on behalf of Canon Byamugisha, who was advised against travel to Japan due to the H1N1 flu alert.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Priest awarded peace prize

Education vital in battle against Aids, says Bishop: CEN 4.24.09 April 26, 2009

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Malaria is on the retreat in Mozambique, the Anglican Bishop of Maputo said this week, but the strides made in recent years in combating the disease can only be maintained through education and awareness programmes.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the World Malaria Day on April 25, Bishop Dinis Sengulane, the president of the Roll Back Malaria partnership in Mozambique, said that while nets were now available, many people in the Southern African nation declined to use them, saying that the nets disturbed their sleep or made them hot.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Education vital in battle against Aids, says Bishop

South African bishops attack medicine ban: CEN 2.27.09 p 6. February 28, 2009

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The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has denounced as “irresponsible” and shortsighted last year’s decision by the government of the Free State in South Africa to end distribution of anti-retroviral (ARV) medication to HIV patients due to a budget crunch.

Meeting in Modderpoort in the Free State from Feb 16-20, the Bishops said they were “shocked” by the government’s decision. Cutting off medicine to HIV patients due to a “shortage of funds” was medically and morally indefensible.

Last week the government of Free State premier Beatrice Marshoff lifted a four month moratorium on the health services distribution of ARVs. An estimated 15,000 existing patients were placed on waiting lists by the government while the number of those turned away for initial treatments is unknown.

Since the moratorium went into effect, at least 30 HIV positive people have died each day in the Free State, the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society said. According to a “conservative” projection of the Society, 20 HIV infected babies are born each month in the Free State, of which half will die before their first birthday.

In their statement, the Bishops said the Department of Health was well aware that ARVs must be taken consistently for it to be effective. “If medication is withdrawn wholesale from a large group of citizens, the impact on the lives of patients, and on the work of health professionals, will be enormous. Such deliberate action by a Department of Health is irresponsible,” the bishops said.

“We wholeheartedly support the South African Constitution’s affirmation that access to health care is a right of all citizens, and call on provincial and national government, in the name of God, to find a way to prevent this human catastrophe immediately.

“We assure those affected – patients, families, health workers and government – of our prayers and our support,” the bishops’ statement said.

Auckland synod called to speak out on drug use: CEN 9.19.08 p 8. September 20, 2008

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The Bishop of Auckland has urged his diocesan synod to back an education campaign to combat the use of methamphetamines.

“Gangs and others push this addictive stimulant, and teenagers are often the targets of free samples,” the Rt. Rev. John Paterson said on Sept 13. A chemical stimulant known by the “street” name P in New Zealand, it is also called Meth, Speed, Pure, Crystal, Ice, Crystal Meth, Crank and Glass in the UK and US.

Methamphetamine release high levels of the brain chemical dopamine, stimulating brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement and is a controlled substance in most developed countries.

While its users take the drug for its “high”, it also causes increased alertness, paranoia, hallucinations, insomnia, loss of appetite, while the long term effects include fatal kidney and lung disorders, brain damage, depression, violent and aggressive behavior, lowered resistance to illness and weight loss.

“Labeling it as P is a cynical marketing ploy, giving the impression of a clean and wholesome drug, when it is nothing but evil,” Bishop Paterson said.

He urged the members of synod to speak out about the dangers of the drug. “The church needs a loud and caring voice against this drug as the community suffers from criminal offending and addiction,” he said.

“There are frightening challenges for our schools and young people and we run the risk of becoming blasé about it as criminal offending linked to methamphetamine continues to rise.”

Health warning issued: CEN 6.06.08 p 7. June 7, 2008

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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglo-Catholicism may be harmful to your health, a study published in the April 25 issue of the Journal of Clinical and Molecular Allergy reports.

In a study of the health consequences of burning incense, researchers from the Department of Environmental Engineering at Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University found that incense smoke contains pollutants that when inhaled, caused respiratory distress and allergic reactions.

“A typical composition of stick incense consists of 21% (by weight) of herbal and wood powder, 35% of fragrance material, 11% of adhesive powder, and 33% of bamboo stick” the study found and produced four times the amount of particulates as did a cigarette.

“The gas products from burning incense include CO, CO2, NO2, SO2,” and also emitted benzene and other volatile organic compounds. In Taiwan, “the air pollution in and around various temples has been documented to have harmful effects on health from the burning of incense” the study found.

However, the study noted that “there is no association between incense smoke and cancer.” Studies conducted in Hong Kong found “that, although incense was identified as a major source of exposure to nitrogen dioxide and airborne carcinogens, it had no effect on lung cancer risk among nonsmokers and, more intriguingly, it significantly reduced risk among the smokers.”

Scientists sought to explain this apparent anomaly by noting that those who burned incense and smoked cigarettes offset their cancer risks by having “relatively healthy diets.”

Whether the use of bells also ameliorates the health of risks of incense was not addressed in the study.

Archbishop’s NHS warning: CEN 5.23.08 p 6. May 26, 2008

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The Archbishop of Wales has called upon the NHS to adopt a holistic approach to health care, treating the patient as an individual rather than as a collection of ailments.

In a speech marking the NHS’s 60th anniversary given at the launch of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Trust in Swansea, Dr Barry Morgan said that effective healthcare “has to recognise the importance of the personal in a world of targets, accountability and value for money.”

The system “has to be kept human – in the way we deal with patients but also in the way we deal with staff,” he said. Harkening to the example of Florence Nightingale, Dr. Morgan said it was wrong to treat patients “as objects. True nursing is about offering respect and dignity to those being ministered to.”

He also warned against the faddish pursuit of high tech remedies, paid for from funds set aside for the elderly and mentally ill. “In a civilised society, we need to ring-fence provision for the aged and the mentally ill, the people who are the most marginalised in our society. And it is certain that we need fuller public discussion of these issues,” he said.

Moving the mentally ill and elderly out of institutions into the care of the community was not working. “The aim is still care but there has not been an adequate shift in resources. They have suffered more than most,” Dr. Morgan said.

Prevention was as important as treatment in responding to sickness, he argued, as a “huge variety of diseases are caused neither by germs nor by viruses and are cured neither by drugs nor surgery, because they have to do with other factors in society.”

“Social factors are responsible for many illnesses – living in poverty, poor housing, working long hours – all lead to illness. We have to tackle root causes not just symptoms. There would be less strain on our health service if the roots of some of our social problems were addressed,” Dr. Morgan argued.

Public health was a spiritual issue. “Fighting disease, restoring people to health is seen as part of God’s purpose,” Dr. Morgan said, for “God is interested in us as total human beings – our minds, our bodies as well as our souls.”

German Churches divide over stem cell plans: CEN 4.14.08 April 14, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Church of England Newspaper, EKD, Health/HIV-AIDS, Politics, Roman Catholic Church.
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GERMANY’S Churches have divided over government plans to ease restrictions on stem cell research, with the head of the Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Germany’s Protestant church backing the move, while the Roman Catholic Church’s bishops have been sharply opposed to any change in the law.

On April 11, by a vote of 346-228 the lower house of the Bundestag passed a law permitting scientists to import and use for experimentation stem cells created before May 1, 2007. In 2002, the Bundestag banned the production of embryonic cells from pre-existing stem cell lines and forbade experimentation on lines created after Jan. 1, 2002.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

German churches divided over stem cell plans

Coca-Cola teams up with Christian Aid: CEN 3.14.08 p 6. March 16, 2008

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Christian Aid’s “Nets for Life” anti-malaria programme had its formal Nigerian launch last week in Abuja.

Nigerian government ministers, Church, NGO and business leaders kicked off the campaign on Feb 28, which seeks to distribute 82,500 mosquito nets treated with insecticide to malaria prone regions of the country. The programme is underwritten by grants from Coca-Cola, ExxonMobile and the Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with Christian Aid and Episcopal Relief and Development.

Malaria was the leading cause of illness in Nigeria, the Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control told the gathering. Half of Nigeria’s adults would have an attack brought on by the illness each year while children would have three to four attacks each year Dr. Dora Akunyili said. The disease was so prevalent that seven in ten hospital admissions in Nigeria were due to malaria.

The executive director of ExxonMobile Nigeria told the gathering his company had invested almost £20 million in malaria projects across Africa and would pledge a further £5 million in 2008.

“Science tells us that the malaria parasite thrives on disorganized human systems. But it can be defeated through collaboration. Nets for Life are exactly the type of collaborative effort that can have real impact in combating malaria”, ExxonMobil’s Cyril Odu said, according to local press reports.

Christopher Knight, the chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank said malaria cost Africa over £6 billion a year and was a “major constraint to sustainable economic development.”

In 2006 his company had set a goal of distributing 1 million mosquito nets across Africa. Working with the Church of Nigeria and community leaders, Nets for Life started a pilot programme in the Plateau and Benue states that had distributed 11,000 treated nets last year.

The Archbishop of Jos, Dr. Benjamin Kwashie thanked the companies for their work, saying it was a good start to beating back the disease.

“The funds invested in this project might not be enough, but God works in miraculous ways for more people to be touched. In caring and in doing good, you might not know who is being touched, but God returns the goodness in many more ways”, Archbishop Kwashie said.

Bishops question health care after devolution: CEN 3.14.08 p 5. March 13, 2008

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The Bishop of Monmouth has criticized the Welsh Assembly for placing politics above good medicine. Bishop Dominic Walker told the Welsh Affairs committee in Parliament last week that the Assembly’s policy of providing all services to Welsh patients in Wales ran “counter to its policy of putting patients first”.

The problems arise with border issues when the ideologies seem to get in the way of the practicalities,” he said.

Joined by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt. Rev. Anthony Priddis, on March 4 Bishop Walker urged the government to rethink the planned rationalization of health services.

In a statement to the committee Bishop Priddis said, “While reconfiguration of hospital services has been mooted in North Wales, it is hard to see how that could ever be achieved given the rural geography and population distribution served by Wrexham District General Hospital along with the other hospitals along the border.”

Under plans currently under review by the NHS neurosurgery patients in Liverpool would now have to travel to Swansea for care, while Welsh patients in England would find problems with their prescriptions.

“There is currently no prescription charge in Wales,” Bishop Priddis said, “but if someone living in Wales receives a prescription written by a doctor or dentist working in England, then they do have to pay at a Welsh or English pharmacy.

“The situation can result in Welsh patients who are seen in the emergency department of an English hospital decline a prescription that is then written for them because they want it written by their own Welsh GP, so as to avoid a prescription charge. This adds to everyone’s time and other costs,” he noted.

Both bishops urged the government to review the disparities in health care coverage on either side of the border, arguing it was unnecessary and ill-advised to foster incompatible health care systems between the regions.

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The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt. Rev. Anthony Priddis

Ulster suicides probed: CEN 2.15.08 p 6. February 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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alan-harper.jpgThe Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Alan Harper along with the leaders of the four main churches of Northern Ireland testified last week before the Ulster Assembly Health Committee on suicide prevention strategies for Northern Ireland.

Dr. Harper, along with the leaders of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Roman Catholic Churches told the committee on Feb 7 that faith communities played an important role “in the managing of this major social problem.”

Their testimony comes one week after a report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that the incidences of suicide in Northern Ireland were not related to where one lived, but how one lived.

The church leaders told the Assembly committee priests and ministers were “still dealing with the aftermath” of suicide long after the social service agencies had left the scene. The role of the church was “to demonstrate the love and compassion of God. This process begins with the first contact with the family, the funeral services and in many cases will continue for months and years,” they said.

They noted that “pastoral care situations are clearly indicating that people are not coping in the same way as other generations,” and told the committee they were working towards creating clergy training programmes to respond to the growing social phenomenon.

“Research has confirmed that suicide risk is very strongly related to both individual and household characteristics such as age, gender, marital status and socio-economic circumstances,” Dr. Dermot O’Reilly of Queens University, Belfast said in his report on suicide in Northern Ireland.

“What has been less clear is whether the characteristics of the area in which you live represent an additional independent risk,” he said. “”The study shows that variation in suicide rates between areas in Northern Ireland is entirely explained by the differences in the characteristics of the people living in these areas. Where you live doesn’t add to that risk.”

In reviewing the records of over 1.1 million people aged 16-74 counted in the 2001 census, the study found that 566 people committed suicide over the following five years. Of these three quarters were men and three quarters were less than 55 years of age.

Some areas of the province, such as north and west Belfast and parts of counties Armagh and Down, had been popularly branded ‘suicide hot spots’ because of higher than average suicide rates.

However, Dr. O’Reilly’s research indicated that when individual characteristics were examined, the higher rates of suicide found in the more deprived and socially fragmented areas of province disappeared.

Bishop of Manchester hits out at Body Worlds exhibition: CEN 2.15.08 p 5. February 14, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, Popular Culture.
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Dr. Günter von Hagens


The Bishop of Manchester has denounced an exhibition of preserved human body parts set to open next week at the city’s Museum of Science and Industry, calling Body Worlds 4 a “little shop of horrors.”

In a Feb 1 letter the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch urged the Museum’s director to reconsider hosting the exhibition of preserved human corpses. It was irresponsible for the Museum to advertise free admissions for under 5’s to the show, he wrote, noting he had “great concern for the spiritual welfare” of young people attending the exhibition.

Advertised as “an unprecedented encounter with the human body in its post mortal state” that is “ideal for all ages” and “ideal for families,” the show will feature 200 partially dissected body parts and 20 corpses arrayed in stylized athletic poses by German anatomist Günter von Hagens. The body parts are preserved in plastic resins at a factory in China by Dr. von Hagens in a process he calls ‘plastination.’

In his letter to the Museum and at a Feb 5 press conference at the Cathedral, Bishop McCullough said the exhibition was a modern version of the “Victorian freak shows.”

The bishop also objected to Dr. von Hagens solicitation of corpses for plastination and display after death, calling it a “modern twist on body-snatching.”

Bishop McCullough asked “Is this little shop of horrors that has entered Manchester really a family day out? I do hope the science museum will at least put a warning on its website for parents to protect the young, review the under-five ‘free entry’ marketing policy and, just like a horror at the cinema, raise the entry age to 18.”

“I also have concern for museum staff,” he asked. “Do you have a mechanism for giving staff an opt-out from working in the exhibition area? This might be on the grounds of religious faith, or because they have suffered bereavement, or because they believe working with such exhibits for the next four months may damage them psychologically,” the bishop asked.

In a statement issued on Feb 6 Body Worlds 4 disputed the Bishop’s charge the show was unethical and prurient, saying the Roman Catholic Church in Germany “has followed the work of Dr. von Hagens for more than two decades. In 1983, church leaders there asked Dr. von Hagens to plastinate and preserve the heel bone of St. Hildegard of Bingen, a 10th century beatified mystic revered in Germany.

The assertion that Body Worlds was a freak show was “disingenuous” organizers said, adding that “anatomical exhibitions originated in churches during the Renaissance, when the visionaries of that period believed that man’s life was worthy of study and contemplation, and church leaders viewed anatomy and dissection as a window into God’s work.”

Malaysia rules botox is ‘anti-Islamic’: CEN 2.03.08 February 4, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, Islam.
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BOTOX injections for beauty treatments and cosmetic surgery have been banned by Malaysia’s national Islamic council for violating the tenets of Islam.

On Jan 31, the Kuala Lumpur Star reported that National Fatwa Council, comprising Islamic scholars hand-picked by Malaysia’s Sultans — the constitutional monarchs of nine Malay states — had banned the treatment.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Malaysia rules botox is 'anti-Islamic'

Bishop Cautioned: CEN 1.11.08 p 4. January 12, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, Politics.
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wallace-benn.jpgThe Bishop of Lewes was cautioned by a bouncer that he would be ejected from the Uckfield Civic Centre if he spoke at a public NHS meeting before Christmas.

Bishop Wallace Benn was one of 50 people in the audience at a meeting called by the NHS to discuss closing maternity services at the Eastbourne District General Hospital

Bishop Benn, who opposes closing the maternity ward, stood to speak at the meeting, but was ignored by the East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust chairman Charles Everett.

“I twice asked politely if I could speak to the chairman, who did not look up at me,” Bishop Benn told the Worthing Herald. As he rose to speak, the meeting’s steward stepped in front of Bishop Benn, and ordered him to be seated.

“Never in 35 years of being in ordained ministry have I ever had a bouncer stand in front of me preventing me from speaking,” he said.

In March the NHS announced it would close the maternity wards of the Eastbourne Hospital or that of the Conquest Hospital in Hastings as part of the government’s “Fit for the Future” programme.

It pledged it would hold 15 weeks of consultations, soliciting public opinion and the views of the medical community, before any decision was reached.

However, Bishop Benn said the NHS review process was a “sham” and the “whole process has been pre-determined” by NHS bureaucrats ignorant of local conditions.

Local Conservative MP Charles Hendry was also blocked from speaking. “This has been a completely undemocratic process and to find out at the end that the Bishop of Lewes was threatened by a bouncer because he wanted to say something is appalling,” he said. “What sort of society is that?”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Lord Harries calls for embryo regulation: CEN 11.16.07 p 4. November 17, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, House of Lords.
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richard-harries.jpgThe former Bishop of Oxford has backed the government’s bill calling for the regulation of scientific research in human embryology and fertilization.

Speaking in the House of Lords on Nov 8 in response to the Queen’s Speech, Lord Harries stated that the rapidly increasing rate of scientific change required new rules and new thinking.

A member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Lord Harries said there had been a shift in “social attitudes” in the 17 years since Parliament adopted its first regulations.

“There was a time, as the old song put it, when love and marriage went together like a horse and carriage,” he noted.

“They went also with sex, pregnancy, birth and children being brought up by that couple. In the 1960s, with the advent of reliable contraception in the form of the pill, the link between sex and pregnancy was decisively broken.”

Scientific advances and changing social mores had served to “break the nexus of marriage, sex, pregnancy, birth and upbringing at every point,” Lord Harries said, noting that earlier this year “a single Japanese woman in her 60s, who had gone to America to have a donated embryo implanted in her womb, had given birth to a child.”

The “one moral principle” that had emerged in this process of scientific and social change had been “that of informed consent.”

However this led to the moral question of when might fertility treatments be refused?

Parliament must legislate in this field, setting forth the “wider, social reasons for particular requests not being granted,” Lord Harries said. “If such requests are to be refused, there must be good, convincing, grave reasons; otherwise, the principle of informed consent will remain the only and the overriding consideration.”

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt. Rev. Tim Stevens told Parliament the Church of England remained “deeply cautious” about cloning and “especially about the creation of human/animal hybrids.” The Church would continue to press for “very tight controls on embryo experiments and for constant review of the licensing of research into hybrids to ensure that the claimed therapeutic benefits are the only rationale for continuing research programmes.”

andrew-goddard.jpgDr. Andrew Goddard, Tutor in Christian Ethics at Wycliffe Hall urged the Church to watch closely the debate. Writing on his blog “Theology & Ethics”, Dr. Goddard noted the possibilities created by scientific research in the life sciences held significant moral questions.

“The problem is certainly compounded when we replace these connections simply by an appeal to human will and desire, often cloaked in the language of rights,” he noted.

Female mutilation worry expressed by bishop: CEN 11.02.07 p 4. November 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Crime, Health/HIV-AIDS, House of Lords, Multiculturalism.
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THE GOVERNMENT has been challenged to do more to educate young people about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation.

The call came from the Rt Rev George Cassidy, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. His intervention came during a debate initiated by Labour peer Baroness Rendell who asked the government about the Metropolitan Police’s efforts to combat the crime.

Lord West noted that the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 made it an offence for women to betaken abroad for female genital mutilation or circumcision: a cultural practice followed in a number of African and Arab countries that has come under harsh criticism from health and rights activists and has been condemned by the African Churches.

lord-west.jpgThe government was currently investigating the prevalence of FGM among migrants to the UK and had ‘instigated awareness raising initiatives, including the training of health professionals.’ He noted the Metropolitan Police was investigating approximately 30 cases reported since July.

Lord West told Bishop Cassidy the police were investigating suspected cases of FGM through its child abuse investigation command under Project Azure. “This is an enforcement campaign, but it also focuses on raising awareness within communities that this is an illegal practice,” he said.

There was a ‘cultural dimension’ to FGM, Lord West said. “But that does not mean that the practice is not still barbarous. Some communities used to practise cannibalism, but that would not be accepted today. It is a difficult issue but we are doing as much as we can to stop this dreadful practice,” the minister explained.

The Power of Positive Thinking has its limits: CEN 11.02.07 p 8. November 3, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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The power of positive thinking has no effect on cancer survival rates, a study published in the journal Cancer reports.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that emotional wellbeing had no effect on the chances of surviving head and neck cancer as those with positive emotions had an equal survival rate to those with negative emotions the study said.

“The belief that a patient’s psychological state can impact the course and outcome of their cancer is one that has been prominent among patients and medical professionals, alike,” the paper entitled, “Emotional well-being does not predict survival in head and neck cancer patients: A radiation therapy oncology group study,” said.

However, “this belief leads people to seek psychotherapy in the hopes of promoting survival. While there can be lots of emotional and social benefits of psychotherapy, patients should not seek such experiences solely on the expectation that they are extending their lives,” said Professor James C Coyne, the lead author of the study.

Over 1000 patients participating in radiation and chemotherapy trials completed tests quantifying their emotional wellbeing. The results showed that a patient’s emotional status was not a significant predictor of survival.
Positive thinking “neither affected progression or death directly, nor functioned as a lurking variable. The current results add to the weight of the evidence that emotional functioning is not an independent predictor of survival in cancer patients,” the study concluded.

Prof. Coyne said that while this study “may not end the debate, it does provide the evidence to-date that psychological factors are not independently prognostic in cancer management”.

While the study found that positive thinking did not prolong life, the authors noted that a positive emotional outlook was a benefit in its own right.

Bishop calls for Sabbath observance: CEN 11.01.07 November 2, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, House of Lords.
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Sabbath observance would promote the physical and moral health of the nation, the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham has told the House of Lords during a debate on health and working hours.Bishop George Cassidy asked the government ‘what are the consequences for the health of individuals and for demands on the NHS of people regularly working for more than 48 hours per week?’

For the government, Lord Davies noted that research suggested that giving ‘people choice and control over their working time can enhance occupational health,’ but it was not conclusive.

Read it all in the Church of England Newspaper’s online section Religious Intelligence.

Bishop calls for Sabbath observance

Nigerian Anger over BBC Report: CEN 8.24.07 p 6. August 22, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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emmanuel-olatunji.jpgPhoto: Emmanuel Olatunji, CAPA HIV/AIDS coordinator.

A BBC report that claimed that couples must first take an HIV test before they will be allowed to marry in the Church of Nigeria is untrue, a spokesman for the Communion’s largest province said on Monday.

On Aug 17 the BBC’s Africa service reported on its website that “Couples must first take an HIV test before they will be allowed to marry, the Anglican Church in Nigeria says.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

South African Church Restructures AIDS Work: CEN 8.10.6 p 6. August 9, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has restructured its HIV/AIDs ministries, forming the Anglican AIDS and Healthcare Trust (AAHT). The Church’s liaison bishop for HIV and AIDS ministries, Bishop David Beetge of the Highveld reports the decision to break apart the ministry into four programme units was taken to allow for greater autonomy and to conform to structural guidelines suggested by overseas funding agencies.

The HIV/AIDs ministries of the AAHT will consist of four “portfolios” fun by independent programme directors: Siyakha (We are building); Public Relations, Ecumenical Relations and Training; Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC); and Siyafundisa.

Siyafundisa, Zulu for “Teaching our Children,” focuses on abstinence training, promoting fidelity in marriage, decreasing harmful behaviors, increasing the number of people who know their HIV status, and promoting the discussion of the illness amongst all classes.

Women in AIDS Plea: CEN 7.16.07 July 14, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, House of Lords.
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DELEGATES to the first International Women’s Summit on Women’s Leadership and HIV and AIDS in Nairobi have unveiled a 10-point action plan to foster leadership roles for women in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The July 4-10 conference organised by the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) drew 1,500 delegates from around the world to address the impact of HIV/AIDS on women.While united in their desire to end the pandemic, Church leaders in the East African nation remain divided on strategies to combat the spread of the disease. Moral principles must be paramount in developing prevention strategies, the chairman of Kenya’s Roman Catholic Episcopal Conference, Archbishop John Njue said at the end of the conference, stating the church opposed the use of condoms.

The Anglican Church, however, supported the use of condoms to prevent the spread of the disease, but cautioned against inadvertently giving the message that support for condom use was support for sexual license. In a sermon last December on World AIDS Day, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya stated condoms should be used by “discordant couples, partners who are both infected and for child spacing within the context of marriage only.”

Action plan unveiled to beat AIDS menace

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Kenya Wants AIDS Test for Politicians: CEN 6.28.07 p. 6. June 29, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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CANDIDATES for political office should set an example for the nation and be tested for HIV, the Archbishop of Kenya said last week. Speaking from All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi on June 24, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi urged parliamentary candidates in the forthcoming general election to be tested for HIV/AIDS. Submitting to testing would set an example for the nation, he said, and would help combat the stigma surrounding the disease. Political candidates 'should take HIV test'

Read it in The Church of England Newspaper.

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