Brexit risks ‘thousands’ of heart disease deaths by 2030

Fruit and vegetables are displayed for sale in Darlington Market in the town centre of Darlington, northern England on September 6, 2018. (AFP / Oli Scarff)
Updated 29 January 2019
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Brexit risks ‘thousands’ of heart disease deaths by 2030

  • Britain is due to exit the EU on March 29
  • It is heavily reliant on food imports, particularly fruit and vegetables

PARIS: Thousands more people living in Britain are at risk of dying from heart attacks and strokes in the decade after Britain leaves the European Union as the cost of imported fruit and vegetables soars, new research warned Tuesday.
Britain is due to exit the EU on March 29 and it is far from certain what sort of deal — if any — Prime Minister Theresa May will be able to strike and what effect that may have on trade.
It is heavily reliant on food imports, particularly fruit and vegetables, and research published in the journal BMJ Open forecasts a widespread fall in consumption under all Brexit scenarios — as well as a concomitant long-term health risk.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, in which Britain crashes out of the union with no agreement on future trading ties, scientists from London’s Imperial College predicted as many as 12,400 additional cardiovascular deaths over the next 10 years in England.
“Under World Trade Organization rules, the price of bananas would go up 17 percent, oranges by 14 percent and the fruits we import the most are obviously going to be the most sensitive in terms of price increases,” said Christopher Millet, from Imperial’s public health policy evaluation unit and lead study author.
“Under (no deal) we expect 12,400 extra deaths between 2021 and 2030 and even with a free trade arrangement we expect around 6,000 more combined stroke and heart attack deaths,” he told AFP.
The British Heart Foundation says around 42,000 people die in Britain from cardiovascular diseases every year.
Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients from fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, that successive trials have shown to aid health cardiovascular function.
In 2017 Britain imported 84 percent of all fruit and 48 percent of the vegetables it consumed. A large proportion of these came from EU nations — such as citrus from Spain.
But even fruit imported from outside the EU could be disrupted as Britain would either need to adopt WTO rules or painstakingly conduct bi-lateral trade talks on a country-by-country basis — potentially facing longer customs checks and heftier tariffs.
Millet and his team used the latest available WTO and British customs statistics and applied it to a food policy model that combines a wide range of dietary, economic and health data to predict the impact on fruit and veg consumption under four possible Brexit scenarios.
Even if Britain strikes a free trade agreement with the bloc and other countries outside Europe that have similar arrangements with the EU currently, fruit and vegetable consumption would fall at least three percent, they said.
Under a no deal, that drop would be 11.4 for fruit and 9 percent for vegetables, potentially exposing tens of thousands of people to higher risk of dying from a stroke or heart attack.
“This is serious,” Millet said. “British families are going to be paying more for fruits and vegetables across all trade options — this is going to hit the pocket of the average British family and it has a real and important health consequence.”
MPs are due to vote Tuesday on how to proceed with Brexit after May’s initial deal with the EU was beaten down in parliament.
On Monday, Britain’s top supermarket bosses urged lawmakers to avoid a no-deal departure or risk a drastic cut in food availability.
Millet said politicians ought to give more consideration to the health impacts of Brexit, and the future burden increased illness and death will have on the health service.
“The British public weren’t necessarily aware that the price of bananas was going to increase to such an extent and what it would mean for the cost of daily living and the ability to ensure your child eats a healthy diet,” he said.
“These are the real implications (of Brexit).”


Sri Lanka needs hangmen after resuming capital punishment

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena. (REUTERS)
Updated 36 min 16 sec ago
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Sri Lanka needs hangmen after resuming capital punishment

  • The president believes that punishment by state execution is the best way to combat the country’s drugs crisis

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government is on the hunt for executioners following its decision to bring back capital punishment.
A job advertisement published in the country’s state-run newspaper is seeking two people of “very good mind and mental strength” to fill the newly created posts.
The move follows President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to reinstate the death penalty within the next two months.
According to the advert, published on behalf of Sri Lanka’s Department of Prisons, the ideal candidates need to be aged between 18 and 45 with a basic education.
And the successful applicants will earn a generous $290 per month, an amount well above average for a public sector job in the country.
Sri Lanka’s prisons spokesman, Thushara Upuldeniya, told Arab News that his department had placed the advertisement on Feb. 11 but had not yet received any applications. The final date for applying for the executioner posts is Feb. 25.
Upuldeniya said that any applicants selected will have to undergo a viva voce test (oral examination).

“In addition to mental strength, the personality and physical strength of the applicant will also be taken into consideration,” he added.
During an address to the Sri Lankan Parliament last week, Sirisena said that those convicted of drug-related offenses will be the first to be sent to the gallows.
The president believes that punishment by state execution is the best way to combat the country’s drugs crisis. Sirisena’s decision is seen by some as mirroring Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s approach to crime, and could lead to 25 people, including two drug dealers, facing execution.
A list of detainees convicted of drug-related crimes was handed to Sri Lanka’s Presidential Secretariat on Jan. 25. There are an additional 436 people, including six women, on death row for crimes including murder.
A predominantly Buddhist country, Sri Lanka voted in favor of a UN resolution for a moratorium on the death penalty in 2015.
Sri Lanka’s judiciary imposes capital punishment, but the death penalty has not been implemented since June 23, 1976. The government reinstated the punishment for killings, rape, and drug trafficking in 2004 following the murder of a high court judge.
At present two jails in the country, Welikada and Bogambara, are equipped to carry out capital punishment whenever a presidential order is received.
However, finding the right people for the job of executioner seems an uphill task, at least for now.
After searching for an executioner for three years, Sri Lanka’s prison department appointed a hangman in 2014. He was given a week’s training, but on seeing the gallows for the first time, became distressed and immediately resigned.
Meanwhile, an official told Arab News that a new noose is being imported, as the current one had served its time.
The Sri Lanka Standards Institution said it had already requested the Foreign Ministry to order a noose from Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh or India. The previous one was gifted by Pakistan in 2015.