The Express Tribune Editorial 26 August 2019

The slow demise of G7


Each year leaders from the league of the seven most advanced economies in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States gather to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security, and energy policy. But in recent years, and more so since Donald Trump took the reins of power, the informal forum, which unlike the United Nations or even the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, does not have a charter, has been divided and somewhat ineffectual.
In the elegant coastal resort in Biarritz this week, the G7 leaders face several challenges that have been haunting them consistently. One of them happens to be the forum’s shrinking role in resolving the laundry list of global issues and the other is to prevent the display of the weakness and disunity of its members. Some leaders have already clashed over Trump’s demand to admit Russia back into the group. And some from Trump’s coterie have responded by accusing their French hosts of controlling the agenda by limiting the discussion on the world economy and foreign policy. Hence, to avoid the embarrassment that haunted Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada last year, the French president has abandoned plans for a communiqué altogether. While such cosmetic moves delay the public announcement of the G7’s demise, they don’t extend the ultimate expiration date, which is inching closer.
In addition to the internal disagreements, the rise of the G20, which includes China and Russia, has challenged the group’s existence. And without China and other emerging global players, the group’s relevance has been questioned by many. For now, the ongoing rifts within the Group of Seven have not only exposed the deep divisions but also the group’s overall waning ability to address internal and external challenges, forcing the world to believe that the exclusive club might cease to exist in the next few years. Therefore, in the long run, the survival of the G7 depends on its ability to display cohesiveness in its approach to resolving the long list of issues it faces both internally and externally.


Death linked to e-cigarette


Many chain smokers express the desire to kick the dangerous puffing habit. Indeed quitting smoking is one of the best things one can do for one’s health, medical practitioners keep emphasizing. Nearly one-third of deaths from heart disease, for instance, are the result of smoking and secondhand smoke. But how to go about giving up the deeply ingrained habit. Is smoking electronic cigarette, also called vaping, the answer? Not really, if one considers the disturbing reports emanating from the United States where e-cigarettes have become all the rage.
A patient who had recently been vaping died in the US after developing severe lung disease, as authorities scrambled to find the cause behind almost 200 more potential cases. As of Friday, there were 193 cases across 22 states of potential cases of severe lung disease associated with e-cigarette use since the end of June, according to figures released by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US federal agency. The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous, said a key health department official based in Illinois. E-cigarettes have been available in the US since 2006, and are sometimes used as an aid to quit smoking traditional tobacco products like cigarettes. Their use among adolescents has skyrocketed in recent years:
E-cigarette users don’t get exposed to the estimated 7,000 chemical constituents present in combustible cigarettes, and vaping is generally believed to be safer than smoking. The liquids do, however, contain nicotine, which has been studied for decades and is known to be highly addictive. A disconcerting aspect of the rising trend of vaping is that people who would have never smoked otherwise, especially youth, are taking up the habit.


The dengue scourge


Ever since the detection of Pakistan’s first case of dengue fever, in Karachi in 1994, the country has struggled to combat the scourge. And it seems this year is no exception. Health experts have said that, due to the large presence of mosquitoes in Karachi after the monsoon rains, hundreds of people are being affected by dengue every day, adding that the absence of diagnosis kits at government hospitals posed a serious risk to dengue patients. According to a Sindh dengue control programme spokesperson, six people have already succumbed to dengue fever in Karachi this year out of a total of 1,213 cases reported in Sindh, 1,152 of them in Karachi. A recent report of the World Health Organization (WHO) says that there are two types of mosquitoes that cause dengue in Pakistan, the Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito) and the Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito).
When it comes to dengue eradication, it is essential, through community involvement, to eliminate all mosquito-breeding places-which is usually water, both in residential neighbourhoods and inside houses. Civic agencies must work in coordination with citizens and communities to ensure that water does not accumulate in open places, rooftops and lawns, as stagnant water is the birthplace of the killer mosquitoes. The population at large must also be told to cover their water containers, storage tanks and bottles and to get rid of refuse like plastic bags, cans and tyres dumped outside homes. Due to the recent rains, water may have collected in such areas, making them perfect mosquito breeding sites. And these measures must be strictly enforced by law. It is also important to disseminate information on dengue control via the media, leaflets and manuals so that people know how to be on guard against the dengue virus. And, finally, the spraying of insecticides must be carried out, and blood donations strongly encouraged for infected dengue patients.

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