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CRIME

German Catholic school in rectal pill rights row

A German Catholic boys' school is fighting for the right to give its pupils suppositories, in the face of a city council report on the use of rectally-administered medication.

German Catholic school in rectal pill rights row
Photo: Alcibiades/Wikipedia

The Collegium Josephinum (CoJoBo) in Bonn, a private school for around 1,200 boys, is struggling to maintain its reputation for excellence. One of the teachers, who was also a priest, was recently suspended pending an investigation into allegations that he sexually abused two of its pupils.

The investigation threw a spotlight on the school’s medical service. For decades, the school followed the practice, common in Germany, of giving children painkiller suppositories for a variety of non-specific ailments – migraines, stomach aches, sprained joints.

“They were only ever administered in acute cases, only in the medical office, and only in the presence of a third party,” school director Peter Billig told Monday’s Der Spiegel magazine.

He said there was little alternative. “Injections can only be given by doctors, and tablets take significantly longer to take effect,” he said.

But that did not stop Bonn city council from commissioning a report into when suppositories can or should be given to children or young people. Its result was somewhat embarrassing for the CoJoBo school.

“An emergency administration of a suppository for children older than toddler age is, from a medical point-of-view, a contradiction in terms,” criticised Dominique Singer, of the Hamburg-Eppendorf University hospital, who helped write the report.

“Either it is a real… emergency, in which case suppositories are not effective enough, or the suppositories have a certain effect alleviating symptoms, in which case it is not an emergency.”

Singer went on to say that administering suppositories was highly unusual after a certain age. She also criticised in-school medical services generally, because they offer a false sense of security and could delay the proper diagnosis of serious illnesses.

But another independent report, conducted by Cologne educational sociologist Michaela Schumacher, said that the CoJoBo school had always made “responsible use of this unusual medication,” and that there had been no “sexual association” in its administration.

Jürgen L., the priest responsible for medical care at the school, told the magazine that rectal medication had only been administered once since 2010, and that was with parental consent. He underlined that it was only ever used in emergency situations.

The city council is now calling for another independent inquiry into the concrete allegations against the school, and an investigation into its medical care facilities.

The Local/bk

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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