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Yemen’s winning World Press Photo

18 Feb
Samuel Aranda’s winning photo beat off competition from more than 100,000 other entries.
Samuel Aranda’s winning photo beat off competition from more than 100,000 other entries.

Fatima Al-Qaws, is the veiled woman cradling her wounded son after an anti-government demonstration in October. She is also one of the subjects in Samuel Aranda’s winning World Press photo.

Al-Qaws, who is from Ba’dan district in Ibb governorate but lives in Sana’a, explained that she only found out about the photo after her niece phoned from the UAE – though she still did not realize the significance of the picture.

“I thought that the photo people were talking about was actually my appearance in an interview on Suhail TV and Al-Jazeera some months ago, so I did not pay much attention to it,” she said, but her niece insisted it was her and her son.

Al-Qaws explained that she first saw the photo on her son’s mobile phone and recalled the day of October 15 on Al-Zubairy Street – a conflict line between anti-regime protesters and security forces at the time.

“It was after an attack against demonstrators on Al-Zubairy Street,” she said. “I went to the field hospital and did not see my son among the dead or wounded protesters. I checked the place again and saw my son lying on the ground suffocated with tear gas,” she explained. “So I embraced him and [Aranda] must have taken the photo at that moment.”

Her son, Zayed Al-Qawas, 18, said he thought it was a joke until more people called to tell him about Aranda’s picture.

“I did not expect this photo to win among thousands of pictures and it is a real support to the revolution,” he said. “It demonstrates that Yemenis are not extremists.”

Helping Yemen

The Spanish photographer’s photo, which was taken while on assignment for the New York Times, beat off competition from more than 100,000 entries to win one of the most prestigious photography awards on Friday.

The New York Times’ Lens Blog wrote that after hearing the news, Aranda called his mother in Spain, who cried for 45 minutes. He said that “while conversations might revolve around composition and form”, he hopes it will help the people of Yemen. He also commented on the help he received from Yemeni photographers – specifically mentioning Mohamed Al-Sayaghi of Reuters.

Aranda, who now lives in Tunisia, covered the Arab Spring from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. In December, he presented a selection of Arab Spring photos at the Spanish Embassy in Sana’a, alongside freelance photographer Lindsay Mackenzie.

‘An intimate moment’

Koyo Kouoh, one of the jury members on the World Press photo board, said: “It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring.

“But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement.”

Nina Berman, another World Press judge, added, “In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment – in moments like this.”

Yemeni photographers are also proud of Aranda’s achievement. “We feel proud of this photo because it is very important for the world to have a new impression of Yemen,” Nadia Abdulla, a freelance Yemeni photographer, said.

“The foreign media has been presenting Yemenis as terrorists but this is the first time Yemen’s beautiful and expressive side has been shown,” she added.

Setting the standard

The 2011 World Press Photo award is the 55th annual contest in what is universally recognized as the world’s leading photojournalism prize, setting the standard for the profession.

The contest draws entries by professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from across the world, with 5,247 photographers from 124 countries participating this year and 101,254 pictures judged.

The jury awarded prizes to 57 photographers in nine themed categories, with the Arab Spring and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami both making a big impact.

All entries are presented and judged anonymously by 19 internationally recognized professionals over two weeks before the winners are announced.

Aranda will officially receive his World Press award in Amsterdam on Saturday, April. 21, 2012. The award also carries a cash prize of €10,000 and a Canon EOS Digital SLR Camera and lens kit.

An exhibition of the award-winning images will be open to the public at the Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein, in Amsterdam on Friday, April 20, until June 17.

A worldwide tour of the exhibition will also be launched, covering a record 105 venues in 45 countries. Combined with a yearbook, distributed internationally in seven languages, the winning images will reach a worldwide audience of millions in the course of the year

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Antifungal medicine can cause liver toxicity

17 Feb
Nizoral or Ketoconazole, which kills fungi, is reported to have direct serious side effects on the liver. Arguments between the Yemeni Society for Consumer Protection and the Supreme Board of Drugs and Medical Appliances have been raised. The society calls on the board to ban it. Currently, the medication is still on the market and sold for YR 2,900 or USD 14.
photo by Malak Shaher
Yemen Times

Published:17-02-2011

SANA’A, Feb. 16 — The Yemeni Society for Consumer Protection (YSCP) announced on Saturday that a medicine used for fungal infections may cause liver damage.According to the YSCP, the medication Ketoconazole (brand name Nizoral) which is taken orally for fungal infections does treat the infection, but causes direct side effects on the liver.The warning announcement stated that Nizoral may cause serious side effects after one to four weeks of usage, according to the Saudi Authority for Nutrition and Medication.Fungi can cause infection in the scalp, body, face, hands, groin, under the nails and in between the toes or fingers. Ketoconazole kills fungi and yeast by stopping them from producing a substance which is an essential component of fungal cell membranes.Dr. Hussein Al-Muntasser, consultant of dermatology, told the Yemen Times that he has never prescribed Ketoconazole for his patients as it has serious side effects on the liver.

“If this medicine is taken for a prolonged time, it may cause liver toxicity or liver poisoning. Thus, I do not recommend doctors to prescribe it for their patients with fungal infection,” said Al-Muntaser.

Al-Muntaser explained that the medicine has only slight side effects if the patient uses one tablet a one month. However, he said that Nizoral should never be the solution for fungal infections as there are safe alternatives that have no side effects on the liver.

He said that Itraconazole (brand name Sporanox) and Fluconazole (brand name Flucan or Diflucan) are safer alternatives to treat fungal infection over a longer time without having side effects on the liver.

“When a man comes to me with fungi in his feet due to a serious injury, it means that he needs an anti-fungal medication for a long time. Definitely Nizoral is not the treatment.”

YSCP has released the announcement to TV stations, magazines and newspapers warning consumers not to use the medication because of its serious side effects. Al-Thawra newspaper published the announcement about Nizoral’s side effects on the liver three days ago.

However, according to Dr. Najeeb Saif, head of the Supreme Board of Drugs and Medical Appliances (SBDMA) at the Ministry of Health and Population, the medication is like any other medication, that if taken in excess, it may have side effects on the body.

“We [SBDMA] have sent a letter to Al-Thawra newspaper telling them that the warning they published is only for doctors to say that they should take care when they prescribe the medicine for patients,” said Saif.

He added that the medicine is approved by the American Food and Drug Authority and that it is not dangerous to the health. However, it should only be used for a short time period with limited conditions when the case is critical.

Nevertheless, the YSCP said that they had seen research by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority showing that the medicine is directly affecting one in 10,000 cases.

The website netdoctor recommends that Nizoral only be given after a blood test to test that the liver is functioning well. Regular blood tests should be done every two weeks in order to make sure that there are no serious side effects on the body and the liver in particular.

Nizoral should be immediately stopped when the patient develops symptoms of vomiting, unexpected itching, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, dark urine or the development of yellow coloring to the skin.

Nizoral cream and shampoo, medical cosmetics that are used for external proposes, do not pose any danger to the liver.

Health risks of plastic bags

31 Jan

This meal covered with plastic seems safe but many people are not aware of the possible long-term health dangers of covering food in this manner.YT photo by Malak ShaherMalak ShaherPublished:31-01-2011

The rising steam off the hot corn from the pan looks just too tempting for ordinary people. No oil was used to cook it, and it will not cause any harm to the heart as it does not increase cholesterol in the blood.However, there is a hidden danger for those who like boiled potatoes and steamed corn, and their health is in danger in the long run. This danger comes not from the vegetables, but from the plastic bags they are put in.

“I do not find any obvious danger when I use plastic bags to put corn in,” said Sadeq Abdulkawi, a steamed-corn seller.

The danger lies in the process that occur after the very hot potato or corn is put in the plastic bag. Toxic chemicals from the bags can dissolve upon contact with the hot food and leach into the food before it is eaten. These chemicals from the bags can cause long-term health problems. This leaching of dangerous chemicals into food can occur whenever restaurants and take-away shops to cover hot food in plastic.

All over the world, people talk about the dangers of using plastic bags. However, in Yemen, we face an additional danger as plastic bags made in Yemen often contain more dangerous materials that could affect our health even faster, said Abdulaleem Al-Hashimi, from the Yemen Association for Customer Protection.

The association said that the plastic bags are dangerous to the health as they cause many diseases in the long run. They recommend that consumers not use plastic bags where possible, especially with hot foods.The plastic bags also affect the environment badly as they can take decades or even hundreds of years to breakdown.

All types of plastic bags are unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly, however, the most dangerous type of plastic bags are the black ones. The common black plastic bag is the worst as it is produced from the waste materials used in manufacturing other plastic bags and from other materials used in the oil industry.

In Yemen, the industries that manufacture plastic bags do not follow safety standards, say health experts. Moreover, people in Yemen use plastic bags extensively. They are the first and most popular choice of container in Yemen.

The extensive use of plastic bags, which has polluted the environment and threatened people’s health, has led the government to recently conduct a strict campaign in factories producing bags in Yemen. Last week, the Environment Protection Authority started conducting operations in shops around Sana’a to confiscate and stop the circulation of plastic bags, according to the head of the authority, Mohammad Al-Asbahi.

Al-Asbahi said that around 12 percent of plastic bags in Yemen are manufactured in factories in the capital Sana’a, with the rest coming from other governorates or even from outside Yemen. Since last Saturday, Al-Asbahi said that there has been a massive campaign in all the districts of Sana’a against plastic bags that are dangerous to both people and the environment. The plastic bag confiscation campaign will later involve other Yemeni governorates.

According to a Ryadh Abdulkareem, head of the Environmental Health Administration at Al-Safia district, he supervised the confiscation of more than 140 boxes, containing some 280,000 plastic bags.

Abdulkareem provided the Yemen Times with a copy of a letter from the Ministry of General Works and Roads that stated they should confiscate all plastic bags that are not able to breakdown quickly.

The letter is based on articles 39 and 99 of the General Code of Cleanliness. According to Abdulkareem, all plastic bags should contain a material called B2W, that helps the bags dissolve in a maximum of two or three years. He said that they will distribute posters recommending not to use plastic bags that do not contain this material. Bags containing B2W should be labelled so that consumers can recognize the bags that are environmentally friendly and healthy.

“There will be a very strict campaign against those who still sell such bags [not containing B2W],” said Abdulkareem. The cabinet will allow factories to continue producing plastic bags so long as they use the B2W additive that helps the bags dissolve faster.

Ordinary plastic bags can take more than 40 years to dissolve back into the soil, and can release dangerous chemicals into the soil when they breakdown, according to Al-Hashimi. He added that there are many products other than plastic bags that contain dangerous chemicals that can poison the soil when they breakdown.

The cabinet issued an order in 2008 that banned the use of black plastic bags and that violations could be tried before the law, according to the association. Until people are aware of the dangers of plastic bags, especially the black ones, the association is joining forces with the cabinet and the Environmental Health Administration to spread awareness in the community of the dangers posed by plastic bags.

According to the Al-Asbahi at least five plastic bags are used in Yemeni households every day