From the CEO’s Desk We are thankful for this privilege to update you on what has been happening at DFL since our previous letter in November 2015. We look forward to working with you again and hope that 2016 will be a blessed year, with many opportunities to make a contribution in various ways. Dr. Albu van Eeden
Our Legal Corner
The Euthanasia-case (Dignity SA o.b.o. Stansham-Ford vs State)There is no further development in the on-going legal process to report since the last newsletter. No date has been set yet for the Constitutional Court case where the legitimacy/desirability of euthanasia in South Africa will be determined once and for all. DFL is involved through the efforts of our counsel, Adv. Reg Willis, who is pursuing the role DFL can play in the coming Concourt action.
The Dagga-case (Stobbs& Clarke vs NDPP & Others): Decriminalisation of Marijuana in SAFollowing on the developments reported in our last newsletter, the court date for 10 March 2016 has been postponed, but the new date has not yet been announced. This gives us more time to prepare our team of expert witnesses. The State has already provided summaries of their two witnesses, David Bayever of the Central Drug Authority and Professor Shebir Banoo of the Medicines Control Council, two credible and competent witnesses, for which we are thankful. Please pray for the availability and choice of appropriate expert witnesses that DFL are approaching to bring a strong case to court. We are also thankful that Adv. Reg Willis, who has been of great help to DFL in some of our other court challenges, has agreed to also assist the existing legal team in this matter.
Cannabis/MarijuanaThe effects of Marijuana on an individual:
- Altered sensations (for example, seeing brighter colours)
- Altered sense of time and changes in mood
- Impaired body movement
- Difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
- Impaired memory
Long-term effects on the brainMarijuana also affects brain development. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. When marijuana users begin using it as teenagers, the drug may reduce thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last a long time or even be permanent. A study showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an on-going cannabis use disorder lost an average of eight IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The popularity of edible marijuana also increases the chance of users having harmful reactions. Edibles take longer to digest and subsequently take longer to produce a high. People therefore tend to consume more to feel the effects faster, leading to dangerous results. Dabbing is yet another growing trend. More people are using marijuana extracts that provide stronger doses, and therefore stronger effects of THC. Higher THC levels may mean a greater risk for addiction if users regularly expose themselves to high doses. Contrary to common belief, marijuana can be addictive. [caption id="attachment_3111" align="alignright" width="250"] Other health effects of marijuana[/caption]
Other health effects of marijuanaPhysical effects Breathing problems. Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and frequent marijuana smokers can have the same breathing problems that tobacco smokers have. These problems include daily coughing and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and a higher risk of lung infections. Increased heart rate. Marijuana raises heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking and may increase the chances of heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be at higher risk. Problems with child development during and after pregnancy. Marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of both brain and behavioural problems in babies. Resulting challenges for the child may include problems with attention, memory, and problem-solving. Mental effects. Long-term marijuana use has been linked to mental illness in some users, such as:
- Temporary hallucinations – sensations and images that seem real though they are not
- Temporary paranoia – extreme and unreasonable distrust of others with worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia (a severe mental disorder with symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking)
- Lower life satisfaction
- Poorer mental health
- Poorer physical health
- More relationship problems
Memories of Project LifePlace since 2007It started off as an outreach on Friday afternoons with lots of preparation: the Toyota Condor was packed with camping beds, sleeping bags, luggage for everyone going, as well as food for the night and next day. After supper at the LifePlace Coffee Shop in Pickering Street, we had a devotion to prepare us to go onto the streets. We walked a route from the Point area towards the sea and at the end stopped for an ice-cream next to a club. What a noisy place! We saw many young people abusing alcohol. We also stopped at Cats massage parlour to greet Flame, the madam that’s been working there for many years. Her ginger cat is at home among the people hanging out the door. She sent her girls to the LifePlace Coffee shop for HIV tests. I remember walking down Smith Street to Victoria Embankment where a transvestite was looking for business. He always greeted us when we walked past him. The ships in the harbour looked pretty with the many glittering lights in the distance. We walked on, over hills past the “In Town Lodge”. Some knows it as the ‘Orange Building’. The owner was charged for human trafficking. We spoke to young girls outside the Lodge as we passed by on our way to South Beach. We returned to the LifePlace Coffee Shop late at night to sleep and drove back the next day. Nowadays we get into the car late on Friday afternoon and go and visit a family in Gateway. After the visit we hit the road and visit the ladies we have met in Durban over the years. We don’t sleep over in Durban anymore and usually return home by midnight. It is with thankful hearts that we acknowledge that it is God who opens the hearts of these people. We are often able to bring a lady back with us to be changed from a prostitute to a princess.
A few problems with the legalization of active euthanasia:– Legalization usually rests on terms like “unbearable suffering”, “excruciating pain” etc. There is no way to measure pain or suffering. Who’s scale will be used, the patient’s, the family’s or the doctor’s? Whoever’s scale is used will inevitably have all the power. It is easy to misuse terms like these. (The suggested legislation for South Africa in 1994 was more liberal than the infamous Nazi T4 program). – The next argument often mentioned is the right of everybody to choose their “moment”. But the moment you justify one form of suicide, you end up in an ethical swamp. If you approve suicide for the terminally sick patient, on what grounds will you refuse the drug addict, who stands on the tenth floor of a building ready to jump, after multiple unsuccessful attempts to rehabilitate, and who feels that life is miserable, full of suffering and without hope? – This creates a favourable climate for malpractices. It is impossible to avoid subtle pressure on the patient from other parties. A newspaper article from the USA reported on an elderly lady who had become deaf. She wrote, “My daughter became more and more frustrated with me. She was also unhappy because she felt that I would not leave a big enough inheritance (Obviously afraid mom would use it all on health services). Later on she became even ruder. One day she said that she felt that it is not wrong for elderly people to ask to be euthanized”. She concluded the article with the words, “Now I sit every day alone in my apartment knowing what is expected from me…” When such a patient is dead, the only witness is gone and nobody will ever know what happened. – Premature death offers an encouragement for financial benefits – it is always cheaper to kill than to nurse. – All countries that legalized active euthanasia fell into a downward spiral. The Netherlands began with:
- Active euthanasia on request of the terminally ill patient who suffered unbearably (1981). The request had to be in writing, there also had to be sufficient consultation with a doctor, etc.
- In 1982 it was changed to voluntary active euthanasia for chronic diseases where the patient would not necessarily die soon.
- In 1985, for the first time it was officially allowed without the patient requesting it.
- But who says physical suffering is worse than psychological suffering? So, in 1994 it was also allowed for psychological suffering.
- In 1992 a doctor who did not officially keep to the rules, was not punished. According to the old argument, he did it out of love.
- From 2001 it was allowed for 16 year olds without the permission of the parents and
- In 2005 criteria were proposed for the application of euthanasia on new-born babies.
Excerpt from a DFL Press release
Aid to Africa (A2A) Outreaches 2015[caption id="attachment_3114" align="alignright" width="300"] Aid to Africa Outreaches[/caption]
DFL Sihane (Zavora) ClinicIt is with much appreciation that we report on the Medical Outreach Program and the DFL Sihane Clinic and Maternity Ward in Zavora, Mozambique, for the period 1 January – 31 December 2015. With your assistance we were able to reach many lives in Southern Africa during this time. We are sincerely thankful to be able to play our small role in this endeavour. General medical examinations and internal medicine, dental care, free medication and treatment, pre and post natal care, vaccinations, optometry and eye care are just some of the basic, yet, often life-saving services that we provide free of charge. The eye surgery program has become a major part of our medical services. We were able to help many blind people see again which naturally changes their lives dramatically. They can once again do the basic things like, cooking, eating, walking, planting, washing, working, driving, reading, teaching and once again be productive in their communities. Thank you very much to all who assisted us this past year.
Medical Outreach Accomplishments3 remote and needy areas were reached with an impetus on eye surgery. At a fourth area we focused only on assisting people with eye glasses. The areas were:
- Inhambane in Mozambique
- Mauzi, Phalombe in Malawi
- Namandanje, Mbonchera in Malawi
- Sihane, Zavora in Mozambique
- 162 surgical procedures, most of which were cataract surgeries on blind people
- 3 surgeries to remove eye cancer
- 698 patients received prescription eye glasses
- 212 internal medicine examinations (General practitioner examinations)
- 1064+ eye examinations.
- 200+ indirect eye examinations through the surgery in Inhambane
- 474 dental patients
- 595 tooth extractions
Medical Accomplishments at the clinic in ZavoraWe examined and treated about 21 752 patients at our Zavora clinic during 2015. This is a new record compared to only 18229 during 2014 and 12916 during 2013. Part of the increase is the huge number of malaria cases we saw. The Mozambique government calls it a malaria pandemic. Basically the number of most conditions increased (except HIV/AIDS).
- 5597 were Malaria cases – (4076 in 2014, 5468 in 2013)
- 19 HIV cases – (67 in 2014, 68 in 2013)
- 632 Diarrhoea cases – (523 in 2014, 306 in 2013)
- 1165 Wound care – (669 in 2014)
- 241 babies were delivered compared to 231 in 2014 and 208 in 2013
DevotionGen 28:13 And behold, the Lord stood over and beside him and said, I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father [forefather] and the God of Isaac; I will give to you and to your descendants the land on which you are lying. Gen 28:15 And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you. In this life-changing incident at Bethel, Jacob, now in trouble, was willing to reach out into a life where he was to trust only in God to keep him safe and to undertake for him. God has to bring all of us to a place where we are willing to let go of everything else we used to trust in and trust in Him alone. We also may land up at that place because we are in a crisis. That does not matter – it may actually be good. For God is willing to meet with us even if we come to Him in a crisis. The Hebrew words can be interpreted to say “I will keep watch over you…” That means, “I will look narrowly, observe you, preserve you, regard, and save you”. On the broad road we may travel as zigzag as we like, maybe as our emotions tell us. But on the narrow road we are not allowed to put a foot out of place. And the road gets smaller the further we go. Not that we become more and more legalistic, but because we move closer to God and are more intimately guided by His Spirit in our thoughts and motives. Still there is something calming in that He will:
- keep an eye on you and check whether you are heading in the wrong direction. Then He can warn you if you are going in the wrong direction, and encourage you when you are going in the right direction.
- keep watch over you. He can see Satan and his demons if they are stalking you. He will put a hedge about you, guard you, protect you, and attend to your needs. He will keep you standing amid fierce temptations and onslaughts “for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you”.