Football “definitely” coming home, Prince Harry predicts on Irish trip

Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (L) Britain’s Meghan, Duchess of Sussex watch a demonstration during a visit to Croke Park, home of the Gaelic football association in Dublin on the final day of their two day visit on July 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Football “definitely” coming home, Prince Harry predicts on Irish trip

  • Harry was asked during a visit to the Irish President’s residence in Dublin whether football was “coming home” to England
  • Harry and his American wife Meghan began a two-day visit to the Irish capital on Tuesday

DUBLIN: Britain’s Prince Harry confidently predicted that England would lift the World Cup as Gareth Southgate’s men prepare for their semifinal against Croatia later on Wednesday.
Asked during a visit to the Irish President’s residence in Dublin whether football was “coming home” to England, Harry replied “most definitely.” The phrase comes from a 1996 soccer anthem “Three Lions.”
Harry and his American wife Meghan began a two-day visit to the Irish capital on Tuesday, their first trip abroad since their wedding in May.
Harry, whose brother William is the President of England’s Football Association, is due to leave Ireland later on Wednesday and return home in time for the 1800 GMT kick off in Moscow.
On the second day in Ireland, Harry paid a symbolic visit to Dublin’s Croke Park stadium, the scene of a massacre by British troops almost a century ago.
The newlyweds also met Irish President Michael D. Higgins, his wife Sabina and their two large Bernese mountain dogs, Brod and Sioda, known for crashing many a photo opportunity.
They then watched young Gaelic footballers and hurlers play the traditional Irish sports at Croke Park, where Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney was pitchside to explain the rules.
The stadium is an iconic place for Irish nationalists. In 1920, during Ireland’s war for independence, British troops opened fire on a crowd there after 14 British intelligence officers were killed in the city the night before.
Fourteen civilians, one aged 10, were killed on a day that became known as Bloody Sunday.
Harry recognized Britain’s complex and “at times tragic” shared history with Ireland in a speech on Tuesday, saying he and Meghan hoped to reflect on some of the difficult passages when they visited the stadium and a memorial to Ireland’s Great Famine of the 1840’s.
Britain’s royal family has played an important role in developing Anglo-Irish relations in recent years, in particular in 2011 when Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, made the first state visit by a British monarch since Ireland won its independence from London in 1921. During the trip, the Queen also visited Croke Park.
The couple met cheering crowds who braved the first rain showers an unusually sunny Ireland has seen in weeks at Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university which was founded with a charter from Queen Elizabeth I.
Some students lent out of windows around the university’s grand courtyard to catch a glimpse and a photo of the pair.
Their visit captured plenty of attention in Ireland with pictures of their first day making the front page of most newspapers. The country’s tourist board predicted the trip would boost the number of holidaymakers coming from Britain, which has slowed since the 2016 Brexit referendum.


Free bus rides driving safer births for Nepali women

Updated 17 July 2018
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Free bus rides driving safer births for Nepali women

  • The UN Population Fund says giving birth remains a leading killer of women of reproductive age in Nepal
  • A huge obstacle to safe deliveries is the Himalayan nation’s tough terrain, which often makes getting to a health facility a long and expensive journey

RAMECHHAP, Nepal: As a teenager Meera Nepali was terrified as she went into labor with her first child at home in a remote village, miles from a hospital with nobody but her mother-in-law to help.
“I was a scared, but that was the norm. We didn’t have doctors close by,” Nepali said of her three-day labor in Khadadevi village in Nepal’s hilly Ramechhap district.
This year however, she delivered her second child in a rural health center thanks to a small cash incentive that is getting pregnant women to hospital by paying their bus fares.
The Aama Surakshya, or “protection for mothers,” program has helped more than two million Nepali women access medical services in the impoverished country where dying in childbirth remains a very real risk.
The UN Population Fund says giving birth remains a leading killer of women of reproductive age in Nepal, where the risk of dying in childbirth is higher than anywhere else in South Asia except Afghanistan.
A huge obstacle to safe deliveries is the Himalayan nation’s tough terrain, which often makes getting to a health facility a long and expensive journey, as well as the paucity of clinics in many parts of the country.
“We found that one of the main reasons rural women did not go to a hospital during childbirth was because they did not have hard cash to pay for transportation,” said Suresh Tiwari, one of the original architects of the scheme.
The program was started in 2005 with British aid money but has since been taken over by the Nepal government.
Today, it covers not just transport but medical costs for mothers and babies and includes a cash bonus for attending antenatal check-ups.
2017 marked a milestone for the program: more Nepali women opted for hospital births over home deliveries for the first time on record, official figures show.
“The free service and transport incentive have been very effective in bringing women to health centers and hospitals where they can be saved in the case of complications,” said Tara Nath Pokharel, head of the government’s Family Health Division, which now runs the program.
Nepali, one of the beneficiaries, paid nothing for her three-day stay at a clinic in Ramechhap district, east of Katmandu, in January.
She was discharged with 1,000 rupees ($9) for transport plus a 400 rupee bonus for attending four antenatal appointments.
“I returned home in an ambulance. We hardly had to spend anything. I am really grateful for this facility,” Nepali said, cradling her young son in her arms.
The scheme is also saving lives outside the maternity wards, in part by tackling cultural obstacles.
Deeply patriarchal attitudes and traditional preferences for home births also see hospital visits dismissed as an unnecessary expense for poor families.
Sita Khatri went into labor weeks before her due date and, unable to walk the three hours to the nearest health center, gave birth to a healthy boy at home.
But the 27-year-old suffered a retained placenta, a painful and potential fatal complication of childbirth, and had to plead with her husband to take her to hospital.
“He said we don’t have money. I insisted, saying there are government facilities, we won’t have to spend too much,” Khatri said.
“It is better to go the hospital than to die at home.”
Eventually Khatri’s husband relented, and she was treated for free at a nearby clinic. The couple were also given 1,000 rupees to pay for transport.
But some women cannot be reached by road and must be carried, while others encounter poorly equipped facilities once they arrive, said Niliza Shakya, a doctor at a health center in Ramechhap.
“Some women still don’t have the decision-making power to say they want to go to a hospital, and health posts like ours are not equipped enough,” said Shakya.
Nepal managed to reduce maternal mortality by 71 percent between 1990 and 2015 — just missing out on an ambitious Millennium Development Goal to reduce the rate by three-quarters.
But it has a long way to go in improving the overall quality of its health care, said Binjwala Shrestha, a charity worker from the Safe Motherhood Network Federation of Nepal.
“Reaching the hospital alone is not enough,” she said.